Monday, June 16, 2008

A final crisis may be brewing in the DC multiverse, but after last week, fans of the company learnt a new threat will attack in the unlikely medium of video games! Worlds collide as Midway and DC confirmed what the gamers were waiting for; their shock joint venture: Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe!

Well, what do you know? Here we are again, regrettably taking another look at the meeting of franchises a week late. Of course, running late has it's benefits, and it means we can confirm the first new additions to the previously announced quartet of; Sub-Zero, Batman, Scorpion, Superman.

Chances are they were sitting pretty high on most people's prediction lists, but thanks to the UK Xbox Magazine, we now know for sure that MK's Sonya and DC's Flash will be joining the interdimensional battle! As far as this fan of the two franchises is concerned, that's a very good thing, although, I'm not without my gripes... New in-game screenshots contain not only that still disappointing Scorpion costume, but also a glimpse of a Flash costume mysteriously sporting golden bands around the arms, and a red that is a little on the bright side (not unlike Superman in the recently released render).

In-game lighting seems to be doing very little for the colour palettes selected for characters, but for the time being, we'll put that down to the developmental process. On the plus side, Sonya sports a stylized but grounded outfit - a cropped white t-shirt (exposing the belly, natch) and camouflage pants. We could probably do without the beret, but it's a step-up from 2002's build!

If you've been with us from the start, you know this will be the second-to-last tour through the heroes and villains of the respective universes. It's been a lot of fun to join you through so many rounds [that's: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine] and I've appreciated hearing from many of you! With any luck fans unfamiliar with one side, or the other, will have been able to extract some sense of familiarity with some of the names, and been able to track down more info in anticipation of the game's release.

We've got twelve major league characters to roll out here, but you won't want to miss next week as we take a look at some of the most anticipated pairings of the pre-game hype! Speaking of hype, I don't like my chances, but I'm doing my best to abuse all available contacts in the interest of bringing you something a little bit special. But what am I talking about? Scroll on for something special right now! FIGHT!

[#215] :RANKING
[45%] :ODDS
Justice Society

RANKING: [#84]
ODDS: [80%]
Elder Gods
Strength: Captain Marvel 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Captain Marvel 5 (Professor)
Speed: Captain Marvel 5 (Superhuman)
Stamina: Raiden 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Raiden 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Raiden 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Raiden 6 (Mass Destruction)

The Battle...
Pet peeve: Thunder is the rumbling sound you hear, not the flashing light you see. That is lightning. I don't know about anybody else, but I certainly feel better!

Yes! He's the elusive "thundergod" that plays mentor to Earth's greatest heroes of Mortal Kombat, and though the laws of the Elder Gods prevent him from personally interfering, Raiden is also the deity deemed Protector of Earthrealm!
In trying to think of a suitable parallel for the ill tempered sometimes-human-sometimes-elder-god I tossed around the idea of pairing him with the wrath of god - the Spectre; but that would probably just be stacking the decks!...

Those following along at home will know that Billy Batson is the pint-sized junior who, whence proclaiming the name of the Wizard Shazam, turns into his red and gold champion, Captain Marvel! When the aforementioned Spectre went a little nutty (without any host to watch him) he decided magic was more trouble than it was worth, and set about killing it off, claiming the scalp of one of magic's most powerful icons, the also aforementioned, Wizard Shazam!

It was all very sad and unfortunate, but for Cap, a promotion was in order, thus he became Earth's magical lightning-themed protector! Presumably you can see the parallel. Lightning, lightning, protector, protector. Good, good.

Although thematically comparable; Cap and Raiden actually have very little in common. Captain Marvel remains one of the lasting relics of the Golden Age, embodying the innocent charms of the post-Comics Code era with a squinty-eyed naivte. Raiden, on the other hand, has a penchant for getting a little dark, and when he isn't threatening to deepfry misguided heroes (Shujinko!), he's exploding and sizzling emiseries of evil! Sworn to indifference but always sticking his nose in -- anyone would think he was a Watcher!

Demeanor isn't the only thing seperating these two characters. Captain Marvel plays a power game bringing Superman-grade physical strengths, while Raiden represents godly electrical energy and traditional martial arts fighting skills. They really are a stark contrast, but we've got to name a winner here for the fantasy league, and that means hammering out some broad standards.

Ultimate, even though Captain Marvel traditionally takes his powers from a pantheon of gods, Raiden is a god. As much as MK's questionable story dynamics have painted him with a mortal brush, it's fair to say Raiden's got the capacity to take all the physical punishment in the mortal world! When it comes to the lightning ambush, if we're taking ye olde standardized Cap, there's the question of whether magical lightning can hurt a god of lightning.

Thor - a noted inspiration for Raiden - came off a little worse for ware when he clashed with Captain Marvel [Marvel versus DC #2] but that thundergod was able to control the Shazam lightning with his hammer. I'm inclined to think Raiden might go down, but as we saw in the opening scenes of Deception, it wouldn't be long before he'd be back up!

The Math: Raiden Our Winner: Raiden

[60%] :ODDS

ODDS: [40%]
Outworld Army
Strength: Doomsday 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Draw 2 (Average)
Speed: Doomsday 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Doomsday 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Draw 2 (Average)
Fighting: Doomsday 7 (Born Fighter)
Energy: Kintaro 3 (Explosives)

The Battle...
Ugh! Y'know every time I defend the nineties [like last Friday] something inevitably snaps me back to reality: case in point - Doomsday.

Doomsday, both on and off the page, was created for only one thing: destroying Superman. Unfortunately for readers that's meant a ten-year affair with a character almost completely devoid of character or intrigue. Worse still, the one-note of an unstoppable killing machine got strummed even harder when it was decided to reveal an in-built resurrection gene not only capable of bringing Doomsday back from the dead -- but also instigating mini-evolutions that would prevent the same circumstance. Ouch.

Kintaro, a veteran of only two core games, has suffered a vaguely similar fate. After Goro blazed a trail for the iconography of MK's four-armed Shokan warriors; Kintaro emerged in 1993's Mortal Kombat II in his place, seeking vengeance for the apparently lost warrior. Vengeance amounted to a bulkier and more proficient poseable maquette for the digitized sprites used in the game, but beyond that, Kintaro was a character with tiger print on his back, and a penchant for growling.

