Monday, April 30, 2007

A Not-So-Beautiful Mind (Marvel comics)
Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #9 When: March 2007
Why: Jeff Parker How: Juan Santacruz

The story so far...
MODOK and the villainous group of criminal scientists called AIM have defeated and captured the Avengers, and attempted to perform horrible experiments on them.
Though there was a terrible explosion, the Avengers emerge as distorted reimaginings of their former selves, recreated in MODOK's own image!

Returning to the world as the MODvengers, they approach protecting New York City with an entirely new slant. With their intelligence, arrogance and cranial capacity all upgraded, they are more than ready to meet the challenges of villains head-on with a jaded and cynical superiority.

It would seem a most inopportune moment, then, for Lord Krang and Attuma to lead the hordes of the Atlantean military into an invasion of the surface world.

Previous Form:
The Avengers [#2]: The Avengers were previously unsuccessful against MODOK & AIM.
Lord Krang & Attuma: The Atlantean warriors have not yet been featured.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Giganto 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Iron Man 5 (Professor)
Speed: Spider-man 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Wolverine 6 (Generator)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-Like)
Fighting Ability: Captain America 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Iron Man 5 (Lasers)

As we continue our way through the villains of Marvel Ultimate Alliance, I have to admit to getting a little slack here. We should be featuring Byrrah, but as far as I know I don't really have much in the way of Byrrah, so I'm moving on to the next Atlantean on the list, Lord Krang. Thing is, I overlooked a far superior Lord Krang appearance in favour of mucking around more with MODOK. Sorry.

Lord Krang, like the whale monster Giganto, really only makes a cameo apperance. Krang at least has the benefit of some lines and a prominent position, but otherwise he's pretty insignificant in the issue. In fact, he's been coloured wrong to look caucasian, instead of a healthy Atlantean-blue.

Attuma (pictured left of the tape stats) is looking a radiant grey, with his big helmet thingy in full view. So, how does that affect his chances at victory?

Y'know, you've got the entire Atlantean military, giant robotic crabs, and crazy big monsters like Giganto and creature I'm unfamiliar with, like Tri-Gorr.
I don't know if I can really break this one down in the way I usually would, so let's just say this entire army really would give the Avengers a run for their money, but because we're in Marvel Adventures land, long-term storytelling isn't really an option. So, expect swift subsiding of your Atlantean invaders.

Because the stats do not take the nameless Atlantean soldiers into account, or even the nameless soldiers, the math may be uncharacteristically inaccurate.
For integrity's sake, I'm going to compensate that with my pick, even though we all know exactly how this is going down. Yeesh...

The Math: The Avengers
The Pick: Atlantis (Even though we know they lose...)

What went down...
Emerging from the rubble of the AIM underground science facility, Iron Man's gauntlet pings with the alert of a "pathetic official" rings through the smokey air. The suited female Governer cries for aid in saving Boston, which has come under attack from Atlantis. If you read anything before this point, you probably know that already...

At that point the Governer's computer is destroyed by a blast from Attuma's trident staff, prompting the American soldiers to call a retreat, much to the joy of the Atlanteans, who seem to have a penchant for thinking America is the only surface land on the face of the planet...

At that moment the giant eel creature Tri-Gorr suffers a zapping blow!

Attuma shows deep concern for the creature's well being, turning only to witness a counterstrike being waged by the hovering heads of the MODvengers!

Storm fries a quartet of airborne jellyfish looking creatures, while Iron Man, Wolverine, Spider-man, Captain America and Giant-Girl all use their newly aquired mindblasts to fire upon the crowd of Atlanteans.

In the background, the hovering Hulk dukes it out with the giant whale creature, Giganto!

As the Atlantean Invasion forces find themselves struggling against the unrelenting aggression of the MODvengers, Attuma summons a potential equalizer in the giant Rommbu creature. A humanoid amphibian not unlike the creature from the Black Lagoon, in some superficial respects...

With enhanced brain power, comes enhanced responsibility, but Spidoc cares little for concepts as trivial as these!

His Spidey-senses prove to be multiplied, warning him of the impending danger before Attuma even orders it! With the use of his MODOK inspired mental capabilities, he easily overpowers the sea creature's simple mind, and turns him against his masters!

Rommbu turns and strikes the mechanoid crab Attuma rides with pride, spilling both he and the less involved Lord Krang!

Attuma foolishly verbalizes his dismay, that a mere seven bulbous headed surface dwellers could over power the entire Atlantean military force.

Irondoc's giant ears prick up at the affirmation that it is their entire force.
Woldoc (Wolverine) and Gi-doc (Giant-Girl) are each on the same page, extrapolating the notation to recognise Atlantis is completely without it's defense force, as well.

With a creepy grin, Giant-Girl exclaims, "Vulnerable for Conquest."

[The C in the Marvel Adventures "MODOC", and subsequently this variation on the Avengers characters, all with -doc added, stands for Conquest. - Marvellous Mike]

Attuma can only watch on, objecting to the invasion of his homeworld by the disinterested MODveners who file off in unison toward the waters of the dock.
"What... no! You can't... You can't invade my home!"

The hammer...
By playing it through the eyes of MODOK, the Avengers pick up the shared victory on this particular occasion. Who woulda ever thunk it?
The Avengers invading Atlantis? It's so brilliant it just might work!

Even though I'm still behind it's nice to finally be able to wrap up one of the biggest months in Secret Earths history! With the milestones of hitting 10k and 100 featured fights, we've seen a lot recently! Having already reviewed this very issue for fight #100, I have to admit I'm a little bit lost for words.

At the end of this fight Iron Man notes to a slightly horrified press that he has calculated that The Leader has figured out how to escape from his prison cell by this time. So, for those who are like me and maybe feel one of the great setbacks of the Adventures books is content, think again, friend!
We've still got a whole other fight to feature, still!

Might take a break from this issue, though, as we head toward what will officially be regarded as the Attuma feature, even though he was front and center, here.

Having employed the use of a new stat counter, I see there's been some traffic coming in from Google via searches for Marvel Ultimate Alliance. Hopefully gamers are getting something out of these Monday features, even if it isn't quite what they were originally searching for. Yeah, about that... Sorry guys, I can't tell you where the Daredevil dolls are, because I don't remember. Just be thorough when you're playing through a level, and explore a little -- including headquarters!

Wow, I got a bit sidetracked there... I guess that's what the late-end-of-the-month will do to you! We've still got plenty of Marvel Ultimate Alliance action coming at you, and if I remember to, you'll hear more about that and more in the Monthly Punch-Up in "tomorrow"'s post.

The Fight: 3 The Issue: 5

NEXT WEEK: Attuma faces the fury of the Sub-mariner! Imperius Rex!

