Friday, May 12, 2017

And No Dawn To Follow The Darkness (DC)
Supergirl #3 When: November 1996
Why: Peter David How: Gary Frank

The Story So Far...
When the life of young girl Linda Danvers was hanging in the balance -- Supergirl was there to save the day!

A failed demonic sacrifice resulted in the unlikely merging of hero and victim! Resettling in Leesburg, Virginia; Supergirl continues to live a dual life as loving daughter Linda - and protoplasmic Girl of Steel!

When a Sun-Eater plunges the world into darkness by consuming the Sun; evil forces conspire to take advantage - even in Leesburg! Supergirl is forced to protect the town's citizens from themselves as they devolve into a violent pack of berserk animals worshipping a beastly master!

The demonic cultist responsible for Linda Danvers' sacrifice has found a new ally in his corruption of Leesburg! Intent on remaking the town in his own image, Gorilla Grodd accepts a dark magic that threatens to destroy everyone - including Supergirl!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Supergirl 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Gorilla Grodd 5 (Professor)
Speed: Supergirl 5 (Super-Human)
Stamina: Supergirl 5 (Marathoner)
Agility: Gorilla Grodd 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Draw 3 (Street Wise)
Energy: Supergirl 5 (Lasers)
Total: Supergirl 30 (Super)

You know the drill. It's the might of The Girl of Steel against the articulate aggressions of a super-intelligent ape. Two characters we've seen before and know well - right? Not so fast, hotshot! All is not quite as it seems!

Supergirl may look similar to the last daughter of Krypton, but in actual fact she is a shape-shifting creature from a parallel universe known as Matrix!

Coming from a reality where Superman died in his youth; Matrix was created by a benevolent Lex Luthor in the image of his deceased love. He gave her natural super-human abilities of telekinesis, invisibility, shape shifting, and much the same strength, speed, stamina and endurance of the Kryptonian he admired.

When Lex accidentally freed Kryptonian criminals General Zod, Zaora and Quex-Ul from The Phantom Zone, he sent Matrix to retrieve the Superman of the main universe to aid in their struggle. Life on the parallel Earth was decimated by the villainous trio before Superman made the difficult decision to execute them. With Luthor dead and nothing tying her to her universe, Supergirl accompanied Superman home to the main universe.

Kara Zor-El didn't arrive in the post-Crisis DC Universe until years later, leaving Matrix to serve uninterrupted as Supergirl for a decade or so. During that time, she encountered, and fused with, a dying young girl named Linda Danvers. She absorbed aspects of her memory and personality, becoming trapped in a dual identity of Linda and Supergirl. This greatly limited her more adaptable powers, too. A status that brings us to today's fight!

Gorilla Grodd is a super-intelligent ape hailing from Gorilla City. He possesses great strength, stamina, durability, and telepathic abilities!

He's best known as an arch-nemesis of The Flash, but has been involved in a variety of schemes that have brought him into conflict with the Justice League, and its individual members.

We saw Grodd manipulate the Ultramarine Corps as pawns against The League in JLA: Classified #3. He briefly held Batman on a spit before The Dark Knight managed to turn the tables.

Grodd himself has been a member of various contentious collectives, including The Society and Injustice League. We saw him present for the organized execution of Martian Manhunter in Final Crisis: Requiem #1, and a massive team melee in Justice League of America #15.

The latter example demonstrated Grodd can both endure the strength of Wonder Woman, and overpower a young Firestorm. Compelling evidence that he's a physical match for Supergirl - and a psychological threat!

Grodd's telepathic abilities could be the key to victory, able to discover and exploit the uncertain mental state of the Danvers-merged protoplasmic being. Her best bet might be a frontal assault at super-speed, but she's running in without knowing her opponent -- someone who is used to tangling with multiple speedsters. Let's see how it went...

The Tape: Supergirl Ranking: Gorilla Grodd (#844)

What Went Down...
Supergirl enters the town church just in time to rescue Sylvia Danvers from a mob of bestial parishioners! Danvers, mother to the girl Matrix merged with, sought refuge with the local United Methodist priest, but found only madness!

