DARKSEID versus APOKOLIPS SOLDIER
Spaceship Earth: We're All On It! (DC)
Where: Super Powers #5 When: November 1984
Why: Jack Kirby How: Jack Kirby
For me, comics are a passion as much as an obsession.
One of the most romantic qualities of comics is their serialized nature. The capacity to tell an on-going story over the course of decades is so rarely seen in any other field it's impossible to deny the grandeur of the medium.
This cosmic quality affords the medium time and opportunity to transition and shift ideas that can sometimes seem diametrically opposed. Through thick and thin, the promise of another week is one of the great qualities of comics, and while the restart button is always there, for a select few characters the final day must come.
This month we're casting the quick fix to a corner of the DC Universe not often frequented by the Infinite Wars. Ironic, really, given the constant struggle of violence between the New Gods of New Genesis and Apokolips.
Created in 1971; the New Gods were to be Jack Kirby's last major contribution to comics. Though he would continue working with DC into the eighties, less reverant readers would acknowledged a decline in quality in The King's work.
Though acknowledging of his significance, I've never been particularly attached to Jack Kirby's inimitable works; nor have I ever been the biggest fan of characters and properties specifically insular to their own arenas (ie; the Legion). For me, the New Gods have long begun and ended with Mr. Miracle, Orion, and Darkseid -- all characters to have overlapped with the Justice League.
The apparent extermination of the characters has been a point of dismay for some fans. Dismay sponsored by the blatant disregard for life and death in today's superhero comics. If I were a fan, I'm sure I'd be a little bothered, but as I'm not, I can see a lot of promise in what the DC landscape promises from the ashes of New Genesis and Apokolips.
Darkseid seemingly perished in a prophetic battle with his son, Orion, featured in Countdown to Infinite Crisis #2. It was to be the perfect conclusion to this era of Fourth Worlders, and if early rumors were anything to go by, the chance to see many of DC's leading icons ascend to New Godhood -- something I actually find impeccably intriguing. With the attached of Grant Morrison to Final Crisis the prospect becomes all the more enticing, even as reports intend to quash theories that would see franchise characters, like Batman, effectively die.
It's interesting to observe Darkseid as one of the 'big bads' of the DCU.
In the last ten or fifteen years I think that reputation has been substantially diminished, but it's worth pointing out that the only other times we've featured the character, it's been in event titles; Legends and DC versus Marvel.
Darkseid isn't the kind of villain who just walks across the street, so I can certainly appreciate the involvement of the New Gods in recent blockbuster events like Countdown, and the subsequent Final Crisis. One would assume, without being terribly certain, that the throughline of the New Gods will appropriate the year-long weekly into the latest chapter in the 'Crisis Trilogy.'
The grandeur of a villain like Darkseid, for me, wasn't his sinister scowl, endless minion hordes, or his Justice League novelty chess set. Jack Kirby cites the influence of many and any tyrant in time in the characterization of Darkseid, and I think it shows. As potentially generic as those themes are; my experience with the character has always been of a military distance. Darkseid scowling minions with orders of evil to be carried out on his behalf, all in the name of destruction. I suppose references like Hitler, though obvious, aren't lost.
Still, that's only one side of the dark New God. He has a... gentler side.
We're running very late, but it would be a travesty not to highlight the fact that these scenes come from Super Powers -- the five-issue Jack Kirby mini-series designed around cross promotion for the Kenner action figures!
There's a strange sort of segue here, because, in the tiny nation I sprouted from, I only ever encountered one Super Powers action figure. It was the Flash, and I have two of him, because one lost an arm. Flash, like Superman, was one of the notoriously over distributed iconic heroes in the Super Powers action figure line-up. This has to be one of the earliest examples of cross-promotion in comics!
Speaking of Barry Allen and cross promotion -- most will be familiar now with the hot rumors of the Flash's return to life. Early rumors connected the character to the coming Black Lantern rings that will raise the dead, but the more I read, the more I become convinced Barry Allen is destined for New Godhood. Allen presumably appears as the narrating voice in the recently released DC Universe Zero, and was the subject of mainstream press headlines that featured interviews with Morrison and Geoff Johns. Quotes from Johns, in particular, built Barry Allen up with a particular reverance -- indication of a post-Final Crisis ascension? Morrison showed a more insulated thought process, describing the on-and-off switch of death in comics as a positive for fans.