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Death of the Dream (Marvel comics)
Captain America #25 When: April 2007
Why: Ed Brubaker How: Steve Epting

The story so far...
The world was turned upside down for Captain America when the Red Skull and his associates began toying with everything that has defined him, but nothing cut as deep as the return of his former sidekick -- Bucky Barnes.

Having survived the accident that supposedly left him dead in the icey waters that froze the Captain, Barnes has lived a life of servitude to the communist Russian regime. Standing as an affront to everything he and Captain America once stood for.

Despite his past, Winter Soldier finds himself in the employ of the underground Nick Fury, former Director of SHIELD.
Having surrendered to pro-registration forces in the superhero Civil War, Rogers finds himself paraded before a jaded public and media, unbeknownst to all as part of a sinister ploy set in motion by the Red Skull.

Captain America is dead.

Previous Form:
Winter Soldier (#56): Bucky has a victory over Wolverine.
Crossbones: Crossbones has not yet been featured on the site.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Crossbones 4 (Steroid Popper)
Intelligence: Winter Soldier 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Draw 3 (Trained Athlete)
Stamina: Winter Soldier 5 (Marathon Man)
Agility: Winter Soldier 2 (Average)
Fighting Ability: Draw 4 (Trained Fighter)
Energy Powers: Winter Soldier 3 (Explosives)

Captain America doesn't really have a lot to do with the measuring of this particular fight, and because I got the second-print, the cover image kind of makes this null and void -- but I just wanted to picture exactly what we're fighting for.

This is a big deal! This is two characters essentially fighting over the man who defined their existence. For Crossbones, Captain America has been his chief rival and target for roughly two decades now.

For Winter Soldier, it's been sixty years since he became relevant by the Captain's side, and even though we now have an entire secret history tacked onto the side, as we've seen in recent stories, and as you would expect: He's still Bucky Barnes, and Cap, for better or worse, is still a huge part of who he is.

So when it comes to Winter Soldier Jon Woo-ing his way into a fight against a chopper riding Crossbones, this is the the blood that's between them. They might never have met before, but this one is personal before it even gets started. Crossbones didn't get the killing blow, but without him Cap would probably have a good shot at being alive right now.

When it comes down to it these guys are pretty well matched.
Crossbones would generally be considered the stronger of the two, although, with the cybernetic arm, the Winter Soldier isn't out in the cold.
Physically he'll have no trouble holding his own against Crossbones, who almost represents Bane in an equation flipped from Batman, with Cap being the one with chemical enhancements.

Winter Soldier arguably has the greater fighting skills, although again, Crossbones shouldn't be considered any slouch. Likewise, their arms skills would be noteworthy, comparable, and without the constraints of a conscience.
It seems characterization has pushed Winter Soldier into the anti-hero role more than the villain, but that conscience has at least been lacking for the larger part of his lost history, as far as we know. And he was pretty brutal against Wolverine [Wolverine #39].

Mind you, if you want to talk brutal, try being part of killing Captain America.

The Math: Winter Soldier (Champion Class)
The Pick: Winter Soldier

What went down...
With Nick Fury in his ear, Bucky Barnes abandons plans to abduct Captain America from SHIELD custody, and leaps into pirsuit of the sniper shooter.
Meanwhile, The Falcon circling in the air does much the same with less specific inklings.

Winter Soldier smashes his way into the shooting building, but by the time he gets there Crossbones is already gone. At that point Falcon torpedoes through a skylight, swooping in to slam Cap's former partner into the wall.
The two quickly clear up their situation, allowing Fury to direct them to Crossbones, who is making an airborne getaway in a phony press chopper.

Falcon carries the Winter Soldier, while he draws his pistols and opens fire on the helecopter. His hard nosed tactics surprise Falcon at first, but given the circumstances, he doesn't seem to mind staying his course.

With the chopper incapacitated, Crossbones opts for an offensive defensive, leaping out of the failing bird to collide with the Winter Soldier in a mid-air tackle that wrenches him from Falcon's grip.

The two smash through an Iron Man pro-registration poster, before coming to a crash landing atop one of the many New York buildings below.
Crossbones' nifty mask is tore by the impact, and he suffers the hardest landing, hitting head-first into a bricked obscruction.

The Soldier is much more fortunate, rolling through it to reach his feet rather swiftly. Crossbones scoffs the Soldier's credibility as a "good guy" as he staggers to his feet, walking into a cybernetic left from the former Bucky.

The two tustle across the rooftops, the bulkier Crossbones resorting to a feeble defensive against the highly motivated Winter Soldier.

The Soldier hoists the would-be assassin against a rooftop wall, and pounds at his body, interrogating him for the whereabouts of the Red Skull.
Crossbones, bloodied and bruised, remains defiant, "Go die... Oh wait... You already did... Heh..."

Crossbones suffers for his insolence, highlighting Winter Soldier's response about his status as a "kinda" hero. Falcon swoops in as the blood flies.

He warns of incoming SHIELD Cape Killers, and as emotionally charged as Barnes may or may not be, Crossbones is already beaten. Completely uninterested in being dragged down into the SHIELD pro/anti affair, Winter Soldier willingly takes leave of the rooftop, leaving Falcon to claim the collar.

Forgot my sworrrrrd!The hammer...
Full props to Winter Soldier on this one, with the chemical assist from Cap's more recent ol' pal, The Falcon.

Y'know, just to start off on a tangent, I'm listening to Vokuro (a song by Björk), which has a very sincere dirge quality to it. The mournful kind, not wacky New Orleans style, and I have to admit, I kinda regard this almost as a soundtrack to the concept, if not any particular scene depicting the death of Captain America.

I guess this is maybe a little bit like the Thom Yorke-Black Adam connection mentioned during another review [52 #44]. Given that Cap #25 is such an action packed issue, maybe you'd like to give Vokuro a listen over the ending credits.

I kinda weighed in on the subject during the last Winter Soldier entry [Wolverine #39], when it probably would've been much more relevant. Unfortunately I'm not one to spend fifty bucks on a single issue, and it took a while for the second-print to come in, but I'm glad I finally got it.

In typical Ed Brubaker style, the finished product failed to live-up to the hype, without actually being a bad or disappointing read. As with a lot of Brubaker gems I find the concept outweighs the execution, which is appropriately subtle, but also really quite thin when one actually delves into it, elbows and knees.

How do I feel about Captain America being dead?
That's such an interesting question to ask me. I don't know if I could ever give a really solid, concrete answer. I'm a bit in both camps. I've been reading the adventures of these characters stretching back to before I was born, and losing one of the golden boys, and one of the few enduring Golden Age Marvel characters just seems like such a waste, and a disappointment. Especially to see him go out under such mundane conditions...

On the other hand, I'm a little bit progressive, and I kinda like the idea.
The consistent negative feeling I get, which I mentioned around the time of reaction in the other review, is that it just doesn't seem like it's going to stick.

