Friday, October 27, 2006

Under the Hood Part 3: Overnight Deliveries (DC comics)
Batman #637 When: April 2005
Why: Judd Winick How: Doug Mahnke

The story so far...
In the wake of a gang war, Black Mask seizes control of the criminal underbelly of Gotham City. With various villainous elements shifting within the DC Universe, Black Mask's own strategies intersect with various others.

Amongst his schemes, the import of various super paraphernalia and weaponry. Much of which leaves his possession via the intervention of the Batman, or the vigilante rogue, Jason Todd - The Red Hood.

One such import is Amazo; an android designed originally by Professor Ivo to combat the Justice League using their own powers and unique abilities.
Though stripped down, the machine poses a substantial threat, and Batman and Nightwing are there to intervene.

Previous Form:
Batman (#1): Batman is currently undefeated in his six previous features.
Nightwing (#88): Nightwing teamed with Batman to defeat Two-Face, in a previous post.
Amazo: Amazo has not yet been featured.

Tale of the tape...
You wouldn't believe how hard it is to get a decent mugshot of Amazo online...Strength: Amazo 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Batman 5 (Professor)
Speed: Amazo 6 (Speed of Sound)
Stamina: Amazo 6 (Generator)
Agility: Nightwing 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting Ability: Batman 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy Powers: Amazo 6 (Arsenal)

Amazo is one of those characters that is a lot of fun, but I have inherent problems with. I guess much of this site shares a skeleton with my own preferences and interests in comics. I'm quite partial to characters that can be easily described and broken down into specifics.

Amazo is not such a character.
Various interpretations of the character lead to the preferred interpretation of there being many Amazo models in existence. Though certainly more comfortable, it does not negate the existant of 'adaptive' Amazo models.
Though traditionally possessing the powers of the seven core Justice Leaguers, shifting rosters have led to a shifting powerset for Amazo.
One answer to compensate was giving Amazo an evolution capability, where he could mimick or imitate abilities of others.

Now, for my taste in logic, this is a big problem.
If you can indulge the writer in me for a moment - my inclination would be to take this idea and maybe turn it into a Terminatoresque program of self-maintenance. I could accept an Amazo that retreats to attempt to build upgrades for itself, and maybe even come to take great pleasure from such a concept (DC, you have my number).

Of course, such a method does not exist as far as I know, and instead various vague explanations are offered. The animated Justice League offering up nanotechnology that inexplicably imitates any ability it 'gazes upon,' despite not having any kind of specific mechanical method of generating these various abilities.

My rigid thought processes don't affect this story too much, as it features a constructed model of Amazo with set abilities. However, for the usual discussion period of the tape, I would have to say... Amazo is just too sloppy to nail down.
I refuse to accept a machine that can produce cosmic abilities from nothingness, thus I tend to think of him as having the abilities of the League that can be constructed, and perhaps not quite as potent.

This model of Amazo has Ivan Drago's match psychology...Amazo is a huge obstacle even with that interpretation, and certainly Batman and Nightwing are in over their head.
Batman's penchant for victory withstanding, there is the advantage of Amazo being technology. As long as he obeys certain logic regarding mechanics and technology, Batman stands a pretty good chance of defeating such a menace.

Mongul, not so much. Amazo, definitely do-able.
With Nightwing in tow to provide destraction, even more so, but you still wouldn't want one of these showing up in Gotham every week.

Average: Amazo 33 (+6.5)
Overall: Batman & Nightwing 53 (+20)
The Pick: Batman & Nightwing

What went down...
Batman? Better? Hah. Stop repeating yourself!In a warehouse somewhere in Gotham, Batman moves before Nightwing can even digest the severity of the situation. As the Batman glides past the android, he drops smoking pellets that explode like angry bugs around Amazo's face.

Amazo mocks Batmans efforts, challenging him to do better: "I did."
Ever the forward thinker, Batman slinks away revealing an electronic batarang staked into Amazo's leg, which he notices only as it exploddes, destroying much of the floor.

Batman and Nightwing flee the scene as a furious android emerges from the warehouse, swatting brick and door out of his way. They take to the bat-lines, and Amazo, though carrying a damaged leg [which can no longer support the speeds of the Flash, given his weight. - Mastiff Mike] takes to the skies with the flight of various JLers.

Nightwing, carrying a leg injury from his own adventures, is slow off the mark, getting caught by the competent flyer in Amazo.
Batman latches on to Amazo's ankle with his bat-line, and reminds his protege that Amazo was designed with basic human principles in mind. Therefore many of his weakness are comparable.

