Saturday, March 01, 2008

MONTHLY PUNCH-UP #27 (March 2008)
Masked Marvel (Frew Publications)
The Phantom #972 When: February 1991
Why: Lee Falk How: Wilson McCoy

Quick Fix...
Bob Kane and Bill Finger; co-creators of Batman; are regularly associated with namechecks for pre-superhero inspirations like The Shadow and Zorro, but there's another inspiration for the Dark Knight Detective so often overlooked!

American comics have a lot of dirty secrets and mysteries, but one of the greatest of them all is the disappearance of "The Guardian of the Eastern Dark" from American pop culture!

In my own mind I consider this something of a special occasion for the Infinite Wars, because for the entire two years of Infinite Wars there's been a character lurking in an untouched longbox with the strength of ten tigers! Gosh, like the overgrown child I am, I really could gush catch phrase [and old jungle sayings] all day, because as you might have already guessed, I'm a huge Phantom fan!

For many of you, the Phantom is probably the Billy Zane character who invited you to "slam evil." For those a little older, he might even be the animated hero gathered with many other King Features characters in the mixed bag eighties action series, Defenders of the Earth. Or, at a longshot, he might even be the lanky Peter Chung designed eco-warrior from the future in Phantom 2040!
No matter the ill-fated mainstream property, you haven't yet been properly acquainted with the character who predates even Superman!

A little over two years before the debut of the Man of Steel from National Allied Publications, The Phantom's journey begins as a newspaper strip in 1936. The story quickly foreshadowed an inbuilt trope of modern comics storytelling, featuring a character who was the twenty-first iteration of his kind, bringing with him a backlog of inbuilt history that spanned several hundred years.

If there's a criticism I could have of the Phantom, it's that this twenty-first Phantom has persisted into the modern age. If you're at all familiar with current stories published by the likes of Moonstone, you'll be interested to know that like a Batman or Superman, this is the same character that debuted in the thirties.
In this respect, the Phantom has been unable to capitalize on a unique foresight that characterized many of Lee Falk's definitions of the character.

Falk, a grossly underrated powerhouse in early American comics, previously created the culturally advanced Mandrake the Magician, and Lothar, one of the earliest black characters to feature in a role prominent enough to place him on a par with the title protagonist. Like Lothar, the Phantom would feature his own black skinned supporting cast with a similar respect, albeit tucked beneath the role of unwavering dedication; pseudo-slavery; to the Phantom.

To be fair; interpretations of Western arrogance and slavery are probably inflections of a modern self-consciousness. Actually, the tribes of Phantom's jungles in Bengali; [also popularly called, Bangalla]; are so crucial to the character that the very first Phantom - a shipwreck who witnessed his father's murder - owes a great deal to his legacy's origins to the secretive Bandar pygmy poison people.

This first Phantom; whose father was a seaman on the Santa Maria when Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas; was a seaman on a ship captained by father. It was here in 1536 that the character's long running rivalry with the Singh Brotherhood pirates begins. The pirates attacked his father's ship, and murdered all on board save for the young Christopher Walker Jr, whose last sight is the murder of his father, before he drifts into unconsciousness while at the mercies of the Bengali coastline.

Rescued by the Bandar, Christopher Walker Jr swears an oath on the skull of his father's murder to dedicate his life to fighting piracy, cruelty, and injustice in all it's forms, and pledges his bloodline to do the same. It is here that the destiny of the Phantom throughout time begins, stretching from son to son in a chain that, if you're to believe certain sources, will last well beyond the year 2040.

Each subsequent son is born and raised in the Skull Cave, inhereting the mantle of the Phantom in a tradition that leads the outside world to believe he is just one man. The feared Bandar tribe live with the Phantom and protect his secrets, perpetuating a myth that permeates through the world by way of the Phantom's many adventures. His legend spreads to England, Spain, Portugal, France, the United States, Japan, India, Australia; it even reaches the planes of the Second World War, as each Phantom intervenes in his own way in history's path.