The only thing I begrudge more than the decision to kill Colossus off (and the means under which it happened), is the fact that he came back. I'm one of those guys who really resents the cheapening of death in this medium. So, as pleased as I would be to have Cap back, I think there would always be a resentment.
A resentment that is perhaps hypocritical when mirrored next to my feelings on Superman, who is today alive and well, despite taking the dirtnap in another media grabbing milestone event.

A preview of Cap #26 reveals a scene with Cap's body, which has apparently undergone considerable degeneration since his death, perhaps as the reaction to his deadcells no longer responding to the properties of the Super Soldier Serum.
Although, in a canon where Spider-Clones were personified by a dusty demise whenever impaled by gliding vehicles, one can't help but feel the speculation grow stronger of a planned return.

Red Skull's death in issue one of Brubaker's run also makes for compelling argument, given that our favourite well-dressed Nazi villain orchestrated the assassination. Yes, alive and well, having lived inside another body thanks to the logic-defying properties of the cosmic cube.

I digress, and maybe, at 1:40am on a Friday morning I'm not sure where to go from here. Which in some ways seems to be the case for Marvel, it almost seems. Given the media attention it seems almost baffling that more hasn't been done with the event.

Granted facsimilies and the corpse proper have been seen in the pages of various core titles, but that aside, reactions have been limited to things like the Fallen Son mini-series, which appear to be a steady contrast in 'doing it right' where extending concepts goes. A contrast to what DC has achieved with their World War III mini-series, which spins out of the pages of 52.

Could it be the tacked on one-shots are to compensate for a void left in the wake of media relations forcing the company to stick to the decision longer than originally planned? I don't know. This is blatant and poorly informed speculation, but that doesn't mean it isn't food for thought.

So think away my friends, while I try to get a good enough sleep to come back in slugging form to catch-up! Afterall, with Spider-man 3 now in cinemas, it seems almost offensive that we've already missed the first instalment of Web-Slinging Wednesdays!

Before I go, I do remember that I did want to mention the Winter Soldier briefly.
As I mentioned, I do feel Brubaker's concepts generally outweight the material itself, and Winter Soldier seems to continue the theory. In a world of limited budget and tonnes of enticing paper-backs, I dropped off the Cap wagon, and subsequently missed much of the Winter Soldier's return and rise to prominence.

Even so, it strikes me as horribly abrupt for the character to go from Soviety killing machine, to potential candidate for a successor to the Captain America mantle. Like Daredevil in jail, this seems like a great idea, without the stones to fully apply the necessary time to make the transition work.
Perhaps if the story telling didn't feel so condensed and tight in span, then maybe it could pass easier. When I think back to the glory days of reading unfolding stories in Spider-man, I don't exactly think of taking ten years to bring a character back from the dead, establish his history, and redeem him.

I guess it's just one of those things. A potential chink in Brubaker's armor, which seems to have been so sheened by hype, it's gone relatively unnoticed.
Boy, DC really dropped the ball on this guy, didn't they?

I'll be back for the final Monday post for the Latepril posts very soon!
In the meantime, if you're checking out the site, particularly if you're interested in this big issue in particular, drop a comment and lemme hear what you have to say! I feed off of your energy, y'know. That's why I'm behind! Step it up!

The Fight: 5 The Issue: 6

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Book One (DC comics)
The Dark Knight Strikes Again #1 When: November 2001
Why: Frank Miller How: Frank Miller

The story so far...
After faking his own death, Bruce Wayne goes underground to train the army of SOBs who joined him after abandoning their Mutant leader to rally to his cause. With the aid of his new ward Carrie Kelly he makes this possible.

Using his personal army to break free some of his more willing peers from the past, Batman assembles a team that includes powerhouses in their respective fields including The Flash and The Atom, and prepares to go to war against the world.

In a world where superheroes are slowly beginning to again penetrate the shutdown public consciousness; Batman is bringing heroism back in a big way, and not a minute too soon. With threats from Lex Luthor and Brainiac lurking on the horizon, he'll need to have all his tools and freedoms at the ready. But what of the Superman? Where does he stand?...

Previous Form:
Superman (#6): Superman has victories over heroes like Wonder Woman, Uncle Sam & Hulk.
Batman (#2): Batman has a two-to-zip victory rate over Superman.

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)

We've featured Superman/Batman fights twice previously on Secret Earths [
Dark Knight Returns #4, Batman #612], and you have to wonder if there's really much left to say about these two going head to head.

This modern era has provided the World's Finest with one of the most compelling relationships, turning what was once a kindred friendship, and turning it into a begrudging, tense alliance. It's this chemistry that has made those previous entries two of the most popular even today, and that was back when entries ran a lot less deep, too! Heck, we barely even had pictures on the site back then!

Actually, the title here is a bit misleading.
By this time Batman has assembled a team of Justice Leaguers to aid him in his mission against the dystopian world presented in the Dark Knight books, and they seem all too pleased to help in the whipping of big boy blue.
It might have something to do with the fact that he let them get captured and tortured, but hey. Who's counting? At least he doesn't have a prat moustache like Stark!

Joining the Batman is Green Arrow, who aided him in his last encounter with Superman; as well as Silver Age versions of the Atom (Ray Palmer) and the Flash (Barry Allen).
When you factor those guys into the equation, Superman's four-to-three tape stats actually dwindle down to giving him only an edge in strength, as none of these other heroes have any real measure of super strength.

For Superman the keys to victory would come down to blunt force trauma. He would have to hit hard and fast, and throw everything he's got at these guys if he were to have any shot. Unfortunately, even in this grim future, Superman's still the type to ring the doorbell, so his chances aren't looking very good.

Batman built his house on planning, and his plans are ready and waiting for the day Superman comes to find him in his cave, knowing full well that he never truly died. With the Flash, Atom and GA at his side, and a collection fo synthetic and effective kryptonite, yeah. Let's hear it for the boy.

The Math: Batman (Total) / Superman (Average)
The Pick: Batman

What went down...
With a glowing red hatred in his eyes, Superman thunders down from the space station he's been relegated to by the puppeteers that control America.
He comes back down to Earth for a little chat with the man who's doing what he didn't feel he could, and he's pissed. The sonic boom of his reentry and speeding trajectory shatter windows across Gotham City. Such disregard is uncharacteristic.

By the time he's pound his way into the cave, The Batman and his team are ready and waiting. The split penny isn't much concern, but the giant dinosaur springs to life to greet the visitor from the stars. Bat says his name is Fido.

Superman slips through it's skull like it were an illusion, landing into a nightmare. A robotic Bizarro #12 leaps at the Kryptonian with the rabid enthusiasm of a crazed fan. It says he's his biggest.