Nice gurdle! *snort*Taking that information, the captive Nightwing plunges two batarangs into Amazo's ears, thus disrupting his gyroscopes and rendering him relatively unable to fly.
Of course, he's still quite capable of walking, and as Batman and Nightwing cling to a fire escape, the robust robot uses his Superman strength to tear the structure from the side of the building.

Wheeeeere's the Batman? Wheeeeeere's the Batman?Batman gets tagged, but Nightwing is there to run diversion.
He uses his acrobatic skills to leap and weave heat vision blasts that crumble the building behind, while Batman sneaks around to impare the vision of the super-foe.

Of course, Batman would not merely obscure vision with putty [and you have to wonder if a super tactical Justice League killer robot might not at least consider that... - Murmuring Mike]. When Amazo attempts to blast through it, the plastique explodes! Thus damaging the vision properties of the machine.

And now things get serious.
Amazo dives into an attack, giving Batman more than enough leverage to send him stumbling face-first into the brickwall behind.
Nightwing leaps in fast for a knee to the jaw, and is fast enough to drop beneath a wild swinging robotic fist. Batman shows him how it's really done.

Theeeeere's the Batman!Though on more event ground, the robot maintains it's attack.

Batman taps his belt, and although the creature does not see, he hears the incoming rumble of an engine. And Batman's plan all unravels, his previous efforts little more than a distraction whilst waiting for the real tool: The Batmobile.

This particular Amazo was believed to have Aquaman abilities. It should come as no surprise that he was completely ineffective from this point on.The vehicle fires off a rocket via remote, colliding with Amazo at high speeds and driving him into the waters below the dock with a stunning explosion.

The hammer...
Despite overwhelming odds, Batman and Nightwing win again. I'm sure you're all very shocked.

I had this issue sitting on my desk around about the time I started to seriously contemplate a website dedicated t ocomic book superhero fights. Issues like this, Identity Crisis #3 and Daredevil #49 were some of the real clinchers to going ahead with it, so it's nice to finally get this one up there.

I think what makes this issue so fantastic is that, apart from being a well written and illustrated story, it's also an interesting and generally unlikely match-up. I'm not sure Batman has ever even seen Amazo outside of Justice League stories, let alone had to fight one. And that's the kind of scenario that's interesting to note, and maybe even discuss as a comic fan.

Anyway, right now it's afternoon New Year's Eve, and I'm typing an October update, so I should probably try to shake things along a little.

I've done Winick/Mahnke updates before [#647, #648], so you should know that it's one of my all time favourite Batman runs. This is certainly the best city-life superhero run that comes to mind, having superior mechanics to even Brubaker or Bendis on Daredevil.

This issue does well to not only do a kickass issue-long fight, which is superbly choreographed, but also continues to show criminal life in Gotham as it is under the new rule of Black Mask.
It features the on-going difficulties of Red Mask aka Jason Todd, while also tackling the matter of more familiar supervillain rogues like Mr. Freeze, who plays an uncertain role in the new world order. This isn't necessarily a unique way of approaching the Batman villains, as stories like The Long Halloween have probably dealt with the criminal/villain dichotomy much better, but the success probably lies in not trying to outdo that calibre or type of story.

Winick's Batman exists in and of itself, whilst simultaneously living in the world of Batman at large. The Jason Todd storyarc pulls history into the picture, but what this storyline does delightfully is paint it's own sense of day-to-day life for Batman, not really ignoring, but not unnecessarily dealing with historical fact.
I'm starting to get awfully close to repeating myself, so I'll just sum it up: This is as complete a slice of Gotham life as I've ever seen.

I hope one day to see more of this approach.

The Fight: 7 The Issue: 6.5

Friday, October 20, 2006

Mind Games (Part 2) (Marvel comics)
Spider-man Ep. 13 When: August 2003
Why: Steven Kriozere & Audu Paden How: Neil Patrick Harris & Michael Dorn

The story so far...
The Gaines Twins are the product of shocking KGB experimentation which killed their parents, but resulted in granting them fantastic hypnotic and telepathic abilities.

When Spider-man intervenes in their escape, the twins manage to psychically manipulate him through a fantasy into believeing Kraven the Hunter killed his beloved Mary-Jane.

With rage now seething through his veins, Spider-man takes up a vengeful mission to kill Kraven on the behalf of the twins. Revenge for Kraven's involvement in the capture of their parents on the KGB's behalf.

Previous Form:
Spider-man (#2): Spidey has one-on-one victories against Man-Ape and the Tri-Sentinel.
Kraven the Hunter: Kraven has not yet been featured.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Spider-man 5 (Super Strength)
Intelligence: Spider-man 5 (Professor)
Speed: Spider-man 4 (Olympic Sprinter)
Stamina: Spider-man 4 (Trained Athlete)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-like)
Fighting Ability: Kraven 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy Powers: Kraven 4 (Arsenal)

Kraven the Hunter! What a fantastic villain!
Generally I don't like to feature a character twice in one month, but lately I've been on a bit of a Spidey kick, and I guess Kraven won the Spidey-villain lottery thanks to MTV and Mainframe.

