A website in the vein of WWF: Grudge Match that presented vote-driven matches between various pop culture characters. The 'current' match (the site stopped updating months ago after a large number of sporadic outages), 'Convienience Store Showdown', pits Apu Nahasapeemapetilon vs Dante from Clerks. Past matches include stuff like Borg vs Aliens, The Demon vs Ghost Rider, and Peanuts vs South Park.

Matches in the CBR consisted of three phases: Setup, Voting, and Final Score. In its prime, this cycle started again every Thursday. The Setup presented a short, structured bit of fanfiction. Stats about the fighters would be given, then some dialog between the Fight Announcers (sometimes pop culture characters like Callisto or Harley Quinn, other times CBR specific refs like Pat and Jay). For some matches there'd be a bit with the fighters, explaining why they're fighting. All of this was, of course, played for laughs.

During the next week people would have a chance to vote and post comments. Most of it wasn't really high quality writing-- one of my contributions was using basic math to explain that Thor would beat Superman. (Thor = God. God = Magic. Superman < magic. Thor > Superman). There were snippets of good fanfic or explanations, especially in the more creative matches (Peanuts vs South Park yielded some good ones), and lots of arcane continuity. These commentaries including my first Internet writing (as 'Dark Force').

At the end of the week, the votes would be tallied and somebody would do a Fight Result. On weeks when the site admins or guest writers had time these would be long and frequently funny, always explaining the final score. On bad weeks, we got the results and a few lines of text.

There's all sorts of points or jokes you could make at the expense of this sort of thing, but I found it fun, and tried to give good thought to my votes. It was pure geekiness, the Internet equivalent of a sports call-in show. A bit of coding, a bit of creativity, and lots of talking to your friends in the backyard about whether Spider-Man could beat Wolverine (and, when you got older, whether Buffy could beat Xena in mud wrestling).

The site and its archives can still be found at www.electricferret.com/fpl. It beget the Comic Book Rumbles Board, hosted by www.comicbookresources.com, which features incredibly obscure debates over comic book canon, freeform RPs involving board posters gaining powers (usually knonw as You vs The World threads) and scenarios with various characters being put in other fictional universes (OoT, OoP, or 'Out of Time, Out of Place').

The board has developed its own vocabulary: a Spider-Man vs Firelord, referring to a comic where Spider-Man beat a former Herald of Galactus in a fight, is a battle that is so mismatched that its declared invalid for the purposes of the board. Wolverine surviving a nuke in a recent Wolverine/Venom miniseries is one of the few applications of this rule everyone can agree on.

A Hama Batman is time period when a character is considered by the board to be completely out of character in terms of ability (since characterization is thrown out for most the fights anyway). Apparently, during Hama's run Batman could take bullets to the head, but was beat up by muggers. I can't confirm or deny this.

The CBR Boards are a fun place to pick up obscure trivia, and nice for the detail-obsessed. The rampant obsession with canon can be rather annoying for some, though. The CBUB's most lasting legacy is the Fantasy Powers League, which produced some of the best fantasy/horror/sci-fi writing I'd seen in a long time. It took the format of the main CBUB site and allowed anybody to create a character from a certain number of points. Matches were then voted on. Early characters were mostly about powers, but as the site matured it turned into an incredible forum for storytelling and creative writing, much of it rather experimental. The voting system ensured a decent level of quality, and the weekly battles added to the potential for addiction. There was a great feeling that you had a stake in your character and his successes. Alas, the FPL has died the same slow death as the rest of ElectricFerret.com, choked off by either server errors or admin apathy. For those of us who knew them in their prime, they will be sorely missed.

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