Monday, January 01, 2007

MONTHLY PUNCH-UP #13 (January 2007)
The Bottom Chapter Six: Glories Such As These (Marvel)
Where: Moon Knight #6 When: November 2006
Why: Charlie Huston How: David Finch

Quick Fix...
Moon Knight is shaping up to be a character to watch in 2007, and it all starts here with the on-going series that's got a lot of the right people talking. In fact, so exciting was the return of Moon Knight, that the series was resolicited as an on-going before it was even released!

Moon Knight is one of those many second-tier characters that fell off the map during the post-nineties decline in comics, and a self-loathing depression for all we had achieved as an industry.
Unfortunately, along with other 'flash in the pan' characters, Moon Knight was washed into the corner as events and brands were manipulated back to more stable areas.

Finally Moon Knight is back in a big way, and who can't be pleased about that?
Only a dirty werewolf, that's who! A werewolf who's going to have to suck it up, as even a Moon Knight TV series has been announced off the heels of a name-reference in the ill fated Blade television programme.
Fingers crossed that comes to fruition!

Here we join Charlie Huston's Moon Knight at the tail end of a battle with the Taskmaster! Having crashed into a building, Moon Knight scrambles with Taskmaster amidst the rubble.

Taskmaster invites his foe to die, firing off arrow after arrow from a crossbow. Which, as Hawkeye would gladly tell you, is the pansy weapon of the nancy archer. Pssshyeah!

Moon Knight takes each arrow gladly and as Taskmaster draws his sword, invites him to kill him again. With no fear the Moon Knight looms over his opponent. Death is a fate Marc Spector has endured many times before.

Taskmaster cowers before the determined menace of Moon Knight, as he draws one of his razor crescent blades.

Despite being a six-issue storyarc essentially about ripping people's faces off, MK is satisfied with merely cutting Taskmaster's skull-like mask off.
Taskmaster has a meltdown, as Moon Knight leaps away -- victorious.

Certainly this is a book that has meandered it's way through it's first six issues, and in future novelist Charlie Huston might like to consider picking up the pace to better take advantage the visual advantages allowed by comic books.
Not to say Huston has made a poor transition to the medium, quite the contrary, but his formula is frustrating in how drastically it drags it's feet before racing into action, and then screeching to another halt.

Finch's lines reach a new leve here, and honestly, the excess of pencil work is a little frustrating. Some detail becomes blurred, unable to see the forest for the trees, ie; Moon Knight's cowl.
Visually it has an air of McFarlane about it, with it's unnecessary lines, and with the subject matter and overall presentation, there's a very Spawn vibe here.

Never the less, it will be very interesting to watch Moon Knight in the coming months.

The Fix: 2.5 The Issue: 5.5

An End to 23:59?...
Somewhere around the middle of 2006 I found myself lagging behind in posts, and since I'm typing this as the clock turns over to the 22nd, you probably know this already.

These posts are identified by the posting time of 23:59, and in 2007 I'm hoping to endeavour to keep the ship afloat and running on time, to again cultivate a regular viewing audience. That means posts on Fridays again, with no immediate thoughts toward Monday additions. That might change if things run smoothly.

Also, 2007 will see some slight formatting changes, including a brand spanking clean new banner that isn't as busy, but still adds colour and verve to the site.

The resetting of the top five is something I mentioned last month.
"Previous Form" will continue to feature the cumulative ranking of a character in regular posts, but the monthly punch-up will now feature an all new top five based on this month's posts. That top five will debut in February.

For those interested in the on-going developments, the super-stock will continue in punch-ups, also featuring the 'true' rankings. Thus keeping everything running smoothly, whilst allowing a fresh new wave of characters to hit the spotlight. Or Batman again.

As you'll soon see, the top five will change slightly to include more information for your viewing and stastistical pleasure. We aim to please!

The Top Five...
And now what many have been waiting for, the top five characters of 2006.
With the entries made over December, it shouldn't be too difficult to figure out where things stand at the end, but it still deserves to be canonized.

#1 Batman (-) (13) (DC)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Atomic Skull]
Win Percentage: [77.78%] Features: [9]

Batman had to finish the year in the top spot. I don't think there could have been any other just result, and it's worth it.
Spending an uninterrupted reign at the top of the table, the Batman's features highlighted what makes him such a beloved character, and such a well regarded fighting character.

After such a dominant year it might come as a surprise that I would predict a slump for Batman in 2007. Certainly the more recent creative direction of the character does not have my interest as devoted as it was, and maybe I'm just feelin a little burnt out on the character.

Certainly he'll always be a lurking presence on the site, but it might be better to start putting your money on some of the other heavy hitters this time.
Then again, as news filters out regarding the big screen Dark Knight feature, things might turn around all over again.
Best Fight in 2006: Batman & Nightwing vs Amazo

#2 Spider-man (-) (5) (Marvel)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Shriek & Doppelganger]
Win Percentage: [75%] Features: [8]

Spidey was a late and surprise entrant, but as one of the most recognisable characters in comics, he's certainly made his presence known here on Secret Earths.