Again, this is a device indicative of the genius of Lee Falk.
Not only did he vividly design a character filled with intrigue and marketing potential, but also designed an avenue of longevity and never ending source material for new stories. Along with the many iconic dressings of the character, a sprawling library of chronicles recording each adventure undertaken by each generation of Phantom. Many stories recount tales from the chronicles, which are often read by the modern Phantom as a source of shared amusement, or even as an encylopaedic reference useful on many missions.

A curiosity of the Phantom is his distinct lack of arch-villain, and it's here that we may find the key to a diminished fanbase in American comics. Compared to his contemporaries, some might say there's little incentive to invest in Phantom tales due to their fragmentation from future stories. While this would be a gross misinterpretation of the Phantom continuity, it still doesn't give the format the credit of being a mythos freely contributed to by writers across the globe, so long as they never tred on crucial ground.

Doing their best to fullfil the role of arch-villain are organizations prevelant through time. The Singh Brotherhood are undoubtedly the best known group, generationally significant as pirates in much the same way as the Phantom.

The Sky Band remain another popular group with which the Phantom has experienced friction. This group of all female pilots terrorize the airways with their own brand of piracy quite modern to early Phantom tales, comparable to the threat of terrorism or internet piracy present in contemporary tales. The Sky Band popularly joined the Singh Brotherhood in the 1996 feature film, and also appeared in the only Phantom-centric episode of Defenders of the Earth, in a new form.

Unlike many of his American contemporaries, the Phantom fights evil across the entire globe. Given the difficulties many Americans have for accepting and understanding culture outside their own, this may be viewed as yet another reason the character was abandoned by his homeland, only to be adopted by two of the most prominent Phantom nations; Sweden and Australia.

The Phantom entered publication in Australia under Frew Publications in 1948, and has remained a constant presence on Australian newsagency shelves ever since. Famous throughout the years for it's low price, the Phantom is published in black and white on newstock pulp paper, maintaining the feel of many original Phantom newstrips. Fitting, given that Frew holds the sole license for English reproduction of Lee Falk's earliest tales, and regularly compiles and reprints early tales as individual releases, and as parts of special editions such as the annual "ten dollar specials" that run around three hundred pages.

Usually I'm a little wary of featuring reprints on the Infinite Wars.
The Masked Marvel originally appeared in newspaper strips running from November 1948 to February 1949, and was originally printed in Frew issues #55 and #56, in February/March of 1953. My decision to go with the 90's version was for the typical neusance of editing to stretch or cut stories down for the comic book format. This version of The Masked Marvel boasts the first unedited version published by Frew, which would become a signature of many reprints through the nineties, to present.

Frew is somewhat infamous for it's numbering structure, which includes many peculiarities such as A and B editions which deviate from the central numerical tally of published issues. This, the 1000th issue published, is actually #972 in Frew's official numbered catalogue, but if you're wondering, no. They did not milk an extra celebratory issue out of the numerical #1000, unlike a Marvel comic today. [Razz!]

Not surprisingly, the retro boxing talk from New Frontier [#2] got me thinking about this, one of my favourite boxing stories of all time. The story remains one of the many well regarded tales written by Falk himself, and is easily one of my favourite Phantom stories, which is no mean feat for a title that's run so long!

Like most Phantom stories of this era, the tale begins with a contrivance to bring the Phantom; aka, Kit Walker; into the conflict. The typical mcguffin would be a trip to New York City where the Phantom regularly canoodles his girlfriend, Diana Palmer, the prototype mode for a Lois Lane type character.

Our story opens with a brief introduction to a burly bruiser whose manager has contrived for him the hook of professionally fighting with his identity hidden. As the Masked Marvel, the fighter not only scores many important victories, but maintains a mystique that sees his profile on the fastrack to a world title fight against World Heavyweight champion, Kid Hercules!

Alas, this guy isn't the most patient bull in the china shop, and before long he begins marching around town to declare his unmasked glory. Much to his chagrin, the public isn't so trusting of the unmasked Marvel, relenting only when physically assaulted or threatened by the arrogant bruiser. However, while in a bar, it seems evident that he is about to harass the wrong customer!

