Saturday, May 31, 2008


Paul McCartney & Wings - Magneto and Titanium Man (1975)

In a month of Iron Mania it would be a terrible faux pas to overlook the 1975 single from Venus and Mars, especially having already featured the song that has nothing to do with the character; Black Sabbath's, Iron Man.

A notorious comic geek, McCartney features a nefarious plot pairing the ferris fiends, Titanium Man and Crymson Dynamo, with the master of magnetism himself, Magneto!

McCartney's grating penchant for naff-pop may not make this a must-have track on the iron iPods of enthusiasts, but it's a fun tribute to the cultural significance of the medium and it's mythos.

With band footage scarce on YouTube, this fan-made video plays substitute, casting the unnamed female robber as the Black Cat by combining clips from the 1990's Spider-man cartoon, with shots from the static mid-sixties cut-and-paste anthology, The Marvel Superheroes.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Friends... And Other Enemies (Marvel)
Iron Man #310 When: November 1994
Why: Len Kaminski How: Tom Morgan

The Story So Far...
Suffering a life-threatening condition that rendered his nervous system on the brink of collapse; Tony Stark fakes his death in order to retreat from the world, and his many enemies, in an effort to isolate himself during the pursuit of a cure.

Eventually Stark reveals his ruse to the world, but not everyone is pleased to see the playboy billionaire industrialist back among the living. After decades of struggle and servitude, including lengthy bouts as a substitute Iron Man; James Rhodes takes exception to be excluded from Stark's inner-circle of aids. Despite the industrialist's best efforts to patch their relationship, including the indefinite pledge of the War Machine armor to his partner, they are unable to reconcile.

Simmering tensions continue between the pair, eventually reaching boiling point when Rhodes finds himself in need of aid from the inventor of his damaged suit. Embittered and unwilling to put aside their differences, Stark opts to decommission the War Machine, but Jim Rhodes has other ideas...

Tale of the Tape...
ARTWORK: Adi GranovARTWORK: Chuck AustenStrength: Draw 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Iron Man 5 (Professor)
Speed: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Iron Man 6 (Generator)
Agility: Draw 2 (Average)
Fighting Ability: Draw 4 (Training)
Energy Power: Draw 5 (Lasers)

- While on a field tour to observe the effects of weaponry designed by his corporation for the United States military; billionaire industrialist, Tony Stark, soon finds himself face-to-face with the bold consequences of his actions.
Caught in a rebel booby trap, Stark suffers a near fatal wound that lodges a piece of shrapnel inches from his heart. The rebels take Stark hostage to demand he apply his genius to the design and construction of weapons built from their limited resources. In doing so, they provide Stark the means to construct a suit of armor that preserves his heart, and turns him into an invincible Iron Man!

Stark's mastery over technology allows him to bring his designs home, where the availability of rapidly upgrading technologies allow him to continue to refine the build to become increasingly mobile and efficient. Stark soon dons the Iron Man armor on a regular basis, not only as insurance against his life threatening injuries, but as an opportunity to atone for the wanton destruction delt by his weapons of death. Stark protects his secrets through the duality of a secret identity, projecting to the world the image of Iron Man as a hi-tech bodyguard.

Advancements in Stark's arsenal have advanced to a point where he has now undergone cybernetic synthesis on a genetic level. The armor now not only provides him with superhuman strength and an array of offensive weapons, but also gives Stark full wireless control over the armor and other peripheral devices, as well as access to information databases, including SHIELD resources under his control as Director of SHIELD. Iron Man remains a staple of the Avengers roster.

- When US helicopter pilot James Rhodes found himself shotdown behind enemy lines, he could never have imagined the way his life would be changed. Having just escaped the clutches of his kidnappers, an armored Tony Stark stumbled upon Rhodes in the jungle, and as Iron Man, helped aid their mutual rescue.

Promised employment as a pilot by Iron Man's "employer", Rhodes fullfilled his obligations with the US military, before taking up the offer. As an employee of Stark Industries; Rhodes developed a close relationship with Tony Stark persisting through the playboy's battle with alcoholism, and the reveal of his identity as the armored avenger, Iron Man. This relationship leads to Rhodes donning the Iron Man armor himself for extended periods, before eventually inheriting a specialist suit dubbed, the War Machine.

As War Machine; Rhodes possesses much the same abilities as Iron Man, including dramatically enhanced strength, endurance, onboard tactical systems, and advanced weaponry. Though subject to variation, the War Machine was originally idenitifed by it's increased durability and arsenal of weaponry.

The Math: Iron Man Ranking: Iron Man (#3)

What Went Down...
Having been confronted by his once best-friend [in War Machine #8], Iron Man uses a trigger word to deactivate the War Machine suit. To his surprise, the override proves ineffective, the result of one of Rhodes' few customizations in the light of a previous encounter with similar results.

War Machine springs from his back, launching into a devestating blow that topples the Iron Man with authority! Rhodes challenges Stark to take him down the old fashioned way, to which his rival seems happy to pledge the original flavoured armor. A blast of repulsor rays soon explains his indulgence.

The Mandarin secretly observes the battle with glee, factoring his own machinations into the equaton, while the two armored heroes continue to mercilessly stretch the limits of their suits.
Stark continues his assault with little forethought for the intervention of more conventional enemies, unleashing the physical brutality of the suit's strength enhancements, as well as his patented repulsor ray blasts.

Iron Man presses his dominance, taking full advantage of maneuvrable superiority to attack the War Machine in flight with a dropping kick attack. The pair battle across the Stark Industries compound, taking the battle airborne when Iron Man launches himself with a missle-like tackle!

The pair spiral around each other, heading skyward as Iron Man continues to batter the War Machine like scrap metal. Having suffered a majority of the violence, Rhodes finally turns the tables on his counterpart, returning the battle to earth with a super-charged toss!

An Iron Man-shaped crater gets a little deeper as War Machine descends earthbound, colliding with the floored Iron Man with maximum impact!
Now suddenly on the ropes, Iron Man suffers a two-pronge attack of a devestating left hook that launches him into the air, and an emotional piledriver regarding Stark's perceived betrayal with his faked death.

With a hint of regret, Iron Man reminds that he's suffered considerably less damage throught the course of the fight. A repulsor blast topples the looming War Machine, but even as the pair anticipate their counter measures, a third party enters the fray to blast them both with a focused EMP!

Bethany Cabe, former girlfriend of Tony Stark and head of Stark Enterprises security, shows on the scene to put a stop to the lunkheaded feud between the armored heroes. Her strategy pacifies the situation, but goes pear shaped when the opportunity for verbal resolution is interrupted by the arrival of the Mandarin!

