Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2004 cover to NEW INVADERS #0, featuring USAGENT as Captain America as Uncle Sam.MONTHLY PUNCH-UP #25 (January 2008)
So it is, and so it was, that 2007 passed us by like zephyr in the sky. It was a year of wars as the Civil War finally came to a close; Black Adam ignited a third World War; Hulk waged a World War of his own; and the Green Lantern's had their hands full with the Sinestro Corps War.

It was a big year for the Infinite Wars as well, expanding our reaches as a resource, and the quality and quantity of our content. After a year and a half of steady format, the introduction of new entries like; the Double Feature, Cover to Cover, Eye On, Comik-Politik, and Shipping Lists; meant our ability to cover information and obscuria widened.

Regular readers know later in the Annual we'll be weighing in on One More Day, which is a fairly negative end to what was otherwise an incredibly solid year of comics. I think most of us, even those not actively pursuing them, are feeling the fatigue of events, but 2008 promises to make those worthwhile.

One imagines there'll be a few corrections popping up on the site as Skrull impostors are uncovered in the Marvel Universe, while on the otherside of the fence, we can only imagine what the "Final Crisis" will bring. Let us hope it isn't anything that resembles twenty years of storytelling down the bend.

I'm hoping the grandeur of this Annual Punch-Up isn't going to cause too many downloading problems. This is the fourth year we've touched, but third year in numerical evaluation. With the sheer volume of content we were able to produce in 2007, it seemed fitting to add a sense of granduer, even if a lot of this information resembles what's usually here at the beginning of every month.

If you're reading through you've got a lot of stuff in store.
We'll be checking on one of our most popular (and topical) features of 2007, the Street Fighter Sundays, and seeing how those characters fared against their comic book contemporaries. The dreaded One More Day talk is coming. Like last year, we'll use the annual to take a look at our on-going top creators watch, and also check out the never before mentioned team rankings! Ooo, fun!

Of course, before we continue, it wouldn't be a year end without some kind of pledge drive. Despite our growing presence on Google as a resource providing some of the most relevant hits for your searches in 2007, it wasn't all peaches and cream. In the last weeks of the year our already meager Technorati Authority dropped from 18 to a lowly 14, which raises an interesting point.
Secret Wars on Infinite Earths is here to help you, so if you're to make a New Year's resolution today, consider this: Over the past two years you've been reading some of the most comprehensive and detailed information on the internet. The Infinite Wars endeavours to offer something to every type of reader, be it; basic information, visual aids, descriptions, indepth discussion, fisticuffs, purchase details, and more.

If you're down with what we're doing, lend a hand and join the fight!
Buy warbonds by using character tags or entries in your arguments about who would win a fight; refer to insights or details. I don't know, just generally get the word out, because we'd really like to get that Technorati Authority up to reflect what we feel is our authority as a resource. That's right. Watch your back Wikipedia, we're coming for you!!!

Top Street
Fighters: 2007

#1 Ryu
#2 Dhalsim
#3 Guile
#4 Rainbow Mika
#5 Ken Masters
#6 Fei Long
#7 Akuma
#8 Sakura Kusanago
#9 Thunderhawk
#10 Chun-Li
#11 Vega
#12 Birdie
#13 Sagat
#14 Gouken
#15 Sodom
#16 Dan Hibiki
#17 Zangief
#18 Balrog
Fighting in the Street: World Warriors
Street Fighter first found it's way into the Infinite Wars annals early 2006, where we reviewed work from the defunct US branch of Tokuma Shoten, and one of the contemporary efforts of UDON's tour with the license.

Being such a fan of the Street Fighter characters and lore, and their assimilation into manga/comics culture, the inclusion was inevitable. For the final four months of non-stop action, Sundays would be dedicated to measuring the capabilities of the Street Fighter characters. The goal? Test them against not only their Marvel counterparts, but all other characters included on the site, and see if they could organically reach the top five by the end of the year.

Looking down the list (game alumnists only), there are a few surprises! We probably stuck close to certain sources slanting the results, but it's interesting to see characters like Ken and Chun-Li slipping down our list. I suppose those are the perils of being in a supporting role to a feature antagonist - particularly in a martial arts video game series. It isn't quite women in refridgerators, but even when you're a ki-wielding ass-kicker, someone's got to take a fall!

2008 promises to be the first big year for Street Fighter fans in a while with UDON stepping up their comics production to have an issue (of various titles) on sale every month. From comics to film; Kristin Kreuk is lined up to play Chun-Li in the long rumored feature, and there's still supposedly an anime series in the works, although, details on that are incredibly sketchy.

Between the last time we actually spoke about SF, and now, we've had a first look at running footage thanks to 1Up.com. If you've been under a digital rock, you'll need to know Street Fighter IV is on the way to the current sweep of home consoles, as well as arcades, and it's looking incredibly exciting!

Cell-shaded 3D modelling and backgrounds provide a great bridge between the old and the new, erasing the bad taste of the EX games that have so many obsessive compulsive fans utterly terrified of change. There's a strong flavour of Street Fighter II visually and conceptually, but the danger now remains the threat of another rerelease, which has been the hot rumor since information began seeping from the source. Here's hoping we can get a more diverse cast, and new villain and story, to go along with our spanky new gaming experience.

ARTWORK: Ikeno#12 Ryu (+2) (Capcom)
Class: [Champion] Last Opponent: [Sadler's Cyborg]
Win Percentage: [46.15%] Features: [13]
Season 2006: [#57] Cumulative Ranking: [#15]

Though Chun-Li will take the stage in 2008, Ryu remains one of the most iconic characters in video games. Including the stats here is really just out of the fact that Ryu failed to make the top ten [spoilers!], and I was looking forward to the notion of this presentation.

