Friday, February 05, 2016

Payback Part 2: The Quick and The Dead (Marvel)
Deadpool #19 When: August 1998
Why: Joe Kelly How: Walter McDaniel

The Story So Far...
From the tortured corridors of The Workshop he came. A hulking marriage of man and machine! Once, he was merely Francis Fanny - The Attending at the Weapon X hospice where he kept failed experiments in check for scientist Dr. Emrys Killebrew.
 When he was unleashed on taunting inmate Wade Wilson, he unlocked the healing factor within cancer-riddled Wilson, and seemingly became Deadpool's first victim.

Resurfacing years later as a cybernetically enhanced killing machine; Francis sets his sights on killing Wade Wilson once and for all! After murdering his way through surviving Weapon X rejects, Ajax finds the reformed Dr. Killebrew in the Swiss Alps. Torturing Killebrew for knowledge, he teleports Deadpool to the Alps to enact a final revenge quest against The Workshop's worst escapee!

Haunted by the ghosts of the murdered Weapon X subjects, Deadpool is sworn to set their spirits free to a great reward by stopping Ajax once and for all! With the life of his recently acquired Swiss hostage hanging in the balance, Deadpool steels himself for the final battle that must be waged. It's go time!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Ajax 4 (Enhanced)
Intelligence: Ajax 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Ajax 5 (Superhuman)
Stamina: Deadpool 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Deadpool 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Draw 4 (Trained)
Energy: Deadpool 4 (Arsenal)
Pollution: Deadpool 0 (He's a hero!)

Ready, Player One? Player Two has entered the game! We've got a newbie in the ranks this week with the Secret Wars on Infinite Earths debut of Ajax! Long story short: He's a leftover from the days of the Weapon X hospice called The Workshop where Wade Wilson thought he was drooling his final vacation days in front of the window, and Dr. Emrys Killebrew thought he could experiment on failed projects without consequence.

Deadpool Facts:
To remove Deadpool's heart simply hit: back, down, forward, low punch at close range!
Plot-twist: Those wacky Weapon Xers had a mix-up in the luggage department. That meant Wade's life-threatening cancer was sent to LAX, while Wilson picked up his very own second-hand version of Wolverine's healing factor! That meant when Francis The Attending [aka; Ajax] tried pulling his heart out to impress friends at the Weapon X-Mas party, Deadpool got the last laugh -- and gasp of sanity -- by regenerating!

This is probably where Ajax' deep-seated resentment comes from. Which is bad news for Deadpool, cuz Ajax isn't just great for removing stubborn stains! He comes with enhanced extras: superhuman strength, speed, durability, and titanium laced armor chock full of cybernetic tricks n tips.

We've seen Deadpool come up short against another opponent stuffed to the gills with weapons, enhancements and training: The Punisher [Deadpool: Suicide Kings #2]. His flexible perception of reality hurt him in that one. That said, a propensity for unorthodox tactics was shown to be the key to victory against Taskmaster - twice - in Deadpool #2 and Cable & Deadpool #36! Super strength? No problem! Agility and healing helped him take out Hulk [Deadpool #4]!

Deadpool Facts:
Little does Ajax realize - a diet of foraged pine nuts has triggered Deadpool's irritable bowel something fierce! As so often in the wild, the hunter becomes the hunted...
History means there's a special mojo between these two that only arch-nemesis' can have. Ajax is highly motivated and at this stage has already succeeded in temporarily ending Deadpool's life a few times. That means 'Poolman isn't his usual funky fresh self. He may even be a little afraid! As we'll see, though, we're jumping into the pair's final showdown and Deadpool is feeling his zen.

At this stage of the game, Deadpool has no weapons, no shirt, and is still suffering from exposure and injuries incurred in previous skirmishes with Ajax. Can he face his fear and overcome the odds? Lets pretend we don't know this is the final fight between the two and do that fight novelization stuff...

The Tape: Deadpool Ranking: Deadpool (#36)

What Went Down...
With the sun setting and his allies dwindling, Deadpool has a moment of clarity. He has run from Ajax long enough. It has cost Dr. Killebrew and innocent Swiss miss Ilaney Brükner their lives. No more will die fighting his battles. DDedpool will not run from his fate any longer.

