Tuesday, May 01, 2007

MONTHLY PUNCH-UP #17 (May 2007)
Touchdown (DC)
Where: Infinite Crisis #6 When: May 2006
Why: Geoff Johns How: Phil Jimenez, Jerry Ordway, George Perez, Ivan Reis (If you know which, post a comment)

Quick Fix...
There's a very simple reason for going back to Infinite Crisis for this month's Quick Fix. Actually, there are more accurately two reasons. The most culturally relevant is the nature of the story, which has recently been revealed to have had greater repercussions than we actually knew.

As of 52 #52 the revelation has been revealed that the multiverse within the DC universe has been reduced to fifty-two very specific Earths. From what I gather, each Earth was apparently identical to the DC planet we read, but the time travelling inteference of Mister Mind has resulted in anomolies on each. Thus, we have places like the Wildstorm Universe.

The secondary reason, of course, is an opportunity to talk about Black Adam, who has easily burst out of season 06/07 as the most improved player in mainstream superhero comics. I struggle to think of any character that even challenges his rise to stardom in scope, or in creative quality, which has been with Black Adam in abundance right back from his return in JSA under Geoff Johns [and David Goyer].

I'm still a few entries behind, so I won't brood on this section too much, particularly given that this is a quick fix in the truest sense (spanning barely half a page of comic), but there are a few things that should be said.

I tend to have a lot to say about the modern comics reader, and how certain things are approached. That's probably no different here. Infinite Crisis was dealt it's fair share of criticisms, but for me, as a reader excited more than intimidated by the unknown and historical, this issue had a lot to enjoy.

Johns employs his fanatic knowledge and interest in approaching the DC Universe without a sly smirk, to bring the entire range of DC characters to the forefront in this mini-series. Granted, the vignette storytelling style does not leave room to elaborate, but it allows the freeflow of important bits to drive the story through it's necessary stages and moments. This particular issue pays service to many ideas, including Superboy, who is ultimately terminated in this particular issue.

The benefits of the vignette storytelling may not be seen fully until 52, where a similar structure is put upon the various central characters of that series. Not that I mean to imply Johns invented the concept of switching between stories and locales. This perhaps just laid out a positive way of looking at the concept.

In this particular fight Psycho-Pirate, a fan favourite character who was said to be one of the few to remember the Crisis of Infinite Earths, is taking the fight the heroes of the DCU.

Just as the character prepares to use his emotive abilities to drive Powergirl to beat The Ray in a bitter rage, an unexpected is checked in by Black Adam.
The Psycho-Pirate attempts to manipulate fear into the heart of his former ally, but the will of Black Adam is indomitable. The crisis-survivor doesn't last long.

With his super strength, Adam pokes through the Pirate's head with his fingers, to the shock and disgust of the heroes present. Powergirl remarks, "Was that necessary, Adam?", to which he coldly replies, "Absolutely."

It's this cold, yet purposeful and driven characterization that has made Black Adam one of the most compelling characters coming from DC comics. He really is the most valuable player of 2007, and although his Shazam powers were recently stripped from him in the World War III off-shoot of 52, I eagerly look forward to seeing his future. A future that presumably will involve delving into his past, if not recapturing his power and seeking retribution from someone.

The Fix: 6 The Issue: 7
Winner: Black Adam

The Top Five...
#1 Spider-man (-) (9) (Marvel)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Atlantean Military]
Win Percentage: [73.33%] Features: [15]
Season 2006: [#2] Current Ranking: [#1]

With Spider-man 3 hitting cinemas this month, and in turn five Wednesdays dedicated to the web-slinging hero, it seems unlikely his sticky fingers are going to slip off this particular wall.

Web-Slinging Wednesdays will feature the three major villains from the big screen sequel, as well as an all in fight against the 'Sinister Twelve', and a special fifth week bonus that will see Spidey tackle one of his oldest foes.

There doesn't seem to be anything on the horizon for Spider-man, which might lead one to speculate whether or not he has the eight-legs to last the year at number one. After May, we might find ourselves all Spidey'd out!

#2 Batman (-) (15) (DC)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Superman]
Win Percentage: [78.57%] Features: [14]
Season 2006: [#1] Current Ranking: [#2]

Despite seizing the top spot back twice during the month; Batman again finds himself in unfamiliar territory this year, trailing the all-encompassing dominance of Spider-man in 2007.

In Season '06 Batman shook off hot competition from Daredevil, Captain America, Hulk and Superman, but with the Batbooks suffering from a glut of fill-ins, there isn't much promising an upswing for the character.

Never the less the longevity of Batman and his relevance as a supreme fighting character cannot be denied. While a slip may be inevitable, history may suggest his longterm success may be even more assured than Spider-man's.
News of 2008's Dark Knight will no doubt be key to keeping in the picture.

#3 Wolverine (+1) (10) (Marvel)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Atlantean Military]
Win Percentage: [47.1%] Features: [17]
Season 2006: [#4] Current Ranking: [#3]

Wolverine claws his way up the ranks, mooching somewhat off of the success of his involvement in things like the Avengers double header the past two Mondays.

