Friday, March 31, 2006

SHE-HULK versus CHAMPION OF THE UNIVERSE
"Engagment Ring"
Where:
She-Hulk #8 When: December 2004
Writer: Dan Slott Artist: Juan Bobillo

The story so far...
Jennifer Walters, attorney at law, received a life-saving blood transfusion from her cousin, Dr. Bruce Banner aka The Hulk. The irradiated blood had extraordinary effects, turning her into the sensational She-Hulk.

Having left the Avengers in the wake of Disassembled; She-Hulk began her career as a lawyer specializing in superhuman law at Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway.
Her wacky adventures saw She-Hulk attain the greatest honor of being appointed to the Magistrati; agents of the Living Tribunal, who maintains cosmic law throughout the omniverse. This new role, of course, was not without a catch, which leads big green to the planet Skardon, where she is to settle a case by their law.

Tale of the tape...
She-Hulk was undoubtedly one of the breakout hits for Marvel comics in 2004, during an on-going period that I would describe as notably lackluster.
This slightly obscure title served up, in it's first series, a declicious blend of quirky superhero antics, classic Marvel comics character interaction, and an intangible something else that has no name.

Savvy internet fans rallied to She-Hulk's cause, and as that series crosses a milestone one hundredth issue [for the character], and the half-way mark of it's second season; net fans are called to arms again.
Dan Slott's other title, Thing, is lurking dangerously near the dread yellow line, and he's calling to fans to help him out. To learn more about the initiative, head to Newsarama, and learn more about pulling Dan Slott's Thing! Prizes to be won!

Now, let's get down to the real business. The fighting!

Strength: 5 (Super Strength)
Stamina: 5 (Marathon Runner)
Fighting Ability: 4 (Trained Fighter)

Let's be honest... Shulkie has her work cut out for her.
As great as her strengths are, like many characters derived from others, She-Hulk is universally a lesser facsimile of her a-list cousin, The Hulk.
Generally speaking She-Hulk, although capable of exceeding these general bounds, isn't as strong, fast, or powerful as the Hulk.

With that as the measuring stick, you'd have to regard a character like Tryco Slatterus as out of her league. Generally, a guy who can get away with calling himself Champion of the Universe, probably isn't a guy to be messed with. Afterall, prior to this, he's got a skin list of some of the most impressive bruisers in the Marvel universe! Champion's gone toe-to-toe with; the Hulk, the Thing, Colossus, and even Thor, God of thunder!

Strength: 7 (Omnipotent)
Stamina: 7 (Unstoppable)
Fighting Ability: 7 (Born Fighter)

The power primordial is the source of Champion's impressive strength, which replaces conventional motivation, like food, water and sleep, with the nature to tap into the stuff of the very cosmos. As one of the surviving elders of the universe, Champion's immediate strength is only further enhanced by the possession of the infinity power gem.

The only conceivable weakness Tryco Slatterus has is arrogance. Otherwise, on paper, you just couldn't bet against this guy.

What went down...
The Champion scoffs the prospect of fighting a female, but unwilling to forfeit, he arrogantly accepts the amusing challenge from the "lesser being".

She-Hulk, being an independently minded woman, takes exception to the remark, using it as motivation to sock it to the bastard before the bell even rings!
With a trickle of blood running from his nose, Slatterus offers an embittered compliment, and calls for the bell.

It's downill from there. The battle rages on, with most of the fighting coming from the red corner, as the aptly named Champion slugs away at the She-Hulk with rib rips, hooks, and stiff left hands.

With Shulkie reeling, Champion continues the punishment. She-Hulk's pathetic, exhausted efforts are easily dodged, while Champion remained unphased by the physical exertion.

The ruling magistrati judge finally intervenes, declaring She-Hulk woefully outmatched. While the Champion basked in the glow of victory, She-Hulk claimed she was still able to continue fighting, despite being barely able to stand.
The magistrati recognised She-Hulk's appeal, and declared a rematch for three solar months, later. Much to the dismay of Tryco Slatterus, who prided himself on his undisputed victories.

The hammer...
Hmmm... well, isn't that interesting?
Being that on this planet they live by law that decrees might makes right, She-Hulk managed to live to fight another day. Of course, despite the questionable final outcome in Skardon, by our rules we still declare Champion of the Universe the winner.

You can expect to see the result of She-Hulk's rematch sometime later in the year.

As briefly mentioned earlier in this installment, while I've been quite critical of Marvel's output over the last five years - She-Hulk is without a doubt one of the greatest improvements. Over the course of the first twelve issue 'season', I think Dan Slott has really stamped his name on the character, getting a fantastic balance out of his approach to the stories.
The title no doubt still owes a lot to the establishing classics, including John Byrne's landmark work on the previous Sensational She-Hulk comics, but Slott still manages to bring his own quirky something to further enhance the character.

Of course, the appeal of the book might have been less immediately apparent without the suitably quirky art style of Juan Bobillo, who handled the early issues of both seasons.
I think the saddest thing to happen to this book, even with limited support and a forced break between seasons, is that Juan Bobillo could not be secured as an on-going artist. Though initially playing to mixed reviews, I think many a reader, like me, would now associate the artist with the very best of the character.

I think a lot of this same approch is probably being seen in the current Thing on-going, so I again strongly urge everyone to enquire further about the prizes to be won by pulling Dan Slott's Thing!

The Fight: 3.5 The Issue: 7

NEXT: Stay tuned tomorrow, for a big ol' monthly punch-up!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

JUBILEE versus ROBIN
"The Showdown of the Century!"
Where:
Marvel versus DC #3 When: April 1996
Writer: Ron Marz Artist: Dan Jurgens

The story so far...
Life in the DC and Marvel universes has always been tough, but when cosmic events conspire to endanger both, the heroes of both Earths face a secret crisis that could destroy them all.

Before time two cosmic entities existed, sexless brothers representing the two sides of all that is, was, and will ever be.

Turmoil between the two brought about an end to things as they once were, but in the aftermath their energies were dissipated into space, becoming part of the multi-verse.Cosmic instabilities, as a result of the actions of various beings of different realities, created instabilities. After eons of recollecting their fragmented thoughts, the two brothers turned, and remembered their existence.

Now they pit their warriors against one and other.

Tale of the tape...
Hmmm... well, as offensive as the result of Namor/Aquaman was, I have to say this is the fight I looked forward to the least.
I've mentioned previously that this mini-series is almost a time capsule into the past, looking back on an era in flux, often for the worst. I don't know if this is the worst, but the creative decision to give Jubilee and Robin more screen time than the Flash, Silver Surfer, Elektra and several other characters held in high regard has to be questioned!

It was a sweet touch having the two youngsters stoking some kind of romantic embers as the world's merged, but these are still two characters that generally don't interest me. Particularly Jubilee, who seems quite obselete in a world of Boom Boom, and Joss Whedon's reverted Kitty Pryde.

Junior Batman no doubt has the edge of Jubilee, whose highlights and milestones generally revolve around getting into trouble, and introducing new plot points. Though renowned for their own status as the boy hostage, Tim Drake has probably exceeded his predecessors in the proactive department, and avoided danger relatively well.

Intelligence: 4 (Tactician)
Agility: 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting Ability: 5 (Martial Artist)

With skills across the board that impress even the mighty Batman, you tend to have to wonder whether or not Jubilee stands even a minute chance on paper.
Robin certainly has her covered tactically, and from a fighting perspective, his rigorous training with the Bat leaves Jubilee's carnival sessions in the danger room for dust.

