Thursday, July 31, 2008

REVIEW: The Kirby Martin Inquest #1
We're running a little late, but in case you missed it, we're very pleased to send a shoutout to the Fortress of Fortitude!

Readers of the site will have become familiar with the weekly ad appearing on the site for my small press comic, The Kirby Martin Inquest. In July, the Fortress Keeper was kind enough to have some nice things to say about the opening issue, which was penciled by my Portuguese pal, Pedro Cruz!

The Keeper makes some great comparisons to other works, putting our efforts into a perspective fans might find useful in deducing their interests in the issue. You can, of course, find the comic available for sale online. Weighing in at twenty-two fullsize pages of pulp-inspired black and white artwork - (and a lot of writing) - it's a value-packed buy at only $1.99US*!

As with any indepdendent publication, every purchase is greatly valued, nigh vital!
I hope I can look forward to the support of regular readers of the Infinite Wars, and continue into the future with further instalments of the White Ghost's mysteriouso adventure(s)!

Hey, but don't take my word for it! Read the review/commentary at the Fortress of Fortitude! Then be sure to check out previews and other reviews at Nite Lite Theatre, before navigating your way to online purchasing! Cheers!


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

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

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


Thin and Crispy...
MAY082310 BLACK PANTHER #39 SI $2.99
MAY080184 BLUE BEETLE #29 $2.99
MAY082200 DYNAMO 5 #15 $3.50
MAY080194 GREEN LANTERN #33 $2.99
MAY080144 TRINITY #9 $2.99
MAY082256 ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #124 $2.99
MAY080235 WILDCATS #1 $2.99
MAY082331 WOLVERINE #67 $2.99

The Deep Dish...
- MAY080176 CATWOMAN #81 $2.99
ARTWORK: Darwyn CookeWith a trio of spotlights cast on the reflective vinyl of Catwoman's costumed butt and crotch, this issue's controversial not only for the content of it's cover, but also because it's the second to last issue of this incarnation of the Catwoman on-going.
As rumors resume for casting for Selina Kyle in a hypothetical third Bat-flick to potentially feature Angelina Jolie, Catwoman gears up for the post-RIP crossover that will see several characters in the hunt for the Bat-mantle! That's right! Dead, or alive, Bruce Wayne is stepping aside for a brand new Batman!

ARTWORK: Adam HughesGog has arrived to make the Justice Society feel better, but his well meaning favours may prove to be a nightmare for the reality-defying heroine, Powergirl!
Thrust back to her home universe of Earth-2, Peegee finds herself confronted with a world that has changed considerably in her absence, birthing a brand new counter-character to our adopted supergal! Geoff Johns can do no wrong!

- MAY082313 MS MARVEL #29 SI $2.99
I'm pretty tolerant, but the ugly, over rendered plastic looking CG colours might be the straw to break my camel's back! As Ms. Marvel seems to lose some of the steam gained circa-Civil War, I'm going to do something radical, and call for a cover artist, to bring life to the outer dressing of this sleeper book. This was such a great concept cover (featuring a soldier-garbed Carol Danvers with trademark Marvel badges) let down by Horn's work.

- MAY080152 REIGN IN HELL #1 (OF 8) (RES) $3.50
ARTWORK: ???Not sure I'm sold on the content, but the notion of a series detaling the struggles of a power vaccuum in DC's Hell seems like a great premise for a story!
Building on plotlines in 52 that saw Neron trapped by Ralph Dibny in the tower of Fate; the battle for supremacy kicks off with Lord Satanus declaring his intention, but if you're looking for a little more bang for your buck, look no further than the continued tradition of the back-up story! Dr. Occult receives messages before the war in Hell! Ooo, Dr. Occult!

- MAY080158 TEEN TITANS #61 $2.99
With rare exception, I've never been a fan of the Teen Titans, but the addition of Blue Beetle has strange effects on my perception. Suddenly the balance of these franchises starts to resemble something potentially appealing. I'm not sure a Kid Devil/Blue Beetle buddy-caper is the answer to my teen-hating prejudice, but at least they've reloaded with new ammo!

- MAY082322 TRUE BELIEVERS #1 (OF 5) $2.99
I am personally offended by every Marvel comic published that centres around a fight club concept, just because I'm that arrogant. Not arrogant enough to resist temptation of a book tempting a coolness not often seen at Marvel, but still enough to be miffed. I mean, you didn't think the Infinite Wars was about fun, did you? Everyone's got an angle!

Know Your Trade...
MAY082351 MMW DEFENDERS HC VOL 01 $54.99
MAY082176 POPGUN GN VOL 02 $29.99

Monday, July 28, 2008

A final crisis may be brewing in the DC multiverse, fans of the company learned of a new threat in the unlikely medium of video games! Worlds collide as Midway and DC confirm a confrontation in their upcoming their joint venture: Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe!

Over the past few months the Infinite Wars have served up a fantasy fight armada of characters who could potentially match-up in the collision of worlds, but we can't help but think there are still plenty of DC names unmentioned! To find out who made the previous cut, you might like to track back through our previous rounds: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, clues special, bonus one, two, and three!

This will be the last in our series of addendum posts featuring DC characters, but the Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe fun won't stop here!
As news emerges we will no doubt return to the subject at some point, and sometime in the immediate future, hopefully bring you special comments from Jimmy Palmiotti: one of the DC writers working on the game!

In case you missed it, the current line-up of playable characters consists of, in order of release: Sub-Zero, Batman, Scorpion, Superman, Sonya Blade, the Flash, Shang Tsung, Catwoman, Liu Kang, Captain Marvel, Joker, Jax Briggs, Green Lantern, and Princess Kitana! Also confirmed is a mystery boss character that will amalgamate characters from each side into a single, ultimate evil!

Trainspotters will know all about the recent doodle depicting a hook-handed figure who appears to be summoning a shark from the depths below, to devour his stick figure opponent! While some would call this an open admission that MK has 'jumped the shark' - the promise of non-playable cameos throughout an indepth story mode might just be the news Aquaman fans have been waiting for!

Hey, but what about Johnny Cage, Noob Saibot, Wonder Woman, or Martian Manhunter? Don't be fooled! Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe still has it's share of mystery and while we're likely to learn the identity of remaining characters in the coming weeks, don't rely too much on sources claiming to know the stack!
Fantasy match-ups and speculation continues to flood in from sites of ranged credibility, but for the original guide to the two universes, be sure to scroll back up to browse through our selection of well over one hundred and fifty characters!

EDIT: Word from Liepzig brings four new characters to the table!
Wonder Woman, Deathstroke, Raiden, and Kano all join the cast to minimal shock. The DC duo bring fairly familiar designs, but the big surprise might be Kano, who bares strong resemblence to designs used in the much maligned, MK: Special Forces adventure spin-off. Raiden shares much in common with his Deadly Alliance design, an admirable elaboration, despite the excessive familiarity of the chest V and loin flap. Neither Raiden, nor Deathstroke, are ninja, but very exciting inclusions for fans of both brands, none the less!

Remember: stay tuned for updates coming in the future, including, hopefully, the promised interview with Jimmy Palmiotti, as well as rundowns of more of the characters from the game! In the mean time, absorb the site, and feel encouraged to seek out more information about the names, details, and stories that might interest you!

