Sunday, 25 June 2017

Super Sunday Special: Marvel's Best Battle Cries

Battle cries are a cornerstone of superhero comics. Today let's have a look at seven of the best cries Marvel heroes have uttered over the decades.


The famous rallying cry used by Earth's Mightiest Heroes is also one of the best-known exclamations of the entire Marvel Universe, and has even been used by Superman and the Justice League during the Avengers/JLA crossover. It was first shouted by Thor in Avengers #10 and used regularly ever since, more often than not when the team was already assembled and ready for action. It's so popular in the Marvel Universe that even the press has occasionally asked the team to shout it at conferences. Little known fact: before settling on "Avengers Assemble!", Stan had Iron Man cry "Avengers Attack!" in #12 and Captain America use "Avengers Away!" in #11, suggesting he was testing things out. Like the names of several Marvel characters, all three cries are alliterative.


Namor's famous battle cry is the most regal-sounding of this list. Imperius Rex is Latin for "Imperial King", which doesn't really mean anything but points out Namor's royal and cultured background. Namor was created back in the Golden Age of comics, but the battle cry is a later addition, first seen in Tales to Astonish #70, which for a while became Namor's book shared with other characters. As it can be expected, the cry is an idea of Stan Lee, who liked the way it sounded.


Probably even more famous than Avengers Assemble! until the Avengers were popularized by movies and cartoons, "it's clobberin' time!" is the battle cry of the Thing and highlights his gruff and colloquial tone. Like many other sentences in this list, it was created by Stan Lee and first used in Fantastic Four #22 against the Moloids of the Mole Man. Considering the FF were a bi-monthly title to begin with, over two years went by before the famous cry was created, but this isn't too surprising as the Thing was a character that evolved and changed a lot in the early issues of the title. Due to the colloquial nature of "clobberin'", in Italy the cry has always been rendered into "รจ tempo di distruzione!" ("it's destruction time!").


The famous cry of the Incredible Hulk originated in Tales to Astonish #88 by (you guessed it) Stan Lee and Gil Kane. Most readers think the Hulk was a dumb brute from the start, but actually in his first several appearances his intellect wasn't too bad. It was only some time later that he started using a more simplified speech pattern.


Thor uses a lot of battle cries, more than any other Marvel character, including "For the Realm Eternal!", "For the All-Father!", "For Odin!", and "For Honor and Glory!". His most famous one, "For Asgard!" was first used in the Tales of Asgard backup feature of Journey Into Mystery #110. In more recent times, Thor's attachment to Earth has resulted in him also using the battle cry "For Midgard!". The choice would usually depend on the situation, with Thor favouring the former against the enemies of the Golden Realm and the latter against mortal foes. However, he could also shout "For Midgard!" in Asgard against certain large-scale threats to show where his true loyalties lie, as seen for example during the Simonson run.


Doctor Strange is another character with more than a few battle cries, usually coinciding with the deities he invokes for his spells. This one more or less means "In the name of the ancient Hoggoth", the latter possibly being the oldest magical being in existence. The sentence dates back to the Lee-Ditko years and was first used in Strange Tales #120, but the deity was first mentioned in Strange Tales #116. 


The last entry is also the oldest. The Human Torch's famous battle cry predates all the others, first appearing in Fantastic Four #4 by Lee and Kirby. Funny enough, in #3 an angry Thing orders Johnny to flame off, perhaps suggesting Stan already had the sentence in mind.

And this is it, mostly because researching when each cry was first used takes forever. A few honorable mentions - not included because they aren't really battle cries - are "Oh My Stars and Garters!" (the Beast), "Nothing can stop the Juggernaut!" (Juggernaut) and "To me, my X-Men!" (professor Xavier). 

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