Fortunate for Kintaro is his association with ideas much bigger than the execution of his brief, shoulder-padded appearances. Kintaro escapes negative association at the expense of being memorable, but don't tell his cult fanbase that, myself included. I like to think of Kintaro as a politically minded Shokan warrior whose allegiances shifted away from Prince Goro in the wake of his return and the signing of a Shokan/Edenian treaty, and resolutions with the Centaurs. Granted, MK's thinly developed characterization and plot means none of this is specifically contradicted, but yes, it's delusional at worst, fan-fiction at best...

Kintaro may be far less soiled and have far more potential than the villain who killed Superman, but this is still a total mismatch. I don't doubt that Kintaro's on a level capable of locking horns with the brute, but the Shokan's strength is impressive when measured against the mortals they combat. Not the super destroyers of the DC universe that shake planets when they battle.

I don't doubt Doomsday's ability to kill Kintaro.
In that respect he sort of is one of those characters that really quite easily slots into the conventional MK model - if such a model were available to properties licensed from DC, a subsidiary of Time-Warner.

For those lucky enough not to know, you might find it intriguing, if a little droll, that Doomsday was able to turn over a new leaf, if only for a short period. One of his many 'evolutions' resulted in the manifestation of a new defensive for the monster -- feelings! Yes, after observing a few tragedies and catching a glimpse of a prematurely aging Superman get the snot kicked out of him, ol' Doomsday decided to pledge to the good guys, and in a future negated, he actually spent a few centuries travelling through space and then pounding through rock just to save Superman from a distant prison.

Who cares about the stupid stuff though? Will Doomsday be in Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe? It's a tough question. Fan reaction, though a little embarassing, quite rightly claims Doomsday as a character quite easily intergrated into the world of Mortal Kombat. In fact, if DC really wanted to win this thing, they might even consider leaving Doomsday in the MK camp as sabotage for their already slightly naff branding.

Like Goro, Kintaro, Motaro, Moloch, Onaga, and Blaze before him, Doomsday essentially proposes the assumption of a boss character, requiring patience and determination, more than any tangible skill. He's all about brute strength, and while I'd cringe at the notion of seeing Doomsday leap into the air for a stomping special, I could easily see Shao Kahn-style charging incorporated to a spiney, poison-laced arsenal of in-game dash attacks and cheapery.

Will it happen? I really can't say.
In the land of fantasy scenarios I want this to be a story-driven affair, but as Midway has been as yet unresponsive to my requests to clear an interview with Jimmy Palmiotti [he's very nice!], I have absolutely no notion of what's in store for the story. Whether or not the meeting of these worlds is a contrivance of powers (Darkseid, Shao Kahn, Yo momma?), or just a wacky cosmic accident, is as yet unknown. Doomsday may be a perfectly logical inclusion, but without that kind of grounding, I'd be reluctant to pledge the character. If you already spied our odds, there's a better than even chance of seeing Doomsday in there, but I couldn't do you any better. He makes sense in this world, I'm just not sure if I'd sacrifice one of only a dozen-or-so slots for that.

The Math: Doomsday Our Winner: Doomsday

[#210] :RANKING
[65%] :ODDS
The Society

ODDS: [50%]
Strength: Sektor 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Lex Luthor 6 (Genius)
Speed: Sektor 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Sektor 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Sektor 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Sektor 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Draw 4 (Arsenal)

The Battle...
Does anyone get the impression I'm making up for lost time with a lot of words? Why, that almost sounds like the kind of thing Lex Luthor would do! Hey..!

You're probably wondering how Sektor escaped pairing with one of the many robotic or cybernetic fiends on file. Sure, I could've slapped him against Mister Atom and called it a night, but I value our friendship more than that. I don't know, maybe my problem is caring too much.

On the surface this might seem like an odd pairing: Sektor was once a member of the ninja-esque Chinese order of the Lin Kuei, who, upon learning of Shao Kahn's impending invasion of Earth, opted to forcefully mechanize their warriors to evade the manipulative powers of soul seering sorcerery. It worked, too! Chaps like Sektor, Cyrax, and Smoke all evaded detection from Shao Kahn's extermination squads, and were free to go about their business. Of course, now mindless husks waiting to be programmed by their corrupted, red-garbed masters [communism analogy?], they were pledged to hunting down Sub-Zero who, believe it or not, didn't fancy the notion of becoming a brain in an overgrown tin can.

You're waiting for the part where this suddenly makes sense, right?
Okay, so Lex Luthor's dangerously brilliant brain is still quite where it should be, and Sektor never served a term in the White House; but you've got to think of the big picture!

After Sub-Zero managed to evade the cyborgs that evaded the extermination squads, the Lin Kuei kinda dissolved and the three 'name' cyborgs went their seperate ways. For Sektor, this meant moving to Japan and dedicating himself to aspirations of world domination. Ah, now you see, yes?

Luthor and Sektor share more than the -or at the end of their names.
Both have lofty aspirations of world domination and in true megalomaniacal super villain vashion, would gladly force their own image on their human slaves. In fact, for Sektor, amounting an army of cybernetic warriors dubbed the Tekunin is exactly the method by which he hopes to claim such a victory!

As a combative character Luthor really needs to have his now-classic green and purple powersuit. This thing juices the industrial genius up in much the same way as Iron Man, and gives him the chops to go toe-to-toe with his arch-nemesis, Superman. In a punch-up this actually makes Luthor a viable character for a game like MK vs DC, but going up against Sektor outside the mechanics of a beat 'em up makes the powersuit a potential weakness -- because Sektor's got some funky tech-voodoo working over time, and there's a good chance a bulky powersuit could quickly become a hideously coloured, fully poseable coffin!

Last week we gave the sorcerers of the Deadly Alliance the benefit of the doubt when rating their mystically masterful intelligence. Sektor, however, even for his small triumphs, fares about average in the MK scope - which puts him somewhere in the realm of having some high school education.

