Sunday, August 31, 2008

August on the Infinite Wars has been all about the Olympic spirit and the champions of their given fields. The weekend C2C backlog has been no exception, giving us a chance to layout some of the best battles featuring: martial arts, superhumans, superteams, and cosmic powers!

We finish the month now with some of the most epic battles featured in the Infinite Wars! Fights that epitomise and punctuate the high stakes of the superhero genre at it's most exciting!

To find out what lies ahead, stay tuned for the wrap-up in the September Punch-Up coming soon, and more superhero smackdown on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths: The Comic Book Fight Club!

Onslaught: X-Men #1 (August 1996)
"Traitor to the Cause" Lobdell/Waid/Kubert/Green

When the Juggernaut falls from the heavens to crash land in Hoboken, it begins the mystery of a new villain who will attack the X-Men at their most personal core. The entity called Onslaught contacts Grey in an effort to recruit her into his mission to destroy the divide between humans and mutants, but before she can submit, the Juggernaut reveals to her the true identity of the armored monster.

Having overcome the mutant forebarer Post; the X-Men find themselves summoned to Charles Xavier's headquarters when the search for an attacking Juggernaut is called off. Little do they realise the Juggernaut is trapped within the crimson gem of Cytorrak sitting on a desk right under their nose, and the true enemy that endangers all of them is right before them -- Professor X!

Thor #1 (July 1998)
"In Search of the Gods" Jurgens/Romita Jr

The heroes have returned from being trapped in a pocket universe, but their return has garnered mixed pleasures.
The Norse Gods are lost, leaving behind the tattered remains of Asgard, and Thor is alone with the remorse of being the only known survivor, until a man claiming to be the human form of Baldur reaches out.

Thor ultimately discovers the misguided ruse of the crazed individual, but this is not the last hope of an encounter with artifacts from the fallen Asgard. Another menace is lurking in the shadows, ready to strike at those that Thor would care about.

The invincible Destroyer armor, created by Odin himself, has returned with the spirit of a disgruntled soldier inside it. Intent on wreaking independent havoc on the world, the possessor of the Destroyer stands against Thor and the mighty Avengers with a single threat: To open the visor and destroy the planet.

Dark Knight Strikes Again #1 (November 2001)
Frank Miller

After faking his own death, Bruce Wayne goes underground to train the army of SOBs who joined him after abandoning their Mutant leader to rally to his cause. With the aid of his new ward Carrie Kelly he makes this possible.

Using his personal army to break free some of his more willing peers from the past, Batman assembles a team that includes powerhouses in their respective fields including The Flash and The Atom, and prepares to go to war against the world.

In a world where superheroes are slowly beginning to again penetrate the shutdown public consciousness; Batman is bringing heroism back in a big way, and not a minute too soon. With threats from Lex Luthor and Brainiac lurking on the horizon, he'll need to have all his tools and freedoms at the ready. But what of the Superman? Where does he stand?...

World War Hulk #5 (January 2008)
"The End of World War Hulk" Pak/Romita Jr

Recognising the erratic rampages of the Hulk as a longstanding and overlooked threat on their back porch; the Illuminati conspire to lure the jade giant into a craft that will rocket him into deep space. Their message is one of peace, but for the Hulk, it is the beginning of a dark period in his existence.

After crash landing on the planet Sakaar, the Hulk becomes a gladiatorial warrior amidst an ethnically diverse alien community. He rises through the combative ranks and recovers from his initial wounds to become the new ruler of Sakaar, leading a rebellion by might. As King, Hulk would find love and sire an heir to his throne, but his happiness would sour when the ship that brought him to Sakaar detonates in an explosion that kills thousands, and sets off an environmental chain of events that would destroy the planet.

Rallying the survivors, the Hulk leads his Warbound to Earth where he seeks revenge from Reed Richards, Tony Stark, Dr. Stephen Strange, and the other heroes he believes responsible for the carnage. Hulk gives the innocent time to clear, and swiftly takes Manhattan, and defeats the heroes, leaving America only one man to turn to. Their saviour -- the Sentry.

Countdown #2 (June 2008)
"Darkseid Equals Death" Dini/McKeever/Giffen/Kolins

When the prophecized death of the New Gods begins; Darkseid begins siphoning the powers of each of the deceased for future use in his attempts to create the Fifth World on Earth. In need of a storage vessel, Darkseid recognises Superman's best pal, Jimmy Olsen, as one of the most protected individuals in the cosmos.

Though the mysterious development of these strange powers gives Jimmy hope of becoming his own type of superhero; the intrepid photo journalist soon discovers the truth about his many fantastic transformations! After being reunited with Superman, Darkseid is able to take control of Olsen's new abilities, forcing him to emit Kryptonite!

The intervention of the Atom gives Jimmy a chance to take control of his powers, but even with the giant-size energy of a New God, he's unable to overcome the dark lord. Just as all hope seems lost for Superman's pal a boom tube ushers the arrival of a New God thought dead - Darkseid's son, Orion! Intent on putting an end to his father's darkness once and for all, can Orion fullfil the prophecy?

Saturday, August 30, 2008


KMFDM - Juke Joint Jezebel (1995)

August is almost-Olympics month on the Infinite Wars! To reflect the spirit of the games the Smash Hits will be dedicated to artists from around the world! Artists like German industrial rockers, KMFDM!

Trainspotters might recognise the Metropolis remix as the version featured on the techno-alternative soundtrack to the Mortal Kombat feature film! While this video appeared as a competent promotion for the film, the film's violence was apparently responsible for seeing the clip pulled from the air by MTV. Fatality!

For many fans swept up in MK mania, the soundtrack to the mid-nineties Paul Anderson blockbuster left as big an impression as the film! KMFDM's contribution is admirable, but more recognised will be the anthemic Techno Syndrome, by the Immortals, which includes bouncing techno and the now famous wailing declaration of Mortal Kombat!!!

The MK film arguably set the standard for big screen adaptations of video game properties. Alas, few films have managed to live up to the MK movie, a 1997 sequel suffering a less thorough presentation. A decade later, it's fair to say the '95 feature holds up quite well, better than the early games, even!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Undone (Marvel)
Spider-man Family #2 When: June 2007
Why: Sean McKeever How: Kano & David Lafuente

The Story So Far...
Nightly patrol for the web-slinger turns up an unfortunate sight when the screams of a limousine driver draws his attentions to one of the deadliest of his lethal foes - the alien costume clad, Venom!
The symbiote baring madman menaces the corporate passenger, seemingly without reason, but when Peter Parker researches the significance of Ione Damasco and her associates, he uncovers enough of the truth to receive a package from the lethal protector himself!