ARTWORK: Keith GiffenGreen Lantern (Guy Gardner)
Year One: [1968] Group Affiliation: [Green Lantern Corps]
Win Percentage: [50%] Cumulative Rank: [#90]
Fighting Ability: [4] Appearance Odds: [50%]

Round 1!
Guy Gardner's childhood very nearly ended in delinquency, but his struggles for paternal approval eventually led him to become his own man, and a successful college football player. Gardner's life would take a dramatic turn when he befriended Hal Jordan; a secret intergalactic lawman who was actually scouting his would-be back-up!

When an alien spacecop named Abin Sur suffered mortal wounds after crash landing on Earth; his power ring sought a suitable successor of unwavering courage and moral integrity. The ring deemed both Jordan and Gardner to be suitable replacements, but with his dying breath, Abin Sur saw the closer Jordan sworn in as the guardian of Sector 2814, with Gardner deemed a reserve!

The inactive Gardner was returned to action with a ring of his own by a seperatist movement of Guardians, not tied to the central battery of Oa.
This feuelled an arrogant character who had grown to resent Jordan, the Corps, and much of the superhero community. When the ring was confiscated, Gardner found a new path, adopting for a brief time a yellow Qwardian ring, before discovering alien ancestry that gave him the ability to transform his body into a living arsenal! Gardner's latent Vuldarian genetics were overwritten, however, when the entity called Parallax reemerged prior to the resurrection of the Corps, with whom Gardner resumed tenure.

Round 2!
Y'know, sometimes it's not until I actually sit down and try to sum up key information that I fully appreciate how overwhelming comics can appear to be to the uninitiated. If you're an MK buff looking to get into comics, I can only encourage you to free your mind of these concerns, because at the end of the day, the twisting turns of Guy Gardner's history (much of which was omitted from our three paragraphs) is only as important as the issue you're reading!
That's not to say you shouldn't take great pleasure in perusing the lengthy history of these characters, but do so at your leisure.

If you've stuck with us through grosse delays, you might be wondering why we aren't talking more about Guy Gardner in the context of MKvsDC. If you are, I feel our relationship has come far enough that, in this last entry, we can be honest with each other. It's a forgone conclusion. Hal Jordan is our playable Lantern!

We could make all sorts of arguments for the boarish Giffen/DeMatteis Gardner, whose altered personality had him parading an ultra-macho combative attitude that would slot right in with Mortal Kombat. We could twist our way around Gardner's staunch commitment to non-lethal tactics, clinging to an occasionally unhinged personality. Some of these arguments might even make sense, but at the end of the day, Jordan's our man, and that's okay!

Finish Him!
If you've been watching MK headlines, you'll have already seen recently revealed screenshots of in-game Green Lantern action! It looks as though Jordan will forego his trademark giant boxing glove in favour of a hammer, while other attacks include a defensive brick wall, and a giant-hand slam!

Green Lantern has to be one of the most impressive visual characters we've seen come from the game, possessing a variety of glowing translucent effects that accruately honor the vision of the comics. The acid test will be live video which will reveal the construction of the maneuvers, which, will hopefully have some tangible logic to them.

Confusion over the Kotaku clue "military superhero" has some curious about the lack of definitive thematic throughline in Jordan's constructs. It's worth reiterating that it's an interpretive distinction of the Green Lantern as a concept, rather than any specific reflection on Hal Jordan's methods. He might be militant in his heroism, but you shouldn't necessarily expect an arsenal of green glowing tanks, warheads, or machine guns. I'd almost like to characterize that sort of thing more up Gardner's alley, but that's probably not really very accurate, at all.

Mr. Freeze (Dr. Victor Fries)
Year One: [1959] Group Affiliation: [Injustice League]
Win Percentage: [NR] Cumulative Rank: [NR]
Fighting Ability: [2] Appearance Odds: [45%]

Round 1!
As a boy, Victor Fries held a unique fascination with cold, which ultimately led him to explore the sciences behind controlling such phenomenon in adulthood. Having become estranged from parents who forced him into strict board schooling, Fries matured into a distanced individual, but the ice surrounding his heart was soon melted by a woman named Nora.

When his bride fell terminally ill, Fries became obsessed with preserving her in cryogenic stasis in an effort to prolong her survival in lieu of a cure. Fries turns his engineering talents to a criminal identity, Mr. Freeze, using a high powered freeze gun and powersuit to raise funds for his dying wife. The suit also regulates his body temperature, which requires extreme cool due to a chemical accident.

Round 2!
If noone was asking before, the reveal of Batman and Sub-Zero facing-off started everyone speculating exactly who would win such an epic battle. For many, the infallability of the Dark Knight Detective all but assured victory, following on in the tradition of his many victories over Superman, Darkseid, and many other seemingly impossible odds. Of course, when it came to the specifics of dealing with ice wielding maniacs, Mr. Freeze was a key component in the argument.

Though slightly redundant given the very prominent presence of the MK pseudo-ninja; Freeze provides a familair outlet for fans more familiar with tangent products like the Batman and Justice League animated series'. In fact, Mr. Freeze marks a rare occasion where cartoon afficianados can be as 'in' as any comic reader, with much of Freeze's latent backstory as a sympathetic villain coming directly from the animated silver screen!

Repetition is nothing new in a Mortal Kombat video game -- it's almost par for the course! With non-playable inclusions recently announced in the official MKast podcast, one wonders if the lure of pitting one ice warrior against another might not get the better of the game makers. Especially as Freeze almost certainly represents a hand-fed victory for the otherwise overwhelmed Chinese warrior!

Finish Him!
Again, we fall back on the fact that anything in-game Freeze can do -- Sub-Zero can do better! While Freeze relies on the ice blasts of his fancy pants and canon, Sub-Zero inherently controls the cold through mystic martial arts techniques and secret cryomancy. Any differentiation would have to come form the nuance of animation, design, and balance, which might lend Freeze's powersuit some assemblance of strength advantage over Sub-Zero's more refined, skilled strikes.

It is worth lamenting on the fact that, like other Bat-villains tossed around, albeit to a lesser degree, Freeze isn't known for his hand-to-hand combat. The character certainly asks less concession than other characters [*cough*Poison Ivy*cough*], but lacks the iconic name-value of a substitute like the Joker.

At the end of the day, shattering a frozen opponent just isn't that special in a world that's already seen two Sub-Zeros, a Frost, and Shang Tsung, Shinnok, and Shujinko!

Man-Bat (Dr. Kirk Langstrom)
Year One: [1970] Group Affiliation: [NA]
Win Percentage: [NR] Cumulative Rank: [NR]
Fighting Ability: [3] Appearance Odds: [40%]

Round 1!
A pioneering scientist specializing in bats; Dr. Kirk Langstrom unleashes the beast from within when he trials experimental treatment to cure himself of deafness by emulating a bat's sonar. The serum proves far more potent, transforming the doctor into a human-bat hybrid!

The animalistic transformation strips Langstrom of most of his intelligence, reducing him to a savage beast. It's while attempting to steal chemicals that will reverse his transformation that he first encounters the costumed Batman. The latter is eventually able to administer a cure, but Langstrom's Jekyll and Hyde struggle continues throughout the following years, constantly endangering his family, despite bouts of control over his condition.

Round 2!
As some of the most familiar villains to mainstream audiences, it's fair enough that we finish up on a Bat-note. The success of The Dark Knight in cinemas assured the continued association with characters like the Joker, but absent from Christopher Nolan's hyper-real Gotham City is Man-Bat, who might be said to have been inspiration for twisted visions of an airborne Batman during Scarecrow's spread of fear in Batman Begins.