Lex Luthor's one bad ass mofo. He's as cunning as he is brilliant, and when you consider it's only brains that have allowed him to compete with one of DC's most powerful superheroes, you can appreciate the value of those smarts.
As brilliant as Sektor must be to manipulate and grow technologies the way he does, MK's poor characterization makes it hard to really buy into it. It's certainly difficult to believe in the plausibility of Sektor out-thinking one of the smartest men in the DC Universe!

I only rate Luthor at a sixty-five because, really, he's a schemer, not a fighter. He could enter the fray and if "iconic" is to be considered anything more than a buzzword used to describe the overall asthetic, Luthor's got to be right up there for the villainous representation. In a strange sort of way, he should really be a good guy in a scenario like this. As we saw recently in Salvation Run, Luthor's dedication to the greater good (ie; what serves him) has a way of making strange bed fellows, and even if you flash back to Super Powers, we know that cheap marketting tie-ins are more than enough to bridge the rift between he and Supes!

With the powersuit a must for an in-game Luthor, it's hard to really imagine anything exceptional coming from the character's moves. Unlike others, fighting prowess isn't a priority, so gimmickery is going to be what sets the character apart, (as if that isn't always the case in MK). Lasers, bells, whistles, and missiles spell the typical nature of the powersuit, assuming super strength is restricted to piledrivers and powerbombs, rather than boss-style cheap tricks. Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine!

The Math: Sektor Our Winner: Lex Luthor

[#524] :RANKING
[50%] :ODDS
The Society

ODDS: [75%]
Outworld Army
Strength: Killer Croc 5 (Superhuman)
Intelligence: Killer Croc 2 (Average)
Speed: Reptile 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Draw 4 (Athlete)
Agility: Reptile 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Reptile 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Reptile 3 (Explosives)

The Battle...
I concocted this list of well over a hundred characters right after the game was announced, but now that we're nine weeks into the promotional campaign, the thought occurs that most of these final round fights are going to be on the obvious side.

Fans have had plenty of time to do their research and suddenly go from casual cartoon fans, to seasoned veterans in the world of comics, to come up with their own brilliant pairings. Funny how that tends to happen, isn't it?

Well, poseur or not, Reptile/Killer Croc is sure to have featured in lists across the globe. It's a no brainer. They're both reptillian villains. Look at the mugshots for crying out loud! Could it possibly get any simpler?!

As you'll see next week, there have been some notable omissions from our 100+ list. Aquaman will be one of the most obvious characters you'll note absent from the stack, even though he represents one of the classic 'big seven' of the Justice League. When Ed Boon answered tongue-in-cheek questions about the much mocked mariner, it sparked dunder-headed speculation amongst a crop of fans convinced Rain somehow translates into an iconic representation of swimmer-cum-fighter.

As much as I don't expect Aquaman to be a part of this game; had I opted to include him in our list, it probably would've been with Reptile. Sure, I know the difference between mammal, amphibian, and reptile, and I know that Ecco needs to periodically go up for air, but come on. Reptile's the closest thing MK has to marine life, and those who played through Shaolin Monks should be able to appreciate the need for a wet room when keeping Zaterrans as pets.

The official word says about a dozen characters will show-up from both franchises. I'd be willing to edge that up to fifteen-or-so, but even then, I'm not sure how Killer Croc really factors in. Mortal Kombat's tradition for flashy special moves in the absence of substantial fighting mechanics means burly brawlers like Killer Croc tend to fall by the wayside. Lunging [non-fatal] bite moves and boxing combinations seem about the extent of Croc's arsenal of flash. He's neither iconic, nor is he even particularly prominent in Batman's well known stable of villains. Lord knows he'd be much more welcome than Poison Ivy in a fighting game, but, I'm not convinced the street tough does any better than evens.

Reptile, on the other hand, has managed to develop beyond his humble beginnings as a secret character in 1992's first MK game. Little more than a bright green version of Scorpion and Sub-Zero, a process of de-evolution has seen Reptile gradually regress from cheap colour switches, to an increasingly reptillian stature, culminating in MKDA's Lizard Warrior styling.

Reptile's relevance in the plot is somwhat in limbo after sort-of, maybe, amost being turned into a living vessel for the resurrected Dragon King. That said, as the original secret character, he's developed a fiercely dedicated following punctuated by strong appearances in 1995's Paul Anderson directed film, and the spin-off TV series, Mortal Kombat Conquest. I think his chances for a shoulder-padded return are probably pretty good! If only they'd go back to the MK4 style!

The Math: Reptile Our Winner: Reptile

[#20] :RANKING
[35%] :ODDS
Infinity Inc

ODDS: [80%]
OIA Special Forces
JAX versus STEEL
Strength: Jax 5 (Superhuman)
Intelligence: Steel 5 (Professor)
Speed: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Steel 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Draw 2 (Average)
Fighting: Jax 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Jax 4 (Arsenal)

The Battle...
Right up until the final hour I was quite ready to submit to convention by pairing Maj. Jackson Briggs up with the similarly outfitted Titan, Cyborg.

It's not especially popular to just come right out and admit it, but when working in fiction, superficial detail has a way of holding importance. Nobody likes to play the race card, but when it comes to developing a cartoon or video game franchise, it's just good business to be aware of minority interests.
Jax isn't the only cybernetically enhanced African-American in town. He's predated some ten years by Cyborg, and facetiously joined by TJ Combo from MK-copycat game franchise, Killer Instinct.

As much as Cyborg makes a lot of sense, he's a far more tech-savvy character than the physically enhanced Jax. Which is where, just before starting this diatribe, it occurred to me he has more in common with one of my personal favourite characters, Steel!

Steel's armor is far less sophisicated than the likes of Iron Man, but no less effective. The already powerful John Henry Irons benefits from the hi-tech design and metals used in his suit, but keeps fashionable additions to a minimum, option typically for a wrist-mounted rivet gun, collapsable sledge hammer, and a trusty pair of rocket boots. These lo-tech weapons match-up pretty well with the massive PSI of Jax' cybernetic arm enhancements, and the later addition of ammunition to said appendages.

If you've had the misfortune of joining the MK franchise in recent years, you'll be associating manufactured racial diversity with the embarassingly ghetto Jax. After debuting in '92s MK sequel, Jax' military background alluded more to something like Captain America than the jive-jibing flavor flav of later years.