ARTWORK: Adi GranovThe Hammer...
When it comes to superheroes, you don't always get a clear cut resolution to a fight. In such circumstances it's up to the experienced discretion of the Infinite Wars judges to determine whether a fight be deemed a draw, or awarded on points. The latter is the case here, with Iron Man having held a dominant control throughout the fight, despite an aborted conclusion. No thanks to Bethany Cabe!

For those of you wondering what went down between IM, War Machine, and the Mandarin, you should scoot over to our review of Iron Man #312! Or, if you're too lazy to do that, rest assured that all any troubled relationship really needs is the healing intervention of an insane, mystic, technophobic, ecological terrorist!

This lagging entry into our month of Iron Man provides an interesting bridge between the developing interplay between Tony Stark and James Rhodes in the feature film; and the tumultous relationships experienced by Tony Stark in the pages of Marvel comics over the past few years.

PR and distracting mini-series have managed to gradually smooth over some of the malice felt toward the Iron Man character, post-Civil War.
Well documented was the divide in the Marvel Universe that, though not necessarily intended, painted a politically reactionary Stark as the antagonist to Captain America's ideaological rebel. Stark was arguably in the right, certainly from a real-world perspective, but never the less, you couldn't argue that the management of situations went considerably pear-shaped, even if only taking into account the fatalities of heroes like Black Goliath, and Cap himself.

Agree with the politics or not, we've discussed previously the notion that the volatile turn in Stark's relationship with his fellows (like Captain America), and the absorbed perspective from which he approached the situation, was not at all out of character. In the case of his rivalry with War Machine, I dare say it was Stark who had the emotional high ground, but I think this is just one of many back issues that lend weight to the theory that Iron Man has always been a self-absorbed user.

More pertinent to the point is the backstory between Rhodes and Stark, which includes Iron Man's character-defining battle with alcoholism, and his reliance upon, and abuse of his friendships. As by extension of his alcohol abuse, Stark has long had a penchant for pulling supporting characters into his problems with a self-important gravity.

Splinters in the Rhodes/Stark relationship go back quite a ways, dealing certainly with issues of inadequacy in the former. Division between the characters, however, never struck me as quite as real as after Stark faked his death.
Given that the industrialist was isolating himself to cure a life-threatning condition, it's difficult to fully relate to Rhodes' reaction, but when you consider the unnerving decades of dedication and servitude Rhodes had shouldered, the emotional response at least benefits from the weight of that history.

Like steps from a pamphlette, Stark attempts to smooth the situation over by buying off his friend, but it's not to be.

I do wonder how these relationships will evolve for the flim version of the characters. While the subject didn't seem to be particularly prominent, director Jon Favreau didn't particularly shy away from the prospect of a poignant onscreen battle with alcohol for Robert Downey Jr. One wonders if the inherent distance between the film versions might lend to a similar breakdown and physical confrontation. Fanboys certainly know to expect Terrence Howard in the armor sooner or later, with the film telegraphing such intentions with wanton regard for the fourth-wall.

I think one of the most intriguing struggles for these films will be the balance between suspension of disbelief, and the continued consistency of the Iron Man franchise. While there are plenty of IM villains to go around, most tend to revolve either around the juxtaposition of the fantastic to IM's technology, or flatout knock-offs that pit tech V tech -- something already achieved with Iron Monger.
If indeed another armor war is to feature, you'd have to think it should carry some sort of additional weight, like an internal rivalry between Stark and Rhodes.

I'm a big War Machine fan, and it's nice to come back to the character!
I haven't been reading Avengers: Initiative, but I'm sure for those of you looking to get more of the character, it's nice to know it's out there. I certainly hope the character can be reintegrated into a more prominent role in the Marvel Universe, akin to the titular role he held during this period of comics.

I wouldn't argue against War Machine's role as an Initiative trainer, but I do have a special affection for the superhero side of these characters. What can you do?

The Fight: 5 The Issue: 5

Find yourself wanting more Iron Man? Be sure to track back through the Secret Archives and absorb all facets of the character, be they the superhero, the Avenger, the industrialist, or the arsehole! If you'd like to get some of that action for yourself, be sure to check out the Infinite Wars Amazonian Gift Shoppe! Amazon offers a great range of titles and prices, and with every purchase you make via the links, you help sponsor the Infinite Wars! Yay!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Art of War (Malibu/Midway)
Where: Mortal Kombat: Blood & Thunder #3 When: December 1994 Why: Charles Marshall How: Patrick Rolo

Quick Fix...
Lost, Lost, Lost, Lost, Lost!
Today we'll be talking about the island tournament of Mortal Kombat, and while that might not have anything to do with the season finale of the ABC sci-fi/drama, I really wanted to take advantage of that fat Lost web-traffic...

With useless gratuity out of the way, I now officially welcome you all to the latest instalment of our running reviews and discussions of Mortal Kombat.

Reflecting on a month where reviews have been tough to come by, I'm almost a little disappointed we've dedicated so much time to the video game franchise. Apologies to those of you who've been coming by hoping for more iron in your diet in the proclaimed Invincible Iron Month. Hopefully our back catalogue specials will have at least contributed to whetting our apetite.

I don't want to be too apologetic.
Over the past month I've been very conscious of the split audience I've been talking to, and as much as the loyalties of this website are to comics, I feel I should be doing more to champion the Mortal Kombat cause.
Since the announcement of November's Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe, I've done plenty to document the cultural insignificance of this once mainstream phenomena, and the accompanying disinterest of comics fans. What I haven't done terribly well is describe what's great about the franchise that has kept my interests since the first game, released in 1993.

I suppose full disclosure is in order. I like to consider myself a pretty savvy individual, with well grounded criticisms and opinions, but I'm not without my predelictions. As is self-evident, I have a special penchant for combat, and I take absolutely no issue with the simplicity of a narrative dependent on the interactions of two (or more) opposing forces. I like the art of fighting.

Fortunately, Mortal Kombat manages to deliver substantially more in the story department than would otherwise be associated with it's under achieving, two-axis gameplay. Important, given the few admirers the series has earned within the hardcore gaming community, even with recent advancements.

Though far more technically sound; rival narratives, like the more successful Japanese Street Fighter, can be typified by the underdeveloped method of communicating ideas through individual characters. Contrary to this genre-established tradition; Mortal Kombat takes far more ownership of it's concepts and story, delivering serialized epics comparable to the checkpoint storytelling of major comic book events, like Infinite Crisis or Civil War.

Within the larger themes of interdimensional world domination are the personal struggles that develop the characters and embue the sense of verisimilitude within these fantastic situations. These details have inevitably propelled the Mortal Kombat franchise forward into it's most involved incarnations. Spin-off stories tackle everything from; the origins of Scorpion's predicament as a tortured soul; to the law enforcement duties of the Jax, Sonya, and the Special Forces; the manipulations of the eventually resurrected Dragon King; and more.

