Sunday, September 02, 2007

Face To Face (Amalgam)
Where: Dark Claw Adventures #1 When: June 1997
Why: Ty Templeton How: Ty Templeton & Rick Burchett

Quick Fix...
I mentioned in the Punch-Up that there was a Ra's Al Ghul related entry I was originally interested in, and I also mentioned a little Two-In-One action coming. Hopefully you've been able to surmise that this entry answers both of those references.

I found myself flicking through this particular issue because, tangentially stemming from all the Al Ghul talk, I started thinking about Ra's-A-Pocalypse; the composite character that borrows elements from Marvel's Apocalypse character, and marries them with the DC character [hence Amalgam].

The resulting character is, though hardly elaborated on, a delicious little conceptual of a Darwinism-extremist. In this case there are trace elements of themes specifically explored in episodes of the Batman animated series, which provides half of the inspiration for this issue's adventure format.

In a lot of ways this is perfect fodder for the quick fix.
Though not always the focus, the underlying statistical analysis of the fighting effectiveness of characters remains an intriguing and unique spine for our little website.

From that perspective, why should a character be penalised for gaining a swift victory? Thus, we open ourselves up to the prospect of quick fixes throughout the month, rather than containing the multitude of mini-massacres to the first of the month.

Here, in a brief flashback sequence, the lethal Lady Talia recalls two years previous, when last she saw her father.
In the desert, Ra's-A-Pocalypse does battle with Dark Claw, intending to return to civilization with a deadly virus that will weed the fit from the weak.

Poisoned by an unseen scorpion, Dark Claw finds himself seemingly defeated by Ra's, who believes the desert has, much as it did during his harsh childhood, fostered his ultimate ascention. He leaves Dark Claw and his daughter behind, taking off in a private plan with his guard Ubuwong.

With his healing factor enabling a speedy recovery from the battle, Dark Claw finds himself in a most difficult position. Left with crates of super weapons, he feels forced to shoot Ra's-A-Pocalypse's plane down, unable to allow him the opportunity to destroy humanity.

Regrettably, he gains the final victory, but in the moment of impact he destroys one enemy to give birth to another. The legacy of Ra's lives on through his daughter. She burns bunch of her body searching desperately through the flaming wreckage of the shotdown plane, never able to find the remains of her wiley father. Thus, she replaces her broken body with cybernetic adamantium enhancements, and begins a fruitless quest for revenge.

There's something very naff about taking two of the most over-exposed characters in comics, and smooshing them together to make another. A character who shares the contrivances of his predecessors to positively stink of 'hey, this is COOL! Love it!' Even so, it's almost impossible to resist the lure of the Bat-Wolverine, and honestly, with an issue this good, it's even easy to defend.

The DC vs Marvel event continues to be one of the most viewed entries on the site here, and with an inter-company formula that is intriguing to so many, this book actually manages to live up to it in a way even the versus mini didn't.

Reading like one of the best episodes of the Batman animated series, this is the kind of series that I'd like to read on a regular basis. It quite effectively takes so much of what makes Wolverine and Batman so great, drawing on influences broad enough to include a Carrie Kelly inspired Jubilee that's probably better than either/or.

So solid a read is Dark Claw Adventures #1, that there's still at least another quick fix and a full feature contained within, so on that note, I might just wrap it up here and leave the elaborating to another time.

The Fix: 4.5 The Issue: 6
Winner: Dark Claw

[An immensly fun read, but by no means one for the history books.
Packs a hefty punch; telling an infinitely approachable story about a character that barely even exists, fleshes the concept out, and even throws in a handful of action scenes for good measure!

"Once Upon A Time...!" (DC)
Where: Legends #1 When: November 1986
Why: John Ostrander & Len Wein How: John Byrne

Quick Fix...
So, all this talk about Ryan Reynolds as the Flash kinda did rub off afterall, and since I had the issue handy, I figured it would be as good a time as any to take a look at one of the many other battles contained within.

