Friday, August 01, 2008

MONTHLY PUNCH-UP #32 (August 2008)

We may be running weeks behind schedule, but that doesn't mean we're any less enthused about this being a month of championship world unity!

Yes! It's the first Summer Olympic Games experienced by the Infinite Wars, and under different circumstances, we'd be launching into our own month of superhuman feats and competition. Alas, it was not to be. However, just because we're burnt out from the summer movie season (and life's wacky little struggles), it doesn't mean we can't still enjoy statistical merriment and combative comparison!

Two-and-a-half years later, the Infinite Wars have been on quite a voyage of discovery! Exploring the mechanics of the artform and industry has sometimes garnered truly insightful results, but on other occasions, we've always had the slightly less insane comfort of statistics to fall back on. I like to think we're part-sport league; part-discussion blog; part-education forum; and part-latenight schpiel of ill-conceived random words generated by a complex one-touch program manned by a typing monkey.

In our musings we have learnt one simple, undeniable truth: superhero comics are sports entertainment.

Before superheroes were the subject of multi-million dollar epics and critically acclaimed cinematic masterpieces, they were the dirty little secret of literature.
In the struggle for deserved recognition, it was often the poetic declaration of these characters as modern mythology that finally won over the occasional pseudo-intellectual and scholar. A fair, if occasionally desperate example, to be sure! Not unlike the athletes of the ancient Olympic games who were also exaggerated to mythological status; these characters have earnt their way back into the public spotlight through the art of combat!

Organized sport compiles athletes into competition that expresses itself through the iconography of trophees, belts, or crowns. They signify a simple narrative that rests solely on the desire to be the best, even if the path negotiated is filled with twists, turns, and entirely circumstantial results.

I think of boxing, where title matches are negotiated by managers protecting their investments. I think of sprinting, where record breakers might falter in the championship race. I think of cycling, suffering a rainy day with the wrong tyres. These truths all steer the sequential story of athletes who serve as little more than characters in a series that might be called NFL, Premier League, or Summer Olympics.

Superhero comics are built on the same principles of fantastic feats and competition, only, instead of titles and championships to define the success of characters, there's an artform imitating life. The best don't win every fight, but for comics fans, it's often the ride of battle and the accompanying personal struggles that make monthly superheroes worth the while.

By putting superhero battles in a sporting context, I hope the Infinite Wars has enhanced the reading experience. We don't pretend to ever hope to discover the definitive best of the superheroes, but by tallying each review into a larger whole, I hope you can enjoy our statistics in the same way you would a sport league. As an additional stake, a differing reference, and a bit of fun.

As it's Friday - the holy day of fights on the Infinite Wars - we shall forego the quick fix so you can look forward to a complete entry some time after this one. What of, however, the fun of the sporting context? What can our two-and-a-half years of stats tell us as we look forward to global competition at the Olympics?

Here on the Infinite Wars we have a great appreciation for international flair in our comic book superheroes. Progressive writers have developed the modern superhero into a cypher for something universal, but it's always a point of interest when a character can be created to touch upon something unique to a certain part of the world.

Len Wein and Dave Cockrum have to be recognised among the greats to cast a net outside the United States, responsible for the formation of an international cast of mutants in 1975's; Giant-Size X-Men #1. Since then, many writers have continued the tradition, introducing characters as the norm, contrary to the golden age of internationals, who served more as curio, than subject.

To acknowledge the Olympics we've turned to our cumulative Super Stock to isolate the contenders for regional championships! You already know the title holders; you've already seen them pictured at the top of the page! Lets, however, take a closer look at the world in comics:

Cosmic champion: #4 Superman (Krypton)
Contenders: #14 Venom (Unknown); #19 Thor (Asgard); #27 Silver Surfer (Zenn-La); #28 Goro (Outworld); #39 Martian Manhunter (Mars)

Perhaps the ultimate metaphor for the immigrant: Superman is both the archetypal superhero, and the precedent for the storied tale of a survivor from a distant land. Comic book history owes much of it's origins to the fantasy of the American dream, as it was perceived through the eyes of children of immigrants.