Awaiting Ajax' inevitable arrival, Deadpool provokes the mechanically enhanced hulk to come at him! It brings the fast running cyborg right through a carefully laid tripwire -- comedy to Ajax! His enhanced optical sensors detect the trap and allow him to effortlessly evade a swinging log. He knows all about traps!

The stick covered "tiger pit" isn't any more effective. Ajax' enhanced legs leap over the trap with arrogant ease. All part of the plan!

Ajax's willingness to under estimate Deadpool sends him gliding onto prong-two with military precision. Cybernetics can't save him from the snaking, slick sheet of ice hidden on the other side of the pit! He slides uncontrollably, propelled by his own superhumanly fast momentum. Thrashing only sends him head-first into the surrounding rocks of the Swiss Alps!

Deadpool makes further use of the natural stonery - heads up, Ajax!

Being clobbered with a small boulder leaves Ajax dazed, in agony, and waist deep in Greek metaphor with a busted cybernetic ankle. It's Icarus, it's Achilles, it's chopped tomato, sliced cucumber, onion, feta, olives, seasoned lightly with oregano and a drizzle of olive oil. A whole lot of bad time of his own making!

"RAAAR! Idiot! I don't need my legs to kill you! I'm superior in every way!"

Deadpool Facts:
Because of Chef Deadpool's sabotage, Chef Ajax will have to make his Greek Chicken Salad out of chicken crap. #evilicious
Ajax claimed he was too strong, too fast, and too smart for Deadpool. Claims systematically and irrefutably disproven! Deadpool broke Ajax's super-strong ankle, he tactically stalled his super-fast attacks, and as they glide for a large body of water with a cyborg's electrical system showing - the tournament of minds smart kid scholarship will undoubtedly go to Deadpool!

When they hit the water, all sound fades to silence. Is it the natural muffling of the water, or did Deadpool's eardrums burst in the initial impact? It hardly matters. While the electric shock blisters his skin and kills an untold number of innocent byswimmers (fish) - Deadpool finds another moment of Zen.

With his legs wrapped around Ajax's neck and his junk resting tenderly on his scrotum-like scalp, Deadpool ponders his situation. He doesn't really want to kill Ajax. He wants to be the good guy and do what good guys do: leave the crook tied naked to a flagpole with a quippy note from "your friendly neighbourhood Deadpool". Alas; that's somebody else's shtick - and the 'Poolman is honorbound to some restless spirits who want the cycle of death to end.

So with a spurt of blood and a sickening "KRAKKT" Deadpool ends it.

Because he was Ajax' superior - and all he needed was his legs.

The Hammer...
Uhhh... I guess if you just skipped to the end section to find out who won you might be surprised to learn Deadpool wins! FATALITY!

Exactly how Deadpool did the deed isn't shown, but I do like the implied detail that he probably snapped his neck with his legs. It's a nice double back to Ajax claiming he didn't need his legs to finish Deadpool.

It's also the kind of detail you don't usually see in reviews and recaps of issues like these. So make sure you choose Secret Wars on Infinite Earths as your #1 source for superhero smackdown summaries - and tell your friends! [Shhh! You can take the credit!]

If you remembered that Deadpool was supposed to be helping out some dead Weapon X guys who've become ghosts who're harassing him from beyond the grave - well done, you! Ajax's death didn't help them move on, proving two deaths (or six) don't make a right. Deadpool's Swiss Miss hostage Ilaney did get a reprieve from the spirit of the late Dr. Killebrew, though. She lives! Wunderbar!

Ajax - not so much. He first appeared in Deadpool #14 and hounded the Merc' With a Mouth pretty good for a few intense issues before biting the big one in #19. Ajax lived a short comic book life, but he shined bright. I hear he's made a couple special comeback appearances as Deadpool's worst nightmare, but for the most part remains crossed off the hit list since this final encounter. A rare example of an effective arch-nemesis who lived only to die.

You'll probably be hearing more about Ajax now that he's about to hit the big time in the Deadpool movie. It'll be interesting to see just how movie Ajax measures up. He won't get headlines, but he seems like a good villain for a non-traditional superhero movie. A bad guy who can tie into Deadpool's origin and drive a traditional storytelling device to its conclusion. If they adapt this issue in any recognizable form, I'll be surprised and impressed. If they don't - at least you now know what really happened!