These finer details that have really made the MK story a valid piece of fictional history are the product of cumulative effects. The departure of creative co-creator, John Tobias, though often connected to the downfall of the series, arguably allowed the franchise to blossom under new creative direction.
Though crucial to laying the groundwork, it's fair to say the natural state of circumstances worked against Tobias and the makers of the first games. Though definitive in the MK canon, the specifics of many important details derived from the early games were retrofitted, and certainly not elaborated upon in detail accessible to the everyman playing at the time.

It's here I think we find the disconnect between MK's once mainstream fandom, and today's smaller, dedicated fanbase. Though not everyone's vice, the story remains one of the most important pieces of the MK puzzle, evidenced brutally by responsive outcry for the announcement of Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe, perceived by many fans as a frivilous, post-Armageddon interruption.

I can't help but wonder what difference might have been made had the details of the Mortal Kombat epic been more accessible to mainstream audiences.
This rather conveniently segues into our review of the comic books, which, though a quaint opportunity to see the characters moving in a narrative environment, offers examples of what not to do when translating the MK story.

Running terminally late; I want to get on to the review/play-by-play portions of this meandering and garbled entry, but consider this a conversation to be resumed at a later point. Sometime in the countdown to the November release of MKvsDC we may revisit these points in relation to the influence and involvement of the Threshold films.

- SIANG versus GORO
Alright. Things have been a bit hectic here on the Infinite Wars, so I've got to stretch it out a little before resuming. Crick, crack, creeak. That just about does it, but I should offer a stern health warning to all of you! Before continuing on to the [mis]adventures of the character Siang, everyone should indulge in some thorough stretching.

It would be fair to say 1994 had it's share of gems!
Real 2 Real released I Like to Move It; Pulp Fiction made Tarantino an undisputed name in film history; we finally found out what would happen if Venom fought Iron Man; and the beat 'em up video game genre enjoyed some it's highest heights with titles like Mortal Kombat II and Street Fighter II permeating throughout the pop culture landscape to reach heights unparalleled.

Comics were teetering between the repercussive harmony of post-grim and gritty superheroics, and the Image-funded shitfest of over developed anatomy and splash pages. At some point all the companies were guilty of selling out to a movement now much maligned, but only Malibu managed to bring together the very worst qualities of mid-nineties comic books, and the video game franchises we know and love.

So foul were their efforts that Capcom ordered the cancellation of a Street Fighter series, infamously identified by scenes of Ken Masters' scalping at the hands of Sagat and the villains of the series. Violence familiar to MK proved to be little more than flash and style - if you can call it that - over substance.

Enter Sing and Sang: vengeful twin martial artists chosen to represent the forces of Shaolin in Mortal Kombat. As individuals they were great fighters, but together they could fuse into one super-powered green-mohawked fighter called Siang!

You can probably start to see that aformentioned disconnect...
Series star and in-game five-time champion, Liu Kang, finds himself little more than an accepted tag-along for what amounts to a repetitive distraction. Think, though you might, with modern consideration, that Siang would surely be put in such a position to somehow elevate the importance of the central cast, or present some sort of dilemma by which Liu Kang could be baptized.

Alas, no.

Fans of the series surely sigh a breath of relief as Siang, much like Lt. Lance before him, is unceremoniously removed from Malibu's stable in his first fight.
They'd be wrong to get too comfortable, though, as this is not only a comic, but also a Mortal Kombat licensed property, which means Siang is down, out, but sure to return...

By six degrees of seperation you might connect previous issues to Street Fighter Alpha, if only for the fact that the sinister tournament master intends to gather fighters for nefarious purposes underground. You might remember fighters were disappearing in previous entries [Blood & Thunder #1, #2].

By this, the third issue, any assemblance of an actual tournament goes out the window when the characters are gathered in Goro's dungeons. Scorpion's full-page arrival at the end of #2 proves to be little more than tedious filler, the vengeful spectre opting to free his blood enemy, rather than fight him...

This eventually leads to an impromptu fusion dance as the Kombat warriors wander the labyrinthine halls beneath Shang Tsung's island. The mini-mixxed duo launch a fly kick assault on the four-armed Goro, who welcomes the opportunity to secure the rare feat of two corpses for the price of one.

Given that Kung Lao is the last direct descendant of Earth's last champion, it's always seemed a little insulting that Liu Kang was chosen over him to represent Earth in it's most crucial entry. Imagine then, how Kung Lao must feel, after this green and gold mook was chosen!

I do not know what Charles Marshall and Malibu were thinking when they devised such a prominent inclusion to the series, but if you weren't a Goro fan before, hopefully you are now...

The Fix: 3 Winner: Goro (Fatality!... Sort of...)

- RAIDEN versus GORO
Shang Tsung's treachery, part of a distracting plot introduced by Malibu revolving around a magic book of riddles, does not go unnoticed by Earth's protector god, the phonetically challenged, Raiden.

Since he's an all-seeing god, you've got to assume he didn't care much for Sing and Sang (aka; Siang), either, because it's not until they've been mortally ripped apart that the thunder god shows himself!

A lightning bolt precedes the god's entry, which prompts a macho exchange between the thunder god and Shokan champion. Goro absorbs a lightning blast and mocks Raiden's powers, lumbering at him with evil intent. The barbaric assault proves ineffective in battle with a god who can teleport himself.

Challenged as a coward, Raiden finds himself joined by the mortal warriors of Earthrealm. Not a terribly constructive gesture for proving one's bravery, nor a conclusive end to the battle between god and champion!

The Fix: 3 Winner: Draw

Having thrown in with Raiden; Liu Kang and Sonya Blade are the first to step up to the champion. Somewhat suitable, given that Liu Kang is supposed to be the champion of the series, and the one to defeat Goro. Of course, depending on what you pluck from the game series, Kang actually becomes champion after beating Shang Tsung... Which has a shakey logic, because Goro's champ...

Never the less, the pseudo-tournament continues in the bowels of Shang Tsung's dungeons. Kang connects with a flying kick that leaves Goro open to an ice blast from Sub-Zero. Mirroring elements from the game, Goro blasts free from his icey pause, providing the heroes no time to score a free hit.

Enraged, the Mortal Kombat champion begins a rampage against the insolent warriors, beginning with a devestating swat that sends Cage, Sub-Zero, and Raiden sprawling! Then, with Sonya clutched in a vice-like grip with one hand, Goro uses the other to slap one of the Lin Kuei warriors around a little.

Just as Shang Tsung arrives to enjoy his warrior's dominance the four-armed warrior begins to disappear! Neither the sorceror, nor Raiden, are able to explain the phenomena, but it buys the necessary time to abandon the underground courtesy of an escape blasted by the thunder god!

Mohawks, chains, flames, dodgy art, foil variant covers, bad writing; as the ultimate in shameful nineties experiences, you should be able to guess Goro's fate. Yes, that's right. The first in a small collection of crossover mini-series and one-shots, padding out the Mortal Kombat story with more brilliant Malibu-originals, and a few new colours to add to the ninja tally. Awesome!

