Monday, October 01, 2007

MONTHLY PUNCH-UP #22 (October 2007)
THOR versus DR. DOOM
"Fourth & Goal" (Marvel)
Where: Heroes Reborn: The Return #4 When: December 1997 Why: Peter David How: Salvador Larroca

Quick Fix...
In August we spent a lot of time talking about the mid-nineties crossover spectacular, Heroes Reborn, and here we bridge the gap from the end of that closed-off reboot project, to Heroes Return, which is exactly what it suggests.

After spending a full year under the watch of guys like Jim Lee, Whilce Portacio, and an ever ill-fated Rob Liefeld; the characters leave behind their Ultimate styled reinventions to come back to a clean restart in the Marvel Universe proper. Good news for all concerned.
Especially Iron Man, who was relieved of some silly business revolving around a literal regression into his teenage years, as opposed to the childish bitch-fit he's throwing across the current Marvel Universe. Morning, Vicar!

If you want to know more of the backstory involved, you can probably follow the Heroes Reborn tag and read through some of the hammer conclusions of those posts. The quick summary is that the heroes battled Onslaught, it all hit the fan, Franklin Richards used his super-duper cosmic powers [see; X-Men Annual #14 for more Franklin power] to instinctively whisk the heroes into safety by creating a pocket universe, represented by a blue ball he fiercely guards.

Somewhere along the line the Celestials catch wind of the whole affair, and decide one of the two universes needs to go. Franklin and the gang win over the sympathis of one of the Celestials, who takes human form on Earth, and eventually the two universes collide in an effort to return the heroes to their home before the new universe is collapsed.

In order to successfully crossover to their universe, the heroes and villains that were sucked into the Heroes Reborn world must gather to cross into reality simultaneously, or risk damning everyone. Not such a problem when everyone gathers to utilize one of Dr. Doom's advanced ships to ferry through a break, but things go awry when the good Doctor decides to risk everyone when he kidnaps Franklin Richards with the intent to harness his imeasurable power.

With the boy in hand, Doom teleports out of the ship, into the gulf of space.
Despite the futility of his efforts, Reed Richards stretches out of the ship to reach desperately for his son. The rocket propelled Doom looks set to out maneuver any would-be attackers, but before he can fire a deadly blast from his gauntlet, Thor comes to the aid of Mr. Fantastic!

Iron Man and Thing desperately hold on to Mr. Fantastic, while Doom and Thor drift further from the vessel intended to be their salvation.

Spiteful, Doom risks much for an opportunity to rule his native world without opposition, opting to gamble his own life by drawing Thor into the outer space of the pocket universe, potentially damning all to eradication by the terms laid out by the Celestials.

Thor valiantly beckons his fellows to return inside to the safety of their ship, asking them to abandon him to ensure Doom have no further influence on their fate.

To the Latverian monarch's dismay, Thor manhandles him with godly strength, using his mystic hammer Mjolnir to summon a dimensional rift in the fabric of the pocket universe space-time, where he would intend to remove both he and Doom to the in-between of non-space.

The pair disappear into a vortex, leaving the heroes no choice but to press on. Confronted by a mirror of memories from the lives they forgot during their year in exile, the heroes blast their way toward home, shattering the pocket universe.

Though the heroes would not know it, the Celestial Ashema sacrifices her own consciousness to preserve the reality of Franklin's pocket world, and the lives that were inadvertantly created within it.

For the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, an overdue return to a world that has mourned them. Their return is an unceremonious one, seeing the heroes scattered as their travel disintergrates, and they are dispersed across reality.

Not a lot left to say, except that as we close our Marvel Ultimate Alliance Mondays features, we're going to have a complete month of DOOM!
Let this be the first of five fingers of Doom, delivered in a similar fashion to our evil doppelgangers in September. Next month's Punch-Up will feature a full rundown of the many posts connected to the villains from the video game.

The Fix: 3 The Issue: 4
Winner: Thor

The Top 5...
#1 Spider-man (-) (14) (Marvel)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Galactus]
Win Percentage: [71.43%] Features: [28]
Season 2006: [#2] Current Ranking: [#1]

We're officially entering the final quarter, and this is where the dash to beat Spidey is going to happen. As the league leader both for the year and in cumulative rankings, Spider-man seems an indomitable cultural icon, but with very little happening post-Spider-man 3, now may be the time for the inevitable decline.

Batman has a lot on the horizon, but whether or not three months are enough remains to be speculated. Despite his death, Captain America is now presenting a serious threat to the top spot, and with increased activity, it really is anyone's game at this point.