Darkseid, New Gods, Barry Allen, Rah-rah.
More in the coming months, folks!
The Fix: 3.5 The Issue: 3.5
If it's Darkseid and the New Gods you're looking for, you're better off checking out some of the collection's of Kirby's work, or if you're like me, and like to relate through the rest of the DCU, checkout recent stories in Superman/Batman, Countdown, and Final Crisis. Super Powers, not so much... It's... Yeah... I'm running late.
#1 (new) The People's Team
#2 (new) The Corps
#3 (new) The Legends
#4 (new) The DC Illuminati
#5 (new) The Knights of Right
#6 (new) Makin' it w/Cap'n
#7 (new) The X League
#8 (new) X-Party
#9 (new) Divine Judgment
#10 (new) The Ghost Walkers
#11 (new) The Black Death
#12 (new) The Elite Fleet
#13 (new) The Revolution
Join the list! Draft a team today!2008 Fantasy League...
Ladies and gentlemen the first month of the Fantasy League action is over! With mixed results across the board, we crown our first winner, Rokk! His People's Team emerge with an impressive first month off the back of a flood of DC and Justice League features!
Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed the Fantasy League round-up will be replacing the short-lived creator rankings. Anyone concerned about that content should be advised to find Brian Bendis digs scattered throughout most of the week's updates.
Those of you reading that haven't drafted a team should stop right now, and head over to the debrief where you'll find the information needed to begin drafting your team. We'll be announcing winners on the basis of each month, so playing to win is as easy as picking a team.
The Fantasy League isn't an exact science. Points are derived from the daily goings on in the Infinite Wars, and refined through the Super Stock [found further into this post]. While we try to represent key events in the community, weekly comics aren't the focus of our reviews, meaning our superhero fight club resembles something like a stock market, more than a precise sports league.
There are no prizes and no real losers here. The Fantasy League is designed to build a greater sense of community around the combative corners of the Infinite Wars. You should, of course, follow team sponsor links to familiarize yourself with some of the sites in this corner of the blogosphere, because as illustrated by the league -- we're all here for pretty similar reasons.
With that Oprah moment out of the way, there's new information to be digested for those feeling the pinch. The Fantasy League can be as involving or stagnant as you like it to be, and every month you get the chance to spend your points on perfecting your team. The sign-up post will keep you informed when it comes to the availability of characters (those already drafted are struck out).
The category restrictions of the draft are now replaced by point values.
Everyone must have five characters on a team, but you can now sell a character (at half value) to use your points to draft new characters.
This is where it gets a little complicated, because it's just too time consuming to post full lists for the values of characters each month. You can request a character value in the comments section of this post, before trading through e-mail in the same fashion as your original drafting.
Values are based upon the total number of characters in the Super Stock rankings, with character dropping a point in price from top to bottom. Currently we have 528 characters ranked, making that the value of top-ranked character; Spider-man. Down the list a little; Daredevil (#10) is 519, Wonder Woman (#38) is 491, Captain Cold (#198) is 331, Grey Gargoyle (#390) is 139, and so on. It'll be a bit of a process but communication will help.
To keep proceedings fluid; all trades should be completed within three days of the Punch-Up. That might not seem like much time, but planning ahead is as easy as anticipating the first of each month! Or, if you're happy with your team, or not keen on over complicating things, just sit on your stocks and let them mature!
The learning curve works both ways, so stay tuned for updates!
Spider-Boycott 2008: Week 19
Well, I suppose it had to happen eventually.
Five months into the boycott I've finally been tempted for the first time. If you're coming in late, you've probably forgotten or missed out on the outrage instigated by One More Day; the story that infamously saw Peter Parker make a deal with devil, Mephisto, to save his dying Aunt May at the cost of his marriage to Mary-Jane.
I'm loathed to explain the philosophy of a boycott of such a title because it's very difficult to present the argument without sounding like a total nutter. During the month I had a discussion with someone, and as a counter-point in a discussion, it's actually very easy to sound reasonable, but to throw it out there as a disembodied voice in the void... Not so much...
At it's core this is about boundaries of bad storytelling.