The Phantom, having been raised and continuously trained in the jungle, is an exceptionally powerful man -- almost superhumanly so! He would probably attribute part of this strength to one of his many peculiarities; the devout consumption of milk, which he regularly drinks on his journies.

Ordering milk in a bar, as you might imagine, is rarely a popular decision, but the Phantom has enough self-confidence and belief in calcium to make it work. Oh, and there's the small matter of being able to deck anyone who might get a little too frisky in their mockery. Case in point; the Marvel, who doesn't take too kindly to the Phantom's disinterest in his celebrity, or his desire for a cold glass o'.

The man in the trenchcoat and glasses has a secret identity of his own, and it channels from his fist all the way through the Marvel's skull as he not only matches the Marvel's strength, but trumps it! It's a one punch knock-out, much to the shock of the Masked Marvel's manager, and the barkeep happy to hand out some free milk bottles for the peace.

"Advise your friend, when he wakes up, to try milk. It's a great bodybuilder."
The Phantom imparts some wisdom before returning to his girl, Diana Palmer, who's waiting in the car outside with his pet wolf, Devil.

There's a common misconception amongst many readers today that the Golden Age was somehow an excessively passive era. This time, coloured significantly by the violence of the Second World War, actually boasted many characters, even pre-Golden Age comics, that were quick to resort to lethality. In actual fact, in the late thirties when he debuted, even Batman not only wielded a gun, but was also more than willing to see to the deaths of several foes! [More discussion about Golden Age morals in; Harsh Vintage Justice]

The Phantom, though equipped with twin colt pistols, was actually something of an exception when it came to violence. One of the great potentials of a Phantom/Batman meeting comes from their opinions and contradictions of violence.
Batman, who is today staunchly opposed to firearms, readily dishes out broken and bloodied limbs to a point just shy of lethality. In contrast, the Phantom is quite reluctant to violence, despite utilizing guns as a deterrent, and as a method of disarming other armed men [being that the Phantom is a crackshot, capable of regularly shooting guns from other men's hands].

Though reluctant to fight to the point of often attempting to pacify situations through talk; the Phantom is never one to back down from a fight. As we saw above, the Masked Marvel's threats were quickly met with a knock-out blow.

Later that day, after Diana learns by a call to NY that her Aunt has fallen ill, the Phantom takes Diana to the airport to arrange for travel. While she waits at a drinking hole, the Masked Marvel just happens to waltz in feeling fresh, and again touting his veiled celebrity. Uh-oh!

Despite the intevention of his manager, and the feisty retaliation of a confident Diana Palmer, the Marvel continues to come on strong, grabbing at the Manhattan native with the intent to get a kiss. This sight does not sit well with the Phantom, as he returns to collect his girlfriend.

You couldn't say this is a rescue; Diana is too strong a woman for that; but the Phantom at the very least comes to her aid, matching the burly manhandling of the boxing sensation once more. It fast becomes the unofficial rematch of the century!

Much like the last time, the Masked Marvel comes strong with all the personality of a raging bull. He hurls threats and insults, sure this time he won't go down to a sucker-punch from the mysterious Kit Walker. The threats don't last long as an awfully familiar scene unfolds...

The Phantom swiftly evades the Marvel's blow and "turns on the power," leaving the Masked Marvel with a second concussion, and his manager without a fighter for the next night. On doctor's orders to rest the champ for a month, a window of opportunity arises for Diana and Phantom. Thus, in exchange for fighting as the Masked Marvel, the Phantom arranges a direct flight in the Marvel's private jet for Diana to reach her Aunt in New York.

Now, be forewarned. The pairings of panels might inadvertantly make the Phantom look like a bit of a violent psychotic, but I assure you that's not the case. Actually, what my selections really don't do is pay tribute to the brilliance of not only Lee Falk's script, but also the layouts by the prolific Wilson McCoy.

We tend not to give the artists as much service, but I really cannot say enough about the brilliance of Wilson McCoy. What he does is by no means overt, but his artwork manages to infuse the best qualities of many classics that he himself may have either worked alongside, or inspired. Eisner may be championed as the inventor of motion in American comics, but McCoy brings not only that skill to the table, but his own clever cinematic panel designs, high action, vivid characters, and all on a budget of a forties newspaper strip. He really is a master of economy on the page, which only enhances what is already a progressive script.

