Friday, October 07, 2016

Christened On A Tuesday (DC)
Solomon Grundy #2 When: June 2009
Why: Scott Kolins How: Scott Kolins

The Story So Far...
In the 19th century, Gotham City was home to a wicked soul named Cyrus Gold. With much blood on his hands, he was cursed in death to forever rise from his unmarked grave in Slaughter Swamp as the beast Solomon Grundy!

Caught in an endless cycle of death and rebirth, the shambling monster is forever drawn to new acts of evil as an unstoppable undead creature - until now?

A mysterious force has intervened to give Cyrus Gold seven days to end his curse and finally put his soul to rest! His former nemesis The Green Lantern is charged with aiding him in his quest, but as they soon find out, not everyone wants Solomon Grundy gone before The Blackest Night!

Infernal forces intend to keep Cyrus Gold's soul in turmoil - sending an agent to keep him from his mission. While Green Lantern struggles in the cursed marsh of Slaughter Swamp - The Demon, Etrigan attacks! Now Solomon Grundy must fight for his death - or be dragged to new depths by his newest nemesis!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Solomon Grundy 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: The Demon 2 (Average)
Speed: The Demon 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Solomon Grundy 6 (Generator)
Agility: The Demon 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Draw 3 (Street Wise)
Energy: The Demon 3 (Explosive)

Can you say Round 2? It was almost a year ago when last we saw The Demon versus Solomon Grundy! It was a battle right out of Hell - waged on Devil's Night, to signal the impending return of Secret Wars on Infinite Earths!

In that particular showdown: The Demon was decreed the victor - even though the circumstances of the win were left open to continuation. For twelve months the ultimate fate of that fight has thus been left undecided - until now!

The beginning of their battle was a showcase of distinct advantages. Solomon Grundy demonstrated an obvious physical strength, allowing him to manhandle The Demon and turn chunks of the surrounding scenery into deadly weapons!

Etrigan took everything the powerhouse zombie was able to throw at him - practically relishing the pain! The Demon's resilience is an obvious asset in this case, but he's also able to give as good as he gets with little concern for himself or others! The fight ended when he sent Solomon Grundy (and himself) plummeting from a demolished bridge into the waters below!

The change in arena isn't an insignificant detail!

Solomon Grundy may be carrying the wear and tear of Round 1 into today's feature fight, but he does so into water - an environment more closely resembling the swamp from which he rose! He certainly looked at home splashing around in sewer water when he dealt an all mighty defeat to Killer Croc in Faces of Evil: Solomon Grundy #1!

Water probably shouldn't douse the deadly demonic flames spewed forth by Etrigan, but in traditional lore, water can at least be considered an unfriendly element to any spawn of Hell. That might be enough to slow The Demon down!

Grundy's no stranger to being water logged, but will a late night dip spell a comeback for the shambling monster once called Cyrus Gold?l Let's find out!

The Tape: The Demon Ranking: The Demon (#45)

What Went Down...
The carnage happening around them hardly matters as they plummet towards the water below! Solomon Grundy and The Demon: locked in battle - engulfed in flames!

Etrigan, in that way he does, asks prophetically if Grundy has ever died on a Tuesday. He has seven days to put the soul of Cyrus Gold to rest. A fools quest when The Demon is charged with waylaying it with a fresh death!

The fire is extinguished as the warring monsters smash into the water!

Solomon Grundy clutches at The Demon's cape as the hellspawn rides his foe into the darkness of the water. Bubbles toil as they thrash in trouble.

Etrigan plunges his clawed fist into the marshy bog of Solomon Grundy's chest. He expects to find a beating heart, but instead pulls away a fist of the muck that constitutes Grundy's endless form!

The zombie's eyes burn with intensity - something resembling a wry smile across his toothy grin. Undeterred, he returns the favour by ramming his own hulking fist through The Demon's trunk!