Superman signs his head with his fist, and knocks his block off. The Bizarro grins sheepishly, revelling in it's destruction as it's head bobs upside down at the end of a coiled spring of a neck.

Now things get serious.
Allen slips onto the seen so fast he's there before anyone knows it. As his presence registers in Superman's alien brain, the thipping of explosive discs has already given way to their placement all over his super durable body.

They know he can take it. He's stronger than the pounding surf.

The massive amount of explosions do well to shake the man of steel.
Batman's disembodied voice rings through the cave, mocking him with bitter truths. Kal-El's birthgiven powers made him stupid. Batman is smart. Strategic.

"Pardon me while I drop ninety tons of planet Earth on you."

As chunks of rubble spray through the tiny space, Oliver Queen calls the Superman out. Sporting a brand new cybernetic arm (to replace the one Superman cost him), he cocks his bow with a bulky kryptonite arrow and spies his emerging target. Deja Vu.

The Superman sees it coming and heads it off with heat vision, but that only detonates the Kryptonite napalm head of it. All part of the act. He was always the straight man. For all his powers, he never had any real imagination. No creativity.

Reduced considerably by the radioactive remains of his home, it's Atom's turn this time.
Palmer emerges from the shadows and shrinks to a diminutive size and he launches himself through the air at relative dimensions to leaping a tall building.

He sneaks in to the fallen Superman's ear.
"Having a very little man bounding about your inner ear works hell on your equilibrium, doesn't it? I'd feel sorry for you, but I don't."

Palmer ignores Batman's facetious request to take it easy on the boyscout. "The man's having a bad day."

Feeble and defeated the great Superman plants his face into the dirt.
Batman calls off his little helper. He's ready to step into the light.
All sixty years of him.

"Bruce-- I just want to talk..."

Batman answers with his fists.
Giant green fists wrapped in Kryptonite gloves.

He knocks Superman off the ground with a left, and then swats him with a right.
He makes a crater with his face, pounding his head into the ground.
He doesn't stop until he hears a crunch.

"I'm done talking."

"Get out of my cave."

The hammer...
The winner and still champion, Batman!
Due to their vital role in the victory, the other heroes may as well be counted for full victories too. If you're playing along at home, remember to scratch that in.

Y'know, this book [and series] is a bit like when they inject radioactive goop into you, to follow it through the bloodstream, and highlight certain areas during an internal scan. Only, this is radioactive goop for the internet as a working life system of trends, herd mentalities and a desire for unique opinions in counter culture.

I'm done talking... now I'm going to go type it up on my blog, and bitch about you online!Despite reading comics for roughly twenty years, I fully submit the fact that I did so in a vaccum. It wasn't really until the beginning of this decade that I made any real connection with other comics fans, and that was only through the internet. This was a medium I was introduced to as a child, and have arrived at through my own means. So, many must read titles to this day remain unseen by my peepers, and I like to think that makes me some kind of impartial.

A book like All-Star Batman & Robin, which has suffered heavy criticism and consistent trashing online could fool you into thinking the machine of internet fanboys is all about the negative. Which is why I highlight DK2 as a great radioactive indicator, because in my experience, it's gone from being quite loathed, to becoming geek-chic.

Unlike an ASB&R, which I don't think will ever escape the quagmire of criticism, and probably partially because it's justified, DK2 was able to escape the clutches of the perpetuated opinion to start finding pockets of resistence. Which in turn seems to had gradually crated an reverse wave that's making it cool again.

For me, as I said, I didn't read DKR until only fairly recently.
I didn't have fifteen years to ponder the prospects of a Dark Knigt Returns sequel. I read them in succession, and so, from my perspective, this just read like the next logical step in what was a really enjoyable take on Batman.

In some ways I read with a naivety, being surrounded by an industry that was already well into the swing of benefitting from this take on the character.
For me, I read it, and almost acknowledge with bemusement that, yes. This is approximately what I want to see from a Batman story. It's context allows it greater lengths, but yes. Why wouldn't Batman slap Superman silly? That's what Batman does.

I'm simplifying, but my roundabout point is that perhaps somewhere along the lines the longterm fans got carried away with anticipation for DK2, and when it came it couldn't possibly live up to that hype. And with the glory of the internet, their gospel was carried across the information superhighway to be absorbed by the sponge-like masses of newer readers unconfident with their placement in a medium three or four times old as they.

Not that I mean to paint a picture of myself as anti-internet.
The irony of that would not be lost even on I who have not yet read Watchmen.

I just think it's very interesting the way the mass exchange of opinion has helped shape this current visage of an industry. Interesting that a new reader absorbs basic knowledge of this life like a newborn from sources like message boards and Wikipedia, and instantly learns these opinions as fact.

'DC is just capes. You must relate to characters. Only Marvel has relatable characters' is somehow dwarfed by the progressive life lessons of things like, 'smoking causes lung cancer' and 'unsafe sex leads to mortgages and assault charges'.

And if you're just joining us to see Batman punch Superman with a novelty sized boxing glove. Hey, it's Frank Miller! If you don't read the Hollywood Press online, when it's Miller, it's got to be about big issues!

Oh, the parody!

The Fight: 7 The Issue: 7

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Not-So-Beautiful Mind (Marvel comics)
Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #9 When: March 2007
Why: Jeff Parker How: Juan Santacruz

The story so far...
The world's mightiest heroes are going about their routine superheroic business, but something about this mission is going to change the way the world views The Avengers!

The target is MODOK and the yellow suited agents of AIM, who are conducting sinister experiments with untested scientific contagents.

The heroes want to put a stop to these dangerous evil experiments, but little do they realise the experiment is very soon to be THEM! MODOK and his cronies intend to turn the tables on The Avengers, and may Zod have mercy on them all for it!

Previous Form:
Captain America (#8): Cap has led teams against AIM, Charnal, She-Hulk, Ghost Rider & Wolverine.
MODOK (#192): MODOK was defeated by a Captain America/Cable team-up.
The Avengers [#2]: The Avengers have a 50% victory rate, with a single draw.
AIM [#15]: AIM has thus far been unsuccessful in battle.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Hulk 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: MODOK 5 (Professor)
Speed: Spider-man 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Hulk 6 (Generator)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-like)
Fighting Ability: Captain America 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Iron Man 5 (Lasers)

Y'know, when this issue came out, I think it was a given that just about every major blogsite was going to feature it in some capacity. More on that in The Hammer, but for the time being, let's use that as a segue to discuss the star of the show -- MODOK!

Actually, in Marvel Adventures kiddy-friendly-land it's MODOC because the K is for Killing. And apparently the children aren't yet ready to be exposed to the prospect of a giant floating head with no visible means of 'going potty' who lives only to kill and destroy. Hey, whatever "FCC". Just don't come crying to me when the French censors laugh at you pretentiously!

