Friday, February 10, 2017

Wolverine: Alone! (Marvel)
X-Men #133 When: May 1980
Why: Chris Claremont & John Byrne How: John Byrne

The Story So Far...
While the X-Men are dealing with the re-manifestation of the Phoenix force in Jean Grey; the insidious Hellfire Club watches their every move -- plotting to turn the cosmic telepath into their very own Black Queen!

When the X-Men attempted to infiltrate a society event at the club, they were systematically dismantled by the prepared villains. For Wolverine and Nightcrawler, it meant a basement brawl with Inner Circle members Donald Pierce and Harry Leland!

Thanks to Leland's mass manipulation powers, Wolverine was sent plunging like a stone into the storm sewers beneath The Hellfire Club! Recovered, he now attempts covert re-entry of the elite establishment -- even as masked guards take a precautionary sweep of the building's lower levels...

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Wolverine 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Wolverine 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Wolverine 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Wolverine 6 (Generator)
Agility: Wolverine 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Wolverine 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Hellfire Club Guards 2 (Projectiles)

The Tale of The Tape appears to predict a fairly one-sided fight, but there are some statistics our patented system cannot account for! Wolverine may have any one of The Hellfire Club guard dead to rights -- but what about an army?

Over the years we've seen Wolverine develop into an unstoppable one-man corps, but there are limits to his amazing mutant abilities. That was never more true than the timeframe of today's feature fight, when the fledgling X-Man routinely showed vulnerability to the effects of overwhelming injury.

Wolverine's mutant healing factor ensures he can bounce back from just about any wound, but the rate at which he mends varies. Back in the eighties, if you gave his body enough damage to deal with, you could confidently expect to put him down for a while. We saw Nimrod produce enough force to kayo him with one blow in Uncanny X-Men #194. In the modern age, he tends to stitch back together pretty instantly. Somewhere between the two lies the best answer.

We cannot forget that a defeat brought Wolverine to this fight! In Uncanny X-Men #132, members of The Hellfire Club's Inner Circle ambushed he and Nightcrawler. The mass manipulating powers of Harry Leland were enough to send an unprepared Wolverine smashing through several floors - into the sewer.

If he's smart about it, Wolvie now knows to put distance between he and Leland, instead of trying to fight. His berserker rage and healing stamina tend to make him a little reckless, but he's no dummy. Of course, Leland thinks he was punked out by the last fight, so he should only have to deal with guards.

Hellfire Club Guards may be lightly armored and in possession of some pretty advanced weaponry (guns), but anonymous hordes don't tend to stack up too well against unbreakable adamantium claws!

We've seen Wolverine cut through the highly trained ranks of The Hand on more than one occasion. It was a gory graveyard slaughter in Wolverine #20, and a cleaner affair with the help of the Secret Avengers in New Avengers #27.

Though hidden by featureless masks, this iteration of The Hellfire Club guard has a few illustrious members: Wade Cole, Angelo Macon  and Murray Reese [pictured above] are among their number today. In the future, we'll come to know the trio as mercenary members of The Reavers.

Ordinarily they might be able to rely on Donald Pierce or Lady Deathstrike to help them out, but that won't be happening here. We'll talk more about the implications of all of that in the "Hammer" section.

When we last saw Wolverine he was the only X-Man standing and in an all mighty pissed off mood! They say he's the best there is at what he does, and I think we can expect to see exactly what that is.

The Tape: Wolverine Ranking: Wolverine (#5)

What Went Down...

In the bowels of The Hellfire Club establishment, masked guards inspect empty basements as a precaution ordered by The Inner Circle. Wolverine plunged to his apparent doom, but there's no being too careful. Just as the guardsmen begin to question their task -- dripping water alerts them to danger above!

Wolverine releases the tension in his arms and legs to drop from the basement ceiling -- claws extended! The Hellfire Guards scramble desperately to point their weapons skyward -- but it does them no good!

Adamantium claws rake through the chest of Angelo Macon. He will live to remember the scars for the rest of his life! He's one of the "lucky" ones.