The impalement draws a lone, wailing shriek in a chorus of hellfire from the usually rhyming Demon! Perhaps it was agony - or something else?

Aggression turns to uncertainty as Solomon Grundy recognizes something changing at the end of his fist. Still attached to The Demon by the hole he made with his fist - Grundy is at ground zero as hellfire explodes from Etrigan's chest!

Bathed in the inferno, Solomon Grundy is reduced to a weighty charred corpse!

The zombie drifts silently into the dark abyss, his body bubbling as the hellfire engulfing it dissipates. Etrigan watches with demonic glee as his cargo slowly sinks. He swims to meet it, pulling the lifeless head from its burnt body.

The Hammer...
Last time we needed careful deliberation to determine the winner of the fight via decision. This time the result is as plain as the look on Grundy's decapitated face: The Demon, Etrigan wins!

I've been eager to get back to this one, if only for completion's sake. The seven issues of Solomon Grundy pit him against a different foe for each day of the week, and if you paid attention to the cover at the start of this entry - you know Bizarro is the real marquee opponent of the second issue!

As much as I would've liked a decisive Etrigan win in the first issue (for purely selfish reasons), I do appreciate the way this eases the series into what is ultimately a seven issue gauntlet. I imagine in collected or digital formats, the pause goes mostly unnoticed. We aim to deal in original format here.

The more I come back to it, I find myself appreciating a lot about this series. By not rushing to contain The Demon to that first issue, Scott Kolins gets a chance to play his action big and rough at all the right times. It suits the monster comic tone of the story, and really gives him room to create atmospheric panels and some signature art. I'm not sure if it's the best work of his career, but it was a period where he seemed to be coming into his own (again).

Green Lantern shows up just as the fight is ending -- too late to serve in his role as guiding light to the soul of Cyrus Gold. I'm always happy to see the Golden Age heroes in contemporary action, GL especially. The fact that their existence has been so precarious in the last five to six years of DC Comics makes it all the sweeter to go back and read these issues. It isn't deep, but it's fun.

The classic, heroic Grundy nemesis will play a continuous role throughout the 2009 mini-series, which ties indirectly into the conspiracy of events that is and was Blackest Night.

I'm hoping over time we can work our way through each battle leading up to Blackest Night, when the action spills over into bannered issues of Superman/Batman. It was an interesting extension you might miss if you didn't know to look for it. We've got a long way to go before then, though!

I was hoping October might be the month to get a couple of Solomon Grundy feature fights on the books, but it looks like Secret Wars on Infinite Earths will be going to Hell for the next few weeks. Literally!

If you're really hungry for more Grundy, be sure to share this link and leave a comment below. In the mean time, you can get yourself the full story by using the Amazon purchase link provided! Doing so helps keep the secret wars infinite!

You can also find plenty more review and retrospective by following links throughout, or diving into the Secret Issue Index!

Winner: The Demon
#33 (+12) The Demon (Etrigan) [+1 kill]
#361 (-2) Solomon Grundy

Monday, October 03, 2016

Real Name: Luke Cage (formerly Carl Lucas)
First Appearance: Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1 (June, 1972)
Fight Club Ranking: #9

Featured Fights:
- vs EGGHEAD: Defenders #43 (Jan 1977)
- vs CONSTRICTOR & SABRETOOTH: Power Man & Iron Fist #66 (Dec 1980)
- vs UNUS THE UNTOUCHABLE: Power Man & Iron Fist #90 (Feb 1983)
- vs UNUS THE UNTOUCHABLE: Power Man & Iron Fist #90 (Feb 1983)
- vs THE UNTOUCHABLES: Cage #3 (Jun 1992)
- vs PURPLE MAN: New Avengers #3 (Mar 2005)
- vs OWL: The Pulse #14 (May 2006)
- vs AVENGERS: Civil War #3 (Sep 2006)
- vs THE HAND: New Avengers #27 (Apr 2007)
- vs MIGHTY AVENGERS: New Avengers #36 (Jan 2008)
- vs THE HOOD & DORMAMMU: New Avengers #54 (Aug 2009)
- vs AVENGERS: New Avengers #2 (Sep 2010)
- vs JUGGERNAUT: Thunderbolts #150 (Jan 2011)