Much like the recent Martian Manhunter discussion [Men are from Mars], I've greatly enjoyed giving you a bit of a glimpse into some of my favourite, slightly obscure stories. With any luck we'll talk more Phantom in the not too distant future, but in the mean time, I better get on with things!

ARTWORK: John CassadayThe Fix: 5 The Story: 7
Winner: Phantom [x2]

This one goes down as a double win for the Phantom's debut in the Infinite Wars rankings! We hope you got something out of what essentially turned into a poorly phrased comics history lesson, and would love to hear any of your stories or experiences with the Phantom, especially if you're one of those fantastic "phans" from Sweden or Australia!

Top Artists
#1 (-) Paul Ryan
#2 (-) John Byrne
#3 (+2) John Romita Jr
#4 (-1) Alvin Lee
#5 (-1) Jim Lee
#6 (-) Rob Liefeld
#7 (+3) Tim Sale
#8 (-) Frank Miller
#9 (-) Claudio Castellini
#10 (NR) Phil Jiminez
Top Writers
#1 (-) Geoff Johns
#2 (-) Jeph Loeb
#3 (-) Judd Winick
#4 (-) Ken Siu-Chong
#5 (-) Brian Bendis
#6 (+1) Mark Millar
#7 (NR) Keith Giffen
#8 (-2) Tom DeFalco
#9 (NR) Darwyn Cooke
#10 (NR) Peter David
Creative Differences...
We're really about the characters and the comics here on Infinite Wars, but that doesn't mean we can't make up Google hits by including creators in our activities! Okay, so that's a joke, but it's fair to say with the exception of maybe the occasional Brubaker slagging, there isn't a lot to say about the creators.

Even so, with the template already there, I figured it might be nice to give the kids a bit more bang for their iBuck by keeping the tradition going. The real clincher was the unlikely prospect of movement within the ranks, even if a big part of that was down to switching Keith Giffen from being a penciller, to being a writer. God damn flip-flops!

I like to think I'm not a crotchety sort, but far my vices, I've got sins.
These hands haven't been soaking in baby oil, after all. They've been tapping madly away at the keys of destruction, because that's what we do here. This isn't Kansas, sonnyjimladsonnyjim! These are the Secret Wars on Infinite Earths!

Given my ill-fated forray into interviewing, (NOTE: Brian Vaughan doesn't have an opinion on rugs, and Gail Simone does not munch them! Whoops!), there isn't a lot to cover. The much loved Mark Millar continues to be the master of this domain, creeping up the ranks in the same week as the debut of his much-hyped 'best comic book series ever', Kick Ass. The series comes from Marvel's creator-owned incentive brand, Icon, which is already regular home to boy's club projects; Powers and Kabuki. Also moving and shaking in the writer ranks is living-legend, Darwyn Cooke, whose New Frontier was released as an animated DTV feature this week. Being the crotchety old struggling writer I am, I personally lump Cooke firmly in the "artist" category, but hey. You can't argue with statistics!

If you've got any comments about creators, or have been deeply offended by remarks incensitive to both the lesbian and bald communities, you can find an apology and an open forum in the comments section at the bottom of this post.

Spider-Boycott: 2008 Status Update...
Welcome once more to another update on Spidey!

For those who came in late; you might be aware of a storyline called One More Day which recently gave Spider-man a reboot that hinged on a deal with Mephisto to remove his marriage to Mary-Jane Watson in exchange for the life of Aunt May Parker! This story has been followed by what many are calling the best mainstream Spider-man comics in years, but from the outside looking in, I personally find Brand New Day to be more than a little dull looking.

Of course, to clarify, Brand New Day really isn't the point we here at the Infinite Wars are opposed to. OMD simply marks an exceptionally bad story which preps to give license to some of the very worst possible outcomes in contemporary writing.
In response, the Spider-Boycott means we will not endorse the Spider-man character, or the comics [with rare exception] in Infinite Wars entries.