Wolverine, like all of the top five, has a connection to film/television projects.
While the Wolverine solo-movie remains uncertain, the character has taken a title role in a new cartoon; Wolverine and The X-Men. The series appears to share, if nothing else, a stylistic direction with X-Men: Evolution, and will join Spider-man on the small screen.

Despite utter disinterest generated by Jeph Loeb's current efforts on the core title, and the unnecessary plodding of Daniel Way on Origin; Wolverine continues to force his relevance on a site dedicated to big-two superhero fights.

#4 Ghost Rider (-1) (2) (Marvel)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [The Avengers]
Win Percentage: [66.7%] Features: [3]
Season 2006: [N/A] Current Ranking: [#16]

With the success of the Nic Cage feature film now in the past; Ghost Rider's days in the top five have to be considered numbered as he slides down the list. If anything, it's surprising the character has endured in the spotlight, carried partly by an obscure cameo in Marvel Zombies.

Efforts to revive and capitalize on the character's mainstream success have been average, at best. While the new on-going book does not suffer quite to the degree of Guggenheim and Chaykin's Blade, it continues to unimpress, with bland storylines and significant character appearances of only a superficial nature.

Of course, the irony is that an upcoming World War Hulk tie-in issue seems shoe horned at best. As much as I'd love to be squeezing these kinds of issues onto the site, for the fight alone, unless someone donates some dosh into the PayPal account, it's not going to get a purchase here. And that's probably a good thing.

Marvel continues to be at a loss for what to do with characters who attract mainstream attention out of their comic book obscurity. With other seventies revivals like Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman, this is especially disappointing.

#5 Green Arrow (RE) (4) (DC)
Class: [Champion] Last Opponent: [Superman]
Win Percentage: [66.7%] Features: [6]
Season 2006: [#11] Current Ranking: [#9]

Green Arrow makes a charge for the top just in time to save DC from embarassment in the 2007 top five! A solo victory over Red Hood, coupled with a guest-spot in Dark Knight, enough to secure.

As much as I've enjoyed the Batman/Red Hood involvement in the title, cancellation looms for the Green Arrow comic, as the character begins grooming for the new year-long event, Countdown. Whether or not this is going to be a good thing for the character remains to be seen, but if 52 is any indication, it might not be until 2008 that we see any real action for GA.

Interestingly enough, Green Arrow represents the only top five contribution this month that hasn't been in a feature film. Even so, the media continues to have a subversive hand in our decision, the character being a focus in TV's Smallville, as part of the current Justice League inspired stories.

Super Stock...
Wonder Woman plummets to new lows as the only member of the DC trinity to be without a victory!1. Spider-man (-) (M)
2. Batman (-) (DC)
3. Wolverine (-) (M)
4. Iron Man (-) (M)
5. Hulk (+3) (M)
6. Daredevil (-1) (M)
9. Green Arrow (+2) (DC)
15. Human Torch (+14) (M)
16. Ghost Rider (+2) (M)
19. Winter Soldier (+37) (M)
20. Venom Symbiote (-1) (M)
21. Storm (+4) (M)
23. Wasp (+7) (M)
24. Red Hood (-9) (DC)
30. Atom (+49) (DC)
31. Shadowcat (+59) (M)
32. Black Widow (+82) (M)
35. Moon Knight (+20) (M)
36. Black Bolt (+21) (M)
37. Black Adam (new) (DC)
38. Black Mask (-4) (DC)
50. Machine Man (-4) (M)
61. Harley Quinn (new) (DC)
62. Crimson Dynamo (new) (M)
63. Tommy Jagger (new) (DC)
64. Flash [Barry Allen] (new) (DC)
66. Silver Surfer (-39) (M)
70. Invisible Woman (-42) (M)
73. War Machine (-41) (M)
82. Fin Fang Foom (+81) (M)
83. MODOK (+94)
87. Wingless Wizard (-15) (M)
88. Venom [Eddie Brock] (-10) (M)
100. Phoenix [Rachel Summers] (-8) (M)
105. Gambit (+11) (M)
106. Speedball (+18) (M)
107. Yellowjacket [Hank Pym] (+3) (M)
MODOK flies up the charts after a victory against the combined might of some of Marvel's biggest hitters! MODOK: Designed only for KICKING ASS!133. Isis (new) (DC)
134. Nova (new) (M)
135. Vulture (new) (M)
136. Captain Marvel (new) (M)
137. Crystal (new) (M)
143. Luke Cage (-9) (M)
150. Falcon (+30) (M)
151. Hercules (+34) (M)
152. Uncle Sam (new) (DC)
155. Phantom Lady (new) (DC)
156. The Ray (new) (DC)
157. Doll Man (new) (DC)
158. The Human Bomb (new) (DC)
159. Zorrm (new) (DC)
200. Patriot (-14) (M)
233. Karate Kid (new) (DC)
238. Yurrd (new) (DC)
239. Azraeuz (new) (DC)
240. Roggra (new) (DC)
241. Titanium Man (new) (M)
242. Mysterio (new) (M)
243. Crossbones (new) (M)
244. Attuma (new) (M)
245. Lord Krang (new) (M)
250. Wonder Woman (-122) (DC)
255. The Joker (-48) (DC)
256. Bane (-96) (DC)
257. Brick (-35) (DC)
258. Magneto (-37) (M)