Energy Powers: 3 (Explosives)

The most generous Jubilee fan would have to acknowledge her only real advantage here as having inherent mutant powers on tap. Of course, relying on her hands, which have been so effectively restrained in the past, you'd tend to think Robin shouldn't have any problem.

The only questionable factor I can see is whether or not Robin has legitimate feelings for Jubilee.

Since the purpose of the tale of the tape is to speculate based on generally accepted facts, I'm going to ignore the doe-eyes made in previous issues of this mini-series, and say Robin would never fall in love that easily. Especially not with the fate of the universe on his green shoulder pads.

Thus, we can safely conclude - Robin takes this, and then helps Aquaman strategize before his fight with Namor, because he has so much time left.

What went down...
Unlike other characters, Jubilee and Robin are actually together before being transported. This of course picks up on the inspired decision to have the two stylistically similar characters form some kind of relationship during the displacement of realms.

As with previous battles, the two representatives are transported to a fitting location; this time a giant toy store. Right out of the sixties stories.

The two young heroes share a kiss, and then get straight to business. No, not that kind of business.
Jubilee lets the sparks fly, firing off a whole bunch of her trademark explosive plasma bursts, as Robin uses his acrobatics to flee. Though seemingly cowardly, the cunning Robin does more than runn from a girl - he disappears into the shadows.

As Jubilee foolishly stumbles around calling out to her foe, Robin draws a batarang and prepares his plan. The dark celebate training of the Batman - stronger than love, or just cause for more questions?

Either way, a flapping cape descends from the shadows, prompting Jubilee to move in for the kill - only to be sprung from behind by the ever tricky, Boy Wonder.

Descending from the rafters, Robin wraps Jubilee up in rope, leaving her hanging upside down like a rabbit caught in the wild.

Robin jumps down and shares a tender moment, relenting his trained focus to see if his opponent were unharmed. Isn that sweet? The guy is such a little misogynist he didn't even think the girly worthy of a punch!

The hammer...
Robin emerging there, quite unquestionably the winner.

Obviously I'm not the biggest fan of either character. I generally don't mind Robin in his own context, but find him a brightly coloured distraction and diluting agent when coupled with the Batman.
I think in the lifespan of the characters Robin has probably reached a stage where he can quite succesfully soar on his own, while also pitching in his team efforts with the likes of the Teen Titans.

Well illustrated in strong stand-alone stories like the Batman Begins featured film; Batman works at his finest alone. A majority of the pathos, and the bittersweet intrigue of the character surely comes from his solitary nature, which the bat-family betrays.

When marketing potential is put aside, and we kill off the likes of the Spoiler and Huntress; I think it's fair to recognise the likes of Alfred and Catwoman are perhaps the only on-going suitable supporting characters, on a personal level, for a character like Batman.

Jubilee on the other hand, not so much.
Of course, Jubilee's involvement in DC versus Marvel did produce on moment of brilliance, and that's surely the Carrie Kelly inspired, Sparrow, featured in the Amalgam Dark Claw comics.

The Fight: 3 The Issue: 4

NEXT: She-Hulk versus The Champion of the Universe!

Friday, March 24, 2006

STEEL versus METALLO
"Stalker"
Where:
Steel #21 When: November 1995
Writer: Louise Simonson Artist: Phil Gosier

The story so far...
John Henry Irons was a disillusioned former weapons designer, when he fell from a building construction site.
Rescued from his fall by Superman; John Henry was inspired by the hero's apparent death, and used his mechanical knowledge to fashion a suit of armor - becoming the black Superman, the man of Steel.

Setting out to right the wrongs of his past, Steel moves to Washington DC.

In the aftermath of Underworld Unleashed, an event that saw the wishes of villains globally granted by Neron; Steel struggles to control a city gone mad. It only gets worse from there.

Tale of the tape...
Being a Steel fan has proven to have a lot of unique pros and cons over the years.
Though involved in the hype of the Death of Superman, I didn't get into the character until his solo series began, and even then, I don't remember how that came about.

Steel's a character that, for me, goes against type. Generally speaking, I don't warm to spin-off characters that rely heavily on the characters they are derived from. This is perhaps why Steel has succeeded in raising my interests where characters like Superboy and Supergirl have failed.

When Steel lost the S, he essentially severed any immediately obvious connection to his Superman origins. Not only his appearance was distanced, but because of the very nature of the character, his powers and abilities were greatly removed.

Strength: 4 (Steroid Popper)
Intelligence: 5 (Professor)
Fighting Ability: 3 (Street Wise)
Energy Powers: 2 (Guns)

Though peaking on similar beats to Superman, Steel operates on a much lower field. That's not to say he's a weak character by any means, but his strengths are comparably lower than other Superman characters, and often different.

Against an opponent like Metallo, Steel has some very initial obstacles to overcome. His arsenal is entirely composed of metal, from his strength enhancing armor, to his wrist mounted pneumatic rivet shooter, or even his big ol' steel sledgehammer.

Packing a mean punch thanks to Neron, even beheaded, Metallo can reconstitute a makeshift body out of any available metals. Considering the nature of most populated areas the characters operate in, even if Steel manages to hold on to his armor through metahuman means, there's still a lot to worry about.

Strength: 5 (Super Strength)
Stamina: 6 (Generator)
Energy Powers: 3 (Explosives)

Potentially Metallo remains a volatile character regardless of whether he specifically incorporates explosives into his body, or if he just brings a full tank with him when he reshapes a nearby car.

The hero of the story always has an X-factor edge, especially a character with as much heart as Steel. That said, on paper and by the numbers, this is a fight Metallo should win.

What went down...
They say ignorance is bliss, so Steel must've been in seventh heaven while he scrambled across DeeCee trying to help those in need, narrowly avoiding being hit with a couple of rockets.

On the way back from saving a few people in distress, Steel finds himself on the receiving end of an electro-cannon fire blast. Understandably, our hero was beginning to feel a little perturbed as he spun around to face his mystery attacker.

Steel wastes no time beheading Metallo, recalling Superman's previous encounters with the metallic fiend. Unaware, of course, that by knocking his head into a scrap yard, he was loading Metallo up with a whole new bag of toys.

Absorbing portions of nearby cars, Metallo finds his new torso with a full tank of gas. Not terribly bad news for a character who doesn't use heat vision, but unfortunately some jerk conveniently left a cigarette lighter lying around. Those are Metallo's words, not mine.

From a shoulder mounted hose, Metallo lets the petrol fly, covering Steel in flames. The hero, however, remains unphased, laying claims to a new strategy of pulping Metallo's head, rather than just removing it.
Steel swings in with his hammer, but Metallo is able to catch it, and swing back with a running motor for a fist.
Locked up, either character is unable to move, prompting Steel to throw a hydrolically empowered leg up to punt Metallo's head a coinsiderable distance.

The head comes to land in a river, leading our hero to believe the threat of Metallo was now officially averted. Unfortunately inner city attitudes had led to considerable pollution in this particular river, giving Metallo adequate materials for a body strong enough to reach a boat looming overhead.

While helping firemen fight a fire, Steel finds himself struck once again my a mystery blast. Lamenting on the origin of his new powers, Metallo attempts to absorb Steel's own armor into his body, but is unable to budge it, giving Steel the chance to send the head bouncing once more with a super right hook.