I guess in many respects this match-up is comparable to Wolverine/Silver Samurai. That is to say, it's the extraordinary hero, against a villain who is the at the very maximum of ordinary.

For the most part Kraven is a human begin who honed his skills as a supreme hunter. A hunter so efficient, he would prefer his own hands over the use of additional weapons. Although, that said, Kraven has been known to have various tool at his disposal.

Like a Captain America, Kraven has enhanced strength, which makes him more than a match for Spider-man, whose own strength tends to fluctuate depending on the scenario and writing staff. We'll at least consider them comparable equals, although, I personally lean toward Spidey having the superior strength.

While Spidey has his spider-senses to give him a preternatural edge in combat, Kraven the Hunter has his own supremely trained senses, which work hand-in-hand with his training and experience to give him a comparable edge.
Likewise, both are extremely agile men, although again Spidey has a definite advantage here.

After defeating Spider-man, Kravinoff ends his life. Apparently he forgot the other hundred-thousand characters in the Marvel universe...Sergei Kravinoff took his own life during the Kraven's Last Hunt storyarc, having reached what he felt was the epitomy of his career after not only besting Spider-man, but also replacing him while he was buried alive.
This was one of the harshest defeats handed out to Spider-man, but it did come after decades of the Spider getting the best of the hunter.

Overall: Draw 28
The Pick: Spider-man

What went down...
Waiting on a meeting at the docks, it doesn't take Kraven's keen senses as a hunter to recognise the trademark webbing that holds his goons pinned to smokestacks.
Spidey charges into battle, shunting Kraven across the roof whilst promising to "rip him apart."

Kraven tumbles into the warehouse below, finding his way to walkways dangling high above the floorspace. Spidey follows hard, but Kraven is fast enough to avoid the strike.

The two exchange blows, with Kraven blocking for the most part until Spidey uses his agility to nail a Bruce Lee style sommersault kick.

Kraven lands, and narrowly avoids Spidey's follow up, bringing his bodyweight down from a high leap. Kraven matches Spidey's agility, perching on a walkway handrail, before springing away to avoid another savage punch.

Kraven wipes blood from his mouth, and observes the ruthless shift in Spider-man's tact. Spider-man leaps infront of him, taking a challenging stance.

Spidey goes for the webbing, but Kraven cuts it with a dagger, and then uses the dagger as a projectile weapon.
Spidey ducks out and shoots out webbing, weaving it around Kraven's hands and throat.

With Kraven dangling from the ceiling, Spidey swears vengeance for Mary-Jane, but out the corner of his eye he spies a discrepency in his history. A neon sign that had fallen and injury Harry Osborn, now quite prominent in the skyline.

Connecting the dots, Spider-man quizzes Kraven further to make sense of the timeline. Kraven reveals their last meeting as having been months previous.
When the police arrive, they corroborate Kraven's story, and although he has been the unwitting pawn of the Gaines twins, having lived a fantasy since first encountering them, Spidey does defeat Kraven.

The hammer...
The winner, and late charge for the top spot: Spider-man!

The MTV Spider-man series was a funny kinda situation. I heard a bit about it via a lot of second hand information, and I have to admit to not being terribly excited by what I was hearing.
With names like Rob Zombie being tossed around for the voice of the Lizard, it was sounding a lot like a gratuitous way to cram MTV properties into the blossoming branding of Spider-man: the movie.

The series perhaps gained some credibility with the inclusion of Brian Michael Bendis as a producing influence, although, connections to Ultimate Spider-man only further turned me off of the series. How wrong I was.

I really expected to dislike this series, but an impulse purchase with a mindboggling reasonable price tag turned all of that around. Now I'm a tragic fan of the Mainframe CG animated series, and desperately hope rumors of a second series prevailing over cancellation, are true.

I was a fan of Mainframe's early animation work on Reboot, and Spider-man really succeeds in showing just how far they've come since the mid-nineties.
Certainly a lot of the Mainframe traits are there, and anyone familiar with a series like Reboot will spot familiar quirks, but at the same time, they seem to willingly give themselves over to established iconography and ideals of the Spider-man character.