The beauty of the medium's on-going nature means you get the opportunity to do a lot in a context that's incredibly vast. Comics shoot a lot of bullets to hit the target, and while some properties are notoriously over protected, every now and then a decision slips through the cracks that is so bad, it's down right offensive.
Reality is one of the most malleable features of a comic book, but a deal made with a demon meant that Spider-man's history was reset to a staggering degree. Such an event, designed to negate the Spider-Marriage without tarnishing Spidey's all-American reputation, was a long time coming for Editor-In-Chief, Joe Quesada. One might argue demonic bargains are far worse than divorce, but I suppose Quesada is Catholic... [Comedy!]
One More Day was to be a reinvigoration of the Spider-Franchise, but instead, it dragged it back to tropes of the 1970s. The story backtracked immediate events from Civil War (the reveal of Spider-man's identity) and resurrected the long dead Harry Osborn for a series that has since languished in mediocrity.
Mass redefinition is nothing new to superhero comics, but for my opinion, this was personal preference run amok. Nothing to come from these comics has even remotely justified a juvenile theory that marriage somehow restricted the potential of the character. The stories are familiar, but incredibly dull.
Creatively I consider this one of the worst failures in modern comics, but what do the all-important sales figures say?
ESTIMATED SALES FIG.
(Sep 07) Amazing Spider-man #544 OMD [146,215]
(Oct 07) Friendly N'hood Spider-man #22 OMD [110,405] -24.49%
(Nov 07) Sensational Spider-man #41 OMD [100,300] -9.15%
(Dec 07) Amazing Spider-man #545 OMD [124,481] +24.11%
(Jan 08) Amazing Spider-man #546 BND [136,109] +9.34%
(Jan 08) Amazing Spider-man #547 BND [108,485] -20.29%
(Jan 08) Amazing Spider-man #548 BND [105,122] -3.1%
(Feb 08) Amazing Spider-man #549 BND [101,112] -3.81%
(Feb 08) Amazing Spider-man #550 BND [90,874] -10.12%
(Feb 08) Amazing Spider-man #551 BND [88,084] -3.07%
(Mar 08) Amazing Spider-man #552 BND [89,835] +1.99%
(Mar 08) Amazing Spider-man #553 BND [82,648] -8.00%
(Mar 08) Amazing Spider-man #554 BND [81,072] -1.91%
A steady decline has been the obvious fate for Amazing Spider-man. Settling numbers aren't anything unusual for a comic, but to see a decline of nearly 60% since the BND launch issue has to be of some concern. Sales across the industry aren't quite as bouyant as recent months, but with superstar names like Steve McNiven attached, you tend to expect more.
I think it's far too early to declare Brand New Day a failure in the broadest sense. Frustrating as it is, financial turnover tends to equate to the defining factor in the success of a comic. The fans are certainly still there, driving the first issue of each month well into the top ten sellers. There's enough of a dip there to ask a lot of questions, but it'll be some months before I think we can call a time of death -- especially with the rotation of creators having such an impact on fluctuations. The return of John Romita Jr, for example, will no doubt see an upward shift, catering to those fiercely dedicated to the artist, and nostalgic for recent history.
As mentioned earlier, for the first time since the revamp, I myself have found temptation in a plot seeing the classic team-up of Spidey and Daredevil, against the gangster villain, Hammerhead. Financial situations tend to take these decisions out of my hands, but it'll be hard to pass that one up, I think.
As a person who fancys himself as a pretty decent comics writer, I'm still creatively revolted by this new conceptual low. Mainstream comics get away with a lot, but this sloppy wipe of twenty-years of history was enough to provoke a conceited avoidance on my part. I fully endorse those avoiding the title for those conceptual reasons, but even when it comes to the specifics, I'm not one to recommend anything going on in those titles. My opinions may be gradually changing, but I still feel very selective about what I indulge in, even if the message becomes retarded through the filter of marketing perceptions. So continues the saga of Spider-Boycott: 2008!
The 2008 Top Five...
The premise is pretty simple folks, but for those of you coming in late, let me give you the basic run down: We talk a lot of comics, we review a lot of their fights, and at the beginning of each month we take a look at who's kicking the most ass by putting the year's top five under a microscope. Hadouken!