The K for killing brings us, of course, to the important question of just how likely it is that MODOK will live up to his "616" name. To properly ascertain such informations we should probably take a look at exactly who makes up this particular assemblage of Avengers!

Included in the Marvel Adventures line-up is a unique blend of classic Avengers, contemporary inclusions, and some new to the team:
Captain America, Storm, Hulk, Spider-man, Giant-Girl (Wasp), Iron Man & Wolverine.

I could go through the ins and outs of the characters, and try to concoct various scenarios under which the characters would meet on individual terms, but it would be for moot.
Statistically most of these guys are going to beat MODOK nine times out of ten, if not maybe more. That's what has made MODOK such a lovable inclusion in the world of the menacing villain. Together, the Avengers have victory all but secured, but never let it be said that odds cannot be overcome...

The Math: The Avengers
The Pick: The Avengers

What went down...
With an explosive opening, the Avengers descened through a hole in the roof of the AIM secret lair, trickling down in a cascade of colour and action. The team plummets down led by Wolverine, and a roaring Hulk who tears at scenery.

Spider-man is in fine physical and verbal form, as he and Iron Man swing decisively into the battle. Spidey's quips offer a little something for everyone; beekeeper quips keep the kids laughing, while remarks about the poor AIM of the AIM goons break the fourth wall and call attention to the kiddy-gloves being used by the villains.

Some of the goons reach a sonics cannon and begin firing it's mighty audible blast into the field, stunning Giant-Girl, Iron Man, Storm, Wolverine, and even Hulk, who manages to keep one hand clasped firmly around the goon's skull he is pounding.

From a safe distance Cap tosses his mighty shield. It slices through the barrel of the gun, destroying the mechanics and freeing his fellows from it's ear-splitting devestation.

Just as Iron Man hopes to correct Spidey on another reference to bee-keepers he is propelled across the battlefield, tumbling into the incredible Hulk. The one responsible quips before making his grand entrance, "Ha! I believe the saying is hitting two birds with one -- brainblast!!!"

Presumably this is the first appearance of "MODOC", as indicated by Storm's ignorance.
Spidey again breaks the fourth wall, identifying the character despite acknowledging he has no idea what he's looking at.

MODOK seizes the opportunity to broaden his telepathic brainblast and use it to freeze the heroes while he delivers an account of his origins. He tells a tale of betrayal, presumably because he "didn't bring the right kinds of snacks to AIM barbecues", where he was made the first test subject in experiments to expand the human mind. Little did anyone know he would become the brilliant floating brain bag that is -- MODOK!

It turns out Iron Man's armored helmet has protected him from MODOK's brainblast, but it proves little consolation for the golden Avenger. With the rest of his teammates under MODOK's spell, he quickly finds himself under attack from some of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel universe!

Once Spidey webs the armored hero up, it's a matter of the Hulk scooping him up under his arm as the Avengers followed MODOK to the inner labs where they will learn to think like their enemy.

Strapped into the appropriate hoverchairs, the Avengers are at the mercy of the AIM scientists who go about their wicked business. But it seems a bungle in the procedures to be attend to by Karl has led to the overloading of the Restructurer due to the mass and size of Hulk and Giant-Girl's bodies!

Rather than hang around, MODOK flees, leaving the heroes (and Karl) to their doom!...

The hammer...
... And for that we declare MODOK the winner!
If you disagree with this verdict, then clearly your puny mind is too feeble to grasp the complexities and implications of the scenario presented, and you must be made to conform or DIE!!!

That, or you could just post a comment and explain why you think it was wrong of me to declare MODOK and AIM the victors in this case.

I mentioned in the Tape the potential impact this single issue had as a comics revelation to the blogsites. Marvel Zombies has illustrated the potential popularity of broad thematic transformations in superheroes, so when I found out the MODvengers artwork was more than an amusing comission, I was sure the trend would continue.
Sure enough as news spread it seemed to be the talk of many blogs, not surprising giving the humorist nature of most, but the buck seemed to stop there.

I'd hoped to illustrate the power of silly, quirky, geek-chic in comics, but the numbers have betrayed me yet again. Yes, it's Nextwave all over again, only without the widespread critical acclaim and praise.
According to ICv2 News, Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #9 illustrated a two hundred unit slump from the previous issue, before slipping yet another two hundred and fifty with the issue following.

191 9.76 MARVEL ADVS AVENGERS #8 $2.99 MAR 7,512 [Source]
201 10.09 MARVEL ADVS AVENGERS #9 $2.99 MAR 7,315 [Source]
180 8.48 MARVEL ADVS AVENGERS #10 $2.99 MAR 7,053 [Source]

I guess in an obscure way this leads to one of the all purpose mission statements of this particular website. Though we lack the preemptive capacity to recommend reads in a position of preordering, we hope to provide a gateway into comics you might like to flick through, and track down for purchase.

I was a little perturbed to hear from a reader who was downloading comics illegally, and even more perturbed by a confused reader who was somehow under the confused assumption that Batman issues were somehow public domain because he lives in a foreign country.

If you've browsed through Secret Earths and come across something that's interested you, then hopefully the site is doing some kind of job. But as you can see from sales figures, it isn't exactly a river of silver dollars just because there are a few feature films. We have an obligation, as with all things, to do it the right way.

If you can't access comics readily, look around the internet. It's a pretty resourceful place. Check out some of the more prominent websites and see about finding out reputable online stores, or ebay sellers where you might pick up some of these wacky and wild reads.

Because while I like to think of Secret Wars on Infinite Earths as a resource website, it's merely a gateway to leading you to what you might want to find.
What's left for you is to enjoy the chase of reading more about characters and issues on Wikipedia, official websites, or through purchases. I'm just helping you find what you might like.

Who woulda thought a review of a comic all about a team of MODOKs would lead to such a stiff collared cermon about right and wrong? Hey kids, that's what MODOK does. He shows you the wrong way. Because let's face it, no matter how fun it might seem, imagine the practicalities of having a GIANT cranium, and a tiny little body restricted to a hover chair.

The bathroom alone, guys... Yeesh...

The Fight: 2.5 The Issue: 5

NEXT WEEK: Marvel Ultimate Alliance Mondays continues, and heck! Despite selling only seven thousand units, this issue was so hilariously fun, we're going to do it all over again! Krang and the militants of Atlantis invade! Who will save us?! STAY TUNED!

PLUS: Because this was the very special occasion of our one hundredth featured issue, strap yourselves in for a big week of updates! Tomorrow it's going to be a dark night as two heroes go at it, and then Friday someone's out for revenge for the death of an icon! Two of the biggest features you'll see on the site! BE HERE!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Corvalho: Part Two (DC comics)
Checkmate #12 When: May 2007
Why: Greg Rucka & Nunzio Defilippis How: Steve Scott & Cliff Richards

The story so far...
Political tensions are mounting in the South American state of Santa Prisca. With an impending election, Bane retaliates against a cocktail of corruption and election tampering with his own hard tactics of independent militia and stern curfews.