#8 Hulk
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Atlantean Military]
Win Percentage: [50%] Features: [12]
Season 2006: [#6] Current Ranking: [#5]

I'll be honest, if it wasn't for the Quick Fix, I'd be using this opportunity to talk about DC's MVP, Black Adam. With that subject well and truly covered, and more to come, there was only one other character I could possibly feature this month. In fact, I didn't want to feature this guy, but I had to.

World War Hulk has begun, and if you've seen the Marvel solcitations for the next few months, he's going to be making himself nice and at home when he comes back to Earth. I'd love to be speaking from the experience of the first issue, which is on sale now, but unfortunately comics are very expensive, and noone has made any PayPal donations. Not that I'm hinting or anything...

But seriously, the Civil War is officially over, simmering down to be The Initiative, which is more of an overall theme and plot for the Marvel universe to deal with. So, does Hulk have the legs to carry a multi-title crossover off the heals of Marvel's biggest events? I'd love to say no. I haven't enjoyed the Hulk in a long time, and even after enjoying much of Civil War, I have to wonder if this is really the answer. Is it really worth another Paul Jenkins Frontline, even at half the issues? I don't know... One thing's for sure, the Hulk is a character to watch in this middle part of 2007!

The Hammer...
What the heck is even going on? Where am I?!
It's been one of those months, and it's probably going to continue. Delays abundant, largely due to dentist appointments, and there's another one coming up, so we'll have to play it by ear. Sorry guys.
Hey, maybe I might actually get something done this time!

So with big issues coming out like the resolution to 52 and World War's III and Hulk hitting the stands, it's just killing me not having the money to pick these things up. As we discussed this month [Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #9], I do things the right way! Every panel you see on this site is scanned by yours truly, for review purposes only. Which means when the money runs dry, as it tends to do, I'm up the creek when it comes to keeping you informed on recent and exciting comic bash ups! Bummer!
If you feel my year and a half tenure as your number one source of fun and facts has earned it, PayPal donations are welcomed, but certainly not required. You can find the donate button in the right menu somewhere back up near the top.

Speaking of the menu, you might also notice a new header for the "User Top 10". This is just another opportunity to help you navigate your way through topics of interest, but using the hits each character label gets to determine a top ten list as influenced by you. Because let's face it, not everyone is interested in my choices that lead us back to Batman being in the top two...
So, if you want to influence that, do so by following the links to your favourite characters!

Going back to the issue of money, you might be wondering why I'm so strapped for cash. Well, aside from everything else, there is the small issue of financing the print run of my first forray into independent story telling. It's taken quite a while to actually get something hammered out -- long than I care to think -- but finally The Kirby Martin Inquest will be available for purchase in the coming months! If you're interested in learning more about this series, you can check out the preview available on ComicSpace!

I'd love to hear from you and get your thoughts on what you've seen.
You might be surprised to find the writer behind Secret Wars on Infinite Earths has NOT done a comic solely about fisticuffs, but rather a study in introducing a depthy character. I've gone to great lengths to try to use the canvas to fill you in and really bring you in to the character of White Ghost/Charles Scott, and the world he lives in. Don't be fooled, though. The series will pack action a plenty as we dive into the seedy criminal underworld ruled by Anthony Romano, and various other characters. In many ways this is a fairly ambitious first project, but it's the kind of story I've always wanted to see.

Fans of Judd Winick's work on Batman, or even Brubaker's Daredevil will probably be able to slot into some of the logic that will unfold as the series progresses. If you've been reading my posts here, you've seen me talk about the "chessboard of continuity" a lot. Take a look at the preview, and prepare yourselves for more info in the coming months on how you can get a hold of that.
The series features pencils by Pedro Cruz, and cover artwork by former Shadowhawk artist and cover artist for an upcoming Brubaker series -- Ted Wing III.

That's probably just about everything covered!
With the addition of the new stat counter I'm getting some great data on how you're finding Secret Earths, and what you're looking for. A lot of Google searching for Spidey 3 information, so hopefully we'll be able to at least service the lighter side of those needs with the upcoming Web-Slinging Wednesdays.
Hey, maybe I should go get on the scans for 'tomorrow's' Sandman update!

All the bet guys!

BONUS!: Hey, if anyone can narrow down which artist drew the Black Adam/Psycho-Pirate portion of this issue of Infinite Crisis, drop me a comment to let me know! You don't have to be registered to comment, and I will be eternally grateful. And hey, thems bragging rights, junior!

April Hit Count: [4235/12793] (+885)

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