Saturday, February 02, 2019

Impact! (DC)
Superman: The Man of Steel #24 When: August 1993 Why: Louise Simonson How: Jon Bogdanove

The Story So Far...
When Superman apparently died defeating the rampaging behemoth known as Doomsday -- four men were inspired to fill the void under the guise of a new Superman!

When the visor-wearing Superman known as "The Last Son of Krypton" comes to confront the "Man of Steel", they're interrupted by representatives of businessman Rex Leech, who claims to own trademark rights to the name "Superman". Attempts to issue a cease & desist draws a violent reaction from The Last Son, who ignites the papers with his mastery of energy!

To protect the innocent, Steel carries his challenger away from the server with hopes of reasoning with him -- but Eradicator takes them into a deadly nosedive towards Coast City! The impact crater will be their battleground as two of the reigning Supermen battle it out for ultimate supremacy!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Eradicator 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Eradicator 5 (Professor)
Speed: Eradicator 6 (Mach-Speed)
Stamina: Draw 5 (Marathoner)
Agility: Draw 2 (Average)
Fighting: Draw 3 (Street Wise)
Energy: Eradicator 6 (Mass Destruction)
Total: Eradicator 33 (Super)

During Reign of the Supermen there were four heroes who claimed to fulfill the legacy of the thought-dead Superman. The veracity of each claim varied, with some more effectively passing themselves off as the genuine article.

Eradicator was dubbed "The Last Son of Krypton", and had the benefit of creating an artificially engineered body with direct genetic likeness and partial psychic memories of Superman. So convincing was this doppelganger that The Eradicator even came to briefly believe he was indeed the genuine article!

Despite sharing many characteristics with Superman himself; Eradicator's unique make-up processes and perceives energy to a far greater degree than ordinary Kryptonians. This required him to wear a visor to filter light, and meant he frequently projected energy blasts through his hands. Eradicator used these powers when an unconvinced Guy Gardner attacked him in Action Comics #688!

Steel was a literal "Man of Steel", wearing a gleaming suit of armor of his own design. John Henry Irons had been a construction worker when he was rescued by Superman from a potentially fatal fall. In another life, he used his gift for engineering to create deadly new weapons. Inspired to make amends, he forged his armor to bring an end to the gangs using his guns on the streets.

Eradicator is clearly more powerful than Steel, but the armor has been seen to withstand significant offensive attacks over the years! He endured the searing heat of Plasmus in Steel #28, and munitions fired by Metallo in Steel #21! Even stripped of his armor, John Henry Irons showed true grit when standing against a super-powered Lex Luthor, withstanding brutal punishment to win in 52 #42!

Steel will have to endure if he's going to have any hope of overcoming Eradicator's natural power advantage. We've seen Eradicator go toe-to-toe with a yellow power ring, and a shock & awe onslaught could put Steel down!

The Tape: Eradicator Ranking: Steel (#30)

What Went Down...
Steel and Eradicator glare intensely at one another, hunched to one knee in a crater freshly made of their impact. The self-proclaimed "Last Son of Krypton" makes his intensions clear: he will kill Steel if that's what it takes to remain unchallenged as the one true Superman.

The Eradicator follows-up on his promise with a powerful blast of energy!

The raw power overwhelms the armored chest of the Man of Steel -- launching him wildly across the crater! Tumbling to the ground offers no reprieve as Eradicator pours on the power, coldly walking toward his prey with arm outstretched.

Remarkably: Steel endures - absorbing the brutal onslaught long enough to be within reach of his unflinching adversary. He defiantly shouts "NO!" and grabs Eradicator by the wrist! If this man wishes to claim the mantle of Superman -- he will have to embody it!

With righteous anger Steel rises to smash his metallic fist across the Eradicator's face! He will not suffer the indignity of a pretender who would silence his adversaries by resorting to murder!

The Man of Steel continues his lesson - dishing out a four-hit combination of left to right punches as he recaps the ills of Eradicator's malice. Steel questions his next move -- shattering the visor that filters intense lightwaves from his eyes.

Even as pain assaults his sensitive vision, Eradicator contemplates the ease with which he could utterly destroy his mortal opponent. With every blow that twists and contorts his face, he wonders why Steel would so intently pursue a fight he cannot win. With this line of internal questioning - the verge of epiphany!

Steel holds his silent opponent by the cape, keeping Eradicator on his knees, as he defends the legacy of Superman, and the shield they've both chosen to adopt.
Suddenly: sirens - as police surround the crater with squad cars and a helicopter to order the dueling super-powers to put their hands up.

Contemplating a need for human compassion in his actions; the Eradicator leaps into the air, bequeathing Metropolis to the "good hands" of Steel. He will instead pursue a distress call from Coast City, overheard on the police radio band.

The Hammer...
Over the past few years I've been reflecting upon the legacy of Death of Superman, and pondering its impact through the context of where comics are a couple of decades later. As time goes by, the criticisms that seemed excessive in the '90s and early 2000s now seem to take on greater prescience.

The "Death of Superman" was always easy to be conceptually opposed to, but even as the model for the pointless circus of death we now routinely endure in modern comics -- I find it difficult to look back with the same vitriol, or alarm.

Don't get me wrong. It disappoints me that the Death of Superman is becoming a recurring staple of the Superman mythology. It's not a story I feel should be revisited with any regularity at all. It was absurd to see Henry Cavill's live-action Superman die in only his second big screen outing. A second animated version of the Death of Superman, released last year, addresses weaknesses in the shallow 2007 version (Superman: Doomsday), but is otherwise unnecessary and counter-productive, lionizing the death of superheroes to the masses.