Now that our four month stint of Street Fighter entries is over, we'll probably take a break. Not to worry, though. The Street Fighter characters are now an undeniable presence in the cumulative rankings, and no doubt as new information about the games and other projects leaks, we'll be coming back to do it all again.

Spider-Boycott: 2008
Delayed extensively by production troubles, and one last final hurdle, (in late shipping for Christmas), Spider-man: One More Day wraps up with mixed reaction.
If you're a regular War Monger, you've know for a little while now that this was coming, and it may even be what's brought you to the Punch-Up specifically.

With Aunt May's life hanging in the balance, Peter Parker was offered a simple proposal from the merchant devil, Mephisto: Surrender the happiness of twenty years of marriage, or accept the death of Aunt May.

Allowing for the sensitivities of reality, I think it's fair to acknowledge that this would be a very tempting scenario, for anyone. As much as wives become integral parts of one's life, Aunt May was also doting mother to the dorky Parker, and that emotional bond is not easily broken.

One finds dismay both on and off the page.
Though noone would dispute Mephisto's interest in misery and difficult decisions, one wonders what the specifics of the character's motivation would be. For a character who plays with souls of Dr. Doom, Silver Surfer, and Thor, what exactly makes the Spider-Marriage such a priority? Ultimately, as I'm sure most would agree, the answer comes from an uninspired motivation to reverse certain qualities that have become staples of Spider-man for the most recent half of his existence.

Joe Quesada made his position on the Spider-Marriage well known from very early in his career as Marvel Editor-In-Chief. The one redeeming quality to his vendetta against a married Peter Parker was an acknowledgment to a greater duty to ensure strong story and characterization. Dismissed were ramifications from pocket unrealities, 'woman in refridgerator' death scenes, and even the common practice of divorce.

Though approximately forty-six percent of all American marriages end in divorce, even an amicable split was deemed too potentially damning to the character. The flaw of a failed marriage apparently tarnished the potential everyman quality of Spider-man, despite being that which every man will have been touched by.
Though a strong point, to Quesada's credit, the unspoken issue of zealous religion in America, and other moral imbalances and agenda-based decisions probably nullified that rather obvious solution.

When this is all said and done, the Spider-Marriage was among Stan Lee's final major contributions to the character he and Steve Ditko co-created. It was one of the last substantial movements in the character's history that propelled him forward through life, continuing a trend that made Spider-man one of the most significant characters comics history has seen, in terms of reflecting a sense of reality and "continuity."

As the canon now stands, the previous twenty-years [Parker and Watson were married in the 1987 Amazing Spider-man Annual] are now in doubt. Exactly what did and did not transpire is subject to speculation, with the final pages of OMD confirming reversals of two conventions unfamiliar to movie-goers; the return of mechanical web-shooters, and Harry Osborn alive and well!

Comics remain one of the few mediums capable of creating and nurturing histories that branch as many as six decades. That history weaves a rich tapestry from which great characterization and reality can be drawn, and although that has presented it's own problems, the intelligence of the comics medium should be well beyond hitting the all-too-easy reset button.

Nostalgia has been particularly prevelant in storytelling from 'the big two' over the past few years, and as the medium has recovered from industrial and creative slumps from the nineties; Marvel and DC again run the risk of being the architects of their own demise.

A distanced assessment of linear movement in fiction deems any spanning retcon laughable. There are very few good arguments for it, and One More Day just happens to represent both the most literal retcon we've seen in recent years, and also a particularly poor argument. Reinvigorating a character with motiffs familiar to stories thirty and forty years old, a new era do not make.

Comics fans have earned for themselves a reputation as a 'cowardly' and 'supersticious' lot. Many of them, dictated by obsessive compulsion, will continue to buy product they readily recognise as sub-standard. One More Day, despite being a creative insult in contemporary context, will be a particularly bitter pill to swallow given the inevitable sales spikes this will attract.

Comics fans are also as salacious as any other fanbase, attracted to the stench of the popularly-unpopular. Those keen to stay abrest of current affairs and mockery will no doubt also invest in the title, and whether the weight of that is on Joe Quesada or not, the EIC no doubt recognises it.
His own legendary distain for the Spider-Marriage was enough to propel these issues into the top twenty sales. Of course, it was that same heavy-handed canon off-the-page that led us to lodge our growing suspicions of a fake-out.

Self-aware parody from the Infinite Wars! Hah!Mephisto, ever regarded for his treachery, may have made the deal to profit from Spider-man's misery. Perhaps Aunt May is still destined to die [not unlike themes explored recently in Booster Gold], and perhaps that double-cross will encourage the intervention of someone like Dr. Strange, who could aid Peter Parker in at least restoring his marriage, if not the overdue [second] death of Aunt May.

Given the mythology behind Quesada's motives to dismantle the situation, it really is hard to know what is and isn't to be expected. As positive as that unpredictability may be, at least conceptually, the potential to literally redefine massive chunks of history on a wide scale is not something we condone.

Thus, as already alluded, we begin Spider-Boycott: 2008!
The Infinite Wars don't hover around weekly new releases, so while our dollar won't be contributing to sales stats for the 'Brand New Day' Spider-books, neither will our promotion of the character.

It seems a little extreme, even to me, and usually we prefer to keep our disagreements to polite discourse and debative discussion. This, however, represents a creative abyss that comics should be far beyond, and that's not something I wish to be a part of. If you agree, we encourage you to share and join us in our boycott of, hopefully, most things Spider-man!

I'm compelled to recall two quotes from Joe Quesada.
One, in reference to Ultimate Spider-man, alluded to the less than popular stories of the 1990s, amounting the success of USM to 'fans waiting for good Spider-man stories.' As mentioned elsewhere, I tend to believe that wait has persisted through the '00s.