With release in cinemas today; Iron Man will be the character to watch this month, but with diversity in featured characters at an all-time high, this year's top five has become more compelling than ever before! DC's market share of the Infinite Wars seems to be running rampant! In a reversal of last year's Marvel-dominated rankings, DC take this month with highlights coming from; the Justice League, the three Flash's [Garrick, Allen, West], and potential combatants for the upcoming Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe crossover video game!
#1 Batman (+1) (26) (DC)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Hush]
Win Percentage: [66.67%] Features: 
2006: [#1] 2007: [#2] Cumulative: [#2]
January 2006 marked the first top five, and the first time Batman topped the rankings. His stay lasted thirteen months, but after a fifteen month vacation from the top, the dark knight has come home!
The Dark Knight and Gotham Knight have most fans in a flutter. The sequel to 2005's Batman Begins, and it's anime injected DVD spin-off, promise to fullfil the dreams of many fans, making 2008 the year of Batman. We expected a return to form for the Season 2007 bridesmaid, but as if victory wasn't already assured, the announcement of Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe thrusts Batman into yet another multi-media spotlight!
News of the game hasn't exactly set the comics community on fire, but promises to be an interesting step forward for those who've maintained their acquaintance with the iconic American beat 'em up, and a chance to catch-up with a nineties icon for those who haven't. Batman inevitably leads the charge into the darker realms of Mortal Kombat, and while the series will be missing it's trademark "fatality" finishers, Batman might yet be poised to face death.
Grant Morrison's "RIP" is the next major story to come knocking, and by all indication promises a Batman death. The case or not; Batman will be inescapable as we enter the second half of 2008, making his early rise to number one all the more indicative of what's to come.
#2 Martian Manhunter (-) (3) (DC)
Class: [Super] Last Opponent: [Ultramarine Corps]
Win Percentage: [50%] Features: 
2006: [NR] 2007: [#222] Cumulative: [#35]
An unlikely stay at number two for the Martian Manhunter, who's successfully riding the wave of DC hysteria prompted by projects such as the Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe video game.
With the sleeper crossover Salvation Run concluded, it doesn't seem like the Manhunter from Mars has much on the cards. Chances of the cult favourite featuring alongside Superman and Batman in the upcoming video game crossover are still in question. Though the game promises iconic characters; exactly how that iconography defined in terms of a small ten-or-so deep cast in this dark, violent series, remains to be seen. Though broader on the Swiss Army scale, Martian Manhunter is largely redundant next to Superman, making in-game incrementalizations the real question.
Love J'onn, but wouldn't expect him this high in the top five next month.
Then again, I said that last month, didn't I?...
#3 The Phantom (-2) (2) (King Features Syndicate)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Roughnecks]
Win Percentage: [100%] Features: 
2006: [NR] 2007: [NR] Cumulative: [#33]
Speaking of unlikely inclusions; diversity gives the ghost who walks the opportunity to hold on to his top five spot, slipping from the top by only two places!
Topical discussion dominates much of our time, making opportunity rare for less significant characters like the Phantom. Bahlactus and his black and white Friday Night Fights sponsor future opportunity for the Phantom, but as we're skipping festivities this week for more relevant discussion, those odds slim down.
Very few irons on this fire, I'm sad to say. Low returns on the Phantom expected.
#4 Superman (RE) (4) (DC)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Crystal Creature]
Win Percentage: [54.55%] Features: 
2006: [#7] 2007: [#13] Cumulative: [#5]
The Man of Steel makes a triumphant return to the top five!
Superman is the only other character confirmed for MKvsDC; add a recent seventieth anniversary and it's a recipee for recognition!
Critically acclaimed writer, James Robinson (Starman, JSA, Detective Comics), joins Superman for the latest in a string of attempts to breathe new life into the DC flagship title. Creative indecision has probably been a major contributor to the recent languishing of the book, and while I'm not confident Robinson is the man to turn it around, he certainly has the capability. Combined with Geoff Johns' efforts on Action Comics and a big DC crossover coming - Superman is poised to make a strong showing in Season 2008.