Steel's known for a starchy personality himself, but his background overlaps with Jax' conveniently. Despite his physically intimidating presence, John Henry Irons was once a brilliant scientist, responsible for the design of hi-tech guns that eventually leaked onto the streets amidst gang wars.
Irons was inspired to become proactive in his penance when a near fatal accident on a construction site garnered a chance encounter with Superman. When Supes seemingly died at the hands of Doomsday, JHI was among a quartet of heroes seeking to fill the void of the Man of Steel.

Rivet gun, sledge hammer, flight. They're all pretty straight forward capabilities that lend Steel to the combative arena without repeating the presentation of his Man of Steel predecessor. Unfortunately, while Steel could certainly be described as iconic, he isn't terribly popular. An ill-fated Shaq film [Judd Nelson film?] did little to elevate Steel's flagging stocks which bottomed out to occasional guest spots in Action Comics. He's back headlining post-52 in the latest version of Infinity Inc, but it's far from a blue chip stock, and far from licensing gold.

When John Tobias left the MK team and a half-finished spin-off, Jax took sole spotlight in the Shaq-scale flop that was MK: Special Forces - a PSX exclusive title released to cut cost, rather than entice Sony sales. Even so, despite the game's significance, it represents the sense of a turning point that saw Jax eclipse his female counterpoint from the first game, which is why I had initially rated Jax as a surer thing than...

The Math: Jax Our Winner: Jax

[#87] :RANKING
[65%] :ODDS
Justice League

RANKING: [#91]
ODDS: [100%]
OIA Special Forces
Strength: Draw 2 (Average)
Intelligence: Sonya 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Sonya 4 (Athlete)
Agility: Draw 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Draw 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Sonya 4 (Arsenal)

The Battle...
... The quintessential cop character looking for vengeance through martial arts. It's one of the great traditions in this type of fiction, and it was the vehicle for a Cynthia Rothrock-inspired character that became one of the most empowered female characters in video game history: Lieutenant Sonya Blade!

The original Special Forces agent has hovered above the chopping block, absent from the sequel that introduced Jax, but has remained key to the Mortal Kombat mythology. Iconic on principle as much as credibility, the character hinges on a simple premise, enhanced only by the recognition factor of the feature film that thrust Bridget Wilson [-Sampras] into the spotlight as the hard-edged lawbabe who just needs to be loved. Condescending as her relationships may have been, it gave Sonya a credit Chun-Li could only dream of [at least, all-going well, until 2009's Legend of Chun-Li].

Black Canary's a character associated with a similar sense of forlorn green defined by teenage inexperience and an inescapable crush on notorious womanizer, Green Arrow. The Canary-bird is finally getting the push for maturity the character demands, exceeding her pre-Crisis counterpart leader of the Justice League senior even to Batman! It's that kind of strength, fighting prowess, and leadership that makes her the perfect feminist-flag-waving counterpart to MK's original ass kicking dame, Sonya.

We had Sonya rated at a comfortable eighty-percent (to Jax' eighty-five) prior to the Xbox reveal. The entire cast of the original game have to be among the most considered, but for my money it's the Special Forces that make some of the most sense as the responsive counterparts to the Justice League. As an organization, (that managed to pick-up Kenshi and Cyrax along the way), the Special Forces are cohesive in a way the traditional heroes aren't, when applying them to the crisis of interdimensional merging we're sure to see.

Black Canary has the added bonus of being a character firmly rooted in her martial arts capabilities. While she isn't the most iconic fighter you'll find from DC - maybe not even in the top ten - it's an opportunity to service not only the superhero requirements of the franchise, but to do so with some credibility.
From the in-game front, the canary cry offers up stun and attack possibilities, hopefully set distinct from Sindel, whose cry exhibits now archaic concessions afforded by in-game logics.

For the fantasy result house keeping, I'm going to bite the bullet and stick with Sonya for fighting prowess and experience. Even recent years of Birds of Prey had a habit of painting Black Canary with a green brush that just makes it hard to really buy into her fighting skills. I'm sure someone will object! This time it probably won't be the MK fans, though. Cheers!

The Math: Sonya Our Winner: Sonya


Anonymous said...

Sonya over Black Canary? I dont think so (And this is coming from an MK Fanboy).

Sonya is clearly the weakest of the Earth heroes, she was only ever included so that the creators did not look sexist, and has had no major wins throughout the game, except a mediocre win over Kano years ago, and even then, he srvived.

Theres really nothing to justify Sonya having the level of intelligence you gave her,, and her fighting skills are more in the line of 3 than 5. Also she only has one energy attack, so how can that justify a 4 in Energy rating? Also, Sonya is a human, and you gave her higher rating than most of the MK demons (Reptile, Ashrah, Mileena, Sareena). I dont agree with that.

Black Canary's sonic attacks would annihilate Sonya.

Sindel would have been a much better pairing for Black Canary, and they'd have been worthy opponents for one another. Putting Black Canary against Sonya is an insult to Black Canary, quite frankly.

Mike Haseloff said...

@anonymous: I take it we aren't a Sonya fan, then. The simple answer here seems to be a disconnect in logic, but since you took the time to elaborate, I'm inclined to do the same:

The Infinite Wars use a carefully devised system for rating the abilities of characters, rather than borrowing existing systems that typically downplay certain human strengths.

As the rating shows, we agree with your sentiments regarding Sonya, at least in terms of physical strength. She is far from the powerhouse her partner is, but that doesn't leave Sonya in the dust.

Painted from her earliest inception as fairly competent (by MK standards), Sonya more than qualifies as a tactically intelligent fighter. Characterization may require the benefit of the doubt, but there's certainly nothing that springs to mind that undermines her status as a Special Forces trained operative.

Likewise, it's worth remembering that we are not explicitly rating in-game capabilities. The logics of Sonya (better conveyed through the Special Forces game, if that's the type of example you need) suggest a wide arsenal of weaponry at the helm -- again, making her rating for Energy (an interpretive term) quite literal.

These ratings don't necessarily disqualify characters from playing above their weight, or vise versa. Ki harnessing abilities certainly represent one of the better arguments against munitions, but for the broad purposes of these rankings, I'm satisfied the numbers are well justified.