Deadpool Facts:
Cyber broke Wolverine's claws and made him cry like he couldn't find his mommy. We'll get to him, eventually.
Ajax kinda reminds me of Wolverine arch-nemesis Cyber. Not just because he's named Cyber and Ajax is "cybernetically enhanced" - although it's a big part of it. It's the fear factor. You can get pretty used to superheroes being pretty cavalier about their adventures in life and death - especially when they have a mutant healing factor that heals most wounds. It's an interesting change of pace to have a villain who actually inspires fear in a hero!

It's amazing to think it was around this twenty issue mark that cancellation started to be the frequent talking point! Now Deadpool's well on his way to being a household name!

Deadpool has become pretty well known for his comedic side through internet memes and the like, but these Joe Kelly stories really stand above and beyond for being both funny and engaging stories. They deserve a lot of credit for really fleshing out the reality of Deadpool, contributing some of his most memorable friends and foes: Blind Al, Taskmaster, DD, The Great Lakes Avengers - all here!

If you checked out the first Old Comics Wednesday for 2016, you may have already familiarized yourself with a couple of Deadpool's classic encounters from this run.

Next week we'll be venturing even further into the past as we continue to celebrate Deadpool and his theatrical coming out!

Winner: Deadpool
(+10) #26 Deadpool [+1 kill]
(new) #769 Ajax

Deadpool Facts:
By clicking Amazon links provided at the bottom of each feature fight, you not only get an easy one-click reference for a collection containing this issue - but also help Secret Wars on Infinite Earths continue the good work that it does! You can also find more interesting entries by clicking the tag links below, or visiting the Issue Index Archive! Yay!

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Marvel's Merc' with a Mouth is finally making his way (back) to the big screen on February 12th!

To mark the occasion, Secret Wars on Infinite Earths will be featuring all new Deadpool battles starting with this week's Friday Night Fight! Before we go looking for new trouble, however -- why not prepare yourself with some of the classic combat already featured in The Comic Book Fight Club archive? It's an Old Comics Wednesday return for our flashback favorite: Cover to Cover!

By clicking the covers below, you'll be transported back through feature fights of Friday's past! Our spotlight selections include classic Deadpool battles with: Taskmaster, Hulk, The Punisher and Batroc The Leaper! PLUS: To get you extra ready for the Deadpool movie, check out bonus battles featuring supporting Deadpool movie character Colossus, as well as the Weapon X Project!

Monday, February 01, 2016

Real Name: Kal-El (aka; Clark Kent)
First Appearance: Action Comics #1 (April, 1938)
Fight Club Ranking: #6

Featured Fights:
- vs BATMAN: The Dark Knight Returns #4 (Jun 1986)
- vs THE CRYSTAL CREATURE: Secret Origins #32 (Nov 1988)
- vs DOOMSDAY: Superman #74 (Dec 1992)
- vs SAVIOUR: Action Comics #713 (Sep 1995)
- vs MASSACRE: Target: Superman #1 (1995)
- vs JUGGERNAUT: DC versus Marvel #1 (Mar 1996)
- vs HULK: Marvel versus DC #3 (Apr 1996)
- vs METALLO: Marvel versus DC #3 (Apr 1996)
- vs MOLE MAN: DC versus Marvel #4 (Apr 1996)
- vs BATMAN: The Dark Knight Strikes Again #1 (Nov 2001)
- vs CATWOMAN: Batman #611 (Mar 2003)
- vs BATMAN: Batman #612 (Apr 2003)
- vs THOR: JLA/Avengers #1 (Sep 2003)
- vs FLASH: Flash #209 (Jun 2004)
- vs EQUUS: Superman #206 (Aug 2004)
- vs GREEN ARROW: Superman/Batman #14 (Jan 2005)
- vs WONDER WOMAN & FREEDOM FIGHTERS: Superman/Batman #15 (Feb 2005)
- vs ULTRAMARINE CORPS: JLA: Classified #3 (Mar 2005)
- vs PREUS: Action Comics #824 (Apr 2005)
- vs CAPTAIN MARVEL: Superman #216 (Jun 2005)
- vs ATOMIC SKULL: Superman/Batman #21 (Sep 2005)
- vs BATMAN/KRYPTONITE MAN: Superman/Batman #23 (Nov 2005)
- vs MONGUL: Infinite Crisis #1 (Dec 2005)
- vs JIMMY OLSEN: All-Star Superman #4 (Jul 2006)
- vs GENERAL ZOD: Action Comics #846 (Feb 2007)
- vs DARKSEID: Superman/Batman #42 (Jan 2008)
- vs INJUSTICE LEAGUE: Justice League of America #15 (Jan 2008)
- vs SINESTRO CORPS: Green Lantern #25 (Jan 2008)
- vs BATMAN: Justice League: The New Frontier #1 (May 2008)
- vs FLASH: Flash: Rebirth #3 (Aug 2009)
- vs BATMAN: Superman/Batman #78 (Jan 2011)

The last seven days have seen a whole lot of concerned discussion amongst the comics intelligencia about the foundational principles and morals that make DC's Man of Steel: Superman.