The Fix: 3 Winner: Draw

The Hammer...
At this point Blood & Thunder has featured a sum of two official fights in the Mortal Kombat tournament. Given the implied importance of the rules, one would imagine that would be some measure of problem. That's nto the only qualm to be derived from these early issues though, and since I'm supposed to be offering positive remarks about the franchise, I should probably mention some of the assumed details from the official game canon.

John Tobias certainly seems content to support much of the pre-tournament scenes as depicted by Malibu. In fact, in an official collector's edition comic for the first game, scenes are almost identical, including the scuffle between Cage, Kang, and Kano [Mortal Kombat: Blood & Thunder #1].

To Malibu's credit, even today details of the first game's events are sketchy, and with the addition of highly debated additions; like 2005's Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks; very little has been streamlined through recent revisions.

It's generally accepted that post-tournament catastrophe sees the island crumble, taking with it Kano, Sonya, and Goro, who were engaged in mortal combat, along with Johnny Cage. Cage survived to be picked up by Jax and his Special Forces rescue team, in scenes bridging the gap between the first and second games. These events also ultimately connect to in-game backgrounds revealing the unplayable Kano and Sonya in bondage.

We also know Scorpion caught up with his mortal nemesis at the tournament, and indeed successfully returned the favour of his death with a fatality of his own. This beat was revealed in the second game with the introduction of the dead Sub-Zero's younger brother, a more heroic successor to the family mantle of the legendary cryomancer. More recent additions, discussed previously, led to the reveal that the elusive all-black secret character, Noob Saibot, was actually the dead Sub-Zero reborn as a mysterious wraith with the Brotherhood of Shadow. An ironic end for the character whose rivalry with Scorpion was galvanized whilst served Brotherhood patriarch, Quan Chi.

Scorpion's continued presence is likewise elaborated upon through the interference of the necromancer, Quan Chi. As per the original description of Scorpion's curse, it was not only his own death, but the extermination of his family and clan that keeps him bound to unrest, the latter being the responsibility of Quan Chi, and not Sub-Zero and the Lin Kuei as originally thought.

Finally, and perhaps most important, is Liu Kang's victory in the tournament.
Details of whether the Shaolin Monk battled anyone, let alone defending champion, Goro, are unclear, but we do know he was successful in both defeating Shang Tsung, and securing an official tournament victory. A victory that prevented the lawful invasion of Outworld's forces, but began a plot of deception to lure the Earthrealm warriors to an Outworld tournament - Mortal Kombat II.

These are but some of the intricately layered details that have made up fifteen years of Mortal Kombat history. I don't expect to convert the unimpressed with this checklist of confirmed events, but I hope it can at least provide a gateway to a story that seems to have been mistranslated, and ultimately lost to mainstream audiences. In the lead-up to Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe, I can at least hope to appeal to the sensibilities of those already invested in indulgences of this nature.

Fix Average: 3 The Issue: 2.5

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dead Man's Tale (Marvel)
Ghost Rider/Blaze: Spirits of Vengeance #13 When: August 1993 Why: Howard Mackie How: Adam Kubert

The Story So Far...
When Blade receives a mysterious black envelope containing a page from the Darkhold book of magic, he unleashes a spell, once read, that embues him with the powers of a demogorge. So begins Blade's rampage on all things supernatural and occult.

Attracted like a moth to flame, Blade's powers to perceive and gravitate toward the supernatural only becomes greater as he absorbs the powers of all he kills. Hannibal King, John Blaze, Demogoblin, Werewolf by Night, Modred, Victoria Montesi, and Michael Morbius all contribute to Blade's amassing powers in their death.

Hellbent on the eradication of all things supernatural, Blade finally marches on the greatest source of mystic power in New York - Dr. Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum; home to the Darkhold! With time and opportunity fast running out, Ghost Rider must join the Nighstalkers and bring an end to the demogorge.

Tale of the Tape...
ARTWORK: ???ARTWORK: Mark DjurjevicStrength: Ghost Rider 4 (Enhanced)
Intelligence: Blade 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Ghost Rider 6 (Generator)
Agility: Blade 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting Ability: Blade 5 (Martial Arts)
Energy Power: Ghost Rider 5 (Lasers)

- When a man and his girlfriend are attacked by gangsters, they unknowingly seek refuge in a scraplot containing a rare artifact. Upon touching the mystic symbol on a motorcycle's tank cap, Dan Ketch is transformed into the flaming spirit of vengeance, inheriting the curse of the hellborne Ghost Rider!

GHOST RIDER at the feet of the power-absorbing BLADE!Like Johnny Blaze before him; Ketch's demon grants him fantastic powers that may be used in the pursuit of righteous vengeance. Powers that include; super strength, durability, speed, control over the hellcycle, hellfire, mystic chains, and the penance stare; capable of rendering a dark soul inert by forcing them to relive the wrongs they have commited on others.

- In a whorehouse in London, a child was born into the world, destined for greatness. When the vampire Deacon Frost was to feast on the woman in labour, he inadvertently passed along certain enzymes that would eventually grant Eric Roberts the strengths of a vampire, with none of their weaknesses. Thus the young boy grows into legend; the Daywalker -- Blade!

Blade lives up to his name, highly skilled with various forms of weaponry and munitions. A dedicated vampire hunter, Blade is skilled in the martial arts, and a thorough tactician with an arsenal of weapons that compliment his acquired enhanced strength, speed, senses, durability and reflexes.

Additional: Having taken a page of the Darkhold, Blade has become possessed by the power of the Demogorge. His ability to sense the supernatural is enhanced, and he now absorbs the powers of the mystics he kills. It was while possessed by the Demogorge that Blade had a runin with Ghost Rider and Frank Drake in a previous entry in the Infinite Wars [Ghost Rider #40].
Aided by Demogoblin, Blade was able to fend off the heroes, to later overcome Ghost Rider alone. The intervention of Frank Drake saved Ghost Rider.

History: Draw (0-0-1)
The Math: Blade Ranking: Blade (#177)

What Went Down...
Having effortlessly penetrated the powerful spells cast by Earth's Sorceror Supreme, Dr. Strange; Blade enters the Sanctum Sanctorum, only to find the good doctor absent. His growing awareness of the supernatural draws Blade deeper into the Sanctum where he discovers the only weapon capable of reversing his devolution into darkness - the Darkhold!

The second Blade removes the book from it's pedestal, powerful spells launch it through the building toward the night sky and an interdimensional portal designed to protect the book in Strange's absence. With the luxury of time working against them, Ghost Rider aids Blade in ahcoring the book to the Earth with the use of his mystic chains. The protection of the book allows Blade to finally turn his attentions to the elusive spirit of vengeance.

