Wednesday, April 30, 2008

IN STORES: April 30, 2008
You can probably find complete shipping list updates on most major comics sites. Consider this an opportunity to either do all your info-shopping in the one place, or get a speculative perspective on what might be worth checking out. These are untested reads. Secret Wars on Infinite Earths can offer no guarantee or endorsement of quality. These are simply titles that may be of potential interest. Some items may ship late.

The Infinite Wars now has a gift shop!
Now you'll find Amazon purchase links to hardcovers, trade paperbacks, and other collections, not only on regular entries -- but also new releases at the bottom of the Shipping List, and now a whole catalogue of potential purchases via the Infinite Wars: Amazonian Gift Shop. [Men are also welcome!] By shopping with Amazon via our purchase links, you not only find yourself a great deal, but also sponsor future entries on the Infinite Wars.


Thin and Crispy...
FEB080212 ACTION COMICS #864 $2.99
FEB080217 BLUE BEETLE #26 $3.50
FEB082244 NEW AVENGERS #40 SI $2.99
FEB082160 PROOF #7 (MR) $2.99
FEB082203 ULTIMATE X-MEN #93 $2.99

The Deep Dish...

It's now nigh impossible to mention Daredevil without a sigh of dismay.
While the character languishes under a creative team too familiar and grounded for their own good, a fifth-week special is exactly what the character needs to entice a little excitement -- even at the cost of highlighting the core title's faults. Would've been nice to see this break up the rigmarol of the on-going, but you take what you can get. It will be interesting to watch the title settle once Greg Rucka's joined, reuniting the team behind the critically acclaimed, Gotham Central.
Frankly, I expect more of the same, but we'll see...

- MAR080123 DC UNIVERSE ZERO $0.50
Final Crisis is knocking at the door, which can only mean a last minute post-Countdown one-shot! Hey, at fifty cents I'm not sure you can begrudge the guys whipping a little bit of filler out before the crossover kicks off proper. No points for originality! Marvel did one-better at the beginning of last month, dishing out Secret Invasion hype for zippo! Still, the price is right!

The Skrulls might be getting all the press, but it's important not to forget that Marvel's gearing up for a second major event in the Avengers universe!
Captain America will return to the Marvel Universe when the WWII-era Invaders find themselves displaced in time! Alex Ross and Jim Kreuger thrust Cap, Namor, and Toro into a post-Civil War America where a sixty-year generation gap promises to cause friction between the the trio and the modern Avengers!

If you're keen to familiarize with the parties involved and the relationship the groups have had prior, then Giant-Size Avengers/Invaders will prepare you with reprints of a classic tale with a similar bent. Containing Avengers #71 and Invaders Annual #1; it's a vintage classic told from two different perspectives. And yet, it remains less repetitive and monotonous than an average Brian Michael Bendis issue. Heyoooh!

- FEB080222 GREEN LANTERN #30 $2.99
Geoff Johns continues his startling recovery of the Green Lantern! Despite some concern about the lull of an origin recap between feature stories; all reports suggest Johns is not only putting a great new spin on events, but using the history to redefine and foreshadow events looming in the Green Lantern universe.

Final Crisis remains a luring mystery with it's GL cover, and lurking in 2009 is the Blackest Night crossover, which has promised the return of fellow second-generation Silver Age icon; Barry Allen. If you're at all curious about Green Lantern, but have otherwise been intimidated, then now is certainly the time to stop being a baby about it, and jump right in. This is only the second issue of the secret origin arc, so #29 should be easy to find on back issue!

- FEB082224 IMMORTAL IRON FIST #14 $3.99
The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven comes to it's action-packed end!
Brubaker and Fraction make their withdrawl from the series with the conclusion of a very Mortal Kombat-esque period for the title. A style shift is guaranteed from the previous team's hand-picked successors; writer/artist team, novelist Duane Swierczynski (Cable) and Travel Foreman (Ares: God of War, Doctor Spectrum). A vaguely Samurai Champaloo energy about Foreman's approach is a harsh turn from David Aja and his gritty collaborators; but I'm hopeful it can avoid the obnoxiousness of other hiphop/martial arts clashes.

- FEB080229 JSA CLASSIFIED #37 $2.99
By no means a headlining title, I thought it was worth taking a look at the series currently spotlighting Golden Age brawler, Wildcat. The time travel story brings the character back together with Catwoman, and promises a new role for the statesman in the future. I'm not sure if Wildcat's a character in need of a shake up ofr his status quo, but it's nice to see something going on.

- FEB082201 ULTIMATE HUMAN #4 (OF 4) $2.99
You could be forgiven for thinking that the Hulk hype was gone; but despite mixed reviews for Jeph Loeb's new Red Hulk series, the post-WWH freight train continues! A poorly publicised film, set for release in June, will propel Edward Norton into the role previously inhabited by Eric Bana. Ultimate Human foreshadows the possible future of the film franchises as Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark launches into cinemas May 1, and sneaks in a cameo appearance that promises a future onscreen clash between the Iron Man and Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt)'s 'unique problem.' Who doesn't like the sound of an Iron Man/Hulk movie?...

Know Your Trade...

JAN080266 GON VOL 04 $5.99
FEB084093 TEZUKA DORORO GN VOL 01 $13.95

Site Update...
A big month wraps up for the Infinite Wars!
Be here tomorrow for the May Punch-Up as we run down a whole range of items!

We'll have the usual statistical analysis of the 2008 Top Five characters; movements in the Super Stock; sales shifts in the pseudo-weekly Amazing Spider-man schedule; and the first ever spotlight on the Infinite Wars Fantasy League! Our first monthly winner will be crowned, and a few new teams will be revealed as we rank and value each group!

