Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Touchdown (DC)
Infinite Crisis #6 When: May 2006
Why: Geoff Johns How: Phil Jiminez, Jerry Ordway, George Perez, Ivan Reis (If you know which, post a comment)

The story so far...
Long ago a crisis tour the fabric of reality asunder, giving birth to a new age of fact, and universe of heroes reborn.
Unbeknownst to even those aware of events, a pocket dimension housed a band of survivors from the infinite earths, where for decades they have watched.

Disatisfied with the darkness that has befallen their counterparts of Earth-One, these heroes of old have escaped the confines of their self-imposed exile, and come to usher in a new reign of existance in the universe, even if each member has a different goal in mind.

Manipulated along with the entire villainous community; Black Adam soon discovers he is little more than a power source for the world altering machinations of Alexander Luthor Jr (of Earth-Three). With the lives of millions at stake, the dark Marvel turns on the villains, and after destroying Psycho-Pirate, directs his attentions to the out-of-control Superboy of Earth-Prime...

Tale of the Tape...
ARTWORK: Jim LeeARTWORK: Alex RossStrength: Draw 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Black Adam 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Superboy-Prime 6 (Mach Speed)
Stamina: Superboy-Prime 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Black Adam 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting Ability: Black Adam 7 (Born Fighter)
Energy Powers: Superboy-Prime 5 (Lasers)

- Once, long ago, a technologically advanced civilization lived in a period of utopia sustained by the people's own magnificence. Despite their brilliance, the people of the distant planet Krypton would condemn themselves to a destiny of self-destruction, determined by cosmic conspiracies far beyond them.

Thermonuclear energies from deep within the planet's core simmered to the surface, resulting in a plague that killed thousands of Kryptonians. Despite fair warning, the elders of this civilization were unable to relinquish a total ban on space travel, decreed after the destruction of one of their two populated moons, the result of weapons testing by the scientist, Jax-Ur.

Jax-Ur's colleague, a kind man named Jor-L, would reluctantly imprison his mentor in a pocket dimension of non-space dubbed, the Phantom Zone.
Having learnt of his planet's doomed fate, but unable to change the whims of his seniors, Jor-L went about ensuring the Kryptonian legacy by using his technology to teleport his only son, Kal-L, to a world eventually dubbed Earth-Prime.

Discovered alone in a forest by Jerry and Naomi Kent; Kal-L becomes their adopted son, whose history remains a complete mystery to them. Even so, fate has it that they name their new son Clark, despite the name's association with a popular fictional superhero called Superman.

SUPERBOY-PRIME does not share the afflictions of his counterpart, as evidenced during his psyche-out with BLACK ADAM!The passing of a comet awakens Clark Kent of to his Kryptonian powers, and drawing power from Earth-Prime's yellow sun, he becomes Superboy!
By escaping exposure to Krypton's radioactive remnants, he evades it's weaknesses, whilst sharing the same powers as his Earth-One counterpart.

Anguish over the destruction of his home at the hands of the Anti-Monitor, and decades sealed in a pocket dimension, eventually lead Superboy to become a villain to the people of Earth-One, where his zealous quest for nostalgia makes him Superboy-Prime. Armours based on the Anti-Monitor's enhance his powers, supplying him direct with yellow based energy.

- In ancient Egypt, the Wizard Shazam grows weary of his duties and comes to recognise the need for a champion to rid the Earth of the evil that infests it.
Impressed with the deeds of an Egyptian Prince, Teth-adam, he grants him the powers of a pantheon of Egyptian gods, his powers being: the stamina of Shu; the swiftness of Heru; the strength of Amon; the wisdom of Zehuti; the power of Aton; and the courage of Mehen. Their initials spell Adam's magic word, Shazam!

Alas, Adam is seduced by evil, and overthrows his Pharoah to earn the name of distain: Black Adam. Despite his power, Adam would disappear after his betrayal of the Wizard, to resurface thousands of years later when he would be reincarnated at an archaelogical dig. This resurrection eventually gives the immensly powerful Adam an opportunity to repent, turning his massive strength, speed, and endurance to a complicated new life in modern times.

The Math: Black Adam Ranking: Black Adam (#13)

What Went Down...
Having been freed of Alexander Luthor's Anti-Monitor Tower, and killed Psycho-Pirate [Infinite Crisis #6], Black Adam finds himself the target of renegade, Superboy-Prime, who delights at the challenge he presents.

Not inclined to compromise, the betrayed Black Adam prepares the fullest of his strength, with little inclination to show mercy on the murderous teen.
Having successfully faced Superman in combat, Adam procedes with an arrogance he soon regreats, as the Superboy of Earth-Prime reveals a distinct difference between he and his senior counterparts.

