Friday, June 01, 2007

MONTHLY PUNCH-UP #18 (June 2007)
A Journey into Mystery (DC/Marvel)
Where: JLA/Avengers #1 When: September 2003
Why: Kurt Busiek How: George Perez

Quick Fix...
I run a website dedicated to superhero fisticuffs, so I make no bones about loving a good old fashioned superhero universe crossover. Even with inter-company politics and bad writing, it's just very hard to spoil something as inherently fun as seeing two characters who should never meet - meet, and fight!

One of the most requested and sought after battles on Secret Earths has been just such a battle, and I feel it's about damn time I address this. But before we get to the punching, I like to warm up with a little bit of invested discussion.

This was the mini-series that was twenty-years in the making, and right at this moment it couldn't be any more unlikely. In fact, coming out in 2003, it's probably a small miracle it made it that far given the tensions between powers at Marvel and DC respectively. Certainly the removal of Bill Jemas from the Marvel side of the equation probably hasn't helped things, as we recall the tit-for-tat that has gone on between the two companies.

There's a friendly rivalry to Marvel and DC, that makes collecting and reading comics a bit of fun. Read interviews by Jeph Loeb over the past few years, and you get a great sense of this as his heckling switches sides like his exclusivity contract. That said, there seems to be a sincere underlying dislike between the conduct and interests of people representing the two parties.

We get a great sense of this conflict over the much talked about Daredevil/Batman crossover concocted by Brian Bendis and Ed Brubaker, while he was still writing for DC. The series - blocked by DC - resulted in the now infamous convention confrontation between a panel-hosting Bendis, and run-in interferer, DC Editor, Bob Wayne. It was actually a civil debate about what was and wasn't said, but it's more fun to make it sound like a wrestling clash.

So, considering the iffy blood between the companies, consider this clash as one for the ages. It might be the first and last time we see these two characters clash in this decade, if not years to come:

Setting the scene, various wacky cosmic occurances are manifesting in the depths of space, resulting in overlapping and misplacing of various pieces of each universe. The respective teams face off against Terminus and Starro, each succeeded against their counterpart's space-borne villain.

Metron and Grandmaster crossover in a similar fashion to warn each team of the impending doom, and send them after twelve artifacts of particular significance, thus the teams are spurred to cross over the threshold of realms, and seek out salvation for their universes. It is a task all too familiar. [
DC versus Marvel]

MJOLNOWNED~!!!Baffled by a universe that openly worships it's heroes, the Avengers find themselves observing a very different world in the DC Universe. Having already confronted each other over one of the artifacts, the Justice League, led by Superman, approach the heroes who do not belong in their world.

An uncharacteristically aggresive Superman accuses the Avengers of being invaders. Captain America, likewise acting a little odd, readies his team for a full fledged battle with the Justice League. Thor is all too pleased to oblige.

With little or no warning, Thor lets loose with Mjolnir, striking the unsuspecting Superman with force devestating enough to throw him across the city into a distant skyscraper!

So, we conclude our look at Thor versus Superman.

HAH! You were probably expecting the follow-up, but for the time being this is the extent of the fix you're getting. Sorry folks, it's just a matter of objective thinking: Thor beats Superman. There's certainly an argument both ways, and I think there's often far too much stock put into the 'magic' theory, but at the end of the day, understandable company mandates aside, Thor deserves this one!

The Fix: 5 The Issue: 5
Winner: Thor

The Top Five...
#1 Spider-man (-) (10) (Marvel)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [
Green Goblin]
Win Percentage: [68.2%] Features: [22]
Season 2006: [#2] Current Ranking: [#1]

At the beginning of the year we toted 2007 as out with the Batman, in with the Spidey, and that's certainly been the case. With twenty-two features, Spider-man occupies more entries than even Wolverine, and has amassed a rankings lead even Batman bows before!

With Spider-man 3 out of the way and only moderately received, it might be an opportunity to cool down on Spider-man entries. Although, while Web-Slinging Wednesdays has provided a substantial lead, it will only last so long with the increased schedule of posts.

Lucky for Spidey New Avengers is hitting all the right notes finally, while the Back in Black branding meanders it's way through highs and lows including the superb new collection series, Spider-man Family.

