Friday, December 29, 2006


With a Vengeance! Chapter Two:
Mistaken Identity Crisis (DC comics)
Superman/Batman #21 When: September 2005 Why: Jeph Loeb How: Ed McGuinness

The story so far...
Batman and Superman have unwittingly become pawns in a fatal game of death staged between two of their oldest foes, but they each have more immediate and bizarre concerns.

An organized break-in at Wayne Tech sees an amped up Atomic Skull stealing a very specific lead atache case which contains synthesized kryptonite.

Meanwhile lurking in the shadows, Batzarro, and another motely grouping of avenging warriors, but are these champions friend, or foe? Batzarro am knows!

Previous Form:
Batman (#1): Batman has victories over Amazo, Captain America and Superman.
Superman (#7): Superman has defeated the Hulk and Metallo.
Atomic Skull: Atomic Skull has not previously been featured.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Superman 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Batman 5 (Professor)
Speed: Superman 6 (Sound Speed)
Stamina: Superman 6 (Generator)
Agility: Batman 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting Ability: Batman 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy Powers: Superman 5 (Lasers)

I'm going to admit straight up - I'm kinda ignorant to a lot of Atomic Skull's finer details. I'm going to assume this isn't a great issue to draw data from, either, seeing the character painted as little more than a Ghost Rider analogue in a key vaguely similar to Vengeance.

Statistically I think certainly as an individual Atomic Skull poses a potential threat to even Superman, but certainly he reads much more like your stock standard second/third tier opponent who is eventually disposed of after some minor trepidation.

In hand-to-hand combat, Batman might have a little bit of trouble with a guy like Atomic Skull. Of course, we've been doing this long enough to know Batman is smart enough to stay out of that kind of situation.
Even if Atomic Skull were somehow able to stage an ambush, gadgetry could probably slow things down enough for Bats to make a retreat, or retrieve the Batmobile ala the fight with Amazo. [Batman #637]

Then of course there's Superman, who can presumably take everything Atomic Skull can dish out, and as always come out on top.

Average: Batman & Superman 30 (+9)
Overall: Batman & Superman 60 (+39)
The Pick: Batman & Superman

What went down...
Alfred calls into the Batmobile to tip Batman off on the break-in, but Bats is already on the scene, and has Atomic Skull in visual atop an atomic themeed flaming motorcycle.

Skull hops his bike over the bonnet of the Batmobile, avoiding a direct collision.
Batman is able to use in-built grappling technology to snag the cycle as it drives, yanking it to a halt and sending Atomic Skull hurtling over the handle bars.

Batzarro watches on as the bike comes to an explosive halt, and is engulfed in the cycle's flames.

Batman goes into battle with the hopes of retrieving the case chained to Skull's wrist. Using his acrobatic skills he avoids an attempt at using the case as a weapon, and slings off a string of batarangs.

Atomic Skull's new armor proves to be much stronger than his previous, holding up to the attack. The chain, however, proves less robust, giving Batman a chance to retrieve the kryptonite housing case.

Atomic Skull continues the assault, using the broken chain like a whip, but Batman is able to use his superior speed to avoid any direct hit.
Batzarro's attempts to aid Batman prove more devestating than Skull's attack, blinding Batman with three flash cubes. Skull capitalizes, checking Batman across the face with the chain.

The villain looms in for a killing strike, but Superman arrives on the scene in the nick of time, arcing his arrival into a devestating torpedo attack!

Superman helps Batman to his feet, only to be crushed beneath the Batmobile by Atomic Skull. He follows it up, punching his way through the vehicle to get to the floored Superman.

The two mighty titans continued to come to blows when suddenly a teleportation boom tube explodes on the scene, and from within comes the battlecry, "MAXIMUMS MARCH!"

Batman, Superman and Atomic Skull each share a confused glance as Atomic Skull remarks, "They ain't with me."

Robot is able to collect spot intelligence from police radio broadcasts, and the team ascertains that Atomic Skull is a threat wanted by the law.
Using a bizarre weapon the Maximum's leader, Soldier, fires off a bullet that passes through Superman's hand with ease and penetrates the villain's skull.

The damage results in a massive firey explosion of energy, as Robot reveals to the team that this character is quite unlike their own "Skull Biker," whose powers are Satanic rather than nuclear, like Atomic Skull's.
Never the less, the deed is done.

The hammer...
Well, the best Batman and Superman can do is an assist, with Soldier striking the killing blow.

Readers familiar with this Superman/Batman storyarc will have immediately jumped to The Maximums as the feature of this particular issue, and in 2007 I'm sure we'll revisit it for the confrontation between the superteam and the starring protagonists.

For those who don't know, The Maximums are a fairly transparent analogue of the ever-popular Ultimates, from Marvel comics. The team that Jeph Loeb has actually taken over post-Millar as his first announced major task moving back to the House of Ideas (Marvel).

Superman/Batman was certainly a book that had it's fair share of detractors, but consistently I think it remained a misunderstood book. It's precipice was that of a traditionally fun superhero comic book, regularly willing to indulge in the classic, but with a contemporary twist. Something I have to say I've enjoyed during my dabbles in the title.

Ed McGuinness' art in particular is a treat, and inking/colouring combo of Dexter Vines and Lee Loughridge is superb. Loughridge's colours maintain a smooth palette, while Vines' inks are strong and certain of themselves.
These go together with McGuinness' bold cartoony lines to make an exciting and easy to read action-adventure story. On this book, I think McGuinness has perhaps never looked better.

It will be interesting to see how the pair handle The Ultimates proper.
Joe Madureira takes the art duties of the third 'season' of Ultimates, before McGuinness reteams with Loeb on the title in the fourth. I've fallen a little out of touch with the progress on the book, but an interesting note, and perhaps unfortuante weakness in McGuinness' approach is a change in designs.

Most notably Iron Man is taking on a graphic look far more like that of the traditional Iron Man, which is certainly striking to the eye, but highlights one of the follies of the development of the Ultimate brand as a whole.
Consistently it seems to be reducing it's relevence, and graphically I feel Iron Man's pull was as a fantastic reality that is largely absent from the streamlined designs of the traditional Iron Man.

Loeb has mentioned part of the evolution is explined by way of Stark's employment of developing technologies, but still, these familiar designs seem to detract from the clunky reality of Hitch's previous designs. Designs that went out of their way to show a utilitarian requirement over asthetic design.

That said, it's sure to be a great read, and certainly The Maximums were a fun preview of what's to come, and also a nice way to round out the year.
This issue was actually one I considered at length before launching the blog, so at the end of 2006 we come full circle, a full year later.