In terms of Spider-man's representation on the site, it actually looks quite similar to Season 2006, where Spider-man was absent until the latter half of the year. Slapping a banner on posts and dubbing it a Boycott is really just a distinction that, with any luck, pulls a few extra hits in for the likeminded!

I'd love to better justify the Boycott, but in a delicious twist of irony, I'm going to take a similar stance to many involved with One More Day, and just dismissively push on with my own agenda. We're running quite a bit behind schedule, and I'd very much like to get this out before I have to do the next one! So, without further ado... We go to the scoreboard to see how the fans are voting!

AUG2007 #7 Amazing Spider-man #543 [106,485]
AUG2007 #43 Sensational Spider-man #40 [52,180]
AUG2007 #61 Friendly Neighborhood Spider-man #21 [44,661]
SEP2007 #2 Amazing Spider-man #544 OMD [146,215]
OCT2007 #2 Friendly Neighborhood Spider-man #22 OMD [110,405]
NOV2007 #7 Sensational Spider-man #41 OMD [100,300]
DEC2007 #2 Amazing Spider-man #545 OMD [124,481]
JAN2008 #1 Amazing Spider-man #546 BND [136,109]
JAN2008 #8 Amazing Spider-man #547 BND [108,485]
JAN2008 #10 Amazing Spider-man #548 BND [105,122]

The hashed numbers represent the ranking for that month's sales figures, while numbers in brackets are the estimated quantity of issues. Of course, January marks the first month of the three-times-monthly Brand New Day issues, so it's far too soon to really draw any conclusion from sales.

It's clear that this event, which has drawn mainstream media attention, has definitly jacked Spider-man sales up considerably! What isn't clear is what will dictate trends in sales, particularly when you can see a drop-off of tens of thousands issues all within the space of a one month/three week period.

It's not surprising to see retailers ordering up on the first issue, but what does the tenth-spot #548 mean for the future of this new Spider-man?
There have certainly been mixed reactions online, but for the most part I've seen positives far outweighing the negatives. Regardless of where I stand on the situation, I have to admit this much; watching the sales figures stack-up is going to be one of the most enjoyable things to come from the franchise!

The 2008 Top Five...
Listen, if your story's that you were googling for "Korn", but made a horrible typo, then more power to you for sticking to it! For everyone else, bravo for just coming out and admitting it: You come for the insight and repartee, but you stay for the monthly top five rankings -- as decided by the month's biffs and battles!

As evidenced by years gone by, the top five is experiencing some tumultuous changes heading out of the second month of Season 2008. Despite a reduction in entries in February, we're still maintaining a pace substantially faster than our previous years, which means the top five is already showing signs of levelling out.

It's probably too soon to expect the heavy hitters to emerge, but a certain Dark Knight may already be making a play for the top spot in a year that will almost certainly be a battle of the non-super powers! The shadow of the bat is cast long as New Frontier shows off previews of animated Bat-features, [Gotham Knight], coming to DVD before the release of The Dark Knight in cinemas. It may, at least in our arena, prove to be the superior strategy as Iron Man flails toward his own big screen debut with an animated movie now a faded memory of 2007!

ARTWORK: Kevin Maguire#1 Martian Manhunter (new) (DC)
Class: [Super] Last Opponent: [Hill Street Cult]
Win Percentage: [40%] Features: [5]
2006: [NR] 2007: [#222] Cumulative: [#57]

Given the boost the character enjoyed around the time of DC's 52 tie-in, World War III, this probably comes several months too late to count for anything. Don't get me wrong! As you'll no doubt have seen if you've read February's entries, is a passion and love for the Martian Manhunter character, but ultimately in the publishing schedule, nothing much of interest is happening with the character, and that means nothing much is happening here.

I think it's great to have MM at the top of the ranks here, and with the lingering threat of a Justice League feature film, relevance might present itself. I think when presented in a strong form to mainstream audiences, Martian Manhunter instantly appeals to the sensibilities of that slightly mysterious, incredibly noble loner that's made characters like Wolverine, or Nightcrawler instant successes in the feature film medium. That said, as implied by 'threat', I don't expect positives from a low rent Justice League movie.