Of course, this is only half of the puzzle, and a huge part comes from the writing on this series. Much like conventional television, budgetary concerns restrict the bredth of cast and locations, but as Mainframe build a backlog of reusable sprites and scripts, the world populates itself intelligently and densely.
Even with Morgan "VIP" Gendel in a prominent position on the writing staff, the series crafts itself around restrictions, perhaps turning them into advantages. Character interaction is dense and intelligent, as are the scripts on a whole. Storylines pack plenty of characterization, but unlike the Ultimate variety of the comic, does not sacrifice this for fast-paced action, and thrilling adventure.

This show is in many ways everything The Batman isn't.
Like Batman, this series was projecting itself into the shadow of previous successful cartoon shows as well as feature film success. The team handling MTV's show managed to embody elements from all sources including comics and film, whilst still producing it's own energy. This is in direct contrast to The Batman's utter failure to entice existing fans of comics, or perhaps even the Timm/Dini animated series prior.

This series wasn't without it's problems, and certainly it would've been nice to see more of the recognisable rogues like Kraven the Hunter. Villains who are always among the high points of any Spider-man story, but that said, even the original or derived characters unique to the series were highly enjoyable. Something series rarely succeed at creating.

For example; characters Shikata and Talon owe their origins to Kraven and Black Cat respectively, quite obviously. As nice as it would've been to see these characters in those stories, the creative team here still manages to make both characters intriguing and individual.

I could go on and on, and I'm really skimming the surface, but on my Spidey kick I just had to feature an episode of this series. It's fantastic. I hold out hope that the rumors of a character-packed second season might somehow manifest.

Another negative? They say gulag an awful lot in this episode!

The Fight: 4 The Episode: 6

Friday, October 13, 2006

Origins & Endings: Chapter Two (Marvel comics)
Wolverine #37 When: February 2006
Why: Daniel Way How: Javier Saltares & Mark Texeira

The story so far...
Wolverine is James Howlett -- And he remembers.

With a past comes further questions and grudges, and for Wolverine the path begins in Japan.
Though at first appearing to attack the Japanese Prime Minister's convoy, Wolverine's true intentions soon become apparent. The Prime Minister's security head is the true target.

A man named Kenuichio Harada.
A man named - The Silver Samurai.

Previous Form:
Wolverine (#7): Wolverine has victories over Deathstrike and Lobo, while also having been defeat by the likes of Daredevil and Captain America.
The Silver Samurai: Has not been featured prior.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Draw 3 (Trained Athlete)
Intelligence: Wolverine 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Draw 3 (Trained Athlete)
Stamina: Wolverine 6 (Generator)
Agility: Wolverine 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting Ability: Draw 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Draw 1 (None)

Well, I guess we're continuing the half-theme of arch-rivalries.
In the past week we've had Namor/Tigershark [Marvel Team-Up #14] and Daredevil/Bullseye [Daredevil #132].

Silver Samurai might not be quite as high profile as a Sabretooth or a Magneto, but is none the less an impressive foe in Wolverine's rogues gallery of enemies.
As the stats note, he's also an incredibly worthy foe, matching Wolverine's skills fairly closely. It is perhaps only Wolverine's mutant penchant for healing that truly sets these two apart.

Perhaps moreso than any hero, Wolverine has the capacity to lose his first encounter with any skilled foe. His healing properties usually allow a writer to freely position him in peril, while also perpetuating a characterization that suggests he's somewhat brash, and willing to throw himself without much thought.

The pay-off, of course, is Wolverine's regular ability to slice through competition like a warm knife through butter.

Silver Samurai is a skilled warrior and master swordsman. He can almost certainly match Wolverine's mastery of combat, and possibly even surpass it on fundamentals. That said, he is just a man, and no matter how many times you stab him in the gut, or punch him in the head, Wolverine keeps coming back.

Ultimately, I would have to acknowledge Wolverine as the likely victor here, but I'd have to say two times out of five, Silver Samurai would get the win there.

Overall: Wolverine 26 (+2)
The Pick: Wolverine

What went down...
This fight's somewhat peculiar in that, for the most part, it's silent.
Rather than the exchange of dialogue we're used to seeing here, Daniel Way writes a nine page fight that's told entirely through visuals and Wolverine's inner monologues/narration.

It actually reads a bit like one of the less boring entries here, to be honest, peppered with characterization and plot, rather than references to Aquaman beating Namor [Curses!].

So, anyway... Wolverine shifts back, smiling as he narrowly avoids decapitation by the swinging blade of the Silver Samurai.

The Samurai is smart enough to recognise his advantage of reach, avoiding close quarters fighting due to Wolverine's fairly clear edge of six skilled adamantium claws. So, credit to Way for writing with a contemporary respect for logic.

The two engage in a series of acrobatics; the Samurai ducks a claw slash, Wolverine jumps a sword swing.
Wolvie manages to get a boot in, but the Silver Samurai is able to recover mid-air, sommersaulting through into a fighting stance. Wolverine enjoys the sport.