As you might expect, some of the freest voices on Twitter have been those presently unattached. I've seen the likes of Tom Breevoort, Erik Larsen, Dan Slott and Kurt Busiek giving their take intermittently, and a lot of what they've had to say has been encouraging. The topic boils down to whether or not Superman should kill - and the prevailing wisdom seems to be: No - he should not.

The topic was a hot button issue throughout 2013 after Zack Snyder's Man of Steel was released to theatres in July. The newest movie version of one of the world's best known pop culture icons left a lot to be desired. The lacklustre presentation culminated in the demolition of densely populated Metropolis, and Superman's decision to execute General Zod after the fact. In pursuing the fight in a modern city, Superman could be rightly described as party to the destruction. His decision to choose lethality - a departure from established mythology. So-called "realism" meeting alien superheroes.

The scene ultimately reads like leftovers from the ill-fated mid-2000s, mid-tier, Dr. George Miller directed Justice League film. That movie was skewered by simmering creative differences and the crippling 2007 writer's strike, but it's said to have pulled directly from storylines spun out of Infinite Crisis. When Wonder Woman snapped grand villain Maxwell Lord's neck in comics, it caused a mild stir. I saw it as the reclamation of what makes an Amazon warrior princess unique. A challenge of ideology more appropriately applied to a character in need of a stronger sense of individuality. An opposing facet to set her apart from her fellows in the "Trinity". Superman and Batman do not kill.

The controversially lethal Superman receives a sequel in March when the cinematic DC Universe converges on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It's the continuation of the adventures of Henry Cavill's Man of Steel, with Ben Affleck joining in as Batman, and Gal Gadot stepping up to be Wonder Woman. So far, it has all the hallmarks of another dour appropriation of the hero-on-hero conflict that's come to define the last ten years in superheroes - opposing Captain America: Civil War, the story told across the street. Early indications suggest Superman's destructive urges provoke Batman into the titular conflict. Wonder Woman will probably play peacemaker of sorts. The course will, in some fashion, be corrected, and the world will move on, but the original question remains.

There was a lot to dislike about Man of Steel, but it was particularly galling to see Superman participate the way he did. So much of the character's storied tradition is in limiting human casualty. Last month, The Death of Superman finally joined the feature fight archive. That story begins with a tooth and nail struggle that takes place at the residence of a single mother with two boys. In Superman #74, he gives up chase of Doomsday to first ensure the safety of those immediately in danger. Even in a story on course to tell a rare tale of Superman's physical vulnerability - it's the vulnerability of those around him that takes dramatic precedent. Superman doesn't kill - and doesn't willingly throw away the lives of those around him. Not in rural outskirts, not in Metropolis CBD.

The issue of whether or not Superman kills is an important one, but it's arguably a mere by-product of a broader on-going assassination of the character. Tom Breevoort rightly pointed to age brackets more prone to be afraid of ridicule for appreciating a character who simply does the right thing - but I don't think it stops there. Throughout the internet age, confused misapprehension has perpetuated myths about the Superman - he's too powerful, he's just a cape, he never loses, I haven't for read 70 years so its too hard to get into, etc. Left unchallenged, these perceptions run the risk of becoming a convenient reality. As publishing directives, they're a well deserved slow death.

It's true, LA's warped search for reality has a lot to answer right now. They shut down New York and changed everything forever. But LA never had a firm grip on superheroes and it's hard to get angry at them for that. The comics knew better but they sold themselves short. Literally. Instead of selling the unique virtues of decades of serial publication and fantasy, they chose to sell to unfounded fears with reboots, reductions, regressions. Buy our product - it has no future, it has no past!