Sonya might not be the most likeable character in the list, but she's a competent representation of military proficiency in Mortal Kombat.
An agency versed in travelling to Outworld, no less.

They might both be blondes who wear tight pants -- but Sonya and Black Canary are also heroes who serve similar functions. Black Canary has fullfilled weakness as much, if not more so, than what you describe for Sonya. That quantity is what ultimately weights her in the final decision.

I can appreciate your preferences, but I think they, and confusion about the disconnect of character logic and in-game mechanics, have confused the issue. It's far from black and white, but I'm comfortable with the notion of Sonya's statistical superiority.


Anonymous said...

I like Sonya fine, sure there are others I prefer over her, but theres lots I dislike more.

Its seems that a love for Sonya though is something thats clouding the mind for the person who wrote this (I dont know who exactly that is).

Sonya may be in the military but she is far from disciplined. She has always used the MK storyline to go off and deal with her own petty vendettas, something that caused her capture at the end of MK1 (whether she actually got captured by Baraka -which would further pull down her intelligence IMO lol- or whether the island collapsed while she went after Kano, she still wasnt acting in the correct manner as either an earth warrior or trained special forces agent). A truly disciplined soilder with an intelligence level of 4 would have gotten out well before this with everyone else.

I disagree about the vast weaponry too. She has only every shown her energy rings as a projectile, and her weapons have been fairly weak in the form of Kali Sticks. She hasnt really used much else. In MK4 most characters could use a lot of weapons so they IMO shouldnt be counted as it was an in-game gimic more than anything. The use of weapons in MK has never really been 'canon'. The only people known to use specific weapons are Scorpion (harpoon), Kitana (fans), Jade (Bo), Stryker (Baton), Nightwolf (Axe) and Mileena (sais). Nothing other than the purposes of MKDA/MKD/MKA's gameplay says most characters including Sonya uses a weapon when they fights, I dont buy it that every MK character has a specific weapon. By my reckoning she should get a 2 or 3 at a push in that category.

The rating given here and the write-up give the impression that Sonya is one of the strongest MK fighters, which isnt true. Forgetting the men and beasts for a minute, I wouldnt even class her as the strongest female, she'd be in the middle of the pack of the MK ladies with the ninjas, demons and Sheeva all beating her out.

But anyway its clear your liking of Sonya will always make you agree with the ratings, so I guess we shall ahve to agree to disagree.

Mike Haseloff said...

@anonymous: Just to reiterate, exclusively referencing in-game characteristics is not the name of the game. It would be absurd to suggest a Special Forces agent isn't trained (and fully expected) to utilize the range of weaponry seen in MK: Special Forces, the dangerously unpopular game Sonya was narrowly omitted from.

Questioning the merit of what's described on the Infinite Wars, while making blanket references, isn't a particularly brilliant argument. This scenario, as with most, is a case-by-case reference, and the math won't always come through.

Attempting to cast doubt on the site's credibility? That's a 1 for fighting technique!


buzzlefett said...

I have to agree with the anonymous writers on this one Mike. It was my understanding that Black Canary, as current leader of the JLA, has been given quite a large increase in her fighting capabilities. I believe that in a recent issue, Batman even proclaimed her to be one of the best martial artists in the universe. She is very proficient with melee weapons herself and let us not forget she lives with another of the great martial artists, Green Arrow.

That being said, I do agree with your statements that Sonya Blade is probably a better tactician and slightly more intelligent. Usually, I would give the tactician the edge over an equally matched fighter but I believe that Canary is a superior fighter and that her sonic scream gives her a definitive edge over Sonya.

Mike Haseloff said...

@buzzlefett: Yo!

Because the landscape of comics characters and their abilities are constantly changing, the Infinite Wars ratings tend to favour standardized interpretation.

It's undeniable that Black Canary's status within the DC Universe has been dramatically increased, but she's still fresh out of proving herself (ie; the rah-rah antics of Birds of Prey).

I'd definitely expect the meeting between these two to be a strong showing. If it were an option, a draw might've even crossed my mind. Ultimately, I'm pretty comfortable with the thought Sonya could outfight the latest entrant into the 'best martial artist in the DCU' category, and eventually overpower her.


Leo said...

Hey Mike, this is Leo from MKO. I've read through most of the match-ups you've come up with so far ever since I found the link in some kind of a Johnny Cage thread a while ago. I'll PM you a better description of my personal feelings, though.

What inclined me to leave a comment in this particular round is (you guessed it) the Sonya/Black Canary match-up. Unfortunately, I know nearly nothing about Black Canary, which labels me as unfit to pass judgement on her supposed fighting skills and unrelated skills that may come into play. I am, however, someone who's seen the rest of your work, so I know that you have a pretty good idea of what's going on with these match-ups. Your reasoning and eventual decisions seem concrete and borderline factual for the most part, so regardless of my feelings toward Sonya, I'm more than satisfied in trusting your perception of things 100%, and it helps that I don't doubt Sonya's capabilities one bit.

Which brings me to another point! As I said, I know almost nothing about Black Canary, but I do know a load when it comes to Sonya, which gives me not only the right, but responsibility (lol) to debunk some of the no-nos concerning her in these past comments.

First of all, to slap a label of "weak" on Sonya's forehead is an act worthy of a non-fan of MK, or a loose casual fan at best. Only someone with little knowledge of the character (and I should say the MK universe itself) would take the "simplistic, probable" route and put demons and ninjas over her. Anonymous says she has never had any "worthy" wins in the MK universe except against Kano, and even then, he survived. I'll begin by stating that Kano did not survive his descending defeat by Sonya's hands (or legs, I should say), and his return was justified simply by the fact that Motaro took his body back to Shao Khan and revived him with "magic" so that he could resume his status in Outworld's forces. And I should also say that match-ups in the MK storylines don't happen randomly (as one might take from, say, the first movie). Characters go after characters they want to go after, and fight characters they want to fight after. Is it Blade's fault that Liu Kang has always made it his #1 priority to fight the current big-bad-boss of the situation, and thus, gained the more famous wins? Of course not. Sonya's a character boasting phenomenal strong will and arguably a bit of self-centered motives, which have led her to dirty her hands only with what is #1 on HER priority list. As a Special Forces/OIA agent, that means she takes on the responsibility of wiping out the likes of Kano, Jarek, etc. Just because she hasn't fought different types of enemies other than the "Earth-born threat to Earth" doesn't mean she's uncapable of it.