Despite the best of intentions I didn't quite get to an update yesterday, which means we'll probably have to skip the black and white proceedings of Bahlactus' FNF. It'll be an Infinite Wars vintage Friday as the classic Fight Night features more discussion about the industry and upcoming developments in Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe!
Those feeling smothered can look forward to some relief in the C2C though as we launch into Invincible Iron Month, and also take a look at a belated fifth-week special!

Don't forget to sign-up to the Fantasy League if you haven't already; keep an eye on updates for The Kirby Martin Inquest; and head over to Blogged to rate the Infinite Wars! We got a generous 8.9 that set us third in Graphic Novels and Comics, and I'd love to see you guys rating high in support of the web's feature fight club! Also checkout Comic Blog Elite, where the site's been shooting up the rankings! Let's see if we can pull enough hits to take on a friendly rivalry with Comic By Comic! Cheers!

Monday, April 28, 2008

They've battled Aliens, Predators, Marvels, and Wildstorms -- but this time events will conspire to bring the heroes of the DC Universe across time and space to face mortals!

The announcement of Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe promises an unlikely collision of worlds; each intimately familiar with the threat of universal annihilation!

Already confirmed to appear are each brand's icons; Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Batman, and Superman, but who else will join the line-up of this face-off?

Continuing on from last week, we continue our rundown of possible contenders for the game, to be released in Fall 2008! Last week's industry-wide whirlwind tour of series co-creator, Ed Boon, continued to reveal incremental degrees of new information. The most significant tidbit to leak; the confirmation of only ten or-so characters from the two participating brands. With so few characters on offer, our predetermined odds should arguably be downgraded, as the lesser characters become overwhelmed by multi-media icons like; Wonder Woman, Flash, Martian Manhunter, Liu Kang, Raiden, and Kitana.

[#28] :RANKING
[50%] :ODDS
Justice League

ODDS: [30%]
Seidan Guard
Strength: Hawkman 4 (Enhanced)
Intelligence: Draw 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Draw 4 (Athlete)
Agility: Hotaru 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Draw 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Hotaru 3 (Explosives)

The Battle...
A surly demeanor; penchant for medieval weaponry; history as an alien lawman; and a curse that sees him repeatedly reincarnated... Can you find me a character more inclined to fit seemlessly into the world of Mortal Kombat than Hawkman?!

At this early stage it's difficult to really imagine where the MK team are coming from in their selection process. "Iconic" has been the term used to describe the most likely choices, making Hawkman a touch-and-go selection probably more dependent on age and reference, than fictional moxxy.

With a well documented intensity for justice that includes erasing memories and severing limbs; Hawkman could make a great rival for the zealous Seidan General, Hotaru. Alas, the vote for diversity that saw his Thanagarian female counterpart [Hawkgirl] appear in the cartoon show, could potentially undermine the Hawkman's chances once more. Despite baring many of Hawkman's traits in the series, Hawkgirl is traditionally the less aggressive of the two.

If weapons can find a place in the game, Hawkman comes equipped with his trademark fixed mace, but is more than happy to utilize spears, tridents, and nets. In-game maneuvers could feature flying charges, weapon hits, and maybe even a finisher from the Claw of Horus! An arsenal of moves that make Hawkman more than a match for his MK adversary.

The Math: Hotaru Our Winner: Hawkman

[20%] :ODDS

ODDS: [20%]
Strength: Dairou 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Question 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Dairou 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Dairou 4 (Athlete)
Agility: Question 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Dairou 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Draw 2 (Projectile)

The Battle...
When his family was murdered, the once respected Seidan Guardsman, Dairou, turned his back on order in an attempt of vengeance against the man he believed responsible. Shamed, Dairou became a warrior without purpose, offering his services as a rogue assassin, even to those such as Darrius, a purveyor of chaos considered one of Seido's chief nemesis'.

Like Dairou; Renee Montoya was once also a member of law enforcement. Disgusted by acts of corruption that lead to a Detective's death, Montoya leaves the force to spiral downward into depression and alcoholism. Recruited by the clandestine hero, the Question, Montoya is given new purpose, and upon the death of her mentor, assumes the role of the faceless hero.

A physical mismatch; both characters are highly unlikely to feature in the pared down roster. Far from iconic, I wouldn't expect to see any of the characters from Chaos or Order realms, but I'm a ham for resonance! Tempting as it was to go with the martial arts zen of the Vic Sage character, I'm trying to stay contemporary, and to that end, the theme of despondant law enforcement works, even if Montoya's Question isn't really suited to a fighting game.

The Math: Dairou Our Winner: Dairou

[30%] :ODDS
Sinestro Corps

ODDS: [50%]
Edenian Army
Strength: Fatality 4 (Enhanced)
Intelligence: Jade 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Jade 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Fatality 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Jade 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Draw 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Fatality 5 (Lasers)

The Battle...
We know MKvsDC won't feature the gore splattering gimmickery of fatal finishers, but hey! Just because there won't be fatalities, it doesn't mean we can't have a Fatality.

Alright. It's so lame it doesn't even qualify for pun-status, but whatever it is, it had to happen. You can't serve up character speculation for a Mortal Kombat game without turning an eye to recent Injustice League recruit; Fatality.
Far from iconic; I'd lean toward calling Fatality notoriously generic, even if she's graduated into the ten-year club, significantly as both a Green Lantern villain, and a member of the Society of Super Villains.

Her possesion of a Qwardian "Sinestro" ring makes Fatality more than a match for the Edenian assassin, but I like to think the parallels are still there. An affinity for green, proficiency with staff weapons, and a storied reputation as assassin; why, if they weren't so very different, they'd be exactly alike!