Upcoming creative changes to the Spider-franchise are worth lamenting, notably the streamlining of titles to three issues a month of Amazing. Nothing sounds particularly exciting, but it remains to be seen exactly how the big names involved will stamp their mark on the revamped series.

#2 Batman (-) (20) (DC)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Catwoman]
Win Percentage: [71.43%] Features: [21]
Season 2006: [#1] Current Ranking: [#2]

DC got a long overdue showing across September, giving Batman an inevitable boost as their leading icon. A defeat at the hands has damaged what was one of the most impressive win percentages on the site, bringing Batman now on a percentage par with Spider-man.

Making a late charge is Captain America to seriously threaten Batman's year long security in the top two. It was a late charge that positioned Spider-man for a strong year in 2007, and teased at stealing top spot in '06. If Cap mirrors, he'll almost certainly take number two before '08.

Nothing special comes to mind for Batman, but it's interesting to note a new series right up our alley! Gotham Underground debuts this month from DC comics, and looks set to initiate some of the concepts we've discussed in the past concerning the criminal underworld of the urban sprawl. Should be interesting for those with the money to purchase such luxury items.

#3 Captain America (RE) (4) (Marvel)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Galactus]
Win Percentage: [42.31%] Features: [26]
Season 2006: [#8] Current Ranking: [#3]

Like a dead artist, Captain America's stock continues to rise exponentially as his death is mourned by the Marvel Universe.
Success in the Infinite Wars has mirrored the critical acclaim of the series title he left behind, which has been carried on successfully despite the fact he no longer appears in it.

It sounds like a new Captain America may finally be named soon, which might just carry on the Steve Rogers nostalgia train. Rogers himself is also fixing for a return to the Marvel Universe with the Invaders/Avengers time travelling caper coming sometime in the near future from Kreuger and Ross.

In the 2006 September Top 5 count, it was Spider-man who made the shock entrance at the number-two spot as the beginning of a late charge. He didn't quite manage to usurp the top spot until early '07, but if history is anything to go by, it might be Cap's turn to threaten the leader as we head into the final quarter.

#4 Black Adam (-1) (5) (DC)
Class: [Super] Last Opponent: [Kobra]
Win Percentage: [100%] Features: [6]
Season 2006: [#n/a] Current Ranking: [#9]

He holds on for another month, enjoying success in another appearance courtesy of the new quick fix double features. Longevity in the Top 5 was always going to be Adam's problem, and with few entries in my meagre collection to go, it seems it may actually finally be the end of the dream run for 2007's MVP.

There's still a slew of recent entries out there including the final issues of 52, the World War III four-parter, the current Dark Ages mini-series, Countdown, and an apparent appearance in Dwayne McDuffie's new Injustice League. The only problem will actually be seeing that stuff. Sponsors, if you're listening...

It may be Superman who rises to claim Adam's spot as the second DC hope, after a recent string of entries in September. Likewise, characters like Catwoman and Green Arrow lurk as potential threats to a top five stay for Teth-Adam.

#5 Mr. Fantastic (RE) (3) (Marvel)
Class: [Champion] Last Opponent: [Ahab]
Win Percentage: [58.33%] Features: [12]
Season 2006: [#14] Current Ranking: [#8]

Perhaps the most unlikely entrant into the top five, despite being here before, way back at the very beginning. The success of the Fantastic Four has arguably been a long time coming, and with Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch coming up on the title, they'll remain in mind.

If things continue for the quartet, it's quite possible Reed Richards may be but a sign of things to come. Thing lurks close by at sixth spot, while Johnny Storm and Invisible Woman are no more than a couple of wins away themselves.

There's an argument that claims Reed Richards could be one of the greatest fighters in the Marvel Unvierse, if he were free of his inhibitions. We saw shades of that when he battled his doppelganger [Fantastic Four #366], and it may just be reinforced by his show here in the top 5.

