Thursday, December 13, 2007

By popular demand, the Infinite Wars are about to go where they've never been before! After two years of comprehensive canonical fight fact coverage, we're delving into the fictional world of fantasy fights, because you demanded it!

In the spirit of the immensly popular '96 DC/Marvel crossover event, we're pitting fifteen of each company's most relevant characters to 2007 against one and other! Stay tuned as we take a look at the imagine struggles of the superhero stars that have propelled the Infinite Wars across two full years of fisticuffs!

Strength: Moon Knight 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Nightwing 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Moon Knight 5 (Marathon Man)
Agility: Nightwing 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting Ability: Nightwing 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy Powers: Draw 2 (Projectile Weapons)

The Hook...
Following the traditions of the 1996 crossover event, we seem to have two major conceits in our battles. One; the outer city desert battle where heavy-hitting super powers can go at it without hurting innocents [ala; Superman/Hulk], and two; the inner city close quarters showdown of characters comfortable in the shadow of apartment blocks and urban brick [ala; Batman/Captain America].

Under the pen of crime novelist, Charlie Huston; 2007 marked a long awaited return to prominence for Moon Knight. After the cancellation of Blade meant a narrow brush with small screen fame, the character remained relatively self-contained, brushing with the all-encompassing Civil War in relatively superficial ways. Despite the appearances of many familiar supporting characters, Moon Knight's adventures remained internalized, and brutal.

Coming out of the Infinite Crisis lucky to be alive; the editorially marked Nightwing found a direction not unlike Moon Knight's, taking the character back to his origins under penultimate writer, Marv Wolfman. Despite facing similar battles of life and death, Nightwing arguably fell the opposite end of the scale in '07, suffering the iconic struggles of being neither Batman, nor Robin.

In terms of locale, it's little surprise that these two characters would meet under already described city conditions. Moon Knight; famously patterned after the Batman; might arguably be well suited to facing the Dark Knight proper, but in our estimation, the far more compelling confrontation is the showdown with the heir apparent. Even if the Batmantle is currently under contention.

The Math: Nightwing Ranking: Nightwing (#41)

The Battle...
Atop the roofline of what could easily be Gotham or Manhattan, Nightwing spins around to find Moon Knight standing rimlit by the astral phenomenon from which he derives his name. A steady contrast to so many other characters, Moon Knight makes no attempt to conceal his position, silently making a statement in this rooftop stand-off.

Nightwing glares through an inhereted squint that would send a chill through most Gotham criminals, but Moon Knight is fearless. Putting an end to ceremony, the white garbed hero charges across the rooftops, closing distance fast and forcing Nightwing into a ready position.

No doubt the glow of the moon indicates a strong night for Marc Spector, who descends from a leap to reach his opponent. Nightwing proves the more graceful of the fighters, avoiding the undisciplined brawling of his contemporary to strike back with stinging shots from his baton.

Moon Knight's enhanced strength sees him fighting through Nightwing's more delicate precision attacks, able to snatch away the shaft of his opponent's weapon, only to break it across his knee.

MOON KNIGHT shows gritty determination in battle against TASKMASTER in the pages of MOON KNIGHT #6!MK lunges with a boot that misses, challenging Nightwing to take as good as he gives. With a brutal willingness to inflict severe injury, MK swings with a broken end of Nightwing's baton. The move prompts a defensive parting on Nightwing's part, which incurs a distanced attack with crescent shaped shuriken.

Nightwing does his best to slap the projectiles away with wrist-mounted asps, but takes one to the shoulder. The dramatic scene is fast complimented by a spontaneous down pour that washes blood down the Bat-protege's arm.

Showing the grit of a Gothamite, Nightwing would no doubt use the pain to meet Moon Knight once more at close quarters. Despite MK's best attempts to draw the foul, Nightwing's cool head and trained skill would see a steady maintenance in his fight. Under the cold shower, even the Konshu powered Moon Knight feels the bitter sting of a barrage of whipping asp slaps.

With his mask torn to shreds and the moon disappearing behind cloud cover, Moon Knight finds himself tiring as Nightwing leaps yet another wild attack, only to deliver a counter blow that seals the deal. On this night, the apprentice proves he is quite capable of matching the master.

The Hammer...
Y'know, one of the common criticisms of the original DC/Marvel was the length of the fights. Granted, two pages for "showdown(s) of the century" is steep by any standard, I can at least empathise with the difficulty of resigning to a conclusion in a finite amount of space.

BATMAN controls the tempo in the fight against AMAZO in BATMAN #637!While I'd like to think I put a lot of focus here on what's important between two characters like this -- an exciting hand-to-hand fight -- I would have to acknowledge I've probably fallen into the same trap that's dogged Nightwing for the past decade, or so.

All too often the character seems to struggle with his affiliation with Batman in ways that would seem more fitting to a character like Moon Knight. For some strange reason writers (or more to the point, fans) have gotten their head around Moon Knight as an individual entity far more easily than Dick Grayson, the original Robin.

I think it's fair to acknowledge there's always going to be a bit of an awkward comparison as Nightwing is neither quite as hardened as Batman, but lacks the hopeful optimism of a Tim Drake. Heck, he isn't even the badboy that Jason Todd (and Damien) have turned out to be, but then, there's no reason that has to be the avenue taken, either.

Ultimately I think the solution to Nightwing's problem is really the simple necessity of distance. It's a solution the move to Bl├╝dhaven probably should have provided, although I like to think Gotham is big enough to sustain several characters without necessarily demanding they maintain constant ties.

With Batman connecting so often to larger problems in the DCU (be they superheroic, extra-terrestrial, or simply international), it seems there's more than enough room for Nightwing to find his own path as a constant presence in urban Gotham. One might argue that position opens up further with Batman assuming a leadership role with the Outsiders, and lord knows he's got a gallery of villains large enough to share, and more than willing to take a pop at Nightwing.

I don't know what that path would involve, but really I think that's part of the key to victory. Too often characters seem to be shoe-horned into events or contrived storyarcs designed to leave an indellible print. At times like these, I don't think you can under estimate the value of just letting the character be.
Put him in the established conceit of an urban hero, and let the character grow, instead of ham pressing him against Batman, or spinning constant attempts to invent the character in six, or eight issues.

Got something to say about Nightwing? Want to talk more about Moon Knight? Disagree with the depiction of events in the fantasy fight? Just plain disgruntled that Marvel are down two wins again? Make yourself heard by dropping a comment! Few sections of the Infinite Wars are so specifically connected to you - the War Mongers - as the hypothetical hysteria of the Fantasy Fights!

4 versus 2

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