Superman creators; Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; were both sons of Jewish European immigrants, the first generation to be born in North America (Cleveland and Toronto, respectively). Theirs is the legacy that is said to have touched upon most superhero characters in some form, creating and instilling a sense of introspection that has since been far surpassed by their 'man of steel.'

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, two more famed son of similar origins, used characters like the Silver Surfer to tell reflective and melodramatic tales of human society's penchant for self-destruction. In this way, the alien characters that populate the superhero landscape are strangely relevant to all who read them.

African Champion: #13 Black Adam (Khandaq)
Contenders: #24 Storm (Kenya); #37 The Phantom (Bangalla); #101 Black Panther (Wakanda); #276 Isis (Egypt); #368 Man-Ape (Wakanda)

As an international myself, I often wonder of the motivations behind the creation, or omission, of characters from around the globe. There's a strange sort of negligence when it comes to representing even other portions of the Western world, in superhero comics, that begs pondering.

I've rather enjoyed Grant Morrison's discussions about The Super Young Team, appearing in Final Crisis. Though undoubtedly stemming from an outside perspective; the Scot does well to draw upon iconography and social concepts familiar in Japanese pop culture, spinning them out into a broad touchstone for something slightly different in the American superhero landscape.
While questionable as an effort to expand the impact of his story, the concepts are none the less significant as a very simple method of introducing a logical global consequence to planetary crossover stories. It is a method other writers seem curiously unable, or unwilling, to indulge in.

Then again, as described previously, the caucasian American male superhero has really become a cypher far greater than the sum of those parts. This model has boiled down to become a generic vehicle for ideas that expand relevance to all of us.
Criticisms for cultural specifics melt away when a character like Spider-man can transcend his origins to tell a universal morality tale of responsibility with power; or Batman a very basic story of cause and effect.

In compiling this list, I noticed Africa to be suspiciously neglected, particularly given the unique qualities and history of this exotic continent.
Perhaps it is a world relationship still too raw to be breached en masse by the Western controlled medium of superhero comics. Or, given that four of our six African characters hail from fictional nations, perhaps it's just too distant for many of us to truly grasp what's necessary to purvey characters from these nations.

What can be commended is the quality of these characters.
The Phantom and Black Panther represent progressive steps in enlightened recognition of Africa and it's inhabitants. Quietly and delicately they represent the rightings of certain wrongs, not necessarily through gradious gestures of ceremonious equality, but through tempered and considerate storytelling. Stories that honor Africans by being quality works first, and African tales second.

European Champion: #42 Wonder Woman (Themyscira)
Contenders: #43 Dr. Doom (Latveria); #47 Elektra (Greece); #55 Morbius (Greece); #57 Union Jack (United Kingdom); #58 Spitfire (United Kingdom); [#62 Batroc (France)]

It's an interesting relationship Europe has with Western fiction.
Late last year [C2C: Back in the USSR] we touched on the tradition of the European villain, which can be found in our European rankings with Dr. Doom and Morbius.

The shadow of war remains cast over a medium that's so often been reduced to iconoclastic expressions of nationalism during war times. The Nazi and the Communist are tried and true villains that continue to emerge popularly in modern fiction, albeit, often as a parody of the original threat.

It is with disappointing resonance that the Russian villain be recounted now at a time where the superpower again appears to be cast as antagonist in American eyes. In the spirit of the games, and the escapist nature of this fiction, I wouldn't care to weigh in on current affairs, but it is interesting to observe the world perception of these most unfortunate events.

Europe, despite having a strong tradition of comics as an artform, obviously has minimal influence on the characters featured on the Infinite Wars, which typically come from Marvel and DC. The United Kingdom also adds a unique flavour to the European representation, although, Jack Staff is as yet the only strictly British publication to appear on the Infinite Wars.