As Warner Bros releases Reign of the Supermen in follow-up, I find myself revisiting issues of the original 1993 crossover, and I think I'm starting to form a better understanding for why I don't regard that period with the same disdain of its many subsequent echoes. In short: it created more than it destroyed.

Superman: Man of Steel #24 makes a wonderful case for what makes Steel a great legacy character. Of the four heroes who attempted to fill the void left by Superman, he arguably had the least convincing claim. Eradicator, Cyborg Superman, and Superboy all had strong visual, genetic, and super-powered ties to the genuine article. Steel was just a guy in a suit of armor with a hammer.

Yet, as Eradicator learns through our featured fight: Steel better embodied the heroic spirit and determination of Superman than any of the others! His actions were innately heroic, selfless. He was everything Superman should inspire.

In other mediums and casual reference it's all too easy to think death was what was important about Death of Superman. It wasn't. In truth, Superman was only "dead" for around six or seven months. Just long enough to explore the ideas and world through four new facets of Superman's legacy. Characters that embellished, contributed to, and examined that world, for good and bad.

Superhero universes are at their best when they're alive and vibrant with all kinds of weird and wonderful characters poking around the corners. The four that came out of Reign of the Supermen have continued to be strong additions to the tapestry of the universe. A universe that should always have Superman, evergreen and true in spirit, at its pinnacle.

Long time readers will know all about my Steel fandom. That's certainly reflected in the rankings, which will now see Steel break into the Top 20! Yes, Eradicator presumed he could wipe Steel out, but in the end he left under duress, suffering the consequences of Steel's beat down. That's a win!

Want to judge the result for yourself? You can find this issue collected in various editions. Use the purchase links provided to pick yourself up a copy and Amazon will help support Secret Wars on Infinite Earths at no extra charge to you!

Discover more battles and musings about these characters by following links throughout this post, tags at the bottom, or by diving into the Secret Archive! Every featured fight is indexed by publisher, series, and issue number! You can also get daily links inspired by the topics of the day by subscribing on Twitter and Facebook! A like, share, or retweet would be much appreciated!

Winner: Steel
#20 (+10) Steel
#551 (-126) Eradicator

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Return of the Thunder (DC)
Convergence Shazam #1 When: June 2015
Why: Jeff Parker How: Evan "Doc" Shaner

The Story So Far...
The coming of Telos pits entire worlds against one another as they converge in the ultimate battle of inter-dimensional survival! Encased in crystalline domes devised by his master Brainiac: each chosen capital awaits its fate as the crisis consumes the multiverse!

In Fawcett City, forces of evil work to capitalize on the predicament of their encasement! While the dome denies the Marvel Family their power-giving lightning -- other heroes, such as the soaring Bulletman & Bulletwoman, work to keep the city safe in their absence!

A powerless Billy Batson broadcasts the call for hope as he and his friends investigate strange goings on in the subterranean traffic ways beneath the city. It turns out Doctor Sivana has discovered Captain Marvel's secret identity and assembled a new Monster Society of Evil to take full advantage!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Captain Marvel 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Dr. Sivana 6 (Professor)
Speed: Captain Marvel 5 (Super-Human)
Stamina: Mr. Atom 6 (Generator)
Agility: Mary Marvel 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Captain Marvel 3 (Street Wise)
Energy: Dr. Sivana 4 (Arsenal)
Total: Captain Marvel 30 (Super)

The Marvel Family are: Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr, Mary Marvel, Tawky Tawny, Uncle Dudley, and Sterling Morris.

Captain Marvel is the magically charged powerhouse of the Marvel Family, who's summoned to action when Billy Batson speaks the name of the wizard Shazam! His enchanted pantheon of powers have been displayed battling the likes of: Black Adam [Hawkman #24], Macro-Man [Legends #1], Thor [Marvel versus DC #2], and Superman in a series of contests found in Action Comics Annual #4, Superman #216, Superman/Batman #4, and Kingdom Come #4!

Captain Marvel shares his powers and name with friends and sibling Captain Marvel Jr and Mary Marvel, whose strength comes at a minor cost to the hero. Fortunately, the extra muscle of the Marvel Family is worth every bit!

We've seen Cap Junior battle Iron Goblins in DCU: Brave New World #1, and withstand Marvel's unstoppable Juggernaut in Unlimited Access #3! Mary's no slouch either, having braved Black Adam [Power of Shazam #11], and bested Wonder Woman and Supergirl while corrupted during Final Crisis #3 and #6!

These three alone present a formidable line-up, but they can also count on the courage of Secret Wars on Infinite Earths newcomer: Tawky Tawny! He's a talking man-tiger whose dignified claws are always ready to fight the good fight!

Uncle Dudley and broadcast boss Sterling Morris probably aren't going to make the difference in battle, but against such formidable foes, their extra eyes and ears may come in handy -- as long as they can stay out of danger!

The Monster Society of Evil are: Doctor Sivana, Mister Atom, Ibac, and King Kull.

The mad genius of Doctor Sivana was part of The Society think tank that brought about the demise of Martian Manhunter in Final Crisis: Requiem. Giant self-aware robot Mister Atom was also part of the villainous Society, lending his nuclear-powered strength to an attack on Powergirl during Infinite Crisis #2.

These wicked minds are joined by: Ibac - a crook whose magic word was bestowed by Lucifer to endow him with the power of history's greatest villains! He wields the terror of Ivan the Terrible, cunning of Borgia, fierceness of Attila the Hun, and cruelty of Caligula - names spelling IBAC!

Another of history's great evils is King Kull - a pre-historic menace who ruled a race of Submen who were hunted to extinction in a war with humanity. Despite his ancient status, Kull is a technological genius, who survived into the modern era by being suspended in animation.