Thanks to all who've been patient with my lateness, and hopefully now that I'm only a few weeks late, we can look forward to a smooth running 2007!

Even if you don't have bulging muscles or special mutant powers, you still can be a hero in your community by getting your Online Social Work Degree.

The Fight: 5 The Issue: 5
Additional Stats: Though present, Batzarro receives no stat. His bungled attack for Batman is not worthy of an assist statistic.

NEXT: January 2007 kicks off with the first post of the year, and finally the top five superheroes of 2006 are announced, plus much more! Including an all new Quick Fix featuring Moon Knight!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Maximum Carnage: Carnage Rising (Marvel comics)
Spider-man Unlimited #1 When: May 1993
Why: Tom DeFalco How: Ron Lim

The story so far...
Cletus Kasady was supposed to be locked away in Ravencroft maximum security prison where he couldn't harm anyone, but for a man like Carnage you can take the man out of the symbiote, but not the symbiote out of the man.

Slaughtering his way through security and psychiatric staff Carnage picks himself a dame up on the way, in the form of the equally homcidal and psychotic - Shriek.

Their swooping freedom in New York City sees them quickly running afoul a mindless wandering doppelganger of Spider-man, and after he puts up a brave fight against Carnage, Shriek convinces her murderous beau to adopt him.
Thus, the sicko Brady Bunch begin their reign of Maximum Carnage.

Previous Form:
Spider-man (#2): Spider-man has victories over team-ups including the Secret Avengers and Dr. Dorcas & Tigershark.
Shriek: Shriek has not yet been featured on the site.
Doppelganger: Doppelganger has not been featured, either.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Doppelganger 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: Spider-man 3 (Street Wise)
Energy Powers: Shriek 5 (Arsenal)

In this opening chapter of the fourteen-part crossover, Spidey finds himself pretty lucky. Even though it's Carnage's first big night on the town, he only has to deal with Doppelganger and Shriek straight up. Sweet!

Okay, let's look at the facts; Doppelganger is exactly what he says he is. A sinister reflection of Spider-man, possessing all of his strength, speed and agility, as well as a few nasty added bonuses -- like razor sharp teeth; barbed razor webbing; six arms, each equipped with three taloned fingers; the ability to survive at least one or two deaths; PLUS he drools!

Sure, this guy sounds like a glorified Venom, but as a mystically touched drone from the Magus' Infinity War, he's one of the few evil reflections to stick around and do some damage.

One on one Spidey has trouble with Doppelganger -- add Shriek into the equation, and things start to get a little tricky for the web-slinger.
With powers that revolve around sound based energy attacks, Shriek has the long range attack to compliment Doppelganger's strong and agile frontal assault.

Though a tall order, Spidey's keys to victory are pretty simple.
Shriek's relative strength and fighting ability is quite low, which renders her fairly easily incapacitated given the opportunity.
The difficulty is in shaking Doppelganger off long enough to actually render such an attack, whilst also then having to fight him off as well.

Ultimately Spidey, as the hero, has a certain edge here, but as a pairing these two villains pack more punch than they may be griven credit for!

Average: Spider-man 28 (+7)
Overall: Shriek & Doppelganger 42 (+14)
The Pick: Spider-man

What went down...
Having heard about the Ravencroft massacre on the radio whilst picking up Chinese food, Spidey swings into action to set out to find the man he believes responsible - Carnage!

Whilst swinging through the city his spidey-sense go completely berserk, narrowly gifting him the advance warning to leap away from a sonic blast ripping through the sky.
On the rooftop below, Shriek stands waiting with Doppelganger wasting no time, jumping straight on the offensive with drool offending aplenty!

Doppelganger's simplistic aggression sees him landing face first, but he is quickly back up and on the offensive again, swinging wildly at the agile Spidey with two arms. His attack again backfires, as the demonic mirror image lunges straight into Spidey's fisting, suffering a jaw shattering uppercut.

Spidey follows it up with a flying face kick, but the Doppelganger recovers shockingly fast and uses the close quarters attack to launch his own offensive, connecting with two hard fists to the mid-section.

Struggling for air, Spidey goes for a desperation move by webbing the feet of the charging Doppelganger, buying him time as face again connects with ground.

Shriek comes to the aid of her new 'pet', firing off a blast at Spider-man, who narrowly avoids it with an acrobatic leap.

As Mary-Jane learns of Peter's fate via the television news, Spidey dodges another sonic blast, connecting with a swinging left across the gnashing chops of the Doppelganger.

Shriek adds a new threat to the mix, barking orders to the Doppelganger.
Spidey webs him up, but again the numbers game gets the better of him as he barely escapes a high power blast from the femme fatale.

Using his spider-like agility he leaps his way through a barrage of blasts, leaving a trail of destruction on the building wall behind him, before narrowing in for a knock-out strike. A simple extended finger is enough, at speed, to knock Shriek out cold.

Though one danger is pacified, Spider-man leaves himself completely open to attack from his diabolical dubplicate!
The blaring warning of his spider-senses matter not, as Doppelganger swoops in with full force booting Spidey in the mid-section, sending him toppling over the edge of the building!

Spidey hits a wall hard before crash-landing in the alley below.

With a childlike concern for Shriek, Doppelganger opts to take the onconscious villainess to safety. Though he would like to pursue, Spidey is in no shape to do so, falling to unconsciousness as he clutches badly damaged ribs.

The hammer...
The autonomous Doppelganger wins, with the assist going to Shriek! Which, for those playing along at home, means we can start to make certain assumptions about the top five characters for 2006.
Stay tuned for that in the January 2007 punch-up!

Meanwhile, am I the only person who finds it utterly bizarre when considering that this comic is fourteen years old? My mind boggles when considering Maximum Carnage happened before many enthusiasts even started reading.

Maximum Carnage of course is a storyline many fans new, old and indifferent are aware of. If not through the comics, certainly the popular side scrolling beat 'em up video game brought the storyline to fans, complete with some panel artwork from this very issue, along with several others. Ah, the age before FMVs!

Contrary to Acclaim's claims on the release of the Ultimate Spider-man video game, it was Maximum Carnage that first placed the role of Venom in the hands of the gamer. Even following it up with the symbiot-centric sequel, Seperation Anxiety. SHAME, Acclaim!

The saga itself reads very much like a videogame plot, featuring a range of unlikely characters over various encounters and locations. Gamers will probably be relatively well versed in the story, even if they didn't even touch an issue of Amazing.