Something the Quick Fix Double Feature is going to be especially good for is going back to check out material from features already lodged in the Infinite Wars.

The first issue of Legends features not just Captain Marvel [as seen in the September Punch-Up], but also a range of other characters, many being groomed for roles in new series. In a lot of ways Legends is very much the prototype for the Infinite Crisis/52/Countdown marketting model.
On it's own merits it's a solid, if abbreviated, account of events in the new look DC Universe. On closer inspection it expands from it's six-issue core to unfold into a twenty-two issue story that branches off into the Bat and Superman titles, but also does well to launch books and post-Crisis characters like Wonder Woman, the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League, and the Suicide Squad.

Having adopted the mantle of Flash in honor of his deceased uncle during the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths; Wally West zooms into action in the pages of Legends, ready for action as a growing hero of his own.

Streaking his way to Wall Street, the Flash shows up in Manhattan to foil some sort of heist being perpetrated by Gotham local, Deadshot!
The crackshot mercenary warns the scarlet speedster from interfering, firing a spray of bullets at the closing hero with his wrist-mounted gun.

Though limited a fraction more than his mentor, Wally West proves to be a force to be reckoned with! Using his super speed to slap Deadshot's bullets away with a steel pipe, the speedster is soon upon the scope-eyed villain.

Moving faster than Deadshot can react, the Flash throws his fist like a speeding missile!
With his super metabolism churning through his energy, the Flash lands a well timed fist, putting Deadshot out for the count before he himself could succumb to the effects of a glycemic meltdown.

The Flash soon finds himself assaulted with a barrage of questions from the surrounding rambunctious New Yorkers that were witness to his victory. Feeling the effects of a blast from the Anti-Monitor that cured him of a life threatening disease at the cost of his stamina and top-speed, West opts to do what he does best and run, rather than confront the unscrupulous questions of the public.

Still able to move at the speed of sound, the Flash drops Deadshot off with the police (where he is destined for much bigger things), before dropping by Titans Tower for a chat with his junior fellows.

We missed out on a lot of the discussion surrounding the Flash most recently, particularly regarding the fate suffered by Bart Allen, then current Flash.
Having disappeared into the Speed Force during the events of Infinite Crisis, Wally West left a void similar to Barry Allen, that was fulfilled in much the same way by the ascension of another Kid-Flash, formerly Impulse.

In a lot of ways the sudden halt of the Flash familial line seems to speak volumes about the current state of superhero comics. The illusion of forward momentum that made the medium such an attractive one thirty years ago, seems to be peeling away as we become voluntarily stagnant in the interest of preserving icons like Batman and Superman.

With those checkpoints established, it seems the world in which they operate is secure enough to sponsor the return of characters like Hal Jordan, who had progressed considerably right through to the nineties. Likewise, characters like Wally West, who has been operating as the Flash for two decades now, seem to be all but guaranteed their place far into the future.

Not that we should be calling for blood just yet. After all, Barry Allen was the Flash for a full thirty years before he bit the big one saving the universe! We probably owe Wally West at least another ten before we start chain-smoking through today's heroes.

Characters like the Flash and Green Lantern bring up a lot of talk about who "my" character is. They personify the rare tradition of legacy in superheroes, exibiting multiple generations of characters that mirror generations of readers.

As a youngster with little or not concept of the industry, I spent a lot of my time reading back issues, so regardless of my placement in time I was most familiar with the Barry Allen Flash. Even so, I think time has been good to the Wally West character, and he's more than earned the position of my Flash.

I don't know if I'd have been ready for the passing of the torch on a permanent basis, but I do know that it's disappointing that the prospect of that forward moment, or even the spark of a unique young character like Impulse, had to be stomped out.

The Fix: 4 The Issue: 6
Winner: Flash

[A simpler time, or the beginning of the end? Legends is a fantastically fun read, if a little ominous to those who would grow tired of the crossover some twenty years later. I got this (and the subsequent two issues) in three-comic bargain bags well over a decade ago, so frankly, I don't care!]

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