Ghost Rider's vengeful charge is abruptly ended, as Blade draws the shotgun weapon once held by John Blaze. The mystic gun spews hellfire through Ghost Rider's body, inflicting maximum damage as Blade lordes his powers.

Blade summons a mighty wind with the elemental powers of Modred, using them to hold the Nightstalkers back from the Darkhold, while he draws his own close-quarters weapons to finish Ghost Rider off.

Engulfed in flame, Blade impales the Ghost Rider with his namesake, feeling no resistance from the powerful demon. He pulls his foe in twain, before driving a blade through the sprit of vengeance's flaming skull! So begins the transfer...

Unfortunately for Blade, he fails to anticipate the nature of the Ghost Rider's power. Absorbing the hellacious abilities of the spirit of vengeance comes at a startling cost as the penance stare is turned inward, forcing Blade to relive the many murders committed in his recent past as a demogorge.

The searing pain of his penance distracts Blade enough to stem the winds he'd summoned to prevent access to the Darkhold. Louise Hastings, of the Redeemers, springs quickly into action, reading from the book so as to resurrect those killed, and return their powers to them from Blade. So ends the Midnight Massacre...

ARTWORK: Marko DjurdjevicThe Hammer...
Despite having his ungodly powers stripped, I think it's safe to say a bitter victory goes to Blade! Despite being killed by the powered-up slayer, Ghost Rider is among those resurrected by the Darkhold spell.

In a month supposedly dedicated to Iron Man, you might be wondering what brought on this unlikely Midnight Sons feature.
It was recent discussion on the message boards that posed the question of whether or not Blade could, or already had, defeated Ghost Rider as his Wikipedia entry claimed. Since contextually absent or poorly described events from Wikipedia style entries are exactly what the Infinite Wars intends to elaborate upon, it seemed like a great opportunity to contribute!

Top 25 Devils/Mystics
#1 Dhalsim (Capcom)
#2 Dr. Doom (Marvel)
#3 Zatanna (DC)
#4 The Demon (DC)
#5 Ghost Rider (Marvel)
#6 Morbius (Marvel)
#7 Hellcat (Marvel)
#8 The Spectre (DC)
#9 Dr. Strange (Marvel)
#10 Blazing Skull (Marvel)
#11 Mephisto (Marvel)
#12 Phantom Stranger (DC)
#13 Dr. Fate (DC)
#14 Deadman (DC)
#15 Dr. Occult (DC)
#16 The Hood (Marvel)
#17 Hellboy (Dark Horse)
#18 Jin Kazama (Namco)
#19 Dr. Fate (DC)
#20 Lyta (DC)
#21 Blade (Marvel)
#22 Captain Marvel (DC)
#23 Scarlet Witch (Marvel)
#24 Scorpion (Midway)
#25 Ghost Rider (Marvel)
The gang was able to find their way to the Infinite Wars for the previous throwdown between these characters [Ghost Rider #40], where only the intervention of Frank Drake prevented a recorded loss. For the purposes of that discussion [BBS: Blade nearly won a fight against Ghost Rider?] you might argue that Blade did indeed defeat Ghost Rider in that issue, but it's here that the lethal victory described on Wikipedia occurs.

Unfortunately I can't elaborate much further than this encounter, but it's nice to be able to accomodate Infinite Wars readers even that far. If you're a member of the boards, be sure to let the lads know new information has emerged!

Last time we featured these characters, the recurring subject of Marvel's struggle to find a lasting treatment in comics for the characters was a hot topic. Speculation that the recently relaunched Blade and Ghost Rider titles were destined for cancellation proves, at this point, to be half true.

The Guggenheim/Chaykin Blade series fizzled to an end with issue twelve. Working against the title were painfully obvious factors like Chaykin's decidedly unattractive pencil work, inconsequential guest appearances, and uninvolving storylines. Like so many post-movie comics, this quite deliberately butted against the slick, modern urbana of the Stephen Norrington success, opting instead for an experience apparently unintentionally eighties-style in it's presentation and palette.

Despite steering gleefully toward it's seventies origins, Ghost Rider has fared much better. Stale story telling kept me away from early issues of the title, but while not terribly interested, I have to at least applaud the precedent for recent stories pandering to a grindhouse quality of horror.
The detached nature of buzz-writer Jason Aaron's take on the character is about to collide with more familiar topics. Fans can look forward to recognisable features such as, the hellfire shotgun, and former-Ghost Rider, Dan Ketch!

I couldn't possibly deny the affection I have for these nineties stories.
Though not typically looked upon with admiration, they represent a type of storytelling that allowed these characters to fill a very specific niche, while representing the Marvel Universe mentality of characters operating and clashing within a certain space. Though fond of the strong visual of this character, I can't say I've ever had a particular affection for the western/horror vibe of a desert wandering Ghost Rider.

I hope this coming return of Ketch (and the gun feature in our review) will offer more than just a familiar skull-face. I hope very much this can be the beginning of stories not necessarily designed to establish a universe, but to at least build on some of the recent traditions of these characters. Though not of a terribly high standard, I did get a thrill seeing Morbius in the illfated Blade series.

It's those characters, often identified for their supporting roles, that I enjoy seeing in this larger context. The versimilitude of Doppelganger, Demogoblin, Blade, Ghost Rider, Morbius, Dr. Strange, and various other occult heroes, all mingling in the same section, fills me with a comic book sensical joy.

Keep an eye on weekly shipping list updates for more on upcoming Ghost Rider, but in the mean time, I leave you with the promise of updates to come! Be sure also to stay tuned for the Monthly Punch-Up on the first of the month!

The Fight: 4.5 The Issue: 5

Alas, to the best of my knowledge, Midnight Massacre is not available in collected format. You can find plenty of other exciting reads, starring Ghost Rider and other, in the Infinite Wars Amazonian Gift Shoppe! Amazon has a wide range of Marvel titles, and every time you use purchase links from the Infinite Wars, you help sponsor future entries! While you're splashing around the cash, also be sure to take full advantage of the recent $1.99 price reduction on Mike Haseloff's The Kirby Martin Inquest! Available online; the series introduces the White Ghost, a vigilante seeking justice in an urban environment!
IN STORES: MAY 29, 2008
NOTE: The Memorial Day holiday will push purchasing back to Thursday for the US.
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...
MAR080158 ACTION COMICS #865 $2.99
MAR080157 ALL STAR SUPERMAN #11 $2.99
MAR080144 BATMAN #677 RIP $2.99
MAR080162 BLUE BEETLE #27 $2.99
MAR082174 DAREDEVIL #107 $2.99
MAR080168 GREEN LANTERN #31 $2.99
MAR082178 IMMORTAL IRON FIST #15 $2.99
MAR082208 NEW AVENGERS #41 SI $2.99
MAR080133 TEEN TITANS #59 $2.99

The Deep Dish...
Steven Niles doesn't do anything particular for me, but longtime readers will know I have a special affinity for anything that offers the chance to survey urban Gotham in an [un]natural state. After Midnite looks to serve up the darker side of Gotham and it's rogues, and while I don't expect anything special here, the book appears to offer a tour through popular villains like Scarecrow and Clayface.
Pointy pencils by Kelley Jones look completely at home on a Niles project, somewhere between the veiny exaggeration of the ninietes, and the stylized angles of Norm Breyfogle.