Recent developments in the comics have seen the Man-Bat serum perverted by forces like Talia al Ghul's League of Assassins, who combined the Man-Bat powers with their own extensive training to become super-assassins far more deadly than the timid Doctor. These characters seem like perfect duplicate fodder for an adventure mode, but as that's already been nixed, we shant digress.

Finish Him!
Hideous animalistic monsters are right at home in Mortal Kombat, and while Man-Bat might lack some of the flash of projectile fireballs, he has a range of capabilities that could make for a unique fighting experience. We've never really seen a flying character utilized to their fullest potential, but in Man-Bat, this almost seems like innovation brought about by inherent design. It's a very logical thought process to source the movements of bats in the wild to craft a swooping, slashing, and all round savage fighting style.

Though not necessarily evil, Man-Bat shares a murderous potential that lends itself to fatality finishers that are sure to tittilate the easily amused masses. Gnashing, slashing, and flapping all sound like appropriate sounds to accompany the twisting of limbs, gnawing of flesh, or dumping of bones from a ceiling perch where the Man-Bat might feast. Think Baraka, only scarier!

ARTWORK: Terry DodsonHarley Quinn (Dr. Harleen Quinzel)
Year One: [1999] Group Affiliation: [NA]
Win Percentage: [50%] Cumulative Rank: [#218]
Fighting Ability: [3] Appearance Odds: [35%]

Round 1!
Once a psychiatrist working with the criminally insane of Arkham Asylum; Harleen Quinzel became the victim of a psychological game perpetrated by the Joker, who sought to drive her mad for little more reason than the similarity between her name and harlequin. The twisting of her mind leads her to fall in love with the clown prince of Arkham, becoming his colourful partner in crime, vital to a handful of his escapes.

The Joker's relationship with Harley Quinn proves to run hot and cold, resulting in autonomous adventures for the form psychiatrist. When the Joker attempts to murder Quinn for making him feel love, she is rescued from her vessel of death by Poison Ivy. Despite Quinn's eventual reconciliation with the Joker, the two form a special bond, uniting in their desire to seek vengeance against Batman.

Round 2!
These days, where there's Joker, there's Harley Quinn.
At least, that's the case for fanboy desire and speculation, key to sponsoring the character's successful intergration into the DCUniverse, from her original appearances in the Batman animated series under creators Paul Dini and Bruce Timm!

One could certainly make an argument for Harley Quinn as a more suitable beat 'em up character than even the Joker. Her lithe frame often reveals more acrobatic and combative competence than the gawky massochism that defines Joker's stance in hand-to-hand combat.

Looking once again to confirmation of non-playable characters, one might deduce that the Joker's partner in crime won't be far behind.

Finish Him!
In the comics you'll find Harley Quinn sans make-up living it up with Holly Robinson, who served a brief period as Selina Kyle's replacement as Catwoman. Having dance a line between good and evil throughout the cartoon series and early appearances in her own title, Harley Quinn has now officially gone straight, at least for the time being.

If we can bandy about iconic as a cop-out for dealing with less recognised versions of the character, there's a potential to make use of Joker concepts inevitably left on the cutting room floor. Quinn, like her beau, gives license to a range of utterly absurd and darkly humorous fatality finishers.

ARTWORK: Eduardo RissoFatman & Little Boy
Year One: [2004] Group Affiliation: [NA]
Win Percentage: [0%] Cumulative Rank: [#526]
Fighting Ability: [5] Appearance Odds: [5%]

Round 1!
Little is known of the tandem of Japanese mobsters called Fatman and Little Boy. Their clandestine operations in Gotham City proved malicious enough to inspire silence even from some of Gotham's hardest criminals, but the extent of their operations, fronted by a fish mongery, remains largely unknown. Their confrontations with the Batman prove tense, and sometimes, bloody.

Round 2!
Alright, I have to admit, this one's purely pandering to my own proclivity. I needed a little something to keep my interests and I reached out into the dark and pulled out Fatman and Little Boy.

I was a very big fan of Broken City; the first and only story to use Fatman and Little Boy. The colourful noir tale crafted by the entire team behind 100 Bullets was headed up by acclaimed writer/artist team, Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso. Together they drew heavy inspiration from Frank Miller's work on both Dark Knight Returns and Sin City to embue Fatman and Little Boy with a playful comic book conceit that defies the subdued urbana of the story.

I'd like to think the reflection of Gotham's criminal element might lend opportunity to expand upon similar street level crime suggested in the stories of the Black and Red Dragon clans, but with only a handful of issues to their name, neither character has much chance of appearing in any cross media productions, let alone a battle of icons.

Even with Azzarello returning to the Batman universe sometime in the future, (with an original Joker graphic novel), I suspect it will be quite some time before this duo is finally incorporated on a more official note.

Finish Them!
2004's Deception followed up on the tradition of MK's Endurance Mode to present a tag team sub-boss, the tandem of Noob Saibot and Smoke. As the only pair represented in our long list of spotlights, I tend to think the creepy inseperability of Fatman and Little Boy lends itself even better to the tag format.

One even starts to think about building a more character tailored interpretation of the idea that might allow the burly Fatman to remain relatively stagnant on screen, whilst Little Boy engages opponents with her staggering speed, and ability to anticipate and counter oncoming attacks. You'll want to check out our review of Batman #624 to fully appreciate their combined abilities.

???Catman (Thomas Blake)
Year One: [1963] Group Affiliation: [NA]
Win Percentage: [NR] Cumulative Rank: [Secret Six]
Fighting Ability: [4] Appearance Odds: [15%]

Round 1!
Thomas Blake was a world renowned hunter of jungle cats who, upon squandering his fortune, established a thrillseeking costume identity in order to commit profitable crimes. He modelled himself loosely on Catwoman's design of the time, leading to a bitter feud between the two feline-themed theives, and brief team-ups between the femme fatale and Batman.

In the years that follow Blake fades into obscurity, regarded as little more than a washed up has-been reduced to an overweight joke.
After narrowly escaping a grissly death at the hands of Monsieur Mallah; Blake retreats to Africa, where the once suicidal man attempts to reclaim his value for life by assimilating into a pride of lions. The wild life restores Blake's physical conditioning and instills in him a new sense of honor and valour.

Blake's life was again to be turned upside down when Alexander Luthor Jr began his quest to unite the criminal forces of the world in his newest incarnation of the Society of Supervillains. His refusal of membership makes him the perfect operative for a rogue cartel of villains headed up by a clandestine Lex Luthor, dubbed the Secret Six. To motivate his return as Catman, Luthor has Deadshot murder Blake's pride, framing the Society's Deathstroke in the process. It is a tension revealed between Deadshot and Catman, but ultimately overcome, leading the group to successfully defeat the entire Society.

Round 2!
Gail Simone's cult treatment of the third-rate sixties villain distances him from comparisons to Catwoman, developing something more akin to an anti-Batman.
This Blake seems far more fitting in the martial arts arena that the heroes and villains of the DCU will enter during Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe. He iss a character of considerable skill, mental strength, and durability.

In the 2005 mini-series that made the character famous, Villains United; Catman leads his ragtag group of villains through adversity that includes extensive torture, and a battle against an army of the DCU's most deadly villains!
These impressive feats make for a pretty decent checklist of qualifications, even though I'm inclined to be slightly critical of a character whose identity seems to be built around the absence of character - a hollow personality. With much of the DC cast providing a stronger moral core to the game, Catman struggles to really bring anything significant to the table, other than that qualification of fighting ability.