The Tape: Marvel Family Ranking: Captain Marvel Jr (#69)

What Went Down...
While following Sterling Morris and their Uncle Dudley, Billy & Mary Batson convene with Freddy Freeman only to find themselves suddenly basked in the atomic light of Mister Atom! The menacing machine takes them underground where "Uncle Dudley" reveals himself to be a magically disguised Doctor Sivana!

The Doctor's illusion also reveals "Morris" to be Ibac, assembled with King Kull as the newest incarnation of The Monster Society of Evil! Sivana has discovered the Marvel Family's true identity and worked to infiltrate their ranks, but the same impenetrable dome that denies the Marvels their magic lightning has also trapped he and his co-conspirator Ibac in their unremarkable forms!

Just as the villains prepare to muzzle and restrain their prisoners -- another enters the underground cavern: The Marvel's old friend Tawky Tawny!

The fabulous feline leaps clear of a deadly ray gun blasted by Doctor Sivana!

Fast thinking Mary kicks the gun clear, while Tawny contends with a headlock from Ibac. Fortunately, the magical menace merely possesses the strength of Mr. Morris, allowing Tawny to effortlessly upend him into the stone wall!

Tawny frees the young Marvels while Billy holds the villains at bay with one of their own weapons -- until Mister Atom obliterates it with a powerful blast! He's accompanied by the techno-savvy savage King Kull, who also assaults Tawny's ears with a deafening sonic weapon!

Kull brings news of a change to the dome over Fawcett City. Ibac wastes no time testing his magical word, transforming back to mortal Stanley Printwhistle.

One magic word deserves another -- Billy Batson leads the charge: SHAZAM!

Captain Marvel flies across the cavern to confront Mister Atom with the strength of Hercules -- while two more lightning bolts transform his junior allies!

Alas, a puff of smoke and Sulphur signals the transformation of Printwhistle back to the vile Ibac! He takes great pleasure in cutting Captain Marvel Jr off with a devastating right hook to the cheek!

Mister Atom recovers from the Captain's mighty fists and blinds Mary Marvel with an intense nuclear light! At the same time: King Kull clobbers Captain Marvel with a primitive club, and Dr. Sivana zaps Tawny with electric gauntlets!

Sivana is so caught up in the glee of doing harm on The Monster Society's "home court" he doesn't even notice the rattle of chains behind him! The very bonds that held them hostage for months become instruments of justice in the hands of Sterling Morris and Uncle Dudley as they garrote the mad scientist!

Meanwhile, Ibac narrowly avoids saying his own name as he fumes over the blood spilled from his own nose. He takes it out on Captain Marvel Jr by swinging him by the cape through nearby walls!

Mister Atom encourages Ibac and Kull to press their advantage -- towering as he fires concussive blasts at Captain Marvel and a leaping Mary Marvel! The destructive energy does as much to erode the structural surroundings as it does the erstwhile heroes, encouraging Tawny, Sterling, and Dudley to take leave.

The super-powered Marvels begin to turn the tables on the Monster Society as dust and debris fills the confined lair! Cap Junior buries his fists into Ibac's gut at speed, while Captain Marvel rips one of Atom's mighty mechanical arms off and kayos King Kull in one foul swoop!

The action beneath the subway is finally too much! Sivana cries out as the wrenching of stone announces the collapse of the building! The very home court that provided the Monster Society their advantage now buries them!

The Hammer...
The building may've collapsed, but the Marvel Family are still standing - emerging from the debris relatively unscathed!

You can thank Captain Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr for the lion's share of the victory, but everyone involved did their part to ensure The Monster Society of Evil was defeated!

I got a special kick out of finally getting Tawky Tawny on the record. The snappy dressing man-tiger was a stand-out of Final Crisis, and I've been hoping to get around to him ever since. His unapologetic inclusion in Convergence: Shazam was one of the simple pleasures of an issue that's pretty light on story.

The issue drops readers right into the middle of a crisis situation for Captain Marvel and Fawcett City. The overarching background premise was similar to Marvel's 2015 Secret Wars -- pitting different incarnations of DC characters against one another in an inter-dimensional battle for survival. Crisis-lite.

Convergence was extra heavy on nostalgia, using specific periods in publishing history, as well as well known alternate realities. Convergence Shazam #1 has the benefit of acting as a stand-alone introduction to Earth-S, and DC's modern-classic take on the Marvel Family. The second (and final) issue pits Earth-S against the world of popular Elseworlds story Batman: Gotham By Gaslight.

The whole first issue would be an unbridled joy -- if it wasn't such a perfect proof-of-concept for the type of comic book DC Entertainment has largely refused to publish throughout the 2010s. A bittersweet moment of clarity.

The heavy hitters are all here, with original iconic names and design mostly in tact, and beautifully rendered by colorist Jordie Bellaire and penciler Doc Shaner. Sadly, this is novelty enough to sell an issue in 2015 -- or a couple of years later, when I picked it up on the cheap.

In my estimation, Shaner is one of the stand-out artists working for DC in this decade. You probably couldn't ask for a better creative team to take a classically infused Captain Marvel forward. Alas, that just doesn't seem to be an option.

DC are still periodically dangling the carrot of a more iconic, classic style of comic, but Convergence was merely one of a string of hollow teasers following the New 52 hard reboot. Ultimately, Convergence was conceived as a publishing holding pattern for the months DC was shutting down their traditional home in New York City, and making the move to Burbank. It was a temporary reprieve and last hurrah for a continuum many probably understood to be missed.

What makes this type of comic so special? The devil's in the details: from the simple rendering of Captain Marvel's costume and sash, to the wholesome under current of young kids bravely defying to do good, and thwart evil! Their best friend is a talking tiger wearing tweed and a tie, and their arch-nemesis is a kooky mad scientist. It's fun, fun, fun -- and distinct, as well. Too rare!