As the star of the newest Marvel live-action series (September 30th): Luke Cage could've been Hero of the Week any number of times throughout 2016! He was one of the stand-out characters of July's San Diego Comic Con [see; Hero of the Week 7/25/2016], and continued to excite every time a new trailer revealed the yellow-tinted world of Netflix's bulletproof Defender! Sweet Christmas!

Star Mike Colter seems to bring a kinder, warmer edge to his version of Cage, but trailers show encouraging signs that when the time calls for it, his Power Man can get mad and bad. There are even whispers he'll find his way to a yellow shirt somewhere in the series, and trailers have already dropped an all mighty "Sweet Christmas". Pretty much everything this Luke Cage fan could ask for!

Like all the Marvel Netflix series, there are issues at first glance. An inherent cheapness in the hi-def look of all the shows challenges the notion of a "Golden Age" of TV. Low contrast, flat depth of field, straight-forward composition, with nothing too extraordinary happening in the frame - always something I'm a little saddened to see. The absence of aesthetic signature has been one of the great failings of Marvel's domination of movies and television -- low-budget without the charm of film stock, or film culture. That's certainly where Quentin Tarantino could've excelled with his long rumored, long aborted movie version -- raised again recently by Comic Book Resources.

It's not all doom and gloom, however. Luke Cage appears to be continuing the steps forward made by Jessica Jones, which particularly impressed when wielding a strong purple hue. Cage follows, imbuing the world with a golden glow that matches his signature color from the (classic) comics. Even when the hero chooses from a catalogue of low key hoodies when his gear gets shot up, there's an excitement in seeing yellow lining beneath the dark blue ensemble, and the slamming soundtrack.

Yellow is the color I'm personally most interested in when talking about the series, but there will be an inevitable wave of social commentaries coming out of the show, and I'm becoming aware of it.

I hadn't given much thought to the poignancy of a bulletproof African-American walking troubled streets, but whether we live in America or not, we all read the same headlines, wondering about social tensions with the same human concern.

If you were setting out to create a brand-new American superhero for today's adult contemporary audiences -- this is exactly the territory you'd start with! Over the past few years, America has made social anxiety and race politics one of their major cultural exports. Superheroes have always been good for offering an outlet for exploring social issues such as these. The plight of violent police corruption and bigotry - combatted by a good man who cannot be shot -  presents a bold and appealing mirror image of the reality some parts of the world face.

Yet, in Luke Cage, I don't get the sense these issues will take central focus, and I think it's better for it. In the eighties and nineties, I grew up taking the pairing of Power Man & Iron Fist for granted. Just two friends and heroes trying to make a positive difference in the fictional world. One was super-strong and tough, the other a kung-fu whiz. To paraphrase the educators of Sesame Street, they were just 'heroes in the neighbourhood.' Part of the landscape the heroes all share. Which is the value Luke Cage and all these heroes will have into the future.

Of course, not all superheroes are created equal - and if you've been following Secret Wars on Infinite Earths in the month of September, you know our spotlight on Luke Cage has pushed him into the Top 10 rankings! If you wanna know how that happened, be sure to scroll back to the top of this entry to check out all the featured fights!

Next year Luke Cage's buddy Iron Fist joins the Netflix heroes, before they converge as one in The Defenders! If you can't wait for that, be sure to check out our Luke Cage & The Defenders spotlight for more fun with the Marvel Knights! Stay tuned in October as well as the fights get spooky!