At a stalemate, the stakes raise along with what may or may not be an unheard literal conversation between the two. Silver Samurai answers with "a real showstopper."

Impaled on his sword... *snort*Silver Samurai closes in, impaling the Wolverine on his blade. Ouch!

Ever the warrior, Wolverine grimaces for a moment, but has the piece of mind to consider exactly how one disarms a samurai. If you don't want to know the answer, scroll down really quickly nnnnn... now!

Lemme give you a hand, bub. Yuk yuk."Permanently."

Wolverine pulls the blade from his gut, and returns it to the kneeling samurai. He leaves him with honor.

The hammer...
Despite taking a sword to the gut, Wolverine takes this one.
One of the perks of a mutant healing factor is probably not going down to mere samurai swords through the liver.

Apparently this is an honorable conclusion.
I don't know the ins and outs of the rules of seppuku, but from what I hear, Silver Samurai shows up in New Avengers sometime soon, so we'll take Wolvie's word for it.

Though only a relatively small percentage of the book, I have to admit, I picked this up solely for a kick ass fight. A fight worth of Secret Wars on Infinite Earths, and it's a good thing too, because on story, it does not really deliver.

I haven't really followed along with the whole origin situation, but what's presented in this and the other issue of this arc I have suggests he's really in no greater position than previously. In fact, reminiscent of scenes from the nineteen nineties, he seems to be following clues for greater understanding, only this time the clues revolve less around the tired Weapon X plotline, and instead relies on something more vague.

Not to rag further on the Wolverine book at this point, but there are very few artistic incentives on offer here, also.

My scans perhaps do an injustice to what is there, but JD Smith's colours and Texeira's inks are not an attractive sight. The artwork is rough, while lacking any kind of balancing artistic approach, resulting in something that at times almost looks rushed.

Likewise, the muddy dark colour palette that's been popular with artists like David Finch, does little to lift the art, or present a striking image.
Which is in unfortunate stark contrast to the sleek, minimalist cover by Kaare Andrews. A cover that makes me wish this prominent storyarc for a franchise-player like Wolverine could've gotten a higher treatment.

The fight is suitable, and as I said, having come from reviewing and indulging in the more cardboard tendencies of the seventies, the logic of this fight is refreshing. It's willing to present the battle in exaggerated, but slightly less superheroic terms. The exchange is presented with some thought paid to strategy and the thought processes of the characters.

It does, however, completely omit any contribution to the story that the exchange between these two characters might have. It's here that perhaps Origins & Endings fails where a similar issue of Enemy of the State, might not.

Great to have a character like Silver Samurai on the site, though!

The Fight: 4 The Issue: 3.5

Friday, October 06, 2006

Mayhem is... The Men-Fish! (Marvel comics)
Marvel Team-Up #14 When: October 1973
Why: Len Wein How: Gil Kane

The story so far...
When an innocent tourist is set upon by thugs in a New York City night, a friendly neighbourhood Spider-man is more than willing to intervene in the name of good. But Spidey and the crooks didn't count on one thing!

The stranger turns out to be none other than Namor the Sub-Mariner, and interested only in his own objective, it's Spidey who soon becomes the victim as Namor attempts to fight his way through the suspicious web-slinger.

With their differences resolved, Spider-man agrees to aid the noble Sub-Mariner in a quest for Tigershark - the vile villain responsible for murdering Namor McKenzie's frail, human father.
Events lead the two to track Dr. Dorcas who has teamed with Tigershark, and apparently prepared a trap to welcome to the two heroes...

Previous Form:
Sub-Mariner (#162): Namor has struggled to gain victory, going down to Wolverine and Aquaman.
Spider-man (#2): Successful team ups with Iron Man and the Avengers have led Spidey to second-top.
Tigershark & Dr. Dorcas: This is the first time these characters have been featured.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Sub-Mariner 5 (Super Strength)
Intelligence: Dr. Dorcas 5 (Professor)
Speed: Spider-man 4 (Olympic Sprinter)
Stamina: Sub-Mariner (Marathon Runner)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-like)
Fighting Ability: Sub-Mariner 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Dr. Dorcas 2 (Projectile Weapons)

Well, it's pretty clear from the get-go: Spider-man and Sub-Mariner have a victory coming their way. This can be ascertained not just from the statistics listed above, but from the fact that one of the villains' names is Dorcas.
Dorcas; not to be confused with Dr. Dorkus or Dr. Dork-ass.