This is the type of comic that could hold on to its retro charms and identity, while embracing qualities that feel entirely contemporary! Instead of chasing Superman's tail, or trying to fit in with the Justice League, this is a property that could lead the way with its own distinct flavor, tackling a market that's about to lose family entertainment brands like Steven Universe and Adventure Time.

This runs counter to the Hollywood version of "Shazam" hitting the big screen in April. Mirroring a current revival in comics: this New 52 version of the big red cheese plays more like a mean-spirited pitch of Superman meets Big. It's playing more to the power fantasies of a child in a superhero's body, while eschewing the retro aesthetic that makes the whole thing flavourful.

With the big screen home to so many formulaic mediocrities, Shazam still feels like a change of pace, but like Billy Batson gazing up to find hope in Bulletman & Bulletwoman's heroics, I'll be holding on to the shining example of Convergence Shazam #1, hoping the magic lightning of Shazam will hit DC Comics.

Wanna dig deeper into the DC Comics back catalogue? Discover more treasure by following links throughout this post, and by diving into the Secret Archive! There you'll find all featured fights in order of publisher, series, and issue number. You can also subscribe to Secret Wars  on Infinite Earths on Twitter and Facebook for daily fights inspired by the topics of the day! A like, share, or retweet would sure be appreciated!

Winners: Marvel Family
#42 (+27) Captain Marvel Jr
#70 (+49) Captain Marvel
#110 (+217) Mary Marvel
#319 (new) Tawky Tawny
#320 (new) Uncle Marvel
#321 (new) Sterling Morris
#557 (-53) Doctor Sivana
#873 (new) King Kull
#874 (new) Ibac
#888 (-202) Mister Atom

Friday, January 11, 2019

Battle Lines (Marvel)
Ms. Marvel #6 When: October 2006
Why: Brian Reed How: Roberto De La Torre

The Story So Far...
When super-villains fleeing the New Warriors caused the destruction of Stamford, Connecticut and deaths of thousands, the US government is mobilized to create the Superhuman Registration Act. Supported by prominent figures, like Iron Man, the act makes it law for super-powered individuals to divulge their personal details and enlist as part of a fully sanctioned force.

Some heroes follow the example of Captain America, opposing the invasive authoritarian action by going underground. To apprehend and detain these rogue individuals, SHIELD deploys a task force nicknamed the CapeKillers, along with registered heroes such as Ms. Marvel. With suspicions of a mole working within their ranks, the Unlicensed Hero Recovery Team targets The Prowler!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Ms. Marvel 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Prowler 3 (Straight A)
Speed: Ms. Marvel 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Ms. Marvel 5 (Marathoner)
Agility: Prowler 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Ms. Marvel 4 (Trained)
Energy: Ms. Marvel 5 (Lasers)
Total: Ms. Marvel 29 (Metahuman)

The Civil War event of 2006 made strange bedfellows & brawls out of a divided superhero community. We're going back to check out one of those curious asides directly caused by the Superhuman Registration Act!

Ms. Marvel has a long history with the United States Air Force and SHIELD, making it unsurprising she was on the side of government registration and regulation during Civil War. It was during her service with the Air Force when Carol Danvers was accidentally caught in an explosion that imbued her with hybrid alien genetics. Exposure to the Kree hero Captain Marvel meant she gained super-human strength, stamina, durability, and the power of flight.

After fighting the renegade Secret Avengers during the initial conflict [Civil War #3]; Ms. Marvel was assigned to the Unlicensed Hero Recovery Team, formed to track down and detain costumed vigilantes still operating without authorization.

One such unauthorized target was the original Prowler!

Hobie Brown first donned the purple & green costume of The Prowler to stage crimes he would later appear to solve in his civilian identity. After a robbery at the Daily Bugle escalated to violence, he was turned away from crime by Spider-man, turning his skills in engineering to become a force for good.

Prowler possesses no super-human abilities, but his costumed is equipped with various inventions of his own design, such as talon-like climbing gloves, various pneumatic weapons, and a reinforced but flexible suit. He's at home tackling the riffraff of New York City - but out of his weight class against Ms. Marvel!

This is the first time we're seeing Prowler in action, but we've seen Ms. Marvel demonstrate her power against big time threats like: Symbiote possessed Avengers [New Avengers #36], the Dormammu possessed Hood [New Avengers #54], and an Agamotto possessed giant Luke Cage [New Avengers #2]!

Prowler's only hope is to use speed, agility, and the familiarity of the city to try to turn the tables on the super-humanly strong Marvel! Good luck!

The Tape: Ms. Marvel Ranking: Ms. Marvel (#84)

What Went Down...
Choppers fill the night sky over New York City, casting a light upon the shadows that are home to Manhattan's scum and villainy. On this night, the criminal is not the usual breed. As the gliding form of Ms. Marvel exits the helicopters, use of force is authorized against a man whose only crime is not being registered.

Prowler is informed of his violation of the Superhuman Registration Act and ordered to stand down. Ms. Marvel hovers over him as he expresses disbelief for his government's reaction to efforts to help people. Like so many of his crime-fighting brethren -- Prowler chooses to go down fighting!

Pneumatically propelled explosives fire from Prowler's gauntlet, detonating against the alley wall behind Ms. Marvel. The hovering hero has no trouble evading, repositioning to return fire with cosmically charged consequences!

The energy bolt finds its target. Any hope of escape is thwarted. Prowler hits the cement - hard! An instant kayo as SHIELD Cape-Killers descend upon the alley to take the neutralized target into custody.