Venom's notes reveal the truth about Damasco and the pharmaceutical company she serves as a board member for, Devlin-MacGregor. Their greed led them to perform involuntary experiments on the homeless, a fact uncovered by Venom in his life as a Bugle reporter. Now empowered by the symbiote; Eddie Brock stalks the members of the board in an effort to exact brutal justice for their inhuman experiments, and vengeance for their threats to he and his wife.

Tale of the Tape...
ARTWORK: Erik LarsenARTWORK: Frank QuitelyStrength: Venom 5 (Superhuman)
Intelligence: Spider-man 5 (Professor)
Speed: Spider-man 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Spider-man 5 (Marathon Man)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-like)
Fighting Ability: Venom 3 (Street Wise)
Energy Power: Venom 2 (Projectiles)

- A bite from a radioactive spider should have killed highschool nerd, Peter Parker, but instead it would irradiate his own blood, granting him extraordinary powers.

After turning to a life of profit, Peter is inspired to use his gifts for the greater good when his decision to allow a burglar to escape leads to the murder of his adopted parent and uncle, Ben Parker.
Ben's sage-like advice, "with great power comes great responsibility", becomes a mantra for Parker as he becomes Spider-man!

Spider-man possesses the proportional strength, speed, and agility of a spider. Adding to his arsenal is a precognitive spider-sense that warns him of pending danger. Self-made mechanical webshooters round out Spidey's abilities, allowing him to ensnare opponents in a variety of modes; travel through the city by web-line; and form basic constructs based on the available quantities of his own formula of web-fluid.

- During the secret wars staged by the Beyonder; Spider-man's attempts to repair his costume inadvertently released a bizarre alien creature from within the Beyonder's machines. The symbiote formed Spider-man's black costume, enhancing his strength and abilities, while also subtly influencing his character with a more aggressive persona. This aggression led Spider-man to discover, with the aid of Reed Richards, the truth about the creature's intent to form a permanent bond with Peter Parker as host.

Using the immense vibrations of a churchbell to disrupt the creature, Peter Parker freed himself of it's influence, unwittingly delivering the symbiote to a man whose bitter hatred of both Parker and Spider-man would make the perfect host for the rejected symbiote. Eddie Brock welcomed the bond of the costume which transferred facsimilies of Spider-man's powers, and all the intimate secrets the wallcrawler had revealed to the creature.

As Venom; Brock possesses superhuman strength, speed, agility, wall crawling, web-slinging, and a host of abilities unique to the symbiote, like; adaptive camouflage and basic morphing, multi-forming tendrils, and the ability to bypass Spider-man's danger warning spidey-senses.

When Brock learnt of his development of cancer not even the symbiote could cure, he opted to sell the alien at a supervillain auction with the hopes of using the profits to attone for his criminal activities. Deeply conflicted, Brock attempted suicide after opting out of a plot to kill May Parker, but the once lethal protector survived once again to fullfil a second chance at redemption. A chance meeting with the mysterious Mr. Negative cures him of his ailments, and transforms the remnants of symbiote matter in his blood to turn him into the white Anti-Venom.

Math: Spider-man Ranking: Spider-man (#2)

What Went Down...
Spider-man beats Brock to the swanky apartment of Max Fischer, where the web-slinger confronts the corrupt businessman with the intent of interrogating to a confession. Enraged by the unscrupulous practises for the development of a hair growth formula, Spidey accidentally places Fischer in the sights of Venom!

Venom reveals to Spider-man the last pieces of the puzzle, which ended threats on he and his wife's lives. Spidey makes attempts to appeal to the moral fibre of an Eddie Brock who refused the company's bribes, but finds only the murderous intent of a lethal protector.

Unable to pacify Venom's vengeance, Spidey prepares to challenge his physical superior in battle. The symbiote-enhancements of Venom offers him no spidey-sense warning as a black blur charges toward him, smashing his body through the structure of Fischer's apartment. Spidey strikes back with an uppercut, but suffers the blow back ten-fold from the super-strong Brock!

Venom snatches Spider-man by the ankle and tosses him through a wall, sending Spidey helplessly tumbling through a hail of plaster, tile, and rubble! The web-slinger comes to rest in the bathroom where he launches a counter attack on the raging bull that is Venom, thrusting his kick into the jaw of his counterpart!

With the powerhouse on the backfoot, Spider-man takes full advantage with a hammer lock and drives Venom's fanged face into a nearby mirror! Spidey loiters deep within his own mind, contemplating the constant threat posed by his dark shadow, but before he crosses any moral boundary, a cry for help snaps him back.

The carnage wrought by Venom's charge had ignited an electrical fire in the apartment, threatening the safety of Max Fischer, who was helplessly webbed to a wall by Spider-man in his interrogation. The web-slinger turns his back on personal grudges, diving through the flames to rescue the vile businessman.

Venom marches furiously behind his arch-rival, but finds the intensity of the flames too damaging to the fire-sensitivity of his alien costume. As the flames engulf more of the apartment, Venom is forced to make a hasty escape, diving through a window to avoid the licking sting of growing inferno!

Spider-man successfully rescues Fischer and turns him over to police, while also delivering Eddie Brock's research to Bugle reporter, Ben Urich. The headlines tell the damning story of Devlin-Macgregor with a credit to the fallen reporter for his groundwork on the story, but for Venom, it is a hollow victory.

ARTWORK: Erik LarsenThe Hammer...
Mmm, it was a tough call this week, folks!
Both got their licks in, but we're going to equate Venom's retreat to a forfeit, and hand the eventual conclusion to Spider-man!

Regular readers will know this win comes two-fold as we put an Olympic pause to our post-One More Day Spider-Boycott, which has seen the top ranking 2007 character absent since the beginning of the year [last seen in the Infinite Wars' Marvel Knights: Spider-man #1 review].
This story was actually right at the top of the to-do list before we opted out of the Spider-business, so it seemed like a fitting choice, even if there isn't any particular connection to the themes we've explored around the Olympic Games.

Throughout August we've been watching developments in the three-times weekly Amazing with our regular instalments of the weekly shipping lists. It's been interesting to observe a swing that might very well have been planned from the beginning of Brand New Day, but seems to undermine much of the described intention to re-establish Spider-man with a new vibe and relatable world.

The reintroduction of Spider-man into the Marvel Universe has been a pleasant change, to be sure, but I'm not sure snipping the ties of matrimony have made Spidey's battles with Venom and Anti-Venom any more relatable. In fact, as welcome as the reintroduction of old foes into the mix is, it seems somewhat counter productive to the BND initiative to throw in a concept like Anti-Venom - which builds upon and defies so much of recognisable mainstream Spider-history.