Steel leaves the head with police, to resume serving the public at a neo-Nazi bomb threat. Of course, it's not long before he's struck again by a mystery attacker.

Metallo begins making plans for Superman, as he fires off a laser cannon at Steel, who just happens to be carrying the terrorist bomb.
Steel blasts Metallo with his jet boots, and attempts a further get-away, only to be pursued by his new, ever persistent nemesis.

Making it to a clear area, Steel prepares to toss the bomb loose, but Metallo has other plans. He strips the casing, and prepares to make himself a living bomb, until Steel delivers some rather grim news - "... the explosive mechanism's plastique."

The hammer...
Whew! Well, that was a long one.
As you hopefully guessed, this time Metallo wasn't coming back, making Steel our winner. Which is pleasing, because I always like it when my favourites win. It's true.

As I mentioned earlier, there were a lot of interesting advantages and disadvantages to being a Steel fan. One of the few Steel fans at my preferred comic store. Which, as you can imagine, meant prospective prices as issues moved off the shelves were considerably less than other titles, which meant I could buy up on any I missed.

Of course, this lesser demand also meant there were less issues available.
Likewise, it also meant the title began disappearing, most notably from local venues, like newsagencys, where the title had previously been sold.

The supply versus demand pendulum was an on-going theme, it seemed.
Perhaps what I find most peculiar about the character, is that despite being relatively unpopular, he not only endured, but also extend beyond the point of most nineties DC characters.

Another prime double edged example was the Steel feature film.
Positive, because this was a time when very few new DC properties, let alone most comic features, were making any leeway in effort to get to the big screen.
Unfortunately, Steel went the way of the Batman films, and was really quite a substandard effort. Shaq maintains a season record for most shitty films in a decade.

Still, peculiar highpoints would continue. Steel would be the only other superhero featured in a Superman action figure giveaway at McDonalds, and there would be great Steel action figures, and even a video game appearance. Eventually the on-going series was finally cancelled, but the character still maintained appearances as part of JLA, which is pretty impressive, if you ask me.

Now, as Infinite Crisis bleeds into 52, John Henry Irons prepares to have another shot at the big time. I hope, this time, the character has more consistent success.

The Fight: 4 The Issue: 3

NEXT: The Boy Wonder versus the Girl Mutant!

Monday, March 20, 2006

FLASH versus QUICKSILVER
"The Showdown of the Century!"
Where:
Marvel versus DC #2 When: March 1996
Writer: Peter David Artist: Dan Jurgens

The story so far...
Life in the DC and Marvel universes has always been tough, but when cosmic events conspire to endanger both, the heroes of both Earths face a secret crisis that could destroy them all.

Before time two cosmic entities existed, sexless brothers representing the two sides of all that is, was, and will ever be.

Turmoil between the two brought about an end to things as they once were, but in the aftermath their energies were dissipated into space, becoming part of the multi-verse.
Cosmic instabilities, as a result of the actions of various beings of different realities, created instabilities. After eons of recollecting their fragmented thoughts, the two brothers turned, and remembered their existence.

Now they pit their warriors against one and other.

Tale of the tape...
Like the previous two DC versus Marvel fights, there should be very little confusion regarding the thematic origins of this match up. We started with powers derived from Gods, moved through Atlantean undersea kings, and now we arrive at the time tested question of speed versus speed.

Although a very logical, and interesting match-up, I think most fans would be unanimous that this fight was pretty much over before it even started. Which is fitting, because for anyone watching, the super speed probably would see the fight finished in seconds.

Strength: 3 (Trained Athlete)
Intelligence: 3 (Straight A's)
Speed: 7 (Lightspeed)
Stamina: 6 (Generator)
Agility: 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting Ability: 3 (Streetwise)
Energy Powers: 1 (None)

The Flash would have to be considered the superior speedster by even the most casual of fans. An argument could be made for the powers granted by the speed force being superior to those of a natural mutation. The speed force is generally shown to be involved on a larger scale, and capable of far more.

Furthermore, I don't believe Quicksilver has ever really been seen breaking barriers of light. Though interpretations tend to be somewhat varied, The Flash seems quite capable of effectively operating in frozen time, invisible to those around him.

Although currently without mutant powers as a result of the House of M crossover, we will maintain a rating standard for Quicksilver previous to that development.

Strength: 2 (Normal Human)
Intelligence: 2 (Normal Human)
Speed: 6 (Sound Speed)
Stamina: 6 (Generator)
Agility: 2 (Normal Human)
Fighting Ability: 3 (Streetwise)
Energy Powers: 1 (None)

The degrees of separation between the two character's differences are probably far less than the ratings may usually indicate. For example; issues such as strength, which would logically need to be at a certain point to survive the pressures of super speed would arguably rate Quicksilver higher than an average human. Never the less, contextually this is probably the most accurate rating.

Though a seasoned veteran, there are very few advantages for Quicksilver in this particular match-up. External forces would be the most likely opportunity for Quicksilver to snatch victory.
Although, as the arrogant son of Magneto, one should not discount Quicksilver's capacity for dirty play. Though not likely to share in Aquaman's act of blatantly cheating; it's quite plausible that Quicksilver could trick the Flash into letting his guard down.

Of course, as a seasoned member of the Justice League, and a well accepted successor to legends like Jay Garrick and Barry Allen, it's still a stretch to believe the Flash would fall for tricks. Particularly with the fate of his universe in the balance.

As history will show us, Flashes have a habit of rising to the occasion when the world needs them most. Wally West is a Flash that knows this best, ever inspired by the sacrifice of his predecessor and uncle, Barry Allen.

As harsh as it is, this may be one of the most one-sided matches featured on Secret Earths thus far.

What went down...
The Flash gets a running jump on Quicksilver, as they converge on a deserted road. The only witnesses to their clash; a father and son, driving an oil tanker.

The Flash uses super speed to batter Quicksilver with a flurry of punches, as he ponders their potential for friendship. Quicksilver is all business though, concerned only with protecting his universe, and gaining victory.

The two heroes, distracted, battle at high speed into the path of the truck occupying the road. The two are tossed apart, as the tanker veers off the road, losing it's load, and leaving it to erupt in explosion off the side of the road.

Ever the public servant; Flash races to the aid of the driver and his son, plucking them from the scene, and dropping them away from danger
Flash's selfless act did not come without a cost. Stunned by the smoke sucked into his lungs, Flash is helpess as Quicksilver capitalizes on the distraction, unloading with a barrage of his own brand of super speed punches.

Quicksilver hesitates, disappointed with the dishonorable methods of his pending victory. Guilt sets in as he also ponders his jealousy over finding someone faster than he.
This pause is enough for the Flash to gather himself, once more.

Flash pounds away at his mutant opponent, until the deed is done.
"... He who hesitates... is lost."

The hammer...
The winner (to no one's surprise) - The Flash!

I certainly don't want to discount the potential and worth of a character like Quicksilver. As far as mutants in the Marvel universe go, he's probably one of the elite, having served with the X-Men, X-Factor, Magneto's Brotherhood and even The Avengers. Pretty big honors.

I think Quicksilver has probably suffered in a way similar to Namor. Both arrogant characters removed from the people around them by nature, I think sometimes they get written as somewhat two-dimensional characters. Their arrogance and demeanor becomes their character, rather than a character trait.