The Math: Fatality Our Winner: Fatality

[#44] :RANKING
[50%] :ODDS

ODDS: [20%]
Strength: Etrigan 4 (Enhanced)
Intelligence: Ashrah 3 (Straight A)
Speed: Ashrah 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Etrigan 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Etrigan 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Ashrah 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Draw 3 (Explosives)

The Battle...
Mortal Kombat's mythology is expansive, drawing on influences from across the globe, but at the heart of it's grungy gothic style is a lot of infernal reference. This meant there were a lot of options available when considering The Demon - a character I would consider a must if not for numerical restrictions on the DC draft. Created by Jack Kirby; Etrigan is the rhyming ratbag of DC's mystics whose allegiance to good is the result of being bound to a human.

Etrigan isn't so different from Ashrah; a demon of the Netherealm who slays her own kind in an effort to gain humanity. Ashrah was once a member of the Brotherhood of Shadow, an evil cult dedicated to the worship of fallen Elder God, Shinnok. Her change of heart echoes that of Etrigan's finer moments, albeit more independent than the erratic Demon.

A hard-hitting strongman; Etrigan's in-game capabilities should translate smoothly. Hellfire's the name of the game, breath and projectile variations welcome, distancing the character from Netherealm counterpart, Scorpion.

The Math: Ashrah Our Winner: Etrigan

[30%] :ODDS
Injustice League

ODDS: [40%]
Strength: Frost 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Frost (Straight A)
Speed: Frost 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Draw 4 (Athlete)
Agility: Frost 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Frost 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Killer Frost 4 (Arsenal)

The Battle...
A stroke of genius, this one is not!
Longtime readers of the Infinite Wars will have encountered my distain for female spin-off characters before. Frost is no exception, suffering heavily from being a watered down Sub-Zero with hips, breasts, and Annie Lennox for a stylist. Strangely this would-be recruit of the Lin Kuei earned a substantial following within the MK fanbase, keen to follow her exploits as she attempts to overthrow Sub-Zero, and steal his dragon medallion.

To the best of my knowledge Killer Frost doesn't have the same support, but she is a villain known to clash with the likes of Firestorm and Superman!

Despite having more expansive control over her abilities to generate ice and freeze objects, one would expect a similar grounding to in-game representations. It's almost ironic to note how unlikely such an appearance would be, given that Killer Frost amounts to an in-game female version of Sub-Zero. If only the MK team had focused their efforts on "iconic" characters before Deadly Alliance.

The Math: Frost Our Winner: Killer Frost

[10%] :ODDS
Justice League

ODDS: [0.1%]
Shinnok's Army
Strength: Draw 2 (Average)
Intelligence: Ambush Bug 3 (Straight A)
Speed: Draw 2 (Average)
Stamina: Ambush Bug 4 (Athlete)
Agility: Ambush Bug 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Meat 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Draw 2 (Projectile)

The Battle...
Meat was the result of cruel genetic experiments conducted by the sorceror, Shang Tsung. Ambush Bug was the result of an alien wardrobe sent from a doomed planet, only to be discovered by a schmuck.

Meat is a fun character who assists Shinnok.
Ambush Bug is a fun character who thinks he's Superman's friend.

Neither of these characters have any place being in Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe, but it seemed fair to represent the lighter side of both universes. For all the bitching about the lack of gore and murder in the game, a lot of fans have forgotten MK's sense of humor, as intrinsic as any more bloody gimmicks.

Ambush Bug's suit gives him the ability to teleport, a favourite special amongst the MK cast of characters, but no. Neither Ambush Bug, nor Meat, will be appearing in this game. I mean, why waste your A-game when there's still sales to be milked from a sequel? Yeah, that's right! Marvel/Capcom pulled a sequel, why not these clowns? Don't even act like you wouldn't love it...

The Math: Ambush Bug Our Winner: Everybody's gonna get laid!

NEXT: It'll be a hot time in the old town next week when we feature some of the heavy hitters of the DC and MK universes! Also on the way; more intergalactic fisticuffs from the DCU, the week's releases, and May 1 is the Punch-Up! Be here!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

During the week, we introduced you to the first registrants in the Infinite Wars Fantasy League! If you have not yet signed up then you should do so immediately! The Fantasy League provides a simple platform of interaction with the Infinite Wars by using the results catalogued in our many reviews! By following submission guidelines you're on your way to adopting a team!

The Fantasy League offers us a great opportunity to acknowledge sponsor websites from across the web. Where is my Power Ring? is a site sure to strike a chord with Infinite Wars readers fond of; the topical pursuit of company crossovers, fan-fiction, and discussion podcasting! Doc Blue recently kicked off a series of Amalgam-esque exploits, featuring mish-mash versions of fictional icons. As if by contradiction, I'm not a big fan-fic guy, but it's great to be able to reflect some of the content generated by Infinite Wars readers! Which is why you should be signing up, too!

Today we take a look at some of the back catalogue featuring members of The DC Illuminati! Remember, you too can become a part of the fun by enlisting in the Infinite Wars Fantasy League! Blogger membership is not required, and readers new and old are encouraged to join in and promote their corner of the internet. Stay tuned Thursday as we wrap the month's action up in the Punch-Up; featuring the first round winners and grinners of the Fantasy League!

Secret Origins #32 (November 1988)
"All Together Now" Giffen/David/Shanower

In a team analgous to the recently revealed cabal of Marvel masterminds; the Illuminati; it's no surprise to see one Atlantean monarch represented by another. I may be a Sub-Mariner man at heart, but even I have to admit to having a soft spot for Aquaman, who's success is reflected in a top ten charge in Season 2008!