The Hammer...
So much for an upset! Prowler was always going to be outclassed against the might of Ms. Marvel, but who knew it would be such a devastating defeat? Such were the unflinching tactics used during the bitter conflict of Civil War!

A harsh Secret Wars on Infinite Earths debut for Prowler - but a no less welcome one! You may've seen another Prowler in the animated theatrical release, Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse, but this here is the bona fide original!

Prowler is technically the first character conceived by artist John Romita Jr, who submitted the design to his father John Romita Sr, and Stan Lee, when he was just thirteen years old! The result is a cult character who debuted in 1969, and has gone on to capture the imagination of generations of readers!

There must be something about that combination of purple and green that just tickles a child's mind. I'd drawn a similar figure in my own childhood, and thought Prowler was pretty cool once I discovered him some time after. I even bought an action figure when the character joined Spidey animated series line!

Not such an easy sell for Ms. Marvel. Carol Danvers will become a household name in March when Captain Marvel is released theatrically -- but it wasn't too long ago she was toiling in easily overlooked supporting roles, suffering from a strong of also-ran revamps, and changing identities.

Even during the conceited rebuild of the 2000s, it was easy to think of Ms. Marvel as a slightly dull and uninteresting character. The Warbird years seemed to work at creating an identity entirely distinct from Mar-Vell, but the slightly damaged militant affiliated with the Avengers and SHIELD could read quite dry.

I was never all that enticed by the flaming figure of Binary, who just didn't seem as cool as Phoenix or others, but the black suited Warbird often seemed like an over correction, existing too far from the character's colourful cosmic origins, still dogged by a sense of being a no-fun holdover from the seventies.

Captain Marvel's iconic death arguably should've freed his successor to inherit the legacy as fully as she has now. Instead, the burden of being a gender-swapped derivative of another hero seemed to persist, while upstarts like Genis-Vell, Marvel Boy, and Quasar were created to capitalize on Mar-Vell's legacy.

It wasn't necessarily an obvious move to relaunch a Ms. Marvel solo series in 2006, but EIC Joe Quesada, and Avengers writer Brian Bendis, seemed pretty determined to restore some of Marvel's seventies icons to their former glory.

Bets were hedged, relegating Danver's solo adventures to second & third tier guest characters and alternate realities, but the underrated hard work of Brian Reed and his collaborators helped get the character to where she is now. And let's be honest: Ms. Marvel throwing down with the likes of Prowler, Shroud, and Arachne might not make headlines -- but you know I'm gonna dig it.

The fight with Prowler plays as a nice pre-credits action sequence, getting the issue rolling into the Civil War tie-in. Itself another interesting, seemingly counter-intuitive facet, given the positioning of Carol Danvers as an antagonistic agent of the government's pro-registration, anti-vigilante hardline. Civil War had its arguments for both sides, but the romantic heart of the superhero concept was always to favour of Captain America, and the anti-registration side.

Regardless of divisions: the Marvel Universe is clearly better for having Carol Danvers in it, and I'll be looking forward to returning for more battles from Ms. Marvel's history in the coming months!

If you want more Ms. Marvel in your universe, you can find today's featured fight in multiple collected editions! Amazon purchase links are provided for your convenience, but shopping with them also ensures Amazon will support the site at no extra cost to you! Marvelous!

Find more classic combat and bigger battles by diving into the Secret Archive of every featured fight! Follow on Twitter and Facebook for daily links to battles inspired by the topics of the day!

Winner: Ms. Marvel
#53 (+31) Ms. Marvel
#870 (new) Prowler

Friday, January 04, 2019

Long Live Tyrant! (Marvel)
Silver Surfer #82 When: July 1993
Why: Ron Marz How: Ron Lim & Tom Christopher

The Story So Far...
Eons ago a biomechanical entity known as Tyrant was created to serve Galactus, Devourer of Worlds. When Tyrant developed an independent taste for interplanetary conquests -- Galactus was compelled to intervene in the name of maintaining balance in the universe.

So powerful was Tyrant that the ensuing battle did untold cosmic damage! The conflict was only ended when Galactus stripped his servant of much of his cosmic energy, banishing him to the darkest corners of existence, where he was expected to remain.

Not unlike his master, Tyrant learned to sustain himself by siphoning cosmic energies. After eons of restoring his lost power, Tyrant returns to a path of conquest, now commanding an awesome army of robot soldiers! Even the greatest cosmic heroes fall before him, becoming new sources of power, but the self-sacrifice of a captured Jack of Hearts releases the cosmic assembly from captivity. Now they unite their powers to fight together against Tyrant!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Tyrant 7 (Omnipotent)
Intelligence: Tyrant 6 (Genius)
Speed: Silver Surfer 7 (Light Speed)
Stamina: Tyrant 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Ganymede 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Morg 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Tyrant 7 (Cosmic Power)
Total: Tyrant 38 (Cosmic)

The cosmic powered team-up includes: Silver Surfer, Ganymede, Beta Ray Bill, Gladiator, Terrax, and Morg.

It's tough to imagine any force standing up to such an awesome assembly of cosmic powers -- but that's exactly the scale of threat posed by Tyrant!

He's an immortal, nigh invulnerable biomechanical menace, capable of going ten rounds with Galactus and living to tell the tale! Silver Surfer has turned against their former master many times in the past, but could only dream of such success, surviving with his powers only by the good grace of Galactus!

Terrax and Morg are more recent heralds of Galactus, boasting phenomenal strength and durability. This is our first entry for Morg, but we've seen Terrax give DC's Green Lantern serious trouble in the Green Lantern/Silver Surfer crossover! Unfortunately, Terrax and Morg are also highly combustible mortal enemies -- just as likely to kill each other as they are a mutual enemy!

