FLASH versus PENGUIN
Where: Flash #210 When: July 2004
Why: Geoff Johns How: Howard Porter
This week's quick fix was originally slated to be posted after the announcement of Flash as a playable character in Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe. While continued delays in the Infinite Wars schedule have been disappointing, this random chance of happenstance makes for a suitable situation as we transition into a month of Batmania!
For those who missed it: it was the Flash who took third-place honors in the reveal list of DC heroes to appear in the crossover video game. Some might argue this was surprising, with many expectations still awaiting the arrival of the final member of DC's trinity: Wonder Woman!
In theory this is an opportunity for Mortal Kombat fans to familiarize themselves with prominent elements of superhero fiction. Many have found themselves gravitating toward the well publicized stable of Batman's villains, blissfully unaware of the classic tradition that makes Flash's Rogues some of the most beloved foes in comics.
Of course, no sooner than I say that, than do I remember the Rogues have never actually appeared on the Infinite Wars. It's times like these the sheer volume of content yet to be covered truly astounds me. After ranking five hundred and fifty-two characters, the Infinite Wars still only scratches the surface of the comic book medium.
For some this will seem intimidating, but it's my hope we can provide a friendly gateway to the many names and faces you'll want to come to know.
Let's face it -- statistics suggest at least someone interested in the Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe game will wander out and consider reading a comic. I hope they do!
As their understanding of context grows, I think many MK fans have the opportunity to indulge in fiction that will speak very strongly to them. The trick is to not overthink things at the beginning, and simply keep your eye out for threads and visuals you may like to follow!
This particular issue of Flash isn't really anything super-special, but I wonder what it might be like for a new reader. Those receptive to the information within will find a ticket to explore not only the Flash's world, but portions of DC history.
Geoff Johns dabbles in the friendship between Flash and Nightwing, a duo that dates back to their time with the Teen Titans, when they were Kid-Flash and Robin, respectively. The unveiling of Wally West's tension-filled secret history - his first visit to the Batcave - slides neatly between plot threads concerning discension in the Rogues; post Identity Crisis revelations; a throwaway spat with villains (soon to be united); the life and times of a newly anonymous Wally West (whose identity was erased from the world's minds by Spectre); and a character driven lead-in to a Flash/Nightwing team-up (against Gorilla Grodd).
What this comic does quite successfully, in a fairly classic manner, is lay out quite a few branches for new fans to explore, whilst packaging that broader spectrum in a story they can follow linearly. This is the kind of thing I would've enjoyed picking up as a youngster, quite willing to explore and adopt characters as my own. This, as far as I'm concerned, is comics!
Among his strokes of brilliance; Johns' opportunity to further initiate characters created in 2001's Flash: Iron Heights; using the established modus of The Penguin as a smooth means of introduction.
The Penguin, a well known arms dealer, has travelled his business interests to Keystone City in the hopes of avoiding Batman. It might be the after effects of the Spectre's mind tampering, or maybe it just doesn't matter, but clearly the Penguin has failed to consider the presence of Keystone's resident speedster!
The bird-loving Penguin; who reads here like the animated series' compromise between the classic, and Tim Burton's vision; is no schmuck! In the interest of franchising he's recruited local talent - Girder and Double Down; the villains from Iron Heights, mentioned earlier.
Behind the script is justification built around an opportunity to establish a sense of life in the exaggerated city of Keystone. We get a glimpse of what is surely an everyday occurance in the life of themed criminals, but to the unwitting reader, it's just an ecounter between hero and villain that's easily digested.
When an emotional Flash shows up looking for a distraction, he launches into a speeding blur in Penguin's hideout. Forced to negotiate both the Penguin's free-roaming collection of birds, and the enchanted cards of Double Down, he finds himself somewhat restricted. By using his super speed he's able to create a vortex around the pair, knocking them unconscious by sucking the air from them.
Girder proves a more enduring menace, able to anticipate the Flash's speedy on-rush, and counter with a devestating metallic blow! The punch sends Flash rocketting into a nearby bar at high speed. For a moment he's helpless before the lumbering goliath, but just as Girder closes in, a click gives birth to a deluge.
"Water. Like pouring lemon juice on a cut when it comes to Girder."