In a recent series of posts, we featured the adventures destined to bring together the heroes of the Justice League! Despite being a slight obscure version of the origin, no longer regarded canonically; Aquaman's consistent presence in the big seven guarantees a surprisingly self-conscious appearance. The story touches on Aquaman's feelings of inadequacy as morepractically empowered individuals emerge in the world. Reflecting a very modern predicament for this classic character; Aquaman finds himself literally helpless as he loses form at the mercy of the Mercury Monster!

Steel #28 (July 1996)
"The Drowning Room" Tomasi/Robinson

It's no secret! On the Infinite Wars I'll often take time to play favourites, and while he might not be the most significant or unique character to grace DC comics, there's something special about Steel!

Rescued from a fatal fall by Superman; John Henry Irons was inspired to turn his brilliant mind to the design of a suit of armor. Repentant for his involvement in the design of weapons plaguing street crimes; Steel emerges as one of the many would-be replacements after the death of Superman; but endures even after his return as a force for good on the streets of Washington DC!
With his identity exposde: Steel finds his niece kidnapped by the gelatinous villain, Plasmus! In an effort to force John Henry to use his technical expertise to fashion a suit of armor, Plasmus seeks a solution that will sustain his deteriorating condition and burning touch.

Identity Crisis #3 (October 2004)
"Serial Killer" Meltzer/Morales

The controversial blockbuster of 2004 was undoubtedly Identity Crisis; a dark tale of secrets within the Justice League, and the who dunnit murder of a hero's wife.

Sue Dibny's funeral is just the beginning as the indiscretions of the League's past come back to haunt them. Junior members discover a shocking history of manipulation, placing Zatanna and the group at the centre of a witchhunt for a villain who once assaulted Dibny, before having his memories altered by the magician.

In hot pursuit of Dr. Light, the angered team find themselves confronted by hired bodyguard, Deathstroke!
The combat unfolds as a grieving Elongated Man does his best to strike out at those he believes have wronged him, but have the team pursued the wrong man, and in doing so, opened pandora's box?

Justice League Unlimited #14 (December 2005)
"Everybody Limbo!" Beechen/Barberi

If you're setting up a secret sect of superpowers and leaders in your universe, then you've absolutely got to have the magic side of things covered -- enter Dr. Fate; mystic agent of order!

Summoned together by the wandering spirit of the Deadman; Kent Nelson joins a ragtag team of occultists and mystics to tend to a coup that threatens to corrupt the universe! Three lowly demons have clogged up the realm of Limbo in an effort to amass power sufficient enough to rebel against both Heaven, and Hell!

Order is well represented as Dr. Fate throws in with the ethereal influences of the angel Zauriel and the demon Etrigan! With victory all but assured for the powerful magics, things go horribly awry when a traitor emerges in their midst!

Green Arrow #72 (May 2007)
"Back to School Night" Winick/McDaniel

Few names are added to the 'DNR' list in comics, but for twenty years Jason Todd remained a part of this revered number. 2005 saw that theory smashed when Todd, (and Marvel counterpart, Bucky), returned from the dead to menace his former mentor, Batman!

After being beaten to death by the Joker; the former-Robin was laid to rest in a grave he would soon awaken to, as a result of cosmic influences in another dimension. Returned to life, Todd escapes his grave only to fall into a coma, from which he wakes with no memory of his true identity. Recognised by Talia Al Ghul, Todd is nursed back to help with the aid of the Lazarus Pit, and so begins a journey of revenge against the man he feels abandoned him. It begins with a deal with the villain Hush, but Todd's aspirations quickly turn to the criminal underworld of Gotham, and eventually the next generation of superhero sidekicks. Death or seduction awaits!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

DC Top 20 Killers
#1 Batman (2)
#2 Superman (7)
#3 Black Adam (3000006+)
#4 Steel (3)
#5 Green Lantern (1)
#6 Hawkman (1)
#7 Flash (1)
#8 Martian Manhunter (1)
#9 Aquaman (1)
#10 Red Robin (1)
#11 Wonder Woman (2)
#12 Deathstroke (1)
#13 Black Canary (1)
#14 Lethal (4)
#15 Black Mask (1)
#16 Soldier (1)
#17 Bizarro (1)
#18 Atom Smasher (1)
#19 Ganthet (1)
#20 Sayd (1)
The wave of hysteria continues for the unlikeliest crossover coming this year: Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe!

Last week we took a look at a couple of MK entries, and a few DC stories with a bit of a grim bite to them. The announcement of a T rating for this game, as well as the loss of MK's trademark fatality finishers has a lot of gamers up in arms. I've never been one particularly concerned with what amounted to repetitive acts of cartoon violence, but I can appreciate the dismay, particularly given the creative absence of the feature in 2006's Mortal Kombat: Armageddon.

Corporate malaise from DC/Warner obviously steers the product to a more friendly end. Designed to benefit the two series mutually through the wider exposure afforded by DC's mainstream icons, this non-lethal conclusion also neatly compliments heroes like Superman, and Batman, whose moral codes are staunchly opposed to killing -- or so you thought. Truth be told, the many stats accumulated by the Infinite Wars include killing blows, and as you can see from the top twenty DC ranked killers, plenty of their icons have executed their own fatality finishers. Don't believe it? Collected here are just a handful of the fatalities dealt by DC heroes!

The Dark Knight Returns #4 (June 1986)
"The Dark Knight Falls" Frank Miller

They're two of the most recognised icons in the world and as the first two draftees into MK vs DCU, they'll be fighting on the same side -- as long as they can stay away from each other!

You might know them as leaders of the Justice League; fifty years ago they were the World's Finest crime fighting duo; but ever since Frank Miller showed us his dystopian future, we've known them as respectful allies, and fierce rivals!