Like the previously featured saga of '93, Fatal Attractions, this ranks as one of my fond memories of the nineties. Despite it's over stretched presentation and ridiculous cast of characters, Maximum Carnage has a free flowing fun factor that recent stories like House of M or Civil War have clearly lacked.
Let's be honest, who isn't a little aroused by the notion of Iron Fist, Morbius, Captain America and Deathlok all on the same team? That's completely ignoring the more central roles of Venom and Black Cat, too!

Comics trends send the industry down the shitter... SPWAT!Certainly books like this had their negative points, and owe a great deal to encouraging even lesser counterparts through their popularity.
It's this unfortunate downward spiral that has largely tainted the nineties in the memory of the comic book reader, blurring the lines between the good [Maximum Carnage] and the bad [Maximum Clonage].

Only now are characters caught in this wave recovering, but I'm glad they are.
Deathlok had a significant return in Beyond!, Morbius popped up in Ultimate Spider-man, albeit in a paper wasting pathetic two-parter, and even the massively whored Venom and Ghost Rider, characters who shared status with Spider-man and Wolverine, are returning to prominence.

Comics seem to be cyclical and certainly we've returned to a mixed bag of good and bad crossover activity, largely perpetuated I believe by DC's tremendous efforts on Infinite Crisis and it's related initiatives. Structure that has not only facilitated fairly expansive crossover activity, but more importantly weaved a cohesive and well thought-out net over the entire universe.

But to the credit of all sides, at least briefly forgotten or discarded characters are recovering, and getting dues they haven't seen in decades.
As should be the motto of this blog -- continuity isn't the problem. Your face is.

And yes. I changed my point several times throughout the course of this post.
Now... Let me tell you about my Namor pitch...

The Fight: 4 The Issue: 6.5

Friday, December 15, 2006

"Chaos" Part Two of Four (Marvel comics)
Avengers #501 When: October 2004
Why: Brian Michael Bendis How: David Finch

The story so far...
The Avengers have faced many opponents, but after decades it may be one of their own who proves to be their ultimate undoing.

One bad day takes a new meaning as the team becomes the unwitting outlet of the out of control hex powers of a resentful and slightly crazed Scarlet Witch.

Killer robots, alien invaders, personality shifts, and now an uncharacteristcally rampaging She-Hulk. Chaos continues, and only a small handful of Avengers are even able to stand to protect their friend from herself.

Previous Form:
She-Hulk (#52): She-Hulk had a win and a loss against Champion of the Universe.
Captain America (#8): Has led victories against Wolverine and AIM.
Iron Man (#4): Has victories over Captain America and The Hulk.
Lionheart: The most recent Captain Britain has not been previously featured.
The Avengers: Have been featured mostly in-fighting via Civil War.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Iron Man 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Iron Man 5 (Professor)
Speed: Captain America 3 (Trained Athlete)
Stamina: Iron Man 6 (Generator)
Agility: Captain America 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting Ability: Captain America 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Iron Man 5 (Arsenal)

I had a discussion recently about She-Hulk, and it dawned on me that newer readers would be somewhat in the dark about She-Hulk's nature as a character.
Of course, traditionally her strength has been consistently around a 5 or a 6 by our statistics, depending very little on her temprement or emotions, unlike her cousin.

In the last couple of years anxiety and a particular type of radiation has been seen to provoke Hulk style mindless rampages in Jennifer Walters, and during this Scarlet Witch prompted scenario of chaos, that's again what we're dealing with.

Hawkeye and Captain America certainly have only a measurable degree of effectiveness in this situation. Despite their prowess with arms and as tactical fighters, against the brute strength of She-Hulk they are rendered relatively ineffective.

Captain Britain represents a more likely physical opponent, but even she hovers somewhere at the lower cusp of a 5 strength.
Of course, that becomes much less an issue when you add the Iron Man armor into the equation. Stark has previously been seen handling the Hulk [Iron Man #2] in the red and gold, and with the added support of Cap Britain, coupled with the maneuverability of tactical distractions like Hawkeye and Captain America, victory is in hand.

Certainly She-Hulk is a formidable foe at the best of times, and with the team already decimated there's an added advantage, but overall I would certainly lean toward Iron Man and the other Avengers.

Average: The Avengers 25 (+2)
Overall: The Avengers 100 (+77)
The Pick: The Avengers

What went down...
She-Hulk, or captain of the Chinese women's swimming team? U-DECIDE!Iron Man has to deal with the repercussions of his initial arc in this story, racially motivated attacks on foreign countries as American secretary of defense. Talking about flattening countries with bombs before turning them into amusement parks is generally considered something of a faux pas, even if it is Latveria.

Meanwhile, Captain Britain is doing her best to hack the waist with her sword as She-Hulk menaces her American counterpart with a jeep.

Cap whips his shield defensively over his body as She-Hulk dumps the jump straight on top of him.
Super Soldier serum or not, that's going to leave a pretty serious mark, no matter how close to the human peak you are.

Meanwhile Captain Britain gets flung across the battle field, She-Hulk palming her skull before whipping her like a ragdoll.

As the rampage continues in the streets surrounding Avengers Mansion, Hawkeye does his best to make an emotional plee to the woman inside the beast, but it has little effect.

Iron Man arrives on the scene as more automobiles feel the crushing blow of a truly savage She-Hulk.
He swoops in quickly delivering a knock-out punch around the chops of the hulked-out She-Hulk.

IM remarks, "Well, I took no pride in that...", landing meters away from the broken body of another teammate felled earlier in the day -- Vision.

Tony joins Hawkeye in lifting the jeep, to reveal a bruised and battered Captain America, but a still living legend, none the less.

The hammer...
Well, a relatively simple victory, but Iron Man effective in the end against She-Hulk. The assist no doubt coming from the other Avengers present. Even Cap, who essentially spent the entire issue on his back beneath a jeep.

Cap's back up and ready to fight after that. Hard to tell whether or not this is an over estimation of his strength, or just a poorly communicated set of circumstances involving the shield and rubble below.

There's some sort of irony when I say I wasn't generally as venomous about the Disassembled crossover as much other fans. Ironic because, while I didn't bitterly disagree with the story, I do regard it as the definite turning point in Brian Bendis' career.

Disassembled begins the path that eventually unfolds to New Avengers, which is a book still struggling to warm up. Granted, Civil War has provided an editorial break at a premature period, but certainly twelve issues of New Avengers were not well used, with a lot of time spent dwelling on character minutia perfect for Daredevil, but cumbersome in a team book.