Superman in a t-shirt, Superman as Doomsday, Superman wearing armor, Superman unchained, Superman unjust god among us, Superman the destroyer, Superman the killer, Superman the dictator, Superman the villain. The ultimate permission for pathetic, snivelling humans to finally open their resentment for a figure who refused to choose evil, weakness, the easy way out. Lex Luthor never turned the people against the last son of Krypton as effectively as DC Comics finally did.

Superman doesn't kill. Superman isn't real. He's an impossibility given two-dimensional flesh. He's a sun-powered titan on a collision course with the impossible. He shows us everything we can never be, but should strive for any way. He's impossibly strong - and that's the way we like it!

He can do many things, but there's something Superman shouldn't do. Superman shouldn't kill.

       [Home]       Hero of the Week 01/25: Captain America >> 

Friday, January 29, 2016

To Fight the Unbeatable Foe! (Marvel)
Amazing Spider-man #230 When: July 1982
Why: Roger Stern How: John Romita Jr

The Story So Far...
Madame Web has seen a vision of her impending death and it seems a fate unstoppable! Black Tom Cassidy and Juggernaut wanted the seer's powers of premonition to predict the movements of the uncanny X-Men - forcing her to summon the aid of a reluctant Spider-man!

A lone Spider-man did his best to stop the unstoppable, but a rampaging Juggernaut could not be waylaid from his ultimate goal! When removing the frail clairvoyant from her chair threatened her life, however - everything changed! Even the Juggernaut could see the folly in a mission if it means Madame Web's life!

While Madame Web receives medical attention, Spider-man resolves once more to put a stop to the Juggernaut's mad dash! He's going to make the mystically strengthened Juggernaut pay for his crimes! He just has to figure out how...

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Juggernaut 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Spider-man 5 (Professor)
Speed: Spider-man 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Juggernaut 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-like)
Fighting: Draw 3 (Street Wise)
Energy: Spider-man 2 (Projectiles)

Last month, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of Secret Wars on Infinite Earths with four fights from the modern classics! Today: we finish the first month of 2016 with another one! Why? Because we can!

On the surface of things, these guys are operating in two very different weight classes. The visual difference alone would lead many to presume Juggernaut is a villain too far -- the titular "unbeatable foe" in every sense!

When you consider Juggernaut took down Colossus [Uncanny X-Men #183], and went mano a mano with Nimrod [Uncanny X-Men #194] and Superman [DC versus Marvel #1] -- the argument seems to make itself!

It's not an unfair assumption, but this isn't the first time we've seen the amazing Spider-man go toe-to-toe with a powerful opponent! Our favourite wall-crawler routinely finds himself up against the threat of superior muscle. In previous featured fights, recurring villains like Venom, Carnage, Lizard, Scorpion and Menace have all pressed a physical advantage against the proportionate strength of a spider!

In Marvel Treasury Edition #25 (1980), we saw Spidey use speed and guile to stay in the fight with the incredible Hulk! In 2002's Spider-man: Blue #2, it was Spidey's science smarts that took down the rampaging Rhino! He was even able to turn Grey Gargoyle's unique abilities against himself in Marvel: Heroes & Legends #1. Three valuable examples of the skill and strategy he can use to try to curb the seemingly insurmountable raw power and durability of Juggernaut!

Now that we know the how, we can also measure the why. Behind the curtain, we know Juggernaut is perfectly primed for an upset. Villains typically get their comeuppance in the end, and the invincible are doomed to be a proving ground for their light heavyweight counterparts. Juggernaut's ability to bounce back in-fiction hasn't matched up with his scarce appearances here on The Comic Book Fight Club, which is partly why he ranks a lowly #330. That said, you don't rank #2 without winning a whole heckuva lot of fights against a whole lotta opponents!

Spidey has 25 wins on the board, so far - let's see if he can make it 26!

The Tape: Spider-man Ranking: Spider-man (#2)

What Went Down...
Following a trail of destruction headed west - Spider-man swings the New York City skyscraper line in pursuit of the Juggernaut! Having already met his foe, he knows all the electricity in the world isn't going to stop Juggernaut. He falls back on the tried and true method of lobbing heavy things to stop the unstoppable!

A hotel demolition site provides the perfect ammunition for an unannounced attack. Snatching a giant steel girder, Spidey improvises and oversized slingshot with his trusty webbing. With a little of the ol' heavy-ho, he launches the metallic missile in Juggernaut's unsuspecting direction! Fat lot of good it'll do...