Suffering the blows of a legitimate powerhouse, Superboy-Prime feigns greater sensitivity, playing to Adam's understanding of the regular Superman.
Powered by the armor modelled after the Anti-Monitor's, Superboy easily recovers from Adam's mighty blows, and retaliates with a punch that sends the dark Marvel hurtling across the battle scene.

Adam's trajectory sends him so far into the air his proximity to the Anti-Monitor Tower becomes too distant to sustain him in the neutral plane. Though still ready to battle, Black Adam finds himself in the strangely unfamiliar Earth-S, transported back to his original Earth. A fate no longer accessible to Superboy, who remains insanely desperate to return home.

ARTWORK: Jim LeeThe Hammer...
So, after a year of sponsorship we finally got Black Adam a decent mugshot. Too bad it couldn't come with a victory over the ever-topical Superboy-Prime!

Gosh, there's so much to talk about here, and a lot of it has very little to do with Adam, whom we've covered considerably throughout 2007. You can probably stay tuned if you're looking for more on him, but in the mean time, it might interest you to know Black Adam was among the top ten characters of 2007, which get first bite at 2008!

Strangely enough, despite this being the first appearance of the character in the Infinite Wars, we actually have a sub-clause concerning Superboy-Prime and the existence of significant alternate-universe counterparts. [For a taste of the unwritten rule book, check out the Doombot Decree!]

If you're a first time reader of the Infinite Wars you'll be a little in the dark, so let me fill you, and even the unwitting long timers on the situation.
Amidst the many things we do here, monitoring the results of superhero fights is chief among them. By tabulating those results we accumulate a sports league style layout for our yearly reviews, and a running tally for the overall feature that seeks to measure the fighting prowess of the major superheroes and villains.

In a genre constantly in flux, certain contingencies are in place to allow us to operate with fluidity. One of those is the rule to measure alternate universe counterparts [like Dark Knight Returns Batman] as connected variations of a character.
That is to say; if DKR Batman defeats the Joker, the stats for both results are attributed to Batman and the Joker as a generic. Likewise, this allows us to visit film and television versions of characters without an excess of labels.

Superboy-Prime, as a topical example, provides us an exception to the rule that recognises the interactions of a unique alternate version, and dubs it necessary to consider them as individuals. This not only acknowledges the canonical relevance of a characater like Superboy-Prime, but also prevents dead-results from a confrontation with our Earth-One Superboy.

Another example of the rule, for Marvel fans, might be the Exiles version of Calvin Rankin, aka; Mimic, who crossed over with the Marvel Universe proper, and also possesses differentiating distinction from the original character.

Of course, while we tried to think of everything, the convoluted nature of comics fiction, which is constantly in flux, throws us some curve balls. DC went to lengths to make things very difficult with their recent streamlining of the multiverse, with a new fifty-two Earth layout originally referred to as the megaverse, (by Grant Morrison, one of the influential writers behind it).

This newly specific Megaverse meant exploration between worlds, many of which are dervied from famously abandoned Elseworlds tales, was infinitely more approachable. Interdimensional travel has been a core concept explored with the recent Countdown weekly series, and it's many spin-offs, including Arena.

Arena represents our problem in a nutshell, because this story, built solely around gladiatorial combat - perfect for the Infinite Wars, brings together triplets from the Megaverse. This means we now have to decide whether or not three versions of Superman deserve individual recognition, or should remain under the original alternate universe rule.

If you've made it this far through the garbled discussion about alternate universe, then you're probably a savvy or at least interested War Monger (reader), and are the perfect person to help the decision. Scroll down a little to the comments section where we'd love to get your opinion on whether or not Megaverse counterparts deserve individual recognition, or if we should be selective with who deviates from central characters in the ranks.

In the mean time, I would imagine we can all stay tuned for more on Superboy-Prime, who you'll notice has been tagged as Superman-Prime.
Legal disputes between DC and the estate of Superman creator, Jerry Siegel, have resulted in widespread avoidance of the Superboy name. This meant not only a last hurrah for "Conner" in Infinite Crisis, but also a not at all out-of-character promotion for the self-absorbed Prime. More on those events, in the not too distant future...

The Fight: 4 The Issue: 7

The Black Adam/Superboy-Prime fight represents a very tiny piece of what is an overflowing book. In a previous review we gave the issue seven for the unashamed investment in DC history and future, with a buttload of content coming from this single issue. Infinite Crisis has shaped much of the DCU as we know it now, and is a must-read for anyone looking to understand the greater context of Countdown, and all other events currently occuring. A great way to catch up is by picking up the collection at best-price from Amazon -- and by using the link, you help sponsor future entries thanks to Amazon kick-backs! Whamee!

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