So much about Brand New Day stirs debate about the validity of reboots in modern American comics.
I recently came across European sentiments which bordered on bemusement when attempting to decypher the history of Wonder Woman, which, really, is no more garbled than the Spider-man saga and it's clone-related twists, and Mephisto-dealing turns [for the worse].

DC Executive Editor, Dan DiDio, recently acknowledged the folly of constant reboots that had served to reinvigorate franchises for short periods, at best, and largely alienated the core audiences that support and care for characters. It was an admission that was welcome, even if it lacked sensitivity to the creative requirements of these lasting properties. Requirements that, as found by our unnamed European friend, could really benefit from some kind of tempered consideration for consistency.

Spider-man Family, from which our review is taken, is an anthology comic that reprints Spidey classics and presents new stories that don't appear to have any ties to a particular era of Spider-man.
This, embarassingly enough, along with titles like Marvel Adventures: Spider-man and Ultimate Spider-man seem to present the obvious counterpoint to any argument that suggests Brand New Day was a good, or necessary idea.

I could not argue against the fundamental principles of a reboot, or revamp.
Many fine examples exist to paint a positive reflection on a creative shake-up, but more often than not, I believe we see the great examples deliver something informed and based upon the logic established by history.
Grant Morrison's work on New X-Men is one such work that comes to mind, building upon the overdue progress of many facets of the X-brand, including; human-mutant relations, field operations of the team, the next generation, and personal struggles for characters like Cyclops, Beast, and Wolverine. Despite it's many asthetic shifts, everything about Morrison's work on X-Men, if not his superhero work in general, was firmly routed in logics derived from other references. It was change - but with an informed basis and exciting energy.

In the Monthly Punch-Up, we've watched as sales figures for the droll Spider-Reboot continue to gurgle downward. Early plunges mean the revamped book is already approaching figures that would traditionally be associated with yet another reboot, as has been seen in recent years with the erratic direction of the X-Men franchise, which has long since deconstructed anything contributed to the canon by Morrison and his collaborators.

I'll be very interested to continue to watch with some scepticism as we absorb the statistics for this month's issues of Amazing Spider-man. I wonder if the reappearance of familiar characters will sponsor a slight upward turn in sales, and if this will at all contribute to the inevitable return to pre-OMD Spider history.

The Infinite Wars is typically a site reluctant to summarily dismiss companies or creators, but with their recent history, that lingering lure of a time before Mephisto really does seem like an all too familiar construction for sales boosts. If it isn't a radical change from the norm, it's a radical change back to the norm.

In recently digesting massive amounts of Akira Toriyama's classic martial arts epic, Dragon Ball Z, one notes the joy of a simple formula of accumulation. While the organic nature of some devices might be questioned, Toriyama's approach to writing that he admits was an unplanned flow of consciousness, allows characters to develop relationships and mythology with a delightful consistency. Forward momentum allows for change, but constantly calls upon in-built logics.

Toriyama's work suffered from the crippling effects of rapid escalation, but with Marvel's disappointing promotions-heavy output, their problem feels far worse as consequence and history fade from relevance.

The happy medium was a foundation for my hopes to enter independent creation with Nite Lite Theatre. Robert Kirkman is now calling upon similar principles to encourage more big-name creators to turn to self-promotion and original intellectual properties.
Lost on some creators was the unspoken logic of Kirkman's call to arms, not just an effort to inform the obvious of many writers and artists who have already embarked on self-publishing, but as an effort to create a mass movement that would force change within the industry and fanbases that have been reluctant to sufficiently support independent enterprise. He suggests a movement not unlike the alliance of artists that allowed the birth of Image Comics in it's original inception/insurrection, from the shadows of the Marvel offices.

Creators like Brian Bendis; who in interviews showed no awareness or consideration for this subtext; have been reluctant to speak-out in favour of these efforts that buck against the treadmill trends of stories like BND.
It's undeniable that Kirkman's point relies heavily on mass commitment from already prominent names. It needs that level of dedication to steer away from the churning mass market of the Spider-mans and Batmans, but, if self-preservation can be put aside by some very bold men and women, we may yet see a new era that forces the kind of consideration we've described upon the companies that are again all too often relying on cheap tricks and poorly considered gimmicks.

Suffice to say, Amazing Spider-man and Brand New Day is yet to win us over, but as the book continues to return to the familiar, we hope this might eventually lead toward a stronger creative direction for Marvel overall. Anti-Venom? Believe it or not, I actually think this is a real step in the right direction!

The Fight: 4.5 The Story: 7

Symbiote naysayers need to pick this comic up!
Sean McKeever delivers one of the finest Venom stories I've ever read, balancing the lethal anti-hero qualities of the character, with the villainous aspects that antagonised Spider-man in Brock's early career! Our brief glimpses at the artwork provided by master penciler David Lafuente (with flourishes by Kano) cannot begin to communicate how beautiful the artwork in this story truly is! Everything comes together - even the unique lettering treatment from Nate Piekos - to tell a truly atmospheric tale that's both creepy AND mysteriouso! Shades of noir detective work make this not only a great Venom story, but also a terrific outing for Peter Parker! You'll find the collected digest in the Amazonian Gift Shoppe which also includes other fantastic tales - and - by using purchase links provided you help sponsor future entries in the Infinite Wars! Check it out!

Wednesday, August 27, 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...
JUN080188 AMBUSH BUG YEAR NONE #2 (OF 6) $2.99
JUN082321 DAREDEVIL #110 $2.99
JUN082221 GUERILLAS #1 (OF 9) $5.99
JUN082332 IMMORTAL IRON FIST #18 $2.99
MAR082250 KICK ASS #4 (MR) $2.99
JUN082350 MIGHTY AVENGERS #17 SI $2.99
JUN082351 NEW AVENGERS #44 SI $2.99
JUN080185 REIGN IN HELL #2 (OF 8) $3.50
JUN080197 SUPERMAN #679 $2.99
JUN082367 THUNDERBOLTS #123 SI $2.99
JUN080178 TRINITY #13 $2.99
JUN082328 WOLVERINE #68 $2.99
JUN082389 X-FORCE #6 DWS $2.99

The Deep Dish...
- JUN082308 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #569 NWD $2.99
ARTWORK: Erik LarsenARTWORK: Sal BuscemaIn a world where Norman Osborn is on the side of angels, and Spidey is a menace once more, Brand New Day might finally pay something back! Mmm, but I doubt it! The excessively familiar finally gets a twist as the Thunderbolts arrive in town to mess with Spidey -- while the web-slinger struggles with the onslaught of his former regular nemesis - Mac Gargan; aka Scorpion; aka Venom - and the return of the symbiote's previous owner - Eddie Brock! Brand New Day? It seems going back on the promises of the relaunch is slowly fostering our reinterest. How surprising.