       [Home]       Hero of the Week 09/26: General Zod>>

Friday, September 30, 2016

New Avengers #2 When: September 2010
Why: Brian Michael Bendis How: Stuart Immonen

The Story So Far...
For years the Avengers were torn apart by philosophical differences that erupted in Civil War. A secret invasion by Skrulls exposed holes in the new regime, allowing Norman Osborn to replace SHIELD as the corrupt Director of HAMMER! His tyranny went unnoticed until finally a siege on Asgard exposed the true evil!

With Osborn ousted in disgrace, Captain America is a natural choice to assume responsibility for SHIELD and a holistic approach to the superhero community. Thus, a new heroic age begins for The Avengers!

Having bought The Avengers mansion for $1 at the behest of Tony Stark, all seems well for Luke Cage and his new, fully authorized Avengers team! At least, until Dr. Strange and Daimon Hellstrom crash the housewarming in search of The Eye of Agamotto that's spontaneously appeared in Cage's hands!

Magic is afoot as strange forces manipulate The Avengers in a grand design they have no way of knowing about. Now they'll have to fight each other if they're to keep the universe safe long enough for Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Voodoo to do something about it!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Thing 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Dr. Strange 5 (Professor)
Speed: Iron Fist 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Wolverine 6 (Generator)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-Like)
Fighting: Iron Fist 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Agamotto 7 (Cosmic)

The Avengers are: Thing, Ms. Marvel, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, Wolverine, Mockingbird, Spider-man & Hawkeye.

Under ordinary circumstances, this incarnation of The Avengers would look to Luke Cage as their fearless leader. Alas, circumstances have it that he's been possessed by an agent of the mystic entity Agamatto!

Agamotto is a founding entity of the paths of magic, spawned from the elder goddess Oshtur. He is perhaps best known for his creation of powerful mystic artefacts: The Eye of Agamatto and The Orb of Agamotto. Both are frequently called upon in the arsenal of Earth's Sorcerer Supreme - Dr. Stephen Strange!

At the time of this episode, Dr. Strange has relinquished his post as Sorcerer Supreme, surrendering the mantle to Brother Voodoo. Voodoo was in command of The Eye of Agamotto, but saw fit to transport it to Luke Cage and The Avengers when he was attacked by two possessed agents of Agamotto: Daimon Hellstrom and Dr. Strange himself!

Along with their possessed teammate, The Avengers will have to contend with Hellstrom & Strange! Cage has grown to approximately thirty-feet tall and is showing signs of his already impressive strength being augmented. We saw Cage get the better of his teammates when they were infected with alien symbiotes [New Avengers #36]. Bad news all around!

Fortunately, the group have just added two high-level powerhouses to their ranks: Thing and Ms. Marvel! Both have the durability to pick up the defensive slack for the rest of the team. They also have the power to fight back!

The rest of the team aren't especially well suited to facing off against the magic of Dr. Strange and Son of Satan, but they have been in situations like this before. The group fought off The Hood (augmented by Dormammu) in New Avengers #54, albeit with the help of Strange and Hellstrom.

It's the numbers of The Avengers against the chaos and uncertainty of Agamotto's magic! That's spells a recipe for uncertainty if there ever was one! Let's dispense with the incantations and find out how it all went down!

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

What Went Down...
Chaos erupts in Avengers Mansion as the heroes are confronted with the sudden appearance of The Eye of Agamotto and hostile Dr. Strange & Son of Satan! The team scrambles to reorient themselves, unsure of the exact nature or intent of the magical threat that has also transformed their leader into an angry giant!

Wolverine tells The Thing to grab The Eye of Agamotto and make a run for it, choosing the team's newest recruit for his phenomenal strength and rocky hide! He makes a grab for it, but is sent hurtling out of Avengers mansion with a blow from his gigantic magically charged friend!

Jessica Jones unloads care of her and Cage's daughter to the arms of Spider-man, who makes a run for the stairs to get the baby out of danger!