Juggernaut hears the girder as it draws near and turns to catch it with ease! He makes light work of the projectile, twisting it like it were paper! "Someone's tossing girders at me, eh? Well, that's too bad... for them!"

Demolition workers flee as the visage of  Juggernaut forces its way onto the fenced off hotel land. He spots Spider-man clinging to the decrepit hotel wall above, where the wall-crawler wonders why his "spider-sense" for danger is triggered by the land bound behemoth. He soon finds out as Juggernaut rips the corner of the hotel wall clean away from its frame!!

With the proportionate strength, speed and agility of a spider - the hero leaps from the crumbling façade to safety below. If girders are no good, he'll have to hit Juggernaut with something harder, he reckons. A three-ton steel wrecking ball fits the bill! He swings the ball in circles above his head and throws!

An effortless backhanded punch deflects the wrecking ball with ease - inadvertently sending it hurtling into the hotel building! Taking out key supports, the ball finishes the job it started - bringing the entire building down!

Sensing the imminent danger, Spider-man leaps for some reinforced sewer pipes. The cylinders protect him as bricks and mortar rain down from above! Spider-man can only lie low in his pocket of air as the wreckage thunders down from above. The Juggernaut stands idle - he has nothing to fear!

When Spidey finally digs himself out of the rubble, he's greeted by the demolition workers who can hardly believe their eyes -- both men survived the collapse! Nothing can stop the Juggernaut - but you can bet the spectacular Spider-man will try!

The Hammer...
Both men went down, both men got up. I think I've gotta call this one a draw!

I thought we might be in for a decisive finish, but I overlooked the obvious break in rounds that caps today's featured fight! I'm sure we'll revisit this issue some time in the future, to see Spider-man pick up the chase for another shot at taking down the unbeatable foe!

If you were here for the 10th Anniversary in December, you saw Juggernaut and Colossus throwdown in the famous barroom brawl that is Uncanny X-Men #183! What was the unstoppable Juggernaut doing parked in a New York village pub? Drowning his sorrows after battling Spider-man, of course!

That modern classic was inspired by the many requests for more Juggernaut on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths. For what ever reason, he wasn't a villain who found a lot of traction in the first ten years of fights.

I'm inclined to compare the character to Doomsday - another powerhouse we've been talking about a lot in recent weeks [see; All-Star Superman #4].

Both villains pose the impossible challenge of presenting a nigh unstoppable force that inevitably exists to be beaten by the hero. Doomsday has the added complication of a greater degree of malice, while Juggernaut has the interesting dichotomy of being the counterpart adopted sibling of Charles Xavier, spiteful in origin and skullduggerous in action - but not necessarily evil, or without reason.

It helps that Juggernaut wasn't created to be muscle against muscle. When he made his first appearance in X-Men #12 in 1965, the closest thing the X-Men had to a strongman was the once hairless Beast. Juggernaut was unstoppable brawn targeting the physically infirm, yet brilliant mind of Professor X. Perfect opposites attacking each others weakness -- telepathic assault an iconic attack of choice when it comes to stopping the unstoppable Juggernaut.

By the time Juggernaut was butting heads with Colossus or the Hulk, the intrigue of a simple test of strength was built up organically as a secondary interested to the character's initial grievances. You could argue going up against Spider-man in 1982 is a third stage of development, taking advantage of the now established and tested strength of the character. The great mismatch!

Where Doomsday suffered for being introduced as an event first - Juggernaut was able to grow into becoming one! Which is exactly why this two-part story still resonates with enthusiasts, and fans have sought out more Juggernaut on this very blogsite!

I wasn't properly introduced to Juggernaut until some years after this story, around 1989 or so. I hadn't been much of an X-Men reader, but the status the character had built up preceded him and his mutant nemesis! There was only one of him, and when he entered the story you knew it wasn't going to be a complex affair - it was just about lasting enough rounds to survive!

I have a particular issue in mind when I think of that, and with any luck we'll get to it later in the year as we look at more Juggernaut. If you want to look at more Juggernaut, Amazon links are provided as always [right] for your convenience.

In the mean time, we shift gears, because in February Deadpool is coming back to Secret Wars on Infinite Earths! With the movie coming to cinemas, it'll be a timely opportunity to revisit the Merc' With a Mouth and some of his classic face-offs. Be sure to be here in 7 days for that, or sooner for even more! 