Reverend Varvel's mind is as clouded by The Heart of Darkness talisman that transformed his flock. Danvers preaches against their pagan worship of "The Beast", but a voice from above interrupts her pleas. It is no divine intervention.

Gorilla Grodd swings from his perch upon a cross, wielding the talisman that's turning the people of Leesburg into animals. He addresses a confused Supergirl with contempt, mocking her "Superman suit" in response. She attacks!

Supergirl tackles Grodd head-on as he notes the exception of her resistance to the talisman's effects. He intends to remake the town in his own image. A party, he calls it, before issuing her "invitation" personally.

Locked at close quarters; Grodd presses the magic talisman to Supergirl's head!

The mental impact of her absorption of human girl Linda Danvers cost Matrix control over her physical form. If these powers could've been of any use, they fail when she needs them most.

Supergirl doubles over on hands & knees as the magic takes hold! The Heart of Darkness only works at night, but with the Earth's sun consumed by an alien Sun-Eater, there is no hope of relief.

Sylvia Danvers cries out to Supergirl, but the moniker has lost its meaning. When "The Maid of Steel" rises, she sneers through the fanged-teeth of an animal. A bestial roar confirms her transformation: Supergirl belongs to Grodd!

The Hammer...
Shock! Horror! Gorilla Grodd claims quick victory with a single deft manoeuvre! A stunning and cunning tactic that brings Supergirl over to his side: to be continued in the pages of Supergirl (Vol. 4) #4 -- and perhaps another featured fight in the future!

Gorilla Grodd is one of the exciting new additions playable in DC fighting game sequel: Injustice 2! Officially out for home consoles May 16th; Injustice 2 is the inspiration behind this month's featured fights!

Real-deal Kryptonian Supergirl is another of the characters I've been excited to see join the game. She looks to have a fairly major role, thanks in part to her connection to cousin Superman, who infamously turned tyrant in the first game.

You generally won't get me to say much positive about Injustice as a whole. The core concept and plot of the first game is thoroughly lacking. As part of what I'm calling a Supergirl renaissance, however, I think the sequel is peachy keen!

I gushed a whole lot late last year, describing my personal about-face on The Girl of Steel. After watching that first season of the live-action television series, I'm still very much in a mood of enthusiasm.

I would've liked this week's entry to be another contribution to our mounting Supergirl file, but as you've hopefully picked up from previous sections, this is the Matrix creature who served as Supergirl after Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Crisis rebooted the DC Universe without Superman's cousin. She'd sacrificed herself in the fight against the Anti-Monitor, famously mourned in Superman's arms on the cover of Crisis on Infinite Earths #7. She was ultimately the other big death of the series, overshadowed by the themes of legacy carried on after Barry Allen's sacrifice in Crisis #8.

Flash could be succeeded by his second, Wally West, but Supergirl herself was the derivative taken from Superman. Even if the newly streamlined DC Universe would acknowledge her, there was a valid question as to whether it should.

The mythology of Superman as the last son of Krypton has always been a great tag line - but it didn't ring true. In a new, savvy, cohesive DCU, there was an opportunity to restore Superman to his unique roots, erasing the fumbling excuses that introduced a cavalcade of other Kryptonians. There was a chance to make Kal-El special again -- and they did... Sort of...

The oddball compromise of Matrix, soon to be Supergirl, was first introduced in 1988. Just a couple of years after the streamlining of Crisis and Superman: Man of Steel; John Byrne was responsible for creating a very strange cake-and-eat-it compromise. This Supergirl wouldn't undermine Kal-El's unique story of survival, but would allow DC Comics a marketable facsimile.

I've got to think Byrne created his Supergirl under direction from DC editors. His reinvention was suitably steeped in mythology of the past, but any Supergirl seems slightly incongruous with the rest of his work. He outlined a no Supergirl, no Superboy philosophy focused on keeping Superman special in an interesting UseNet post archived by DC in the 80s.

For a long time, I probably would've supported the notion Supergirl should be omitted all together, too.

Secondary derivative characters are rarely satisfying, and Supergirl as a concept can only diminish qualities in Superman. It's a cold logic I still think holds up, but ignores the enjoyable twists a character like Supergirl can offer. Especially when the narrow focus of a reboot dissipates and decades of story are the measure once more.