ARTWORK: ???ARTWORK: Alex Ross- MAR080124 FINAL CRISIS #1 (OF 7) $3.99
As already documented in various other entries, I really have absolutely no idea what to expect from Final Crisis, but I've scraped together enough pennys to make sure I'm there for the first issue, at least. Previews for Grant Morrison's closing chapter to the Crisis Trilogy focus heavily on the Green Lanterns, but also foreshadows events with what seems to be a prophetic realisation by Orion that Darkseid has survived his destruction [Countdown #2]!
The event, already confirmed to feature New Gods and Libra in villainous roles, seems like another stroke of simple brilliance for DC. One's imagination could run wild with theories about how the Fourth World will play a part in this Crisis, but I'm sure I wouldn't even be close!

ARTWORK: Mike Zeck & Jerry Ordway- MAR080171 JSA CLASSIFIED #38 $2.99
A new storyarc kicks off in the Classified book, but if you were looking for a change of pace after the recent Wildcat spotlights, think again! Don't get me wrong! I've got a real affection for Wildcat and the sluggers of the golden age, but it strikes me as something of a misstep to suffocate the variety of a title free to go anywhere, any time. It'll be very interesting to see how sales are affected by the run.

- MAR082181 KING SIZE HULK #1 $4.99
As is sure to become very evident in the next month, there's a poorly publicized Hulk movie on the way, and Marvel knows it! As if to pick up the eccentric slack of star Edward Norton, Marvel's pumping serious promotional iron to remind us all what's fun and fantastic about the Incredible Hulk! King-Size Hulk promises a plethora of reading materials including reprints of the infamous first appearance of Wolverine, and battles with She-Hulk and Wendigo!
Fun value buys like this have really instilled in me a confidence in Marvel's ability to utilize their mammoth back catalogue to entice and inform new readers, rather than pandering to the bloated wallets of forty-something nostalgia buffs.

ARTWORK: Mike Zeck & Jerry Ordway- MAR082192 MARVEL 1985 #1 (OF 6) $3.99
It's been a long time coming, but finally Mark Millar's ill-fated fumetti project is here! The Scot famously announced the title some years ago in what was starting to seem like little more than an April Fool's joke. Originally intended to feature manipulated photographs, art chores were picked up by digital realist, Tommy Lee Edwards; the man responsible for art on the tragically underrated Question mini from 2005!
Previews feature a youngster diving into the tumultuous world of Marvel comics in the mid 1980's; a time of costume changes, major universe-spanning events, and a growing interest in the financial institution of comics collecting. Vaguely reminiscent of other everyman projects [ala; Marvel: Heroes & Legends #1], Marvel 1985 promises a reality blurring journey into an epic battle between the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe!

Wrapping up the week's offerings is the now obligatory Marvel Adventures throwdown. The imprint offers classic superhero battles the whole family can enjoy, delivering a good old message of good versus evil. This week it's the whip-cracking Blacklash throwing down the gauntlet to the invincible Iron Man! Rest assured, concerned parents, that this is strictly Blacklash-classic, and not the strapped and masked gimp pictured to the right.
Not that there's anything wrong with that...

With all the Mortal Kombat lately, you might have forgotten the Street Fighter love! Fortunately, UDON recently conducted interviews to confirm their continued commitment to the Street Fighter franchise, despite extensive scheduling delays and the recent acquiring of Capcom licenses by other companies. Fortunately the company of artists has been hard at work preparing upcoming series far in advance of hitting shelves to ensure a smooth release. Titles include a third twelve-issue core series, Street Fighter II Turbo, continuing the central story established by Ken Siu-Chong. Also on the way are mini-series dedicated to Chun-Li, star of the upcoming movie, and the controversial cast from Street Fighter III!

The manga features the original artwork of Masaomi Kanzaki reprinted faithfully without the colouring or flopping of previous Western prints; ala the original US Tokuma Comics prints.

Know Your Trade...
FEB080287 HEROES SC $19.99
FEB080252 JUSTICE TP VOL 01 $14.99
JAN082060 SORROW TP $12.99
MAR083810 SPEED RACER TP VOL 05 $19.99

Site Update...
You've got to be kidding me! I feel like I was doing this yesterday!
Regular readers will have noticed that we still haven't quite gotten around to making up for lost time in the reviews department. We'll be looking to turn that around in the lead up toward the ever-exciting Monthly Punch-Up, while also cooking plenty of cool things for June: the month of Hulk!

Be sure to spread the word about the site if we're touching on anything of relevance, and be sure to take full advantage of specials and already low prices in the Gift Shoppe, and also the $1.99 price tag on my own twenty-two page black and white comic, The Kirby Martin Inquest!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Top 25 MK/DC
#1 Batman (DC)
#2 Superman (DC)
#3 Black Adam (DC)
#4 Catwoman (DC)
#5 Steel (DC)
#6 Green Lantern (DC)
#7 Green Arrow (DC)
#8 Flash (DC)
#9 Hawkman (DC)
#10 Noob Saibot (MK)
#11 Flash (DC)
#12 Martian Manhunter (DC)
#13 Aquaman (DC)
#14 Red Robin (DC)
#15 Wonder Woman (DC)
#16 Robin (DC)
#17 Zatanna (DC)
#18 The Demon (DC)
#19 Hawkgirl (DC)
#20 Nightwing (DC)
#21 Johnny Cage (MK)
#22 Spectre (DC)
#23 Green Lantern (DC)
#24 Goro (MK)
#25 Green Lantern (DC)
They've faced innumerable otherworldy oddities and interdimensional interlopers, but for the heroes of the DC Universe, the cosmos conspires to bring them into conflict with a group of warriors whose very function is to battle it out in the name of their realm!
Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe marks Midway's first major forray into the 'next generation' with a franchise responsible for two major motion pictures, two TV series, a catalogue of comics, and over a dozen gaming titles.

Already confirmed and revealed are franchise icons; Batman, Sub-Zero, Superman, and Scorpion.

As a site with split affections, the Infinite Wars has raised an ambassadorial hand, to provide a gateway between universes, for fans of both camps.
Over the past five weeks we've been using gimmicks, themes, and commonalities to count down some of the heroes and villains you may be seeing in the cast of twenty-something, and some whom you won't!

This week Midway will reveal another character render from the game; likely Batman or Sub-Zero; but as yet, there's no news since last week's reveal of Superman, and the conceptual stages of Metropolis and Netherealm arenas.