Finish Him!
I'm not sure I really know anything in particular that would make Catman a unique fighter. His style probably resembles the stock standards of hard hitting martial arts, graceful acrobatics, and moderate skill. The differentiation might come from fist-mounted claws that give him a Wolverine-esque razor edge.

Catman could easily be lazily applied as a Batman skin, but I'd like to think there's a distanced quality and hard-hitting style to make Catman unique, to say nothing of wacky finishers like the summoning of lions. Animality!

ARTWORK: Matt WagnerBlack Mask (Roman Sionis)
Year One: [1985] Group Affiliation: [Deceased]
Win Percentage: [100%] Cumulative Rank: [#107]
Fighting Ability: [3] Appearance Odds: [25%]

Round 1!
Born the son of Gotham's wealthy elite; Roman Sionis was an inconvenient distraction in the superficial lives of his socialite parents. Mistreated and silenced by his mother and father, the young Roman grew to deeply resent the neglectful facade presented by his family to the world.
When he graduated high school, Roman was placed in a managerial position in one of his father's companies, and inhereted the entire fortune when he murdered them amidst a romantic scandal, only to lose it all to poor business ethics.

Sionis turned to a life of organized crime, adopting the persona of Black Mask in his operations that included a personal vendetta against the man who bought-out his company, Bruce Wayne. The increasingly unhinged mobster found himself incarcerated in Arkham Asylum, where he would have dealings with the Joker, before returning to Gotham where he would establish dealings on the East End.

The increasingly sadistic Black Mask formed an intense feud with East End protector, Catwoman, whose identity he successfully uncovered, leading to the murderous torture of her sister and brother-in-law. Black Mask continued to battle the women of the Bat-family, including Onyx and Spoiler, before ascending to the top of the criminal foodchain of Gotham. Catwoman ended his reign as kingpin by finally killing him.

Round 2!
Black Mask represents another connection to the criminal underworld populated in the MK universe by recently confirmed villain, Kano, and the members of the Black Dragon clan. Like Kano; Black Mask has connections to the more fantastic elements of his universe, brought about by membership with the Society, which garnered aid from the likes of Captain Nazi and Hyena [ie; Batman #647], prior to his death at the hands of Catwoman.

Don't let the family history and suit fool you! Black Mask is far from a money-sniffing nancy having successfully gone toe-to-toe with fighters like Orpheus, Spoiler, Catwoman, and even Batman himself! He might not be the most refined fighter in town, but when it comes to a brawl, Sionis can handle his own!

Finish Him!
In spite of the furor the violent series instigated in the mid-nineties; Mortal Kombat is really a reasonably good hearted series. On paper decapitations and incineration might sound a little harsh, but even the era of digitized graphics had an exaggerated cartoon quality to it all. In that respect, the homicidal Black Mask might actually be a little too mean spirited for the lethality depicted in-game!
Disembowling an opponent to feed their bodyparts to a watching loved one seems a little bit out of range for a T-rated game!

Function seperates Black Mask from other suited villains who would bring to the table a bruiser quality. As a criminal mastermind and sadistic killer, Black Mask is perfect for an intense story-driven experience like the upcoming Arkham Asylum game. Confirmation of a fighting storymode makes a playable Black Mask fairly unattractive, but as an element in the machinations of evil, he'd be an interesting manipulator on the street level, working on behalf of loftier evils.

The threat of violence certainly has a place in this game, but as is becoming a frustratingly recurring theme, one finds Black Mask a less than compelling character for the two-dimensional exchange of punches and kicks. A vehicle for experimentation, to be sure, but inherently compatible, not so much.

ARTWORK: Tim SalePoison Ivy (Dr. Pamela Isley)
Year One: [1966] Group Affiliation: [The Society]
Win Percentage: [100%] Cumulative Rank: [#179]
Fighting Ability: [1] Appearance Odds: [45%]

Round 1!
In her formative years, Pamela Isley was a budding student of botannical biochemstry at a Seattle university. Her introversion made manipulation easy for Dr. Jason Woodrue, a teacher who convinced the shrinking violet to partake in potentially lethal experiments involving botanic toxins.

The betrayal shakes the fragile woman into action, who narrowly escapes death, only to experience a series of personal tragedies. She invests her emotions in environmental issues, discovering an inate ability to converse with, and control, all forms of vegetation.
Using her intimate knowledge of botanic toxins and an unwitting connection with a mystic elemental force known as the Green; Isley settles in Gotham where she becomes the eco-terrorist, Poison Ivy.

Round 2!
Bizzare is the only [kind] word I can use to describe the anticipation surrounding Poison Ivy!

As indicated by this final installment of our DC spotlight, we can understand the lure and appeal of characters connected to the mainstream world of Batman. That said, it appears cartoons, movies, and slash-fiction livejournals have completely distorted the significance of certain characters.

Despite it's malignance as the film that very nearly destroyed a franchise; Uma Thurman's turn in Batman & Robin appears to have held some retro significance I was unaware of! I'm led to believe there's some sort of cult following for the character, largely uninformed, presumably leading to those who would claim Poison Ivy as the "perfect" inclusion in MKvsDCU.

This, of course, couldn't be farther from the truth!
Few Bat-villains are so prominently defined by their utter uselessness in combat! Only the Riddler springs to mind as a prominent character in the Batverse who possesses less combative prowess. It's only the recognition of inconsistencies in characterization, and the justified common competence laid upon Ivy, that prevents a 1 value rating for our fighting ability statistical.

When it comes to combat, Ivy's the manipulating feminist driven by a cause of environmental concern that results in tactics boardering on eco-terrorism.
Animated plantlife and ruthless aggression make all who enter Ivy's den unwelcome regretful, but more often than not men who find themselves in this predicament serve as pawns for a delicate flower whose battle history is brief, and punctuated by a lot of sliced vines and forfeits.

Finish Her!
As much as I'd like to balance the scales with reactionary denouncement, I feel compelled to maintain balance. Poison Ivy, for all her physical and hand-to-hand weaknesses, actually feels like a fantastic adventure mode boss!
If Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe were to boast the kind of action-adventure Armageddon held in it's Konquest mode; then I might be forced to champion the character alongside the uninitiated. Though confrontations often end with an easily defeated Ivy, she is at her most formidable when surrounded by a preconceived crop of oversized man-eating flytraps, and squiggling vines.

One need only look to MK's famous Living Forest stage to start to imagine a deadly den gamers would be forced to battle out of, confronting not Ivy, but the animated forces of an entire environment! It's the kind of proposal that's not only practically motivated, but connects well with a striking visual and conceptual presentation. I hate to associate the word with Ivy for misquotes, but it really is a concept that's almost inherently perfect!

Ivy as a playable combatant, however, just doesn't ring true.
Characters like the Joker or Mr. Freeze might not be traditionally associated with hand-to-hand combat, but as physical threats, they already have claim to the role -- not to mention greater name recognition, and personalized abilities. Now, if you want to talk about characters who actually have a strong connection to natural forces and mysticism...