The rusting villain drops to his knees, howling in agony. Nightwing emerges from the darkness, revealing himself as the Flash's unlikely savior, having spent a brief exchange earlier in the day, where Flash obviously brushed off his friend.
Johns casually provides an interesting commentary on the nature of the Flash; once popularly defined as a very public hero; by virtue of a comparison with Batman, [as delivered by Nightwing]. The story ends in the Flash Museum, where the heroics and villainy of the Flash's world are celebrated and preserved, setting the stage for the peculiar sense of social agreement between the citzens and villains of Keystone City.
Upon reflection, I wouldn't want to overstate the accessibility of this comic. The simple fact of serialized fiction is that you are not going to know every character and every situation, but that is one of the inherent charms of the medium, and genre.
This is definitely a comic for those new readers ready for what they're in for, but for the Mortal Kombat audience who may find themselves curious about the Flash, I think it's managable.
I love that Flash #210 can have this kind of information in it, presented in a way that's palattable to both new and old readers alike. Johns does a tremendous job of telling very classic tales in his Flash, and I can only hope he finds his way back to the title, which has since languished in creative hell.
The Fix: 3 The Issue: 4
Winner: Flash & Nightwing
Flash #210 not only gives us a chance to look at Flash and some interesting villains, but also commemorate the June 27 passing of superstar artist, Michael Turner. Turner, who provides pencils for the cover, passed recently as a result of his battle with cancer, he was only thirty-seven. I myself lost a family member June, and can appreciate the loss. Those wishing to make donations can follow links from Turner's production company, Aspen Comics. Very sad, indeed!
#1 (+4) The People's Team
#2 (-) The Black Death
#3 (+6) The X League
#4 (+8) The Corps
#5 (+6) The DC Illuminati
#6 (-4) The Revolution
#7 (-) Makin' it w/Cap'n
#8 (-7) Divine Judgment
#9 (-5) The Legends
#10 (-4) The Knights of Right
#11 (-3) X-Party
#12 (-2) The Ghost Walkers
#13 (-) The Elite Fleet
Join the list! Draft a team today!2008 Fantasy League...
Ladies and gentlemen, we have in our midst a two-time champion as Rokk reclaims the crown with The People's Team taking it out for month three of the Fantasy League!
It continues to be the triumvirate of Batman, Flash, and Wonder Woman that hands Rokk the keys to victory, and it doesn't look to be slowing as we head into July's Dark Knight month, and onward to more coverage of the video game sensation, Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe!
The good news for all concerned will be relatively bouyant returns from June on the Infinite Wars, even though production has screeched to a near-halt! DC heroes and villains have helped many teams secure continued income, while May's market crash absorbed much of the damage for the top rated teams.
Sadly, for some, the news wasn't so good. Those gambling on farther reaching characters still suffered under limited movements in the Super Stock. A cruel twist of fate saw The Elite Fleet bottom out, spending the very last of their points to round-off perfectly to zero. Such is the nature of predicting the fickle and often counter-intuitive design of the Infinite Wars, but the good news is, the Elite Fleet have nowhere to go but up, and with Silver Surfer, Dr. Doom, and Nova all in the spotlight, hope is somewhere on the horizon!
Heading into July, we can expect another crumple zone.
Sadly distractions have gotten the better of the Infinite Wars, which means even the much anticipated release of The Dark Knight will struggle to lift flagging updates.
The popularity of the Joker and Batman mean they're sure to be the movers and shakers of the month, but for each, it's uncertain whether that will mean returns, or career-lows! The Bat-universe also welcomes back Catwoman to the pages of Batman as Catwoman goes under the cancellation hammer despite inclusion in MKvsDC!
DC Universe, an MMORPG, will also provide encouragement from the DC portion of the website, but Marvel fans needn't jump ship just yet. August marks the 2008 Beijing Olympics which is sure to grant some measure of amnesty to a diverse cast of inclusions!
The Fantasy League isn't an exact science. Points are derived from the daily goings on in the Infinite Wars, and refined through the Super Stock [found further into this post]. While we try to represent key events in the community, weekly comics aren't the focus of our reviews, meaning our superhero fight club resembles something like a stock market, more than a precise sports league.