The International agency of Checkmate responds to the distress call of Colonel Computron, who has information regarding the mastermind behind the election tampering he aided.

With need of evidence, some of Checkmate agents suspect their own White Queen, Amanda Waller, of being responsible. When each King's Knight is distributed into the field, little do they realise the Black Knight, Beatriz "Fire" Dacosta, has been blackmailed by Waller into destroying Computron.

As if that wasn't bad enough, there's the little matter of White Knight, Tommy Jaggar. Jagger's father, the hero known as Judomaster, was murdered by Bane during the Battle of Metropolis, who was among those representing The Society.

Previous Form:
Bane (#179): Bane was defeated by Captain America.
Tommy Jagger: The son of Judomaster has not yet been featured.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Bane 4 (Steroid Popper)
Intelligence: Bane 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Draw 3 (Trained Athlete)
Stamina: Bane 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Tommy Jagger 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting Ability: Bane 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy Powers: Draw 1 (None)

We're a week behind again as I continue to enjoy trips to the dentist.
The dentist really isn't an important part of the tape, but I felt like getting some sympathy. Woe is me.

Woe is Tommy Jagger, also! His father was very recently killed in the pages of Infinite Crisis, suffering a lethal version of the move that broke the Batman's back, and very nearly ended his career as Batman! That's right, we are of course talking about Bane, and that means it's all about the back breaker!

These guys are pretty different in most respects, but the only major factor seperating them would have to be degrees of strength. Even without the venom serum, which is what Bane's tape measurement is based on, he is a formiddable, physical presence. You add the venom to the equation, and it gets big time!

Of course, with the venom comes the awfully obvious weakness of a tube dangling from the back of his skull down to his wrist. We've seen it in the film, in the cartoon, and in the comics before, and frankly I'm glad to see it gone.
With the tube in effect, there's the chance anyone could defeat Bane by the shock of withdrawl, or an overdose of the drug.

Taking that out of the equation, Jagger's greatest skills here are speed and agility. Although, despite his impressive muscular bulk, Bane is known to be a surprisingly quick fighter, and his tactical skills are comparable to that of Batman himself.

I guess the conclusion is that Jagger certainly has no reason to fear going up against Bane, but he would certainly have a reason afterward.
Though he's been built up to be a pretty impressive new character in the pages of Checkmate, he just isn't a Batman, or an Azrael. Which, by the tape, makes it hard to pick him against the Santa Priscian behemoth called Bane!

The Math: Bane
The Pick: Bane

What went down...
The green flames of Beatriz Dacosta's attack against Computron ignite his hiding place, alerting Bane and his militia of her presence. Bane, having concerns that Checkmate may be interfering in the election on the United Nation's behalf, makes an explosive entrance.

The roof! The roof! The roof is on fire!!!Jagger, having secured the remains of Computron's floating head in a containment case, he orders Fire to keep them from Bane's grips in the hopes that data may be retrieved from the deceased's computer style memory.

Bane looms over the White King's Knight, disappointed that the "legendary" Brazilian green flame is fleeing, but concedes to make-do with the son of the Judomaster.

Jagger attempts to diffuse the situation, reasoning for an opportunity to explain the presence of he and his Checkmate fellow, and their involvement in the fixing scandal of the Santa Priscan election.

Unfortunately for him, Bane has already made up his mind about the motives and nobilities of those he perceives as unwelcome interferances.
He also explains his explicit knowledge of exactly who he is facing, and the familial resonance his confrontation with Jagger has.

Even affronted with a callous reference to his father's murder, Jagger remains a professional soldier of Checkmate. He declares his desire to resolve the situation peacefully, but as Bane swings his fists in a clubbing axe handle, Jagger is quickly finding himself with few options.

Bane shares more of his anti-UN paranoia, completely unwilling to hear the truths spouted by Jagger.

Intent on resolving the situation with his fists, Bane snatches the far smaller man into the air by the shoulder, and lifts him above his head. He remarks on the final moments of the Judomaster, and finally Jagger is forced to act.

The White King throws his leg out, connecting with a boot to the face of the South American powerhouse. It is enough to free him of the grip.

Jagger berates Bane for his siding with The Society of villains, and proudly boasts his father's heroic death as one of the heroes who stood against them as they marched through Metropolis. He denounces Bane's dishonorable decision to attack kill the Judomaster for little more reason than the fact he stood in his path. This, all while side-stepping a thundering right hand from Bane, which he counters with an elbow strike to the jugular.

Jagger swings the far larger of the two around to face the raging green flames left by Fire, and strikes him hard at the small of his back.
He follows it with a stiff kick to the back of the knee, punctuating his demand for respect for his father.

On his knees, Bane finds himself held by the back of the head, staring down the scalding fire as Jagger receives a transmission confirming his partner's arrival to safety.

Jagger releases his grip, and does his best to finally make it clear to Bane that Checkmate are not his enemy. With the professionalism demanded of him, he releases his foe. By the time Bane turns, the White Knight is already gone.

The hammer...
Well, it looks like the win goes to the debutant - Tommy Jagger.

I'm not going to make any bones about the situation on this fight. If anyone is seeking this particular entry out, it's probably off the back of Bane's stardom as the man who broke the Batman. So, in a way, it's probably a disappointing result to see Bane go down to a relative unknown, and fairly new character. Sorry about that.

On the flipside, hopefully it's been a pleasant introduction to one of the underrated books coming out of DC right now. For a book that's had so many ties to other events across the DC landscape, including characters appearing and involved in 52 and One Year Later, it's surprising it isn't doing better.
Then again, perhaps it's the subtlty of that fact that both makes it an enjoyable read, but gives it no benefit of reaching out to those readers who might be interested.

I was somewhat disturbed to find Checkmate languishing around the 20k sales mark, which for many is a death sentence. Only the likes of Manhunter and Spider-Girl, whose fanbases appear to be minor, but powerful, have avoided the cut of the 20k axe.

I'm not going to claim this to be the greatest book on the shelves right now.
I think that's an over estimation of the materials, which are a simplified political/spy style thriller with a few familiar faces. The casual and simple pace is reminiscent, I feel, of Gotham Central, in many ways. And likewise, the hype could potentially be an over estimation as I felt with that book.
Even so, it has been very enjoyable, and some of these potential critiques are positives, particularly for the less confident reader.

The departure of Alan Scott [the original Golden Age Green Lantern - Encyclopedia Miktanica] may be a turn-off for some, but they should be encouraged to invest in new characters like Jagger, and even the more seasoned like Mr. Terrific [JSA], Amanda Waller and Fire [Justice League International] and Sasha Bordeaux [Batman].