Another guardsman opens fire. Wolverine vaults nimbly over the surrounding storage crates, avoiding the gunfire while seamlessly targeting another of their well armed number. A ballet of death!

A momentary lapse in concentration leaves Wolverine vulnerable to a blast to the gut! He falls backward into a pile of boxes. The two remaining Hellfire goons can't tell if he's down for the count, or just playing possum.

The man called Wade Cole thinks he hit his mark, but won't take any chances. He already knows Wolverine can come back from death-defying injury. That's the entire reason they're in this fight. So he kicks away at the rubble and moves in close for a kill shot. He was right to exercise caution.

Wolverine springs to life and slashes his claws across Cole's abdomen!

The X-Man counts his lucky stars that the gun shots didn't do more damage, and squares off with the last Hellfire guard standing. The one called "Rosen" nervously tells his target not to move. Wolverine is amused.

Borrowing from Dirty Harry, the Canadian mutant gives Rosen the score: "Hey, bub. I know what you're thinkin'. He's hurt, an' he's five meters away from me, an' I got a full clip of ammo in my rifle. Question is: Can I kill Wolverine before he can reach me an' cut me into shish-kebab with those freaky claws of his?"

Rosen shudders: "Well, bub. Wolverine is virtually unkillable. Wolverine's claws are adamantium, the strongest metal known -- capable of slicin' through vanadium steel like a hot knife through butter. An' five meters o' floor ain't much distance at all -- fer me."

The hard sell works. Rosen drops his gun and tries to surrender -- but Wolverine lunges at him any way! He begs for his life, and Wolverine thinks about the old days -- before the X-Men -- when he would've gone straight for the kill.

The mutant hoists his prey up in one arm, drawing his claws on the other, but he's a man of his word. He'll spare the henchman on one condition: he tells him all there is to know about The Inner Circle. Intel for the fight to come.

The Hammer...
It's one of his most iconic early battles, so it can come as no real shock that Wolverine is the victor!

His win is a comeback story after the fight in X-Men #132, and continues on as Wolverine further penetrates the inner sanctum of The Hellfire Club's exclusive establishment.

Given the mounting significance of The Phoenix Saga, I dare say we'll be back some time in the future to see how the X-Men's struggle progressed. In the mean time, it's a different follow-up I've been looking forward to talking about...

Most of the panels featured into today's entry are bathed in red, but it should be noted - these are artistic exceptions on the page, and not a reflection of the entire sequence. Colorist Glynis Wein uses these red flourishes to heighten and imply the violence of Wolverine's strikes. John Byrne frames his images fairly tastefully, leaving the gore out of sight. Red sells their impact.

I belabor the point both for its artistic effectiveness, and because it's unclear exactly how permanently Wolverine aims to disable the Hellfire guards.

Is he killing them? Merely maiming? The answer would come a year and a half later when Murray Reese, Wade Cole and Angelo Macon returned, seeking revenge alongside Harry Leland in Uncanny X-Men #151.

Their injuries were severe enough that their survival depended on cybernetic replacements and enhancement. Claremont may've scripted names for three of the faceless goons, but who could've expected their return, or even survival? It's one of those wonderful examples of a seemingly incidental event creating something new and interesting!

As The Reavers, the trio would serve Donald Pierce and Lady Deathstrike in their pursuits against Wolverine and the X-Men. Individually, the cyborgs weren't necessarily spectacular villains, but as a recurring collective (joined by other cyborg misfits) they became something more.

I have a soft spot for their appearances during the X-Men's Australia era in the late eighties, which lends it all a vaguely Mad Max quality. A flavor I imagine was the general idea, and enhances the group. Coming at the end of the decade, they're a reminder of how far reaching the influence of the Dark Phoenix legacy was. It wasn't all about Jean Grey!

We're talking about these stories because in February we're anticipating the theatrical release of Logan on March 3rd! The alleged final big screen turn of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine will pit him against Donald Pierce and his cyborg posse. An apocalyptic re-imagining of these classic villains!