ARTWORK: Steve BisetteSwamp Thing (Dr. Alec Holland)
Year One: [1971] Group Affiliation: [Parliament of Trees]
Win Percentage: [NR] Cumulative Rank: [NR]
Fighting Ability: [3] Appearance Odds: [30%]

Round 1!
Scientist, Alec Holland, was working on an ecological revolution in the swamps of Louisiana when he was caught in a bomb blast planted by saboteur rivals who sought to possess his terraforming formula. Doused in chemicals, Holland fled his destroyed lab for the swamp, where he disappeared forevermore. Another being, however, elemental in design, emerged from Holland's resting place. It was a creature inherently connected to the Green and borne of the swampy bog with the mind, moral, soul, and desire to be Holland.

Swamp Thing finds himself the object of envy and fear for many organizatons and individuals, good and bad. His journies as a mystic champion of the Green bring him into contact with many fantastic individuals, including; Batman, Superman, Etrigan, the Spectre, the Phantom Stranger, and John Constantine.
Through this saga, the Swamp Thing learns much of life, love, and humanity.

Round 2!
The eighties saw Swamp Thing permeate through the public consciousness in multiple mediums, but the character is best known in comic circles for the critically acclaimed works of writers like Alan Moore, whose genre blurring investments turned the character from flop, to pop!

This acclaim came too late to save Swamp Thing from a cheesy B-movie sequel, but has relegated the character to his own protected habitat under the Vertigo imprint for mature publications. These days this generally means Swamp Thing's out of bounds to DCU work, which could be a bit of a problem for a game that would side him squarely into representing the DC Universe.

Those making a case for Poison Ivy's alluded connection to the mystic forces that unite nature - the Green - are really talking about something more specifically inline with Swamp Thing. Though a lot sloppier than your average MK character, he's the kind of monster that makes a lot of sense in this world. More than Poison Ivy, at least. C'mon, seriously people...

Finish Him!
Ol' Swampy's pretty good for a bit of monster mash, but I don't know if he's exactly the kind of guy to go charging up a pyramid to kill his fellows. Much of Swamp Thing's acclaim has come from stories deeply motivated by much larger concepts than most superhero biff-offs, owing much to environmental and spiritual issues, as much as standard horror macabre.

If the character was allowed to slip through the cracks, as he has before, then you're sure to have a character of fairly vivid visuals. The strength of the character lives and dies by the quality of the model. This should probably branch out to a variety of oozing, swampy, ferny attacks, as well as a burly lunging fight base. I can just imagine the inevitable melting teleport move, if not a mossy growth finisher that sees evildoers reclaimed by nature. My idea of fun!

Year One: [1971] Group Affiliation: [NA]
Win Percentage: [100%] Cumulative Rank: [#155]
Fighting Ability: [3] Appearance Odds: [15%]

Round 1!
During the 1930s a man is murdered by the mob when he confronts them about the bombing of a textile factory. In an effort to make his death worthwhile, one of the works uses his blood to create a mythological golem to avenge the man's death. Known only as Monolith, the creature kills those responsible, but remains dedicated to eliminating crime. Without control or reference the golem continues to kill criminals regardless of their crime, forcing those that created him to seal him in hidden tunnels beneath the city.

In the modern era, an inheritance sees a woman named Alice take possession of the her grandmother's home, where the golem is sealed. When she fails to comply with the demands of a drug dealer, she releases Monolith once more, beginning a new era of stoic justice.

Round 2!
This particular mythological guardian has the special distinction of being co-created by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray! The writers provide consulting and writing for the indepth storymode that will take players through a variety of plot interactions as they play through the fighting game. Given the relative obscurity of the character, one doesn't feel particularly inclined to expect the duo to cram their creation into the game, but that's not to say he wouldn't be at home.

MK has a long tradition with drawing inspiration from mythology. Granted, usually that's Asian mythology, but I don't see why the stoney Monolith of Gotham City couldn't find relevance in this world of gods and monsters!

Finish Him!
When I think of a character like Monolith I can't help but think along the conventional lines of the Jack series from Tekken. Each of the bulky iterations of Tekken's resident robot pack a baseline fight style of big, powerful swinging fists. It's a precedent we haven't quite seen developed in MK as a fighting style, versus the pared down power blows of bosses.

ARTWORK: Mike MignolaDeadman (Boston Brand)
Year One: [1967] Group Affiliation: [NA]
Win Percentage: [100%] Cumulative Rank: [#122]
Fighting Ability: [3] Appearance Odds: [45%]

Round 1!
Once a successful circus trapeze artist; Boston Brand, known to his audience as the crimson garbed Deadman, was murdered during his act by a man with a hook for a hand. Upon his death, Brand was granted the opportunity to seek justice as a spirit by the Hindu goddess, Rama Kushna.

With the ability to possess bodies, Deadman tracks a cartel of drug smugglers who'd been using the circus as a front for their operation. He laters learns of a hidden organization populated by hook-handed henchmen, the Scavengers, and engages them. Deadman continues beyond in the mystic land of Nanda Parbat, where he serves as a spirit guardian for Rama Kushna.

Round 2!
Like Swamp Thing; Deadman was recently traded to the Vertigo imprint as part of an initiative to exchange properties (swapped for gnarly unforgiven, Jonah Hex). Unlike Swamp Thing, however, the Deadman has managed to maintain more semi-regular appearances in the DCU, protecting him from complete segregation.

Very nearly our pick to oppose the spectral powers of Scorpion [Round 6]; Deadman was bumped out for a more readily powerful character. Unfortunately, despite being a beloved cult character with a great visual, Deadman's really not inherently suited to a beat 'em up character, relying mostly on possession to affect his will on various missions.

Finish Him!
If Scorpion's inclusion in the battle between worlds is any indication, there might be some stirrings amongst the undead and denizens of the Netherealm. This could potentially be plot enough to rope Deadman's spirit into the confrontation between universes, if only in an advisory, assisting, or cameo role. At this point, we do not really know how much interaction non-playable characters will have with players, or how they will influence the story. Deadman might very well appear "possessing" our characters!

Otherwise; Deadman's a great character of questionable relevance and name value. Slated to make his second appearance in animation as a guest on the upcoming team-up cartoon, Batman: The Brave and the Bold [debuting November], Deadman's sure to receive a boost of fandom, but it's not really the lofty heights of mainstream exposure The Dark Knight was.

Deadman has every right to claim a pro-active style dependent on speed and agility, building on the history of his circus performances to craft an acrobatic experience I'm sure would be curiously complimented by the red unitard. Basic kicks and punches needn't be especially elaborate if these flourishes of action can be readily available through button combos.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The month of July saw Batmania grip much of the globe in anticipation of The Dark Knight - Christopher Nolan's 2008 sequel to the franchise revival hit, Batman Begins.

The story of Batman's continued war on crime this time introduced new characters vital to the mythos. The Joker emerges as a counter-responsive force for chaos intent on rallying the criminals of the city and creating a wave of carnage that bucks against the influences of Batman, and Gotham's hot new District Attorney - Harvey Dent. Dent himself enters predestined to become the hideously disfigured and mentally scarred secondary villain of the picture; Two-Face.

[Heath] Ledger's work quickly garnered acclaim from most sources, leading many to believe the late twenty-eight year old should receive an unlikely posthumous Oscar nomination. It was Ledger's chilling realization of the Joker that set a standard for The Dark Knight, not only as a comic book adaptation, but as a densely crafted character study cum action flick.
Nolan too is heaped with praise. With aid from David Goyer and brother, Jonathan; [Nolan] brings together pieces established in the literature and his own 2002 film to fully realise Gotham City as a functioning entity recognisable to many modern city dwellers.