The other quote (or paraphrase) comes from the many discussions surrounding the character of Elektra. Quesada, like a great many other creative entities, acknowledge the character as Frank Miller's creation, and refer to it with reverence, sincere or not, of untouchable stature. A reverance that amounts to touching the character and it's history as sacrilege.

It is a shame the same courtesy couldn't be extended to the works of a great many writers, whose contributions though likely still to be drawn upon, are canonically stomped all over.

In closing, here are just some of the creators featured on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths, whose works are now either erased, or lost in the fog of a convoluted guessing game that will surround the Spider-man history. I'd love to think that this in itself is proof of the finite nature of "Brand New Day," but noone can really be sure right now: Gerry Conway, David Michelinie, Erik Larsen, Stan Lee, Tom DeFalco, Ron Lim, Sal Buscema, Mark Millar, Terry Dodson, and many more.

Top Artists
#1 Paul Ryan
#2 John Byrne
#3 Alvin Lee
#4 Jim Lee
#5 Frank Miller
#6 Keith Giffen
#7 Claudio Castellini
#8 Tim Sale
#9 Phil Jiminez
#10 Dan Jurgens
Top Writers
#1 Geoff Johns
#2 Judd Winick
#3 Ken Siu-Chong
#4 Jeph Loeb
#5 Brian Bendis
#6 Tom DeFalco
#7 Grant Morrison
#8 Ron Marz
#9 Mark Millar
#10 Rob Liefeld
Creative Differences
Geoff Johns has been dominant, but it's arguably the rise of UDON writer, Ken Siu-Chog, who makes the biggest wave in the top ten writers category. Our sponsorship made the rise almost inevitable, as both he, and Alvin Lee, reach top three status in their respective fields.

To divide the cumulative creator rankings, we opted to categorize based on which field has been represented the most, placing well known writers like Frank Miller and John Byrne into the penciller category, and vice versa, with Rob Liefeld having made more appearances in a writer's role, than as penciller. Hilarious, yes.

2008 is shaping up to be another big year of centralized crossover events.
Grant Morrison will pilot DC's eagerly anticipated Final Crisis, while Kurt Busiek gears up to tackle the weekly chores with crossover talent, Mark Bagley. Details of either series are sketchy, but the third fifty-two issue maxi-series is said to be as different from Countdown, as that series differed from 52.

Right now the biggest fear will be a similar notion to One More Day, as DC continues to dangle the thus unfulfilled prophecy of a complete line-wide revamp. Swirling rumors of mass deaths (and new New Gods) make for an uneasy reading experience, but in he face of OMD, we can only hope better sense prevails.

On the other side of the fence, Marvel golden boy, Brian Michael Bendis, prepares to turn his three names to the well publicized Skrull Invasion which has arguably already begun, particularly in the pages of New Avengers.
Despite his status within the Marvel boys club, Bendis has only piloted one major crossover for the core titles, in the dismal House of M. He'll have to be on his A-game to escape many preconcessions that believe an ensemble cast is still beyond him.

Likewise, it will take el chrome dome's best efforts to overcome the 200k shadow of Mark Millar, who will return to stands with an event that promises baby Hulks, symbiote smashing, and all sorts of other wacky violence. Millar is a contrast to Bendis, having been phenomenally successful as the spine of the Civil War.

Who will rise in 2008 is anyone's guess, but I think certain predilictions and events have really overshadowed DC's strong creative performance. Though the wheels seemed to fall off of their four-door 52 dream team, there seems to be a very strong infrastructure right now that's keeping the fort strong. We'll be looking for some of the magic to come back, particularly in a year that sees the Joker return to the big screen, putting big pressure on the company!

That really highlights the slant toward characters we take here at the Infinite Wars, which inadvertently favours the writers. I think it'll be interesting to see which pencillers can accumulate some favour in the on-going rankings in Season 2008. Though the weekly DC series have been a great measure of a year, they're also the least represented on the site here, so Bagley, though a name to watch, probably won't be given his dues.

If you'd like to see a greater reflection in the ins and outs of the weekly comics picture, and you just happen to be an online retailer, why not jump on and support our unique online project? Reaching hundreds of users daily, why not show off reliable postage and handling by sponsoring weekly reviews? The Infinite Wars are ready to welcome you to the team -- hey, speaking of which...

Top Five Teams (Cumulative)
Little known fact: We keep a tally of team results, just like the solo battles.
Modern superhero teams tend to have very large rosters and a multitude of combinations, so it isn't the most accurate statistic on the site, and we don't talk a lot about it. That said, there have been some great team battles in the past two years of Infinite Wars action!

Typically we like the simplicity of a one-on-one, (or as close to), confrontation that allows for a clear decision. Then again, there comes a time when that wide open dynamic of one or two teams entering a melee is just what we need.
Check out how teamsters have faired over two years of competition:

ARTWORK: Marko Djurjevic#1 X-Men (Marvel)
Leader: [Cyclops] Last Opponent: [Sabretooth]
Win Percentage: [83.33%] Features: [12]

On the one hand, a very big surprise, on the other, not so much.
The X-Men have solidifed themselves as one of the best known franchises in comic-related pop culture. The feature films arguably paved the way for everything that followed, and while the comics haven't been so hot for the last ten or fifteen years, the characters continue.

Here at the Infinite Wars we like to think we indulge in a lot of "average" comics, but the X-Men tend to be a sagging pocket that doesn't interest. There's popular opinion that it's the brand and characters that are the problem, and while we don't necessarily agree with that, the results are the same, regardless.