We're moving on from The Dark Phoenix Saga in our next feature fight, but if you'd like to get the full experience, use the Amazon link provided [right] to pick yourself up a collected edition! Doing so helps support the site!

You can find more featured battles by following links throughout this post, diving in to the Secret Issue Index, or by following on Facebook and Twitter!

Winner: Wolverine
#4 (+1) Wolverine
#822 (new) Wade Cole
#823 (new) Angelo Macon
#824 (new) Murray Reese
#825 (new) Rosen (Hellfire Club Guard)

Monday, February 06, 2017

Real Name: Dinah Lance
First Appearance: Justice League of America #75 (November, 1969)
Fight Club Ranking: #46

Featured Fights:
- vs GLASS MAN: Secret Origins #32 (Nov 1988)
- vs WOOD KING: Secret Origins #32 (Nov 1988)
- vs DEATHSTROKE: Identity Crisis #3 (Oct 2004)
- vs INJUSTICE LEAGUE: Justice League of America #15 (Jan 2008)
- vs SINESTRO CORPS: Green Lantern #25 (Jan 2008)

We know movies tend to dominate the superhero conversation these days, but it's fast looking like video games are going to stake their claim in 2017. Our last Hero of the Week already touched upon the looming release of Injustice 2. It seems Warner Brothers and NetherRealm Studios are gearing up to shatter their uncustomary silence -- unleashing a barrage of news ahead of their May release!

"Gearing up" will play a big role in the new game, which allows players to customize DC icons with stat altering trinkets, costumes and armors. We've already seen the likes of Batman, Superman, and Supergirl burdened by mid-nineties action figure accessories. Indeed, the words "armor" and "NetherRealm Studios" immediately sound aesthetic alarm bells. Which makes the newest trailer reveal for Black Canary all the more pleasing!

As reported on Mortal Kombat Online; the Canary was a near-miss in 2013's Injustice character line-up. A mixed bag of character designs revealed how the NetherRealm video game aesthetic could've taken the character down some dark design paths. It therefore comes as a pleasant surprise that four years (and a gear system) later - the character arrives unscathed in iconic leathers and fishnets!

The gear system likely means there will be plenty of armor plates and design subversions on offer, but you can't under estimate the power of a positive first impression. Simply knowing that the classic comic book design is available goes a long way to extending an olive branch to fans who may've been turned off by Injustice's deliberate detachments from the iconic DC Universe.

The trailer shows Black Canary to be a smooth martial artist, with her sonic canary cry and fancy boots and gloves giving some punch. There's a lack of visual dynamism in some of the moves, but the screen share will probably be better in the final game, where comparisons to Sonya Blade seem inevitable. (Am I the only person seeing some Tori Amos in that face?)

Injustice 2 still has a long way to go, but the shake-up of its playable roster is at least working to engender the game to this grumpy comic book fan. Not that I think long time comics readers are really a demographic Warner Brothers is especially concerned about pleasing. We shall see.

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Friday, February 03, 2017

And Hellfire Is Their Name! (Marvel)
X-Men #132 When: April 1980
Why: Chris Claremont & John Byrne How: John Byrne

The Story So Far...
Professor Charles Xavier is a man who experiences powerful visions. Gifted with the natural mutant ability of telepathy, he can literally see your thoughts! Yet, his most powerful vision is one for the future: A world of peaceful co-existence between ordinary humans and their genetically advancing mutant brethren.

The X-Men are mutants who share in Xavier's dream, fighting to defend a world that fears and hates them. Their philosophy is opposed by factions both human and mutant. Such is the case of The Hellfire Club - a shadow organization using their powers to manipulate the course of humanity for their own sinister gain.

Competing for the next generation of mutant students, The Hellfire Club elites see the X-Men as dangerous threats -- or allies. None is more powerful than the cosmically enhanced Phoenix, who single-handedly defeated their White Queen.