The next step in the process of Bendis spreading his fingers was the more literal crossover saga as we know, House of M, which saw ideals of Age of Apocalypse and Heroes Reborn coming together in a fairly uninspired storyline that fascilitated various company movements. One of those being the further dismissal of Morrison's X-implementations, which was the broadening acceptance and existance of mutants. House of M ending on the infamous, "No More Mutants" phrase, which led into the underwhelming 198 and subsequently connected X-events.

Unfortunately even as the New Avengers book appears to steer itself toward Bendis' strengths, it remains inherently disappointing as an Avengers book.
That is not to measure it by the standards of characters or even characteristics, but merely as a book that should ideally feature a team dynamic.

Whether or not the upcoming and more traditional Mighty Avengers will provide Brian Michael with the presumed opportinuty for redemption is uncertain.
Typically it seems Bendis is far better utilized in his own corner, dealing chiefly with his own history and events. Even a very positive turn on Ultimate X-Men further typified his confidence with smaller scope, using Daredevil, Spider-man and Wolverine incredibly well, but obtusely in a team book.

Finch remains what he is in Chaos, and if you like that sort of thing, you're probably quite impressed by the pages in Avengers. As dynamic and emphatic as they are, Finch's grasp on human faces remains ever bothersome. Particularly so in a book that features the talking heads that have made Bendis so well known.

Finch's interpretation of the script also has to be questioned.
His translation came under polite fire even from the writer himself, when defending the absurd scene in a later issue that depicts Hawkeye sacrificing his life, rather than removing his arrow holster.
Hawkeye gets a raw deal even in #501, pictured drawing an arrow to fire, but never seen shooting it. Which is a little silly. Even an arrow hitting Shulkie's back from off panel would've done.

Also disappointing is the colour palette, which does effectively convey the grim disaster area and tone, but obscures the time of day and the characters a little bit too much. I'm never a fan of these draining dark colour palettes, particularly when they have very dry highlights.

The Fight: 3 The Issue: 4.5

Friday, December 08, 2006

Planet X: Conclusion (Marvel comics)
New X-Men #150 When: February 2004
Why: Grant Morrison How: Phil Jimenez

The story so far...
As a safe haven for gifted youngsters and adults alike, the X-Men welcome those in need with open arms, but sometimes this generosity comes with hazardous risk.

Having infiltrated the X-Men under the assumed identity of Xorn, Magneto reveals himself not as a beloved teacher, but rather as a drug-addicted man desperate to make his nightmarish vision a reality.

Under the influence of the power enhancing drug Kick, Magneto takes his old friend Charles Xavier prisoner along with several other misguided young X-Students, and proceeds to tear New York City asunder.
Has drug abuse pushed Magneto over the edge, or does the helmet that birthed his deception hide more secrets regarding the true identity of "Xorn"?

Previous Form:
Wolverine (#4): Wolverine joined the X-Men in the defeats of Nimrod and Magneto.
Professor X (#61): Professor X was instrumental in the defeat of Magneto.
Cyclops (#112): As team leader suffered defeat to Namor.
The X-Men: As a team the X-Men defeated a Hydra controlled Wolverine, Nimrod and Magneto.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Beast 5 (Super Strength)
Intelligence: Beast 6 (Genius)
Speed: Beast 4 (Olympic Sprinter)
Stamina: Wolverine 6 (Generator)
Agility: Toad 5 (Cat-like)
Fighting Ability: Wolverine 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Xorn 7 (Solar Power)

A fairly interesting crew of X-Men here, and an ill-defined threat in the form of Xorn. More on the controversy of the Xorn character in The Hammer section of the article, so for the time being, bare with the analysis as it is described here.

Xorn certainly possesses abilities here comparable of Magneto's own, which places him in a noteworthy class as a threat to the X-Men.
Playing the role of passificist, assessing the destructive or offensive capabilities of Xorn would be difficult prior to this occasion. For the most part his powers were used to manipulate characters in subversive ways, even using nanosentinel technology already in the X-Men's bloodstream to cast the illusion of healing on Charles Xavier's spine.

The necessity of the Kick drug and the characterization seen as Magneto suggest Xorn is perhaps not as limitless in his energy as the true Magneto has been seen to be. Other contemporary appearances, such as X-Men #25, have highlighted Magneto's abilities to draw upon the magnetic forces of the planet, possessing a rich well of mutant power.

Against forces like Professor X, Cyclops, Wolverine, Emma Frost, Phoenix and Fantomex, even Magneto has to stand up and notice.
With Xorn showing an unhinged personality, he starts to look like a bit of a chump. Particularly when considering this is Jean Grey heading straight back to cosmic town with the Phoenix force flowing through her veins.

There's certainly debate for this one to go several ways, and with the Kick drug allowing Xorn monumental capabilities (such as twisting bridges), the right shot could be the difference. That said, the level headed forces of the X-Men seem far too strong for such a renegade presence.

Unfortunatley Toad is not an equaliser.

Average: The X-Men 22 (+3)
Overall: The X-Men 176 (+119)
The Pick: The X-Men

What went down...
So, MagnaXorn is in his evil skyscraper lair in New York, which he has renamed New Genosha because he's a little bit crazy on drugs.
Humanity is not without hope, however, as a long X-Man has arrived. An animalistic X-Man. An X-Man of keen instinct. Sometimes described as a loner.
An X-Man named... Beak.

Wielding a metal bat... Not a great idea.
Much like Wolverine's metallic claw attack, the metal baseball bat is quickly turned to MagnaXorn's advantage as he tears it from Beak's dweeby little talon-claws.

Looming at the window, however, is salvation.
Atop the hovering EVA, Fantomex prepares to spring into action, breaking through the skyscraping icey glass of MagnaXorn's sinister tower -- and fires off round sof bullets that may or may not have some sort of obscure properties to them, allowing them to hit the target. Being shot at upsets him, and he demands Fantomex be destroyed. [Looking at you, Sean McKeever... Shyeah... - Mistaken Mike]

Esme, otherwise aiding MagnaXorn, objects to the prospect of being shot, so it's up to Toad to leap into the fray and put himself on the line. Which isn't such a good idea, because Fantomex makes no bones about shooting his knees off...

Of course, like all good things, Fantomex' rampage comes to an end.
MagnaXorn deflects his bullets, and wraps Weapon Thirteen up in bits of metal and trimmings from around his highrise citadellium. What he doesn't notice is that Fantomex' bullets pierce the glass tube that contains the helpless and tubed-up Professor X, beginning the draining of the freak brain neutralizing fluids inside.