Acts of valor define Beta Ray Bill, whose noble spirit defeated Thor, and proved worthy of lifting his enchanted hammer in Thor #337! These days he has his own mighty mystic hammer called Stormbreaker. He used it to come to blows with Silver Surfer some years later, in Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter #2, but can always be counted upon to fight the good fight!

Gladiator's loyalties lie primarily with the Shi'ar Imperial Guard, but as long as Empress Lilandra rules, that usually means preserving the greater intergalactic good! We've seen his impossible strength dominate the Fantastic Four [Fantastic Four #249] and X-Men [New X-Men #124]. He should be a powerful ally!

The X-factor is Ganymede, who represents one of the last vestige of an ancient order known as The Spinsterhood. These powerful female warriors were sworn to battle Tyrant, and claimed responsibility for his early defeat.

In the prior issue, Ganymede mistook Silver Surfer for one of Tyrant's minions, but with mistaken identities out of the way, she could be the fighter to guide this awesome assembly to victory!

Silver Surfer alone has beaten cosmic opponents like Ronan the Accuser [Silver Surfer #13], Nebula [Secret Defenders #10], Super-Skrull [Fantastic Four #6], and Green Lantern [Marvel versus DC #3]. The group fell as individuals, but fighting together should neutralize Tyrant's robot army and challenge the conqueror himself! Let's see if they managed it!

The Tape: Cosmic Team-Up Ranking: Silver Surfer (#35)

What Went Down...
With a violent act of defiance - Jack of Hearts sacrifices his energies in a single devastating explosion! As the smoke clears, a collective of the most awesome cosmic powers stands assembled - freed from the shackles of Tyrant's matrix!

Silver Surfer leads the charge, vowing to honor Jack's sacrifice and end Tyrant's march of conquest. The techno-villain welcomes their assault -- unflinching as the Surfer's cosmic power blasts at his face!
Tyrant has the confidence of an army of robotic soldiers flooding into the chamber.

The robots seize the Silver Surfer on Tyrant's behalf and drag him into the battlefield with the other cosmic powers. Regrouping, Surfer seeks attendance for the depleted Jack of Hearts, but nearest Terrax refuses to risk himself for another. Ganymede volunteers, slipping away to find Jack of Hearts in tact, but suffering grievous injuries. She's soon kicked aside by an attacking soldier!

Silver Surfer continues his obsessive rant against Tyrant. He blasts a path to the villain and attacks with a charging overhanded punch to the face! Tyrant mocks his boast to be the last man standing and unleashes his chilling power!

As Surfer is blown clear, Beta Ray Bill steps up to turn mystic Asgardian Uru against the mechanoid menace. He hurls his hammer Stormbreaker for a direct hit against Tyrant's chest -- but it doesn't even move him!

Gladiator stands with Bill as he receives his returning hammer in utter disbelief. The Praetor of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard has seen many impressive battles and continues undeterred as he turns his unbridled power against Tyrant!

Across the battlefield: Ganymede demonstrates the unique preparation of her Sisterhood. In a whirlwind of speed and agility she cuts robotic soldiers down with her gleaming staff! It seems victory will give her time to tend to Jack of Hearts, but yet more troopers are already descending upon her!

The Silver Surfer flies in to attack the reinforcements with his power cosmic, urging Ganymede to get Jack to safety. She agrees, but solemnly vows to return to the battle she was born to fight. Not all who are present share her dedication!

Brute strength has allowed Terrax to rip and smash through the robotic hordes with relative ease -- until Morg launches a sneak attack from behind! The tackle sends the two Heralds to Galactus bouncing into a grudge match all their own!

As Stormbreaker pierces through a line of soldiers, Beta Ray Bill notes the tide of battle is taking them further from their objective. Gladiator and Silver Surfer agree, recognizing it's up to the three of them to mount an attack on Tyrant!

The villain welcomes the charge led by Silver Surfer's power cosmic. He invites the inevitable end of their deaths: first claiming Beta Ray Bill with an overhand strike that smashes him face-first into the ground.

The concussive impact turns Bill into a projectile - hurled directly at Gladiator!

Tyrant presses his attack against Gladiator, blasting the Shi'ar Guardsman in the face with high-powered eye beams. He recoils, but defiantly refuses to fall!

Clutching his face, staggered, Gladiator is totally unaware Tyrant is looming over him. With a wild swing of his left fist - the conqueror finishes his opponent with an all mighty kayo! As he does -- Silver Surfer blasts him again!

Again the Surfer boldly proclaims his necessary victory, but Tyrant swings his fist backward -- swatting his forearm into the Surfer's flight path! The blow knocks the cosmic rider to the ground, but he does not yield - with good reason!

Ganymede returns to the battle without warning - gaining the element of surprise as she strikes with her spinster's staff! The special weapon bathes Tyrant's skull in raw energy that elicits a shout of pain and shock!

Alas, the upper-hand is short-lived! Tyrant immediately knocks her out with an eyebeam blast. The better to savour the demise of the last of the Sisterhood.

Though unsuccessful; Ganymede's attack gave Silver Surfer the time he needed to recover. He stands, fists pulsing with the power cosmic as he readies his attack. Tyrant smolders with his own energies as Silver Surfer bathes him in raw cosmic power! The unfathomable projection would surely decimate any ordinary being -- but Tyrant is unscathed as he returns fire with precision accuracy!

The deadly beam knocks Silver Surfer from his feet, tossing his chromed body to the surrounding wreckage. The most powerful challenger at last joins his fallen comrades, speckled with smoke and dirt. Tyrant is unchallenged!

The Hammer...
It feels like it's going to be a pretty cosmic year - so I figured we'd kick things off with an epic cosmic battle! The all-star line-up of cosmic powers doesn't get much bigger than this -- which says a lot about the threat level of Tyrant!