This particular two-part story [issues #12-#13] is a great little yarn that has the superficial fun of a Bane guest-spot, the on-going arc of Amanda Waller's rogue tactics, and also an interesting insight into some of the Brazillian Fire's background, and what drives her to be the hero she is.

All that, plus Fire's father is clearly modelled on Sean Connery, which makes for fun reading. I dare anyone who picks up these two issues (which you all should) to not read his lines like it were Connery's crotchety follow-up role to League of Extraordinary Gentlmen.

I can't say enough to encourage people to get in on this, because the only reason I haven't featured it sooner is that I haven't felt there's been a big enough fight. It's such a versatile read it combines field action with intelligent, interesting and linear story telling.

If there's a misstep in this issue, it's the Bane situation.

Bane, as I mentioned, has the claim to fame as being the man who broke Bruce Wayne's back. It's something most of us know, even if we're the most casual of comic book fans. In fact, there's probably a contingent of people on the street who know nothing of the crunch, but could still tell you Bane broke Batman's back.

Like a Doomsday, who likewise has the claim to fame of killing Superman, he's a character who's never really been free to live-up to anything else.
The powers-that-be, intelligently, chickened out of replacing Batman with a French-Canadian in a powersuit, and Bane was thus reduced to a beatable menace lacking in true motivation or relevance.

Like a lot of popular villains [including Doomsday], Bane transitioned into the anti-hero side of things, and maybe I'm a bit of a sucker for it, but I thought it worked.
I guess you could look at Bane one of two ways. He's a man who served time for crimes committed by his father, so until his release and progression into the life of a mercenary, he never really had any blood on his hands.

Thus he could; A) Have a guilt complex and do the Batman/Spider-man thing and attempt to give his life to the servitude and betterment of others. Or, alternatively, B) he could consider his entire existence one big case of double jeopardy, and live a life of indulgence at the expense of any and all who stand in his way.

Honestly, I guess even that over simplifies the character who is supposed to be a brilliant strategist. And I've enjoyed some periods, like his dealings with weening off of the venom drug, battling counterparts of said drug, and working toward his origins and peace with the Batman.
Of course, things like those just tend to come unstuck when you have events like Infinite Crisis, and the depiction here which suggests venom is back on the agenda. Which really just again throws Bane into a directionless characterization of boobery, which is not befitting of the brilliant tactician who broke the Bat.

In closing, I'm maybe going to rate this issue a bit generously, just because I think it's worth recommending to anyone visiting the site.

The Fight: 4 The Issue: 6

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Marvel Zombies (Marvel comics)
Marvel Zombies #3 When: April 2006
Why: Robert Kirkman How: Sean Phillips

The story so far...
In the universe dubbed 2149, heroes and villains are no longer of any relevant concern. However, this is not a reality of uptopian peace and harmony among man.
The super powered heroes and villains of the Marvel universe have simply become infectious walking dead -- zombies!

With humanity all but exterminated, and the efforts of the genius zombified Reed Richards having been foiled by his alternate counterpart, the zombies are tortured by their lust for fresh meat.

Their undead prayers are soon answered with the arrival of a chrome skinned spaceman called the Silver Surfer, who warns of the coming of the great devourer, but they've got news for him: HE'S the one that's going to get devoured!

Previous Form:
Silver Surfer (#28): Silver Surfer had a victory over Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner.
Marvel Zombies: They ate Magneto...

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Hulk 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Giant-Man 6 (Genius)
Speed: Nova 7 (Light Speed)
Stamina: Silver Surfer 6 (Generator)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-like)
Fighting Ability: Wolverine 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Silver Surfer 7 (Solar Power)

Ah, well, here we are again, approaching once more the monumental task of one unfortunate against the ravenous league of the Marvel Zombies. No, not the fans! The infected heroes and villains of the title of the same name.

Our format has changed considerably since the last time we did this [Marvel Zombies #1], and because of that, I feel the need to at least clarify the roster of zombified characters we are dealing with. They are as follows: Iron Man, Nova, Vulture, Falcon, Storm, Thor, Moon Knight, Black Bolt, Captain Marvel, Daredevil, Iron Fist, Wolverine, Angel, Captain America, Sub-Mariner, Crystal, Gambit, Ghost Rider, Speedball, Deadpool, Black Widow, Giant-Man, Spider-man, Hulk, Beast, Hercules and Power Man, Luke Cage.

That's twenty-seven zombie characters all up!
A pretty big ask for even the Silver Surfer, whose power cosmic provides a wide array of strengths and abilities.

A few people, in response to the Rise of the Silver Surfer trailer have expressed explicit confusion about the nature of the character's abilities. To clarify some of that (and hopefully make this section less boring than usual), the Surfer does not phase through objects.
At least, not in such bland terms. "Phasing" is an expression I would limit to a Kitty Pryde, whose chief ability relates to intangibility and passing through objects.

At various stages the extent of Silver Surfer's cosmic powers have been explored, highlighting his abilities on a molecular and atomic level. So, as far as passing through buildings and buses and whatnot, he's less "phasing" than he is displaying his brisk harmony with the universe, and molecular manipulation.
Given some time and energy, he could probably turn lead into gold, too.

So, against an army of Marvel Zombies, does this come in handy?
Maybe, but it isn't one of his chief abilities and requires some effort, so he's not about to try to turn Iron Fist into cheese mid-fight. He's more likely, as I'm sure you're about to see, mow them down with raw blasts of cosmic energy.

Since even Wolverine has been ravaged by the degenerative qualities of this particular brand of zombie-ism, it's safe to say the Surfer has a great chance of coming out on top here. That said, many of them retain their offensive powers, which does pose a problem.

I guess at the end of this we just have to look at it as one for the fans. Cheap!

The Math: Marvel Zombies (Total) Silver Surfer (Average)
The Pick: The Silver Surfer

What went down...
Trust the math to cop-out and pick both sides!
Things kick off from the opening of this action-packed issue! A zombified Tony Stark [pictured above] leads the charge, with various other flying characters hovering around for a taste of the action.

Not one for emotion at the best of times, and not really used to people doing anything but cower in fear in his presence, Silver Surfer meets their challenge willingly. His cosmic plast tears through Iron Man's armor with ease, shredding his decaying body at the waist.

The airborne torso manages to snag the Surfer's board and leg, while the Vulture and Nova swing around for a bite of the cherry. They provide sufficient interference to pull the Surfer's cosmic blast off course.
It narrowly misses Stark's head, leaving him free to ravenously attempt to take a bite out of the chrome thigh before him. His teeth chip on the cosmic wrap, much to the Surfer's stoic disgust.

"In all my travels -- I have never encountered such creatures!"
He frees himself of the full nelson, and fires off devestating blasts at Nova and Captain Mar-Vell, penetrating gut and face respectively.