While Dorcas certainly weighs in on the obligatory intelligence meter, he does so with the burden of a deranged obsession - the hallmark of a reputable intelligent villain. In this particular case, his interests and foibles revolve around the sub-aquatic.
He does bring mutated Men-Fish to the table, which he calls The Aquanoids, and also the technology which managed to capture SM/SM before this fight.

I... Pardon me?!Tigershark, though not well respected and lacking entries both on Wikipedia and Marvel's own wiki system, is actually a formidable opponent.
Tigershark is probably about as close as you come to an arch-nemesis for the Sub-Mariner, and even then, the two somehow managed to put their differences aside somewhere in the mid-nineties.

That said, Tigershark possesses strengths and abilities comparable to that of the Sub-Mariner himself. If anything, Tigershark may have the edge as an average joe, relatively devoid of pomposity and verbiage.
Of course, balancing the equation is Namor's capacity for rage and the inexplicable powers, like eel-style electric charges... I tend to prefer to ignore those.

However, Namor's strength is worth noting.
While I clock it at a strong five, Sub-Mariner can frequently extends himself to duel and even best the likes of the Hulk, Thing, and many other characters that would be considered invulnerable [6].

So, what about Spider-man? Well, we all know Spidey by now.
We can assume Sub-Mariner can handle Tigershark, and Dr. Dorcas really isn't too much a problem. The Aquanoids? They aren't even considered worthy enough to have individual names, so I think this one's a given.

Average: Sub-Mariner & Spider-man 27 (+7.5)
Overall: Sub-Mariner & Spider-man 54 (+15)
The Pick: Sub-Mariner & Spider-man

A giant of a different kind?!? Just what kind of a comic is this?!...What went down...
Having utilized the... sea-cock to lash the unconscious Namor with rehydrating ocean spray -- the team are quickly back in business, Namor swatting through the glass that encased Spider-man like it were a child's bug jar.

Upon returning to their evil den, Dorcas and Tigershark proceed to crap their pants. Dr. Dorcas exclaims his disbelief in such an escape, to which Tigershark remarks, "Yeah -- you just keep tellin' yourself that, Dorcas. Me -- I'm getting outta here!"

Quick! Somebody call the Street Sharks!!!Subby takes flight in pursuit of his mortal enemy, leaving Spider-man to deal with Dr. Dorcas. An apparent mismatch, until Dorcas springs forth his mighty Men-Fish, collectively called - THE AQUANOIDS.

While Spidey finds himself ensnared in an octopus-like tentacle, Namor catches up with the dirty rat who killed his father.
The two exchange insults before coming to blows, but when they finally hit, they go at it like a couple o' bulls.

The two titans of the sea fight their way into the back area of the underwater lair, but the edge so swiftly taken by the Sub-Mariner begins to lessen as he finds himself dehydrated under the extreme lights.
He realises this all too late as Tigershark unloads a devestating assault, kicking him through what appears to be an emtpy set of shelves!

No! Not my outfit! It distracts the eye from my face!Ever the tenacious warrior, Sub-Mariner fights on whilst pondering how Tigershark is able to keep his cool.
Through tussling, he realises trickery lies beneath the surface and tears away at the orange and purple costume of the Tigershark -- revealing a reserve of life-giving water!

With his plan foiled, Tigershark suffers one mighty punch from the Atlantean ruler that knocks him all the way into a load baring wall. As Namor watches on, the very structure they stand in begins to crumble upon his enemy's unconscious body.

Meanwhile, Spidey is making light work of the quartet of mutant Men-Fish, using various uppercuts and acrobatics to do away with them.

With the structure crumbling around them, Sub-Mariner hurries his ally into the tube which brought them to the depths via a decoy ship.
The two diver overboard, making a swim toward some nearby rocks. They have premium seats as the ship explodes, signifying the destruction of Dr. Dorcas' lair.

But now that it's over and we've royally fucked the place up, I can't help but wonder if my father would've preferred peace... Eh... Easy-come, easy-go. Everyone back to the palace for cheese and twister!Gazing upon the glorious fireworks, Namor wonders if perhaps his father would have preferred a peaceful resolution. A question that may never have an answer.

The hammer...
Ha! Never have I had a greater pleasure than crowning Namor and Spidey victors over Dr. Dorcas, Tigershark and the Aquanoids!

This at least makes up for the loss to Wolverine, which I kinda feel may have been a harsh and possibly incorrect judgment.

Never the less, the updates continue with only twelve days left of 2006.
I can't imagine catching up before the end of the year, but I'm gonna give it a red hot go anyway, for you. The readers! Shucks.

To facilitate that I'm working on the fly with issues that grab my attention, and enthusiasm. A bit of a hiccup part way through this one, but still an all-time favourite issue of mine.
Not just a favourite, but a childhood favourite.