In a world where society turned against the superheroes; Earth's champions have been outlawed and run out of town. Reduced to little more than a government puppet, Superman works in secret to protect the United States from it's enemies, but when the Batman leads a rebellion against the oppressive state, the conflict is anything but civil. In this legendary tale, Batman teaches his Kryptonian rival a rare lesson in pain, but when the fight is done, the blood's on Superman's hands!

Legends #1 (November 1986)
"Once Upon a Time...!" Ostrander/Wein/Byrne

Known in certain circles as "the big red cheese;" Captain Marvel is a Golden Age icon who's struggled to shake off the innocence associated with his 1940's past.
When the Crisis of Infinite Earths wiped the slate clean for the DC Universe, Captain Marvel was in the thick of things as the heroes were propelled into a modern age. Unfortunately for them, Darkseid was drawing plans anew to destroy the DC heroes, and it begins with a plot to undermine the confidence of the public.

Child-TV host by-day, Billy Batson summons the magic of the Wizard Shazam when trouble shakes the foundations of the TV studio. Outside, the towering menace of the Macro Man threatens all who stand in his path, but unbeknownst to Billy, the real threat is to his credibility as a hero. With the world watching: Captain Marvel kills!

Superman/Batman #14 (January 2005)
"I Pledge Allegiance..." Loeb/Pacheco

Having landed on Earth as a baby; Kal-El was christened Clark Kent and raised with the wholesome moral fibre of a Kansas native. As a child, Bruce Wayne witnessed the shooting murder of his parents, ingraining in him a deep loathing for lethal weapons.

Superman and Batman may be the two biggest icons of non-lethal justice, but when their histories are changed slightly, the two become fiercely protective dictators in a world they now protect from itself.

Pockets of resistance rise up to challenge the intolerance of these obsessive leaders, but when the masked vigilante Green Arrow launches a terrorist attack on Batman's birthday; he becomes the candle on the cake as Superman and Batman put an end to his march.

Infinite Crisis #1 (December 2005)
"Infinite Crisis" Johns/Jiminez

When Lex Luthor unifies nearly every villain in the DC Universe under his control, you know there's going to be trouble. When that Luthor is actually an interdimensional impostor intent on reshaping and remixing worlds to recreate his own -- it's a crisis!

The ghosts of a past they don't even remember come back to haunt them, when the DC pantheon of heroes are forced to engage the menace of various threats. At the centre, Alexander Luthor Jr, a man who once saved the multiverse, but now intends to destroy it! In order to do so, he rallies his Society of villains to target specific individuals with properties required to power the engine of the Anti-Monitor's tower. When the Freedom Force find themselves targets on the list, they're lambs to the slaughter as a task force of the Society's most powerful rip through the team -- literally!

52 #45 (May 2007)
"Ever Hour Wounds, The Last Kills" Johns/Morrison/Rucka/Waid/Batista/Igle/Giffen

Every family has it's black sheep and for the Marvel's who've inherited the power of Shazam - Black Adam is exactly that!

Once a proud soldier in the ancient nation of Kahndaq; Black Adam lives through the ages quarreling with his dark designs. After a brief stint with the Justice Society, the hero defects with some of their member to form his own militia, intent on dealing justice under the ancient edict of an eye for an eye.

The Black Marvel's path ends with his homeland, now sullied by dictatorial leaders and internal conflict. With a motley crew of allies Black Adam easily tears asunder the corrupt leaders of modern Kahndaq, and restores the nation to prosperity. His leadership, however, attracts the attentions of neighbouring nations, and when his new family are murdered, Black Adam seeks biblical revenge on their killers, and those that would hide them. Genocide ensues.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Barroom Brawl (GeekPunk/IDW Publishing)
Hero Happy Hour #4 When: October 2003
Why: Dan Taylor How: Chris Fason

The Story So Far...
You can get it fighting, you can get it smiting; you can get it thwarting, you can get it sporting. As a matter of fact, I've got it right now! At the end of a long night of justice; and in desperate need of a winddown; where do the weary heroes of First City go to kick back, have a frosty drink, and soak up normality in the company of their fellows?...

The Hideout Bar and Grill is open all hours, and every hour is indeed a happy one as Night Ranger, Scout, Guardian, Randal, Feline, Knightingale, Man-Woman, Psiren, Cricket-Guy, and all the other heroes, (super, or otherwise), gather after hours for drinks and merry!

Alas; it isn't all fun and games for the regulars at the bar!
Around every corner lurks another threat to First City, to the ettiquette of good shouting, and to the longevity of the pool table. When Phantom Dread and a pack of supervillains come knocking, the team is forced to serve a tall glass of frothy justice, with a guaranteed chaser of pain! The villains will need a damn good hangover cure, because after this night, they'll be driving under the influence of a severe beating!

Tale of the Tape...
ARTWORK: Cal SlaytonARTWORK: Chris FasonStrength: Guardian 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Night Ranger 5 (Professor)
Speed: Guardian 5 (Superhuman)
Stamina: Randal 6 (Generator)
Agility: Scout 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting Ability: Night Ranger 4 (Trained)
Energy Power: Randal 5 (Lasers)

- The Sentinel Squad are: Night Ranger, Guardian and Scout; with Randall and The Eradicator joining in.

Joseph Johnson Jr and Nicolas Newman; better known to the world as Guardian and Night Ranger; are First City's premiere defenders of truth, justice, and the punctual payment of a tab. Though their friendship is strong, the pair are decidedly different.