Asian Champion: #16 Ryu (Japan)
Contenders: #29 Noob Saibot (China); #36 Dhalsim (India); #64 R. Mika (Japan); #80 Sagat (Thailand); #89 Fei Long (Hong Kong)

Like Europe, our representation of Asia isn't entirely fair.
The popularity of printed comic book culture in Asian centres surpasses almost anything imagined in the West.
Japanese Manga remains mostly absent from the Infinite Wars, crossing over only with video game properties like Street Fighter, which signifies the only original Japanese property previously featured.

Black Bolt [#98] is the highest ranked Asian from American comic books, originally hailing from the Inhuman's Great Refuge; a city once hidden in the Himalayas called Attilan. Less nebulous is the short lived Japanese HYDRA assassin, Gorgon [#106].

The popularity of Japanese manga continues to have great exposure in Western markets as animé continues it's dominance as the mainstream standard of animation. Much of this is presumably owed to the resurging animé boom of the late nineties, led by penetrative properties like; Pokémon, Dragon Ball Z, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and other.

Americas Champion: #1 Batman (United States)
Contenders: #2 Spider-man (United States); #3 Iron Man (United States); #5 Hulk (United States); #6 Wolverine (Canada); [#7 Captain America (United States)]

Oh, is anyone really surprised by this?
Batman resumes his dominance of the Infinite Wars, bouncing off the success of The Dark Knight to return to the top of our cumulative rankings. You might say he's the Infinite Wars, DC, and World champion, as well as topping the milieu of heroes based in North America.

Already discussed is the modern genericism of America and the American nationality in comics. It's impossible to ignore the details that make these characters and stories very much part of an American canon, but often these superheroes are able to transcend their origins to apply to broader ideals around the globe.

It's interesting that arguments often cite the value of Marvel's realism, which places the majority of their characters in recognisable New York locales. This, of course, does not apply to the international reader, who may or may not find more level footing with the fantasy of the stylized worlds of Gotham, or Metropolis.

#1 (-) The People's Team
#2 (+1) The X League
#3 (+3) The Revolution
#4 (+3) Makin' it w/Cap'n
#5 (-1) The Corps
#6 (+4) The Knights of Right
#7 (-5) The Black Death
#8 (+1) The Legends
#9 (-1) Divine Judgment
#10 (+1) X-Party
#11 (+1) The Ghost Walkers
#12 (-7) The DC Illuminati
#13 (-) The Elite Fleet

Join the list! Draft a team today!
2008 Fantasy League...
Ladies and gentlemen, a round of applause! For the the third month on record, Rokk and The People's Team have done it again!

Last month's message was one of hope, but by drafting Batman early in the year, Rokk was ready and waiting to capitalize on the feverish reception that surrounded The Dark Knight. July on the Infinite Wars reflected this with our own indulgence of several features starring Batman and the Joker.

Superman, Nightwing, and Bucky, each bring points to The X League and Revolution, who represent a relatively bouyant month in spite of a narrow focus during another slow month of production. The Super Stock proved particularly forgiving in the shuffle, despite further punishing luckless teams who languish at the bottom.

The message for low ranked teams remains ambiguous as the Infinite Wars economy suffers from continued delays in content. Though the Olympics was originally to be a fourth successive theme [following Iron Man, Hulk, and Batman], this has since been dropped. While this prevents recession relief for Fantasy Leaguers, it does open the competition back up to a wider variety of content!

Potential good news for the Ghost Walkers will be an effort to embrace the Olympic spirit by dropping Spider-Boycott banners from posts this month. Whether or not this is the beginning of a return for Spidey, remains to be seen, particularly with interest in the title flagging.
We'll probably also take a break from Mortal Kombat, although, this remains one of the more vital investments, with an Infinite Wars interview with Jimmy Palmiotti coming late in the month!