I've enjoyed sharing some of my favourite Martian Manhunter moments with you all, and I would very much like to get the opportunity to talk with you all again. That said, I wouldn't expect to see J'onn J'onnz again any time soon [except maybe for the conclusion to our Secret Origins series, of course!].

ARTWORK: Alex Ross#2 Green Lantern (new) (DC)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Golden Roc]
Win Percentage: [100%] Features: [4]
2006: [NR] 2007: [#41] Cumulative: [#19]

From one green space Leaguer to another; this time we find ourselves at a more sustainable entrant into the top five!
Hangover from the sell-out space epic, Sinestro Corps War, returns the Hal Jordan character to the spotlight left behind during the machinations of the late nineties. Some would argue both the character, and franchise, haven't looked this good in years, and celebrations of the character seem to back that up.

Green Lantern makes for a nice change of pace in the ranks, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if the character maintains his importance in DC in the coming year. You've already seen the character make a graphical statement on the first cover for Final Crisis; DC's latest event driving mini-series, this time manned by fan-favourite ideas man, Grant Morrison. It's names like that, and established keeper of the GLC guard, Geoff Johns, that are safeguarding this reinvigoration.

Given the limited back catalogue for DC characters and the Infinite Wars' inability to sustain weekly purchases; GL might fall by the wayside in the gap between Sinestro, and Final Crisis. Any avid GL fans might like to take this opportunity to petition for online retailers or companies to sponsor the site with weekly review sources, but with all the Amazon paraphernalia popping up, I'll keep that kind of talk to a minimum! Instead, I just say, I look forward to seeing the various Green Lanterns maintain the kind of presence they didn't have in our first two years.

ARTWORK: Ed McGuinness#3 Batman (RE) (24) (DC)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Zsasz]
Win Percentage: [66.67%] Features: [27]
2006: [#1] 2007: [#2] Cumulative: [#2]

Y'know, bringing Batman back into the top five almost feels like going home. 2007 started similarly, but wound up being another year of dominance for the Dark Knight, proving once again the power of this character. Previous years have seen Spider-man be his main rival, but with the post-OMD quashing those contributions, it looks like it could be a slow start to clear sailing for the Batman in 2008!

I had the opportunity to check out previews for the Gotham Knights anime features that will hit DVD in the lead-up to The Dark Knight, and my passion for the character is slowly being renewed. The features boast an Animatrix style pantheon of Japanese animation legends, lending their skills to scripts by comics' powerhouses which feature some fantastic Batman action. Deadshot, Scarecrow, Killer Croc, and Man-Bat are among the villains promised, reinterpreted by visuals that have this casual anime fan all a-tingle with anticipation! One particular short of note, featuring Croc, appears to draw direct inspiration from the moody art style of brief Bat-penciller, Mike Mignola!

It's already well documented in last year's Punch-Ups that I'm less than thrilled with the state of the character under Paul Dini and Grant Morrison. That said, the kind of hype a feature film release offers means there's plenty to choose from in the Dark Knight catalogue. That and a feature film and anime release. Not too shabby, but enough to fend off the, thus far absent, assault of the Invincible Iron Man? We shall see, true believers! We shall see!

ARTWORK: Alan Davis#4 Mr. Fantastic (+1) (8) (Marvel)
Class: [Champion] Last Opponent: [Wolverine]
Win Percentage: [58.82%] Features: [17]
2006: [#14] 2007: [#4] Cumulative: [#7]

Y'know, I don't want to come off all like I'm a new home buyer in the DC Nation, but... This is where the top five gets a little boring.
Oh, I know, I know! It's sacrilege to speak ill of the creations handed down to humanity by the Great Kirby, but it's just... Fatigue! After the entire team made the year-end 2007 top ten, I'm a little burnt out of the FF!

Keeping the team prominently in the spotlight is Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, who launched the first issue of their run on the series with popular success. The series seems to be exactly what fans would expect from the pairing, and in most opinions, that's a good thing! Millar's run has already been defined by the parallels drawn between Johnny Storm and Paris Hilton, in one of many comedic moments key to a successful Fantastic Four story.