There are no prizes and no real losers here. The Fantasy League is designed to build a greater sense of community around the combative corners of the Infinite Wars. You should, of course, follow team sponsor links to familiarize yourself with some of the sites in this corner of the blogosphere, because as illustrated by the league -- we're all here for pretty similar reasons.
The Fantasy League can be as involving or stagnant as you like it to be, and every month you get the chance to spend your points on perfecting your team. The sign-up post will keep you informed when it comes to the availability of characters (those already drafted are struck out).
The category restrictions of the draft are now replaced by point values for those already playing. Everyone must have five characters on a team, but you can now sell a character (at half value) to use your points to draft new characters.
This is where it gets a little complicated, because it's just too time consuming to post full lists for the values of characters each month. You can request a character value in the comments section of this post, before trading through e-mail in the same fashion as your original drafting.
Values are based upon the total number of characters in the Super Stock rankings, with character dropping a point in price from top to bottom. Currently we have 539 characters ranked, making that the value of top-ranked character; Spider-man. If Daredevil is ranked #10 that values him at 530, Wonder Woman (#40) is 500, Darkseid (#176) is 364, She-Hulk (#231) is 309, and so on.
Unranked characters are a flat 100 points, making them mixed investments, given no movement return on their first month of entry.
To keep proceedings fluid; all trades should be completed by July 15!
If you're happy with your team, or not keen on over complicating things, just sit on your stocks and let them mature! I think the Fantasy League has been a very fun addition to the site, and hope to see more teams emerging in the coming months. If you're already reading/playing, suggest it to a friend!
Spider-Boycott 2008: Week 23
Bitten by a radioactive spider; Peter Parker gains the proportionate strength, speed, and agility of a spider. After the death of his Uncle Ben, Peter learns that with great power must come great repsonsibility. Thus, this tortured hero launches himself into a selfless career as Spider-man!
The Amazing Spider-man earns the attentions of many enemies, but when the Kingpin launched an attack on his foe, Peter's Aunt May was caught in the crossfire! With the elderly May in critical condition, Peter proves unable to find sufficient aid from his superpowered fellows, leading him to accept an unlikely deal from devil, Mephisto: Erase the romance and marriage to Mary-Jane Watson, and save the elderly woman's life.
Originally posted June 1st:
It was the premise for a story that had been brewing off-the-page since the promotion of of Joe Quesada to Editor-In-Chief. Ultimately the task befell J. Michael Straczynski in a story that will go down in Spider-man infamy.
Five decades into the history of this character, a poor excuse for a story saw this deeply responsible man make a deal with a devil to save a frail old woman. In reality, the move was little more than a nostalgia driven cop-out for the development of a character that had matured and grown with earlier audiences.
The result was Brand New Day, the follow-up that relaunched Spider-man with a revised history more garbled than the revisionist standard of Crisis on Infinite Earths. The erasure of Spidey's big screen romance was allegedly to refresh and simplify the character, but instead resulted in a vague deconstructed history, and the return of standards and motiffs thirty-years old.
The site has been without Spider-man for five months, and at this point the Boycott is more incidental than ever. I have very little interest to discuss or read what has been an uninspiring relaunch of the Spider-man title(s). This running section of the Punch-Up is now mostly academic, an exercise in tracking the monetary response measured by camps of fans each with strong opinions.
This modern gestation of a post-internet industry seems to be in the second stages of it's development. Vocal minorities now represent the basless claims of the blindly positive, as much as unmotivated shit-stirrers and provacateurs.
While the sales figures are not indicative of quality or relevance, they provide some assemblance of a mean average of opinion. I'm not terribly interested in Amazing, but I am interested in the reactions to this continued fiasco.
ESTIMATED SALES FIG.