Sub-Mariner's one of those characters I consider 'mine,' and this is probably one of the issues that really helped define the character for me. I couldn't really say what it is about the issue, either.
Like Daredevil #132, this seventies book distinctly lacks the qualities of highbrow poetry. Yet, somehow, there's a resonance with this issue that really rings true to this day.

Perhaps it's the pathos of the Sub-Mariner character, who despite great power, seeks to avenge a death he can never change. The fact that this awful event brings him to the streets where he comes into conflict with Spider-man, and therein even admits the follies of previous occasions when he came to the land with war on his mind.
The issue really highlights the duelling qualities of Namor as the original Marvel loner, but also as the 'Kevin Bacon' of the Marvel universe, as he teams with Spider-man. A trait he and fellow pseudo-loner Spider-man have in common.

Plus, even away from the story, full credit to W. Howard and Glynis Wein who take care of inks and colours, respectively.
Gil Kane lays down masterful pencils, but what really sells the issue for me is the flat, vivid colouring and solid inks. Something you may have come to realise I'm a big fan of.
These two pieces of the puzzle really help drive a truly graphic story, willfully indulging in the cartoony qualities, without sacrificing respect for visual accuracy and tone.

The opening scenes where a trenchcoat/hat Namor is attacked by thugs in a back alley, while littered with purples, blues and yellows, still manages to have the urban grit just such a scene demands.
It's got it's weaknesses, but this is still a great comic, and I think those street scenes in particular have impressed an idea of Namor upon me that is perhaps not well recognised anymore.
Lest we forget he spent quite some time on the streets of New York as a vagrant.

That's about enough from me, though.
Hopefully you'll be hearing from me again very soon. Cheers, happy holidays!

The Fight: 3 The Issue: 4.5

Sunday, October 01, 2006

MONTHLY PUNCH-UP #10 (October, 2006)
Crawling Through the Wreckage Part One: "New Sheriff In Town!"
Where: Green Arrow #60 When: May 2006
Why: Judd Winick How: Scott McDaniel

Quick Fix...
Judd Winick is a really peculiar case.
He seems to be one of those writers who has his hand in many pots, some considerably high amongst the annals of comics writing -- but he still evokes that of a mid-tier guy.

I probably stradle the fence somewhere between.
His work with Doug Mahnke on Batman went from a six issue step down from Jeph Loeb and Brian Azzarrello, to liquid brilliance.

Winick wrote Gotham in the kind of way I would want to.
A very editorialized style that's as much about the map of the city, as it is the pawns that are moving around the battlefield.
It was about motivation and agenda, and that's the kind of writing style I have a great interest in. Lots of moving cogs, all turning at different speeds and interacting accordingly.

This is something Ed Brubaker has probably taken considerably further with his earlier work on Daredevil. Stuff that's wound particularly tight as it operates within the confines of a single locale - a prison.
As for this fight:

It's one year later in Star City, and Oliver Queen has run for mayor, which presumably leaves him less time to patrol the streets as Green Arrow.

Thus, under circumstances unknown, Danny Brickwell has become a lethal guardian to the patrons of a city that has been decimated by disaster.

Whilst taking care of goons, Brickwell finds himself the victim of a sneak attack that encases much of his head in a sticky solidifying solution.

"Who's dumb enough to do this!?"

A second arrow makes the goo brittle, and attached is a note: Nice work but stop killing them.
The Brick is reminded exactly who's the bitch.

I've got to admit, something that bothers me about Winick's Green Arrow work is that it's kinda laced with cheats. Brickwell had the potential to be a fantastic villain in Star City, but was really forced into that spot without any kind of legitimate growth.

Now you have the ultimate cheat across the DCU, where writers and editors were free to unleash any amount of carnage and disaster on a city, with the luxury of skimming over it all to move one year later into the future.

The Brick's a great new character, but it's a shame he's been cheated into being a hero now, barely a heartbeat since being punked as crimeboss. [Green Arrow #45 - Mickey Blue Eyes]

The Fix: 4 The Issue: 3.5

The Monthly Top 5...
#1 Batman (-) (10) (DC Comics)
Well, after ten weeks I'm sure we're all very surprised by this.
If you've been paying attention, you'll notice Secret Earths has fallen into something of a Marvel slump. This isn't necessarily a reaction to Batman's dominance in our top five, but as you can see, it's not really changing much.

That recent bias, based purely on spontaneous interest, will probably offer up a slim chance that Batman will be knocked off, but if I should happen to get a hankering to try to balance things out... Batman's probably a safe bet to represent DC.

Don't hate the player, hate the game.

#2 Spider-man (-) (2) (Marvel Comics)
Spidey kinda swept into the top five without my even anticipating it, so it's probably a surprise to see him hold his spot, despite not appearing.