From the battle, the X-Men learn of The Hellfire Club, and the possibility they're being monitored. Founding X-Man and industrialist Angel agrees to help pierce the veil of the exclusive membership, sending them into the lion's den for a face-to-face encounter with The Inner Circle!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Donald Pierce 4 (Enhanced)
Intelligence: Donald Pierce 5 (Professor)
Speed: Nightcrawler 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Wolverine 6 (Generator)
Agility: Nightcrawler 5 (Cat-Like)
Fighting: Wolverine 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Donald Pierce 3 (Explosives)

The situation is simple: The X-Men are looking to crash a party at the Hellfire Club and they're taking a two-pronged approach. While some attend the soiree as guests -- Wolverine and Nightcrawler make a stealthy entrance from below through storm drains running under the compound!

Not a bad entry strategy for a former Weapon X covert soldier with heightened senses, and a mutant with the natural ability to blend into the shadows! Except of course when it's time to step into the light!

Donald Pierce and Harry Leland are members of the Inner Circle of The Hellfire Club. They are men of power, influence and unique special abilities!

Behind the privileged exterior of industrialist Donald Pierce lies the cold steel of cybernetic enhancement! The White Bishop's lightweight, metallic robotic limbs grant him phenomenal strength without impeding his speed! He can hit hard, clamp on a death grip, and defend against blows from the likes of Colossus!

The Black Bishop Harry Leland isn't nearly as swift as his counterpart, but his mutant gift more than makes up for it! By concentrating, the rotund lawyer can bring any opponent up to his weight class by increasing their mass! The effect makes the merest movement a taxing feat -- resisted only by the most willful!

The keys to victory could come down to a choice of dance partners. Leland's mass manipulation power might vex Nightcrawler, but the X-Man's powers of teleportation should allow him to escape the range of its influence -- and launch a counter attack. Wolverine, on the other hand, already has the weight of an adamantium coated skeleton to contend with, making him a soft target!

Donald Pierce's cybernetic enhancements give him a strength advantage over both X-Men, but Wolverine's adamantium claws should be able to cut him down to size given half the chance. Nightcrawler is far more vulnerable to strong-arm tactics, but he may be persuaded to relieve Pierce of his inorganic limbs through some strategic teleporting. We saw Rogue use Nightcrawler's teleportation this way when she fought Nimrod with the X-Men's powers [Uncanny X-Men #194].

The Hellfire Club have the advantage of fighting on their home turf. They've also acquired intelligence on the X-Men through surveillance of their Danger Room training facility. All of which spells big trouble for Wolverine & Nightcrawler!

The Tape: Wolverine Ranking: Wolverine (#5)

What Went Down...

Trudging through underground storm sewers; Wolverine and Nightcrawler face the prospect of rising rain waters. Seeing an opportunity for subterranean subterfuge - Wolverine uses his claws to strip large electrical wires. A timed blackout to help them out of a jam if things go awry in the Hellfire Club!

The two heroes emerge from a hole in the bowels of the club. Wolverine worries the plan is all going much too easy. A concern soon rewarded as a hand emerges from the shadows to snatch Nightcrawler by the throat!

The inhuman vice-like grip belongs to Donald Pierce - White Bishop of the Inner Circle of The Hellfire Club! His squeeze is so tight, electric and unnatural, Nightcrawler cannot concentrate enough to teleport to freedom!

Wolverine leaps to his aid -- slashing Pierce's arm with the downward swipe of his adamantium claws! They cut the cloth of the industrialist's vintage coat, but leave his arm defiantly in tact!

The damage reveals an appendage of metal and wires. Donald Pierce introduces himself as a cyborg, effortlessly tossing Wolverine across the boiler room without so much as loosening his grip on Nightcrawler's throat!

His fall broken by a stack of boxes; Wolverine extends his claws and stalks toward the cyborg anew. As he does, a massive man appears from an elevator -- Harry Leland, the Black Bishop!