Chicago and chunks of the UK stand in for most city visuals, skirting a relative homogeny comparable to Sydney's transformation for The Matrix films, that makes this a potentially relatable reality for fans worldwide.
Though thoroughly suitable; elements of Nolan's frilled realism buck much of what makes Gotham City a rivetting character in the comics. The muted tones of a greying deco-gothic urbana reflect the musky atmos of Gotham's many dingy corners in a city of huddled masses. It sets the tone for the underlying disturbance and corruption that characterize both it's villains and it's heroes. It's a stylized backdrop for an unmistakable city.

As we close the book on our Batman C2C entries, let us take another look back at some of the stories that have set themselves on the backdrop of this broken city of crime, Gotham.

Batman #624 (April 2004)
"Broken City" Azzarello/Risso

Before the gimmick laden crooks and killers, Gotham City was a city gripped by the corruption of conventional criminals. Mobsters and gangsters pulled the strings of every level of infastructure - including law enforcement - leading men like the Batman to come to reality.

Despite the dominance of freaks the traditions of organized crime remain a strong undercurrent of Gotham City. Some elements cross distinctions, like Penguin and Scarface, who have dealings with both corners of the city. The newest duo to enter this blur between lines is Fatman and Little Boy, Japanese imports establishing themselves quietly in the fishmonger sector.

When a young woman is murdered it sets all of Gotham on a path toward the destruction of her brother, and when Batman realises his responsibility, only he can save Angel Lupo.

DC: The New Frontier #2 (April 2004)
"Gods and Monsters" Darwyn Cooke

The great debate of Gotham City remains the question of whether or not the Batman attracts as much criminal insanity as he prevents. It is a question that remains unanswered as Batman butts heads with not only the recurring crooks of his regular gallery, but also occasional threats that stir from the dingy bowels of the old city.

The Bat finds himself inadvertently teaming with hardened Detectives, Slam Bradley and John Jones, when he clashes with the mysterious occult evils of the Hill Street Cult!

It is a unique brand of corruption and madness that permeates in Gotham City, but this particular gathering of killers and madmen has a far more distant inspiration. One that will force the Batman into another alliance with Det. Jones under very different circumstances.

Nightwing #98 (December 2004)
"Casualty of War" Grayson/Phillips

When the delicate infrastructure of the Gotham underworld is upset by a plan designed by Batman himself -- several leaders of criminal organizations are gunned down, creating a chaotic power vacuum.

Batman and his allies disperse across the city in an effort to contain the carnage they are ultimately responsible for. Among Batman's inner circle, Nightwing, the original Robin, who himself is struggling with the personal shame of being party to an unrelated assassination of Bl├╝dhaven crime boss, Blockbuster.

When Nightwing happens upon one of Gotham's low rent suited criminals, it is the perfect opportunity for the young hero to excise some frustration. Firefly is the unlucky representative of the underarchy that suffers his rages, and those of the police.

Detective Comics #817 (May 2006)
"Face the Face" Robinson/Kirk/Clarke

The Batman's noteriety is not restricted to Gotham's limits, sometimes attracting the attentions of forces like his former Soviet super-assassin - KGBeast.

The once great assassin finds himself the victim of another new player in Gotham City who initially appears to be the cosmetically healed Harvey Dent entrusted by Batman during his absence after the crime war and his battles with Red Hood and Black Mask.

Going from hunter to hunted; KGBeast is the first victim of a vengeful new Tally Man taking his grievances to the criminals of Gotham. Such is the peril even for those who commit crime in the broken city.

Batman Confidential #2 (March 2007)
"Rules of Engagement" Diggle/Portacio

In his early years, Batman finds himself locked in his first battle with Metropolis patriarch, Lex Luthor, not as the cowled dark knight, but instead as industrial head of WayneTECH.

When the pair vie for a contract to design robotic rescue technologies; the struggle escalates as WayneTECH's OGRE droid begins a murderous rampage with Luthor in it's sights.

As Batman; Wayne is forced to battle his own technologies, all the while suffering the suspicions of those who believe the malfunctioning technology to be under his control. His pursuit ultimately reveals a far more bizarre truth about the ghosts in the machine, concluding another chapter in the strange history of Gotham City.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Mephisto Odyssey feat. Wayne Static - Crash (2000)

July has been all about the anticipated release of The Dark Knight, but as the buzz simmers down from the biggest movie of the year, so too must our gratuitous attempts to capitalize on your interest and Google hits!

Crash was theme to the 2000 DTV animated feature, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker!
If you didn't know it, Beyond was the flash forward spin-off of the popular Timm/Dini Batman animated series of the 1990's. It featured a surly old Bruce Wayne playing mentor to a youth who becomes the new Batman; Terry McGinnis.

Shouty guest-vocalist, Wayne Static [of Static-X], dons bat-armor and hilariously sculpted hair in a very fun and slightly surprising hit. My preference is for the Humble Brothers Remix, sans chingy-piano, but give it a go. It's a fun entry into the Smash Hits!
For many, it is a subject anticipated with hesistance.
The reemergence of Batman as a feature film juggernaut has launched the character back into the mainstream zeitgeist. As enthusiasm for the secrets of The Dark Knight slowly fade, attentions turn toward next year's Academy Award nominations, and the prospect of seemingly inevitable sequels.

Robin remains synonymous with Batman for many, particularly the uninitiated, whose familiarity with the characters comes directly from cross media exposure. The sixties TV series, Joel Schumacher films of the late nineties, and cartoon series, remain sticking points.

Despite the continued association, the Robin branch of the franchise has successfully established a strong autonomy. Joining titles like Nightwing and Birds of Prey as an autonomous entity, the solo adventures of the boy wonder have become a selling point unto their own, establishing a gradually removed asthetic, and mythos.

Popular speculation now looks to a third chapter to introduce this voice of innocence into the Batman's increasingly dark world.
I wonder, however, if convention may have many looking to the wrong sources for inspiration.
It is a common misconception, when speaking of film, that sequels need to repeat their precursors but differentiate by getting bigger. In the wake of Heath Ledger's critically acclaimed turn as the Joker, moviegoers have been confronted with a performance many believe can not be topped, bringing this issue to a head. The comic book form has spent upwards of seventy years displaying - to varying successes - the creative form of longevity.

Among his many vices is [Christopher] Nolan's capacity for honoring the source medium.
Despite relative ignorance, Nolan successfully employed the advice of those better initiated (David Goyer), to bring an outsider's perspective that the diehards and neophytes would agree, distills the character and his universe to his finest parts. Hidden within each film, however, are conventions familiar exclusively to the comic book fan, who has become accustomed with reading sequential adventures that further a character's development, but rely exclusively on insular thematics to define an arc.

Both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight depict events tied strongly to conventional themes and storytelling methods, but do so without suggesting definite commitment to filmic escalation.

Should we expect Robin in a sequel?
There's a fair school of thought that after The Dark Knight, there may be a Return, which could very succesfully draw once more on the influences of Frank Miller in introducing a boy wonder sidekick. Others look to the continued influence of Loeb's Dark Victory for more precedent, but I personally feel this hasty introduction was one of the few disappointments of that series.