We're at the halfway mark now, which means the steady trickle of headlining names should gradually widen to a stream! If you missed out, be sure to track back through our many MK/DC updates, including: Fantasy Fights week one, two, three, four, and five; C2C supplements on common themes, and secret fatalities; and our reviews of the Blood & Thunder comic series! In the mean time...

[#527] :RANKING
[50%] :ODDS
Injustice League

RANKING: [#231]
ODDS: [100%]
Strength: Solomon Grundy 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Scorpion 2 (Average)
Speed: Scorpion 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Draw 6 (Generator)
Agility: Scorpion 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Scorpion 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Scorpion 4 (Arsenal)

The Battle...
He's one of the most recognisable characters in American gaming, and you might have expected to see him with the headlining names in our final entry. Hey, we're halfway through our one hundred-plus countdown of characters, I figured you deserved a bone! And what better bone would there be than ol' bonehead himself - Scorpion!

Despite being instantly recognised as the yellow counterpart to Sub-Zero's blue, it's fair to say Scorpion's story is far less recognised. The trimming are obvious: murdered by Sub-Zero, Scorpion returns from the dead a spectre to exact revenge on the warrior responsible for his death, and the extermination of his family and clan. So begins a rivalry that spanned... two games!

1997's Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, a scrolling adventure spin-off, revealed the details of Scorpion's murder, along with the added responsibility of his clan's death, falling on the sorceror, Quan Chi. Thus explained is Scorpion's cursed return in MKII despite the reveal that Scorpion successfully avenged his death, and killed Sub-Zero, during the first tournament.

Like Solomon Grundy; Scorpion's tenure in the afterlife is rarely long.
While his story has failed to regain the gravitas of early exploits, the undead ninja's presence continues to be felt through his shifting alliances with everyone from the younger Sub-Zero; to Shao Kahn; to even the Elder Gods themselves! His rivalries and adventures have touched many in the MK universe, making him one of the most enduring characters in the line-up.

Though Grundy is certainly a physical mismatch for the lithe Scorpion; the ninja spectre's versatility of martial arts prowess, supernatural abilities, and swordplay, are sure to be more than an equaliser.

Though a formidable and well recognised brute, Grundy's in-game potential offers very little beyond thematic suitability. One typically tends to doubt the MK team's ability to properly develop physically strong characters, with a long list of disappointing, skilless bosses to their name. Still, I'm not sure I'd complain!

The Math: Scorpion Our Winner: Scorpion

[#22] :RANKING
[55%] :ODDS
Justice League

ODDS: [40%]
Strength: Nightwolf 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Green Arrow 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Nightwolf 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Draw 4 (Athlete)
Agility: Draw 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Draw 5 (Martial Arts)
Energy: Green Arrow 4 (Arsenal)

The Battle...
When it comes to DC heroes deserving of the side-to-side fighting experience, Green Arrow certainly jumps to mind!
As if to prepare for the game, 2007 saw the archer take up the sword, adding to an already diverse arsenal of weapons characterized by, but not limited to, a quiver full of trick arrows.

Nightwolf is a powerful shaman whose mystic abilities allowed him to evade destruction during Shao Kahn's invasion of Earthrealm. Among his many spiritual attacks is the ability to generate a bow and arrow of pure energy. Thus we have the flimsy thematic connection deemed necessary for a showdown such as this.

Practically Nightwolf has many abilities that give him the edge against the infamously powerless archer. If you're to accept his in-game specials as literal measures of his ability, Nightwolf can use his spiritual energies to generate tomahawk weapons, summon lightning strikes, and deflect projectiles.

Given GA's penchant for the aforementioned attack, a character capable of deflecting incoming arrows could be a bit of a problem. That is, unless, you take into account the lengthy experience of the character, and his own vices as a martial artist, and more recently, swordsman. I'm fairly comfortable with the notion that, despite not having "powers," Green Arrow could rise to the occasion as he so often has during his sixty-plus years of publication.

Should weapons find their way into MKvsDC I'd be quite happy to see the sword transplanted into a product tailor made for it. If not, GA still has a selection of ready-made projectile attacks (seen in Justice League Task Force), and street pounding martial arts skills that should not be forgotten!

The Math: Draw Our Winner: Green Arrow

[#425] :RANKING
[60%] :ODDS
League of

ODDS: [20%]
Outworld Army
Strength: Reiko 5 (Superhuman)
Intelligence: Ra's Al Ghul 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Draw 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Ra's Al Ghul 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Draw 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Reiko 2 (Projectile)

The Battle...
At this point I suppose we could just do away with themes, and fully commit to this as a catalogue of characters, varied in status and likelihood for a game appearance, but I feel committed!

Here we have two men whose lives have been defined by their leadership over armies, and their undying dedication to battle. Their world views may differ considerably, as do their methods, but there's a tenuous connection.

Reiko originally appeared in 1997's MK4, where he replaced Noob Saibot in a sweep to refresh the series cast in their first "3D" Kombat experience.
Retroactively defined as a mercenary General interested only in leading an army; Reiko caused a stir within the fanbase with an ending that revealed the character donning the helmet of then-believed dead, Shao Kahn. The event sparked debate within the fanbase until Kahn's return, and the eventual confirmation that Reiko was little more than an admirer of Kahn and his fashions.

A similar scenario of identity confusion surrounded Ra's Al Ghul in his most mainstream appearance as the lead villain in 2005's, Batman Begins. Drawing upon the veiled mythology of the character, Begins casts Liam Neeson as Ra's Al Ghul, initially posing as his own trusted servant, Ducard.
Japanese actor, Ken Watanabe, provides a Academy Award-nominated distraction for movie-goers, some who continue to be confused by the film's eventual reveal of Ducard's true identity at the top of the third act.

While Reiko's motivations are typically self-serving, pandering to his eventual aspirations to become an all powerful Emperor; Ra's Al Ghul takes a more planetary tact in his warmaking, believing environmental longevity to require the mass extermination and purification of sizable portions of humanity.
Though they both represent very different ideals, they are both mysterious characters whose goals are as epic as their armies are incalculable.

With the boost of starring in one of the most revered comic book adaptations, and one of DC's few successful films, Ra's Al Ghul would have to be up for consideration for the crossover game. Context of events and story may be what works against the ambiguous villain, but as another master swordsman and proficient fighter, he's a potentially flash addition to texture physics in the game!

The Math: Reiko Our Winner: Reiko

[#83] :RANKING
[55%] :ODDS
Injustice League

ODDS: [30%]
Strength: Deathstroke 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Deathstroke 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Draw 4 (Athlete)
Agility: Draw 3 (Acrobat)
Fight: Deathstroke 7 (Inherent)
Energy: Kenshi 3 (Explosives)

The Battle...
I'm starting to sense a theme of themes, here!
Once again, swords are front and centre, as we cast our sights on a character irrevocably identified by his mastery of the blade!