While Fantomex gets wrapped up like a douche, another roamer in the night is picked out by Esme just before he uses his mega optic blast to explode through the floor. MagnaXorn is flung into the air by the crimson might of Cyclops.

Xorn falls back to Earth and Cyclops gives him a bitch slapping with all manner of emotionally charged punches.

Then, as if an ass whooping at the fists of Cyclops isn't bad enough, he decides to just pour optic salt into the wound by firing off a round at point blank range -- straight into the face of MagnaXorn!

The Magneto helmet is shattered, and Xorn is left a smoldering, burnt-up, facially disfigured and partially bald mess.

Furious and only briefly blinded, he uses the Xorn helmet as an unseen weapon, bringing it up behind Cyclops before driving it into the back of his skull, thus knocking the X-Men team leader out cold.

Becoming more and more unhinged, and dribbling confused ramblings that actually lend credence to the eventual decision that this was merely an impostor Magneto, MagnaXorn unleashes desperation.
As Esme threatens to psychically attack his exposed brains with "Alzheimer's in fast forward", MagnaXorn lashes out, ripping the earrings from the young girl's ears. Mangled and disfigured ears -- the kinda pain that renders a teenage girl unconscious.

Xorn again dons the... Xorn helmet... protecting himself once more from psychic attack, just as Emma Frost appears on the scene in diamond form.
She consoles Esme [as she dies], and reunites with the distant Cyclops who is preparing to begin a romance with her.

Using his amped up Kick powers, MagnaXorn begins seriously messing with time and space and gravity, which seriously messes with the enjoyment of humanity in the world. Thus, the X-Men run stalling maneuvers to give time for Phoenix to take care of business.

Then Beast comes flying out of nowhere, and generally starts punking the crap out of Magneto. He pounds down on him, delivering an neutralizing solution for the Kick, whilst expressing his disappointment, "I can't believe you'd do this, Xorn! You of all people, Xorn!"

Xorn whips the needles out and stabs Beast with them, which gives him an opportunity to call Wolverine into the fight.
Wolvie brandishes his claws all up in Xorn's grill, but that matters for naught as a Phoenixified Jean Grey enters the battle proper as more than a transport vehicle for people who've been lost at sea, or thrown into the sun.

Taunting manages to get the unhinged false-Magneto to remove his helmet in an attempt to prove his identity as the master of magnetisim, but this exposes him to mental attack from the recovered Professor Xavier.

Phoenix lingers over Magneto's seizing body, and he reaches a frail and weak hand to hers, and something happens to make Jean scream.
Having broken the concentration of his attackers, MagnaXorn reveals his treachery.

MagnaXorn dons his helmet once more... Only to be decapitated.

Xorn dies, Jean dies.
They'll both be back.

The hammer...
As you may have noticed, the winner of this match with the assist from various X-Men - Wolverine. Which almost made up for having his adamantium stripped in a previous entry.

I say almost, because as was mentioned in the Tape, we have a bit of a situation concerning the identity of Xorn. Most comic fans from the last couple of years will be well in-the-know, but for those who came in late, it lays out pretty simply like this:

Magneto gets killed in Genosha for the umpteenth time when Sentinels flatten the place. In Grant Morrison's New X-Men Magneto becomes firmly established as a Che Guevera style t-shirt icon, and an inspiration to disillusioned semi-retarded teen mutants worldwide.

In an incredible twist of fate the new mutant named Xorn turns out to be an elaborate ruse by Magneto to infiltrate Xavier's school, and generally cause problems and lead children astray whilst taking drugs.

The drgs increase his powers and we arrive at the issue reviewed here, where Wolverine unceremoniously cuts his freaking head off. Four more issues to go and then Morrison leaves the book, and returns to DC where he has clearly been better nurtured and embraced by his own standards.

Marvel clearly had some issues with Morrison's ground breaking X-Men, which reinvigorated the franchise. Obviously as a franchise, the viability of killing off Magneto seemed unlikely, and likewise they enjoyed Xorn as a character... So the solution was to immediatel reorder the house of X by revealing Magneto was actualy hiding out on Genosha recovering (a redeemable Holocaust survivor once more) -- and drugged up, headless Magneto was an impostor.

I'm going to come clean, there were some serious lapses of concentration here, and that's largely due to the fact that what started out like a good idea for an entry, kinda drove me a little batty.

It gets messy beyond this issue, and after some vague attempts from Chris Claremont and Chuck Austen, and some unfortunately vivid delivery from Brian "I should stick to street solo characters" Bendis -- Xorn becomes his own character.
Well, his own character and a brother...

Beyond the farce and well on the safe side of a paying job, Morrison has said his intentions were for the character were exactly what he delivered: Magneto's last hurrah, fucking up New York City.
But we here at Secret Earths are bound by canon as tightly as possible.
So as cathartic as it may have been, sorry Wolvie. Wrong head.

A lot of people seem to talk about their 'period away from comics,' and usually it comes across as super-poseable bullshit, and an excuse to talk about how Blankets or something else flavoursome 'brought you back to comics.'

I'm not going to say I ever left comics. I've read them my entire life, but for a while there I wasn't buying much more than Mutant X... So while I was never gone to be brought back, New X-Men certainly renewed my interest in the X-franchise en masse, and was the gateway into which I began making much larger and expansive purchases.

Purchases like the graphic novels Blankets and Maus... [Kidding!]

New X-Men was a hot ticket item and tough to get from the comic store rack, but the issues I do have were a real delight. I can honestly say it's the first time X-Men has ever been a regular priority.

I've been wanting to feature an issue somewhere along here, but the curious thing is that as much action and violence as there was, there really weren't a lot of simple, break it down fights. I went with this one, and I stand by my choice, but the true brilliance to this run was the overall presentation.
Even the leather jacket uniforms, which were a happy compromise between the filmick black leather, and the classic primary yellow, were a brilliant step forward for the X-team.

Despite a distinct Marvel bias over the past few months, I've actually been sitting on the DC side of the fence for the last few years. Having grown up a Marvel youngster, I really feel post-Jemas the company went though a period of very disappointing creative direction.
While I feel they are now recovering, there's still a ways to go before I can ever expect to read and X-Men comic with the same vim as New X-Men.

The Fight: 4.5 The Issue: 5.5
Additional Stats: Victory also to Beast and Cyclops, with assists to the rest of the team.
Xorn fatal injury inflicted on Esme.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Devil in Cell Block D: Finale (Marvel comics)
Daredevil #87 When: September 2006
Why: Ed Brubaker How: Michael Lark & Stefano Gaudiano

The story so far...
A living hell is nothing new for Matt Murdock, but incarcerated without charge, things take a turn for the worse when his best friend - Foggy Nelson - is seemingly murdered mere rooms away.