Furthermore, in actual society, you'd never see a woman ranked as high and held in such high regard in the military world as Sonya is. This is all the proof needed to show that she MUST be incredibly disciplined in many ways. To argue against this is a waste of effort. And to use the MK gameplay in order to found your opinions about her arsenal of weapons is just as much of a waste. Common sense would stop anyone from assuming Sonya only fights with Kali Sticks "because that's what MKDA told us". Even if I knew nothing about Sonya other than her rank in the Special Forces, common sense would tell me she must have an almost limitless arsenal of weapons as her disposal for missions, fights, what-have-you. And like Mike said, the Special Forces game is physical proof that only emphasizes that.

I feel a point I made early on in my comment needs to be elaborated at this point. Opinions naturally vary from person to person, but once more, my common sense would stop me from disregarding Sonya as one of the strongest females. Mr. Anonymous seems to draw part of his opinions from MK gameplay, and as unconventional as that is IMO, it would still be a point for Sonya, who has been top-tier in almost all appearences. Someone like me who takes deeper aspects of the MKs into consideration classifies her as one of the strongest females for the fact that she was the only female on the planet chosen to compete in Mortal Kombat, for example. I'm sure that to be the only chosen one of your gender in an entire planet, you'd have to be the best in that category. Sonya's been considered a match for Outworld's forces from Mortal Kombat 1, and although I agree she'd have disadvantadges in some fights, this simple fact is, again, more than enough proof of her abilities as a fighter and how extensive they are, able to match that of Outworld's best warriors. And believe it or not, she's survived all this time, attack after attack, with is icing on the cake in a discussion such as this. In addition, Sonya is the only female who's actually defeated a male character, stepping away from the same ol' "catfight" concept that seems to plague almost all female fighters. Mr. Anonymous instantly classified the men of MK as stronger than the females, Sonya incluced, and this completely debunks that statement. More icing for that cake we're talking about.

Bringing Sonya's status in the Special Forces into play again, I'm sure she's dealt with all sorts of enemies throughout her life. One could never achieve such a high rank and act worthy of such a rank if one did not have the mental capability that goes along with it. If Sonya's survived all her life fighting against the biggest threats to Earth, she must've a very impressive little head on her shoulders, able to outsmart even the nastiest of villains. It's just an obvious requirement in something like this. Even if Sonya was in fact not as strong as Black Canary (which I find hard to believe based on the little I know of BC and the words by Mike in this page), I'm sure she'd steal the victory through her mental superiority.

All in all, I agree with the results of this round, and the last fight in particular. Looking forward to the next installment.

SubBot said...

Whether Kano was healed or not, Sonya did not Kill him. Their fight was close, he had her defeated and on her knees before she got the last blow in, so it hardly the worlds best victory for her. Im inclined to agree with the 'mediocre' assessment given earlier.
Being honest, Sonya hasnt done much for the story other than be a tag-on 'hero'. And most of the men are stronger than all the femles.

You say theres too much reference to ingame/story things, but those are actually the things that negate alot of your own assumptions about Sonya being disciplined and a good fighter. Theres no other points of reference for MK characters other than in-game or story occurances.

Anyway I dont so much see problems with Sonyas stats, perhaps a tad high, but more Black Canary's which seem rather weak for, as someone pointed out, leader of J.L

I actually think they would match up in most categories and that it would be Canary's screams that would be the deciding factor and cause her to win out over Sonya.

Mike Haseloff said...

Sonya's importance in the MK story doesn't really provide a lot of evidence for the nature of her character. Which, contrary to in-game concessions, clearly includes extensive Special Forces involvement.

Lots of food for thought there for anyone interested, but I think we can still safely say Sonya hasn't been undermined, and Black Canary's green hasn't been painted over by a brief stint as JLA leader.

Good stuff, guys!

Anonymous said...

Mike, first of all I feel you take yourself way too seriously: it is just a game, after all, and I suppose you are doing it for fun. So leave accusations about "credibility" behind. I agree with the original poster: you just describe Sonya as more powerful than she is. You vastly overrate her status as a Special Forces agent: her use of weaponry, for example, may be a valuable skill, but doesn't give her any "edge". Sure the other realms seem to rely on magic and not on technology, but many of the other characters are much more skilled or much stronger, may have supernatural powers or are much harder to kill than humans. Therefore, Sonya is not automatically stronger than anybody else.
Her story DOES matter: the fact that she defeated only ONE of the less important opponents with a cheap last second move proves that she could not overpower him, let alone a bigger foe. She was captured in MK, MK2 and MK Deception: more than most of the other good guys. She has serious issues with self-control(see how she goes psycho with Frost and Taven, although Frost was a bitch herself). Twice she needed Jax to rescue her behind or finish the job for her (her sidekick is actually a more effective hero than she is). This proves something: if Sonya is that intelligent or a tactician, I am a cat.
If you claim you consider what is established about a character, I don't think you should disregard all this.
I know some people like Sonya a lot and think she's strong, I just consider her aggressive, but not that great a fighter.
Cheers to you.

Mike Haseloff said...

@anonymous: At the risk of repeating myself in an elaborate fashion -- the Infinite Wars ratings are an original measure used to reflect the nature of each character's abilities. These are not emotional rankings, as much as they are references to a character's standardized status in each field.

Sonya's command of an arsenal of Special Forces weaponry is quite literally reflected by a 4 (Arsenal). This is a measure of a potential attack based on tangible information, but again, the math will not always pan out.

Suffice to say the range of weaponry we know the Special Forces use is considerably wider and potentially more destructive than fireballs, flame breath, and ice blasts.
This information can be interpreted in a variety of ways. The statistics are simply there to represent that fact: Sonya has at her command a greater capacity for "energy" based attack. Admittedly, energy can be a bit of a misnomer.

Weaponry was not referenced in the interpretation of these facts because, ultimately, it's not the measure by which this type of fight will be decided.

Focusing on the weaknesses of the characters will again highlight a long association of inexperience for Black Canary [ie; Secret Origins #32] and incapacitation at the hands of a well trained fighter [Identity Crisis #3].