Kara Zor-El crash landed in the post-Crisis DCU in 2004. Her arrival quickly nudged the Matrix Supergirl toward irrelevance, leading to several years of confusion over whether or not she was completely erased. Despite conflicting accounts of editors, the character endured in relative obscurity, at least until the mess was made even bigger with the line-wide re-launch of The New 52.

With the benefit of hindsight, you might call the creation of Matrix completely extraneous. If you're going to do Supergirl stories, you should probably just do Supergirl stories. As we can see, the awkward compromise only ended in a tangle of confusing and frustrating inconsistencies. Exactly the kind of problems they set out to solve with the 1985 Crisis.

It would be wonderful if examples like these could inform a smarter approach to the big company's comics. Alas, events like Crisis on Infinite Earths only seem to grant more license to perpetual do-overs as solution to poor decision making.

I'm glad the real-deal Supergirl is back in circulation, but it seems a shame to discard so much else.

There's clearly a place for considered alternatives to Superman's Kryptonian story. Supergirl imbues the powers and responsibility with a uniquely youthful, socially connected perspective. A more fun, grounded take than Superman's high ideals. That's evident even in the work of writers like Peter David, who made the most of telling contemporary stories with the Matrix knock-off, but should've been canonized by a character that withstood the ages.

I'm sure we'll be revisiting this corner of the DCU some time in the future. In the mean time, if you'd like to experience the Matrix Supergirl in her entirety yourself - take advantage of the Amazon link provided! Doing so will help support the site at no extra cost to you!

If the classics are more your speed, be sure to check out the Supergirl tag, or links littered throughout this post. Be here throughout the month as we dive deeper into DC Comics!

You can also dive into the Secret Archive to find every feature fight listed in order of publisher, series, and issue number! For daily battles inspired by the topics of the day, follow on Twitter and Facebook. A like and share is always much appreciated!

Winner: Gorilla Grodd
#355 (+489) Gorilla Grodd
#841 (new) Supergirl (Matrix)

Monday, May 08, 2017

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

Featured Fights:
- vs BLACK PANTHER: Tales of Suspense #98 (Feb 1968)
- vs BATROC & MR. HYDE: Captain America #251 (Nov 1980)
- vs MR. HYDE: Captain America #252 (Dec 1980)
- vs WOLVERINE: Captain America #405 (Aug 1992)
- vs DOPPELGANGER: Captain America #408 (Oct 1992)
- vs PUNISHER: What If...? #51 (Jul 1993)
- vs BATMAN: Marvel versus DC #3 (Apr 1996)
- vs NAZIS: Captain America #1 (Nov 1996)
- vs THOR & LOKI: Avengers #1 (Nov 1996)
- vs HULK: Avengers #4 (Feb 1997)
- vs BARON ZEMO & MODOK: Captain America #6 (Apr 1997)
- vs DESTROYER: Thor #1 (Jul 1998)
- vs EXILES: Exiles #31 (Oct 2003)
- vs INVADERS: New Invaders #0 (Aug 2004)
- vs SINISTER TWELVE: Marvel Knights: Spider-man #11 (Apr 2005)
- vs CROSSBONES: Captain America #4 (Apr 2005)
- vs RED SKULL & NAZIS: Captain America #5 (May 2005)
- vs SILVER SURFER: Marvel Zombies #3 (Apr 2006)
- vs GALACTUS: Marvel Zombies #5 (Jun 2006)
- vs SHIELD: Civil War #1 (Jul 2006)
- vs AVENGERS: Civil War #3 (Sep 2006)
- vs BARON ZEMO: Thunderbolts #105 (Oct 2006)
- vs ATLANTIS: Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #9 (Mar 2007)
- vs MASTER MAN: Reborn #2 (Oct 2009)

Captain America is a Hydra agent and he always has been. I can't say the premise of Marvel's Secret Empire has me particularly interested, but this week's Free Comic Book Day special demands attention for putting Thor's hammer Mjolnir in the hands of a treasonous Steve Rogers!

A wildfire of critical opinion seems to already be flickering around Secret Empire, grafting political unease in the United States onto the fictional scenario. Consternation over what it means to paint Captain America as a pseudo-Nazi seems to overlook the common trope of an alternate or altered reality, and the obvious temporary nature of stories like these.