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 August 26!
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 32
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.

(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%
(Jun 08) Amazing Spider-man #561 BND [72,372] -2.22%
(Jun 08) Amazing Spider-man #562 BND [71,409] -1.33%
(Jun 08) Amazing Spider-man #563 BND [70,792] -0.86%

If I had to guess, I'd say we're starting to see Amazing numbers settle into the rhythm that will define the series. A continuous decline seems to be an expectation of modern comics, so the slowed momentum seems like a relatively good thing. If this were an X-title I'd be dryly awaiting the next arbitrary revamp, but the Spider-offices might yet have an ironic conviction about their Brand New Day predicament.

Worth noting is the fact that Amazing #563 (ranked 20) managed to beat out the debut issue of DC's latest weekly series, Trinity.
The DC title debuted to the tune of 357 less registered issues, but this deficit may be attributed to return adjustments in the formula that similarly affected accuracy in the ranking of multiple issues of Countdown.

The 2008 Top Five...
ARTWORK: Jim CheungJuly didn't do a lot for the Joker's prospects, but Batman's 2008 dominance was extended in the wake of The Dark Knight. The Batman film, still in cinemas, is currently vying for profit records previously held by the epic James Cameron drama, Titanic.

It's hard to say for sure whether or not the Batmania will be left behind, but more on that in a moment. It is, of course, the month of the summer games of the twenty-ninth olympiad! We had hoped to cram our month with a bunch of sporting features, but if you're reading this in August, it's at least two-thirds into the month. So it's all up for grabs!

ARTWORK: Ed McGuinness#1 Batman (-) (29) (DC)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Joker]
Win Percentage: [68.57%] Features: [35]
2006: [#1] 2007: [#2] Cumulative: [#1]

The Dark Knight
is the movie of 2008!
Batman's cross media dominance looks to continue with a string of projects planned from now, into 2009. November will see Batman return to the screenin a new DC team-up cartoon called Brave and the Bold! Also set to hit stores around the same time is the eagerly anticipated crossover smash-up, Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe! Don't think that's the only opportunity you'll have to take control of the Dark Knight Detective, though!

Hovering in the distant future is a spin-off licensed game following on from events in The Dark Knight, as well as another Joker-centric game, Arkham Asylum. The latter throws players into an atmospheric free-roaming environment that will allow Batman to track the Joker through the asylum, while also encountering a sizeable chunk of his best known villains. The game, boasting accessible but complex tactical mechanics, looks to challenge the meager Batman videogames of history as the best ever, focusing on a tight weaved Silent Hill-esque narrative experience overseen by Paul Dini, of the 90's animated series.

Batman's also at the forefront of DC comic events! He's battling baddies in the Wildstorm Universe (in Dreamwar); suffering the torture of fallen New Gods (in Final Crisis); facing mind-bending fatal fury (in RIP); teaming with Catwoman against Hush (in Detective Comics); receiving the star treatment from special guest writers like Kevin Smith and Neil Gaiman; and leaving the mantle of Batman free to contenders like Jason Todd and Nightwing (in Battle for the Cowl)!

ARTWORK: Jim Lee#2 Superman (+2) (7) (DC)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Catwoman & Batman]
Win Percentage: [58.33%] Features: [24]
2006: [#7] 2007: [#13] Cumulative: [#4]

The madness of Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe has propelled the "archetypal superhero" back to the upper ranks of 2008!
During the month, for whatever reason, I found myself with a warm and fuzzy feeling about Superman. I can't really explain why, but it extends to the return of the Man of Steel in the top five. It's an honor the character hasn't had often on the Infinite Wars, which hardly seems fair.

Fortunately, it isn't a silver medal performance without justification!
The Superman brand is fixing to get a workout with Final Crisis and other extending events! Prime will travel to the 31st century where he'll join efforts to erase the influence of Superman from the future, while other alternate versions, such as the Kingdom Come Superman (appearing in current issues of JSA), will also feature in a spin-off special that brings Alex Ross back to the writing and painting board for a rare occasion!

