Tuesday, August 01, 2006

MONTHLY PUNCH-UP #8 (August, 2006)
One can't help but feel Secret Earths has waned a little in the effort to get back up-to-date, and the monthly punch-ups in particular have really been kinda phoned in.

This month [figuratively speaking], I thought it might be nice to try something different. Something a little more than some ranting and lists.

Unfortunately I've just run headlong into some serious computer problems, so in the interest of moving forward and getting everything up to date, you'll have to cut me some slack and take the usual crapuscular listings.

Not a lot of movement this month as we return to only four installments a month. If things can get back up to date, and Friday entries return, you can imagine how the monthly top five might heat up, but as we go, the top five is slowly establishing itself away from the pack.

Efforts from Batman further solidify his lead over the rest of the superheroes, while two top tenners from last month, Wolverine and Daredevil, go head to head in a battle to separate.

#1 Batman (-) (8) (DC comics)
Batman continues his dominance with another brief victory.
At this point Batman has been featured in less entries than Hulk, Superman and Wolverine, but has maintained an undefeated streak that has kept him on top of the table.

Batman's becoming a more vulnerable hero again under the watchful eye of comics' rockstar, Grant Morrison, who's drawing his inspiration from a time when Batman was a hairy chested love God.
Dealing with lighter, superhero orientated stories, Batman may find himself a soft target in the coming months. There's a chance those stories might find their way onto Secret Earths, but for the time being, Batman is unstoppable.

- Batman versus Captain America (May 15, 2006)
- Batman versus Bullseye (May 22, 2006)
- Batman, Nightwing & Robin versus Two-Face (July 21, 2006)

#2 Daredevil (+3) (7) (Marvel comics)
Early in competition Daredevil was Batman's nearest rival, and again he takes the number two spot after picking up victory over Wolverine.
Despite the victory, DD remains in the thick of things with the pack forming a few fights away from Batman.

Ed Brubaker's superb Daredevil, continuing on in the tradition of Brian Michael Bendis, has burst out of hard jailtime, and looks to be setting DD up for some fisticuffs abroad.
One of my favourite street level characters is heading into the mix, as Tombstone finds his way to Paris on the heels of ol' horn head.

The last time I saw Tombstone was as a victim of Hydra in Millar's Enemy of the State storyline, but it looks like this time it's a speaking role for Tomby. If I can get my hands on these issues, you can be guaranteed they'll find their way here soon enough.
That might be good for Daredevil, or it might be bad...

- Daredevil versus Turk (March 10, 2006)
- Daredevil versus Hulk (June 19, 2006)
- Daredevil versus Wolverine (July 07, 2006)

#3 Hulk (-1) (2) (Marvel comics)
An inactive Hulk slips down the list, to the surprise of noone.
After rampaging into the list with an entire month dedicated to him, it's unlikely that we'll see the Hulk in the immediate future, but for the time being he's dug himself in deep.

Planet Hulk has been going for roughly eight months now, and while it revolves around a concept perfectly suited for Secret Earhts, the lack of recognisable supporting characters has turned me off.
That, coupled with a lacklustre decade for Hulk, really doesn't set mean and green in a likely position for climbing.

If the promised World War Hulk storyline revolves around the return it possibly insinuates, then things might turn around. Otherwise, these are colourful, but uninspiring stories for Hulk, that aren't winning him points.

- Hulk versus The Thunderbolts (June 12, 2006)
- Hulk versus Daredevil (June 19, 2006)
- Hulk versus Iron Man (June 26, 2006)

#4 Superman (-1) (3) (DC comics)
Superman returns to the top five, slipping another slot down.
Like Hulk, inactivity is the bane of Superman here, and with next month being dedicated to Marvel's Civil War, it's unlikely DC's heavy hitter will hold strong in the top five.

On a whim I picked up an issue of Superman and Action Comics, and if there's a distinct opinion I can take from that, it's that One Year Later provides very little in the way of specific direction for Superman.
Some speculation is apparent about whether or not this is the real Superman, or a repeat of his post-death, which saw various copycats assume the role.

I love Superman, and there's every chance I'll squeeze him in as a DC representitive, but right now there's very little putting big blue in the big show.

- Superman & Hulk versus Metallo (May 22, 2006)
- Superman & Hulk versus Moleman (May 22, 2006)
- Superman versus Captain Marvel (June 23, 2006)

#5 Wolverine (-1) (5) (Marvel comics)
Wolverine rounds out the count, providing a springboard for Daredevil to leapfrog to second position, after an Enemy of the State victory.

Marvel comics seem to have arrived in a refreshing position where Wolverine isn't driving any of the major plots. Thus far, despite being an Avenger and X-Man, his involvement in Civil War has been kept fairly minimal.

