MONTHLY PUNCH-UP #16 (April 2007)
BATMAN versus THE JOKER
The Clown at Midnight (DC)
Where: Batman #663 When: April 2007
Why: Grant Morrison How: John Van Fleet & Todd Klein
If you haven't heard the hook for Batman #663, you probably haven't been around the comic scene the past few months, because while Grant Morrison writing Batman might not be news anymore -- Grant Morrison shaking things up most certainly is.
Rather ironically, this issue features something not seen in mainstream comics for probably a decade, and that's prose. The last time I remember seeing this attempted in a major on-going series it was a David Michelinie flip feature in Spectacular Spider-man #220.
So anyway, how is that ironic? Well, it was one of a string of uncanny coincidences between the major comics world and the small press musings of yours truly. Of course, in truly frustrating fashion nothing came of my work, but that doesn't mean we didn't all have fun! (Crooked Yellow Grin, Adventures of Mr. Cairo).
Moving along, there's more to this book than meets the eye.
Not only does it have the unique feature of throwing back to the pulp origins of the medium, but it also features artwork by John Van Fleet, whose unique CG images are integrated into the sketchy presentation of the book.
Given the nature and setting of the tale, and the stagnant, inhuman maquettes that represent the humans, I actually think there's a suitably eerie, almost Silent Hill-esque nature to the artwork that lends a great deal to the story.
Positioning me in contrast to most critics of the issue.
I guess what really worked against this book, for me, was an issue of style.
I'm not a big prose fan in general, but the overly elaborative kinds of prose, that spend an excessive amount of time on descriptions of descriptions tend to get to me, and while this book isn't terminal, it's certainly the bulk of the first few pages.
If you can navigate your way beyond Morrison's wordy allusions, you'll eventually crack a pretty decent Joker story, which is perhaps unfortunately for those interested, tonally removed from the bulk of the run.
For me, I actually like the shift. Morrison and DC's generally friendlier take on the Batman character isn't for me, so this book takes it to a place that was much more inclined to delight me. It's more along the lines of what I'd probably like to see from the Joker too, more or less. Removed from the homicidal trickster we even saw in Paul Dini's recently acclaimed work. [Detective Comics #826]
Although, one of the conceits of the story is to attempt to incorporate that, and other takes on the Joker, into Morrison's theory of the 'super-personas,' previously established in his Arkham Asylum mini-series.
We join the fix with Joker recovered in a mental hospital, and killing his way through the staff after rebirthing himself and rescarring his face.
This follows on from events earlier in Morrison's run, where a broken Gotham police officer shot Joker in the face with a shotgun. Hence rehabilitation and facial reconstruction...
Harley Quinn joins the Joker having followed a series of clues, but what she doesn't count on is the shift in "Mistah Jay"'s personality. She doesn't count on the fact that he has grown tired of her and her cutesy ways.
She fullfils her purpose, luring the Batman to the scene of Joker's reawakening as something horrible and terrifying, blissfully unaware that Batman is just there to witness her death. By killing the one he loved Joker can ascend to being something far more than human, in his own demented estimation, at least.
Batman, understanding the language of the Joker, challenges Harley's disbelief.
The Joker holds her with a razor blade to her neck, and through broken tissue Joker muffles something about it being better if Harley looked more like he.
Harley submits and the Batman is forced to pounce.
They land on a gurney, the Joker's wirey frame collapsing in a tangle before shifting itself back into place like it always does. The Batman uses his superior fighting skills to subdue the clown prince of crime, and attempts to make it clear that it wasn't he who shot him.
Joker plunges the razor into Batman's forearm and drags it down across the palm of his glove. Ignoring the pain the hero snaps the blade defiantly in his bleeding hand, and follows through to drive his elbow into the pale stitched chin beneath him.
Joker continues to bite and snap at his arch-nemesis, spitting bits of the poisonous goo that courses through his veins and vacilitated his escape.
Harley Quinn sobs in the corner like a child witnessing another night of violence between her once loving parents.
Batman sternly denies the Joker's attempts to leave, "You're going nowhere."
The two rivals stare each other down. "If you don't turn around and walk back to your padded cell, I'll put you down like a dog," Batman says. "I promise."
Joker slurs something about red and black, like a bat, but Batman cannot make it out. Joker surrenders, acknowledging that he could never kill the straight man of his deranged comedy routine. Then, with that confession, he charges at him screaming like something unholy and deranged. Something stops him in his tracks, though.
"You gotta stop ignoring me, Mistah Jay."
Harley Quinn returns the favour to her jilted lover with rosey blood red stains from a bullet bouquet.