(Sep 07) Amazing Spider-man #544 OMD [146,215]
(Oct 07) Friendly N'hood Spider-man #22 OMD [110,405] -24.49%
(Nov 07) Sensational Spider-man #41 OMD [100,300] -9.15%
(Dec 07) Amazing Spider-man #545 OMD [124,481] +24.11%
(Jan 08) Amazing Spider-man #546 BND [136,109] +9.34%
(Jan 08) Amazing Spider-man #547 BND [108,485] -20.29%
(Jan 08) Amazing Spider-man #548 BND [105,122] -3.1%
(Feb 08) Amazing Spider-man #549 BND [101,112] -3.81%
(Feb 08) Amazing Spider-man #550 BND [90,874] -10.12%
(Feb 08) Amazing Spider-man #551 BND [88,084] -3.07%
(Mar 08) Amazing Spider-man #552 BND [89,835] +1.99%
(Mar 08) Amazing Spider-man #553 BND [82,648] -8.00%
(Mar 08) Amazing Spider-man #554 BND [81,072] -1.91%
(Apr 08) Amazing Spider-man #555 BND [86,902] +7.19%
(Apr 08) Amazing Spider-man #556 BND [78,458] -9.72%
(Apr 08) Amazing Spider-man #557 BND [77,057] -1.79%
(May 08) Amazing Spider-man #558 BND [76,966] -0.12%
(May 08) Amazing Spider-man #559 BND [74,206] -3.59%
(May 08) Amazing Spider-man #560 BND [74,012] -0.26%
As the repeat of last month's monologue might have suggested, I've all but lost interest in the topic of BND.
Suffice to say I'm still none too pleased by the overall conceit of regurgitating ancient history at the expense of recent history, but by now that's probably taken second-priority to sheer disinterest in said regurgitated history. Amazing Spider-man three times a month has meant, for me, three times the disinterest, although, that might be about to change...
At this point I'm pretty content to let the numbers do the talking for this running feature. While the decline in sales remains steady, one must acknowledge a consistent decrease in sales across May. This, of course, only accounts for some measure of the immediate drop, but even then, the failings of other titles don't really discount the slippery slope of other books.
July will see Daredevil and Hammerhead make an appearance in Amazing which, one assumes, might recall the New York gangland struggles of the 80's and 90's. This is certainly a subject of interest for me, and while I probably won't have sufficient moneys to warrant a purchase, it does mark the first real interest I've had in the title since the change. I will look very eagerly to next month, when we see if a DD/Spidey reunion does anything for sales! If it encourages more Daredevil in connected Marvel titles, I might like that!
The 2008 Top Five...
We've been talking about it since last year, but the wait for the Batman Begins sequel is finally over! July 18 sees the release of Christopher Nolan's cinematic masterpiece, the last film completed before Heath Ledger's untimely passing. So positive is early reaction to the movie and Ledger's performance, that The Dark Knight is already promising the first major Academy Award nomination for a comic book film of this type! Post-humous accolades are being heaped mostly upon Ledger's chilling depiction of the Joker, for which the Goyer/Nolan script deserves some recognition.
Also on the slate are feature film adaptations of Wanted and Hellboy, but given the difficulties in maintaining a regular schedule, updates pertaining to these films are unlikely. Such is true especially for the Wanted film which, despite boasting a cast of Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, and Terrence Stamp, bares little resemblance to the source material, and even less to our interests.
#1 Batman (-) (28) (DC)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Fatman & Little Boy]
Win Percentage: [67.74%] Features: 
2006: [#1] 2007: [#2] Cumulative: [#2]
Batman's third consecutive month at the 2008 top leaves little doubt for his chances of finishing the year in the top spot. Despite stronger competition than years past, the Bat has soared even without a film! With The Dark Knight hitting cinemas July 18, Batman is poised to be among the only characters featured during July while the Infinite Wars recover from personal and professional distraction. Pretty condemning for Batman's nearest opponents!
Gotham Knight has as yet escaped the grasps of the Infinite Wars, but hopefully that will be rectified at some point. My excitement levels might have finally tipped in favour of the looming Dark Knight, but I'm also still very keen as a casual animé enthusiast to check out Gotham Knight.
It's probably worth noting that not everything is working in Batman's favour. As the unknown quantities of The Dark Knight, Two-Face and Joker seem likely to steal a good deal of the spotlight, particularly the latter clown prince of crime!
Meanwhile, in the comics, a mixed bag as Morrison's RIP indulges every Silver Age wetdream, while in Final Crisis, Batman is among the first heroes to drop.
#2 Iron Man (+3) (10) (Marvel)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Wong-Chu]
Win Percentage: [62.5%] Features: 
2006: [#3] 2007: [#3] Cumulative: [#3]
Iron Man makes a late jet propelled leap up the rankings after starring in his own feature film in May! It looks like Batman might have his number here, and at the box office, but the current Director of SHIELD might just have the dark knight detective's number in comics sales!