Suggesting Hydra Cap is worthy of lifting Thor's hammer offers a much needed wrinkle to what I would otherwise consider a very uninteresting premise. I find it difficult to share any of the passion that's come from fans fiercely for - or against. At this point, it feels as if it's a warn out scenario. Just another Marvel event in the vain of House of M, Fear ItselfAge of Ultron and other disappointments.

More over, it compounds the problem of Marvel's icons being largely unavailable over significant amounts of time. Last month I talked about the obvious strain of trading the mainstays for a new generation of replacements. Captain America comes with the added frustration of the last decade spending so much time without offering the iconic, good old fashioned Cap fans know and love.

2007's Captain America #25 took Steve Rogers off the board for two years when he was assassinated after surrendering at the end of Civil War. He made his obligatory return in 2009's Captain America: Reborn, only to be quickly repositioned as the new Director of SHIELD, and again when his super-soldier serum induced youth was stripped. It looked like another triumphant restart was launched for the character's 75th anniversary -- but here we are again anticipating more time wasted.

It's been a long time since Marvel's big events have had real gravitas, or an interesting hook. This one didn't seem to have much more than the usual clich├ęs to offer, but maybe they have something up their sleeve. I certainly hope so. Marvel are calling it their last big event for a while, and I think we'll all be grateful. They keep selling the death, corruption, and weakness of their own characters, when the most interesting pitch might actually just be telling good, old fashioned, run of the mill stories.

I'm not ready to invest in the story just yet, but I'll be interested to see what lies beneath the otherwise tired and obvious concept. If a Hydra super-soldier is worthy of lifting Mjolnir, there clearly must be more to the story! That's what makes Captain America our Hero of the Week!

If, like me, you're a little tired of all the shenanigans, and just want to enjoy Captain America kicking bad guys (especially Nazis) in the face - fear not! You can check out some of Cap's best featured fights at the top of this post, or dive into the Secret Archive to read about even more true blue exploits! A heroic figure of inspiration is something I'm sure everybody could use!

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Friday, May 05, 2017

No One Defeats Brainiac! (DC)
Adventures of Superman #519 When: January 1995 Why: Karl Kesel How: Barry Kitson & Mike Manley

The Story So Far...
The world mourned when Superman gave his life to stop the rampaging behemoth known as Doomsday. To fill his void emerged four heroes claiming to be the genuine article, unaware the real Superman would survive his injuries, and return from the grave to fight for truth and justice once again! Or did he...?

The citizens of Metropolis are forced to question the legitimacy of their hero once again when his corpse rematerializes inside the abandoned tomb! Even Superman himself is unsure of his reality, beginning a search of any villain who may be responsible!

Brainiac appears beyond suspicion, remaining comatose on the planet New Genesis after his last battle. Even in this state, however, his powerful mind envisions the demise of his arch-nemesis! Brainiac did indeed create the false image of a fallen Superman while in his coma -- and now he has returned to make that vision a reality!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Superman 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Brainiac 6 (Genius)
Speed: Superman 6 (Mach Speed)
Stamina: Superman 6 (Generator)
Agility: Superman 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Superman 3 (Street Wise)
Energy: Draw 5 (Lasers)
Total: Superman 33 (Super)

Time to kick-off a big month of DC Injustice with the long overdue debut for one of the DC Universe's greatest threats! He's a nemesis well known to Superman, but we're yet to see what he can do in the Secret Wars on Infinite Earths!

Brainiac is a naturally gifted scientific genius from the planet Colu. Real name Vril Dox, he fought against the Computer Tyrants who ruled his home world, before leaving the planet in search of greater knowledge and experience.

Notoriously known as The Collector of Worlds; Brainiac used his advanced technologies to literally shrink entire cities for storage and examination. The most famous of his stolen domains is the bottled city of Kandor: the last surviving populace of Superman's birth planet - Krypton!

Brainiac became a nemesis for Superman when he found his way to Earth, making various attempts to steal landmass, threaten loved ones, and generally cause terror. During this time he possessed various bodies of artificial and living nature, including a telepathic magician named Milton Fine, and even Lex Luthor!