MJOLNOWNED~!!!A lurking Thor makes his presence known, swinging his mighty hammer Mjolnir with a thundering KROOM!
The force of the blow knocks the Silver Surfer from his board, but likewise shatters the stone head of the Asgardian hammer. Perhaps the barer was no long worthy...

Landing hard on the apocalyptic street level below, the harbinger from space finds himself with many more abominations to contend with.

Colonel America leads the charge, promising double rations to the man or woman who makes the kill. Something easier said than done. The Vulture and Moon Knight each take the brunt of cosmic blasts, followed by Namor, and Falcon.

Charging through some of the other street level characters, Wolverine declares his intentions, but is quickly embarrassed.
The mutant takes a swipe with his adamantium claws, but while the skeleton is willing, the flesh is weak. His claws and forearm tear straight through his failing skin and flesh as he strikes the Surfer's sturdy chest.

With his healing factor unable to fight the decomposition, and no ligaments to contain his adamantium laced bones, Wolverine trims the fat. With his good arm, he slices away at the exposed bones and ragged edges of torn skin and muscle.
At this time, he feels a tap at his ankle.

The upper torso of Iron Man asks Wolverine for a lift, and with his one good arm, he's all too happy to oblige a fastball special.

Iron Man hurtles through the falling and fighting bodies of Speedball, Ghost Rider, Deadpool and others, as Gambit's disembodied head floats across the battlefield. Giant-Man arrives from his lab in time to witness the slaughter, and remains content to hideout in the shadows of the alleyways for the time being.

Meanwhile, on the sidelines, Bruce Banner and Spider-man are both carrying prominent injuries. Banner, with a hole in his gut, feels the hunger gnawing, while Spidey metaphorically gnaws at himself, relieving his body of a useless, dangling leg. By then, Banner is no more, and Hulk has entered the fight.

Don't make him hungry. You wouldn't like him when he's hungry!

The Surfer continues to expell his energies, fending off the never-ending physical onslaught of the zombie armada.

Beast, Black Bolt and others are tossed aside as the rampaging Hulk charges at the first signs of food! He snatches the Surfer from Beast's grip, and scoops him up valiantly in a cradle, declaring "the silver man" as his.

The Surfer has other ideas, firing off a double barrelled blast of cosmic energy at point blank. The gambit is enough to free him from the green goliath's grip, and gives him an opportunity to reunite with his surfboard.

With Colonel America and others in pirsuit, it is again the Hulk who gets the benefit of the alien. Hulk's mighty leap sees him landing atop the chrome herald, forcing them again away from the intergalactic surfboard.

Furious about the damage suffered at the Surfer's blast; a charred face Hulk, seething with strength, guarantees the Silver Surfer regret his resistence.

The Hulk's teeth and jaws prove powerful enough to penetrate the Silver Surfer's hardy exterior. He crunches down, biting the head off like a crazed rockstar.
The cosmic energies housed within spew forth from both the Hulk's mouth, and the gaping neck of the gleeming herald to Galactus.

Giant-Man steps out of the shadows to give Iron Man and Spidey a helping hand toward the feeding. Thor, Wolverine, Powerman and Colonel America are all quick to get their fill, before having the torn body snatched away by Giant-Man.

As things start to get nasty amongst the squabbling zombies, Colonel America makes the discovery that they have inherited some of the Surfer's power by feasting on his chromed flesh. He does so by blasting Beast's objecting head off.

The hammer...
Is there any way being eaten could make you the victor? With the killing blow struck by the Hulk, I declare the Marvel Zombies victorious! Assists for all, with Hulk picking up the kill!

I've probably gone a bit generous on this one. There were a few characters thrown in there getting the assist who really weren't seen to be all that effective. Crystal shows up for a single panel, as best as I can recall at 2:30am.
There's some implication that Gambit is about to do something pretty spectacular, but the biggest scenes for the Cajun are being blasted through the chest, and his decapitated head being thrown across the background.

Still, I guess thems the breaks when we dare to do these BIG superhero battles on Secret Earths. They're usually a bit of fun to read, but when it comes to recapping and judging, it can be a bit of a pain in the ol' arse, if I may say so.

A lot of love being thrown the Marvel Zombies way again with the recent Army of Darkness vs Marvel Zombies mini-series.
I haven't had the chance to pick up any issues yet, but I do have one distinct problem with the project. No, it's not the longevity of the concept, and it isn't anything to do with burning sacred cows. It's the longterm logic of it.

As near as I can tell, the series is set before this particular mini we reviewed here today [Marvel Zombies], but that means Ash and the Army of Darkness intellectual properties, rights and trademarks are being tied into something that will inevitably outlast any agreement between the involved parties.
So not only do you have a concept from an unrelated medium impeding on proceedings, but there's the real likelihood that it will prevent any canonical reference to this period of the past.

Of course, I might be scaremongering there. It might not really matter, and certainly for the on-going adventures of the Marvel Zombies, I can't imagine it will. I'm very much looking forward to the upcoming storyarc with Black Panther and the new Fantastic Four.

Dramatic resonances of the Black Panther involvement aside [BP is a surviving human in Marvel Zombies], I just think it's a nice change of pace to be seeing quirky concepts like this being drifted toward the 'serious' business.
It could very easily overstay it's welcome, and cross into in-your-face mundanity, but for the time being I watch with interest.

On another related note -- if you backtrack through the downing of what went, you'll notice during Thor's moment of glory I made reference to Mjolnir.
The hammer explodes upon impact with the Surfer, which isn't really what Mjolnir is known for in the regular universe, so it potentially answers a question I would have asked: -- Is zombie Thor still worthy of lifting the enchanted hammer?

I guess you could theorize that deep-down he is worthy, and that the spell is somewhat robotic or mechanical in it's determination. You could extrapolate to come up with some sort of meta-mystic theory that the hammer shattered because it was weakened byproxy by the infection.
Or you could just say it was a fun moment, with a bit of creative oversight.

Certainly, despite an upcoming prequel, the series does not feel like something carefully crafted and built atop lengthy planning. Which is where some of my concerns for the Zombies franchise enter the picture, but we'll burn it as it comes.

Ah, we can also harken back to a discussion had previously [What if...? #24], where I asked how Wolverine, healing factor and all, could be infected to begin with. Apparently the proposition here is that the zombie infection has simply overpowered his regenerative capabilities.
It's a simple solution, but I can't help but think it isn't what I'd go with...

Well, it's getting late and I'm probably minutes away from getting incoherrent, so I'll wrap it up here. Stay tuned for next week when we wrap up with a MAJOR finale for What If Wednesdays, and fight out where we're going next in the May Punch-Up! Cheers!

The Fight: 5 The Issue: 5.5