That's perhaps what was so interesting about the Son of M spin-off, coming out of the House of M mega event crossover.
Essentially it's Quicksilver's mutant super speed that distances him from others, but as a byproduct of that distance, it also becomes his identity. When the fallout sees him stripped of those powers - who is he?

Those reading the Son of M series know that he's reached out to his Inhuman connections, and plans to usher in the return of the mutant race using their terrigen mists. The mists had previously granted Quicksilver limited timetravel abilities, which he uses to further his plot.

As events through the Marvel Universe broil, sepeculation now begs the question - where next for the heir of the similarly powerless Magneto?
Marvel previews seem to suggest Magneto may rise to prominence, but some speculation surmises it may be the son who takes the guise of Magneto.

So, although not a big seven A-lister to the degree of the Flash, Quicksilver is certainly a force to be reckoned with - even without powers.

The Fight: 1.5 The Issue: 3

NEXT: The Man of Steel versus the Monster of Steel!

Friday, March 17, 2006

IRON MAN versus DIABLO
"When strikes Diablo"
Where:
Iron Man #159 When: June 1982
Writer: Roger McKenzie Artist: Paul Smith

The story so far...
Once upon a time, the Fantastic Four battled and captured the diabolical alchemist called, Diablo.

Fearing the Fantastic Four under estimated the foe, Dr. Strange went about casting a spell that thwarted Diablo's escape efforts. For Diablo, it felt as though he were in an endless freefall, until his memory was no longer his, and in his stead stood only Al Bido, Stark International janitor.

With his supressed memories reemerging, Diablo uses his vantage point to take full advantage of the fantastic chemical facilities granted to him at Stark International. Thus, the invincible Iron Man is forced into action anew, to protect his own company.

Tale of the tape...
Iron Man's one of those characters that has such a sliding scale of abilities, it can be pretty tough to really nail down what his capabilities are. I tend to think there's a generally accepted standard for a good [Tony Stark] Iron Man, so hopefully you all tend to agree.

Strength: 5 (Super strength)
Intelligence: 5 (Professor)
Stamina: 6 (Generator)
Energy Powers: 5 (Lasers)

Generally the Iron Man armor grants Tony Stark some pretty standard strengths.
By means well disguised, the armor greatly increases his strength both defensively, and offensively, enabling him to lock up with some of the toughest of bruisers in the Marvel universe.
The armor also provides a fairly comprehensive arsenal of attack weapons, the best known of which are his trademark "repulsor rays". There are also variations on this weapon ranging from retractable shoulder mounts, and chest beams.

As time has gone by, the lifespan of the armor's power has increased exponentially, ranging from various fuelling methods, including solar power. This in turn has greatly increased the stamina of an armored Stark not suffering from physical ailments.

Of course, Stark isn't without his own strengths, as both experienced in the suit, and also the brilliant mind who created it. Engineering tasks are often easily dealt with, even by shortcut methods, and most variables are accounted for.
Strengths not seen in others to don the armor, like Happy Hogan and Jim Rhodes.

Intelligence: 5 (Professor)
Energy Powers: 4 (Arsenal)

Of course, Diablo is not without his own strengths, largely stemming from his own intellect. As a brilliant alchemist, Diablo is capable of utilizing the most base of elements with twisted, and demented results.

To reflect his potential for chemically enduced carnage, he has an arsenal rating for energy powers. Though potentially capable of a higher rating, generally Diablo's choices seem to be less of an explosive persuasion, and more inclined to the animation of creatures like the Dragon Man.

Of course, the nature of Diablo's creatures, as powerful as they are, lend themselves to termination. Heroes like Iron Man, generally unwilling to kill, are far less concerned where the magically animated are concerned. Although, I'm sure that raises many ethical questions, of which Iron Man should probably consider.

Ultimately, against a character like Diablo there are a lot of potential variables, and the most unlikely of elements could play a crucial part. Traditionally iron is one of the most powerful minerals of the occult, so against Diablo's alchemist powers, he may just be safe.

Regardless, given his track record, Diablo is a one-time A-lister who didn't have the stuff to do more than play a regular annoyance to the Fantastic Four.
Iron Man's a safe bet.

What went down...
Doing away with the psychiatrist that unlocked his supressed memories; Diablo uses his alechemist's bag of tricks to disguise himself as Tony Stark to send all laboratory scientists home, opening to him a veritable funhouse of possibilities.

When the call comes out, Stark leaps from his armor workshop to do battle with the mysterious threat posed by previously mild-mannered, Al Bido.
When Iron Man arrives to rip the sealed doors of the chemical reasearch lab open, he finds himself confronted with a two headed monster - literally - unlike the hangover of those drunken one night stands.

With security firing on the dragon beast, Iron Man draws it's attentions away, taking a superheated blast of fire breath. The protective properties of the armor ensure his safety, allowing him to strike back with disintegrating results.

Entering the darkened laboratory, Iron Man falls victim to an attack at the hands of the lurking Diablo, encased in a block of solid ice!
While Diablo gloats and lines up his next target, the Fantastic Four, the ever crafty Tony Stark uses the armor's thermal units to weaken the ice and blast free.

Diablo hurls tornado "devil dust" in Iron Man's general direction, forcing the battle outside as Iron Man tries to escape, only to find a sentient elemental fire chasing him down and clinging to his armor.
He turns the two weapons to his advantage, using the whirling winds of the devil dust to douse the flames, and then his repulsor rays blow the dust out of orbit.

Diablo continues his bizarre assault, giving life to the very sidewalk below, raising a monolith of concrete. The creatures smacks Iron Man around, battering him like a ragdoll, before moving in for the killing stroke.

The creature slams down at the floored Iron Man, but the creature's weight drives the invincible Iron Man through the ground into the levels below. The two plummet down, down, down, through each level, as Diablo explores what is unearthed.
There, he makes a discovery most terrible - Tony Stark's Iron Man workshop!

Using his evil science, Diablo animates previous incarnations of the Iron Man armor ranging from the original bulky suits, to the previous incarnations of his current, streamlined outfit.

Beneath a hail of armored punches, Stark finds himself mobbed by his own creations - doomed!
Or is he? Without the heart Tony Stark brings to the suit, the armor proves ineffective, falling before their master one by one, leaving only Diablo and a very angry Iron Man.

Diablo proves more resourceful than one might think, using Iron Man's untamed aggression to toss one of his potions that turns the air around his opponent into a binding, dense gas.

Believing him restrained, Diablo reaches in to unmask the golden avenger, unaware of Stark's security measures. When he hand meets contact with the visor, he finds only unforgiving, untamed electricity.

With Diablo defeated the gas wears off, leaving only a call to the Fantastic Four to take the villain away.

"Aw, them playboy types're all the same, Susie. Not a care in the world. Right, Iron-Pants?"

If only you knew, Thing!

The hammer...
Undoubtedly the win goes to Iron Man, despite having a pretty rough time of it. Perhaps I under estimated Diablo, in the same way the Fantastic Four did, the first time they had him in custody.

It will be interesting to see how the upcoming Marvel Civil War affects the relationship between these a-list heroes.

Details of the event are as yet sketchy, but a lot of theories point toward a rift between the heroes on policy regarding the registration of superhero secret identities. A theme seen in various ways in superhero stories past, including Powers storylines by the ever-involved, Brian Michael Bendis.

One tends to imagine that won't be the case, particularly with characters like the publicly known Fantastic Four appearing alongside Iron Man, who appears to be the head of the faction opposing Captain America.
Having gone public with his identity as Iron man, Tony Stark served as American secretary of defense, before reconvincing the populous he was no longer Iron Man, resigning in the aftermath of the events of Avengers: Disassembled.