Big things are happening in the X-Men Universe as the events of Decimation are slowly undone. Cable has taken up a Lone Wolf and Cub style mission to protect the first mutant baby born since the species was reduced to 198. Revolving around that is a lot of eighties/nineties nostalgia involving Mr. Sinister, the Marauders, and various other characters milling into a multi-title crossover.

For the first time since, arguably, Grant Morrison's work, X-Men fans have something to talk about. None of this has tickled our fancy, but this may very well be the launching pad for big things from the X-Offices in 2008, after being relatively removed from proceedings surrounding the Civil War.

ARTWORK: Alan Davis#2 Fantastic Four (Marvel)
Leader: [Black Panther] Last Opponent: [Gomdulla]
Win Percentage: [90%] Features: [10]

They were noticably absent from much of the slower paced action of 2006, but in '07 the Fantastic Four made a major move in the Infinite Wars! Sponsored by the released of the second feature film, the team shot up not only the team rankings, but also the solo stakes!

It was Dwayne McDuffie who brought something new to the FF table, post-Civil War, reinvigorating the title with the unlikely introduction of Storm and Black Panther into the fold. Strangely, this was exactly the thing needed to get me jazzed up about the team, and felt like a soft solution to Mr. Fantastic's antagonising role during Civil War, with he and his wife, Invisible Woman, taking a break from the team (in theory) to gain some perspective.

Mark Millar is bringing his fanboy touch to the sci-fi team, and while that sadly means an abrupt snap-back to the team of old, it also means some serious sales, and widescreen storytelling. With something simmering on Miller's plate for later in 2008, could the FF continue their prominance by six degrees?

They're under represented, but they are one of my favourites, and I think it's a fair representation to see them in the top three superhero teams.

ARTWORK: Adi Granov#3 The Avengers (Marvel)
Leader: [Iron Man] Last Opponent: [Invaders]
Win Percentage: [46.15%] Features: [13]

The division in the Avengers has made for a difficult decision when it came to team rankings in 2007. You'll find the Secret Avengers as a seperate autonomous outfit, which means the Avengers probably could've performed a little better united; but then, isn't that true in the fictional Marvel universe, too?

The seeds of the Skrull Invasion have been planted in the Avengers books, and as the most prominent cross-sections of the core Marvel landscape, we can really expect the Avengers front-and-centre in 2008. Of course, whether or not they'll be the people doing the fighting is another question all together. We may very well be handing over a buttload of stats to those damned dirty Skrulls!

Either way, the Avengers have really sprung out of Disassembled and then the Civil War to be the A-list team of 2007. Their star doesn't seem likely to fall any time soon.

ARTWORK: John Romita Jr#4 Marvel Zombies (Marvel)
Leader: [Giant-Man] Last Opponent: [Galactus]
Win Percentage: [100%] Features: [3]

Between our indulgence in the first series there's been an Army of Darkness crossover, an origins issue, crossover with the regular Fantastic Four, and now a second mini-series detailing the Marvel Zombies in their penultimate form: The Galacti.

With Zombie variant covers and gimmicks popping up all over the Marvel catalogue, it's really become an exercise in tedium. Marvel Zombies 2 is said to bring the concept back to it's roots, but frankly I think I long for the stamp of Mark Millar, who introduced the characters in Ultimate Fantastic Four.

A common complaint on the Infinite Wars has been the lack of grounding in how this world evolved, and that probably hasn't gone away. It's silly fun, and no one will begrudge you for enjoying that, but for this reader, it's beyond over.
This probably would've been a fun fifth week project to bring out of the closet every now and then, but alas, it's fallen victim to too much of a good thing.

ARTWORK: Unknown#5 Justice League (DC)
Leader: [Superman] Last Opponent: [Despero]
Win Percentage: [40%] Features: [5]

On the flipside of the Zombies, we just haven't had enough Justice League to get them where they belong. Arguably the most impressive superhero team in comics, the League has languished without representation in the Infinite Wars.

I suppose a lot of this comes down to an imbalance in back catalogue. It's entirely obvious that the resources we're drawing upon favour Marvel back issues, which means DC seems to, in general, remain somewhat unrepresented. Which means, inadvertently, the Justice League are unrepresnted.

What makes this such a bitter pill is that, for the most part, I feel the last five years have really swung in favour of DC and their creative and intelligent output. I would love to wave the DC colours on the Infinite Wars, but as we reflect and reveal as much as we can, certain degrees of bondage seem inescapable.

If there's a team that should be on the rise in 2008, it's the JLA.
Not because of notions of any kind of silly movie, but just because they are the JLA. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Hawkman, Aquaman, Black Canary, Green Arrow... You don't argue with that!

The 2007 Top Ten Characters
You also don't argue with the numbers, which brings us to what is arguably the main event. There's something about comics readers, maybe a disorder, that brings us together in the name of lists and statistics. We love it. When you combine a sports league system with a comics blog, you get rankings that are inevitably going to steal the show.

The rankings span our entire existence, but to break up the inevitable glut that will seperate leaders from the pack, we indulge in seasonal statistics to observe any breakouts in an individual year. The Infinite Wars hopes this can somehow represent the zeitgeist of a year, even if only in spirit.

Usually we present the top five, but as this is the mammoth 2007 Annual Report, we offer to you the Season 2007 Top Ten characters. These are the performers who reached a level above the rest, and will join the previous major ten in the side menu where they can be observed forevermore. Without ado;

ARTWORK: Erik Larsen#1 Spider-man (-) (17) (Marvel)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Mephisto]
Win Percentage: [58.33%] Features: [36]
Season 2006: [#2] Cumulative Ranking: [#1]

Spider-man 3 made for a massive year for Spider-man. After being the bridesmaid in 2006, the picture was clear from the start. Spidey's new reign of dominance over the top five ranks was undeniable!