#5 Invisible Woman (RE) (2) (Marvel)
Class: [Champion] Last Opponent: [Justice Peace]
Win Percentage: [60%] Features: 
2006: [#23] 2007: [#9] Cumulative: [#9]
The FF refuse to give up their stake in the top five, boosting the first lady of Marvel back into the running! Despite being revealed as a Skrull impostor, Invisible Woman remains a hot contender in 2008!
Secret Invasion hype has largely been aborted in favour of DC dominance on the Infinite Wars. In a lot of ways this has been a total reversal of the last couple of years, and with the announcement of an unlikely new video game, the swell certainly seems in favour of Final Crisis.
Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, though producing strong and regular content, haven't been the must-read breath of fresh air for the world's greatest comics magazine. Sure to be a big part of later chapters in the Skrull-centric event; one wouldn't expect strong dividends from the FF in May. Solidarity continues to be their strength, but one expects this spot to belong to Iron Man and Hulk in the next few months.
Cumulative Super Stock...
Harvey Dent gives you
something to believe in,
turning on Hush to climb
the charts with a bullet!
2. Batman (-) (DC)
3. Iron Man (-) (M)
4. Wolverine (+1) (M)
5. Superman (+3) (DC)
6. Hulk (-2) (M)
7. Mr. Fantastic (-) (M)
8. Captain America (-2) (M)
9. Invisible Woman (+3) (M)
10. Daredevil (-) (M)
11. Thing (-1) (M)
13. Black Adam (-) (DC)
16. Ryu (-) (C)
17. Luke Cage (+9) (M)
27. Flash (+9) (DC)
31. Flash (+23) (DC)
32. Dhalsim (-2) (C)
34. Ken Masters (-2) (C)
35. Martian Manhunter (+27) (DC)
36. Aquaman (+33) (DC)
38. Wonder Woman (+33) (DC)
47. Hawkgirl (+39) (DC)
50. Tara (-5) (M)
62. Green Lantern (+86) (DC)
88. Brainwave (+144) (DC)
93. Raiden (-2) (Mid)
97. Stargirl (+187) (DC)
100. Human Torch (-3) (M)
108. Noob Saibot (-3) (Mid)
150. Terminus (-3) (M)
163. Dr. Fate (new) (DC)
164. Fury (new) (DC)
165. Cobalt Man (new) (M)
166. Night Ranger (new) (Geekpunk)
167. Randal (new) (Geekpunk)
168. Guardian (new) (Geekpunk)
169. Eradicator (new) (Geekpunk)
170. Chun-Li (-4) (C)
200. Sulumor (-8) (M)
208. The Sentry (+235) (M)
209. Sand (-51) (DC)
213. Birdie (-) (C)
218. Scorpion (-11) (Mid)
225. Two-Face (+251) (DC)
243. Mr. Mind (ammendment) (DC)
245. Flash (+40) (DC)
250. Elsa Bloodstone (-12) (M)
Sand's dream becomes a
nightmare as he slips
down the ranks after a
JSA mission of mercy!
299. Red Guardian (new) (M)
300. Squire (new) (DC)
301. Warmaker One (new) (DC)
303. Jim Gordon (new) (DC)
304. Scout (new) (Geekpunk)
318. Hush (new) (DC)
350. Patriot (-18) (M)
400. Deluge (-18) (M)
450. The Jester (-18) (M)
479. Brute (new) (DC)
480. Glob (new) (DC)
481. Egghead (new) (M)
482. Valkyrie (new) (M)
483. Nighthawk (new) (M)
484. Goraiko (new) (DC)
485. Knight (new) (DC)
486. Flow (new) (DC)
487. Olympian (new) (DC)
488. Jack O'Lantern (new) (DC)
489. Tasmanian Devil (new) (DC)
490. Fleur-de-Lis (new) (DC)
491. Vixen (new) (DC)
492. Kid Impala (new) (DC)
493. Pulse 8 (new) (DC)
494. Neh-Buh-Loh (new) (DC)
495. Gorilla Grodd (new) (DC)
498. Justice Peace (new) (M)
500. Phantom Dread (new) (Geekpunk)
501. Trouble (new) (Geekpunk)
502. Krimson Klaw (new) (Geekpunk)
503. Voodoo Guru (new) (Geekpunk)
524. Lizard (-41) (M)
525. Taskmaster (-41) (M)
526. Zangief (-41) (C)
527. Magneto (-41) (M)
528. Dan Hibiki (-41) (C)
Big apologies to all the Fantasy Leaguers and faithful war mongers out there! Hopefully the schedule should stay on the tracks as things cool down for me off-site.