Regardless, Iron Man remains a long standing favourite character, who really seems to still have wells of untapped potential. Warren Ellis' recent (oft delayed) run with hotshot artist, Adi Granov (see Iron Man profile pic), seemed to elaborate on some of the greater potential of the technologies involved in Iron Man, but the title does seem to remain forever stooped in the superhero culture that cultivated the character.

Although understanding the desire for identity away from the mecha themed Japanese manga characters, one does tend to wonder if Iron Man could benefit from an injection of that techno-pop, cyberpunk culture.

Perhaps Iron Man remains at his core a reflection of American mechanical, and technological manufacturing. Not necesarily renowned for it's longevity, or it's total effectiveness, much like Iron Man's ever changing armor styles.

Love him or hate him, it's great to have Iron Man officially on the board at Secret Earths!

The Fight: 3 The Issue: 3

NEXT: A battle for the human race! Flash versus Quicksilver!

Monday, March 13, 2006

NAMOR versus AQUAMAN
"The Showdown of the Century!"
Where:
Marvel versus DC #2 When: March 1996
Writer: Peter David Artist: Dan Jurgens

The story so far...
Life in the DC and Marvel universes has always been tough, but when cosmic events conspire to endanger both, the heroes of both Earths face a secret crisis that could destroy them all.

Before time two cosmic entities existed, sexless brothers representing the two sides of all that is, was, and will ever be.

Turmoil between the two brought about an end to things as they once were, but in the aftermath their energies were dissipated into space, becoming part of the multi-verse.
Cosmic instabilities, as a result of the actions of various beings of different realities, created instabilities. After eons of recollecting their fragmented thoughts, the two brothers turned, and remembered their existence.

Now they pit their warriors against one and other.

Tale of the tape...
What a delicious way to continue the Marvel versus DC reflection.
I think of all the fights held this has to legitimately be the most worthy of controversy. I might be getting a little ahead of myself there, though.

Conceptually the fight is pretty straight forward; the two kings of Atlantis in their respective universes - ill tempered, mutated scions of the seas - facing off to name one grand Atlantean. A fair enough concept - or is it?

With Marvel comics' most popular characters emerging in the nineteen sixties during the Stan Lee era, it's understandable that many have a misconception about Sub-Mariner's origins. Though making noteworthy appearances in early issues of X-Men, and the Fantastic Four [alongside Golden Age revamp, The Human Torch], Namor's first appearance came in 1939, in the aptly titled Marvel Comics #1. The book published in October was from Timely Comics, which would later become Marvel.

In November 1941, National Allied Publications, which would later become DC comics, published More Fun Comics #73, which introduced the similarly aquatic themed hero of Aquaman.
Like Namor, Aquaman was the son of a human and an Atlantean, who would grow to assume the Atlantean throne.

Strength: 5 (Super strength)
Intelligence: 4 (Tactician)
Speed: 3 (Trained Athlete)
Stamina: 4 (Athlete)
Agility: 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting Ability: 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: 1 (None)

Though thematically similar, the characters diverged considerably in attitude and super powered feats. The Sub-Mariner would be a renegade sub-aquatic superman, while the gentler Aquaman would be at peace, and have a greater connection to the marine life around him.

Strength: 3 (Trained Athlete)
Intelligence: 4 (Tactician)
Speed: 3 (Trained Athlete)
Stamina: 5 (Marathon Runner)
Agility: 2 (Normal Human)
Fighting Ability: 4 (Trained Fighter)
Energy Powers: 2 (Projectile Weapon)

So, in a fight who would win?
Namor almost certainly has Aquaman out gunned on land and at sea with his raw strength, and his overall superior maneuverability, which includes flight.
Though both masters of their domain, it has been shown over the years that the water increases Namor's already impressive power exponentially.

Of course, Aquaman has one very interesting trait Namor doesn't. Aquaman can telepathically communicate with, and control aquatic life.
Now, even assuming the powers worked on Namor, it has been documented in the past that Namor's will is so strong, he can resist potent telepathic attack.

However, even Namor can't fight an entire population, and in any universe, Aquaman potentially has every Atlantean man, woman and child at his disposal, along with all the other fishes in the deep blue sea.

Ultimately, I think Sub-Mariner's strength and direct approach would curb any potential for this strategy on Aquaman's part. I also think Aquaman, essentially a good natured character, would never resort to potentially endangering that many lives. So, realistically, Aquaman would just get the tuna beat out of him until the Justice League showed up.

What went down...
Not surprisingly, Namor takes the initiative, swinging wildly at Aquaman, who playfully avoids his punches while taunting.
Of course, Aquaman makes the dangerous mistake of assuming the Sub-Mariner's muscle renders him a slower target. A lesson is learned, as Sub-Mariner cuts him off mid-sentence and sends the ruler hurtling out of the ocean.

Aquaman comes to land in an aquatic theme park, where a friendly killer whale is nice enough to warn him of Namor's speedy arrival.

Bursting out of the waters, Namor scoffs Aquaman's claims as an Atlantean king.
"I am neither amused, nor impressed by you!"

Aquaman commentates on Namor's lack of personality (while also poking fun at his own grim and gritty period), before attempting to snare the flying mutant with his harpoon hook.

Believing the fight to be won, Namor does little to avoid the "unbreakable" cord, and is further baffled as Aquaman makes light of the situation.
"What are you? An idiot?!"

Ultimately it's Namor's own single-minded attitude toward the cosmic events that are his downfall. As he verbally bashes his opponent, Aquaman is able to call upon the aid of the killer whale seen earlier, who does the fighting for him.

"That's your weakness, Namor. You're too noble to cheat."

The hammer...
Having judged quite harshly against the Invaders in their battle with Wolverine, it pains me to say Namor is yet to get a win on the board. Aquaman, though he did so through dishonorable means, walks away victor from this long pondered match up.

It's interesting to note that each of the Atlantean characters have suffered a successive drop in popularity; more so Aquaman than the Sub-Mariner, who although not fronting an on-going series, has probably maintained a more consistent presence in his universe.

I've heard it said that Hollywood generally avoids underwater pictures these days, as they are considered fairly guaranteed flops. I tend to wonder if there's a similar psyche in the opinions of underwater tales in comic books.
Personally I think both characters have been at their best away from their responsibilties as monarchs of Atlantis, and operating on the surface world.

Part of this opinion is certainly driven by the rather vanilla handling of each undersea kingdom. However, I think there probably is a very real disinterest in the ocean as it's relevence to travel diminishes, and it's mysteries become fewer.

Each character is enjoying a new life, but I do tend to watch with an air of scepticism for the longevity of these new efforts, and the direction they're going in.

I think again Namor will inevitably maintain the greater success, with his current big push being part of the Illuminati storylines, that band together some of the greatest minds and characters from the Marvel Universe. In that respect, I tend to think of Namor as Marvel's Kevin Bacon, in that the degrees of seperation between he and every other character at Marvel, are few.

Aquaman's revival is perhaps more dramatic than Namor's, and more in keeping with DC's approach to reviving certain properties. An all new man has taken the mantle of Aquaman one year later, [after the Infinite Crisis], with Arthur Curry apparently taking on a mentor-like role.
It looks like the title will steer more toward the mysticism and legend of Atlantis, and unlike Namor, bring Aquaman back to the ocean. Which should be an interesting choice to watch.