The third instalment in the feature film franchise was undoubtedly responsible, with only moderate activity in the actual comics. The looming promise of changes in the Spider-universe remained the biggest icon, as the character exited the Civil War a fugitive and member of the now enjoyable Secret Avengers.

Peculiarly, it was only in the last few weeks that perhaps the most significant event to feature the character arrived: One More Day. The event, which was the rumored opportunity to do away with his marriage to Mary-Jane Watson, ultimately turned out to be true. If you read the previous section, you already know that this now means no Spider-man on the Infinite Wars in 2008, polarizing his performance in Seasons 2006 and 2007.

We aren't really the kind of website that leaps to wild conclusions, and in a strange irony, if Peter Parker and Mary-Jane had simply gotten divorced, this probably wouldn't have been the issue it was. At least not for us.
It's unlikely that a fancy free web-swinging Spidey is the kind of character we want to read, but it's the manner in which it has been arrived that has sealed the deal. In contrast to DC's 52, we expect things to go less than well when Dan Slott, Steve McNiven, and a cast of others join the three-times-a-month release schedule on Amazing Spider-man. Sorry guys.

ARTWORK: Ed McGuinness#2 Batman (-) (23) (DC)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Scarecrow]
Win Percentage: [66.67%] Features: [24]
Season 2006: [#1] Cumulative Ranking: [#2]

He dominated in 2006, and it was that very fact that motivated the creation of the cumulative rankings. It has long been said that Batman is an unpleasantly unbeatable character, so here we are, putting that fact to the test, and oh the results. Despite his infallability, a lowly sixty-six percent win rate saw a reversal in the 2006 year end top two, with Batman conceding top spot by a considerable margin.

There's a simple fact we now come to terms with: Batman will be number one again in 2008. It might not happen straight away, or even in the 2008 rankings, but for the cumulative stakes, it's just a fact of reality.
At the beginning of 2007 we expected a quiet presence, but with particular leanings toward the character, Batman is inevitably the representative to balance the DC/Marvel equation.

The release of The Dark Knight in July 2008 guarantees it will be another big batty year. The Joker and Batman are about to become two of the most talked about characters in comics, as if they weren't already up there, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. Iron Man might like to try, with Robert Downey Jr going up against the Christian Bale-led flick, but it seems unlikely.

The Spider-Boycott will only further Batman's stranglehold.

ARTWORK: Unknown#3 Captain America (-) (7) (Marvel)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [The Invaders]
Win Percentage: [40.74%] Features: [27]
Season 2006: [#8] Cumulative Ranking: [#5]

They say when an artist dies his paintings become more valuable, and while that might not be the case for Steve Rogers, his death certainly sponsored a strong show in 2007.

In many ways he was the character who most strongly represented and polarized the Civil War audience, and it was his death that arguably marked the official conclusion of the pro/anti divide. Canonically, Captain America's death has allowed a freedom to be extended to those who evaded registration, and although he is gone, that same style of influence remains.

Cap will be returning to comics in 2008 as Alex Ross leads the charge on Avengers/Invaders, which brings a time displace Cap, Namor, and Human Torch, to the present era. Much of the series is said to contrast the difference in violence, but will also highlight much of the divide in the heroic community.

We also now know, as was quite easily guessed, that Bucky Barnes will inheret the Captain America role for the contemporary readership. Whether or not this will see Cap's presence continued in the Infinite Wars is open to debate, but as a fan favourite character, we'll no doubt see him in some capacity in '08.

ARTWORK: Alan Davis#4 Mr. Fantastic (-) (6) (Marvel)
Class: [Champion] Last Opponent: [Gomdulla]
Win Percentage: [60%] Features: [15]
Season 2006: [#14] Cumulative Ranking: [#7]

Ol' stretchy-pants probably isn't typically the guy you'd expect to see representing the Fantastic Four in the top ten. Never the less, the smarts and broad range of Mr. Fantastic's abilities make him the ideal candidate for combat, and as you may note, this isn't his first time to the dance, having been here five times previous, at month-end count.

Already elaborated upon in the team section, we saw the Fantastic Four make their overdue arrival in the Infinite Wars thanks largely to Rise of the Silver Surfer, the big screen sequel to the first film.

Though we struggle to really understand the appeal of these big screen versions, we make no attempt to deny their success. In 2008 Mr. Fantastic is sure to be a big part of Mark Millar's Fantastic Four, returning to the team after brief hiatus. Hiatus which never really took him away from the team, ironically enough.

ARTWORK: Paul Pelletier#5 Thing (-) (2) (Marvel)
Class: [Champion] Last Opponent: [Gomdulla]
Win Percentage: [50%] Features: [16]
Season 2006: [#53] Cumulative Ranking: [#10]

Ah, now there's where I left my fighter.
The cruising and bruising muscle behind the Fantastic Four was a late bloomer in the Infinite Wars, but it's undeniable that the rock skinned Thing is a worthy addition to the top five rankings.

It was unfortunate that the fan-favourite character failed to generate sales sufficient to keep Dan Slott's solo series efforts afloat, but it seems to be a common case of the popular team member struggling to sustain a series.
Then again, who are we to argue with the many dozens of issues that came out of the now classic Marvel Two-in-One? It's a market we just might never undersand...

Thing will no doubt continue to benefit from the success of the team, but as an individual, it seems relevance has left him a bit behind. Thing will always be a favourite character, but predictions for 2008 don't show much more than the same joyful outings with the FF. Nothing special to set him apart.

ARTWORK: Leinil Francis Yu#6 Wolverine (-) (Marvel)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Moon Knight]
Win Percentage: [50%] Features: [24]
Season 2006: [#4] Cumulative Ranking: [#3]

That healing factor can be mighty pesky, y'know?
Wolverine has been a constant in the Infinite Wars, and try as we may, we just can't seem to get rid of the little bastard!