#2 Batman (-) (16) (DC)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [
Win Percentage: [78.57%] Features: [14]
Season 2006: [#1] Current Ranking: [#2]

Despite Spidey's dominance, Batman clocks in a month-off without losing his grip on the number-two spot. During May we saw a return of Batmania as the
I Believe in Harvey Dent campaign kicked off, revealing the first glimpses of Heath Ledger as Batman nemesis - The Joker.

All signs indicate a strong showing for Batman in 2008, but in the here and now the bridging effect remains in question. Grant Morrison's work on Batman continues to unimpress, while even Paul Dini's efforts have felt a little less than primo, when they weren't interrupted by fill-in issues.

DC's had a raw deal of it lately, and I for one would like to see that rectified, and with such a narrow collection, Batman inevitably leads that charge. It might not be enough to catch the Amazing Spider-man, but it will almost certainly ensure Batman remains a looming presence in 2007.

#3 Iron Man (RE) (6) (Marvel)
Class: [Super] Last Opponent: [
The Mandarin]
Win Percentage: [64.29%] Features: [14]
Season 2006: [#3] Current Ranking: [#3]

Speaking of 2008 films, Iron Man sneaks in the backdoor to hit the Top Five for the first time in 2007. His participation in various team-up appearances, as well as several features as part of Ultimate Alliance Mondays have earned the golden avenger a spot back at the top.

Despite coming out of Civil War with a new significance in the Marvel Universe, as a character Iron Man has not prospered. His directorial role of SHIELD seems to have pulled him away from the battle, and in the [Mighty] Avengers side of things, he's the victim of Ultron and nasty circumstances.

World War Hulk promises an opportunity for Iron Man to get back into the proverbial ring, but with my budget looking as tight as it is, it'll be a small miracle if we actually get to feature any of World War Hulk. Now might be a good time to remind everyone that they're welcome to show generosity by hitting the PayPal donations button higher in the menu. HAH!

#4 Wolverine (-1) (11) (Marvel)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [
Elektra & The Hand]
Win Percentage: [50%] Features: [18]
Season 2006: [#4] Current Ranking: [#4]

Sheer volume of appearances almost always guarantees Wolverine the numbers to stay afloat, whether it be intended or not. As part of the New Avengers team, Wolverine snuck his way into a feature in May, which kept him from sliding more than one spot on the top five.

Despite promising the ultimate showdown between arch-rivals Wolverine and Sabretooth; Jeph Loeb's work on the solo title, Wolverine, has failed to deliver, which really leaves him with the incidental appearances.

Fortunately for readers, Wolverine's path has become more focused, leaving him with minimal gratuitous appearances in a Marvel Universe that is becoming far more balanced. New Avengers marks the character's key team appearance, which isn't a bad place to start, but looking at the schedule, it seems unlikely we'll be seeing Wolvie next month.

This mugshot looks too much like Bruce Willis, and not enough like Adam...#5 Black Adam (+13) (new) (DC)
Class: [Super] Last Opponent: [
Win Percentage: [100%] Features: [3]
Season 2006: [n/a] Current Ranking: [#13]

The rising star of 2007 is undoubtedly Black Adam, and as with characters passed, the fifth spot features a character we've consciously sponsored. Of course, featuring Black Adam hasn't at all been an obtuse conceit. The character has been at his very best this year, continuing out of 52 and World War III into an upcoming mini-series drawn by site favourite Doug Mahnke, and regular appearances in Countdown.

As good as all of this has been, you have to wonder if the character's path might not be diluted by the events of losing his powers, and quickly regaining them. Likewise, the sheer quantity 52 may make it difficult to sustain such a purpose driven character in the top five.

The slaughter of Bilaya guarantees he will remain the top of his field, but even with continuing successes, it might be a tough ask to see Black Adam sustain and prosper above fifth spot. Certainly an earned entrant, but presumably short-lived.