Kenshi was once a wandering warrior whose skill as a swordsman made him arrogant in his pursuit of battle. It was the deception of a disguised Shang Tsung that saw Kenshi lured into a plot to steal the souls of the warrior's ancestors, a plot that left the pride-filled fighter literally blinded!

After obtaining an ancient sword hidden within his family crypt, Kenshi began the path to retraining his senses to allow him to fight on as a blind master. It was a lesson in humility that only improved his fighting skill, which eventually developed to awaken to certain extra-senses, and the power of telekinesis.

Slade Wilson's enhancements were far less natural, attained as part of experimental development by the US military to create super-soldiers. As Deathstroke [the Terimator], Wilson's brain capacity and physical prowess was drastically increased. After abandoning the military to work as a mercenary, Wilson's enhancement remained a secret from his wife until his son was kidnapped by a rival. Though she attempted to kill him for endangering their child, a gunshot to the head left Wilson merely blind in one eye.

Versed in various fighting techniques; Deathstroke is a highly efficient fighter capable of executing and anticipating attacks through his heightened brain capacity. Among the many weapons carried in his arsenal a sword remains one of the most prominent, a weapon that reflects his confidence.

While both characters are defined by their expertise in fighting, it's Deathstroke that again has far more tangible evidence supporting his capabilities. Much like the other characters listed, translating Deathstroke into the game would require attention to fighting techniques, as much as options to utilize swordplay.

The Math: Deathstroke Our Winner: Deathstroke

[10%] :ODDS
The Rogues

ODDS: [0%]
Black Dragon
Strength: Draw 2 (Average)
Intelligence: Heat Wave 3 (Straight A)
Speed: Draw 2 (Average)
Stamina: Draw 3 (Strong Will)
Agility: Draw 2 (Average)
Fighting: Draw 3 (Streetwise)
Energy: Draw 3 (Explosives)

The Battle...
That's right! You read correctly! No Face!
Yessir! Even though this is only Round 6, we're dropping the big guns on you early!

Alright, this might not be the most auspicious of showdowns, but we've got more than one hundred characters to go through, and a list like this wouldn't be complete without some of the fun stuff. Then again, if you've played Special Forces, fun might be the last word to describe this scenario...

Originally designed to be a story-heavy two player adventure game, 2000's Mortal Kombat: Special Forces proved much less thrilling than builds previewed some four years earlier. It was the well known departure of series co-creator, John Tobias, that's said to have resulted in what is considered by many to be one of the worst Mortal Kombat games released, if not among the worst on the PSX (Playstation).

The premise of the game, a solo vehicle for Jax come release, was a simple third-person clash between the established agencies of the US Special Forces, and the Black Dragon clan. Designed to pit the likes of Sonya, Kano, and Kabal against one and other, the final product ultimately provides little more than fanboy thrills for it's occasional inclusion of vaguely memorable, but retired, boss characters.

Tremor, a bulky mustard variation on the classic ninja swap, is regularly cited by fans as a cult favourite eagerly anticipated for any new game. No Face is decidedly less popular, perhaps because the average MK fan can only remember colours, or perhaps because he just isn't that special. Either way, I have a soft spot for him!

Heat Wave's credentials as a flame throwing villain include regular clashes with his arch-nemesis, the Flash, as well as the occasional heated debate with his counterpart in the Rogues, Captain Cold. A zealous pyromaniac, Mick Rory became a far more glamorous villain than his MK counterpart, developing a fireproof suit, and flame spewing weapons of his own design.

No Face exhibits very little in the way of fighting ability, amounting to little more than a facially scarred man with a flame thrower. One might mockingly speculate his disfigurements were of his own doing, but very little explanation or depth is offered for these peripheral characters. In fact, that's why only concept art, taken from the game's opening intro, was availble for the mugshot.

Though unlikely to appear in the game, Heat Wave certainly has a variety of fairly obvious elemental attacks. One might assume such abilities might be retained by Scorpion, and thus, would not be much of a justification for such a comparatively obscure villain.

The Math: Heat Wave Our Winner: Heat Wave

[15%] :ODDS
Seven Soldiers
of Victory

ODDS: [35%]
Strength: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Draw 3 (Straight A)
Speed: Stryker 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Draw 4 (Athlete)
Agility: Draw 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Stryker 5 (Martial Arts)
Energy: Stryker 4 (Arsenal)

The Battle...
I've mentioned before some of the issues I have with measuring Mortal Kombat characters against their comic book counterparts. Infinite Wars readers will be well conditioned to recognising the measure of characters on certain theoretical stats, as well as the tangible depictions of these abilities as laid out through years of publication.

Stryker is just such a character.
Despite being among the chosen warriors who survived Shao Kahn's genocide as part of the premise for Mortal Kombat 3; Stryker has very little to show for his fighting ability. Revamps to the character in 2006's Armageddon attempted to infuse the character with a fighting credibility previously not seen, accompanied by a design overhaul more fitting of a serious competitor.

Initially much maligned by fans for his bland appearance, Stryker's claim to fame was high-tier combination moves, and a flashy arsenal of weapons that include; a taser, baton, stun grenades, and automatic pistol.

Like many MK characters, there's little tangible evidence to draw conclusions on the extent of Stryker's ability. Manhattan Guardian, however, has amassed a few worthwhile credits in his short career since first appearing in Grant Morrison's 2005 mini-series, Seven Soldiers: Manhattan Guardian.

After shooting a man mistaken for his partner's killer, Jake Jordan retires from the police force disgraced. After responding to job searches from tabloid magazine, the Manhattan Guardian, Jordan finds himself the chosen inheritor of the superhero mantle formerly championed by Jim Harper in the 1940s.

Jordan remains in the employ of a surviving member of the original Guardian's junior troop, the Newsboy Legion, eventually leading to appearances in major events in recent DC history. Among his exploits, a brave stand against Doomsday, and participation in the battle for Metropolis, events debatably comparable to Stryker's implied survival of Kahn's extermination squads.

Despite substantial improvements, I'm deeply inclined to describe Stryker as the bottom of the MK pack. Going against the grain of most of our previous picks, I do actually think this time we've picked a reasonably fair fight, and despite arguments both way, I'd be comfortable enough to say hand-to-hand skill gives Stryker the edge here. I'd certainly entertain arguments both ways, though.

Suffice to say the somewhat obscure Manhattan Guardian is highly unlikely to appear in the game, but if it he were to, you could logically expect a lot of shield based attacks. With the original Guardian heavily inspired by a prior Simon/Kirby creation, you could imagine a lot of Captain America styled attacks, just for kicks. Y'know, if they didn't want to steal Kung Lao's thunder...

The Math: Stryker Our Winner: Stryker