Meanwhile; Iron Fist launches a fly kick in Daimon Hellstrom's direction, Ms. Marvel hovers over a toppled Luke Cage, and Wolverine pounds on Dr. Strange's chest with a fist full of adamantium! All of their efforts are temporary measures in an effort to keep the possessed heroes from the mystic talisman!

Hellstrom clobbers Iron Fist, Luke Cage tugs at Ms. Marvel's hair, and Strange wrestles with Wolverine -- each in a mad dash for The Eye!

Retired heroine Jessica Jones reaches into her untapped super-human reservoir to launch herself at her possessed husband! The super-human uppercut knocks him backward and launches The Eye of Agamotto into the air!

Wolverine catches the magic artefact and hurls it out the window as far as he can! Ensuring the possessed mystics cannot take chase, he rushes them with a calculated thrust of his claws! The unbreakable metal slices into their chests!

Outside the mansion, The Eye lands in the middle of a picnic in a nearby park! The giant-size Cage, Thing and Ms. Marvel take chase - prompting a terrified citizen to throw it into the air!

Ms. Marvel's aerial abilities allow her to snatch the amulet just as Cage and Thing are making a grab for it. The development gives Thing a chance to even the score with a haymaker that sends Cage flying!

Jessica Jones arrives on the scene to leap on her husband once he's landed. She desperately tries to reach the man she loves, but his words don't match his actions - an uppercut that sends the former Jewel flying through the air!

When the possessing entity fails to convince Thing and Iron Fist that it is the voice of their friend Luke Cage, the creature issues an ultimatum: Give him The Eye of Agamotto and he will return Cage. Ms. Marvel counters with an ultimatum of her own: leave Cage or she'll smash The Eye into a million pieces!

The spirit lunges at Ms. Marvel with Cage's gigantic arms outstretched, incidentally launching Thing and Hawkeye into the air. Marvel effortlessly avoids the attack and returns fire with a super-charged hit of her own!

Even though the possessed Cage eats a hard shot, he's still able to wrap a giant hand around Ms. Marvel! She loses her grip on The Eye, but Iron Fist makes the running play with Thing taking chase in the distance!

Sick of the demonic possession - Iron Fist turns and thrusts his mystically charged weapon-hand into Cage's gigantic chest!

Cage goes down hard and Thing jumps on top of him to make sure he stays down with a massive right cross! Jessica Jones and Ms. Marvel hover in support.

The recovered and healed Dr. Strange & Daimon Hellstrom follow Wolverine urgently to the battlefield! They arrive as Doctor Voodoo teleports onto the scene and the possessing demon leaves Luke Cage's body, transferring to the victorious Iron Fist! A revoltin' development as the fight comes to an end!

The Hammer...
Delivering a knock-out blow to a giant possessed Luke Cage probably made Iron Fist an attractive host for Agamotto! He disappears into the other realm of the Vishanti with the hero's body, just as Doctor Voodoo enters the scene -- the story to be continued!

It's an added detail that doesn't impact our result: The Avengers victorious against their possessed comrades!

The victory is shared with Wolverine, Thing, Ms. Marvel and Jessica Jones, who all contributed to the win in a pro-active manner. Mockingbird stopped to film the possession on somebody's phone, which I'm sure has tactical value. Hawkeye was there, but doing his best Where's Wally throughout. I genuinely wonder if Stuart Immonen forgot all about him while drawing the issue. It's almost comical when he appears floating in mid-air in the latter third of the issue. Spidey was on baby duty and generally loafed about, as well.

The line-up reflects a blended group mostly made from the street-level Secret Avengers who formed after Civil War. Ms. Marvel is the biggest trade from the more traditional "Mighty" Avengers. Thing was the most surprising addition, despite a similarly brief stint in the late 80s launch of West Coast Avengers.

We talked about the idea of "JLA-ing" the Avengers in our last entry, concluding that the original 2005 New Avengers line-up didn't really go there.