- JUN080203 CATWOMAN #82 $2.99
ARTWORK: Darwyn CookeWe bid farewell to one of DC's strongest series for this decade!
Disappointing that Catwoman couldn't buck the trend of modern comics and continue far into the hundreds and beyond. Even more disappointing is that Darwyn Cooke, Ed Brubaker, and/or Cameron Stewart weren't on the menu to come back to send the title they relaunched off. Not sure what the reason behind this is, but with the stuff going on with Catwoman in Detective, you can understand her lightening her load!

If you didn't have a sense of foreboding heading into Final Crisis, the last will and testament might change that. It looks like the old guard are all potentially on the chopping block as we head into the life threatening struggle against Darkseid, Libra, and the new genesis of the New Gods!

Captain Cold and the Rogues aren't what you'd call heroes, but they find themselves on the receiving end of the same treatment from Libra and the new Society of Villains! Geoff Johns returns to the Flash characters for the first time in years, bringing with him a reminder that Scott Kolins really can draw quite well! Not a bad place to start before the Rebirth of Barry Allen!

Despite the hefty price tag, this one sounds like a lot of fun!
Grant Morrison and Dough Mahnke team to touch on yet another unaccounted legacy of the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, throwing Superman into the ranks of an army of his interdimensional counterparts with the fate of the multiverse on the line!

Writer Jeff Parker's final issue! Awww!

The price is right for this Marvel Universe recap that's sure to help bewildered fans much more than the sometimes misleading texts of Wikipedia. The spotlight is on the major events of the past five years giving you the chance to catch-up on Disassembled, Civil War, Death of Cap, and a host of other details leading to the Secret Invasion, unfortunately, including House of M. Bleh!

- JUN082360 NOVA #16 SI $2.99
- JUN082365 SHE-HULK 2 #32 SI $2.99

Infinite Wars favourite Super-Skrull finally enters the spotlight as the Secret Invasion rages on, but after the Skrull Empire shunned him in the wake of the Annihilation Wave, will the original power copycat aid his brothers in arms, or form unlikely alliances once again to thwart their plans? Nova and She-Hulk will soon find out!

Know Your Trade...
APR080231 METAL MEN HC $24.99
JUN082439 SHE-HULK TP VOL 06 JADED $14.99

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Jungle Olympics (Frew/King Features)
Where: Phantom #686 When: 1980
Why: Lee Falk How: Sy Barry

Strength: Phantom 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Phantom 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Phantom 4 (Athlete)
Stamina: Phantom 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Phantom 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Phantom 4 (Trained)
Energy: Phantom 2 (Projectile)

Math: The Phantom
Ranking: The Phantom (#37)

It's still August here on the Infinite Wars while we work through the backlog of updates, but right now the world is embraced in the excitement of the Beijing 2008 Paralympics! I like to think that counts for something as we exit our big month of sporting exploits and international awareness!

It would be unfair to summarily dismiss the world awareness of the big two comics publishers, but in preparing for an Olympic month, it was always my intention to bring another dose of the Phantom to the Infinite Wars; and how better to do that than a story that celebrates the Phantom's own Olympics?

My true motive, of course, was to find yet another opportunity to take a look at one of the oldest heroes in comics that fits the superhero mold.
It's a credit that somehow eludes the ghost who walks, whose print debut came in February 1936 - two years before Siegel and Shuster defined the archetype with Superman, in 1938.

Presumably this disconnect comes partly from the Phantom's connection to the adventure and crime stories of the pulp era. This era of mystery men and adventurers seemingly gave way to the definition of superheroes in 1939 with the progress of a post-Superman genre, and the the introduction of the Batman -- a character who owed inspiration to a host of predecessors, prominently including Lee Falk's Phantom, among others.

Falk attributed much of his inspiration to mythology and history, but it seems fair to assume that the tropes of globe trotting adventurers, popular in the pulps, led to the initial success of the Phantom as a newspaper strip.
Here we begin to uncover much of what has made the Phantom unique in the landscape of superhero comics where adventures typically centre around the United States, if not the specific printing hub of major companies, New York City.

The Phantom did enjoy his own regular travels to New York where he spent forty-two years courting his eventual wife, Diana Palmer. That said, like today's greatest contemporary comic writers; Falk was able to incorporate popular elements of the medium in a more organic tangent than lesser comparisons, using them as familiar elements to expand the core mythology of the character.

It's undeniable that Falk proved to be an amazingly progressive writer in general, but the timeline that gave the Phantom a few years before Superman, also distanced him from the immediacy of the Second World War. While the Phantom famously entered the fray in The Phantom Goes to War, the character managed to escape the jingoistic American nationalism that gripped superhero comics, and perhaps steered them toward their unwavering settlement in American locales.

The Phantom, of course, finds his home in the fictional African nation of Bangalla, where he resides in the secretive deep woods. Populating the surrounding jungles are a multitude of native tribes with their own customs and traditions, but common to them all, respect of the fabled keeper of jungle peace - Phantom!

One of the many traditions is that of the jungle olympics!
The event, every four years, brings together the many tribes to pit their warriors against one and other in extreme sporting events all for the prize of the Phantom trophy and the jewels it contains; paid by each tribe on admission.
Deadly slants on traditional Olympic stalwarts make the competition a novel spectator sport, featuring events like the flaming pole vault and the broad jump over poison vipers!

During the excitement of the deadly steeplechase -- thieves from outside the villages spy the unguarded bounty of the Phantom trophy. Their greed does not go unnoticed by the adopted son of the Phantom, Rex, who observes them from the vantage point atop his elephant, Joomba!

To avoid the complications of a witness the pair of thieves take the boy hostage, unaware of the wrath they will incur. Joomba lumbers through the jungle behind them vigilantly following Rex and leaving a clear trail for the ghost who walks!

When the thieves threaten to shoot the trailing elephant, Rex calls him off, leaving the beast to encounter the Phantom as he blazes through the jungle on his stallion, Hero. Unable to traverse the harrowing trails quick enough to catch the escaping thieves, the Phantom mounts Joomba to cut them off with a shortcut through the dense jungle.

Phantom quickly catches up with the thieves and uses Joomba's bulk to crush their getaway vehicle. It's the heel of his own boot that has the pleasure of toppling Bey, before his fist swats the gunman into unconsciousness, leaving the indelible imprint of the skull mark!

While the Phantom recovers the stolen prize jewels, the second thief drags Rex into the scrub by knife point. He demands the jewels in exchange for Rex, but just as the Phantom is about to comply, Baldy threatens to end the boy's life, halted only by the growling presence of Phantom's faithful wolf - Devil!