The Fight: 2 The Issue: 3

DC versus MARVEL, NEXT: The Scarlet Speedster, Flash versus Son of M, Quicksilver! Place your bets!

Friday, March 10, 2006

DAREDEVIL versus TURK
"Overture"
Where:
Marvel Comics Presents #19 When: May 1989
Writer: Dwayne McDuffie Artist: Ernie Colón

The story so far...
Introducing Damage Control, the superhero insurance company of the Marvel universe!

Like the previously featured Daredevil vs Scope; this Marvel Comics Presents feature is an eight-page stand alone short story. This time around, the story serves as a preview for the first of the Damage Control mini-series, marking the first appearance of the characters.

John Porter, rival to Damage Control, arrives at Josie's bar hoping to sell superhero insurance to the Daredevil hotspot. Meanwhile, outside, Daredevil seeks information from the ever present, Turk.

Tale of the tape...
I really enjoyed the apparent obscurity of featuring Marvel's long forgotten anthology title earlier in the year, so I thought I'd havbe another shot.
Of course, in hindsight, these shorts are a lot tougher to elaborate on, and I'm not sure how interesting even the full issues have been.

Never the less, this is a really interesting story!
Even with my lack of familiarity with Daredevil's nemesis is troubling. Hopefully you'll still respect me in the morning when you learn that, despite reading comics for almost twenty years, Frank Miller's work on Daredevil is one of the larger gaps.
As I understand it, Turk was a recurring character during Miller's run, probably best known for this period.

As far as I know, and from what little information is available, he's pretty much a street thug. As far as Daredevil goes, this isn't exaclty arch-nemesis material. In fact, in the context of this story, (and perhaps others), Turk is pretty much played for laughs.

Energy powers: 3 (Explosives)

Weapons seem to be Turk's primary attack point, assuming he's alone. Not really as inspiring as villains who can crush bricks on their head, or layer you in flames, or pierce your pupil with a sewing needle.

What went down...
Casually resting against a lamppost, Daredevil clearly doesn't take Turk seriously as he hurls himself in his general direction with a leather clubbing weapon.
Daredevil swiftly avoids the attack, and leaves Turk to crash through the window of Josie's Joint as Damage Control insurance man, John Porter, peddles his wares.

Daredevil continues his interrogation, coyly tugging Turk toward him with a finger grip to his t-shirt, and then grabs him in a headlock.

Turk continues to resist, looking to use the ol' bar room chair trick, but Daredevil effortlessly faps it away, before tossing the thug across the bar into a wall.

John Porter casually enjoys his drink, while Daredevil further presses for a name to, one would assume, a pressing case.
Turk refuses to give up the information, and boasts that this time around he was ready for the crimson champion, brandishing a grenade.

"Thish ish for you, Daredevil!"

Turk pulls the pin with his teeth, but Daredevil gracefully knocks the explosive right back to sender with his billy club.

"You look busy. We'll chat later."

Porter walks Josie out of her joint, assuring her of improved cash flow by refinancing her mortgage with his group, as Turk warns of live grenade.

Daredevil manages to get to Porter and Josie before the explosion goes off, diving on them like any self-sacrificing hero would. What a guy!

As Josie absorbs the enormity of her life crumbled before her, Damage Control representitive Mrs. Hoag shows up to offer reassurance.
Daredevil gets his man, Josie gets a new bar (dropped in by crane), and John Porter joins the Damage Control team.

As for Turk? He lives to be harrassed another day!

The hammer...
So, there you have it. Apologies to any regular visitors, this was a late post. Other commitments led to this brief entry being a little behind schedule, but I don't expect that to be a regular thing.
For formaly's sake, I'm sure we all can tell, Daredevil got the win.

As mentioned ad nauseum, this was a choice of particular interest, not only as the first appearance of Damage Control, but also just as a neat little story.
Working on my own short stories for self-publication, I've come to chat with collaborators about the similarly formatted Marvel Comics Presents, which came to and end in 1995. The title really did have a way of producing some incredibly interesting, and under exposed stories.

With the Damage Control short, McDuffie does an interesting job of introducing the McGiffen/DeMatteisesque comedy of a less than efficient group operating in a superhero world. At the same time, it's layered behind the Daredevil fight that provides keen comedic beats, while also playing conveniently to the psyche of the time. No doubt Frank Miller and Daredevil were still quite in the minds of readers in early 1989.

This also highlights the interesting point of exposing both up and coming talents, with characters maybe a little more obscure than are usually provided. I would say today at Marvel the rough equivalent of MCP would be the Unlimited books sporting the X-Men and Spider-man brands respectively.

Though fantastic opportunities and comics, they perhaps lack the variety of some of the characters and themes MCP promoted.
Number ninetten, the issue featured here, the title characters of each story are; Cyclops/Mastermold, Black Panther, Dr. Strange, and Daredevil/Damage Control.

Of course, it is quite an honor and vocationally beneficial to be able to say you've worked on Spider-man or Wolverine, so, there's certainly a good counter balance to the argument for a book like MCP versus Unlimited. It's just more food for thought!

The Fight: 3 The Issue: 4

NEXT: Namor versus Aquaman. Marvel versus DC!
NEXT WEEK: The Invincible Ironman versus the Diabolical Diablo!

Monday, March 06, 2006

THOR versus CAPTAIN MARVEL
"The Showdown of the Century!"
Where:
Marvel versus DC #2 When: March 1996
Writer: Peter David Artist: Claudio Castellini

The story so far...
Life in the DC and Marvel universes has always been tough, but when cosmic events conspire to endanger both, the heroes of both Earths face a secret crisis that could destroy them all.

Before time two cosmic entities existed, sexless brothers representing the two sides of all that is, was, and will ever be.

Turmoil between the two brought about an end to things as they once were, but in the aftermath their energies were dissipated into space, becoming part of the multi-verse.
Cosmic instabilities, as a result of the actions of various beings of different realities, created instabilities. After eons of recollecting their fragmented thoughts, the two brothers turned, and remembered their existence.

Now they pit their warriors against one and other.

Tale of the tape...
Let's clear any illusions. Wow, this is the ultimate fanboy event, and I love it.
DC versus Marvel, or if you're so persuaded - DC versus Marvel. The ultimate showdown between the biggest, and best superheroes in comic books.
Or at least, a close approximation. While the nineteen ninties might not have been the ideal creative time for such an event, one imagines such an event could never have occured if the creative grounds were fertile to begin with.

Talk about a huge fight to get things rolling!
Two of each universe's heaviest hitters, each charged with the very power of Gods. Thor, a god himself, and Captain Marvel, harnessing the magically endowed abilities of a pantheon of legends and Gods.

The wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury.
The abilities that make up the magical acronym SHAZAM! Catch cry of Earth's mightiest mortal, Captain Marvel. But how do those abilities translate to the Haseloff system?

Strength: 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: 5 (Professor)
Speed: 5 (Super speed)
Stamina: 6 (Generator)
Agility: 2 (Normal human)
Fighting Ability: 3 (Street wise)
Energy Powers: 1 (None)

Although usually only revealing the relevent points to each fight, I usually do make note of each rating for most characters. I can honestly say, Captain Marvel is the most enclusively impressive documented thus far.