Wolverine scoffs at the man's interference, provoking a challenge he couldn't possibly prepare for. Suddenly -- he struggles to move!
His weight increasing, Wolverine can barely move a muscle. Such is the mass manipulation of Harry Leland's power! Even as Wolverine strains to resist -- the crushing load of his mass grows ever greater! The phenomenal force means something has to give - but it won't be the iron will of Wolverine!

Instead, the very floor beneath him gives way -- sending him plummeting into the storm waters channeled below!

Wolverine is swept away, barely conscious as he hits the roaring water. He leaves Nightcrawler alone to suffer a similar fate, choked out by a cyborg hand!

The Hammer...
Who would've guessed a toffed up industrialist and his tubby lawyer could be so much trouble? Harry Leland and Donald Pierce are the victors, doing their part to disable a divided X-Men!

While this fight goes on in the lower levels, the rest of the X-Men are struggling with their own Inner Circle opponents. Unconscious Nightcrawler will soon be deposited onto a pile of defeated X-Men that includes Cyclops and Colossus. Their attempts to blend in with the party did not go so well. Dire straits to be explored further in a future feature fight!

Somewhat ironically, Leland's 'mass-ive' attack on Wolverine means he's the last X-Man still standing. The clawed Canuck may've plummeted through a few floors, and been washed away with the overflow, but he's made of pretty tough stuff! You can bet your bottom dollar he'll be back to help out his friends -- and he's going to be in one all mighty foul mood when he comes calling!

Chances are you've seen the iconic final image of X-Men #132 [above], or at least allusions to it. John Byrne captures the grit and determination in Wolverine that fans know and love. The promise of an exciting follow-up issue. That's where we're headed in our next featured fight, so you can look forward to it!

February on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths will be all about Wolverine in anticipation of the March 3rd global theatrical release of Logan.

The movie is set to pit the aging X-Man against a version of Donald Pierce and his cyborg minions. If you've been fooled into thinking that's an underwhelming threat for Hugh Jackman's [alleged] final performance -- you now know better!

In our next installment, we'll get to talk more about one of the great strengths of Donald Pierce's arsenal. It's a thoroughly unexpected legacy that comes out of these already classic 1980 issues, several years later.

Poor old Nightcrawler plummets down the rankings thanks to his part in today's defeat by Hellfire Club. The beloved character will always be more of a lover at heart, but one of these days we'll have to take a closer look at his triumphs.

They likely wouldn't come from The Dark Phoenix Saga, of which this is an early part. If you'd like to read this chapter, or others, you can do so by picking up a collected edition via the Amazon link provided! By doing so, you help support the site at no extra charge to you!

You can also help The Comic Book Fight Club thrive by liking and sharing daily links via Twitter and Facebook, or by clicking the G+1 button below! You can do this on any fight selected from the Issue Index Archive! Hooray!

Winners: Harry Leland & Donald Pierce
#303 (new) Harry Leland
#304 (new) Donald Pierce
#5 (--) Wolverine
#822 (-309) Nightcrawler

Monday, January 30, 2017

Real Name: Eobard Thawne
First Appearance: The Flash #139 (September, 1963)
Fight Club Ranking: #294

Featured Fights:
- vs FLASH & MAX MERCURY: Flash: Rebirth #4 (Sep 2009)

Long time followers will know Hero of the Week has its original roots in video games. Begun when I was blogging regularly on (defunct) gaming site; it was a chance to bridge interests by exploring the exciting things going on in comics, video games, and movies at that time.

It feels like it's been a long time since gaming has seen the superhero highs of Batman: Arkham Asylum, or even the routine crapshoot of movie based tie-ins.. 2017 is gearing up to change all that with a console gaming resurgence, though! Marvel will return to a third sequel in Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite (announced last month), while long coming DC fighting game Injustice 2 arrives in May.

Injustice 2 isn't necessarily a welcome influence from a comic book perspective, but it has a few interesting things going for it. For one: the roster is in the process of adding playable gems, including: Supergirl, Blue Beetle, Deadshot, Damian Wayne, and perhaps my favourite - Gorilla Grodd!