If Nolan continues as is, there is no reason to attempt to beat himself. It is the hyper-reality of the continued struggles of Batman and Gotham City that provide for us the necessary drive to continue to return. These stories should not be viewed through the meta-textual lens of expectation, instead, digested like comic book storyarcs, satisfyingly contained, despite being part of a bigger, unfolding whole. A whole that needn't interupt it's mature sequence with the four-colour pantaloons of one of Batman's most fantastic characters. There's still a lot of story to tell, psychological wells to plunge within, and plenty of reference for a solo Bat.

However, for your information, a selection of previous features boasting Batman and Robin, together as a dynamic duo:

Dark Knight Returns #3 (May 1986)
"Hunt the Dark Knight" Frank Miller

In a grim future where the heroes have been driven away by a cowardly and suspicious society - the Dark Knight returns!

Batman's revolution fuels a dichotomy within the opinions of a modern society torn between the social impacts of a vigilante whose greatest power now seems to be his branding. As a [pop]-cultural phenom, the Batman inspires and protects the weak from a new breed of street tough, the likes of which have overshadowed the once prominent freaks and mobsters.

Inspired when the Dark Knight rescues her from a midnight rendezvous with the Mutant Gang; Carrie Kelly takes up the Robin mantle in an effort to join the war on injustice.

Batman #442 (1989)
"Rebirth" Wolfman/Perez/Aparo

After the second Robin was beaten to death by the Joker; Batman found himself spiralling downward into an internalized darkness. The absence of his original ward, Dick Grayson, who left his mentor to become Nightwing, only exacerbates the Dark Knight's morose tone.

It is the unlikely influence of an industrious youngster - Tim Drake - who uncovers the secrets of the Dark Knight through keen observation and deduction alone. Concerned for the growing gloom of the Batman's world; Drake makes it his mission to restore the Batman's faith through the presence of a Robin.

When Two-Face becomes a pawn in the Joker's machinations, his attacks on the Batman and Nightwing force Drake to prematurely don the Robin suit to save his hero. It is the first step toward convincing the Batman he is ready to foster a third partnership.

Detective Comics #796 (September 2004)
"... And Red All Over" Gabrych/Woods

When Tim Drake's father discovers his son's heroic alter-ego, the pressures of his threats to expose the team to protect his son, forces the youngster to take leave of his role as the Boy Wonder.

In his absence, it is his vigilante girlfriend, Spoiler, aka; Stephanie Brown, that enthusiastically pledges her allegiance to a reluctant Batman. The Dark Knight agrees to train her as a more efficient force for good, but an impetuousness similar to the second Robin leads Brown down a dark path.

As the new dynamic duo tackle the dangers of Gotham City, Batman grows increasingly frustrated with a Robin so desperate to prove herself, she will eventually spark a gang war that threatens her life.

Batman #637 (April 2005)
"Overnight Deliveries" Winick/Mahnke

The Flying Graysons were a spectacular family act of acrobats travelling with the circus, but when mobsters began pressuring the circus, they became the collateral damage in criminal dealings.

Seeing an echo of himself in the vengefully orphaned youngster; Bruce Wayne adopts Dick Grayson and offers him the opportunity to channel his acrobatic training and thirst for justice. As the original Robin, Grayson brings light into the Dark Knight's world for the first time.

Decades later, Robin grows up to be his own hero, and as Nightwing, he continues his war on crime as a force comparable to Batman. Always wrestling with the internal darkness these heroes struggle with, Grayson remains a hopeful mirror to the Dark Knight.

Batman #647 (January 2006)
"The Away Team" Winick/Mahnke

When street kid Jason Todd made an attempt to steal the tyres from the Batmobile, he endeared himself to a Batman whose Robin had flown the nest to become Nightwing.

Batman takes the homeless orphan into his care, but soon discovers Todd to be far more volatile than his former success, Dick Grayson. Together they pursue the blight of crime that grips Gotham City, but in doing so, only expose the new Robin to opportunities to exact an unrelenting brand of justice on his foes.

It is his insolence that ultimately leads to this Robin's death, but when forces beyond the universe exact their will, Todd is shockingly resurrected in his coffin. With no memory of the life he lost, Todd returns to a life without direction, but when Talia Al Ghul returns to him his memory, Todd becomes Batman's worst nightmare as - the Red Hood!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hunt The Dark Knight (DC)
Dark Knight Returns #3 When: May 1986
Why: Frank Miller How: Frank Miller

The Story So Far...
They talk about a Man of Steel. An Amazon Princess.
But they never talk about the mean one. The cruel one. The one who couldn't fly or bend steel in his bare hands. The one who scare the crap out of everybody and laughed at all of the rest of us for being the envious cowards we were.
No, they never talk about him. Say his name and watch Dibny's face sag so bad his jaw hits the bar.

Not a man among them wants to hear about Batman.
Was he quietly assassinated? Or did he just decide we weren't worth the grief?
The question hangs in the air for a moment or two, then Jones springs for a round for everybody and himself.

The get talking again. About the old days. The glory days.
They remember. They were right there. In the thick of it. Back then.
It wasn't so long ago. We had heroes.

Tale of the Tape...
ARTWORK: Ed McGuinnessARTWORK: Doug MahnkeStrength: Batman 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Batman 5 (Professor)
Speed: Batman 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Draw 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Batman 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting Ability: Batman 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy Power: Batman 4 (Arsenal)

- After witnessing the street murder of his parents, the young Bruce Wayne's destiny was forever shaped to be one dedicated to an ideal. Having spent his formative years studying the various sciences, martial arts, and crime fighting techniques, Bruce is ultimately inspired to become the one-man war on the criminal element in Gotham City: Batman.

Perhaps Batman's greatest power is the millions inherited from his industrialist parents, and the various facilities that came with that. They prove crucial in the design and construction of his many weapons, which are typically non-lethal, and have a variety of uses.

Complimented by his keenly strategic mind is Batman's expertise in the martial arts. He is extensively trained in multiple fighting styles, and commonly regarded to be one of the greatest hand-to-hand fighters in the world.
He is also extremely proficient in general urban warfare.

- It has been claimed that he was the victim of one very bad day, which ended with a fall into a vat of chemicals that bleached his skin, dyed his hair, and twisted his face into a permanent grin. The truth of his name and origins remain unknown, but as the Joker, he is one of the most feared killers in Gotham City.

Joker is known to have an aptitude for creating and working with toxins and other chemicals, favouring trademark concoctions that induce uncontrolled laughter, facial distortion, and often, death. Joker is also a proficient strategist, who is said to regularly reinvent his identity as a part of his vendetta against Batman.
The Joker, though not a skilled fighter, is shown to have an inhuman capacity for pain tolerance and recovery.

Additional: While Batman has one of the most impressive lists of nemesis, few characters reach the status of Joker as his arch-villain. Joker's rivalry with Batman has arguably produced the definitive vision of the classic comic book supervillain, defined by; false deaths, personal attacks (deaths), trap and baits, and a continuing relationship unlikely to be resolved.

Joker's unpredictability often means Batman is forced into a responsive position. The Dark Knight's dedication to non-lethal justice is the means by which Joker maintains his villainous presence, with an uncanny knack for escape.
Despite their continuous rivalry, it is Batman who has a distinct advantage over Joker in physical confrontations, and regularly dishes out defeat accordingly.
Examples include; Batman #614, Detective Comics #781 & Batman #663.