The Phantom orders Devil to deliver Hero with the jewels upon his back, while he scales the trees above to launch a sneak attack. The greedy Baldy finds himself confronted by Devil once more before the ghost who walks descends from the canopy above, and strikes the crook down with a devestating left hook!

With the jewels recovered, the Phantom returns to the Jungle Games to present the award to the winning trime, the proud Wambesi! The jungle is united in celebration, while the unconscious crooks await a Jungle Patrol escort!

While not the most impressive of Phantom stories; Jungle Olympics, originally printed as a newsstrip in 1979, builds on the progressive tradition established by Falk in the thirties of prominent and respectfully treated African characters. It is yet another contrast that seperates the Phantom from his more dominant iconic counterparts from the major American publishers.

One wonders how much the worldly awareness of the Phantom comics has contributed to the unusual divide in fanbases. For the most part, Phantom fans seem to typically be fierce loyalists not necessarily particularly interested in other comic book heroes. The largest of the Phantom's followers are, curiously enough, not connected to the character's origins, sprawling from portions of Europe, Asia, Scandanavia and Australia. On the flipside; as previously discussed [Phantom #972], the relative status of the Phantom as forgotten son of American comics sees Lee Falk's creation often shunned by an industry and fanbase ignorant of much of the character's history, more readily celebrating characters like The Spirit, Batman, and Superman.

In the last few decades American ventures in licensing have seen the character twisted and contorted in many ways that simply have no endeared to the existing fanbase. Moonstone is perhaps the most consistent presence in the US direct market, but after recently killing off the Phantom's wife, Diana Palmer-Walker, one wonders if they haven't burnt any goodwill felt by traditionalist fans.

Dynamite Entertainment's recent acquisition of the license created a stir, but with their intent to reinvent the character and position him in New York City, one can't help but feel yet another uninitiated American publisher is taking the character into realms that betray much of what we've described as making him great. The Phantom is a character that has manged to defy the cheap and nasty trends that dragged American comics into severe recession in the late-nineties, and of the two US independent options, it might be Moonstone that remains the lesser of two evils for traditionalist fans.

For me, the hope for Dynamite's project lies in the long overdue logic for the canonical introduction of a twenty-second Phantom.

It's now been over seventy years that we've followed the exploits of the twenty-first generation of the character. With an inbuilt design to continue the character's relevance through the decades without the uncomfortable folds of a shifting timescale, it's disappointing Falk himself was not able to capitalize and give the treatment the weight it deserves. Alex Ross, while a titan for his works from DC and Marvel, might not have the clout necessary to serve such reinvention. We will, of course, continue to watch with interest, whilst diving in to the classics that have made the Phantom a true icon of something unique.

Readers of the Chronicle Chamber website - the closest thing to an online hub for English-speaking Phantom fans - will know Frew recently celebrated it's sixtieth anniversary of Phantom publications. The Australian publisher specializes on licensing reprints of Lee Falk newsstrips, as well as stories from around the world. For fans of the classics, this arguably remains the best available option.

ARTWORK: John CassadayThe Fight: 3 The Story: 4
Winner: The Phantom

"Jungle Olympics" was later reprinted by Australian publisher, FREW, in the super-sized 1997 annual, #1156. Here, the story was printed for the first time without minor edits found in the 1980 #686 version (which plays back-up to "The Star of Bangalla") of the 1979 news strip. First-time original printings have been a tradition of the FREW line-up in the nineties and double-ohs, rectifying disappointing trends from early Australian printings.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

August in the Infinite Wars has been all about the Olympics, but on the Infinite Wars, often themes are quite as simple as that! If you've been following along you've digested massive amounts of our trademark penchant for numeration and dissection of qualities found inherent in the superhero comics medium.

The C2C has been no exception!
As we sift through a range of our previous reviews in an effort to fast track the updating process, we've also been deconstructing the tiers of combat that define the superhero genre. For those who missed out, look back through our features on the gold standard for: martial arts, superhumans, and superteams!

Character-driven urbana took control of comics post-recession in the early double-ohs, leaving the sweeping epics of the cosmic corners of the universe to settle quietly into more familiar heroics. Annihilation has to have been one of the key components to reviving Marvel's very specific and segregated take on the cosmic tier, while Infinite Crisis followed up Identity Crisis with a scale of catastrophe that threatened an entire multiverse!

Silver Surfer #13 (July 1988)
"Masques!" Englehart/Staton

The Kree Supreme Intelligence has fallen, and civil unrest over the choice of his successor has the blue and pink empire riddled with insubordinates. Fortunately for the empire and it's new ruler; Ronan, Supreme Accuser, is more than up to the task of preventing successful rebellion or assassination.

Too bad for Ronan he doesn't know the new Supreme Leader he defends so vigilantly is in fact a shape-shifting member of their sworn enemy -- the Skrull!

To distract Ronan from the developing Skrull plans, and to eliminate the Silver Surfer's allegiance with the Kree, the phony Supreme Leader sends Ronan on a mission to accuse and execute the Surfer. Ronan relishes the opportunity to clash with the power cosmic, but will the unaware Surfer be so full of glee?

Mighty Thor #465 (August 1993)
"Holy Sacrifice" Marz/Zick

When Adam Warlock took possession of the Infinity Gauntlet, he sought to attain ultimate indifference of judgment by expelling evil and good from his body.
These portions became the beings known as The Goddess and The Magus, respectively.

Though the Goddess was borne of good, she sought resolution against a sinful universe. Thus, she reached out to those mighty and of faith, and gathered them as her army against evil, and those who did not believe.

Though much of the Skrull race was persuaded by the Goddess' touch, the Super-Skrull was not so easily manipulated. Disgusted by the mania of peace that had been bestowed upon his people, he sets out on a mission of war.
A mission that would bring him into conflict with one of the Goddess' most powerful followers -- The Mighty Thor!

Marvel versus DC #3 (April 1996)
"The Showdown of the Century!" Marz/Castellini

Life in the DC and Marvel universes has always been tough, but when cosmic events conspire to endanger both, the heroes of both Earths face a secret crisis that could destroy them all.

Before time two cosmic entities existed, sexless brothers representing the two sides of all that is, was, and will ever be.

Turmoil between the two brought about an end to things as they once were, but in the aftermath their energies were dissipated into space, becoming part of the multi-verse.
Cosmic instabilities, as a result of the actions of various beings of different realities, created instabilities. After eons of recollecting their fragmented thoughts, the two brothers turned, and remembered their existence.

Now they pit their warriors against one and other.