His powers have included advanced mechanical weapons, remote manipulation of computers and technology, super-human strength, speed, telekinesis, enhanced durability and stamina, and a phenomenal level of natural intellect!

We haven't seen Superman go up against anyone quite like his old nemesis Brainiac, but there have been various instances of battles against the brilliant, the brawny, and well equipped!

Look no further than Marvel's green-skinned Hulk for an opponent who possessed both phenomenal strength and intellect, but was defeated by Superman in Marvel versus DC #3! We also saw him effortlessly stop Lex Luthor in his armored power-suit during a team skirmish in Justice League of America #15!

In Action Comics #713, we saw Superman challenged by a very different opponent - a zealous villain calling himself Saviour! He could literally manifest weapons or super-powers by sheer force of belief, conjuring thought into reality through advanced psycho-kinesis.

For today's feature fight Brainiac has reassumed the Milton Fine personality he once possessed. That means heavy on conjuring and psychic manifestation. The same year as Savior and similar tactics. That means he's dangerous, but the same combination of determination and cunning can deliver Supes to victory.

The Tape: Superman Ranking: Superman (#6)

What Went Down...
Superman and the Special Crimes Unit watch desperately as the green menace called Brainiac stands amidst the carnage of a torn Metropolis street. In his hand he clutches the sweater of Lois Lane: Star reporter for The Daily Planet, and the love of Superman's life!

A hostage, Lois may be - but never helpless! With Brainiac distracted by a mano-a-mano challenge from The Man of Steel; Lois pivots to thrust her boot heel deep into an unsuspecting torso!

Freedom comes with a price. Lois now faces certain death hovering above the gaping chasm rendered in the road -- or so it seems. In reality, the drop is just an illusion cast by the malicious mind of Brainiac! With his trick exposed, he turns his mental powers toward the meddlesome reporter. Superman acts!

Like a living missile Superman fly-tackles Brainiac from behind, diverting his intended mental strike against Lois!

Superman confronts his arch-nemesis over the manifestation of a doppelganger created in the image of his corpse. The accidental apparition becomes Brainiac's physical threat. The dead Man of Steel stands and unleashes raw heat vision!

Superman recovers from the surprise attack and retaliates with a devastating right cross to his mirror's jaw! The imitation Superman appears to share the original's phenomenal durability. He fires back with a right hand of his own!

No mere illusion - the false Superman hoists massive pieces of rubble and smashes them over the true Man of Steel! The genuine article is undeterred, bursting from the debris to attack like a speeding bullet!

The hero has no reason to hold back against the soulless construct. He pummels his short-haired doppelganger as they fly through the air -- and a nearby building! They make a crash-landing at the feet of the Special Crimes Unit, but emerging from the dust are now two identical Supermen!

With the copy now claiming legitimacy, the SCU decide to take everybody in for questioning to sort it out peacefully. Lois Lane has a better idea, quizzing the duplicate heroes on the one person they'd save if Brainiac was about to destroy Earth. One rejects the premise, while the other chooses Lois. The latter, offering the answer Lois wants to hear -- which goes unheard by all others!

With his gambit exposed; Brainiac destroys Turpin's pistol with a bolt of mental energy and rushes for his phony Superman! He dives head-first at the motionless copy -- absorbing its mental energies in a dazzling blast of light!

The Brainiac that emerges is surrounded in a shell of raw energy! He uses his full power to launch a frontal physical assault on his unwavering nemesis!

Superman is sent smashing into a nearby building, but emerges unscathed. Brainiac hoists a nearby truck above his head, responding to his foe's defiance by pile driving him into the street with the heavy duty vehicle!

The villain proposes Metropolis be Superman's tombstone, offering to dig his grave. He does so, pounding the ground with sufficient force to send a very real tremor that rips through the road!

Once again, The Man of Tomorrow paws his way from the rubble. He's getting tired of "everyone trying to do their version of The Death of Superman!" His nemesis doesn't mind playing a "variation on a theme".

A blast of telekinetic energy shunts Superman into a would-be early grave, but the only prematurity is Brainiac's celebratory cackling as he covers Superman in dirt! He rises -- coming for Brainiac with clenched fists!