Manipulated by an unseen player, Daredevil finally accepts the aid of a voluntarily arrested Frank Castle - aka The Punisher.

Finally free to pursue those that have wronged him, the Daredevil's first target is an imposter who has been patrolling his patch with the same vigilance as he.
Is this new Daredevil a friend, or will the confrontation present a new foe?

Previous Form:
Daredevil (#6): Daredevil holds a victory over fellow hero, Wolverine.
Iron Fist (#163): Iron Fist appeared as Daredevil in Civil War.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Draw 3 (Trained Athlete)
Intelligence: Daredevil 3 (Straight A)
Speed: Draw 4 (Olympic Sprinter)
Stamina: Daredevil 5 (Marathon Runner)
Agility: Draw 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting Ability: Iron Fist 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Iron Fist 3 (Explosives)

Alright, before we get into things proper, consider this a change of plans.
Instead of indifferently moving forward toward the new year I have done something slightly uncharacteristic and changed this to blatant favourtism month.

Daredevil is currently ranked #6, but since December has space for a fifth week, we're going to feature the top five characters in the home stretch. Well, the top five except Hulk, and including Daredevil.

So, just how heavily are the decks stacked in DD's favour?
Honestly, not a whole lot. Last month we featured an issue of Daredevil [#90], and fawning over that run continues with this entry which, unlike last time, features a pretty even match-up.

Danny Rand aka Iron Fist is chosen to pose as the dummy Daredevil presumably, aside from his availability [ouch!], because of his comparable skills to DD.
The most notable differences between the two are Daredevil's radar sense, and the aptly named Iron Fist's fist.

Because of their status as characters it's easy to under estimate Iron Fist here, but statistically his skills probably not only match Matt Murdock's -- but even excede them.

... YOUR face!The fan in me wants to lean toward Daredevil as the likely victor, but the indifferent judge says logically Iron Fist should be the victor more often than not.
At the very least we can conclude from that that this is certainly an even battle!

Overall: Draw (28)
The Pick: Iron Fist

What went down...
Having laid the smack down on celebrity guest stars Brian Posehn and Patton "Spence" Oswalt, Danny Rand leaps to the rooftop to record his on-going DD report via commercial guest star - an iPod. It's at this point when the real Guardian Devil stands up.

A gritty and stubbly Matt Murdock knows the impostor is saying something as he leaps at him with deadly kung fu in his soul, but the sound of his heart is all he can hear.
This is probably a scenario where he's hearing what he wants to hear, Mr. Super Radar Hearing Man.

'Matt, it's me! Iron Fist' 'Every time I see you, something happens to me! My heart starts missing a beat! My heart starts missing a beat! Everytime... Aaah aaah, everytime!'Iron Fist defens himself against his attacker, insisting his outfit is an entirely different shade of red, and that he arrived at the ball first anyway!
He gets a stiff strike to the ribs, but Daredevil returns in kind with a boot to the face and a striking fist across the chops.

DD notices that his opponent is a great martial artist, and is even going to great lengths to emulate his moves, but the fatal flaw in Iron Fist's facade is the billy club. He doesn't use it enough.
Murdock shows him how it works, ricocheting it off a chimney so it "spok"s IF in the back of the head. Like a pinch in the neck from Mr. Spock.

As the fight continues, Daredevil recognises another difference.
Something Iron Fist doesn't have or understand, probably because he's a good martial artist instead of a grim and gritty bad ass -- rage.

Stop hitting yourself! Stop hitting yourself!...Rage apparently gives Murdock the edge as he slaps Rand around with a jumping roundhouse kick that would put even Daniel "Bloodsport II" Bernhardt to shame.

Iron Fist's repeated meetings with the ground lead him to make the executive decision to cut the crap, and risk being found out by unleashing the deadly irond fist of K'un L'un.

KAPOW BITCH!It's at this point that DD stops throwing his angry fists of rage, bested by the iron raging hand of Danny Rand. Who is a poet, and doesn't even know it.

... Matt? DAYAM, brotha! Why didn't y'all say it was you?!IT'S A TOGA, I SAY! NOT A DRESS!The hammer...
Having resolved their identity crisis, the two allies call it quits on beating each other stupid, resulting in a draw.
Even by our strictest standards, you couldn't even give it to either man on points. To hate the player, hate the game.

There have been various mystery based plot points in Brubaker's Darerdevil run, and while I would acknowledge the stories as a whole have been very good, these mysterious harken back to previous writer, Brian Bendis.

With some uncertainty most, if not all, of the mystery here has been telegraphed by informed fan speculation. As enraged as many fans were, even Foggy Nelson's death was quite popularly speculated as faked from very early on.

While random guessing can't be the basis of criticism, I'd have to say the outcomes in each case can be. Part of what made random shots in the dark so easy was that each reveal was relatively underwhelming, and I think this is where I find myself less enthused at the end of Brubaker's work than I should be.
Even the final reveal of who was manipulating DD and the pawns around him was somewhat underwhelming, even if not totally expected.

However, pertaining to this issue's reveal; Iron Fist was undoubtedly the most popular assumption, with the exception of perhaps Echo, because if New Avengers taught us nothing else [and it did, ie; how to bog down a good team book], it's that gender bending is much easier than Mulan would have had us believe.

So, does this destroy the quality of the work?
Not entirely. I earnestly want to be excited by Brubaker's measured approach, and as I've discussed previously, it's very much along the lines of what I want to be seeing from an urban pseudo-hero book. I think it's just unfortunate that Brubaker's work seems to rest fairly heavily on certain checkpoints that don't always hold the tent as taut as one might like.
I found this on his acclaimed Captain America, and even on Gotham Central, albeit in a different way.

Regardless, this is a book everyone should be looking at in 2007 if they haven't already. Mine is just an opinion, and even if only to agree with me, Daredevil deserves your assessment! It's undoubtedly a tight read with a strong pedigree of lineal credit owed; Brubaker to Bendis, Bendis to Miller.

Oh, and the inclusion of Poseihn and Oswalt as reference?
I would say with the heartiest of good humor; you sad little MySpace bitches.
Fun, but so ridiculous. :-p

The Fight: 5 The Issue: 5.5

MONTHLY PUNCH-UP #12 (December, 2006)
The Great Beyond (Marvel)
Where: Beyond! #1 When: September 2006
Why: Dwayne McDuffie How: Scott Kolins

Quick Fix...
Technically this is our anniversary, but for the time being it's quick business as usual. Stay tuned, folks.