She-Hulk #8 (December 2004)
"Engagement Ring" Slott/Bobillo

She-Hulk, having been appointed to the Magistrati, is employed to travel to the planet Skardon, where might makes right.

There she is to employ her strength as She-Hulk to battle Tryco Slatterus, the Champion of the Universe.
Entering the ring for legal battle, She-Hulk attempts to succeed where the Gladiator, Adam Warlock, Beta Ray Bill, the Silver Surfer, and Drax have all failed.

Needless to say, things do not go well, and the fight is stopped before She-Hulk is pounded into paste.
She-Hulk uses the brawn of her legal brain to request a rematch, as she claimed the fight had been stopped while she was still able to go on. Thus, she is granted an 'appeal' in three months.

Now she just has to figure out how to avoid that paste situation...

Annihilation #4 (January 2007)
"Revelation" Giffen/Divito

When the expansion of our universe comes to impede on the dimensional space of the anti-matter universe called The Negative Zone; Annihilus, it's mighty ruler, marches an army of insectoid creatures in an act of war, thus beginning the path of the Annihilation Wave.

The Wave moves through the universe punishing both the ill-prepared, and those unwilling to pool their forces. Skrull, Kree, Nova Corps, and many other groups, are left decimated, leaving certain key figures from all to rally their forces in an unlikely alliance for the greater good of the entire universe.

Thanos, having allied himself with the destructive Annihilation Wave, sets about facilitating the creation of a weapon designed to imprison and harness the energies of the cosmic world devourer, Galactus. Fortunately, Drax is among the warriors pledged to the resistance, all too ready to fullfil his destiny of destroying Thanos. Great news for the good guys, until Thanos has a change of heart, and quickly goes from harbinger to saviour... Uh oh!

Saturday, August 23, 2008


a-ha - Take On Me (1985)

August is almost-Olympics month on the Infinite Wars! To reflect the spirit of the games the Smash Hits will be dedicated to artists from around the world! Artists like Norway's masters of synthpop, a-ha!

Tracks like the a-ha classic have sponsored a mass revival of feelgood kitsch classics from the eighties pop scene, and thrust inspiration into the artists of the double-ohs. I think it's very fair to say many contemporary artists fall considerably short of their inspirations, resting on the fad of nostalgia as an easy out.

a-ha's technologically confronting video for Take On Me was anything but a lazy gimmick! An extensive rotoscope process merged had drawn, sketchy animation, with live-action content to create a conceptual masterpiece imitated and admired even in this age of CG animation and computer effects!

For comics fans the significance of the video might at first seem minimal, but as an piece of artwork inspired by the medium we love, it marks a fine ambassadorial entry into the enticement of comic book culture in the mainstream. It's a testament to the artform, which, clearly, crosses the boundaries of language and creed to present a universal piece of entertainment.

Say what you will about the legitimate artistry of a-ha's pop riffs -- nothing can take away from the swell of pride we should feel for this advertisement for the comics medium. Bravo, fellows!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Traitor to the Cause (Marvel)
Onslaught: X-Men #1 When: August 1996
Why: Scott Lobdell & Mark Waid
How: Adam Kubert & Dan Green

The Story So Far...
When the Juggernaut falls from the heavens to crash land in Hoboken, it begins the mystery of a new villain who will attack the X-Men at their most personal core. The entity called Onslaught contacts Grey in an effort to recruit her into his mission to destroy the divide between humans and mutants, but before she can submit, the Juggernaut reveals to her the true identity of the armored monster.

Having overcome the mutant forebarer Post; the X-Men find themselves summoned to Charles Xavier's headquarters when the search for an attacking Juggernaut is called off. Little do they realise the Juggernaut is trapped within the crimson gem of Cytorrak sitting on a desk right under their nose, and the true enemy that endangers all of them is right before them -- Professor X!

Tale of the Tape...
ARTWORK: Adam KubertARTWORK: Frank QuitelyStrength: Onslaught 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Dark Beast 6 (Genius)
Speed: Cannonball 5 (Superhuman)
Stamina: Onslaught 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Ice Man 7 (Malleable)
Fighting Ability: Wolverine 6 (Warrior)
Energy Power: Onslaught 6 (Mass Destruction)

- When Magneto, inspired by a near death experience, declared war on humanity, it prompted the initiation of the Magneto Protocols. From his orbital station, Avalon, the master of magnetism plunges the Earth into darkness with an EMP that destroys the protocol's electro-magnetic fence around the Earth, along with all electronic technology on the planet. In an effort to prevent further escalation, Professor Charles Xavier leads the X-Men on a suicide mission to Avalon.

In the final confrontation, Magneto mercilessly rips the adamantium from Wolverine's skeleton [X-Men #25] - forcing Professor X to resort to drastic measures. In a spontaneous assault, the Professor uses his telepathic powers to rip the malice and malcontent from Magneto's mind, reducing him to a catatonic state in the process.

Unbenknownst to the Professor, the guilt felt over his attack on his former friend festers in his subconscious, merging with Magneto's ill will to form a gestalt entity borne of his negativity. Onslaught - a creature of mass psionic ability - possesses much of the Professor's telepathic strengths, without any of the inhibition. Clad in powerful psionic armor modelled after Magneto's uniform; Onslaught is also highly resistant to physical attack.

- The X-Men are: Jean Grey, Cyclops, Storm, Bishop, Wolverine, Gambit, Ice Man, Cannonball, and Dark Beast.

The emergence of the mutant X-gene brings with it mixed blessings as humanity finds itself confronted by the next stage in human evolution. As individuals begin to manifest inherent superhuman abilities, two men; Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr; find themselves at a philosophical crossroads where education would be concerned. In contrast to his counterpart, Xavier uses his family fortune to found the Charles Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, using his knowledge and powers to train and educate mutant pubescents struggling with their abilities.

Xavier's original class consisted of Scott Summers, Jean Grey, Bobby Drake, Hank McCoy, and Warren Worthington III, but would soon expand exponentially proportionate to team's activities as a covert paramilitary force protecting humanity from those who would misuse their power. Among the prominent new recruits; Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Kitty Pryde, Storm, Rogue, Havok, Dazzler, Gambit, Emma Frost, and for a short time, even Magneto.

Math: X-Men (Ttl) Onslaught (Avg) Ranking: Wolverine (#6)

What Went Down...
Scouring the grounds of the X-Mansion, the team is gathered to Xavier's study by telepathic call from their mentor. Most of the X-Men are unaware that they are about to walk into a trap that will test everything they believe, but Jean Grey, having encountered a traumatized Juggernaut, knows the horrible truth.

