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X-Men Number One Cover

Supervillain Showdown: Round Three & Finale

There are only three matchups left from the Supervillain Showdown, two semifinals and the grand finale. The final four combatants represent a wide swath of abilities: Joker’s insanity, Sabertooth’s regeneration, Brainiac’s artificial intelligence, and Magneto’s powers of magnetism. We’ve already seen in previous rounds that the teens can be swayed by a particular argument, and no character can be taken for granted. Want to see who wins? Let’s go!

Joker vs Sabertooth

As a trained, nearly ageless assassin, Sabertooth has the time and experience on his side, and teens started out arguing that he would take this fight with ease. However, the pro-Joker movement gained steam in no time. “Joker is only human, but he has lots of toys.” How would Joker win – acidic flower spray, cyanide pie? “Joker would whip out a missile with a boxing glove on it.” The crowd decided to support a humorous killer over a ruthless one.

Winner: Joker

Brainiac vs Magneto

The deciding points in this battle involved Brainiac’s physical components and the boundaries of the fight. Could Brainiac show up in a completely plastic form? Are there computers with no metal components? If Brainiac escapes into another body via wifi, is that considered a forfeit? While research into plastic conductors and computing components has come a long way, the group could not find evidence of a completely metal-free computer, “unless Brainiac transfers himself into an abacus.” Otherwise, “Magneto wins by flipping a switch with his brain.”

Winner: Magneto

FINAL ROUND: Joker vs Magneto

Let’s take a moment to review the two champions who have made it this far.

Joker, a villain who first appeared in 1940, has seen several incarnations. His early stories portrayed him as a clearly homicidal maniac, derailing a train and using guns. Bill Finger, the creative force behind many elements of the Batman franchise, invented the origin story for Joker as that of the Red Hood, a criminal who falls into a chemical vat and emerges a changed man bent toward madness. His true origins are usually left unclear to preserve his mystery. In the mid-50s, the Comics Code forced DC to soften Joker’s methods, changing him into an elaborate prankster. The 60s saw Cesar Romero’s campy portrayal of the Joker on the Batman television show, in which the actor refused to shave his mustache, opting to cover it with white makeup and somehow appearing hilariously appropriate for the role anyway. From the 70s onward, Joker returned to more serious crimes, always a different shade of dangerous or silly depending on the writer and artist.

Magneto arrived in 1963 as the X-Men’s first villain. As the cover shows… actually, what is going on there? Cyclops’s eyebeam is being repelled by Magneto’s magnetic shield, I guess that makes sense. Beast is swinging in from, uh, whatever is supporting him in the yellow sky. Angel is using his gift of flight to either chuck a pole or aim a bazooka of some sort. Jean Grey might be using her psychic powers, but she looks like she’s dancing – a distraction rendered useless by the solid defensive line guarding her. Iceman is testing the limits of perspective, standing in front of Magneto yet hitting his back with snowballs. Can Magneto’s shield repel snowballs, or will he have to run his cape through the dryer?

Anyway, back to the character history. Magneto’s experience surviving Auschwitz darkened his perspective of humanity, leading him to resolve to never let humanity repeat such mistakes toward mutants. Over time, he would establish a base of operations in space on Asteroid M, as well as a UN-approved sanctuary for mutants on the island nation Genosha. Magneto had regular clashes with the X-Men, Avengers, Defenders, and several different nations (if not the entire world) as leader of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Charles Xavier, once a friend and colleague, became a reluctant foe, as the two men believed in defending mutantkind through different means, Xavier the tolerant pacifist, Magneto the active combatant. His villainy sometimes goes off the scale into hold-the-world-hostage territory, but he sees himself as a noble defender of an oppressed minority of mutants and sometimes justifies his means.

Having said all this, how do the two competitors face off? Joker’s non-metallic methods gained early favor, particularly his laughing gas and ability to psyche out his opponents. In addition to laughing gas and acid, Joker could lie to Magneto to gain sympathy, although the crowd swerved back to Magneto’s mental strength.

“The Joker could pretend to be a mutant and ask, ‘Would you kill one of your own?’”

“Then Magneto says ‘Yes!’”

“Joker would find some other angle about Magneto and use it to drive him mad.”

“If he can’t get into Batman’s head, he can’t psyche out Magneto.”

Alas, Joker’s invented madness could not compare to Magneto’s tempered soul.

Winner: Magneto

Be on the lookout later this year in the Teen Center, when we will mix all of the first-round winners of the Superhero and Supervillain brackets for a massive showdown between good and evil across the globe.

Excelsior!

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