Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley and Cory Walker’s Invincible series was as remarkable for its brutality as its ingenuity. The combination created some of the most memorable showdowns in comics, and one of the most impressive didn’t even feature its main character, but two villains.
Beginning with Kirkman and Ottley’s Invincible #115 in 2014, the duel between Thragg and Battle Beast spanned five issues of the series and raged for days, ravaging cities in its wake. The pretext for the fight is as important as anything else, considering the battle has its roots as far back as Invincible #76. Battle Beast’s introduction established him not only as a ferocious leonine warrior, but one who could turn to the side of good if the challenges he was up against were formidable enough. Hungry for nothing more than a worthy opponent and death at the hands of someone strong enough to slay him, Battle Beast first met his match in Invincible #76, when the series’ villain Thragg seemingly disposed of him with a single punch that rocketed him out into space.
Thragg was a Viltrumite, the strongest species in existence, whose strength, durability and flight speed were unparalleled throughout the galaxy. When the Coalition of Planets managed to hunt him down, they sent Battle Beast after him, as well as a team of voracious Ragnars whose unique ability to pierce Viltrumite hides could spell disaster for Thragg. What the Coalition of Planets did not count on is that Battle Beast did not want to put Thragg down by any means necessary, but to engage in a true test of his abilities. When the Ragnars were released Battle Beast turned on them, slaying them alongside Thragg.
During the confrontation, the Ragnars managed to disembowel Thragg, weakening him for his showdown with Battle Beast. Unwilling to unfairly face a weakened opponent, Battle Beast opened up his own guts to level the playing field before their duel. The combatants then faced each other in battle, and their showdown immediately jumped to levels of brutality seldom seen elsewhere. Although Thragg seemed to have the upper hand initially, Battle Beast responded by chomping Thragg’s head and taking out one of the Viltrumite’s eyes.
Their battle continued on with the same level of brutality for several more issues as Invincible periodically checked in to see how it progressed alongside the story’s main plot lines. That is perhaps one of the best aspects of the fight, because not only did it allow the duel to wage on uninterrupted with increasing amounts of blood, gore and destruction, but it allowed for the greatest testament to the fighters’ stamina that the story could create. In the end, their battle waged for days and rapidly spanned the planet, destroying entire cities in its wake. In the end, Battle Beast thanked his opponent for a worthy death, and Thragg collapsed with his own life hanging by a thread.
In order to commemorate the battle, Thragg had Battle Beast’s hide made into a replacement for his royal mantle, a macabre detail that added to Thragg’s menace throughout the rest of the series. The showdown provided a jaw-dropping effect in progressing the threat of a villain already proven to be one of the series’ most powerful characters, and it gave a brutally appropriate ending to Battle Beast’s story, simultaneously going down as one of the best fights in comic book history.