ARTWORK: Alex Ross#3 Iron Man (-1) (11) (Marvel)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Wong-Chu]
Win Percentage: [62.5%] Features: [24]
2006: [#3] 2007: [#11] Cumulative: [#3]

Secret Invasion hasn't been the excitement machine you might expect from a Marvel universe-wide crossover, but the remnants of a new blockbuster film franchise holds Iron Man close to the top!

Iron Man remains a totem of the Marvel brand in 2008, but it's the zeitgeist garnered in the first half of the year that makes shellhead a worthy inclusion in our top five. Relevance has slowly slipped for some of the head characters currently embroiled in a war with the Skrulls, forcing the Infinite Wars spotlight toward the DC characters, whose future is as interesting as it is versatile!

Iron Man (and Marvel) will enter the video game stakes to contrast their DC rivals, returning for another action-RPG instalment of the celebrated Ultimate Alliance franchise (a spin-off of X-Men Legends).

ARTWORK: John Romita Jr#4 Hulk (-1) (8) (Marvel)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [US Military]
Win Percentage: [60.87%] Features: [23]
2006: [#6] 2007: [#10] Cumulative: [#5]

Hulk's schedule proves a little more action-packed than that of his red and gold rival! Also benefitting from the success of a feature film (in June), Hulk gears up for a variety of crossmedia appearances!

After missing out on the first Ultimate Alliance due to licensing issues, the Hulk will be front and centre as a starting character in the Fusion sequel! The green goliath also jumps into animated action as the star of a smackdown double feature, which will pit the Hulk against longtime rivals, Thor and Wolverine! The Versus episodes are said to potentially be but the first of a series of animated smashes for the incredible Hulk as Marvel steps up it's response to DC's wave of DTV animated features, including their own adaptations which will see Planet Hulk hit DVD sometime in the future.

Bruce Banner has also made a rollicking return to the pages of Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness' Hulk, throwing down in the name of good! Admittedly, the series is a jarring reconciliation seemingly anticipated by Greg Pak's World War Hulk [commentary in issue #3]. If one was resigned to the inevitable heroic turn post-WWH, the revised status of the Hulk will be easier to swallow, if disappointing.

ARTWORK: John Cassaday#5 Goro (-) (3) (Midway)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Raiden]
Win Percentage: [60%] Features: [5]
2006: [NR] 2007: [NR] Cumulative: [#28]

A slow month keeps Goro in the hunt for a third listing, holding strong despite looming contention from DC and Marvel heroes.

The four-armed Shokan sub-boss of the original Mortal Kombat remains surprisingly absent from the action of Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe! Fan speculation has turned squarely onto absentees like Johnny Cage and Reptile, but what of boss characters? With a speculated two from each side still to appear, exceeding suggestions from the Kotaku Clues, will a Goro sub-boss and mash-up final villain be among them? We watch with interest!

Cumulative Super Stock...

Comissioner Jim Gordon forces an
ultimatuum on the Batman, joining him in
rising up the ranks in the process!
[Batman #614]
1. Batman (+1) (DC)
2. Spider-man (-1) (M)
3. Iron Man (-) (M)
4. Superman (+1) (DC)
5. Hulk (-1) (M)
6. Wolverine (-) (M)
7. Captain America (+1) (M)
8. Mr. Fantastic (-1) (M)
9. Invisible Woman (-) (M)
10. Daredevil (-) (M)
13. Black Adam (-) (DC)
16. Ryu (-) (C)
17. Luke Cage (+1) (M)
18. Catwoman (-1) (DC)
20. Flash (+8) (DC)
22. Green Lantern (-1) (DC)
28. Goro (-1) (Mid)
29. Noob Saibot (-) (Mid)
32. Deadpool (-) (M)
33. Nightwing (+19) (DC)
34. Captain America (+25) (M)
35. Flash (-2) (DC)
36. Dhalsim (-2) (C)
37. Phantom (-2) (KFP)
38. Ken Masters (-2) (C)
40. Aquaman (-2) (DC)
42. Wonder Woman (-2) (DC)
50. Johnny Cage (-2) (Mid)
91. Sonya Blade (-) (Mid)
97. Human Torch (+9) (M)
100. Tabitha Stevens (-1) (M)
150. Sunspot (+1) (M)
163. Hellboy (+1) (DH)
165. Jin Kazama (+1) (N)
179. Poison Ivy (new) (DC)
181. Darkseid (-) (DC)
200. Machine Man (-) (M)
218. Harley Quinn (-87) (DC)

