Monday, July 07, 2008

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

As we're running quite late on this entry, I can defy time to tell you Liu Kang and Captain Marvel joined the confirmed list courtesy of a [July 12] Gamespot update! They join: Sub-Zero, Batman, Scorpion, Superman, Sonya, the Flash, Shang Tsung, and Catwoman!

In the interest of disrupting the timelines even further, let us flash back to June 24! It was then that popular gaming site,, dropped a series of clues said to suggest the identities of the remaining DC characters. Like the clues themselves, there's a degree of ambiguity as to whether or not they include characters already announced, leaving quite a bit of margin for guessing.

Early-on MK series co-creator and overseer of all things MK, Ed Boon, confirmed eleven characters aside. As there are eleven clues, one might be inclined to assume they do indeed include Superman and Batman, but in the interest of exploring more options, we're going to forego that logic. We hope you enjoy our decyphering of these clues! The bonus round will continue next week!

- The Prototypical Superhero (Captain Marvel)
Clearly this is the domain of the character who defined the mould: Superman! Of course, if the list only includes characters not yet revealed [as of June 24], then we know that isn't Superman.
Captain Marvel [R9] couldn't fit the bill any better! Through the 1950's the Marvel name and comics were actually more popular than his Man of Steel predecessor! Originally published Fawcett Comics; the big red cheese now finds a home in the DCU, where he is considered by many to be the embodiment of the Golden Age.

Martian Manhunter would be a dark horse suggestion, noteworthy for his representative qualities as a 'swiss army' hero. He possesses all of the abilities of the prototypical Superman, whilst also adding alternate powers; shape-shifting, invisibility, and telepathy. Sadly, his chances appear to have dwindled.

Also: Martian Manhunter [R1], Powergirl, Supergirl, Superman [R10]

- The Speedster (Flash)
Technically Flash [B1] had been revealed at the time of the clues list, but as he had only just emerged in a UK publication, I'm inclined to think he slipped out sooner than anticipated. Let's be honest, who embodies the speedster archetype better than THE Flash? I mean, this isn't phrasing that alludes to all characters with super speed, ruling out the likes of Superman! This is about guys who run fast, and that's Flash, plain and simple!

Also: Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, Bart Allen

- The Mystical Superhero (Zatanna)
Here's where the list starts to get a bit tricky.
If we were to say the clues did include Superman, then this is where you'd find Captain Marvel on the list. While not traditionally regarded as a mystic, phrasing to include "superhero" might anticipate the classic square jawed hero as enfused by magic. Of course, as we're foregoing logic, we look to more specific avenues!

If we're talking magical superheroes then it has to come down to either Zatanna [R8] or Dr. Fate. There's a whole range of characters to be plucked from the mystic corner of the DCU, but when it comes down to it, those are the two most recognised. On the back of Zatanna's post-Identity Crisis importance, popularity in the cartoons, and contribution to sexual diversity, I lean toward her.
Also: Dr. Fate [R8], Kent Nelson, Etrigan [R2], Spectre [B1]

- The Amazon Queen (Wonder Woman)
Let's face it: everyone is expecting Wonder Woman in to accompany her Trinity fellows (Superman and Batman). Though not traditionally a queen, Wonder Woman [R10] seems like a shoe-in based on the clue, but this is where the wild theories start to rear their head!

Since developing a hardset rule of fifty-one alternate Earths in their DC Multiverse; DC have confirmed the existence of several versions of Wonder Woman including some worlds where WW's mother, Hippolyta, is the Wonder Woman! It's been confirmed that the MK universe will not join the fifty-two worlds of the DC Multiverse, but to the best of my knowledge, we've had no comment on whether one single DCU will pit their champions against Earthrealm and Outworld.

Also: Queen Hippolyta, Queen Bee

- The Sexy Villainess (Catwoman)
Revealed a substantial amount of time after the clues (and the Flash), Catwoman [R8] can safely be assumed as belonging somewhere on this list. Contemporary depiction could easily slide into the masked vigilante category, but for the preservation of quality, we're going to give the MK team the benefit of the doubt, and assume they simply referred to her as a villain for the classics.

For a very specific group of fans (of dubious logic) this clue has been a point of hope for the inclusion of Poison Ivy. It hardly seems necessary to elaborate on the nature of Ivy's character as an absent manipulator of men (and plantlife), but to certain perspective, this is appealing. I can not explain to you, the informed, why, but apparently there's a vibrant fan-fic community. *shudder*

Also: Poison Ivy, Circe, White Rabbit

- The Arch-Villain (Lex Luthor)
Most successful comic book heroes, and some not so, have an arch-nemesis, so this is one of the vaguest of the clues. Conventional logic brings Lex Luthor [R9] to mind in an instant, arguably rivalled only by the Joker as the best known arch-villain in the DCU!

Despite not being a conventional combatant; Lex Luthor regularly arms himself with a suit, not dissimilar to Iron Man's, that grants him an arsenal of attacks, and strength enhancements suitable for regular clashes with Metropolis' resident Man of Steel!

A quick scan across the confirmed heroes turns up a small army of potential arch-villains to counteract their powers! Doomsday [R9], Bane [R7], Gorilla Grodd [B1], Black Mask, and Captain Nazi are just some of the names bouncing off the heroes confirmed, to say nothing of characters pending!