Like Superman, Captain Marvel's intelligence is almost certainly his most overlooked talent, even if not his most useful. As is this case on this occasion, intelligence will really only serve him so well. His abilities as a physical combatant, will no doubt be his advantage.

Against a fighter like Thor, agility probably isn't a concern. Thor's ability to control lightning would be Captain Marvel's biggest concern. If he could somehow find a way to turn that advantage back on Thor, however, he would be applying that wisdom of Solomon well.
As has been the case in fights passed, Captain Marvel might even be well served using the magical lightning bolt that changes him from Billy Batson to big red.

Strength: 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: 4 (Tactician)
Speed: 3 (Trained athlete)
Stamina: 6 (Generator)
Agility: 2 (Normal human)
Fighting Ability: 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: 5 (Lasers)

Thor, also a mighty challenger.
Similarly a character perceived as traditionally dimwitted, I think over time we've come to recognise Thor's wisdom as both Odin's successor, and of course as a strategic warrior.

While Cap's energy rating is not indicative of his shazam lightning, Thor's is rated to represent the ease upon which he can use lightning. This, also coupled with the use of Mjolnir as a projectile, make him a formidable opponent.

Thor's greatest concern would no doubt be the chance of being outsmarted.
Obviously, the flipside of the already discussed disadvantages of Captain Marvel would be to use the distance advantage. Mjolnir is an incredible weapon, of immense power. Thor's greatest priority would be staying in contact with Mjolnir, and using him any chance given.

Who would I put my money on to win? Geez, this has to be one of the toughest match-ups to theoretically call. Ultimately I would lean toward Thor, but it's a very difficult call to make.

What went down...
Introducing one and other, the two characters possessing power of Gods decide it fitting that they pray. I'm not a religious man, but if my world was at war, I guess I couldn't say that was such a bad idea.

This wouldn't be the first time a problem was solved with someone on their knees.With their prayers said, the two characters engage in battle at the scene of a fair.

The two heroes lament their usual responsibility to search for an alternative solution, as they engage in forced battle.
Captain Marvel scores a good looking blow with a stiff right hand, but Thor manages to thwap the good Captain away with the mighty Mjolnir, sending Captain Marvel hurtling into a ferris wheel.

Calling upon the strength of Zeus and Hercules, Captain Marvel rips the structurally compromised ride from it's barings, and hurls it like a discus at his Norse foe.
Mjolnir makes light work of the ride, sending it back as a falling pile of scrap metal.

Pinned down by a massive piece of the structure, Captain Marvel lets out the mighty cry, "SHAZAM!!", shrinking down to the nimble but vulnerable Billy Batson.

Unwilling to be immobile for even a second, Batson shouts his cry again, but this time Thor, recognising the lightning based powers, hurls his hammer to intercept the bolt.

"SHAZAAK!"

Gotta hate it when magic lightning short circuits your HAMMER.Explosive energy sends Thor and the frail Bill Batson into next week, the mortal unable to battle on any further. As Thor gathers himself, however, he realises victory has come at a price. Not only is his honor questionable, but his mighty hammer is apparently lost...

The hammer...
If you're sitting putting two and two together, let me put your mind at rest. Yes, this conclusive section of each update is inspired by Thor. Also to allude to the final drop of a judge's gavel.

The judge, of course, on this time would undoubtedly rule in favour of Thor, victorious. Ergo, Marvel jump to an immediate lead of 1-0.
To those unfamiliar with the event, I challenge you to avoid the temptation of spoilers, and bet amongst your friends on the final outcome.

As you probably noticed from the pictures, Thor is dressed somewhat uncharacteristically. This is something reflected more than once by the series, which really puts a unique stamp on the development of the two companies at the time.

Earlier I mentioned the event coming at a time perhaps not creatively suited to support such a concept in the way it deserves. This is well displayed by the event's inclusion of characters in flux like Spider-man, who at the time was Ben Reilly, the would-be non-clone, and Aquaman, complete with harpoon-hand.

While the nineties may not have been as creatively barren as some claim, it certainly produced a lot of comics that were less than well thought out. Many characters fell into traps of quick gimmicks, and eventually reversed changes.
Kyle Rayner, Hal Jordan's successor as the Green Lantern, is another example of a nineties shakeup prevelent in DC versus Marvel. Hal Jordan, of course, made his triumphant return as a cleansed hero in the 2005 mini-series, Green Lantern: Rebirth.

The Fight: 3 The Issue: 3

NEXT: Daredevil versus Turk, at Rosie's bar!
NEXT WEEK: Sub-Mariner versus Aquaman!

Friday, March 03, 2006

HAWKMAN versus St. ROCH
"Fate's Warning"
Where:
Hawkman #31 When: October 2004
Writer: Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti Artist: Ryan Sook

The story so far...
Settling into St. Roch hasn't been easy for Hawkman.

In a pit of depression over his own destined shortcomings, and his inability to protect a female scientist in a terrorist explosion at a chemical lab; Hawkman finds himself in a dark place. That is, until he makes the acquaintance of local jazz singer, Domina Paris.

Tensions between the Hawk-people and police Detective Grubs escalate as a series of murders dubbed the Angel Killings begin. Named so for the MO of painting a red cross on the victim's chest, and perching them in some manner with makeshift wings.

Hawkman and Hawkgirl become distracted as they battle a mysterious creature that appears linked to the killings, but unfortunately find themselves in the police spotlight alone, each and every time.

Tale of the tape...
If there's one thing this website needed, it's more Hawkman!

I've made passing reference in the past to the gaping DC shaped hole in my comics collection, and where characters like Hawkman are concerned, that'll be a lasting regret. He really is a great fighting character, and just something interesting in a sea of themed superheroes.

A fond versus moment from the past is a black and white oversized reprint of a Hawkman/Superman clash. Unfortunately as an inferior reprint, it will not be featured in future instalments.

Strength: 4 (Steroid popper)
Stamina: 4 (Athlete)
Fighting ability: 6 (Warrior)

If the ratings were more expansive, Hawkman would probably get a seven for stamina, being essentially immortal. Never the less, as always, these ratings are indicative of more immediate abilities, and cannot be one hundred percent inclusive.

Like many heroes, Hawkman's strengths are quite straight forward and universal.
He's got some big, heavy old weapons, and he's crazy and tought enough to use them. Arguably his strenght is probably somewhere closer to a 3.5, but in my experience his strength tends to be variable around that mark.

The character adopting the name of St. Roch has fought Hawkman in previous issues of this storyarc, but there's very little to gauge the length of the character's abilities.
As these things tend to go, we have to step outside of the story and acknowledge that by raising the personal stakes, it's likely St. Roch's previous mini-victories will be for naught.

Women love the way Hawkman takes charge.What went down...
Freed from jail, Hawkman joins Hawkgirl on the chase for the St. Roch creature, and the abducted Domina Paris.

Arriving at an abandoned warehouse by the docks, Hawkgirl and Hawkman find evidence of the previous murders. A bloody sink, and other paraphernalia possibly involved.

"Carter... I don't want to just catch him anymore. I want to hurt him." "You already hurt me..."

As St. Roch speaks to them from the shadows, the two heroes make a morbid discovery. Hanging from the broken ceiling by ropes; Domina Paris in the same position as the victims of the angel killer. Red cross. Makeshift wings.
Hawkman rushes to her aid, praying for signs of life, while Hawkgirl engages the creature.