Super Stock...
Power Man, Luke Cage, punts himself up sixty-two spots as the pseudo-leader of the Secret Avengers!
1. Spider-man (-) (M)
2. Batman (-) (DC)
3. Iron Man (+1) (M)
4. Wolverine (-1) (M)
5. Daredevil (+1) (M)
6. Hulk (-1) (M)
7. Captain America (+1) (M)
8. Superman (-1) (DC)
10. Venom Symbiote (+11) (M)
11. Human Torch (+4) (M)
12. Mr. Fantastic (+2) (M)
13. Black Adam (+24) (DC)
15. Elektra (-5) (M)
16. Wasp (+7) (M)
17. Red Hood (+7) (DC)
18. Sub-Mariner (+8) (M)
21. Black Cat (+21) (M)
27. Silver Surfer (+39) (M)
29. Thing (+38) (M)
30. Invisible Woman (+40) (M)
31. War Machine (+42) (M)
35. Venom [Eddie Brock] (+53) (M)
40. Ronin [Hawkeye] (+61) (M)
41. Yellowjacket [Hank Pym] (+66) (M)
50. Aquaman (-7) (DC)
72. Spider-Woman (new) (M)
73. Deathlok (new) (M)
74. Gravity (new) (M)
75. Firebird (new) (M)
77. Iron Fist (+63) (M)
81. Luke Cage (+62) (M)
82. Dr. Strange (+64) (M)
91. Medusa (+102) (M)
92. Venom [Mac Gargan] (-20) (M)
97. Tombstone (-17) (M)
98. Sandman (-19) (M)
100. Deathstroke (-10) (DC)
145. Arachne (new) (M)
146. Century (new) (M)
150. Juggernaut (-8) (M)
158. Vulture (-23) (M)
159. USAgent (+5) (M)
200. Blacklash (-6) (M)
250. Rommbu (-5) (M)
252. Psycho-Pirate (new) (DC)
Black Adam pounds Azraeuz to the very depths of the Secret Earths rankings with a brutal defeat!253. Green Goblin [Harry Osborn] (new) (M)
254. Dragon Man (new) (M)
255. Carnage (new) (M)
256. Speedy [Mia Dearden] (new) (DC)
257. Grey Gargoyle (new) (M)
258. Electro (new) (M)
259. Shocker (new) (M)
260. Chameleon (new) (M)
261. Hydro-Man (new) (M)
262. Hammerhead (new) (M)
263. Boomerang (new) (M)
264. Ronan (new) (M)
265. The Mandarin (new) (M)
270. Green Goblin [Norman Osborn] (new) (M)
272. Wonder Woman (-2) (DC)
279. Attuma (-35) (M)
280. Azraeuz (-41) (DC)
281. Lizard (-61) (M)
282. Brick (-25) (DC)
283. Magneto (-25) (M)

#152 The Joker
Class: [Champion] Last Opponent: [
Win Percentage: [0%] Features: [2]
Season 2006: [n/a] Current Ranking: [#277]

It's all about the movies these days, and in May you couldn't escape the buzz for the currently filming Batman Begins sequel, Dark Knight.
At the center of the hype was the viral marketing campaign that revealed for the first time an official picture of Heath Ledger as The Joker on the website,
I Believe In Harvey Dent, Too.

While the movie remains a year away, the Joker has become one of the most talked about and anticipated characters to feature in any of the many superhero movies slated for the next few years. With Tim Story's failure to live up to the lofty standards of Dr. Doom, the Joker perhaps remains the most covetted villain role in superhero cinema, with a pedigree of Caesar Romero, Jack Nicholson and Mark Hamil.

As for the comics, things have simmering nicely for the character.
Recent appearances in both of the core Batman titles have ensured the expected interest in the character, with both Grant Morrison's experimental prose issue [
Batman #663] and Paul Dini's ride-from-hell [Detective Comics #826] each garnering particular acclaim from fans.

The Joker has prominent appearances currently in Countdown wrapped up in a story with Superman's pal, Jimmy Olsen; and also a big story coming up in Batman: Confidential, which will delve further into the character's origins.
So, while not typically a fighter, we've got our Eye on Joker.

#58 Silver Surfer
Class: [Cosmic] Last Opponent: [
Win Percentage: [50%] Features: [4]
Season 2006: [#21] Current Ranking: [#27]

In the more immediate future we're fixing to spend June looking at the starring characters of a different sequel - Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. It should come as little surprise that the title character would be a person of interest in the coming month.