These are no more definitive examples than Sonya's few beats in the very thin Mortal Kombat story. Suffice to say, Sonya's capture after the events at Shang Tsung's island are just as likely to have affected any number of other characters in the same way. This is not a measure of the character's abilities.

While not especially flattering, these circumstances do little to undermine the nature of Sonya's character and abilities. We don't discount Kintaro's strength because his major contribution is being torn apart by Raiden.

Appreciate the effort by all, but remain unconvinced by counter arguments against Sonya and her ratings.


Leo said...

"Whether Kano was healed or not, Sonya did not Kill him. Their fight was close, he had her defeated and on her knees before she got the last blow in, so it hardly the worlds best victory for her. Im inclined to agree with the 'mediocre' assessment given earlier.
Being honest, Sonya hasnt done much for the story other than be a tag-on 'hero'. And most of the men are stronger than all the femles."

If you had bothered to read up on Sonya's stuff from MK3, you wouldn't have made such a comment that, unfortunately, completely takes away from your credibility as a speaker concerning her. Her bio was very clear about her fight. She feigned defeat when thrown back in order to lure Kano in, finishing him off with a Leg Grab off the building. Kano fell to his death, but they wanted his character to return in MKDA, thus the explanation that he was revived by Motaro. Your mention that Sonya is a tag-on hero doesn't do much for this conversation either, as many would argue that Sonya was actually built up to be the "female lead" to the male protagonist(s), as is often the case with action movies or stories of the kind. Unlike you, I see that as something that emphasizes her vitality to the MK story, and I've met many who agreed with me and a couple who didn't (which happened to be fans of the likes of Kitana or other females whose spotlight is often taken away by Sonya).

"You say theres too much reference to ingame/story things, but those are actually the things that negate alot of your own assumptions about Sonya being disciplined and a good fighter. Theres no other points of reference for MK characters other than in-game or story occurances."

I'm not saying one should completely disregard everything an MK game tells you when analyzing a character. I'm just saying you've been looking at the wrong things, like her Kali Sticks. The only thing one should draw from the MK games when analyzing a character is that character's storylines, fighting qualities, relationships, etc., and even so, this is meant to lead on to make valid assumptions. Thus, everything from Sonya's role in MK, to her top-tier fighting abilities in-game, to her connections with the other characters and actions surrounding that, all of these are just more of the things I've been mentioning which emphasize her importance and, yes, skills.

"Anyway I dont so much see problems with Sonyas stats, perhaps a tad high, but more Black Canary's which seem rather weak for, as someone pointed out, leader of J.L"

I can't comment on Black Canary, as I've said, but as I've also said, the writer of these match-ups has done a very good job from what I've read, so I'm very inclined to trust his thoughts on BC.

"I actually think they would match up in most categories and that it would be Canary's screams that would be the deciding factor and cause her to win out over Sonya."

That's your opinion, which is all good. I personally think that given Sonya's rank and given her mental abilities, it would be silly for her to not find a way to overcome the clear weapon and enemy is using against her. I can't picture Sonya being brought down by BC's "sonic screams" more than once before realizing that this is BC's primary weapon in a fight, one which needs to be brought down before the owner can be defeated. Again, a character's in-game story is meant to lead to valid assumptions, so Sonya's Special Forces rank obviously leads to the fact that she is mentally capable in a fight.

"Mike, first of all I feel you take yourself way too seriously: it is just a game, after all, and I suppose you are doing it for fun. So leave accusations about "credibility" behind. I agree with the original poster: you just describe Sonya as more powerful than she is. You vastly overrate her status as a Special Forces agent: her use of weaponry, for example, may be a valuable skill, but doesn't give her any "edge". Sure the other realms seem to rely on magic and not on technology, but many of the other characters are much more skilled or much stronger, may have supernatural powers or are much harder to kill than humans. Therefore, Sonya is not automatically stronger than anybody else."

It IS just a game and nothing serious, but having discussions is second-nature to any even casual fan of something, especially when a given opinion is unfounded or badly supported.

And how can you say Sonya's vast use of weaponry doesn't give her any edge, yet be glad to go with the assumption that Canary's "screams" make all the difference in the world? This is contradictory IMO, and would be redundant if it wasn't stated so vaguely.

Finally, you saying that there are many other characters who are stronger and "harder to kill than humans" is your own opinion not backed up by any hard fact, which is something very hard to do given what you've just stated. Humans are not easier to kill just because their humans, otherwise someone like Liu Kang wouldn't be able to beat someone like Shao Khan. And when it comes to who's stronger than who, everyone unavoidably enters the realm of opinions.

"Her story DOES matter: the fact that she defeated only ONE of the less important opponents with a cheap last second move proves that she could not overpower him, let alone a bigger foe."

You might label Kano as a less important villain, but Sonya would beg to differ. He's the guy she's been wanting to kill since before she got dragged into the whole Mortal Kombat thing and, unlike the other humans, her personal vendetta left a mark in her that's been there for a long time. Put yourself in her shoes: if you'd been thirsting to kill a guy for the longest time, would you turn away from that just because you were chosen to help fight other forces? Like I've clearly said before, Sonya's got very strong will, which is an admirable trait in a character. She wanted to kill Kano, and she killed Kano, what's wrong with that? This doesn't undermine her abilities whatsoever! Just because her personal vendetta wasn't against Shao Khan or Shang Tsung doesn't mean she's only good enough to fight Kano or lesser beings. You're making very bad assumptions using a very bad basis.

Finally, how is her Leg Grab a cheap last-second move? It's one of the most recognized moves in the MK game, like Sub-Zero's freeze or Scorpion's harpoon (and to say otherwise is stating your own opinion and disregarding a lot of other fans' personal feelings toward the matter that have been continuously yelled out in forums all over the net in the past). The fact that she used such a move to end her longtime enemy is just great, and doesn't make it cheap or 'last-second'. For more details debunking your statements, look at my last comment on the Sonya vs. Kano fight from the third installment.

"She was captured in MK, MK2 and MK Deception: more than most of the other good guys."