An uppercut rattles Brainiac inside his telekinetic force field! A right hook snaps his head sideways as if a direct hit! A tackle pushes him through the remaining bricks and mortar of a crumbled wall! A straight right comes with the musing that Brainiac is just two-bit carnival magician Milton Fine! The shell cracks!

The mentalist attempts to reinforce the confidence of his shielding and persona. He claims intergalactic terror at the name Brainiac - but Superman isn't buying it! With but a single extended hand, he catches Brainiac's fist - and responds!

A determined right hand shatters Brainiac's force field!

The impact reduces the fiend to a quivering shadow of his former self. Exposed, he clings briefly to a rejection of defeat before passing out. The mental toll of Superman's attack on his mind and force field clearly too great!

When Brainiac recovers shortly thereafter, he is no longer the intergalactic menace who plagues Metropolis! Instead, he has resumed the personality of magician Milton Fine. Superman helps him to his feet, ushering him to a better life -- at least for as long as it will last.

The Hammer...
A slightly ignoble end for one of the DC Universe's most notorious villains, but a welcome induction into The Comic Book Fight Club!

Brainiac is one of the bigger names to have eluded the Secret Wars on Infinite Earths over the years. There's never been any conceited effort to keep him out of the fighting ranks, but I have to admit, he hasn't been flagged as a priority until now.

It's always been a given that Brainiac comes somewhere just behind Lex Luthor in the pantheon of classic Superman villains. His status was earned over some sixty years of tyranny, beginning with his print debut in 1958.

I tend to think the past weighs heavily on Brainiac. He's a quintessential sci-fi baddy of the time, right at home with movie villains of the '50s and early '60s. Attempts to modernize the character have led to a long and tangled history, not always to the benefit of the character, or the removal of dated reference.

The Milton Fine version (seen today), though visually distinct, doesn't do a great deal to ingratiate the character into preference. I've gotta note: I really looking at this issue. Mike Manley's finishes are sumptuously strong and really pop with the bold colour palette of Glenn Whitmore. All those vivid purples, greens, and oranges are a treat with those deep inky blacks! Always nice to see Superman in bold blue and red, too. Trunks included.

The big-headed, moustachio magician still feels as much a throwback as a green man from outer space who wants to shrink the city. I have to imagine that's one of the reasons the character remained in flux.

I have some appreciation for the robot-bodied Brainiac that came just prior to the possession of Milton Fine. Immortalized in the Super Powers toy line and comics, and briefly seen in Crisis on Infinite Earths, that version did a solid job of reinventing a visual palette worthy of the pop culture of the eighties.

The skeletal robotic vision came a year before The Terminator was in theatres, and gave Brainiac a real sense of menace. It was a big departure from the green skinned villain of yore, but still felt like it had a foot in the sci-fi tropes of a bygone era, lingering fondly in popular reference.

I imagine the relatively short-lived robot form was a tough sell to traditionalists, and I ultimately appreciate subsequent attempts in the 2000s to consolidate the various styles. The modern Brainiac that's still a green-skinned humanoid, but suitably symbiotic in his relationship with technology, is a nice fusion.

As time goes on, I tend to see increasing value in restoring some characters to their original presentation. Modern sensibilities have had a tendency to push things into a convergence of repeating motifs. The more the meanings of early reference fade into obscurity, the more they become viable as a sense of identity, rather than anachronism. For those who know, the fifties spaceman with the citywide shrink ray is a torchbearer. For those who don't, he's an eerie phantom of strange intent.

Slithery, techno-tendrils add danger and a creepy pseudo-organic vibe that feels almost The Matrix meets Hellraiser. I'm not sure if the current version of Brainiac will endure as the definitive vision, but I've got no beef.

That's the version you'll find in Injustice 2 when it invades home consoles May 16th! Brainiac is the big bad boss invading the world of the fighting game sequel. Featured fights in May will be taking loose inspiration from the game, spotlighting some of the new and returning characters!

This entry is a big one for fans of the fighting ranks, as well! Superman punches his way back into the Top 5 with today's feature victory. Trainspotters will note he bumps Marvel rival Hulk back down to #6 as a result!