Promise of a solo film detailing secrets of Wolverine's past, present, and future, seem to be steadily steaming rumors from the mill. Whether or not anything will eventuate in the near future to support the character's rise seems almost irrelevant, at this point.

Clocking in appearances in the X-Men and Avengers; Wolverine is arguably both the lynchpin of a franchise, and also the fictional superhero community.
It seems inevitable that the character would appear in the Skrull Invasion, but even with his Secret Avengers duties, the canuckle head has made some fans very happy with his outings in Messiah Complex with a special X-Force.

And as much as I hate to admit it, the prospect of Cyclops, Wolverine and Angel in a new X-Force title, is kinda nice...

ARTWORK: Unknown#7 Human Torch (-) (Marvel)
Class: [???] Last Opponent: [Gomdulla]
Win Percentage: [58.33%] Features: [12]
Season 2006: [#27] Cumulative Ranking: [#11]

You might be starting to sense a pattern by now.
The interesting thing about the Fanatstic Four is that they win together, and they lose together, so it seems inevitable that, despite their solo adventures featured, the team would rise as one.

Chris Evans as Johnny Storm in the films again stands out as one of the positives of the casting, contrasted by the widely disliked Julian McMahon version of Dr. Doom. Not that we place all the blame/credit on Evans and McMahon, because each are clearly defined in the writing, as much as the execution.

Having already described some of the things coming for the FF, there's not a lot more we can say, except it's interesting to observe the degrees between the team members. I think it will be a fascinating journey to watch, as the characters continue their cumulative run in 2008. Will they break up, or are these characters inevitably drawn together? Mmm, ponderous!

ARTWORK: Ed McGuinness#8 Black Adam (-) (DC)
Class: [Super] Last Opponent: [Kobra]
Win Percentage: [100%] Features: [6]
Season 2006: [n/a] Cumulative Ranking: [#13]

Like Daredevil in 2006; Black Adam was our sponsored favourite.
Whether or not it was an entirely accurate evaluation of the character's value, we were glad to feature the dark Marvel throughout 2007, and hope to see a return in 2008.

As one of the few undefeated characters ranked so high, Black Adam also sets the benchmark for kills with a little over three million. That gives you some idea of the potential carnage this character is capable of unleashing, and highlights his worth as a top ten rated fighter.

The path between hero and villain has been a difficult one for Black Adam, and subsequently his story has been downgraded post-52. I suppose there aren't many easy ways back from mass genocide and a World War with superheroes, but as we discussed many times throughout the year, I would love to see the character somehow come to interact with a more worldy Wonder Woman. That might just be me, if The Dark Ages solo sales are anything to go by.

ARTWORK: Alan Davis#9 Invisible Woman (-) (Marvel)
Class: [Champion] Last Opponent: [Gomdulla]
Win Percentage: [58.33%] Features: [12]
Season 2006: [#23] Cumulative Ranking: [#12]

Wow, whatta ya know? Invisible Woman rounds out the last of the Fantastic Four team to make the top ten! Jokes aside, it's hard to say it isn't deserved. If memory serves, it was only late in the year that Invisible Woman dropped below Human Torch to rank the lowest on the team.

The movies have highlighted Susan Storm's potential to be one of the most powerful characters on the team. It has done well to drag her from the 1960s hangover of a character often reduced to distress, but that's not to say that hasn't been done in the comics before. Invisible Woman has been seen to be a proactive element in the FF in some of our great entries.

Again, it's hard to go much further into what to expect from the FF, but it will be interesting to note whether or not Invisible Woman's value rates higher as she appears more in our statistics.

ARTWORK: John Romita Jr#10 Hulk (-) (Marvel)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [The Stalker]
Win Percentage: [58.82%] Features: [17]
Season 2006: [#6] Cumulative Ranking: [#6]

Well, we never quite got to World War Hulk, but it's fitting none the less that mean green makes an appearance to round out the ten.
A strong year for the character looks to diverge, much like Captain America's, to benefit other, new characters adopting the mantle.

As great as Hulk's return to the Marvel Universe was, it will be very interesting to see how things change for Hercules, now that he inhabits the series to be renamed, Incredible Hercules. Y'know, more amazing than Hercules being a character of interest, is probably the very notion that it would be the Hulk who gives birth to a series of spin-offs. Shouldn't he be destroying stuff?!

Regardless of how you feel about the conclusion of WWH, there's a lot of Hulk hype coming for 2008, not the least of which surrounds a new red Hulk presented by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness. Not only that, but there's also another film on the way, and we all know what they can do for a character's rep!

Personally I quite enjoyed the Ang Lee film, so a lot of the revision process, which seems to recall elements of the seventies TV series, just aren't up my alley. That said, I don't doubt that Edward Norton has what it takes to be a more faithful representation of the Bruce Banner character than Eric Bana. I just don't know if it will be quite as unique.