Super Stock...
1. Spider-man (-) (M)
2. Batman (-) (DC)
3. Captain America (+3) (M)
WONDER WOMAN finally gets the adoration she deserves, a record-breaking two hundred and eighty-eight ranks up, with a bullet!4. Iron Man (-1) (M)
5. Wolverine (-1) (M)
6. Superman (+4) (DC)
7. Hulk (-2) (M)
8. Mr. Fantastic (-1) (M)
9. Black Adam (+2) (DC)
11. Thing (+4) (M)
13. Human Torch (-) (M)
14. Invisible Woman (-2) (M)
15. Beast (+3) (M)
17. Silver Surfer (+5) (M)
20. Catwoman (+79) (DC)
21. Storm (+16) (M)
24. Wasp (-4) (M)
26. Flash [Wally West] (+22) (DC)
27. Robin [Tim Drake] (+1) (DC)
28. Hawkman (+22) (DC)
31. Etrigan (+37) (DC)
42. Jean Grey (+56) (M)
45. Yellowjacket [Hank Pym] (-18) (M)
50. Iceman (-5) (M)
51. Cable (+58) (M)
52. Wonder Woman (+288) (DC)
53. Cyclops (-13) (M)
54. Ronin [Clint Barton] (+70) (M)
62. Gambit (+87) (M)
63. Dark Claw (+97) (DC/M)
68. Tabitha Stevens (+88) (M)
76. Atom Smasher (new) (DC)
89. Rainbow Mika (-7) (Capcom)
90. Sakura Kusanago (-7) (Capcom)
100. Cheetah (-7) (DC)
105. Vega (new) (Capcom)
106. Dhalsim (new) (Capcom)
108. Guile (new) (Capcom)
109. Despero (new) (DC)
110. Warlock (Tech) (new) (M)
111. Cannonball (new) (M)
112. Forge (new) (M)
113. Sunspot (new) (M)
114. Banshee (new) (M)
115. Ms. Marvel [Sharon Ventura] (new) (M)
116. Franklin Richards (new) (M)
117. Thunderhawk (new) (Capcom)
118. Fei Long (new) (Capcom)
119. Ryu (-13) (Capcom)
124. Galactus (+208) (M)
126. Deadshot (-60) (DC)
143. Sagat (-69) (Capcom)
144. Captain Cold (+180) (DC)
145. Aquaman (-78)
146. Captain Marvel (+188) (DC)
148. Scarlet Witch (-48) (M)
150. She-Hulk (-23) (M)
158. Ken Masters (new) (Capcom)
159. Darkseid (-19) (DC)
160. Black Canary (-25) (DC)
168. Phoenix [Rachel Summers] (-23) (M)
175. Brainwave (+26) (DC)
200. Arachne (-22) (M)
223. Dr. Druid (new) (M)
224. Chun-Li (new) (Capcom)
DAN suffers the brutality that is: VEGA!225. Puppet Master (new) (M)
226. Alfred Pennyworth (new) (DC)
227. Ron Troupe (new) (DC)
228. Green Lantern
[Kyle Rayner] (-26) (DC)
237. Martian Manhunter (new) (DC)
250. Hyena (-27) (DC)
252. Balrog (-27) (Capcom)
300. Echo (-27) (M)
301. Zangief (-26) (Capcom)
350. Sasquatch (-25) (M)
358. Macro-Man (new) (DC)
359. Ra's-A-Pocalypse (new) (DC/M)
362. Mongul (new) (DC)
364. Hammer (new) (DC)
368. Birdie (new) (Capcom)
370. Matter Master (new) (DC)
371. Kobra (new) (DC)
372. Ahab (new) (M)
373. Saviour (new) (DC)
374. Preus (new) (DC)
388. Dan Hibiki (-113) (Capcom)
389. Quicksilver (-52) (M)
390. Brick (-40) (DC)
391. Lizard (-40) (M)
392. Magneto (-40) (M)

#35 Green Arrow (DC)
Class: [Champion] Last Opponent: [Superman/Batman]
Win Percentage: [57.14%] Features: [7]
Season 2006: [#11] Current Ranking: [#16]

Once upon a time Green Arrow was a top five contender in the Infinite Wars, but with new additions slipping by the wayside in favour of nineties nostalgia, he just seemed to have lost relevance for us.

Nothing like a wedding to save a relationship!
Green Arrow and Black Canary have tied the knot, and it's the cliffhanger that everyone's been talking about! After attacking his new wife with a blade, Ollie finds himself with one of his own arrows buried in his throat. Way to spaz in the face of commitment, guy!

It might be a while before we see the turn around in the Infinite Wars, but the marriage of the Justice League sweethearts is without a doubt the most exciting new event over the past month. Brother Eye watches keenly!

The Hammer...
So, can you tell I'm phoning it in a bit? Things started great, but it's late and I could really use the rest, so I've kinda been whipping through the writing on this Punch-Up. Not really the best way to lead into a proposal of sponsorship, but hey, I like to think it shows a relatable side of humanity.

It's been another huge month of Infinite Wars, finally delivering that long ago promised slant toward some DC titles. Hopefully we'll be able to continue that as we cruise our way through back issues of varying importance.