The Batman drags the broken murderer by his twisted arm, deeper into the labyrinthine hospital. The cycle ends anew.
The Fix: 5.5 The Issue: 6
Winner: Harley Quinn & Batman
The Top Five...
#1 Sub-Mariner (new) (new) (Marvel)
Class: [UBER-hero] Last Opponent: [Sue Storm (wink wink)]
Win Percentage: [100%] Features: [MULTIPLE times]
Having spent his career as the measuring stick by which Aquaman is ridiculed, Sub-Mariner enters the top five purely by sheer force of awesomeness. His abilities include flight, super-strength, and so much power and manliness, he doesn't even require pants.
Truth be told, the greatest differences between the surface world and Atlantis have revolved around the absurdity of pants. Namor is so incredibly awesome he does not even require such embarassingly modest garments as trousers.
He scoffs Aquaman, and his stupid trousers. Only for the utmost special occasions will he be so gracious as to lower himself to the modesty of meer mortals.
Namor will continue to feature heavily on the website, because of his fantastic power. All who do not submit to the will of the Sub-Mariner shall fear the adamantium smearing sting of his super-powered fist. A fist that is invulnerable to the tiny chompers of pathetic vermin like pirhanna. IMPERIUS REX!!!
#2 Captain America (RE) (4) (Marvel)
Class: [SUPER soldier] Last Opponent: [Momma Stark]
Win Percentage: [99%] Features: 
Even dead Captain America just keeps bringing it. Why?
Because he's Captain freaking America, bitch. He was training little kids in panties for war before yo moma was even born!
Dense? Retarded? He's the god damn super soldier! You don't stop him with a bullet to the shoulder, and a round or two to the gut from a brainwashed ex-girlfriend! Lead IS a mineral Captain America's steely body requires!
He's absorbs them bullets, and then craps out a collection of commemorative coins featuring some of the greatest Presidents starting with the likes of Washington and Lincoln, all the way up to Morgan Freeman!
Cap's bringing it on Secret Earths, and you better recognise!
#3 Rainbow Mika (new) (new) (Capcom)
Class: [Wrestler Mallow] Last Opponent: [Zangief's face]
Win Percentage: [78%] Features: 
Even though we might all admire some of R. Mika's other qualities, you've got to give it up to the wrestling chick who can get business done!
It was International Woman's Day and Mika was representing after gay icon, Zangief, grabbed her ample hynie in a none too subtle feature from the boys at UDON. Oh, those wacky noodle-eating characters! What will they do next?!
Maybe we'd grab it too, but for the tenacity to launch your butt at a hairy, seven foot tall Russian, R. Mika makes her way straight into the top five! HOT!!!
#4 Kraven the Hunter (new) (new) (Marvel)
Class: [Hunter] Last Opponent: [Dirt]
Win Percentage: [100%] Features: 
Actually, Sergei Kravinoff doesn't deserve to be in the top five, but once we admitted Captain America he cited precedent. What were we supposed to do people? It was let him into the top five, or he would pull a Zangief, and frankly, I don't much fancy launching myself butt-first at a frisky Russian. No offense, Mika.
#5 Black Adam (new) (new) (DC)
Class: [Human/Atlantean Hybrid] Last Opponent: [Earth]
Win Percentage: [100%] Features: 
I don't know if anyone's been watching DC's 52 lately, but it raises a valid and interesting point that I'd like to discuss here.
Even though we debate and question things like whether or not Captain America ever gunned down a stinkin piece of Ratzi scum during the Second World War. That's fair enough. But at the end of the day, even Cap tells us it isn't cool to go around killing people. It was the forties, and it's just not kosher anymore. You should also call them "Jewish-Americans", too. And pay them when they draw your comics... But I digress...
Black Adam, crazy world leader that he is, just tore through a nation.
He probably killed in the millions, and among those were probably just a lot of hot headed innocents who didn't take too kindly to being rained down upon with broken bones and bodily organs.
And you know what? Even Batman can't top that.
I LOVE BLACK ADAM!!!
Alright, we've got a ship to run here, so I'm going to pansy out a little bit.
Since we overlooked the occasion last year, I thought it might be nice to indulge in the antics of April Fool's Day. Usually I don't bother, because we're fooling noone, but hey. Let's have a little bit of fun!
For those hyper ventilating now as they try to calculate the 2007 top five for this month, allow me to offer some relief: #1 Spider-man; #2 Batman; #3 Ghost Rider; #4 Wolverine; #5 Angel.