As one of the more compelling characters in Civil War, Spidey has been ever present, and certainly I found myself in a phase of spider-mania.
As the only guy to truly challenge Batman, Spidey gets credit where it's due, and honestly... From this vantage point he's a far more likely candidate for top five in 2007.
The return of the black costume and a third feature film really promises a whole mess of accessiblity to the Spider-man. Accessibility that will no doubt again spark my interest in the character who, in many ways, represents comics for my mind.
Best Fight in 2006: The Avengers [inc. Spider-man] vs The Secret Avengers

#3 Iron Man (-) (5) (Marvel)
Class: [Super] Last Opponent: [She-Hulk]
Win Percentage: [71.43%] Features: [7]

With Civil War enveloping the entire Marvel universe, Iron Man has once again been thrust straight back into the A-list. It's no small wonder that he finishes one of the top characters of 2006.

Post-Civil War will surely be an interesting time for the Iron Man character.
An upcoming feature film almost guarantees his longevity, but as the chief instigator in the 'war on heroes,' you have to wonder how the character can recover from the 'damage' done. It should certainly be an interesting 2007 for Iron Man!
Best Fight in 2006: The Avengers [inc. Iron Man] vs The Secret Avengers

#4 Wolverine (-) (8) (Marvel)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Xorn]
Win Percentage: [50%] Features: [10]

On a site like this, the predictability of Wolverine being in the top five is kinda disappointing. Never the less, you can't say it isn't fitting on a blog entirely dedicated to superhero comic book fights.

Hah, like the previous three characters that have rounded the year out in the top five, Wolverine has a feature film in the wings. I guess that kind of interest will probably filter down to allow continued exposure in 2007.
Certainly the exercised restraint in the Civil War crossover has been a refreshing change of pace, with Wolverine canonically staying 'neutral' to the debate.

Though I sceptically imagine it is not, it would be nice to imagine this is a sign of changing winds in the way the crossover is written. Certainly Millar has a history of astute simplicity, and sidelining a promotional tool like Wolverine is very much along the lines of the 'fan' writing the story.
That is to say, it's what many have been able to see for two decades, but has not been organically allowed to occur.

Apparently you can't keep a good Canadian down (unless they're a throwaway member of Alpha Flight... Ouch!), and we'll probably see more of Wolvie in 2007. Sorry.
Best Fight in 2006: The X-Men [inc. Wolverine] vs Magneto

#5 Daredevil (RE) (11) (Marvel)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Iron Fist]
Win Percentage: [50%] Features: [8]

Well, okay. Sentimental favourite from the beginning scrapes in at the end of the year by blatant favourtism. Really Hulk should've been the first feature in December, but c'mon... It's Daredevil!

To be fair, with the exception of being featured, the issue was chosen as indifferently as possible, and hey! He didn't even win!
I guess that's the general beat of DD's drum, too. The best received Daredevil stories almost all feature some kind of overwhelming loss, and the payback isn't always worth it.

Certainly Daredevil will remain a stalwart on the blog through 2007, with the last few years worth of issues being the major fodder. Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark continue to do amazing things post-Bendis/Maleev, and DD remains a sentimental favourite.
Lord knows there are a couple of issues from the very beginning of the blog that never got featured, too. So watch out for that!
Best Fight in 2006: Daredevil & Elektra vs Bullseye

Cyclops shines this month, outdoing Namor by moving up the stock over fifty places!Super Stock...
1. Batman (-) (DC)
5. Daredevil (+1) (M)
6. Hulk (-1) (M)
7. Superman (-) (DC)
8. Captain America (-) (M)
12. Zatanna (-) (DC)
33. Soldier (new) (DC)
51. Doppelganger (new) (M)
53. Thing (-2) (M)
54. Cyclops (+57) (M)
55. Beast (+55) (M)
56. Professor X (+5) (M)
65. She-Hulk (-13) (M)
66. Bullseye (-4) (M)
82. Hawkeye (-1) (M)
107. Beak (new) (M)
108. Fantomex (new) (M)
109. Emma Frost (new) (M)
111. Lionheart (new) (M)
112. Shriek (new) (M)
113. Ion (Kyle Rayner) (-10) (DC)
116. Iron Fist (+47) (M)
117. Jean Grey (-5) (M)
123. Xorn (new) (M)
190. Atomic Skull (new) (DC)
195. Toad (-14) (M)
196. Magneto (-10) (M)

The Hammer...
Traditionally the Quick Fix has contribued to the immediate results of the super stock, but in the interest of keeping 2007 all in one place, Moon Knight and Taskmaster are the first to be ranked for the year.

Completing the year seems like a coming of age for the blog, and hopefully through the new year your readership will continue to support the ticking over of that little hit counter at the bottom of the menu.
Certainly a big thank you has to go out to all who have been visiting the site, and even more thanks to those coming back, and/or linking to it.

The higher that hit counter goes, the longer my hair gets, and the longer my hair gets, the more powerful I become. Please, don't make me hunt you down like dogs, because without those hits I will be forced to seek out fresh souls for consumption.

I'd love to finish up by telling you what to expect in 2007, but honestly - I don't know! I wouldn't have caught up if I'd maintained some kind of structure, so I don't intend to change that anytime soon.
The guy I've been going to for fifteen years to get my comics has sold the store and will be moving out soon, so the very future of my comics reading has completely changed. I might actually have to start investigting this thing called "online purchase" and put my new PayPal account to good use.

In the mean time, I guess you'll just have to put up with my collection of 90s Marvel comics... Goooooooooo Morbius!

December Hit Count: 3380* (+603)

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

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