Want to see more of the fights that shaped the ranks? Dive into the Secret Archive to find every battle organized by publisher, series and issue. Or, follow along on Twitter and Facebook to get daily fights inspired by the topics of the day! Throw a like and a share to amaze your friends and support the site!

Winner: Superman
#5 (+1) Superman
#158 (+117) Dan Turpin [+1 assist]
#524 (new) Lois Lane [+1 assist]
#839 (new) Brainiac

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Throughout last month's featured fights; the Secret Wars on Infinite Earths got decidedly cosmic in anticipation for the theatrical release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2! In wide release on May 5th, the wait is nearly over! To get you ready: we're going Cover to Cover with some of the best battles featuring characters from the movie - and a few of their friends!

Behind each cover below you'll find famous fights featuring: Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax The Destroyer, Groot, Rocket, Ego The Living Planet, Nebula, Ronan The Accuser, Nova, and Thanos! Simply hit the cover of your choice to be transported to each corner of the galaxy!

Still craving space adventures from even more exotic sources? Dive in to the Secret Archive to find battles from even further corners of the multiverses!

Monday, May 01, 2017

Real Name: Ultron
First Appearance: Avengers #54 (July, 1968)
Fight Club Ranking: #202

Featured Fights:
- vs MACHINE MAN & THING: Marvel Two-In-One #92 (Oct 1982)

It looks like robotic bosses with purple highlights are this year's must-have fighting game accessory! Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite revealed its fused final boss in a pair of trailers last week, combining Marvel's Ultron with Mega Man X baddy Sigma to create "Ultron-Sigma".

This will mark Ultron's first appearance in the Marvel vs Capcom video game series, so it makes a bit of sense from that perspective. It's nice to see a new addition to the series - hopefully one of many. With that in mind, I'm doing my best to resist looking at it in terms of an ill-timed tie-in.

Age of Ultron events in comics (2013) and movies (2015) are still fresh in mind, and not especially fond memories, but MvCI will hopefully be the exception to the rule. A purple mecha-boss with endless armies of drones also strays awfully close to Brainiac in this month's DC fighting release Injustice 2, but again, it's probably best not to hold that against the MVC3 sequel.

Ultron will appear as a playable character independent of his boss form, which looks like a lot of fun in the gameplay trailer also released last week! Infinity Gems are back in a big way in MVCI, and you can see Ultron using the Space Stone to drastically reduce the area available to his opponent!

Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Rocket Raccoon, and Chun-Li are among the other favourites also featured in the story trailer. The line-up seems to support rumors that the Marvel side will focus heavily on their popular film properties. Although, one does wonder if Thanos wouldn't have made a stronger boss choice, if that really is the case.

There's been a lot of consternation over the expected omission of X-Men characters, who were a much bigger part of the series in the nineties. They've been persona non grata in a lot of arenas in recent years, allegedly due to tensions between Disney and X-Men film licensers: FOX.

The X-Men's role in the Versus series was largely due to their extreme popularity in the early nineties, which spawned Capcom's first Marvel fighting game in 1994: X-Men: Children of the Atom. Sprites from that game continued in subsequent releases, including Marvel Super Heroes (late 1995) and their inaugural crossover X-Men versus Street Fighter (1996).

That steady run clearly fostered a strong X-following among gamers, but from a comics perspective, I tend to think a break could be a good thing. In terms of function, we could see interesting substitutes for popular characters like Wolverine, Magneto and Deadpool, introducing heroes like Drax, Scarlet Witch and Winter Soldier into the series. Missing Sentinel? How about Ant-Man/Giant-Man?

I'd love to see Capcom introduce more martial artists into the series, too! Iron Fist was cool! I'd love to see the likes of Black Panther, Daredevil, Elektra, Bullseye, Black Widow, Blade, Shang-Chi and even Batroc the Leaper! Hey, don't laugh! This is the series that briefly made Shuma-Gorath a household name! Even Taskmaster and Super-Skrull were pleasant, Batroc-type surprises in MVC3!

Traditionally Capcom have been excellent at getting the most out of their characters. Here's hoping Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite blazes some interesting new trails when it arrives later this year! For now, Ultron walks the path of our Hero of the Week!