Introduced an issue prior, in Silver Surfer #81: Tyrant feels roughly created as the next in a succession of major cosmic threats of the early nineties. This was two years after Thanos dominated all existence in The Infinity Gauntlet, a year after The Magus unleashed evil doppelgangers in Infinity War, and concurrent with the beginning of The Goddess' superhero holy war in Infinity Crusade.

It's always a tough ask to suddenly come up with a convincing new threat of even greater danger. I think Ron Marz and co do a pretty good job of pulling it off. It was risky to sew Tyrant's backstory into ancient, untold corners of the universe, but it's worth it for the return of Galactus right after Tyrant wins!

His impending arrival is gradually teased over the course of the super-sized issue. Readers had seen Galactus face renegade former heralds before, but that wouldn't necessarily know what was coming, or that Tyrant has the distinction of facing his former master as an equal. Their battle is ultimately waged in words: a tense negotiation designed to avoid the catastrophic cosmic destruction their powers have unleashed once before.

Neither is willing to concede defeat, but it also simply doesn't benefit them to emerge into a broken universe. I really enjoy the concept of a villain who knows and respects his opponent enough to choose not to fight. They've effectively played the battle out in their mind and no the consequence. Neither is willing to concede defeat, but it simply doesn't benefit them to emerge into a broken universe. It's almost a sci-fi twist on evenly matched masters of martial arts.

Actually, coming back to the issue today, the shifting allegiances and tangled histories reminded me a little of Dragon Ball. The brutality of Jack of Hearts and his self-sacrifice reminded me of similar scenes. The way each hero falls away slowly and rallies, only to fail, feels familiar to DBZ. There's even something vaguely Frieza about the way Tyrant's power is presented. Just a little bit.

I wouldn't call Tyrant a villain for the ages, but I like the way he takes from the existing Galactus, but also gives to another new creation. Ganymede had an issue head-start, and builds the myth of Tyrant, while also existing because of it. Her design is pretty damn early nineties, but I kinda dig it. She's got a cool, new age witch meets gymnast thing going on. In this setting, it stands out.

Today's battle is also the Secret Wars on Infinite Earths debut for Morg: the then-current Herald of Galactus who Tyrant requests to retain as a power source in his negotiation with The Devourer. Galactus refuses at first, but it's a chance Tyrant doesn't miss to stick it to his old boss (and creator).

The side battle between Morg and Terrax follows up on hostilities between those two Heralds, and is hopefully something we'll get a chance to look at in more detail in a future battle. For now, it's time to update the Fight Club rankings for the first time this year!

Such a shame to start with a big drop for a couple of our cosmic all-stars, but hopefully Beta Ray Bill and Gladiator will bounce back! Both were teased for this month's all-new relaunch of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and I'm hoping they'll be in there with the Silver Surfer and some other top characters.

If you want to explore more from these characters and the Marvel Universe, be sure to explore links throughout this post, or dive in to the Secret Archive of featured fights! You can also discover more by following on Twitter and Facebook. Be sure to throw in a like or share! Happy new year!

Winner: Tyrant
#317 (new) Tyrant
#35 (--) Silver Surfer
#321 (-181) Beta Ray Bill
#329 (-159) Gladiator
#868 (new) Ganymede
#869 (new) Morg
#883 (-186) Terrax

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Every battle featured on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths contributes to a spinal column that is the Fight Club Rankings! Characters move up and down the ranks based on every win, loss, and draw. Real-time updates now appear at the bottom of featured fights, but with the end of the year we can take stock of the big picture!

2018 was packed full of surprises, with many heroes facing defeat, and very little action at the top of the list. Thanos was the biggest mover of the year, decimating his way into the Top 10 with a special spotlight on Infinity Gauntlet!

Significant gains were made further down the list by an eclectic cadre of stand-outs: Gladiator, Mar-Vell, Siryn, Goliath, Vulture, Domino, Typhoid Mary, and Steel Serpent. There were major declines, as well, with a significant drop felt by: Enchantress, Cloak, Demogoblin, and The Flash. A Marvel heavy year generally worked against DC, but Green Lantern and Aquaman vied for the #20 spot, with Orion recording the biggest increase for a DC character with +81. It's worth noting that 2018 was also the first year in Secret Wars on Infinite Earths history to go without featuring perennial #1: Batman!

The list below spotlights the many characters who made appearances in 2018. This includes featured fights and Hero of the Week. We shattered 900 ranked characters this year! You can compare and contrast by looking back at the 2017 Rankings Recap. Remember: Some movement is incidental.