By the time this second volume was launched in 2010, there was much more credence to the idea of a non-traditional, all-star line-up of disparate pre-established acts. Spider-man, Thing, Wolverine, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Dr. Strange (who eventually made his stay permanent) are a very JLA arrangement.

Much like the JLA; the successful Avengers began to expand beyond their core team formulas. The "Heroic Age" relaunch maintained a brand-traditional Mighty Avengers, while also installing a third "Secret Avengers" title in the oddball hodgepodge mould of The Defenders.

In the years that followed The Heroic Age, the lines between Avengers groups would blur further. Famous hold-outs like Daredevil would join the team. Even the X-Men, who had a few unique ties through heroes like Beast and Quicksilver, would finally be more aggressively blended through the Uncanny Avengers!

The net result is what opponents of Avengers Disassembled and the original New Avengers were afraid of all along: The demise of identity and a tradition.

Thanks to the success of Marvel's blockbuster film franchises, "Avengers" has become synonymous with the company. Almost interchangeable with Marvel itself. Yet, ironically enough, it's the movies that have to date best represented the traditional flavour of The Avengers: Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Vision, Hulk and so on.

In comics: It's now a lot easier to name characters who haven't been part of the monstrous Avengers uber brand. It's a muddying of the waters that's affecting many of Marvel's mainstay brands, extending to the dilution of individual characters who now share their identity with multiple alternate characters [see; Hero of the Week: Dr. Doom].

The traffic hasn't been exclusively one-way, though. Earlier this year, Marvel relaunched Power Man & Iron Fist for a new age, restoring the Heroes For Hire to their iconic buddy team roots away from The Avengers! The result is one of the more exciting, upbeat offerings reinvigorating the classics while also revamping them!

Luke Cage is also part of a reinvention of the Marvel identity on screen! September 30th marks the official launch of a thirteen episode live-action Netflix series! Mike Colter stars as the man with bulletproof skin, who we've been celebrating all throughout September on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths!

This celebration helped Luke Cage break into the Comic Book Fight Club Top 10 [see; Cage #3] at the expense of perennial favourite The Thing! The ever lovin' blue-eyed Thing fell to #11 as a result of Cage reaching #9 -- an unplanned result that made today's pre-scheduled feature fight all the more interesting!

Fans of the rankings will be excited to know Thing's shared victory returns him to the Top 10 just two weeks after he fell out! The defeat isn't enough to disrupt Luke Cage's spot at #9, though. Instead, it's Daredevil who will be shunted down from #10 to #11! Keep scrolling to the bottom of this update to see where all the characters finished in the ranks!

If you'd like to get the full experience of today's feature fight, use the Amazon link provided to purchase the collected edition! Doing so helps keep the wars infinite!

You can find more spotlights on Luke Cage, The Avengers and the individual characters by following character links, or diving into the Secret Issue Index! There you can browse battles by series, issue and publisher!

Stay tuned to Hero of the Week for a final spotlight on Luke Cage! Then be here in October as things start to get a little spooky for Halloween!

Winners: Iron Fist, Wolverine, Thing, Ms. Marvel & Jessica Jones
#4 (+2) Wolverine
#10 (+1) Thing
#30 (+10) Iron Fist
#76 (+53) Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers)
#92 (+197) Jessica Jones
#2 (--) Spider-man [+1 Assist]
#120 (-2) Hawkeye [+1 Assist]
#407 (+79) Mockingbird [+1 Assist]
#9 (--) Luke Cage
#65 (-2) Dr. Strange
#101 (-12) Son of Satan (Daimon Hellstrom)
#807 (new) Agamotto

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The world of Marvel's live-action Netflix universe gets a little bit more complete this week with the premiere of Luke Cage - September 30th! The bulletproof Power Man will bring Netflix one step closer to their city ensemble, venturing into a world already populated by Daredevil, Jessica Jones, The Punisher, Elektra, Kingpin, Purple Man and more!