I've had this one sitting around for a while now, and honestly I only came across it at the time because I was browsing through Marvel's sales lists. Since it's release I've only come across one source talking about it, and that was The Invincible Super-Blog. A nice read to be sure, but not exactly an endorsement in Wizard Magazine. [Wizard may have featured this series. I do not know because I haven't really researched these claims.]

For those who haven't been writing about the series, and are blissfully unaware as to it's story -- it's quite simple. That wacky cosmic deity, The Beyonder, is at it again, gathering together a motley crew of superheroes to duke it out in an obscure combat challenge. This is the series we probably wish Secret Wars II was, but alas, I will not dwell on the past...

Spider-man, front-and-centre on the cover, is obviously the lynchpin of the promotional angle on this series. He's the kind of character who's pretty generously spread around, and could probably be justified, while the other characters largely read like a who's who of available characters.

These are by no means characters I'm terribly interested in, but the concept is enough to warrant a look, and yes, the inclusion of guys like Spider-man and Venom do lend to getting these other guys exposure.
The line-up of second stringers includes; Firebird, Hank Pym, Gravity, Medusa, Wasp, The Hood, Kraven the Hunter Jr #2, and the villain formerly known as Scorpion, Mac Gargan.

Pleasantries completed, things kick-off with a bellowing voice from the void that declares, "I AM FROM BEYOND! Slay your enemies and all you desire shall be yours! Nothing you dream of is impossible for me to accomplish!!"

The Hood goes a little crazy, but Kraven Jr II quickly puts an end to his gun-toting rampage, and debate begins as to what the heroes should do.
Of course, having a guy like Mac Gargan around is bad enough when he's the Scorpion, but as Venom there's got to be a second underlying whisper of insanity, and that's where business picks up.

Though the intentions behind the act are unclear, McDuffie does well to kick things off in a very typical fashion. Venom extends his symbiotic costume out with destructive intent, and Spidey swiftly hops over it.

Spidey webs up Gargan's eyes as he goes on a muscle bound rampage.

The quips fly as Spider-man dances around his foe, and smashes the floor with his face.
He procedes to web Gargan up, but to the shock of all, Gargan uses the symbiote to manifest a Scorpion style tail, and impales the unwitting spider with it.
[Lest we forget, the symbiote does not trigger Spidey's preternatural Spider-Senses! - Mike]

The other heroes can only gaze on horrified as Spider-man's limp body peels from the tip of the symbiote tail with a shluk, and tumbles down toward the ground.

Using her animated firey red hair, Medusa cradles Spider-man before he can hit the ground, and draws nearer.
The fatally wounded Parker mistakes his savior for his wife, Mary Jane, and whispers his final words to her.

Venom, believing he had completed the challenge required by the Beyonder demands what he deserves. Medusa rises from the corpse with a tear in her eye, and promises to deliver exactly that.

Of course, Spider-man is still running around and having problems, so you can rest assured his death is reversed, but you do have to wonder whether or not it was worth it.

Presumably Spider-man was there as an entry point, and this gives an opportunity to have the other character shine, but there's still something terribly cheap and nasty about this. Still, apparently one of the repercussions of the series is to be dealt with in McDuffie's upcoming Fantastic Four run.

Not to end on a sour note, but as far as the art goes, Scott Kolins is not winning me over. I was appalled by one of his New Invaders covers in particular, and ever since it's just felt like it's downhill.
Underneath it all there's probably some fine pencils, but the colour palettes following him around aren't helping, and the inking process is entirely unflattering. If this is digital, as it appears, then I continue to equate this with the dark side of what CP Smith has done.

The Fix: 4 The Issue: 4
Winner: Venom (Mac Gargan)
Amendment (02/02/07): The Spider-man in this battle is in actual fact The Space Phantom.

As I mentioned, this officially marks a full year of Secret Wars on Infinite Earths.
For the sake of a clean break I'll leave some of the nostalgia for January's Punch-Up, but I should take this opportunity to thank each and every reader out there.
Hit counting technology allows me to know you are out there, and particularly with all the delays in entries, I appreciate the views.

Hopefully there'll be plenty more droll, uninspired summarizing and alliterations coming in this new year [of which we are already twelve days into].

Next year there'll be a few changes, notably a fresh start to the rankings.
A year of the top five has provided us with some fun and interesting results, but to keep it fresh, the top five will restart for 2007. Next month we will crown the top five characters for 2006, so this is a big month for some guys!

With that in mind we might do something a little a different.
Instead of talking about the top five characters, it might be nice to take a look at the top five creative contributors. As you'll no doubt notice, at the top of the page in the right column is a cumulative top ten list of writers and artists.
This is updated after every entry, and due to the sheer number of creators involved, will not be reset for 2007.

Secret Wars on Infinite Earths began with a simple mandate, and that was to enjoy and explore comics and superhero characters in a fun, welcoming atmosphere. I've enjoyed sharing links with readers much less familiar with the medium than I, and I hope you guys can do the same.
Comics are fun, educational and entertaining. There's no shame in indulging in a little light hearted debate or discussion about them. Even when it's about who would win a fight, and even if you're one of those bozos who thinks the Hulk should beat Superman. Hah! Shyeah, what-evarrr!


The Monthly Top Five Creators...
#1 Ron Marz (Writer) (Freelance)
Ron Marz has held the top spot fairly conclusively since we featured DC versus Marvel on it's tenth anniversary.

Being brutally honest, he's not one of my favourite writers, but to his credit he's firmly entrenched himself in the cosmic character culture.
His work with characters like Silver Surfer and Green Lantern has to be considered pretty solid, and including Super-Skrull in battle against Thor is always a good thing.

I don't expect to be seeing much of Ron Marz in 2007, but the Silver Surfer/Green Lantern crossover issue has been sitting on my 'to-do-list' since the site started, so he's not completely out of the picture.

#2 Judd Winick (Writer) (DC Comics)
In many ways you could consider Winick the true number one, which in many ways is surprising. I would not generally rate Winick as one of my favourite writers, but his efforts on Batman have really earned him his spot here.

His partnership with Doug Mahnke, along with a strong take on Gotham and it's characters really attracted me to his work in 2005.

Green Arrow remains a solid book, although post-Hester/Parks, it isn't the visual powerhouse it once was. Enjoyable, but I would not consider this to be top-tier written work from Winick. Editorial demands may have contributed to that.