Energy has been running high through April!
It was difficult not to get swept up in the mixed emotions of Midway's announcement of Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe. We'll be running more of those fantasy match-ups through May as one of the few sites I'm aware of giving major coverage to the release. As a fan with a foot both in comics and video games, it's been a great opportunity to share some of those characters and concepts with you all.
Something I hope to be sharing more with you in the coming months is my own comics work. Like so many others I've dabbled in the realm of publishing, and consider myself a Tarantino-esque student of the medium. The Kirby Martin Inquest has been lowered to the rock bottom pulp price of $1.99, and I hope all you can get behind me and find your way to links to buy the issue online.
The comic is an indulgent pseudo-superhero story that introduces the White Ghost; a vigilante borne of specifics events that trouble the lead character, Charles Scott. He is a deeply layered individual whose motivations are laid out in a multi-tiered story that deals with multiple narratives. I have some mixed emotions about the quality of work, but feel the $1.99 price tag is fitting for the grungy pulp quality of the book. Featuring gritty print of Pedro Cruz' pencil work, I hope this introductory issue will entice you all to join me on my journey of growth as a writer and creator. I feel there's a lot of obvious area to grow, but reviews have been very kind. You can find those, as well as purchase details, through the many links provided. Your support is vital to the future of these projects, so please, take advantage of this dramatic price drop.
The Fantasy League is designed to relieve me of remembering all the deserving shout-outs, but I really must throw some mentions out there! While you're in a charitable mood, once you've finished buying the comic, be sure to scoot over to Blogged.com, where the site is currently rated third in their comics sub-category. Blogged.com editors rated the Infinite Wars at an impressive 8.9, but I think we can go higher than that. Show your support for the site by adding your own scores and mini-reviews which will help better expose our superhero smackdown.
Also doing their part to expose the Infinite Wars to the unsuspecting masses are the Comic Blog Elite toplist and Bahlactus! Since joining the Elite list a couple of weeks go, we've shot into the top five, which is a real tribute to all of you guys.
And even though we aren't there this week, I've thoroughly enjoyed being a part of Bahlactus' Friday Night Fights. As a purveyor of all things fisticuffs, Bahlactus is a great support to a site like this, and a great way to connect with like-minded fans. Hopefully some of you are sticking around to check us out, too.
There's so much going on right now, and it's sure to continue into May.
May is Invincible Iron Month on the Infinite Wars, so be here every Sunday for spotlights on the gold and red Avenger. Iron Man is in theatres "today" and will no doubt be a shining representative for the currently under represented Marvel.
Speaking of Iron Man... It's worth mentioning that during the month I got a surprising message from Carrie Lowery!
It was a bit of a thrill to hear from the one-time comics writer, whose contribution to the 1990 Iron Man Annual was recently reviewed on the Infinite Wars. Lowery, responsible for the "Amazing Origin of Mrs. Arbogast," provides her own secret origin [as Barre)] over on her blog; My Cool Job!
Short tales like hers might not endure the literary test of time, but are a constant inspiration for a budding comics writer. I hope to one day enjoy a role not unlike hers, albeit on an on-going basis. It was great to hear from Miss Lowery, and I hope to hear from others in the future. You don't have to be post comments, so feel encouraged!
We've got more MK/DC Fantasy Fights on Mondays; the shipping list is every Wednesday and becoming a fun part of the site; and of course you're guaranteed more fun throughout the week, including the usual Friday Fight Night action. It's been a big month -- hopefully we can top it in May! Spread the word, get voting, get buying, and get drafting!
- Mike Haseloff; Commanding Officer
Mike Haseloff is a little known writer who considers himself a student of the comics medium. Formerly aligned to evil; Mike gave up his mercenary lifestyle, only to incur the wrath of his clan. They sent three mechanized members of his clan to pursue him, but eventually he was able to overcome this adversity and upon the destruction of the clan, begin rebuilding the Lin Kuei as a name for good. Though cold hearted, Mike cites Kevn McCloud as an inspiration.
April Hit Count: [10153/93147] (+25%)