Also: Sinestro [B1], Black Adam [R7], Zoom [B1], Brainiac [R5], Zod [R10]

- Epic Villain (Darkseid)
It stands to reason that an epic event - such as the meeting of two universes - calls for an epic villain! Comics are preordained with a wide variety of cosmic menaces suited to the instigation of just such an event, but few are as iconic, and relevant, as Darkseid [R10]!

The only villain capable of overshadowing the evil New God is perhaps the Anti-Monitor, whose sheer scope makes him one of the most epic villains ever seen in comics. So awesome was Anti-Monitor's influence was that, despite being defeated, he was still responsible for the redefinition of the DC Universe [in 1985's; Crisis on Infinite Earths].

Even before the clues many were ready to consign Darkseid into an unholy alliance with one of Mortal Kombat's sinister powers -- and it's a compelling argument. Perhaps the only cause for doubt is the promise of surprise announcements to come at this month's San Diego Comic-Con!

Also: Imperiex, Anti-Monitor, Alexander Luthor Jr, Parallax, Libra

- The Crazy Villain (Joker)
When it comes to villains, there's a whole lot of crazy to go around!
Mental illness seems to be par for the course when you're compelled to commit great evil, but there's one nutjob that eclipses them all. Even if he wasn't the subject of a critically acclaimed feature film hitting cinemas this month, Joker [R5] would have to rate the number one card carrier for the criminally insane!

Bringing up the rear is Harvey Dent; whose devolution into madness will presumably be an integral piece of plot in The Dark Knight. Even so, you've got to think the lure of the Joker as one of the world's most popular cultural figures is going to be too great to resist. It's that factor that grants the MK team grace for even considering a villain so disassociated with physical combat.

For a more overtly suited challenger one might expect the likes of Cheetah or Bizarro to fullfil the crazy of the clue. Both represent very different swirls of madness, but are also prominent opposition for two of DC's leading heroes.

Also: Scarecrow, Two-Face, Bizarro, Cheetah, Murmur [B1]

- The Masked Vigilante (Green Arrow)
A masked vigilante? In comics? Are you sure?
The safe money is a reference to Batman, but if we're going to take the opportunity, I tend to think Green Arrow poses not only a plausible recommendation, but also a bit of diversity in the field.

When you really get down to it the majority of heroes in the DCU are technically vigilantes. Narrowing that field down's a pretty big ask, but you've got to reason that, as iconic representations, GA is rivalled only by the pulp-inspired likes of the Question, and the Sandman.
Catwoman also deserves mention as a potential candidate for this clue, especially on the basis of her more recent years as protector of Gotham's East.

Also: Batman [R10], The Question, Red Hood [R8], Sandman [R7], Huntress

- The Military Superhero (Green Lantern)
The literal specifics of these clues definitely beg question.
Coming into the business end of Kotaku's list, things get a bit harder to narrow down. When it comes to military superheroes there are a lot of degrees of seperation between the pseudo-WWII veterans of the Justice Society; the intergalactic force of the GL Corps; and the weapon's designing history of a guy like Steel.

The Green Lantern John Stewart is a former US Marine who's better characterised as an architect, whose engineering expertise factors importantly into the use of his powerring. Even so, he remains a compelling argument as a character garnering mainstream attention as part of the cartoon series.

While other characters have had brushes with the military; Captain Atom is one of the few DC characters to quite literally be a ranking Captain, as a former US Air Force pilot! If the weight is on the military aspects of the unnamed character, then I'm much more comfortable associating that with Atom, but for the sake of a Justice League spread, you've got to think the real money is with a GL.
Hal Jordan poses another potential Lantern who served as a test pilot and was quite recently depicted as an unlikely war-time pacifist, in DC: The New Frontier.

Also: Captain Atom, Hal Jordan [B1], Hawkman [R2], Steel [R9]

- The Ninja Villain (Ra's Al Ghul)
Finally, perhaps the most puzzling clue of them all.
It's not until you try to list them that you really appreciate how few DC characters are steeped in ninja subculture. Marvel, as a company, has been far more inclined to throw the buzzword around, perhaps to the detriment of the mythology.

Mortal Kombat technically only boasts one ninja - Scorpion - but has equally dishonored the branding with a multitude of characters erroneously dubbed "ninja" by way of their shared atttire, but I digress.

Perpetual theory has seen many in the fanbase label Deathstroke [R6] the unnamed ninja villain, but to the best of my knowledge, there's actually nothing in the character's history to associate him with the ninja fraternity. In fact, Deathstroke's origins lie in military experimentation, making him an unlikely candidate for the previous subject!

Lady Shiva [R1] and Batgirl [R5] are probably the two characters who come to mind, but it's their master, Ra's Al Ghul [R6], who appeared in 2005's Batman Begins as something of a ninja master. Of all the available options, this seems the most sound on the basis of the clues, even if Ra's seems a less likely character.

Also: Lady Shiva [R1], Deathstroke [R6]

Food for thought, folks!
Got some ideas? Drop them in the comments! And remember: next week we resume bonus round activities, running through the names and faces of DC!

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