They'll also bridge the divide of second-tier character similarities by adding recently revealed "Premier Skins". As reported on Mortal Kombat Online; the new feature will allow players who buy the game's Ultimate Edition alternate choices of Powergirl (Supergirl), John Stewart (Green Lantern), and Reverse-Flash (Flash)!

Each Premier Skin has their own designs, super moves, and voice acting, making them superior options to your standard, run of the mill alternate costumes! That's a great way to expand the cast and excite fans of the DC Universe -- at least in theory! Where NetherRealm Studios has come to excel in the technical arena, their conceptual and creative directions have left a lot to be desired.

2013 franchise starter Injustice: Gods Among Us introduced the high concept premise of Superman gone bad, and Batman's inevitable opposition. Backstory and explanation was largely delegated to tie-in comics, which had more room to explore characters, but didn't necessarily use it well.

Rather than develop a compelling narrative with knowing references to works like Kingdom Come or The Dark Knight Returns; Injustice plows ahead to its 'Superman Regime' with the unearned murders of Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. The killer is The Joker, whose murderous trip to Metropolis is never given any kind of reason or motivation. He's merely there to start the violence.

That vital narrative conceit is a reverberating metaphor for the entire Injustice experience. It's shallow and trashy, saying and doing nothing new or interesting, but only expected to titillate a mostly uninitiated, pubescent demographic. It's cut from similar cloth to Warner Brothers' divisive DC Comics films, their New 52 comics, and bafflingly popular CW TV series. There's very little opportunity or acumen for honoring the characters, even though NetherRealm artists work earnestly to create a quality product. In the technical fields, these games are reaching many new heights. Creatively, it's just never going to be anything other than Injustice.

So while I'm thrilled by the prospect of playing Professor Zoom in a video game, it remains to be seen if the Injustice sequel can be good enough to reward the assumption of that existing fandom. I'm not convinced NetherRealm can deliver a satisfying DC Comics experience, but we will see.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Re-Enter: Reactron! (DC)
The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #9 When: July 1983 Why: Paul Kupperberg How: Carmine Infantino

The Story So Far...
The heroic Doom Patrol are on the path of a nuclear powered villain who shares a troubling history with team leader Tempest. The villainous Reactron is a soldier with absolutely no regard for the people he harms, and a power suit that grants him mastery over radiation!

Having escaped Doom Patrol in their earlier skirmish; Reactron is lured to Lake Shore University by an experimental nuclear reactor capable of enhancing his powers! It's the same campus attended by Linda Danvers -- student alter-ego of Supergirl!

Having watched the action from afar using her Kryptonian enhanced vision, Supergirl is ready to jump into action to put a stop to Reactron's meltdown! Does she have what it takes to stop the radioactive villain alone? Doom Patrol races to the scene with the fight already under way!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Supergirl 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Draw 2 (Average)
Speed: Supergirl 5 (Super-Human)
Stamina: Reactron 6 (Generator)
Agility: Supergirl 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Reactron 4 (Trained)
Energy: Reactron 6 (Mass Destruction)

Every great superhero needs a rogues gallery to fight against, and today we're looking at one of the villains who's become a frequent foe for Supergirl!

If you know anything about the "Girl of Steel" it's that she escaped the grim fate of her home world Krypton to join cousin Kal-El on planet Earth. Enriched by the Milky Way's yellow sun, she possesses much the same powers and vulnerabilities as Superman: Flight, enhanced strength, speed, endurance, stamina, heat and x-ray vision, and super-breath.

We saw most of Supergirl's super-abilities on display when she battled a corrupt Mary Marvel in Final Crisis #6. We know she can hang with heavy-hitters like the Marvels - and she's going to have to, because her opponent is a fresh face brimming with newfound power in 1983!

Reactron was once Benjamin Krullen of the United States Army. An amoral soldier who gained an experimental hi-tech "StarSuit" that allows him to channel radioactive energy into concussive blasts. He would later be outfitted with a Gold Kryptonite heart, allowing him to sap the powers of Kryptonians, but that upgrade is a couple of decades away from our featured fight.