That's probably a great segue to highlight the fact that, yes, we have put out the call for a sponsor. I figure it's a great opportunity for the Infinite Wars to get more involved in the new comics scene, while also offering a promotional canvas for an online retailer to promote prompt mailing, and sparkling service.
And before you look at me like that, just consider for a moment the fact that I haven't pulled a Dave Campbell to sell out to google ads and cookies.

Uh huh, that's right. You like that? Yeah?
Don't let the humorless, droning discussion about characterization and faux-feminism fool you. The Infinite Wars have got edge. Yessir.

Speaking of which, we should give a shout out to When Fangirls Attack, who continue to be the most responsive referrer of our reviews and discussions.
Likewise, Bahlactus has and will be involved in propagating the Infinite Wars, despite some apparent disgruntled responses to our format. To those who feel discontent with our distinct lack of isms, idioms and singular pictures of people putting boot-to-cheek -- waah waah waah. Mmm, hi-brow!

If you're inclined to link to one of our many trailing entries, I've been scouring the blogosphere for inspiration for our on-going musings. I'd very much like to be quoted, so jurors will never doubt my testimoy should I be called at an old age.
I've been endeavouring to do much the same, without being gratuitous about who and where I'm linking. Which leads us to our final topic:

It was The Fortress Keeper who turned my attentions to a top fifty list being compiled by Facedown in the Gutters featuring the internet's favourite twenty-five Marvel and DC characters. Rather than labour over my picks, I thought it would be fun to take advantage of nearly two years worth of stats, to highlight the Infinite Wars' cumulative top fifty, as divided by company representation.

Marvel Comics [tab]
#1 Spider-man
#2 Captain America
#3 Iron Man
#4 Wolverine
#5 Hulk
#6 Mr. Fantastic
#7 Venom (Symbiote)
#8 Thing
#9 Daredevil
#10 Human Torch
#11 Invisible Woman
#12 Beast
#13 Silver Surfer
#14 Thor
#15 Storm
#16 Luke Cage
#17 Wasp
#18 Sub-Mariner
#19 Elektra
#20 Kitty Pryde
#21 Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze)
#22 Rogue
#23 Scarlet Spider
#24 Winter Soldier
#25 Hellcat
DC Comics [tab]
#1 Batman
#2 Superman
#3 Black Adam
#4 Green Arrow
#5 Steel
#6 Catwoman
#7 Red Hood
#8 Flash (Wally West)
#9 Robin
#10 Hawkman
#11 Zatanna
#12 The Demon
#13 Nightwing
#14 Flash (Barry Allen)
#15 Wonder Woman
#16 Deathstroke
#17 Atom (Ray Palmer)
#18 Dr. Light
#19 Black Mask
#20 Soldier
#21 Sinestro
#22 Bizarro
#23 Atom Smasher
#24 Phantom Stranger
#25 Dr. Fate

Some interesting results coming from the cumulative rankings.
If anything I think this list just highlights the distinct slant toward Marvel the Infinite Wars has shown. This is something we hope to continue to rectify over the coming month, although, again, a fairly meager, and unimportant collection will hamper that. Hopefully some magic sponsor out there will lend a hand, at least in the new comics stakes. Mmm, comics for nothing.

We've got a whole lot of Dr. Doom coming up, including Fantastic Four #350 which was recently mentioned in one of the best Bahlactus links of the year: Time waits for no man, and it won't wait for Reed...
If you haven't read that lengthy post yet, I suggest you hop to it, or see that you deliver message to a previous-self from the past few days, so they can.

In a serendipitous alignment of events, I considered what it would be like to have a guest entry in the Infinite Wars. Lord knows my collection brings with it the baggage of my interests, and is distinctly lacking in certain prominent subjects. Suffering from allergies and heading into the Spring of the future, it might be fun to think about who might be able to rise to the challenge of our format gruelling, to read and write, alike.

Dem's Good Reading might be a good candidate, serving up an Infinite Wars worthy photographic recap of a super-fight from Invicible! If you think you might like to contribute, or know of someone you'd like to see tackle the format, drop a comment and let us know.

For now, I'm going to put an end to this while I'm only a little behind.
We've got Dr. Doom and Street Fighting aplenty in October. Don't forget you should still go and find your way to picking up The Kirby Martin Inquest #1, which will feature in more reviews, if people stop being slack. That's not just one reviewer in particular, but actually a platoon of people who've read it for free, and aren't paying their dues. Tut-tut.

I'm tired, still a little stuffed-up, and going nowhere fast with this. Cheers!

September Hit Count: [6036/36951] (+1578)

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