Roch continues to talk through his fight. He credits his rise to sainthood to Hawkman and Hawkgirl as he tosses her through a ceiling support.
Hawkgirl recovers and clubs the beast through a wall, only to have pieces of brick hurled at her, as the creature declares himself further as a saint.

A tender moment shared between Hawkman and Domina as she dies, segues cleanly into unabashed rage.
Hawkman comes to Hawkgirl's rescue, crashing down on St. Roch, and then clubs him across the warehouse with his mace.

Roch scrambles to the rafters, and manages to take a slice out of the attacking Hawkman, before getting knocked to the ground where Hawkman thunders down with remorseless punches.
It's then, at close contact, that Hawkman begins to feel the effects of St. Roch's powers. His insides churn, and his body aches as the onset of St. Roch's diseases take hold.

Revealing himself as the thought-dead leader of the terrorist group featured at the beginning of the storyarc. St. Roch elaborates on his fate in the chemical research laboratory explosion, proclaiming himself to be both the disease and the cure for St. Roch.

GRAAH! It's a boy!With this information, Hawkman's resolve is strengthened.
He leaps from the ground and drives the terrorist's body through the exterior wall of the warehouse, before emerging from the waters with his broken body.

HAWKMAN! YEAH!The hammer...
If you've been visiting Secret Earths on any kind of regular basis, you're probably the kind of fan that's willing to indulge a particular type of fanboy hysteria. Which is good, because recently I did get a little silly for Hawkman.

As is often the case, I think we've ended up with a fairly clean result. So, for formality's sake, let us declare Hawkman the victor, with assistance from Hawkgirl.

Hopefully no one has taken offense to the marginalizing of Hawkgirl, but I would honestly assess her involvement in the fight proper, as minimal.
Recently visiting the When Fangirls Attack site on blogspot, it occurred to me that this site could be perceived as a little neglectful. Which it is... (kidding)

As the Hawkman title makes the transition to Hawkgirl, I'm holding out hope that it doesn't mean anything negative to Hawkman. There have, naturally, been a lot of rumours swirling regarding a possible death. This was probably perpetuated by confusion generated by overlapping continuity in Countdown, Rann/Thanagar War and Hawkman.
I tend to think the scares are over, but if anyone's reading Hawkgirl, drop a comment and let me know!

The Fight: 3.5 The Issue: 5

NEXT WEEK: DC versus Marvel! The first fight!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

MONTHLY PUNCH-UP #3
Here we are once again for the first day of another month!

As the image to the right may suggest, next month is the beginning of the three month celebration of the DC vs Marvel mega-event.
More on that in a moment, but first some things pertaining to this past month.

While I wasn't able to dig up any concrete information on the featured issue of Street Fighter II, I did discover something that may prove enlightening.

Apparently there is a Japanese manga company called Tokuma Shoten, which may or may not have published the original, Japanese version of this particular Street Fighter series. If anyone can confirm or deny this, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Also, a big thanks goes out to Ragnell who was able to tell me Zor has appeared prior to Seven Soldiers: Zatanna. He can be seen battling The Spectre in the Golden Age Spectre: Archive Edition published by DC. Very interesting, and a fight that may feature in future editions of Secret Earths.

Now, onto the business of the day; DC versus Marvel/Marvel versus DC.

The above is a cardboard foldout ballot from the Skybox DC versus Marvel trading card series. One of the few utterly worthless pieces of memorabilia in my meager collection. The image at the top of the page is a ballot from the actual comic, which presumably some suckers probably ripped out of their books.

Beginning next month we will be celebrating the much maligned, but thoroughly interesting crossover that happened this time ten years ago. It's really quite frightening to think that much time has elapsed.

In the interest of keeping updates versatile Monday will be DC/Marvel day, while the regular Friday slot will be maintained by other entries.
Each featured fight from DC versus Marvel will be it's own single entry, with an extra final recap rounding things out to twelve weekly entries in total.

For the first month, regular Friday entries will try to steer toward characters that were omitted from the crossover. Beyond that, things are still up in the air.
Hopefully everyone will be able to enjoy the festivities, and perhaps even chime in with a comment or two on the more controversial results.

The Top Five...
#1 Batman (-) (#1)
With so little history behind Secret Earths, it comes as little surprise that despite not being featured, the Batman remains top of the pile.
With an interesting and unique crop of characters being featured as part of the DC vs Marvel milestone, Batman may be challenged by other characters as he slips from the spotlight.
Ever a present and favourite character, he will no doubt be a stalwart of the top five.

- Batman versus Superman
- Batman versus Superman
- Batman & Red Hood versus Captain Nazi, Hyena & Count Vertigo

#2 Daredevil (+2) (#4)
As a personal favourite, Daredevil is no doubt a promising challenge to Batman in these early months. Perhaps the only things keeping DD from taking the top spot will be Batman's solid exposure in my collection, and also Daredevil's capacity for loss. Though an incredibly proficient fighter, one would struggle to find a character as challenged and battered as Daredevil.

- Daredevil versus Scope
- Daredevil & Elektra versus Bullseye

#3 Captain America (-1) (#2)
Again, a minum of entries all spread out amongst different characters mean Captain America moves very little. I would expect the Captain to slide further in coming months, with interests being diverted in other directions. As a prevelent character in the Marvel universe, no doubt Captain America will rise again, but he may have to fall to do it.

- X-Men & SHIELD (w/ Captain America) versus Wolverine
- Zombies (inc. Captain America) versus Magneto

#4 Green Arrow (re) (#5)
Ousted for a month, Green Arrow returns to the top five.
Having gained larger recognition as a vital player in the goings on in the DC universe, there's a chance Green Arrow may continue to ebb in and out of the top five.
With a large DC shaped hole in my collection, it may be the events of the Infinite Crisis mega-crossover, and it's consequences that control Green Arrow's fate.

- Justice League (inc. Green Arrow) versus Deathstroke (w/ Dr. Light)
- Batman (w/Green Arrow) versus Superman
- Green Arrow versus The Brick

#5 Zatanna (new) (-)
A somewhat surprising entry is Zatanna!
I had made the mistake of assuming Mr. Fantastic would maintain his top five position for one more week, but apparently I was wrong!

Zatanna is probably an unlikely character to sit this high on the list, really thriving solely on recent interests in the character. I have had very little to do with the character in the past, and I wouldn't expect to see her in the top five again. This may be her swansong.

- Justice League (inc. Zatanna) versus Deathstroke
- Zatanna versus Zor

The hammer...
If any of you are crazy enough to be running some sort of elaborate betting system based on this website, then there are a few names not mentioned worth keeping an eye out.

Featured in the DC versus Marvel crossover; Wolverine and Elektra are both characters lurking outside the top five. With Zatanna and Green Arrow each absent from the event, there's good odds that one of those [Wolverine or Elektra], might steal a spot.

Not featured in the event, Daredevil is a shoe-in to remain competitive with five characters spotlighted in March that did not partake in the event. Two bruisers not featured at all yet, are Hulk and the Thing. These guys are definite outside chances to make an impact, as solid fighters.

Finally, if anyone's going to rise through the ranks faster than a speeding bullet, it's probably Superman. Currently ranked at a disgraceful fourty-fifth, and with a major motion picture on the way, it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect a resurgance in popularity for the Man of Steel.

That's all from Secret Earths today, as we prepare to kick off the DC versus Marvel triple threat from now until the end of May!

THIS WEEK: Hawkman! 'Nuff said!
NEXT WEEK: Marvel versus DC
February hit count: 442