We're catching Reactron early in his villainous career -- just his second printed appearance! This is a pre-Crisis version whose design and powers are much less sophisticated -- but no less dangerous! He's double tough, can absorb and redirect radioactive energies, and has the potential to blow!

Strength and invulnerability give Supergirl a comfortable edge in this fight, but the exact effects of radiation on Kryptonians aren't always consistent.

We've seen Superman shrug off the routine nuclear energies of Atomic Skull [Superman/Batman #21], but in some stories, large doses of radiation have inflicted temporary ill effects on The Man of Steel.

We know the unique radiation signature of Kryptonite can sap Superman and Supergirl of their strength, and potentially even kill them. That's evident in the synthetic variety used by Batman [see: The Dark Knight Strikes Again #1, Justice League: The New Frontier Special #1], and the strange green glow emitted by the Kryptonite Man [see; Superman/Batman #23].

This early in his career, it might be too much to expect Reactron to be expert enough in his abilities to simulate Kryptonite. "The Living Reactor" can offensively direct large waves of radiation, though. Expelling as much radiation as possible might be his best key to victory, but Supergirl is the favourite here.

We find them in mid-battle. Let's see how it went down...

The Tape: Supergirl Ranking: Supergirl (#90)

What Went Down...
Supergirl clutches at Reactron's wrists as she flies at the irradiating menace! The living reactor is strong enough to break her hold, sending the girl of steel recoiling as he yanks his hands free!

This time it's Reactron's turn to recoil as Supergirl rockets back at him like a Kryptonian missile -- smacking him right in the mouth with a devastating left!

The villain can't help but be impressed by Supergirl's strength, but he survives the rough treatment with a smile on his face. She attempts to wipe it off by slipping behind him and locking in a Kryptonian bear hug!

As he did before, Reactron summons his nuclear powered strength and throws his arms open with explosive force! The radioactive counter once again throws Supergirl from her opponent! The experience sharpens her mind toward tactics.

While Supergirl ponders the advantage of taking the fight away from the cramped confines of their reactor arena -- Reactron turns up the heat with direct blasts of radiation!

Bathed in nuclear beams, Supergirl laughs off their effects as merely cleaning her costume. She makes a beeline for an improvised skylight and escapes the experimental reactor's control room, even as it begins to malfunction!

Reactron takes flight, pursuing his prey into the sky where she attempts to take advantage of maneuverability. She tries a ranged attack, firing X-ray vision in his direction, but Reactron's suit allows him to absorb the rays and redirect them as a concussive blast!

The dangers of the modern world begin to occur to Supergirl as she realizes Reactron's suit could convert everything from the sun's ultraviolet rays, to communication microwaves into an infinite power source! That's also when she remembers the perfect defense against such phenomena: lead!

While the Girl of Steel disappears a super-speed, Negative Woman and Tempest of The Doom Patrol arrive to keep Reactron company!

Reactron scoffs at Supergirl for seemingly fleeing, and laughs at the supposed threat of the arriving Doom Patrol. Tempest gives his former military chum a sobering jolt of kinetic energy, while Negative Woman attempts to short circuit him with her uncanny phasing powers!

The shock of being hurt sends Reactron heading for solid ground. His radiation blasts keep Negative Woman at arms length -- a threat that further provokes the ire of Tempest!

The former soldier keeps Reactron on the defensive with kinetic blasts as Supergirl returns overhead with a section of disused, lead sewage pipe!

She dumps the tube on top of Reactron and starts to reduce it to slag with intense heat vision when suddenly Tempest turns his kinetic blasts against her!

The Girl of Steel failed to realize encasing Reactron in lead just provokes him to turn up his powers -- creating an energy that eats through led with explosive results! Realizing her error, she snatches the lead encased villain and heads for the sky -- attempting to clear the populate college campus before he explodes!