#1 (--) Batman (Bruce Wayne)
#2 (--) Spider-Man (Peter Parker)
#3 (--) Iron Man (Tony Stark)
#4 (--) Wolverine (James "Logan" Howlett)
#5 (--) Superman (Kal-El)
#6 (--) Hulk (Bruce Banner)
#7 (--) Captain America (Steve Rogers)
#8 (--) Power Man (Luke Cage)
#9 (+342) Thanos
#10 (-1) Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards)
#11 (-1) Thing (Benjamin Grimm)
#12 (-1) Invisible Woman (Susan Storm)
#13 (-1) Daredevil (Matt Murdock)
#14 (-1) Human Torch (Johnny Storm)
#15 (-1) Wonder Woman (Diana)
#16 (+2) Venom Symbiote
#17 (-2) The Flash (Barry Allen)
#18 (-2) Iron Fist (Danny Rand)
#19 (-2) Nightwing (Dick Grayson)
#20 (+8) Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)
#21 (+37) Aquaman (Arthur Curry)
#22 (-3) Deadpool (Wade Wilson)
#25 (-2) Martian Manhunter (J'onn J'onzz)
#26 (-2) Doctor Strange (Stephen Strange)
#27 (-5) Sub-Mariner (Namor McKenzie)
#29 (-3) The Flash (Wally West)
#30 (-3) Steel (John Henry Irons)
#33 (-2) Hawkman (Carter Hall)
#35 (-2) Silver Surfer (Norrin Radd)
#42 (+69) Venom (Eddie Brock)
#43 (-3) Red Hood (Jason Todd)
#46 (+24) Wasp (Janet Van Dyne)
#47 (-4) Juggernaut (Cain Marko)
#49 (+78) Black Panther (T'Challa)
#52 (+23) Bronze Tiger (Ben Turner)
#54 (-6) Winter Soldier (James "Bucky" Barnes)
#60 (+31) Jessica Jones
#64 (-7) Morbius (Michael Morbius)
#65 (+31) Deathstroke (Slade Wilson)
#68 (-7) Captain Marvel Jr (Freddy Freeman)
#72 (+42) Deadshot (Floyd Lawton)
#73 (+45) Vixen (Marie McCabe)
#75 (-12) Doctor Light (Arthur Light)
#76 (-9) Cyclops (Scott Summers)
#77 (-9) Doctor Doom (Victor Von Doom)
#78 (-8) Raiden
#83 (-8) Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff)
#84 (-8) Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers)
#86 (new) Terraxia
#91 (+84) Orion
#100 (-8) Vindicator (Heather Hudson)
#101 (+198) Domino (Neena Thurman)
#102 (+125) Steel Serpent (Davos)
#105 (+21) Nova (Richard Rider)
#108 (-5) Supergirl (Kara Zor-El)
#110 (-11) Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze)
#111 (-6) Cable (Nathaniel Summers)
#116 (-9) Superboy (Connor Kent)
#119 (-9) Captain Marvel (Billy Batson)
#120 (-7) Red Lantern (Guy Gardner)
#121 (-9) Phoenix (Jean Grey)
#122 (+3) Drax (Arthur Douglas)
#126 (-24) Sinestro (Thaal Sinestro)
#134 (+249) Siryn (Teresa Cassidy)
#135 (+33) Bizarro
#140 (-7) Beta Ray Bill
#142 (+143) Typhoid Mary (Mary Walker)
#152 (new) Aquagirl (Tula)
#169 (+269) Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell)
#170 (+271) Gladiator (Kallark)
#200 (-8) Doppelganger
#300 (-5) Blockbuster (Mark Desmond)
#311 (new) Captain Comet (Adam Blake)
#313 (new) Ghost (Unknown)
#314 (new) Mister Negative (Martin Li)
#315 (new) Dolphin (Unknown)
#317 (new) Rag Doll (Peter Merkel)
#320 (-9) Champion of the Universe (Tryco Slatterus)
#323 (-188) The Flash (Jay Garrick)
#326 (+208) Vulture (Adrian Toomes)
#364 (+216) Goliath (Bill Foster)
#367 (-57) Ghost Rider (Dan Ketch)
#380 (-21) Vision
#384 (-19) Scorpion (Mac Gargan)
#386 (-13) Solomon Grundy (Cyrus Gold)
#387 (-19) She-Hulk (Jennifer Walters)
#388 (-19) Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff)
#392 (-15) The Joker
#400 (-14) Equus
#421 (new) Eradicator
#500 (-14) Doctor Yinsen (Prof. Ho Yinsen)
#544 (new) Danny Peyer
#545 (new) Misty Knight
#549 (-21) Dracula
#554 (new) Mera
#555 (-64) Ocean Master (Orm Marius)
#565 (new) Tempest (Garth)
#600 (-21) Hulkling (Dorrek Vill)
#700 (-19) Gruagach
#800 (-19) Professor Thorton (Truett Hudson)
#828 (-19) Batwoman (Kate Kane)
#860 (-19) Brainiac (Vril Dox)
#862 (new) Klaw (Ulysses Klaw)
#863 (new) Stalnoivolk (Ivan Gort)
#864 (new) Quasar (Wendell Vaughn)
#865 (new) Kingsize
#866 (new) Doctor Nemesis (Michael Stockton)
#867 (new) Black Manta (David Hyde)
#869 (new) Thunderstrike (Eric Masterson)
#870 (new) Firelord (Pyreus Kril)
#873 (-11) Electro (Maxwell Dillon)
#874 (-342) Enchantress (June Moone)
#878 (-29) Red Skull (Johann Schmidt)
#881 (-212) Demogoblin
#882 (-305) Cloak (Tyrone Johnson)
#888 (-31) Firestorm (Ronnie Raymond)
#890 (-31) Metallo (John Corben)
#900 (-30) Kingpin (Wilson Fisk)
#903 (-30) Falcon (Sam Wilson)
#907 (-29) Toad (Mortimer Toynbee)
#908 (-29) Red Hulk (Gen. Thaddeus Thunderbolt Ross)
#909 (-29) Brick (Daniel Brickwell)
#910 (-29) Killer Croc (Waylon Jones)
#911 (-34) Lady Deathstrike (Yuriko Oyama)
#912 (-30) Dan Hibiki
#913 (-30) Lizard (Dr. Curt Connors)
#914 (-30) Zangief
#915 (-30) Sabretooth (Victor Creed)
#916 (-30) Quicksilver (Pietro Maximoff)
#DNR Flash Gordon
#DNR Mon-El (Lar Gand)
#DNR Piccolo
#DNR Killmonger (Erik Killmonger)
#DNR Rogol Zaar
#DNR The Chief (Niles Caulder)
#DNR Spawn (Al Simmons)
#DNR Omega Red (Arkady Rossovich)