Night Ranger is the ultimate self-made man, possessing an arsenal of weaponry of his own design. On the other hand, Guardian's powers are borne of an encounter with a dying alien whose fantastic powers were transferred to him when the creature perished in pursuit of an extra terestrial threat.

- Phantom Dread, a mysterious cloaked individual possessing strange powers, is accompanied by fellow villains: Krimson Klaw; an armored villain with extendable arms fitted with pincers, and a penchant for solliloquy; Voodoo Guru; master of the dark arts of voodoo; and Trouble; a feisty leather clad villainess ready to dominate her male counterparts.

The Math: The Heroes Ranking: Draw (NR)

What Went Down...
The Hideout Bar and Grill comes under seige as the villains of First City descend on the unprepared heroes, led by the sinister Phantom Dread! Though in casual setting, the [super] heroes are more than ready to answer the call of justice!...

... Just as soon as they decide who's answering which call!
Night Ranger and Guardian debate ownership of villain, but in the end Krimson Klaw breaks the split when he turns his metallic pincers on the Guardian!

Night Ranger defaults to the Voodoo Guru; directing Scout and Randal to pick up the tab on Trouble and VG's undead slaves! Randal, (heroic name pending), gladly suits up for his first encounter with Phantom Dread and his ghouls.

Randal's solar powered superhuman strength makes going toe-to-toe with the lumbering undead easy; not the case for Night Ranger, who succumbs to the powers of the Guru's voodoo doll likeness! Even Scout, the Night Ranger's sidekick, is embroiled in a tale of turmoil when, looking for Trouble, he finds exactly that! Leaping onto a ceiling fan, the young sidekick wrecks the rec room, much to the dismay of barkeep.

Trouble shoots for the pocket but only splits Scout's balls with a pool cue; while Guardian suffers a splitting headache in the grip of the Krimson Klaw! Maddened by his endless spew of rhyming soliloquy, the alien powered policeman turns the tables, using his superhuman strength to toss the villain across the bar!

Randal enforces the law of the barrier of the bar, putting a stop to Krimson Klaw's unpaid binge, and mounting costs for the bar owner. As he does, the infamous Eradicator enters the bar, shocked by the scene he sees!

Notorious for shooting first, the in-your-face gunslinger goes for his dufflebag, bringing out the big guns in a spray of ammunition that causes more damage than the villains!

After shooting up the bar, denting Krimson Klaw's armor, and inadvertently disarming Voodoo Guru of his voodoo doll; Eradicator gets put down easily by the Phantom Dread, who sneaks up behind to put him to sleep with but a gesture.
Despite the win for the villains; Night Ranger is able to win one back for the good guys with one of his trademark nighterangs -- a physical assault sufficient enough to provoke the hasty mystic retreat of the dark master!

The Ranger next helps turn the tide for his fledgling sidekick, who continues to suffer the indignities of Trouble, who quite thoroughly womanhandled him.

Despite the turning tables, the war proves far from won.
The lumbing zombie gets away from the other heroes, snagging Night Ranger from behind with a death grip. The vicious voodoo creature finds a worthy grappling opponent in the trained hero of the night, who engages willingly.

Meanwhile -- Guardian and Randal pull double team duties that see an end to the pool table. The prop shot from Guardian sets Randal up for the volley, sending a spike straight to Krimson Klaw, who's crushed under the weight of the corner pocket!

While Night Ranger deals with his zombie; Guardian spins around just in time to thwart the creeping threat of Phantom Dread! With one mighty fist, the hero puts an end to the fight, sending the villain into a bullseye.

ARTWORK: Cal SlaytonThe Hammer...
Your winners; Night Ranger, Guardian, Randal, and Eradicator; with the assist from Scout! Yeah, that's right. We're a harsh taskmaster when it comes to the call, and Scout just didn't do enough to score the maximum points. Stay in school, kids!

So you might be wondering exactly what's going on. If you had cosmic awareness, you'd know Bahlactus: devourer of blogs has sent his heralds out into the blogosphere to find blogs with classic-style black and white sustenance for his Friday Night Fights! Once you've had your fill of Infinite Wars, headover to the FNF, where you'll find a space gateway to new worlds!

Throwing a twist into the classic Friday fight is a great way to give the Infinite Wars an opportunity to shine a light on titles usually overlooked. Hero Happy Hour, the cult Geekpunk title currently published by IDW, is a great example!

I had the privilage of encountering Taylor and Fason through the emerging world of the internet at a time when e-commerce seemed to be the way of the future.
I would argue this dream for the technology has since simmered down, but I might be inflecting with my own ill fated experiences.
I'd struggle to even honestly call the guys acquaintances, but their efforts as Geekpunk were incredibly friendly to this writer who zealously sought backdoors into an industry romanticized, but actually quite cold for an International.

In ways I've never experienced before on the Infinite Wars, I almost feel compromised. After lengthy anticipation, I was finally able to secure a piece of Fason art for as-yet unpublished Kirby Martin Inquest #2. Early in the process Fason and I even discussed the possibility of his drawing the title, and while that was unlikely to ever eventuate, he helped influence a much needed redesign of the starring character; the White Ghost.

Wearing multiple hats on a review site is just one of the many symptoms of this blurring line between professional, and fanboy. In an incestuous industry commanded for decades by aging artists and boys clubs, this duality of reviewer, and small-time creator, is almost inevitable as we seek ways to maintain an influence on a potential readership, who in turn influence employers.

I fully submit that I'm appreciative and invested in Chris Fason.
At the same time, this is space typically dedicated to review, and as much as I don't want to jeopardize potential relationships, I feel an obligation of honesty.