History shows DC is willing to support Winick as an A-list writer, and while he may not occupy the role completely, he has a good base to work from as one of the many writers involved in the epic storytelling of 52 and the events of the DC Universe.

#3 Claudio Castellini (Penciller) (Freelance)
Before the DC vs Marvel series I had very little to do with the Italian born penciller, and honestly, I've had nothing to do with him since.

While his linework is clearly competent, DC/Marvel was far from inspired or impressive. I don't know if this is indicative of his work on a whole, or just the result of popular influences of the time imposing on his own style and efforts.

I'm completely unaware of his current working situation, and would imagine 2007 will fascilitate the devouring of Claudio Castellini as other creative voices are heard in the same quantity, here on the site.

#4 Doug Mahnke (Penciller) (DC Comics)
As Winick's partner in crime on Batman, Mahnke collaborated with an impressive unit of inkers and colourists to complete the image of Gotham City, alive and populated by criminals.

Smooth, competent and well placed lines made this particular run on Batman a real joy to read. This unfortunately contrasted against fill-in artists, who brought a less subdued approach to the characters.

I haven't had the pleasure of observing Mahnke in many other books, but I would imagine he is a talent that will be keenly observed by Secret Earths.

#5 Frank Miller (Writer/Penciller) (Freelance)
For the past couple of decades a select few individuals have risen through the comic booking ranks to cast looming shadows over the industry. Certainly Miller's unique, but influenced voice has made him a stalwart to many-a comic fans top five lists.

As writer/artist on the critcally acclaimed The Dark Knight Returns, Miller told many great stories, and most importantly to this website, some great fights.

Dual credits on Superman/Batman play a part in this positioning, but few fans could argue that it isn't deserved. Even if later works have been controversially received, such as the allegedly cancelled All-Star Batman and Robin.

As he moves closer to the Hollywood side of things, following up on his co-directorial debut on Sin City, Frank Miller will no doubt remain in the consciousness of fans everywhere. Removal from on-going comics, however, leaves his relevence in 2007 a fifty-fifty crapshoot as far as Secret Earths is concerned.

Namor laughs last with a bullet, up forty positions from last month, while Magneto plummets to the very bottom - #186!Super Stock...
1. Batman (-) (DC)
2. Spider-man (-) (M)
5. Hulk (+1) (M)
6. Daredevil (-1) (M)
7. Superman (-) (DC)
8. Captain America (-) (M)
9. Venom Symbiote (+8) (M)
12. Zatanna (-1) (DC)
17. Sub-Mariner (+40) (M)
21. Silver Surfer (-1) (M)
28. Rogue (+9) (M)
32. Venom (Mac Gargan) (new) (M)
40. Sagat (-2) (Capcom)
47. Rayden (new) (Midway)
48. Tombstone (new) (M)
52. She-Hulk (-4) (M)
61. Professor X (new) (M)
77. Colossus (+4) (M)
101. Scarlet Witch (new) (M)
102. Gambit (new) (M)
105. Wonder Woman (-3) (DC)
112. Jean Grey (new) (M)
177. Scorpion (new) (Midway)
178. Angel (new) (M)
179. Iceman (new) (M)
180. Mastermind (new) (M)
181. Toad (new) (M)
182. Quicksilver (-81) (M)
186. Magneto (-72) (M)

The Hammer...
That about wraps up December's punching intro!
We've got a fifth week as we come to the end of 2006, so bare with me as I grapple with the trials of technology. Scanning may pose some difficulties, but we will prevail.

A lot of Marvel lately! Mostly a symptom of my whims, and dipping into the well of a mostly Marvel collection. I can only apologise for that in hindsight guys, sorry! Be sure to scout back and check out the many fine contributions made to the site by DC Comics!

As the Super Stock shows, there's still a lot that could happen in the top five as we wind down this month. There are a lot of guys still in contention, so if you were ever to stay tuned, this is the month to do it!

To try to make up for my blatant bias, I'd like to leave you with some of the very best DC issues featured on Secret Earths in 05/06. Hopefully they can make up for just a portion of the Marvel zombie pain being inflicted upon DC-loyal fans. Cheers!

- Dark Knight Returns #4
In a grim and gritty future, Batman does battle with the government controlled Superman in one last nasty showdown. It's dirty, it's grim, and it's the Batman's last F-You... Or is it?

- Batman #637
Batman and Nightwing team up to deactivate a stripped down Amazo android that has been purchased by Black Mask. Things get nasty and rough, as the android with the powers of the Justice League takes on two of DC's most prominent heroes without powers.

- Blue Beetle #1
There's a new Blue Beetle in town, and his magical armor has something in common with much of the DC Universe -- It doesn't like Guy Gardner!
More psychotic than every, Guy Gardner does what we always knew he would -- battle with a pubescant!

- Seven Soldiers: Zatanna #4
In the wake of the revelation that Zatanna wiped the minds of villains and heroes alike, she takes leave of the League to find herself. What she finds instead is a whole mess of trouble, and the moustached Zor is right at the forefront of it!

- Green Arrow #45
Green Arrow comes face to face in a confrontation with the newest and most dominant criminal element in his city - The Brick. It's man against monster as Ollie attempts to fight a guy whose rocky hide can take all of his tricks!

- Identity Crisis #3
Dr. Light has remembered all the thoughts the League stole, and he's none too happy. Not the most threatening scenario, but when Deathstroke enters the game bought and paid for, the League are in for some serious trouble!

- Batman #647
The villains are uniting, and with Batman and Red Hood on his case, Black Mask is happy to accept entry in exchange for assistance. Enter Captain Nazi, Hyena and Count Vertigo.
Batman must team up with his former protege in a bitter fight against foes more powerful than they have ever faced!

- Batman #648
Black Mask has had enough, and it's time for a final showdown between criminal mastermind and vigilante thug.
While Jason Todd steps up to the plate, Batman races to the scene, but can he get there in time to save Red Hood from himself -- or is there another twist waiting in the wings?

- Hawkman #31
Relocation to St. Roch has not come without it's trials for Hawkman, and as if the people and police of the city weren't suspicious and resentful of the hero before -- a spate of deaths that link straight to the hero will make sure they are!
Hawkman does battle with an all new foe!

- Batman #442
It's Tim Drake's first day on the job as Robin, and with Batman and Nightwing trapped beneath an exploded building, it's going to be a doozy.
Add Two-Face menacing in the wings and convinced a late night radio programme is feeding him commands, and you've got yourself a great big dose of uh-oh!

November Hit Count: 2777* (+386)

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