Sabretooth's vendetta with the X-Men's Wolverine may be famous - but his grudge match with Psylocke is far more exciting. Victor Creed has become one of the X-Men's most terrifying foes, a murderer who revels in bloodshed. Although he was actually introduced as an Iron Fist villain, Sabretooth is best known for making Wolverine's life a misery.
But, as enjoyable and exciting as the brawls between Wolverine and Sabretooth may be, they're too evenly matched. Both are ferocious warriors with razor claws and an accelerated healing factor, meaning they can tear chunks off one another without any consequences. Sabretooth has a far more interesting grudge match - with the X-Man named Psylocke.
Sabretooth and Psylocke first crossed paths in Uncanny X-Men #213, during an adventure called the Morlock Massacre. Sabretooth was one of the killers recruited by Mr. Sinister to slaughter a group of subterranean mutants called the Morlocks, and the X-Men were drawn into the violence, with Xavier's Mansion serving as a makeshift hospital. Sabretooth tracked the X-Men back to base, in order to murder the Morlocks who were being treated. Psylocke was a newcomer back then, not even accepted as a member of the X-Men, but she was the only one on hand who could defend the injured. What followed was a wonderfully unequal battle, with an out-of-her-depth Psylocke taunting Sabretooth into pursuing her, and keeping him occupied until she was backed up by Wolverine. Incredibly, even then Psylocke refused to back off, using her psychic powers to raid Sabretooth's mind.
The next two encounters didn't go Sabretooth's way. Creed got too close to Betsy Braddock during the Inferno event, and to his horror she entered his mind with ease and shut him down. She did something similar in X-Men #6, their first clash after Betsy had been shifted into her ninja body. Psylocke pretended to be under the mental control of Matsuo Tsurayabi, allying with Sabretooth, but when they were alone she struck him with her psychic blade and took control of his mind.
The low-key vendetta between Psylocke and Sabretooth became even more brutal in the '90s. Sabretooth wound up living at the X-Mansion for a time, ostensibly seeking treatment to help curb his savage nature, and the two trained against one another in the Danger Room a couple of times. Creed eventually broke free in Uncanny X-Men #328, and prepared to cut the young Boom-Boom to ribbons. Psylocke intervened, and what followed was a knock-down battle between a brutal killing machine and a ninja with a ferocious bloodlust of her own. At first they matched one another blow-for-blow, but Sabretooth won in the end, and he almost killed Psylocke.
The best comic book battles aren't the ones where the heroes and villains are mirror images of one another; they're uneven, with the heroes outmatched by their foes and forced to show strength of character. In the case of Psylocke and Sabretooth, Betsy Braddock has sometimes won and sometimes been defeated - coming within an inch of death. Right now, Sabretooth has been banished - but should he return, it will be fascinating to see whether he winds up taking on Betsy now she's Captain Britain.