Super Stock: Season 2007 Final
#1 Spider-man
#2 Batman
#3 Captain America
#4 Mr. Fantastic
#5 Thing
#6 Wolverine
#7 Human Torch
#8 Black Adam
#9 Invisible Woman
#10 Hulk
#11 Iron Man
#12 Ryu
#13 Superman
#14 Daredevil
#15 Luke Cage
#16 Iron Fist
#17 Venom
#18 Beast
#19 Dhalsim
#20 Storm
#21 Sub-Mariner
#22 Silver Surfer
#23 Dr. Doom
#24 Thor
#25 Phoenix

#76 Akuma
#77 Mephisto
#78 Ganthet
#79 Sayd
#80 Sakura Kusanago
#81 Harley Quinn
#82 Fin Fang Foom
#83 Crimson Dynamo
#84 Tommy Jagger
#86 Atom
#87 Zod
#88 Non
#89 Jax-Ur
#90 Spider-Woman
#91 Deathlok
#92 Gravity
#93 Medusa
#94 Firebird
#95 Dr. Light
#96 Dr. Polaris
#97 Zoom
#98 Cheetah
#99 Nightwing
#100 Baron Zemo

#151 Bullseye
#152 Mr. Hyde
#153 The Wrecker
#154 Thunderball
#155 Bulldozer
#156 Piledriver
#157 Captain Marvel
#158 Captain Cold
#159 Unus
#160 Vega
#161 Sadler's Cyborg
#162 Scarlet Witch
#163 The Punisher
#164 Psycho-Pirate
#165 The Joker
#166 Birdie
#167 Sagat
#168 Penance
#169 Radioactive Man
#170 Equus
#171 Ghost Rider
#172 Frank Drake
#173 Crystal
#174 Juggernaut
#175 Brainwave

#226 Phantom Lady
#227 The Ray
#228 Doll Man
#229 Zorrm
#230 Brick
#231 OGRE
#232 Slam Bradley
#233 Lex Luthor
#234 Trapster
#235 Echo
#236 Jack Flag
#237 Timber Wolf
#238 Colossal Boy
#239 Wildfire
#240 Shadow Lass
#241 Karate Kid
#242 Tyroc
#243 Dawnstar
#244 Shrinking Violet
#245 Sun Boy
#246 Yurrd
#247 Roggra
#248 Titanium Man
#249 Wingless Wizard
#250 Mysterio

#301 Unknown
#302 Unknown
#303 Unknown
#304 Quicksilver
#305 Doppelganger
#306 Matter Master
#307 Kobra
#308 Aquaman
#309 Ahab
#310 Saviour
#311 Preus
#312 Dai Loe
#313 Giganta
#314 Girder
#315 Clayface
#316 Mr. Atom
#317 Hydro
#318 Gouken
#319 She-Hulk
#320 Lionheart
#321 Black Hand
#322 Sodom
#323 Grim Reaper
#324 Solomon Grundy
#325 Demogoblin
#26 Catwoman
#27 Angel
#28 Kitty Pryde
#29 Ghost Rider
#30 Ice Man
#31 Deadpool
#32 Morbius
#33 Steel
#34 Hawkman
#35 Winter Soldier
#36 Hellcat
#37 Batroc
#38 Flash
#39 Guile
#40 R. Mika
#41 Green Lantern
#42 Ken Masters
#43 Wonder Woman
#44 Dr. Strange
#45 Black Cat
#46 Yellowjacket
#47 Green Arrow
#48 Red Hood
#49 Wasp
#50 Hawkeye

#101 Mach-V
#102 Techno
#103 Atlas
#104 Ultron
#105 Captain Atom
#106 Vision
#107 Burnout
#108 Maul
#109 Rogue
#110 Jubilee
#111 Flash
#112 Doppelganger
#113 Despero
#114 Cable
#115 Warlock
#116 Cannonball
#117 Forge
#118 Sunspot
#119 Banshee
#120 Tabitha Stevens
#121 Franklin Richards
#122 T.Hawk
#123 Powergirl
#124 Superman
#125 Sulumor

#176 Shun
#177 Darkseid
#178 Steel
#179 Colossus
#180 Nightcrawler
#181 Starfox
#182 Photon
#183 Swordsman
#184 Isis
#185 Captain Marvel
#186 Falcon
#187 Arachne
#188 Century
#189 Gladiator
#190 Neosaurus
#191 Stuff
#192 Squorm
#193 Monstra
#194 Cosmo
#195 Arc
#196 Plutonia
#197 Blimp
#198 Schism
#199 Fader
#200 Oracle

#251 Bane
#252 Crossbones
#253 Krang
#254 Tri-Gorr
#255 Rommbu
#256 Giganto
#257 Harry Osborn
#258 Dragon Man
#259 Carnage
#260 Grey Gargoyle
#261 Shocker
#262 Chameleon
#263 Hydro-Man
#264 Hammerhead
#265 Boomerang
#266 Ronan
#267 Mandarin
#268 Butterfly
#269 Quake
#270 Deluge
#271 Sickle
#272 The Ray
#273 Damage
#274 Black Condor
#275 Phantom Lady

#326 Tarantula
#327 The Stalker
#328 The Jester
#329 The Penguin
#330 Felipe DeClaude
#331 Warden Nuchitt
#332 Gomdulla
#333 Matador
#334 Billy
#335 Two-Face
#336 Captain Marvel Jr
#337 Terrax
#338 Parallax
#339 Sabretooth
#340 Venom
#341 Rhino
#342 Uncle Sam
#343 Human Bomb
#344 Attuma
#345 Azraeuz
#346 Sandman
#347 Killer Croc
#348 Tigra
#349 Electro
#350 Lizard
#51 Nova
#52 Moonstone
#53 The Demon
#54 Jason Blood
#55 Robin
#56 Fei Long
#57 Black Bolt
#58 Black Widow
#59 Songbird
#60 Lyja
#61 Eddie Brock
#62 Gambit
#63 USAgent
#64 Black Panther
#65 She-Thing
#66 Green Lantern
#67 Lethal
#68 Dark Claw
#69 Unknown
#70 Sinestro
#71 Deathstroke
#72 Bizarro
#73 Destroyer
#74 Atom Smasher
#75 Noob Saibot