Perhaps we should begin with the cleansing presence of factoids.
If you've heard of Hero Happy Hour it might be through one of the many outlets who've taken keen notice of this cult series. Wizard Magazine and Newsarama are two prominent sources to back the title that takes the simple hi-concept of superheroes on their off-time, and follows it through to a subdued conclusion.

Given the timeframe, and my experiences, I tend to think Brian Bendis' influence with indie-hit Powers is all over this one. The exchange of inanities and a stoic urban subtlty feels very much like the consequence of license afforded by Bendis' popularity at the time, and much-talked about style of 'realistic dialogue.'

A lot of contemporary references can be seen in the work, but you can't fault the beautiful simplicity of the concept. Yes, we've seen superhero bars in comics before. Kurt Busiek featured the concept in the critically acclaimed, pre-Powers superhero romp, Astro City; pushing similar themes of pseudo-realism meeting the tropes of the cape genre. Likewise; Marvel's Bar With No Name has been featured prominently in recent issues of Punisher War Journal, but none of these have the same free spirit of Hero Happy Hour.

Ironically, the series did gain unwanted attention from corporate juggernauts, DC and Marvel. They say there's no such thing as bad press, and if you feel you've heard of the series but can't quite place it, it might be because of the name change demanded by the shared trademark of "Super Hero" owned by the big two.
The newbyte earned the series much attention, and might have even contributed to the eventual arrival of the series at IDW Publishing, as Taylor focused on his comics interests, presumably abandoning aspirations for television projects.

Hero Happy Hour does many things I aspire to.
Issues are packaged with stylish covers and back-up stories that help flesh out the world of the Hideout Bar and Grill. This issue in particular boasts a back-up by current Wonder Woman scribe, Gail Simone, who unexpectedly uses the series as a vehicle for a very emotional story about a waitress in trouble.

Unfortunately, the quality of these back-ups really exposes issues of pacing and narrative in the core stories. Despite consistency of tone in Taylor's writing; as new creations are marched through the pages of guest shorts, the sense of depth lacking in the core story becomes increasingly highlighted.

It's hard to nail down a clear motivation in a book that doesn't quite commit to being comedy or superheroics. The Crackurz team of James Patrick and DJ Coffman take stabs at iconic eighties properties, playing a sense of parody that could've been a strong central theme to Taylor's dance with characters clearly based on icons like; Superman, Batman, Robin, and Green Lantern.
Aborted plans for a spin-off title starring Night Ranger and Scout, Justice By Night, were a blessing in disguise for a series in need of a strong voice. In an era of Frank Miller's "Goddamn Batman," my hopes back then to see a stronger tone of parody are only magnified. Then again, that might be my own sensibilities clouding what is otherwise a very consistent, if quiet, tone to the books.

Fason's artwork is vibrant and deliberate in it's stylized cartooning. Designs are surprisingly unique given the derivative tone of the characters, but the simplicity of the solid blacks and whites sometimes further contributes to the sense of anorexia in the content. Artwork is suitably vibrant for the first issue to depict a major fight with the villains, but layouts often focus on beats after the action, and play to a common subtlty that doesn't show Fason in his best light.

Of course, the series has grown and evolved, and it's fair to keep in mind that these early issues were self-published productions. I can certainly attest to the difficulties of that process, and for Dan and Chris to have successfully produced four issues that, despite critique, are all fun reads, is no mean feat.

I don't know how much of a statement Geekpunk is meant to make as a name, but there's certainly a sense of geek chic about the stories. Drawing on that Powers-like energy, issues play with conventions of the superhero genre with a stoicism that's amusing, without being overly cynical. These don't feel like stories designed to undermine or ridicule the genre, even though they don't seem to have the passion and familiarity of a more involved fan behind them.
That said, as material not requiring a broad knowledge of specific comics, they seem like the perfect kind of coffee table comic for the uninitiated to flick through. Though unglamorous, the issues are also unintimidating, and while pacing might be an issue for the average comic reader, the value of collected editions helps smooth over the cracks of abberations like this all-action issue.

I would hope anyone even remotely interested to become better informed on their own terms. Dan Taylor and Chris Fason both 'keep it real' on their blogs; and currently have the Hero Happy Hour catalogue available for free download, so there's no excuse not to come back and post your own opinions in the comments! WOWIO downloads include; issue #1, issue #2, issue #3, issue #4 (reviewed here), and issue #5!

I strongly urge you all to check the series out for yourself.
We look at a lot of Marvel and DC, but I like to walk the walk. You guys should definitely feel compelled to check these issues out, and maybe even think about paying for them, because that kind of support can be vital to the future of projects like these. I know, because I'm there right now, and you'll probably hear updates about that in the coming weeks.

The Fight: 3 The Issue: 4

You can get more information on purchasing and IDW Publishing from! Looking for more reading? You'll find all kinds of stuff in the Infinite Wars Amazonian Gift Shoppe! By using purchase links provided you help sponsor future entries in the Infinite Wars -- and for an even more valuable influence, scroll past the Amazon links for information on buying my tiny, tiny, tiny low quality comic -- The Kirby Martin Inquest! (Although, you might want to hold off for some information regarding that. Trust me!)

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Finally the update has come back to the Fantasy League! Wait no longer as we officially canonize the teams that have been competing during this first month of the Infinite Wars Fantasy League!

Before we get to the pretty colours, there's some housekeeping to be dealt with first. Probably the most important is to assure all you readers out there that there's nothing to be afraid of! If you haven't yet drafted a team, but think you might want to, then head over to the sign-up page, where you'll get the oh-so easy registration instructions that require nothing more than a functioning e-mail address, and a megalomaniacal desire to manipulate heroes and villains like pawns on a chessboard!