Unfortunately nothing much can be said from the Infinite Wars perspective regarding the quality of said comics. A catalogue of Iron Man books inspired by the film have hit the shelves, ranging from the film-inspired introduction of Obadiah Stane's son, to continuity fostering meetings between Stark and Doom!
Being at the centre of the Secret Invasion might prove to be yet another curse disguised as a blessing! Brian Bendis shakes through the middle section of his latest crossover attempt with sobering results, very little about the series able to maintain the enthusiasm it first garnered! Like the antagonising role of Civil War; Iron Man may ultimately come out of this series worse-for-wear, but we'd still expect shellhead to figure into the stakes heading into the last half of 2008.
#3 Hulk (RE) (7) (Marvel)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [US Military]
Win Percentage: [60.87%] Features: 
2006: [#6] 2007: [#10] Cumulative: [#4]
Rounding out the trio of mainstream icons hitting cinemas this year, Hulk, who sits comfortably third in what might be an order of preference for said adaptations. Incredible Hulk surprised at the box office, providing the follow-up the franchise needed to escape the heady dramas of Ang Lee's experimental character study. The future looks green again for Hulk!
The saga of the Red Hulk has brought Bruce Banner back to action far sooner than originally anticipated, and while this is a welcome event, it seems to have come at the cost of recognising many details featured in World War Hulk.
Jeph Loeb's meandering plotlines haven't done big things for anticipation of the Hulk title, but an upcoming clash with Thor is exactly the kind of mindless fun this comic's been promoting, only at a more enticing scale! We can only hope this isn't the beginning of a digression into Skrull-related silliness!
#4 Superman (-2) (6) (DC)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Massacre]
Win Percentage: [56.52%] Features: 
2006: [#7] 2007: [#13] Cumulative: [#5]
A quiet month sees the Man of Steel slide discreetly down the list, bringing up the rear of the feature film icons. Superman might not have anything on the agenda in the immediate future movie-wise, but as with most DC icons, the promise of appearances in video games is quite an enticing one. Superman lines up not only for the collision with Mortal Kombat, but also the Massively Multi-Player antics of DC Universe online! Both games face a grim legacy, looking to put an atrocious gaming history behind them!
The print side of things has had it's own demons to contend with, but there's cause for hope for Superman fans. Geoff Johns continues his run on Action Comics where he'll follow-up work with the Legion of Superheroes to attempt a definitive reboot of the arch-villain, Brainiac! Few men would be wise to approach the garbled history of the sci-fi fiend, but in Johns, we trust!
Joining Johns in the Superman stakes is his titular counterpart, James Robinson, who appears to be taking a balanced look at both sides of the character. While Kurt Busiek mans the ship of Trinity - the weekly series detailing the DCU through the eyes of it's leading icons. In the early-goings, one would have to say, it's been a mixed bag, so far...
#5 Goro (-2) (2) (Midway)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Raiden]
Win Percentage: [60%] Features: 
2006: [NR] 2007: [NR] Cumulative: [#28]
Rounding out the top five is last month's unlikely inclusion!
June's reduced schedule left little competition for the four-armed Shokan anticipated to lead the iconic charge in MK vs DC Universe.
At this point there are no plans to revisit the Malibu books in July, giving Goro few avenues of ascension. All hope is not lost, however! The MK team from Midway will join Jimmy Palmiotti at the San Diego International Comic-Con at the end of this month, where they will announce four new characters from the game!
The Infinite Wars expects a couple of big bads (Shao Kahn and Darkseid?) to be the big reveal here, perhaps in tandem with a mini-series designed to elaborte on the story of the video game. This would not only mean a potential means of boosting Goro back into the rankings, but hype in general!
Before Comic-Con; Goro has the opportunity to emerge as two new characters are revealed at the E3 gaming convention. With Gamespot having just revealed Liu Kang and Captain Marvel, one hopes this is not a breakdown of communication, indicating playable builds, versus previously unrevealed characters. If the latter is the case, this will bring the August tally up to sixteen of the expected twenty-two characters revealed.
Cumulative Super Stock...
Dr. Light leads the strike for
Libra's new Society of Super-Villains,
forming a "blindingly obvious"
team-up with Mirror Master!