#126 Blazing Skull
#127 Spitfire
#128 Union Jack
#129 Tara
#130 Thin Man
#131 The Spectre
#132 Wonder Man
#133 Hawkgirl
#134 Monolith
#135 The Sandman
#136 The Hood
#137 Terminus
#138 Thanos
#139 Green Lantern
#140 Green Lantern
#141 Scarecrow
#142 Blade
#143 Chun-Li
#144 Super-Skrull
#145 Cyclops
#146 Moon Knight
#147 Galactus
#148 Elektra-Skrull
#149 Deadshot
#150 Scorpion

#201 Manta
#202 Stepford Cuckoos
#203 Angel
#204 Wyatt Wingfoot
#205 Colleen Wing
#206 Dazzler
#207 Dr. Octopus
#208 Stilt-Man
#209 Moleman
#210 Red Skull
#211 Dr. Druid
#212 Puppet Master
#213 Alfred Pennyworth
#214 Rachel Summers
#215 Ron Troupe
#216 Rayden
#217 Magneto
#218 Professor X
#219 Vulture
#220 War Machine
#221 Green Goblin
#222 Martian Manhunter
#223 Swordsman
#224 Speedy
#225 Hercules

#276 Iconoclast
#277 Firefly
#278 Super Adaptoid
#279 Executioner
#280 Machine Man
#281 Jocasta
#282 Baron Mordo
#283 Mr. Majestic
#284 Loki
#285 Diamondhead
#286 Sasquatch
#287 Annihilus
#288 Defile
#289 Constrictor
#290 Mr. Sinister
#291 Paibok
#292 Ra's Al Ghul
#293 Manticore
#294 Macro-Man
#295 Ra's-A-Pocalypse
#296 Dragomir
#297 Doppelganger
#298 Mongul
#299 The Banshee
#300 Hammer

#351 Taskmaster
#352 Dan Hibiki
#353 Tombstone
#354 Zangief

It was this, or a random picture of Batman...
Spidey sasses Rhino in a solicited flashback series: As seen in SPIDER-MAN: BLUE #2!Hammer...
Well, we're off to a good start for the year, aren't we? I'm sure you can appreciate how the end/beginning of a year can distract, but we're here now, and ready to go for a whole new year!

As we enter a year without Spider-man it's worth a final note to those who are outraged by the outrage surrounding One More Day. Because a good many of you will also be part of the growing trend of reverse-internet pest, who excessively avoids opinion or judgment, regardless of the intellectual tools available to them. Remember, there is always opportunity for reassessment, and though we are making some small gesture to discourage events like One More Day, we encourage you to make your own decisions with confidence. There is no reason to fear error or strong opinion if you genuinely believe it. It does not make you one of the internet pests.

Speaking of people who aren't internet pests there are a few sites that have been very generous to us throughout 2007. Always Bet on Bahlactus and When Fangirls Attack are two sources that have helped boost our Technorati Authority, and regularly include us in their efforts to bring together the wider community.
They are definitely two sites I enjoy visiting, and we are very grateful to their assistance in spreading the word of the Infintie Wars.

There's a whole list of great blogsites out there, and when you're done cruising the archives of the Infinite Wars, we strongly encourage you to take a look around some of the links provided in the menu. At the bottom are some great sites who are linking to us, and I hope you can return the favour.

In the spirit of greater community, I hope to hear from more of you in the comments section in 2008. The Fantasy Fights hopefully helped us connect with you, following up on the ever-popular request line of fictional fisticuffs.
Though the canonical variety will always be our bread and butter, it has been fun indulging in a little bit of wacky fun. Following up on our last bout of Fantasy Fights, we'll be pitting the winners - Marvel - against the Street Fighters who have been stalwarts of our weekend activities. So, while they will be absent for a little while, they'll still be duking it out in some form.

I look forward to hopefully luring you with more output from Nite Lite Theatre, following up on the oh-so transparent motives of this site to further promote my goals as a comics writer. Hopefully the product can live up to your standards, and soon I hope to have some of that apparel I've been mentioning.
Pedro and I have been discussing some developments surrounding KMI, and I hope to have some news in the coming months regarding that. One doesn't like to say too much, with so many variables effecting all involved.

Those of you who have made an effort to support not only this site, but the small press endeavours in publishing, get bonus rep points. You rock!

I'm not sure there's much else left to say, but with a whole year ahead of us, I'm sure if anything was missed, we can make it up some time. It's great to have you all back for another year, and here's looking forward to what lies ahead!
Let Season 2008 commence! Hope to hear from you!

- Mike Haseloff; War Monger-in-Chief
Mike Haseloff is a small time comics writer, who at present is thinking about getting some breakfast. The importance of breakfast should not be underestimated. It is the most important meal providing a strong start for energy and attentiveness throughout the day, and also sets ones metabolism in a positive swing, helping in the battle of the bulge. For more on Mike Haseloff's weight loss strategies, refer to KMI #1... But not really...

December Hit Count: [7284/55604] (+1853)


Krod said...

I read SWOIE almost religiously, but don't comment. Since you requested it... here I am.

This site celebrates the reason I love superhero comics: the ACTION. In an age of insider-politics, meta-fiction and teenage-girl-talk, you keep focus on what's enjoyable about the medium and genre.

Keep up the good work. I'll try to comment more from here on, and can only hope others do the same.

Mike Haseloff said...

Yo, Krod!

That's really neat! It's great to hear someone throwing their hat in the ring for the kind of action we celebrate!

I like to think we kinda have something for everyone going on here, which does also includes those other popular themes. I just hope we're as successful in doing it without ever displaying a self-loathing for the beauty of two superpowered lugs punching each other stupid. ;-p

It's always nice to hear a different voice and perspective, so always feel welcomed to comment!
Hopefully you (and everyone else) will enjoy what we've got coming up for 2008!