Even with a month of competition nearly behind us, it's still a wide open arena! The fluctuating influence of the Super Stock means you never can be sure just who'll be on top! I suppose it's a bit like matching wits with the Joker, in that respect. Only if you lose a round of Fantasy Fights, there's always next month!

We'll get to the next wave of teams momentarily, but first, there's one last matter of importance -- the much talked about new rule -- which is really more of an addendum, but who's counting?...

Since the Fantasy League isn't an exact science, we're going to balance out the odds by introducing a new factor -- the Fantasy Fights! Influenced by current events, it seems fitting that the [statistically] inconsequential rounds contribute to the success of your team! Obviously, given the current situation, that's potentially a bigger advantage to those with DC draftees in their team, but all hope isn't lost! In the Punch-Up we'll have more information about how you can turn your points into opportunities in a bid to win the month, and win the year!

First, just like last time, here's a chance to get to know your enemy!...

THE REVOLUTION [Captained by CaptainSkill!]
Effectively the modern lynchpin of the Marvel Universe; Iron Man's a solid bet in this pony race. Next month sees the release of a major motion picture, and all the merchandising that comes with it, ensuring a catalogue of Iron Man for future reference. Speaking of stockpiling; The Punisher and Magneto promise to pay dividends when future sequels resume their assault on the box office; while Bucky Barnes brings a strong show from the comics as the new Captain America in a series widely acclaimed as one of Marvel's best books! Bringing up the rear is Robin who may yet follow in his counterparts footsteps, should things go according to plan in the upcoming Batman storyarc, RIP.

THE BLACK DEATH [Captained by Buzzlefett!]
The Merc' with a Mouth, Deadpool, has just been announced to star in a new on-going series off the back of his appearances in Wolverine: Origin. This reneissance of the 'Poolman might pick up the slack for Black Adam, whose time seems to have reached a conclusion, pittering out during Countdown. Black Canary hasn't had any problems maintaining her presence as leader of the Justice League and partner to Green Arrow. Darkseid, on the other hand, has it worse than anyone! The gamble on the New Gods has backfired, Darkseid having just been killed in a prophetic clash with his son, Orion. Lobo's future is anything but predictable, as the character loiters around outsider projects.

DIVINE JUDGMENT [Captained by Rafael!]
A supernatural bent makes for a great looking team, but when it comes to the statistics, it's as grim as the line-up. Apocalypse brings doom to the Ultimate Universe in an arc set to cancel Ultimate X-Men; while the Phantom Stranger remains an unknown quantity with the death of the New Gods. Mediocrity saw the recent Blade series cancelled as Marvel continue to bungle the pioneering character; and a similar effect is being felt in the Ghost Rider book, which continues to be an exercise in disappointment. The Spectre's goateed visage looms ominously over the coming Final Crisis, but the involvement of the Crispus Allen character remains to be defined in a series set to defy all expectation!

MAKIN' IT HAPPEN WITH THE CAP'N [Captained by Chris!]
Steve Rogers may be dead, but Skrulls, clones, and time travel keep the real Captain America in the spotlight! Even as Bucky deals with the Red Skull's sponsorship of a potential return, the character plays vital roles elsewhere. The same can be said for Libra, who, despite being incredibly obscure, looks to follow in the footsteps of the Psycho-Pirate, to be a key element in the upcoming Final Crisis. A gamble far less certain than Thanos, who might haved been finally killed by Drax, but continues to tear things up in Ultimate Fantastic Four. Powergirl and Zatanna don't have anything specific on their agenda, but with the heavyhitters to be tied up pretty quickly by Final Crisis, anything goes for the other heroes of the DC Universe, all eligable for this round of Fantasy Fights!

THE CORPS [Captained by Calvin!]
Calvin jumps on something I've been wanting to see - strong theme in a team - but will it come with a cost? The Green Lantern Corps have enjoyed a reneissance under writer Geoff Johns, but even as Mongul embarks on his quest to obtain ultimate power, the Lanterns appear in a period of event-transition, leaving behind the Sinestro Corps War, with promise of Final Crisis and Blackest Night.
A Golden Age undercurrent on the site puts Alan Scott in good stead, but Hal Jordan, Kyle Rayner, Guy Gardner, and John Stewart seem at even-odds, tied up in filler issues, and the chance to appear in the new MK vs DC game.

X-PARTY [Captained by Tyler!]
Tyler does his best to draft a team reminiscent of the days in Madripoor, and with Wolverine being the best there is at what he does, those odds look pretty decent. The X-Men might be in their latest version of shambles, but the Canuck remains a safe bet at the core of Secret Invasion, the various X-series, and a new First Class book. At this point; your guess is as good as mine regarding the whereabouts of Rogue, Jubilee, Dazzler, and Psylocke; but the X-franchise has a way of doubling back on itself, so they won't stay gone for long.

The Hammer...
And there you have it, folks!
The ebb and flow of the Infinite Wars remains a mysterious science. Though fluid like water, it's reaction to influences can be unpredictable. Do you think you've got the winning formula for the ultimate team? We want you to join the fight today, by following drafting instructions for the first annual Infinite Wars Fantasy League!

It's as simple as doing as the captains of the teams featured today have done -- have your pick, and await the slow burn excitement of the monthly punch-up's results! It's as involving or demanding as you want it to be, with the potential to trade characters, and maneuver your way to the ultimate victory of becoming 2008 champion!

COMING: Friday promises another round of black and white fisticuffs, before we wrap up our spotlight on the first four teams in the weekend Cover to Cover. Also in the C2C; more Mortal Kombat/DC Universe action, continuing into Monday, before we crown our first champion in the Monthly Punch-Up! PLUS! May is Invicible Iron Month on the Infinite Wars! Stay tuned!