Maintaining a telepathic shield around her mind, Jean Grey probes at the recesses of Professor Charles Xavier's mind, searching desperately for hope, as the jaded mentor delivers his epiphany to the gathered inner circle of X-Men.
While the Professor informs his students that he has lost the faith, Jean Grey notices an artifact easily mistaken for a paperweight on Xavier's desk, but in actual fact, the crimson gem of Cytorrak -- powersource of the Juggernaut!

Before she can even hope to free the trapped soul inside, a psychadelic array of psionic energies fills the space all around a startled Jean Grey. She emplores the Professor to overcome the darkness that has engulfed his heart, but is quickly muzzled by the brute force of Xavier's mental attack.

The X-Men gather to aid their suddenly convulsing teammate, blissfully unaware of the telepathic exchange going on, at least until Cannonball calls their attentions to the chair where the Professor once sat, but now crouches the hulking red and purple mass that is -- Onslaught!

The looming visage of this mighty psionic warrior reveals to the startled X-Men it's origins as a manifestation of Xavier. He compells them to follow him in his unabated march on humanity, to follow as they had once the dream of peaceful coexistence envisioned by the Professor.

When the mutants prove unconvinced by his claims, with the merest of thoughts he attacks their hidden fears, reducing Wolverine to a confused animal, Ice Man to an uncontrollable mass, and Storm a frightened child buried by rubble.

Acting on instinct, Cyclops catches Onslaught offguard with a high powered optic blast! He speaks for the entire team when he warns that Xavier would know all too well that, inspite of their reluctance, they would stand united against him.

Enraged by their opposition, Onslaught unleashes his psionic powers, blasting the gathered X-Men with a wave of raw telekinetic energy, whilst very nearly divulging the hidden portion of his gestalt psyche -- the mind of Magneto!

With the team toppled; Onslaught uses his powers to force the X-Men into a frozen state, while he levitates and phases free of the mansion, intent on recruiting a powerful young mutant to fund his machinations: Franklin Richards!

While Onslaught disappears to Four Freedoms plaza to tempt the son of Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman in the guise of a child -- Gambit uses his ability to generate bio-kinetic energy to charge the mansion floor, freeing the team of their mental hold with the resulting explosion! The team regroups to swap notes and prepare to face the biggest challenge in their history...

ARTWORK: Adam KubertThe Hammer...
Awww! Admittedly, in what was probably fodder for a quick fix, I give you your crossover prompting winner, Onslaught! Why stretch it out to a fully fledged entry, you ask? Well, aside from the sheer quantity of information attached to the battle, I suppose after declaring X-Men 2: Clone Wars the greatest comic book game of all time, I just wanted to jump on the X-horse while I was in the mood!

The mood to talk X-Men is a pretty rare occurance around the Infinite Wars, and in an ironic twist, you can probably trace that prejudice back to Onslaught.
In a decade where the crux of the X-Men story was the fortune of their survival - baggage accumulated through annual crossover events culminated with the Onslaught saga. So convoluted was the story that it managed to pressure cook not only the X-books, but also the entire Marvel Universe, giving way to Heroes Reborn, a reboot that segregated the core heroes in a parallel universe that left them under the creative direction of former Image founders; Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld.

I have to confess a fondness for some of the early/mid nineties crossovers!
In their unabashed popcorn, stories like; Maximum Carnage, Fatal Attractions, and even Heroes Reborn, fullfil the joyous mixed bag of action introduced by eighties crossover events, with the sense of lasting consequence that has become a stalwart of their modern counterparts (ie; Civil War).

I'm not sure I necessarily regard Onslaught as particularly awful.
It's dominance of the Marvel Universe was certainly frustrating at the time, and it's penchant for taking itself far too seriously retroactively feels sophmoric, given the clunky quality of writing, but -- informed readers will probably have been able to digest portions fitting to their own interests -- a method that makes the story much easier to appreciate for it's positives.

As a historical checkpoint Onslaught deserves credit for it's big crunch solve for a handful of unfortunate lingering plotlines. Teenaged Tony Stark is one of the key errors of judgment that was able to be phased out as a direct result of Onslaught and the subsequent Heroes Reborn reboot. Acting as a soft comparison to DC's linewide Crisis wipe, the aftermath of Onslaught also gave way to a return of traditional design sense that had also been betrayed by the illconceived, gimmick-driven shifts of the nineties.

These Marvel improvements didn't come without a cost, and one might be inclined to say the years of devolution that followed for the X-Universe was probably the price paid for a better Marvel.

Mired in a recurring string of reboots that continues today, the X-Men seem to be unable to escape the albatross of nostalgia beats from periods of previous success. A bright spark of improvement during an experimental post-movie period saw visionary writer, Grant Morrison, lead the reinvention of X-Men for the modern era.

Unfortunately, as with the short sighted design of Onslaught and other nineties X-overs; governing wisdom seems to believe hope for the franchise lies in constant redux and structural shake-ups.

The evolution of mutant society established under Morrison was completely deconstructed with works immediately preceeding, peaking with Decimation, a story which reduced the mutant population to an estimated one hundred and ninety-eight.

Erratic betrayals of consistency like this that have quite probably left the X-Men years away from retribution. No matter how unpopular, I cannot entertain the notion that Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men submitted anything more than repetitive backtracking and excessively familiar cues, (from the seventies, up to the nineties), that have contributed to the stagnancy of the brand.

The Infinite Wars continues to watch on with jaded bemusement as Marvel rolls out a series of silhouetted promotional art for yet another 2009 push for the brand. Cheap tricks and gimmicks feel like another misstep in the opposite direction, but then, on the surface, Morrison and Quitely's leather jacketted trendy X-Men probably appeared the same. We shall see...

The Fight: 2.5 The Issue: 3.5

Missed out on Onslaught the first time around? Found yourself wondering what the deal with that big guy in Marvel vs Capcom was? You can find the "epic" editions of Onslaught wrapped up in two volumes on Amazon! Better yet, by using online purchase links provided on the site, you not only get the convenience of online shopping, but also help sponsor future entries in the Infinite Wars! Looking for more X-Men and other reads? The Infinite Wars Amazonian Gift Shoppe contains a range of collections containing issues previous reviewed in the Secret Archives, and other recommended reads! Booyah!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Trash cans and crotch punches -- Mortal Kombat begins for Jimmy Palmiotti and the DC Universe!

A final crisis may be brewing in the DC universe, but before the heroes of of the DC world can put their own problems to bed, they'll take on the warriors of another realm, in Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe!

Over the past few months the Infinite Wars has watched with keen interest as this surprising crossover unfolds. As a fan of both Mortal Kombat and DC comics, it was a very special honor and privilege when we were granted the opportunity to correspond with Midway and [one of] the contributing DC writers, Jimmy Palmiotti!

