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Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Marvel Heavyweights

Hulk and Sub-Mariner, the two physically strongest members of the Defenders, were also two of the hardest heroes to pin down in terms of strength.

The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (first edition) placed Hulk lifting up to 90 tons when he was calm, with the ability to lift more than 100 tons when angry. Prince Namor, meanwhile, was slated with the ability to lift 40 tons on land and 75 tons underwater.

Two years earlier, Amazing Spider-Man Annual #15 (1981) made an initial attempt to classify heroes by their physical strength. Breaking the fourth wall, the humorous back-up feature also included many of the heroes' reactions to their ranking.

THE SUPER-HEAVYWEIGHTS
Hulk: Bah, Hulk should be in a class by himself!
Thor: Forsooth, there is not a match for my mighty thews in all midgard!
Hercules Nay, friend Thor, if Hercules be on Earth, thou art but a close second!
Iron Man: With a potent enough energy source I can charge my armor to this power level--for about two seconds.
Wonder Man: Er … I want to be an actor, not a super guy!

THE HEAVYWEIGHTS
Black Bolt: (empty word balloon)
Doc Samson: I am as strong as a calm Hulk--too bad the Hulk is never calm.
Sasquatch: I haven't met Spider-Man yet, but I once took on the Hulk for fun. (See Incredible Hulk Annual #8.)
Sub-Mariner: Beneath the sea, Namor's strength is supreme. On land, I am still a force to be reckoned with!
Thing: Of all the bum raps I ever got, this beats 'em all! I ain't no crummy second-rater!
Thundra: If I ever run into that web-headed fool, I will squash him for having dared to place me in this category.
Vision: At my maximum density, my strength is most devastating.

Spider-Man and several Defenders fell among the Super Mediumweights or below.

Edward Hannigan illustrated the first-edition covers for The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (1983).

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