In the Ultimate corner of the Marvel Universe; Mike Carey has quietly been going about his own hype-driven business with the return of [Ultimate] Thanos!
The character has been built up over quite a few issues of UFF, making the return a big deal to those who care. Without being at all informed, I felt the introduction might have been a little large for the contained nature of the Ultimate comics, but it seems like that's going out the window on a line-wide scale with Jeph Loeb running rampant with Ultimates 3, and Bendis gearing up for his secondary conspiracy-driven crossover. Bendis will undoutedly very soon become a name I'm sick of hearing, moreso than usual. Y'big dummy!

ARTWORK: Alan Davis#5 Invisible Woman (new) (Marvel)
Class: [Champion] Last Opponent: [Wolverine]
Win Percentage: [57.14%] Features: [14]
2006: [#23] 2007: [#9] Cumulative: [#11]

That Fantastic Four fatigue? Yeah, well, maybe you see where I'm coming from now. Invisible Woman asserts her feminine wiles on the Top Five leaving her brother, Human Torch, to be the only FFer not to have spent time in our Top Five. What exactly that means, I do not know, but it's an interesting footnote to eat up time for a character who'se already been covered in the previous entry.

As we discovered last year, the family dynamic of the Fantastic Four means that success for one is felt by all. Chances are that's going to mean less FF in 2008, although, if we should somehow be thrust into the glamour of weekly comics reviews [hint hint, sponsors], we may very well be forced to bring the sexy back with Millar/Hitch's work.

At such an early stage the team is congested, which means Invisible Woman's nearest rival in the 2008 stakes is Rogue, who is currently ranked eighth. Given how open the field has been thus far, it's going to be very intriguing to see how the fifth spot unfolds come the April Punch-Up! Got any ideas who might steal the spot, or just want to shout support for a character? Drop a comment!

Cumulative Super Stock...

Martian Manhunter soars up the ranks
into the Season 2008 top spot!
[Secret Origins #35]
1. Spider-man (-) (M)
2. Batman (-) (DC)
3. Wolverine (-) (M)
4. Iron Man (-) (M)
5. Hulk (-) (M)
6. Captain America (-) (M)
7. Mr. Fantastic (-) (M)
8. Superman (-) (DC)
9. Thing (-) (M)
10. Human Torch (-) (M)
11. Invisible Woman (-) (M)
15. Ryu (-) (C)
16. Sub-Mariner (-) (M)
19. Green Lantern (+9) (DC)
20. Catwoman (+9) (DC)
23. Beast (-4) (M)
28. Rogue (+14) (M)
50. Spectre (-) (DC)
57. Martian Manhunter (+215) (DC)
62. Aquaman (+116) (DC)
64. Wonder Woman (-2) (DC)
66. Sagat (-2) (C)
72. Black Canary (+134) (DC)
75. Fei Long (-3) (C)
77. Colossus (+136) (M)
80. Hawkwoman (+3) (DC)
88. Powergirl (+46) (DC)
100. Mephisto (-4) (M)
150. Hellboy (new) (Dark Horse)
151. The Blonde (new) (DC)
152. Jin Kazama (new) (Namco)
153. Rose (new) (C)
154. Hurricane (new) (Dancing Elephant)
155. Sand (new) (DC)
156. Spoiler (new) (DC)
157. Wildcat (new) (DC)
167. Wonder Man (-85) (M)
194. Cheetah (-74) (DC)
195. Spider-Woman (-81) (M)
196. Slam Bradley (+135) (DC)
197. Captain Marvel (-11) (DC)
200. Professor X (-11) (M)
211. Vision (-41) (M)
250. Isis (-10) (DC)
279. Green Lantern (new) (DC)
280. Dr. Mid-Nite (new) (DC)
281. Stargirl (new) (DC)
282. Flash (new) (DC)

