Wednesday, November 01, 2006

MONTHLY PUNCH-UP #11 (November, 2006)
Dark Moon Rising
Where: Batman: The Mad Monk #1 When: October 2006
Why: Matt Wagner How: Matt Wagner

Quick Fix...
Alright, I didn't get a lot for Christmas, but among the few comics I got were four issues of Batman and the Mad Monk. I haven't had the chance to read through them all yet, but this issue caught my eye straight away for the opening pages, which detail the fight we're discussing here.

The general gist of these Wagner mini-series [the previous being Batman and the Monster Men - Speak to the Manager, Mike] is to canonize stories inspired by the Golden Age of Batman, whilst placing them in a contemporary interpretation; ala Year One.

I have to admit, I'm a fan who's pretty content with a too-serious-for-his-own-good take on the Batman, so a more transparent Batstory about monsters and cults isn't usually my cup of tea. I can appreciate these pulpy Golden Age stories for what they are, but prefer to leave them there.

That said, Wagner's pencils look great, if a little shakey in a vein not dissimilar to Howard Chaykin at times. This is particularly noticable against a Chaykin-esque eighties colour palette, although, Cameron Stewart's colours are generally more diffused and mat, which is much more to my liking. This rings true of the Year One inspirations.

Pussy-whipped!Anyway, the opening four pages of Batman and the Mad Monk are dedicated to a delightful exchange between Batman and Catwoman, which presumably refers to something from Monster Men, or at the very least, pursues the relationship as it is seen in works like Year One or The Long Halloween.

Caught in the act, Batman accosts Catwoman during a night of thievery in a jewellery store. His intent to take her into custody is an unwanted advance, and she makes a preemptive strike, wrapping his feet up with her cat o nine tails.

The Bat goes down hard, clunking his head as she drags him in.

Is that a batarang in your utility belt, or are you just...?Ever the perveyor of innuendo, Catwoman slinks over her fallen foe and gets inside his head, quizzing him on a relationship with "Li'L Miss "Chanel No. 5"."
He doesn't take too kindly to the personal attack.

Catwoman gets off, but not without leaving an impression, raking her claws through the Batman's chest as she leaps and flips her way for the exit.
"Her claws... Must've been drugged," Batman thinks, whilst considering wearing armor beneath the costume. Something he comes to do, I'm sure.

But did someone say drugged? Why, could that be a plot point of significance later in the story? I don't actually know, and if it isn't, the sarcasm with which that remark was made will be proverbial yolk on my face.

So, what's interesting about this quick fix?
As always, I make an assurance that there is no conceited effort to manipulate events on the site. This book was new and attractive, and it just happened to present the first defeat of Batman listed on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths.
Thus, it is quite a monumentous Punch-Up.

What is particularly interesting about this is that it was Catwoman that took the Batman down. Considering he was just previously featured fighting Amazo, and has taken down foes like Captain America, Captain Nazi and Superman on two occasions, that's pretty spectacular.
I guess this is what makes the site interesting. Batman might tag Elektra, and Elektra might tag Catwoman, but that doesn't mean Catwoman doesn't have an edge over Batman!

The Fight: 3 The Issue: 4.5
Winner: Catwoman

The Monthly Top Five...
#1 Batman (-) (11) (DC Comics)
Well, this this punch-up hasn't just saved your life: It's made your life worth saving. You have lived to see the unthinkable.
With little more than a scratch, Batman has suffered his first documented defeat, and while that doesn't knock him off the top spot, it changes everything.

With guys like Spidey and Iron Man lurking, Batman is vulnerable for the very first time. With two months of Secret Earths remaining, this is no longer a race to beat Batman. This is a race to see if Batman can win!

#2 Spider-man (-) (3) (Marvel Comics)
After whipping MTV Kraven and teaming with the Sub-Mariner this month, Spidey maintains his good fortunes. He now holds the honor of being the only undefeated character in the top five, which sets him up perfectly to take the top spot. Amazing considering only three months in the top five!

My Spidey kick may have ended, but Civil War overflow means this guy is still relatively relevent in the world of comics. I can't predict where my whims will take me, but Marvel's dominance over the past few months ensure this guy will be popping up again. Possibly to face a stone-faced foe, hint-hint.

#3 Iron Man (-) (3) (Marvel Comics)
Though not featured this month, Iron Man remains just as likely a successor to Batman's throne. IM really has returned to the Marvel A-list. Every month we talk about all the things coming and going for Iron Man, and there's just nothing left to say.

I have to admit, right here and now my interest has waned a fraction, but Civil War is everywhere, and Robert Downey is lurking in the wings, and it's just an interesting time for Iron Man.

#4 Wolverine (RE) (6) (Marvel Comics)
There was a degree of anymosity early in the year toward Wolverine's position in the top five, but now I have to say it's probably deserved. At the very least, it has not come easily.

Victory over the Silver Samurai is Wolvie's ticket here, and it was a pretty good match. Don't know if Wolverine has the legs to stay here, but you could never rule it out.

#5 Daredevil (-1) (10) (Marvel Comics)
DD continues his slide downward, and there's every possibility he might exit the top five before the end of the year.
He's a site favourite, and I will telegraph that I got DD comics for Christmas, but that just might not be enough to save ol' hornhead.

He's probably been the sentimental favourite for the year, but the fallability that makes the character so endearing has been what's held him back here. Just in case I don't see you again, happy new year, Murdock.

Super Stock...
1. Batman (-) (DC)
4. Wolverine (+3) (M)
5. Daredevil (-1) (M)
6. Hulk (-1) (M)
8. Captain America (-1) (M)
23. Nightwing (+64) (DC)
46. Catwoman (+53) (DC)
47. Thing (-2) (M)
48. She-Hulk (-2) (M)
57. Sub-Mariner (+105) (M)
59. Venom (-3) (M)
91. Ms. Marvel (-2) (M)
102. Wonder Woman (-1) (DC)
163. Tigershark (new) (M)
164. Dr. Dorcas (new) (M)
169. Silver Samurai (new) (M)
170. Kraven the Hunter (new) (M)
171. Amazo (new) (DC)
174. The Brick (-9) (DC)

The Hammer...
Right now it's New Year's Eve 2007 [Or is that NYE 2006?...], and as you can see I'm only just making the first post for November, so I'm still a couple of months behind.

Rather than interrupt the natural flow of these posts, I won't do a year-end post until I actually reach the December/January portion of scheduled posting. Hopefully you can forgive the latness, and appreciate that I am making an effort here for you guys.

There seems to have been an influx of people checking the site out, which is great news. I hope you guys are all enjoying joining in on the fun, and feel free to drop a comment on any of the posts, and make requests. Chances are I won't entertain them, but it doesn't hurt to ask. ;-p

When I'm done here I'm going to be postnig two entries that were done in advance, so we're already half way through November. Hopefully you're going to enjoy them, particularly the first post, which will take us somewhere a little different.

The end of the year is very exciting, I honestly have no idea where we're going to end up, but hopefully we can have some fun getting there!
Good wishes when the New Year reaches all of you, and be safe! Because fighting is only fun when it's against giant robots, or people who are just begging for it... Like a guy named Dr. Dorcas. C'mon... Seriously, dude.

NEXT: For centuries I ended posts with a tease. For nine generations I have been unable to do this, and now is the tenth... Will humanity prevail in Kombat?
October Hit Count: 2391* (+363)

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

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