The New York native appeared on a recent edition of the offical MKvsDC podcast, to talk about his history as a comics writer, and the writing process. We continued down this line of questioning to probe for even more details about the formulation of the game, it's content, and the nature of the plot that will bring these two universes into mortal kombat!

- [Infinite Wars] An easy place to start: How did yourself [and Justin Gray] become DC's men for the job?
[Mr. Palmiotti] Well, this was a first mash-up for the Mortal Kombat franchise, as well as the first DC videogame mash-up, and everyone on both sides wanted to make sure that the DC characters stayed true to their voices that fans have come to know and love. That’s why DC recommended us for the job. Midway hired us and we went to Chicago to sit with both sides to work out story, tone and everything else that came up, and the end product is a very loyal take on both licenses, and how they meet. It’s pretty cool.

- The last game in the [MK] series created a stir amongst fans for it's
approach to story driven content. Did you receive any broad direction based on recent games? Were you involved in the decision to remove the game from central canon?

We created a story that worked with these two worlds colliding and we left it up to the Midway people, and their experience of how to approach the game, once we had the spine worked out. I don’t think this game will get too many negative reactions once people actually sit down and play it.
"... for the teases you have seen,
there is 80% of the game you have no
clue about till you put it in and play it."
Right now a lot has not been revealed and people are guessing what's going to happen and a lot of their guessing is way off.

Remember, people that live with and love these characters created this game. Nothing is done half assed here.

- Jim Kreuger somewhat infamoulsy provided writing for the 2005 MK
spin-off, Shaolin Monks. Were you aware of Jim's work? Did you pick up any useful pointers from ground he broke before tackling the project?

Not a thing, wasn’t aware of his involvment one bit, but that said, I think it's pretty cool and Jim is a friend and good writer, so I'm gonna find him and pick his brain.
Whatever was picked up and used from Jim's work was probably applied on the Midway side of things.

- How familiar were you with the Mortal Kombat characters and universe
when heading into the project? Did this knowledge/naivity help when approaching the results and reactions of the DC characters?

Justin Gray and I knew their universe pretty well, but know the DCU 100 times more because we write these characters daily. Whatever we didn’t know, Ed [Boon] and his crew was happy to fill us in on.
This is an amalgam, and a fine example of synchronicity on every level. A team effort that will be seen and enjoyed by millions. We had a blast working with everyone and San Diego couldn't have been more fun, working the game with Ed Boon and the media.
It’s nice to have a product you are proud of and going out there and pimping it.

- Initial fan reaction was somewhat negative due to the differing moral
codes of each universe. How much was the nature of violence and heroism in each brand considered, and was this a conceited opportunity to present a juxtaposition of styles and themes?

[Laughs] I always laugh at the people having negative reactions so early in the game. It's like reviewing half a movie. All that matters is the end product, and that will blow people away. We did everything we could to keep the game play and characters loyal as hell to their origins.
There is plenty of violence and heroism and bloodshed and madness.

- The DC cast is coming to MK's turf. From a comic writer's perspective, what are some of the MK characters you think translate especially well into the four-colour format? Which MK character could you imagine writing in an on-going series?
All of them work because sitting down with Ed Boon and his crew showed Justin and I there is a total feel for a back history of each and every character, and they know every single thing about them.
I would like to write them all as a team and then hit on each and every one of their origins separately. To me, they are equally interesting and really, if I said I liked one more than the other, a portal would open up in my studio and a power blast would rip my spine out of my body, I just know it!!!

- A collector's edition comic book was announced at San Diego, ushering in the return of John Tobias, on pencils. Will you be writing the book? Will the comic offer an opportunity to expand the context of the event? Will it include a broader view of the DC Universe?
Justin and I were not able to do the book, but we are excited as hell that the guys responsible for the game are penning the book.
"The Mash-Up villain: ... will we get
to see them in their individual
contexts?" "Yes, you do, and then
the madness begins."
What could be better?
They know their stuff and I am excited to see what they do and to see John [Tobias]'s art again.

It’s a cool project.

- Given MK's suitability for the medium, and DC's current crop of battle-based comics; some might be surprised a promotional series wasn't conceived to coincide with the game. Was there a deliberate reason not to expand into a mini-series? Could this be a possible option in the future?
That's out of our hands. What Justin and I did was the nuts and bolts, and all the other stuff has its own life.
To tell the truth, my main job right now is to do press and make people aware how awesome this all is, and push the game as best as we can.

- Story and character has always been vital to the MK franchise. Is there any danger of the comic taking plot out of the game? How much can we expect from story modes, character endings, and any additional plot-driven interactions?
We aren’t writing the comic, so I have no answer to that. Sorry.

- The Mash-up villain: What prompted the "Amalgamation"? Presumably you can't reveal who the characters are, but will we get to see them in their individual contexts?
Yes, you do, and then the madness begins.
Like I said before, for the teases you have seen, there is 80% of the game you have no clue about till you put it in and play it.

- Returning to the clash of styles; characters like Captain Marvel and Green Lantern have been confronting announcements for some fans.
Can you elaborate at all, in a broad sense, how their characters connect to an event like this?

They are vital parts of the DCU and the legacy characters, as well.
You need these guys in the game and as you can see by what was revealed already, each and every one of them serves a purpose in the story, and the best part is, we get to play as them.

This is a giant event in the DCU and how could you not have a Green Lantern involved?

- After playing the game, hopefully fans from both sides will be able to jump on board with each franchise. Is there any story or series you could recommend for MK fans looking to jump into the DCU? What about some of yours and Justin's work, for those interested in your voices?
Well, we have a Superman/Supergirl series coming out in November, as well as a Terra series and Powergirl series in January. Our regular book is Jonah Hex. While it’s not too vital to the game, I suggest a casual reader go out to a bookstore, or comic shop, and hit the trade books. Look through them and see what appeals to you.

Frank Miller's Dark Knight, Mark Waid's Superman and Flash, Gail Simone's work, etc. There are a lot of great books out there right now.

- Finally: Is it true you're going to appear as a hidden character in the game? Can I expect to throw down a trashcan beating on Sub-Zero? Do you have magic powers, and will this be the context by which you beat up Superman?
I am not allowed to tell, but if I am, my powers would be exactly that. Trashcan beating, throwing the all-powerful middle finger, and the power punch to the nuts.

Mr. Palmiotti, thank you very much for your time!

Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe is scheduled to hit stores November 10, available for the Playstation 3 and XBox 360! A limited collector's edition comes in a velvet box and includes; a print, t-shirt, making of DVD, and sixteen page comic book drawn by returning series co-creator, John Tobias!

For more on Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe, check out the official website, and our series of character spotlights and discussions: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, clues special, bonus one, two, three, and four!