[Final Crisis #1]
2. Batman (-) (DC)
3. Iron Man (-) (M)
4. Hulk (+2) (M)
5. Superman (-1) (DC)
6. Wolverine (-1) (M)
7. Mr. Fantastic (-) (M)
8. Captain America (-) (M)
9. Invisible Woman (-) (M)
10. Daredevil (-) (M)
13. Black Adam (-) (DC)
15. Ryu (-) (C)
17. Catwoman (-) (DC)
50. Hawkgirl (-) (DC)
69. Dr. Light (+110) (DC)
91. Sonya Blade (-1) (Mid)
100. Black Panther (-1) (M)
134. Zod (ammendment) (DC)
135. Non (ammendment) (DC)
136. Jax-Ur (ammendment) (DC)
150. Forge (-4) (M)
179. Mirror Master (new) (DC)
Thunderbolt Ross's feud with the
incredible Hulk sees him tumble
to the bottom of the ranks!!
[World War Hulk #3]
218. Captain Marvel (-4) (DC)
236. Scorpion (-4) (Mid)
250. Photon (-4) (M)
300. Alfred Pennyworth (-4) (DC)
350. Kingpin (-4) (M)
400. Grey Gargoyle (-4) (M)
450. Clayface (-4) (DC)
500. Kid Impala (-3) (DC)
517. Wong-Chu (new) (M)
518. Sparx (new) (DC)
519. Empress (new) (DC)
520. Más (new) (DC)
521. Menos (new) (DC)
522. Crypto-Man (new) (M)
523. Jarella (new) (M)
524. Fatman (new) (DC)
525. Little Boy (new) (DC)
527. Hercules (-8) (M)
545. Gen. Thunderbolts Ross (-64) (M)
548. Lizard (-13) (M)
549. Taskmaster (-13) (M)
550. Zangief (-13) (C)
551. Magneto (-13) (M)
552. Dan Hibiki (-13) (C)
Well, we've reached a new low of almost two weeks late, but better late than never! As has been expressed during the month, I'm doing everything I can to get the Infinite Wars back on track, but distractions in various arenas continue to make that difficult.
Never the less, we've got another big month lined up for you! Come rain or snow we'll be delivering reviews for Friday entries (focusing on Joker and Batman), while the weekends remain dedicated to a mix of Smash Hits music videos and Cover to Cover flashbacks to previous Batman entries.
Also continuing through July will be our MKvsDC Mondays, now focusing on some of the DC characters we didn't get to mention during the Fantasy Fights! These bonus rounds will bring the DC tally up to over one hundred characters, including some hotly requested heroes and villains by readers!
Once again, I have to send thanks to all the supportive readers that continue to read and make use of the Infinite Wars! A special shout out to my new friends from Italy at the Blue Area message boards! Any Italian-speaking fans might like to check their boards out, where you're sure to find a very hospitable bunch!
As much as I hate to end on a bit of a downer, I'm afraid I've got to.
For the past few months I've been content to discreetly place the [following] KMI ad banner in the shipping list, and other places of relevance, including the top of the page. I haven't wanted to bring it up too often, but I feel it's worth drawing attention to!
The Kirby Martin Inquest is a series that took a very long time to get started, and now, almost a year later, the second issue is only just starting to take shape. Any and all support is exceptionally important to the life of this small press venture, and at $1.99, I think it's a pretty affordable price for twenty-two pages of black and white comic. The first issue serves as introduction to the world and character of the White Ghost, and you can learn more about some of the mystery of the series, as well as online purchasing details [come on! If you've got a PayPal account, use it!], from here and the home site of Nite Lite Theatre!
We really need your help, guys!
Buy one yourself, tell your friends, use the banner on message boards! Just lend a hand, because sales have been shite, quite honest. Cheers!
Ciao for now!
- Mike Haseloff; Commanding Officer
Mike Haseloff is a little known writer who, when strapped for cash, was bullied by local gangsters into orchestrating a break-in at a chemical plant. When a masked vigilante intervened, a panicked Haseloff fell into a vat of chemicals, emerging from the sewers a discoloured madman. Or at least, that's what he told us Thursday. It's entirely possible he'll deliver an entirely different story today...
June Hit Count: [11555/116358] (+2%)