History: Batman (3-0-0)
Math: Batman Ranking: Batman (#1)

What Went Down...
A plague of carnage has come to Gotham County Fair. A sleeping terror awoken by a stirring bat. Ruby read lips on a chalk faced grin. It would be a silly death.
The Joker's obsession, once initiated, is predictable, as always. He knows the Dark Knight will come to defuse his exploding babies. To take him back to jail. He knows...

Batman and Robin arrive at the fair by glider.
Joker's chronies spot it's dark shadow from a mile off. The fat one boards the rollercoaster and promises he'll "make sure the bomb goes off." The mothers and fathers make their children than the Joker for their death. Stupid.

One of the robotic dolls flies toward the Batman.
He coaches Robin to remain calm. Lets it get nice and close before they dive.
His pasty face glowing in the explosion, the Joker lets off a smile. Not a twisted grin. Not a gaping snarl. An affectionate smile to greet an old friend.

Joker opens fire as the girl wonder lands on the coaster line.
The gunfire finally tells the faceless herd to panic. They show an incredible aptitude for getting in the way, but the Batman's grappling line still manages to snag the Joker's robotic doll. Green gas begins to pour out of it, and the Joker runs laughing. "I should have known," the Batman thinks.

Amidst a green haze the Joker snatches an innocent young girl.
Our ceremony. That same old dance. He's playing by the wrong rules.

Joker's itchy finger gets off a shot by accident. His fingers tighten. His body recoils and tenses as a batarang buries itself where an eye should be. The Joker runs and Batman - a silhouette - drags the hostage through the green mist. He's firing blind. He's running again.

Joker runs to the house of mirrors, pushing ignorant fair-goers aside.
A child taunts the Joker and becomes another hostage. Batman's scowling mug surrounds the Joker. He growls the command, "Put the boy down..."

This time Joker's gamble pays off. He hears the bull coming through the glass and gets one shot off. He puts the slug deep in Batman's gut, but the kid gets out okay. Batman too, really. He ducks a second shot and smacks the Joker in his gnashing mouth and sends his chalky head careening into a mirror.

Joker takes a couple more shots. If his gun was loaded they'd have killed.
He drops under another lumbering old punch from Batman and slides a clip into his pistol. He's as fast as ever. He blows off a few more rounds, each one hitting mirror Batmen. The dark knight welcomes it. A waste of ammo.

Joker flees into the night where Robin battles his henchman on the rollercoaster. Explosions fill the night sky, while Joker shoots at random. He clears a path to the tunnel of love. Slowly, like an old warship, the Batman follows. He clutches his bleeding gut and promises the two bodies floating in the water will be the last two if he can just stay awake. Finish him quickly. Stay awake.

Like a marine predator his sinks into the murky filth of the tunnel's river.
Batman has no idea high above the fairground his little soldier is becoming a woman. Her battle is about to end in blood. Batman's will be... cleaner.

Batman bursts from the depths to ambush the Joker. As fast as ever, Joker pulls a blade and prepares to fight. Waist deep in water, they do just that.

Batman takes Joker's gun away, so he puts a knife in him.
The cut is clean. It doesn't slow Batman down. He grabs at the Joker's pasty face. The face that's haunted his dreams with thoughts just like this. He squeezes and twists ignoring the Joker's frenzy. Voices echo through the tunnel, calling the Batman a murderer. The Joker slumps in the water.

The twist of Joker's neck has left him paralyzed, but it's all part of the plan. He taunts the hunched dark knight. Promises they'll kill him for this. Takes pleasure in Batman's weakness and twists. Laughing like a madman he twists. Through the echoed cracking he laughs and he twists.

The witnesses will say it was the Batman. When the feds find his broken body, they won't know about the silent laugh. The last laugh that taunts his enemy.
The Joker is dead. Long live the Joker.

The Hammer...
After blinding, paralyzing, and prompting a suicide, the dark knight, Batman, emerges grim, gritty, and victorious!

At this point we're running atrociously behind schedule, now well into August and the beginning of the Olympics, but you'll remember, all those weeks ago, there was a little known film called The Dark Knight in cinemas which we wanted to acknowledge!

In our previous Joker-entry [Batman #614] we talked about the relationship of the Batman and Joker, and this was supposed to be a resolution to that discussion. I wonder, however, if it might prompt reflection on the opposite.

Plotlines in the Bat-books currently revolve around concepts put forward in Grant Morrison's RIP, which seem to suggest a concluding world without a Batman!
Advanced speculation had fans questioning the mortality of the Dark Knight; particularly in a world reeling from the death of Captain America [#25]. Word, however, from above, was said to have nixed any intentions to eliminate the franchise stock of Bruce Wayne, who had not yet appeared in The Dark Knight.

Robin [title] has jumped into the speculation game with a new storyline featuring Robin and Spoiler dealing with the apparent absence of the Batman, and a situation that forces young Drake to don the Bat-mantle.
This is just the first tease for a post-RIP plotline announced at San Diego Comic-Con which will pit various supporting characters in a race for the Batman identity. Promotional art shows contenders for the battle for the cowl, from left-to-right, as: Selina Kyle, Thomas Elliot, Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake.

So, at this point, in terms of the relationship between Batman and Joker, there's a question whether Batman will even survive to see it. Not that that itself isn't a conclusion, as proposed by Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, which initially depicts Joker as a catatonic depressive in a mental asylum. Nor is it likely many are expecting Bruce Wayne's demise to be permanent, if even a death, at all.

There's something incredibly appropriate about Miller's end to one of comics' most famous rivalries. Batman remains true to his mantra, whilst still seeing an end to the villain, whose legacy is that of the furor created by the implication of a murder (per witness accounts). In a modern society that's explicitly dissociated with Batman and his methods, the perception shift is simple.

The success of the recent film brings home the idea that Batman's relevance could never realistically be reduced in the way Miller's dystopian future depicts. The longevity of the franchise will always mean Batman is at odds with the Joker - something suggested by Nolan's film, which does not forecast a conventional filmic conclusion to the characters' relationship.

Many fans look to a conclusion in a sequel, but I wonder, under these conditions, if it might not finally be an era where we witness the mainstream initiation of fans into the comics form. A form that tells these stories with a pseudo-realism of sequential constant, not necessarily preoccupied with the dwelling stop-start of act-driven storytelling.

Just a note: the opening Story So Far section features an exerpt from a Jimmy Olsen article about the post-superhero climate of the DKR universe. It references several heroes and villains specifically, some of whom show up in DK2. The article is included in the collected edition (available below).

That's about it for now, folks.
Unfortunately the arrival of this epic battle on the Infinite Wars has come at a time when we're not quite as focused as we'd like. With the Olympics upon us, I hope we can see a content revival through a shift back to statistical fun. Despite his prevelance on the site, you can be sure the Joker won't be winning gold after his string of defeats!
Stay tuned for the belated August Monthly Punch-Up to find out more about the Super Stock ranks!

The Fight: 5 The Issue: 7

That brings our month of Joker and "The Dark Knight" features to a close, but that doesn't mean the Batmania needs to end! By browsing through the Amazonian Gift Shoppe you'll be able to find a range of collected Batman stories, all at affordable prices, thanks to Amazon! By using the purchase links provided you also help sponsor the Infinite Wars, which is the Bat-tastic thing to do! We recommend classics that have appeared on the site, like: The Dark Knight Returns, DC: The New Frontier, Batman: The Long Halloween, Batman: Dark Victory, Batman: Hush, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, to name just a few!