She was captured in MK? I thought she WAS in MK. She was captured in MK2, true, but nevertheless was included actively in the plot, being one of the "baits" for Liu Kang and Cage and Co. to fall for the second tournament, as well as allowing the introduction of Jax to MK. I see nothing wrong with stepping aside once for the sake of such things. In Deception, she had her mind shut down in order to serve Onaga as a personal bodyguard, along with the other heroes from Deadly Alliance. Again, this was in order to make way for new characters to come into the realm of MK, particularly the ones from earlier games who hadn't had a chance to make it to "next-gen" yet. So overall, your statement that "she's always getting captured" is just silly if you take into context the deeper strings attached.

"She has serious issues with self-control(see how she goes psycho with Frost and Taven, although Frost was a bitch herself)."

You think this is a fault against her? Ok. I think that this is a characteristic of Sonya that fits her personality nicely and makes her unique among the goody-2-shoe heroes of MK.

"Twice she needed Jax to rescue her behind or finish the job for her (her sidekick is actually a more effective hero than she is)."

You mind telling me where you got this from? I only remember Jax rescuing her once, which was in MK2 when she was taken by Khan. It's not like she saw Khan coming at her, fell over, and went "Oh, who will save me now?", so, again, I don't see how something like this makes her suddenly so weak. Anyway, unless you give me evidence to support what you just said, specifically, I can't even bother commenting. And your OPINION that Jax is more efficient than her does little to help your case, as I can simply argue that I've heard countless times throughout my years as an MK fan that Jax has always lived in Sonya's shadow in MK.

"This proves something: if Sonya is that intelligent or a tactician, I am a cat."


"If you claim you consider what is established about a character, I don't think you should disregard all this.
I know some people like Sonya a lot and think she's strong, I just consider her aggressive, but not that great a fighter."

As he didn't, so I didn't disregard this. Thanks for your comment, I'm sure he appreciates it, too. And thanks for that final piece of opinion.

buzzlefett said...

Wow...the most comments I've ever seen on one of your posts...

I don't mean to seem selfish but do these fantasy fights between MK and DC count toward the fantasy league? I'm only wondering because giving Black Canary a loss would definitely hurt my team and it seems that since it was not an actual fight (i.e. not official storyline for either DC or MK...yet) that it probably shouldn't count.

I considered asking if you could do voting for the fantasy fights but then I realized that some people are just MK or DC fans and would always vote for that group. I mean, I don't consider myself a "fanboy" for any of the particular companies but I can see how often certain companies are going to have a distinct advantage based on the power levels of how they match up (for instance, take the most iconic MK character as Kang and pit him against the most iconic DC character in Superman).

Also, I often find that I don't agree with what Mike has to say on his site. That doesn't mean that he's wrong or that I'm wrong. Opinions are just opinions. There is always room for healthy debate but there's no reason to get bent out of shape about it. If anyone gets that upset they could always start their own site and write all of the fan-fic they want and have who they want win every matchup.

Mike Haseloff said...

@buzzlefett: Disagree often? Oh, no. You're definitely wrong a lot!

Actually, jokes aside, the 'opinion shield' tends to be part of the reverse-troll phenomenon. It's bullshit.
Opinions can be smarter, better grounded, better referenced, or just plain CORRECT. *gasp*

I encourage any and all Infinite Wars readers to pit their best opinions against each in other a tournament of superirority. If you disgaree, seven times out of ten, one of you is wrong. Figure it out!

... I, of course, am I always right, though.

buzzlefett said...

My point was, Mike, that we are discussing fictional characters in a fictional, what-if scenario. There really is no right or wrong answer on who would win because you have no way of proving it. Yes, you could have a better grounded argument with better research but there are no actual results and thus no actual proof.

And you can't always use the excuse that the writers may have this showdown and that will prove who would win. We've seen fights between the same two characters go two different ways (Batman vs Superman) and we've seen a vastly underpowered hero defeat a much more powerful villain (Squirrel Girl vs Thanos). The writers can make anything happen that they want mainly for the purposes of furthering the storyline but all that does is open things up for debate...again.

Mike Haseloff said...

@buzzlefett: That's why we typically use a standardized distillation of characters when discussing them, rather than making efforts to factor in exceptions to the rule, or try to guess what Judd Winick or Ruben Diaz might like to write.
Not that external influences or processes are entirely ignored! Sometimes they're important parts of the discussion!

Ultimately, it's quicker and easier to stamp things "right" and "wrong," to leave the circular discussions to people on message boards. It's also not very hard to do with a reasonable margin of success. I've got no problem firmly declaring Dr. Doom should beat Squirrel Girl.

I just want everyone to know they can throw down their arguments freely (without being naughty!), rather than suffering the boredom of reverse-trolling or bans.
Maybe it's just me, but I didn't notice anyone getting out of line.

Good to hear from you all, guys!
Hopefully some solid updates coming. Go buy some stuff, or something! ;P


Anonymous said...

Bah, Sonya has clearly shown hints of impulsive behaviour (particularly in her "Get Kano" mode) and a tendency to rush into things, ergo she is not a tactician.
Hot-head and tactician don't mix, IMO.

Mike Haseloff said...

@anynonymous: One would argue that's a prime example of MK's especially wooden characterization. By design that gets the broad concept across, more than actually exploring the nature of the characters.

There are plenty of counterpoints to the exclusivity of emotion and tactical training/reasoning, also. Even Batman is known to lose his cool.
If you're from the MK side of things, the weight of that example might be lost on you. I'm not sure.

And finally, unless Black Canary spontaneously teams up with Kano, you'd have to think "Get Kano mode" would be off the table. Kombat Time!!!


Anonymous said...

Prime example of "mirror climbing". Sonya's character was never deep: she hates her foes and is loyal to her friends, period. She has shown impulsive behaviour and she has NOT shown relevant tactical skills: why don't you read this the easy way? There is not much else to read into, that would be just assumption. She had time to show such skills and never did: maybe she doesn't have them at all? Am I wooden? It's just common sense. You are making thigs up. But of course you don't listen to a word. Why do you even let people post comments if you are "right" and that's it? You don't have to, you know. So nobody would disagree.

Mike Haseloff said...

If I didn't let people post comments, how would they know when they were wrong?

You're welcome!