Rogues tears the hopes of the android
Avenger, Jocasta, to pieces!
[What If...? #66]
283. Mr. Terrific (new) (DC)
296. Grom (new) (Dark Horse)
300. Scope (-15) (M)
350. Wildfire (-14) (DC)
400. Ra's-A-Pocalypse (-13) (DC/M)
442. Ganryu (new) (Namco)
443. Bruce Irvin (new) (Namco)
444. Jack Staff (new) (Dancing Elephant)
445. Ord (new) (M)
448. Victor Zsasz (new) (DC)
450. Golden Roc (new) (DC)
468. Solomon Grundy (-56) (DC)
469. Jocasta (-95) (M)
472. Lizard (-25) (M)
473. Taskmaster (-25) (M)
474. Dan Hibiki (-25) (C)
475. Zangief (-25) (C)
476. Magneto (-25) (M)

Much like Mike, WILDCAT survives overwhelming odds to bask in the glow of a successful finish: Seen in NEW FRONTIER #2!The Hammer...
Are these things getting longer each time?
I think they might be getting longer each time. I would like to think that's a good thing, what with the general edict of 'in the absence of quality, give them quantity' here on the Infinite Wars, but hey. Not everyone's a reader!

The clock is gradually ticking further into time I could spend sleeping, so I'll probably try to keep this uninvolving, if not downright shallow.

My struggling career as a comics writer, which was hopefully to include a webstrip on this very site at some point, has been taking a lot of body blows as I struggle to come to terms with schedule and the necessity of collaboration with people who can draw, if not take explicit instruction. No news on that development, but we'll see what evolves toward the end of the year.

On a vaguely related note, the Infinite Wars has finally sold-out to the temptations of blatant commercialism! Now you not only get convenient links at the ends of posts to buy what you've read, but you can also cruise the aisles of our very own online store! The Infinite Wars Amazonian Gift Shop has a range of war memorabilia including collections featuring all the issues reviewed on the site, plus several prominent recommended reads!
Also on the shop floor, if you scroll past the comics, is a spotlight on a featured collection [currently Enemy of the State], as well as links to Nite Lite Theatre merchandise, including the long rumored Kirby Martin Inquest t-shirts! Yay!

Hey, while we're selling love, why not throw some to people deserving?
As always there are a lot of people to thank; When Fangirls Attack and Bahlactus continue to very generously throw your attentions by way of our benignly related items. Big shout outs also to Rokk's Comic Revolution, which just celebrated a second anniversary, and Comic By Comic, both great blogs and friendly folks in their own rights. Big ups also to Noe.V on 1up and the folks on the Capcom Message Boards for their interest in our Street Fighter entries!

There's a whole heap more people to thank too, not the least of which is you, especially if you've read all the way to this point!
If anyone's been forgot, then you can rest assured it's only because I'm at the point of believing I'm being stalked by a man with a big toe for a finger, and have been threatening Michael Ironside with a thesaurus.

We've got a whole lot of awesome fights already lined up for the Infinite Wars, and to get a little bit of steam back, we'll be doing a timewarp in March's Cover to Cover features, so watch out for that, you Transvestites, you!

- Mike Haseloff; Commanding Officer
Mike Haseloff is a little known comics writer with the fantastic ability to ramble at great length about very little. After being harassed by fighters from a rival dojo, Mike once resorted to talking at length about the 1994 Shadow movie in order to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. After successfully mowing his way through the competition, he eventually retired to grungy inner-city district where he continues to dish out grim and gritty justice on a nightly basis. Except on Sundays because Ghost in the Shell is on.

February Hit Count: [9134/74608]* (-0.9%)**
* Technical difficulties resulted in one or more days not counted
** Percentages now represent month's daily average


Jermayn said...

Im one of the Phantom phans. Loved reading this post, great work.

One thing though that its Diana's mum and not her Aunt that is unwell.

Pedro Cruz said...

Man, I love them old Phantoms! Would like to see you review more oldies, Mike!

Mike Haseloff said...

@Jermayn: Belated cheers, sir!

@Pedro Cruz: I imagine the 2009 release of the Dynamite book will give us another opportunity to look back!

Jermayn said...

@Mike - no probs

@Mike & Pedro - I doubt the Dynamite publishers will publish the Phantom, all hot air imo