Spider-man 3 buzz isn't going to hurt his momentum, but one has to wonder if he can truly be the one to knock Batman off his perch.
Spidey, like previous front-runner Daredevil, has a well-known capacity for defeat, which makes him a strong, but outside chance.

#3 Iron Man (+1) (2) (Marvel Comics)
Despite only scraping in with a draw against Venom, Iron Man manages to continue his forward momentum on the chart.
You'd have to say this mirrors the character's franchise movement. Not only is he frontrunning the Civil War universe-wide crossover, he's also generating buzz with an upcoming feature film in 2008, and a direct-to-video animated film release coming up very soon.

Iron Man's always been a favourite of mine, but these things have helped pique my interest in the character, which means he could be the legit contender to topple the Batman.

#4 Daredevil (-1) (9) (Marvel Comics)
Well, the site favourite continues to slide downward. A bitter defeat at the hands of his arch-rival Bullseye facilitates the switch between he and Iron Man.

Previously the great white hope, it begins to seem unlikely that this urban ninja will have the legs to take what has become a race to beat Batman.
All it would really take is a couple of good wins, but with December looming, it might just be too much to ask.

#5 Hulk (-) (4) (Marvel Comics)
Hulk still live off glory of Hulk month in June! Hulk not mind!

There's nothing keeping the Hulk in the top five right now.
World War Hulk, whenever and whatever that may be, could definitely turn things around for the jolly green giant, but for now, it's blandsville. Planet Hulk has looked as green as they come.

Hulk go bye-bye, soon enough.

Super Stock...
1. Batman (-) (DC)
3. Iron Man (+1) (M)
4. Daredevil (-1) (M)
8. Captain America (-) (M)
9. Thor (+6) (M)
10. Green Arrow (+4) (DC)
13. Mr. Fantastic (+13) (M)
17. Venom Symbiote (+2) (M)
22. Invisible Woman (+64) (M)
24. War Machine (+20) (M)
25. Human Torch (new) (M)
44. Civil War Thor (+1) (M)
45. Thing (+54) (M)
46. She-Hulk (-) (M)
51. Thundra (-11) (M)
55. Bullseye (+104) (M)
56. Venom (+3) (M)
105. Luke Cage (+41) (M)
161. Super-Skrull (new) (M)
162. Sub-Mariner (-4) (M)
165. The Brick (-52) (DC)

The hammer...
Well, here we are! The beginning of October, and today is actually December 17.
Still, three posts yesterday. You've got to admit, that's pretty damned good!

The interesting point to note is apparently that we've been getting more hits this month that was without updates, so many thanks to everyone checking out the site.

Obviously December will retain the regular Friday schedule, rather than the additional posts I had hoped to make. By abandoning the schedule and posting spontaneously, hopefully we'll get more comic booky goodness up here.

The White Ghost besieged in the parking lot. The Kirby Martin Inquest #2, page 7. Written by Mike Haseloff, pencilled by Pedro Cruz.Speaking of comic booky goodness, I did mention I had been busy working on my own projects. It seems things are actually finally wrapping up on what will be my first venture in self-publishing comics. We're also working simultaneously on the follow-up issue, where I've begun dabbling in lettering.
Not only does this speed things up, it makes me happier as a writer/editor. I can format more specifically, and make edits as I please.

That said, penciller/inker extrodinaire, Pedro Cruz, has done a fantastic job lettering the first issue.
It's a bit of a weird issue, and has undergone so many rewrites I sometimes forget which version it is, but I think as the story unfolds in following issues, it's going to be a great read.

Since it's what I'm working on now, I'll chuck up a page from issue #2, but let's just keep it between us. We don't want everybody getting spoiled prematurely! Wink wink, nudge nudge.
Not that it's too spoilery. I decided to go with an action scene, that really shows off Pedro's pencils more than my script. It's also one of my favourite scenes, and it only gets better from this page!

If you dangle the mouse of the pic (before you click to enlarge), you'll be informed that this page features intrepid hero The White Ghost, besieged by Anthony Romano and his armed goons in the parking lot. How will he get out of this one?!
You'll have to hold your breath, and pick the book up when it's out in order to find out!

Anyway, I better get to updating again!
Thanks for all the support guys, and if I don't see you before then, happy holidays and a sweet Christmas to you all!

Also, a quick gracious shoutout to Any Eventuality! A comics blog that's linked Secret Earths among other prominent comics blogoverses. Cheers!

NEXT: No schedule! Just comics!!!
September Hit Count: 2028* (+307)

* Hit count was recorded October 1. Hits for September posts may be reflected in November and December count.