Throughout September we've been featuring Luke Cage in Friday Night Fights, and this Old Comics Wednesday we're casting an even wider net to get ready for what's ahead! Iron Fist is the next Netflix series to look out for in 2017, before the heroes converge in The Defenders!

By hitting the covers below you'll be transported to a variety of classic featured fights starring the heroes and villains of Netflix! If you want even more, you can follow links in each throwback - or dive into the Issue Index for a complete catalogue! We've got one more Luke Cage spotlight left in September - be here to witness as the Hero for Hire becomes the ultimate Avengers villain!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Real Name: Dru-Zod
First Appearance: Adventure Comics #283 (April, 1961)
Fight Club Ranking: #189

Featured Fights:
- vs SUPERMAN: Action Comics #846 (Feb 2007)

In recent weeks we've been talking about additions [Ghost Rider] and subtractions [Hawkman] made to the major comic book universes. Today's Hero of the Week comes with a little bit of both: General Zod making an ominous return to the DC Universe in the pages of Suicide Squad #2!

Comic Book Resources reported on the return a couple of weeks back, breaking their story into two major headlines. The first was simply Zod's return from The Phantom Zone. Surprising -- only in the sense that you don't usually expect to see a major Superman villain make a return in Suicide Squad!

It strikes me as a premise that sits quite well with the Hollywood conscious Squad, whose film incarnation was formed to counter the threat of a rogue Superman. General Zod certainly fits that bill quite well, both as a similarly powered Kryptonian with destructive urges -- and as a character whose most convincing history comes from cinema, not comics.

For many, Terrence Stamp's commanding presence in 1980 sequel Superman II is the definitive vision of General Zod. 2013's Man of Steel suffered for the choice to repeat the villain in the first DC Extended Universe film, played unenviably to conclusion by a committed Michael Shannon.

Comics have struggled to match the charisma of Stamp's performance, too. Attempts to make something significant of Zod have gone wrong with overwrought stories about a New Krypton, or the invention of similarly named facsimiles hailing from Russia and other misguided sources.  Bizarre and confounding errors for what amounts to a fairly straight forward idea: An evil Superman!

The appetite for "Evil Superman" stories is always there. It's the schoolyard question of who would win in a fight -- minus the tether of knowing that Superman will never callously fling his opponent into the sun.

That intrigue has fuelled a heckuva lot of awkward, lazy attempts to reenergize Superman in a mainstream context. The ill fated New 52 Superman spent as much time causing problems as he did fighting them - even becoming Doomsday! Other parallel versions, like the evil Regime Superman found in Injustice: Gods Among Us, go a long way to showing just how unsatisfying the concept is when the sole goal is to make Superman the bad guy. Unconvincing and shallow, it rings false and quickly becomes uninteresting.

General Zod is an evil version of Superman you can get behind! He's the militant sun-powered menace who would create an army to forge a Regime of power through conquest! He scratches a completely different itch than Bizarro, but has more star power and untapped potential than other equivalents. Ergo, Zod sounds like a terrific addition to the on-going saga of the DCU to me!

Which makes what happened in the second big story of Suicide Squad #2 a little disappointing...

Zod's arrival comes with the apparent incineration of Captain Boomerang, leaving only a pair of smouldering boots after a blast of heat vision.

Honestly, I find it difficult to believe there isn't some sort of twist coming to explain the 'shock' moment away. I wouldn't be all together surprised to learn the good Captain is perfectly fine in the next issue. It's just not a good time for these types of fake-outs - and an even worse time for a genuine, frivolous extermination! He was our Hero of the Week only a month ago!

With any luck it'll all work out in the end, but I'd really love to see DC Comics retiring these kinds of cheap tricks. We discussed the diminishing returns of cheapening death in our Hawkman HOTW. The message of today's entry, and last week's, is the joy of accumulating strong characters into the living, breathing superhero universe. Here's hoping General Zod can exceed all expectations, instead of living down to ultimately meaningless sound and fury.