The nuclear boom is big enough to shatter windows for miles around -- and knock Supergirl out cold! Her uncontrolled fall is stopped by the stretching energy form of Negative Woman, who carries her safely to the ground.

The rest of Doom Patrol arrive on the scene as Supergirl comes to, ready to learn the secret origin of her newest nemesis and prepare for round 2.

The Hammer...
It had thrills, spills, and special guests, and in the end the bad guy had to essentially blow himself up! The tactics weren't pretty, but the hammer falls in favour of villainous victor: Reactron!

As you can probably sense, the fight is far from finished. There's a follow-up confrontation within the pages of this very issue -- which also contains a Lois Lane back-up story! Wowee!

At some point in the future I'm sure we'll come back to see how the rematch went. Reactron may not be a first or second tier villain, but you know how I love those recurring bruisers. The kinds of bad guys with a simple gimmick, flashy costume, and deep seeded desire to do no good.

Reactron was actually one of the key inspirations for making this our final featured fight for January! I mentioned last month that I've been enjoying something of a Supergirl renaissance, thanks chiefly to the newish TV series.

One of the things I like most about Supergirl is its incorporation of comic book characters. It isn't completely faithful to the page, but it wields its references pretty well. The show reminds me of past efforts like Superboy, Lois & Clark, and maybe even the 1990 version of The Flash, but it combines its light entertainment disposition with much more frequent, heavy comic book content.

Case in point: Reactron was the first bona fide super-villain to appear in the series, making an enemy of Supergirl in the third episode.

It isn't the character from the comics. He presents more like a dark vision of Iron Man, clad in gun metal suit with a glowing red nuclear heart. This version of the character, an engineer named Ben Krull, is a smidge more sympathetic. He owes his powers (and deteriorating health) to a terrorist attack that was stopped by Superman, but not before it poisoned him, and killed his wife.

This Reactron leaves Metropolis to pursue Superman's newly revealed cousin, who's still finding her way as a hero in the early episodes. It's a quest for revenge - family for family. It nearly works, too! Supergirl gets her butt kicked in a hard hitting fight that ends with a silhouetted Man of Steel arriving just in time to rescue his kin as she falls unconscious!

Within the context of the show, the episode and its events are economic world building. I can't help but see the ties to the comic, though.

Reactron's first comic book appearance was the issue before the one we featured today [Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #8]. In the TV show, he's introduced as a pre-existing Superman villain, which functions a little bit like his shared backstory with Tempest. Who appears in our feature fight to rescue Supergirl with his greater knowledge of the threat -- kinda like Superman.

Just like the comic; TV's Supergirl figures she can beat the nuclear nemesis with lead. Things go a lot smoother in the show, though. Instead of encasing him in a lead pipe he explode out of, Melissa Benoist's character coats her hands in lead to prevent explosion when she rips the core out of Reactron's suit.

The comic book version only made it one issue further before his untimely demise. A death undone by the line-wide DC reboot of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which gave Reactron a second chance at life, and a role as recurring villain.

He appears much the same when he returns as a villain in Doom Patrol. I quite like the eventual suit revamp he gained, becoming a Supergirl villain once more after the character was reintroduced in the mid 2000s. With any luck we'll get to some of those chapters, as well.

In the mean time, we tick off a few more names on The Comic Book Fight Club "To Do" list! Last year I featured Robotman as one of our illustrious Heroes of the Week, inspired by the relaunch of Doom Patrol under DC's Young Animal imprint. I've been wanting to scratch the itch of DC's misfit surreal superheroes for quite some time. It's a modest start, but at least today's assist appearances by Negative Woman and Tempest have given us our first taste!

Looking for more obscurities from the DC Universe and beyond? Follow links throughout this post to find more on relevant topics, or dive in to the Secret Archive Index to browse past feature fights by publisher, series and issue!

Winner: Reactron
#302 (new) Reactron
#101 (-11) Supergirl
#510 (new) Tempest [+1 assist]
#511 (new) Negative Woman [+1 assist]