Wolvie has been content with tracking the wanted villain, Nitro, with the intent of carving himself some payback. Fortunately for us, it seems apparent Atlantis has different ideas, and if I can get my hands on it, you can be sure we'll be seeing a Wolverine/Namor rematch, where I won't judge as harshly. [See; New Invaders #6]
Otherwise, expect quiet things from Wolverine. His time in the top five might be over for the time being, as other more prevelent presences make themselves known.

- Wolverine versus Killer Croc (May 22, 2006)
- Wolverine versus Deathstrike (May 26, 2006)
- Wolverine versus Daredevil (July 07, 2006)

Now, if you've been with us over the last few months, you'll have noticed the top ten creators in the side bar. It's been running there off to the side for a while now, but because I'm so inefficient with the publishing buttons, there's no snapshot of the list, so, I thought it might be a nice time to at least acknowledge the creators current.

Because of we're a character driven website, there's very little point in speculating the emergence of creators. This is really just a sideshow to the character scoring, and thus, hopefully you'll make do with lists.
If you'd like to see the creator entry elaborated on, drop a comment and let us know!


1. Claudio Castellini
2. Frank Miller
3. Dan Jurgens
4. John Romita Jr
5. Doug Mahnke
1. Ron Marz
2. Judd Winick
3. Frank Miller
4. Warren Ellis
5. Peter David

Friday entries may be gone, but the idea to categorize entries by commonality or theme remains. After ending this month with a commentary on Civil War [Fantastic Four #129], it seems only fitting then that August feature a Civil War theme!

We'll open the month with some flashback team-ups that predate some of the alliances we're seeing now, and then round out the month with a spotlight on the rivalry developing between the most senior of the heroes.
And with that, we segue nicely into the speculative section of the rankings:

#10 Captain America (-1) (Marvel comics)
We've talked and teased at it over the past few months, but this is it. Cap's returned to the top five is all but a done deal.
Cap and his anti-registration Secret Avengers have really embodied the protagonist's point-of-view, so there's a tendency to favour his group. Cap's stock certainly has to have gone up as a result of the mini.

I wouldn't be surprised if I'm tempted to include Cap above and beyond August.

#11 Iron Man (-1) (Marvel comics)
Likewise, Iron Man represents the flipside of the debate, and will no doubt find himself giving Cap a run for his US dollar. Also boosting IM stock is the announcement of Robert Downey Jr. as the lead in an upcoming feature film.
This tangible piece of information drives him the reality of the picture, and should be very interesting. I think I'd actually go with the crowd, and marvel at the astute casting. Should be very interesting.

#22 Mr. Fantastic (-1) (Marvel comics)
Reed Richards has by no means been particularly active on the battle field, but behind the scenes he has been making a lot of decisions that have a lot of people talking. Among his efforts, a government sanctioned prison located within the Negative Zone, to house heroes opposing registration.

This is a fairly unprecedented move on Mr. Fantastic's part, and is tearing his team apart. Thing has opted for neutrality, Human Torch was the first public casualty, and Invisible Woman has turned to sympathise with Captain America's heroes.
It's a very interesting time for ol' stretcho.

#30 Spider-man (-) (Marvel comics)
It's taken some time, but unlike Cap and shell head, Spider-man roughly represents the middle of the conflict. As of recent issues of Amazing Spider-man, he's converted from the pro-team, to the anti-team, completing the shift.
The decision was somewhat telegraphed by preview covers, but ultimately Spidey will probably improve for it. There's probably a legitimate question about his characterization.

Spidey is also one of the most recognisable names in comics, and yet has been drastically under utilized on Secret earths. In fact, as it stands, his clone ranks twenty-two rungs higher.
Loved featuring Sandman [Fantastic Four #129, again], and look forward to getting more Spidey in the mix in the future. Especially with rumors of a black costume return.

NR Iron Fist (-) (Marvel comics)
As one of the core members of Captain America's Secret Avengers, and with a mini-series that looks fantastic on the horizon, Iron Fist might make his overdue debut on Secret Earths, despite featuring on a previous banner.
Operating under the guise of Daredevil has cast Iron Fist straight back into the spotlight, where he really hasn't been in quite some time, despite Luke Cage's elevation in status.

I'm looking forward to things to come from Iron Fist, and have high hopes for his new solo series.

That about wraps it up for July. As indicated by the new banner, I'm still lagging behind the present, but doing my best to maintain a readership with updates.
The problms I'm having with my computer are really kicking my ass, particularly where using Blogspot is concerned, but I'm going to endeavour to keep the hits coming, and appreciate your hits.

We're in October, and as is tradition I've lined up October's featured issues, and taken note of the hit count. Hopefully I can get back to current posting before Christmas!

Comments are few and far between, and maybe the format here doesn't lend itself to them, but it'd be great to hear from anyone reading.
Otherwise, I'm with Cap! Cheers!

NEXT: Pre-Civil War team up action!
July Hit Count: 1621* (+239)

* Hit count was recorded July 31. Hits for July posts may be reflected in September count.

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