While Silver Surfer will no doubt be at the centre of buzz for the film, expect only so much from the character here on Secret Earths. Rather than go on a Silver Surfer blitz we probably couldn't fund, we're going to isolate the members of the FF as well, spreading our attentions across the board. This will hopefully also make up for the distinct misproportion to Fantastic Four issues in my humble collection, to entries on the site, because I loves me some FF!

Silver Surfer is also registering prominent appearances in the current Fantastic Four on-going under Dwayne McDuffie (Beyond!), along with a mini-series by J. Michael Straczynski (Amazing Spider-man), Silver Surfer: Requiem.

The Hammer...
Just over a week behind now, as I type this on the evening of June 8! A pleasure to be joining you once more, having successfully completed a big month of triple entries and a whole mess of Spidey!
I've got to throw a big shout-out to Rokk's Comic Book Revolution and a medium shout-out to ComicByComic! Both sites, particularly the Revolution, have been providing us with a lot of traffic, and that's greatly appreciated! Whenever I fall behind the hits tend to die off, and then what have I got spurring me on? WHAT'S MY MOTIVATION?!

Speaking of motivation... You'll be hearing about how you can pick up the first issue of the character superhero drama, The Kirby Martin Inquest, coming in the next week or two from Nite Lite Theatre. If you want the briefest of brief sneak peaks, you can hit up the website, where the main page has five pages.
I got the proof in the mail a couple of days ago, and it's looking pretty great. Certainly some things we'll learn from, but all in all it's just great to have a finished comic in my hot little fighting hands, which are much softer than you would expect. I get a lot of comments from women, y'know.

As already discussed, we're following up Spidey 3's Web-Slinging Wednesdays with a similar scheme for the upcoming Fantastic Four sequel. Fantastic Fridays will feature a member of the hero team, culiminating in a fifth week special featuring the Silver Surfer! Watch for regular entries, focusing on DC, on Wednesdays instead of the standardized Friday. If you have OCD, I'm going to blind you to this change of order by throwing up a times table smokescreen; 9, 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63...

You may have noticed in the catch-up process that I managed to get a string of entries done daily. As we approach July, the fantastic month of my mighty birth, I contemplate the possibility of aiming for daily posts during that month. As an avid stat counter, I'd be interested in seeing how daily posts might effect the hit counts, which are always of interest.
If you would particularly like to see this done, drop a comment and offer some encouragement, because I don't nearly hear enough from you all, even though I see you coming back for more. That's right. I'm watching. ALWAYS WATCHING!!!

We'll talk more about July a month from now, but the conceit would be to cram a whole bunch of DC in those thirty-one days, to help equate for the gross imbalance in company time share. What with Ultimate Alliance Mondays running until sometime around October, it seems like the right thing to do...

ALSO, if you enjoy hitting up the site but would just generally like to see more, be a sport and support by hitting the PayPal donations. Or, if you're more interested in getting some bang for your buck, save your pennies and stay tuned for details on how you can get your hot little hands on my print-debut as writer of The Kirby Martin Inquest.

And if you're from Marvel, or DC, or Dark Horse or someone, just forego the conclusions derived from reading the blog or comic, and hire me to do some writing for you, because I really need to pay off my gambling debts... Fighting under bridges just doesn't pay like it used to. I blame Van Damme for not making more of an effort to maintain his market value...

Why would Marvel or DC be hitting us up, you ask? Well, I just want to take great pleasure in mentioning we were visited by on-the-job representitives from prominent organizations such as; Activision, Sony Online Entertainment, MSN, NBC Universal, the US Navy, Philips and Cyprus Semiconductor.
Secret Wars on Infinite Earths wants to offer a big thanks for the interest of people from these organizations, and also apologise to everyone whose jobs we just cost by mentioning their blatant abuse of internet work facilities.

Why, with endorsements like those, it makes you wonder why our Technorati rating is so low! If you've got a blog, or have a friend out there with a blog, be sure to threaten them if they aren't already linking to us! Because Technorati authority makes me feel like a big man!

That's all for now, I think... Stay tuned for June!
It's going to be a big ol' month! Cheers!

May Hit Count: [5135/17928] (+900)

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