Winner: Draw
(--) #2 Spider-man
(+4) #326 Juggernaut

Monday, January 25, 2016

Real Name: Steve Rogers
First Appearance: Captain America Comics #1 (March, 1941)
Fight Club Ranking: #7

Featured Fights:
- vs BATROC & MR. HYDE: Captain America #251 (Nov 1980)
- vs MR. HYDE: Captain America #252 (Dec 1980)
- vs IRON MAN: Captain America Annual #9 (1990)
- vs WOLVERINE: Captain America #405 (Aug 1992)
- vs DOPPELGANGER: Captain America #408 (Oct 1992)
- vs BANE: Marvel versus DC #2 (Mar 1996)
- vs BATMAN: Marvel versus DC #3 (Apr 1996)
- vs THOR & LOKI: Avengers #1 (Nov 1996)
- vs HULK: Avengers #4 (Feb 1997)
- vs AIM: Captain America #6 (Apr 1997)
- vs DESTROYER: Thor #1 (Jul 1998)
- vs INVADERS: New Invaders #0 (Aug 2004)
- vs CROSSBONES: Captain America #4 (Apr 2005)
- vs WOLVERINE: Wolverine #25 (Apr 2005)
- vs RED SKULL & NAZIS: Captain America #5 (May 2005)
- vs SHIELD: Civil War #1 (Jul 2006)
- vs AVENGERS: Civil War #3 (Sep 2006)
- vs MASTER MAN: Captain America: Reborn #2 (Oct 2009)
- vs PUNISHER: What If...? #51 (Jul 1993)

There were a lot of competing top stories in the last 7 days that could've influenced today's Hero of the Week. For a while there I thought DC were finally going to crack 2016, but instead its the movies taking the backseat -- scooped by an announcement for the long awaited comic book restoration of Marvel's Captain America! 75 years young and still punching bad guys in the face!
Not as much Nazi punching as their used to be, but that's more about Uncle Walt getting squeamish at the sight of all those swastikas, rather than Cap getting soft. (Probably still sore about the unions).

The "return" of Steve Rogers was announced during a 75th Anniversary Special on ABC.

It's not often you get major comics news from the television, so that's pretty cool! Then again, there is a major movie sequel right around the corner, which is inevitably sharing a lot of the attention. We touched briefly on Captain America: Civil War in the last HOTW [01/1/2016], but since my money's on short odds for movie Cap departing the role (and life) - the comics are on the more interesting end of the cyclical game of costume swapsies.

In comicsland, Sam Wilson has been the man in the red, white and blue since 2014. For a while there, Cap did get a nasty case of showing his age -- all a product of his super-soldier serum being neutralized by the bad guys. Rogers naturally hand-picked his best pal at arms to keep the flag waving and shield throwing, while he slipped into a less physically demanding role as Avengers director - protecting his now frail, aged body from harm.

The switcheroo caused a minor uproar at the time -- Bucky Barnes had only handed the star-spangled plan back a few years earlier, in 2011. There have been several Captain Americas over the decades and it makes sense that many worthy Americans could carry the tradition forward, but the role will always be iconic to Steve Rogers, and so many change-ups in such a short amount of time was very bush league on Marvel's part. Par for the course, sadly, as the branding identity of Marvel's pantheon becomes increasingly meaningless. When everyone is Uncanny, Amazing, Secret, New - no one is.

Rogers's return was inevitable - it was just a matter of when. The 75th Anniversary was either going to be another return, or another death. We got the better of the two. Falcon will still soar as the secondary Captain America, carrying the original's shield [pictured above]. That too will almost certainly return to normal soon enough, as it has many, many times before. 1989's showdown between Rogers and John Walker comes to mind as just one of the shadows Marvel is playing in.

When Walker was Cap [the first time], Steve Rogers became the black clad ['everyone was doing it'], nationless Captain. In 2016, his new look is similarly of the times. US Agent adopted Cap's eighties black costume when the identity crisis was settled. When the fashion of Cap '16 finally wears out its welcome, I don't imagine anyone will want to use it again. You might be able to sell a Hollywood exec on the supposed "reality" of it, but around these parts we know movie Cap looks like a dork every time. A poor choice of inspiration, unless you're planning an officially licensed line of novelty rubber stress toys.

I'm sure Cap will get his groove back soon enough. For now, lets just be glad the iconic original is alive and well for a big 75th Anniversary! I know I am!

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