I'd love to tell you that last one was a joke, but alas, the numbers do not lie.
And now, on to the cumulative results, where the unthinkable has finally happened. After fifteen months of dominance since his first appearance, Batman is dethroned as the number one fighting superhero on Secret Earths!
1. Spider-man (+1) (M)
2. Batman (-1) (DC)
3. Wolverine (-) (M)
4. Iron Man (-) (M)
5. Daredevil (-) (M)
6. Superman (+1) (DC)
7. Captain America (+1) (M)
8. Hulk (-2) (M)
9. Elektra (+4) (M)
10. Steel (+8) (DC)
18. Ghost Rider (new) (M)
19. Venom Symbiote (-10) (M)
20. Beast (-) (M)
21. Thor (-11) (M)
22. Sub-Mariner (-1) (M)
23. Bullseye (+47) (M)
25. Storm (-1) (M)
29. Human Torch (+1) (M)
38. Black Cat (new) (M)
56. Winter Soldier (new) (M)
57. Black Bolt (new) (M)
58. Rainbow Mika (new) (Cap)
59. Sakura (new) (Cap)
64. Venom [Mac Gargan] (-30) (M)
65. Angel (+2) (M)
75. She-Hulk (-7) (M)
76. The Punisher (-23) (M)
77. The Trapster (-13) (M)
89. Colossus (-4) (M)
91. Natasha Irons (-9) (DC)
95. Photon (-3) (M)
96. Radioactive Man (+7) (M)
123. Starfox (new) (M)
124. Penance (new) (M)
125. Swordsman (new) (M)
128. Wonder Woman (-9) (DC)
135. Dr. Strange (new) (M)
136. Songbird (+25) (M)
137. Moonstone (+23) (M)
138. Tigra (-32) (M)
210. Slam Bradley (new) (DC)
211. Lex Luthor (new) (DC)
212. Echo (new) (M)
213. Dan Hibiki (new) (Cap)
214. Zangief (new) (Cap)
215. Jack Flag (new) (M)
221. Magneto (-17) (M)
222. Brick (-17) (DC)
So, there you have it folks, we wrap up another month and head into a new one. Being unwell last week, I have slipped behind a little bit. I've got some scanning to do, but I'll be getting Marvel Monday's Fin Fang Foom post up ASAP.
Rather than delay things further trying to make up the Wednesday post that was lost, expect to see that rewrite bumped to this coming Wednesday. Apologies to all who logged on Wednesday to find that.
It was the biggest week in the site's history, not only featuring three times the entries, but also three times the visitors! Keeping the hit counter ticking over is the only incentive I have for this site, so I appreciate that a great deal!
I've been pleased to see the site even being referenced as a resource, as I hoped it would. It popped up recently on the Spawn.com message boards, although, if anyone is reading, it was actually an incorrect reference.
Later this month we'll probably do a feature on the issue of She-Hulk where she relieves Titania of the Power Gem, just to help anyone out who's wondering about how the events of the new Illuminati series have unfolded.
I'm also hoping to inject much more DC into April!
May will have a special twist that's again tilted toward Marvel, so I really feel an obligation to those of the DC Nation who are logging in to follow their guys.
Especially now that Batman has finally been toppled from the number one spot on the cumulative rankings. That's right folks, that was NOT an April Fool's gag!
It's interesting to note that Spider-man took the top spot (statistically) with the same amount of features as Batman, so you can't even call favourtism on that one. Of course, it brings a whole new flavour to the argument that Batman is too unbeatable. Just one of the many twists we hope to uncover during day-to-day fun here on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths.
Going back to traffic, I have to throw a big shout out to a couple websites who have been kind enough to throw a link up to us, and in turn showed up on the referrers list! The Four Color Media and Comic By Comic!
Each are fantastic blogsites in their own right, and I greatly appreciate their support. Inter-relations seems to be a big part of becoming part of the blogosphere, and while we're still getting snubbed by the 'bigger' blogs, I like to think this is a move in the right direction. Thanks guys!
I'm now officially out of money and energy, so I'm going to wrap this up.
Some updates I'm looking forward to here, so fingers crossed we can keep the ship running smoothly. And hey, feel welcomed to drop a comment.
In the mean time, don't believe the hype. We were Friday Fight Night before it was cool!
BONUS!: Hey, also! If you didn't notice, we added some fun interactive games to the page! See how many Avengers and X-Men you can name in ten minutes!
Is it as easy as you think? Can you do it without cheating? Fun!
If I find the time, we might get some some more of that action!
March Hit Count: [3350/8558] (+2089)