Girder rusts up and sinks
to the bottom of the ranks after
a clash with Flash and Nightwing!
[Flash #210]
219. Captain Marvel (-1) (DC)
226. Punisher (-1) (M)
232. Two-Face (-) (DC)
236. Scorpion (-) (Mid)
239. Joker (-9) (DC)
242. Liu Kang (-1) (Mid)
250. Nightcrawler (-1) (M)
256. Com. Jim Gordon (+56) (DC)
300. Dr. Druid (-2) (M)
302. Alfred Pennyworth (-2) (DC)
315. Toro (new) (M)
325. Red Skull (new) (M)
349. Lobo (-4) (DC)
400. Giganto (-4) (M)
450. Preus (-4) (DC)
455. Gouken (-3) (C)
500. Fleur-de-Lis (-2) (DC)
528. Double Down (new) (DC)
529. Master Man (new) (M)
530. Sabretooth (-4) (M)
550. Penguin (-90) (DC)
551. Girder (-102) (DC)
554. Lizard (-6) (M)
555. Taskmaster (-6) (M)
556. Zangief (-6) (C)
557. Magneto (-6) (M)
558. Dan Habiki (-6) (C)

The Hammer...
That, friends, is a belated round-up!
As is becoming tradition, we have to offer a big thanks to everyone continuing to visit and support the website. It looks like events have finally caught up with us, but rest assured efforts remain focused on continuing the action packed adventures of the Infinite Wars, as best we can.

Among the many things we missed during the month, a Meme invitation from The Keeper to ponder a favourite post from another blog!

Truth be told, the Infinite Wars seem to exist in a bit of a bubble, these days. There are undoubtedly some fantastic blogs out there, some located in our menu beneath the Allied Nations heading (which you should find now)!
If we're talking specific favourite posts, there's a couple that just stand above the rest, for me. They come from the internet's favourite stuffed blogged, Bully!

The purveyor of fun comics went above and beyond when he tracked the time travelling hijinx of several Marvel heroes (and villains)! To honor the tradition, they are listed in reverse-order as: All Together Now (#4); Time the Avenger (#3); Strange Days have Found Us (#2); & Walk Like an Egyptian (#1)!

Bully even did the time warp again, touching on a time travel battle between Dr. Doom and Mr. Fantastic that crossed FF #352 and #350 [Time waits for no man, and it won't wait for Reed]! For these astounding feats of coherency and paste, we salute you, young bull! Thanks for all the effort!

This is, traditionally, where we pass off the tag to a handful of other blogs, but at the risk of incurring the wrath of the chain-letter gods, we're going to end the Punch-Up with an open invitation. That previously mentioned bubble works both ways, and unfortunately, we don't really know many of our blogging fellows all that well, so rather than presume to name, we encourage all blogging Infinite Wars readers to take up the challenge. Hey, why not throw in your favourite superhero battle while you're at it, too?

That about wraps up our overdue monthly recap!
If you missed our shoutout, be sure to check out another contribution from The Keeper, this time a commentating review of my very own independent project, The Kirby Martin Inquest. As you'll no doubt see below, the issue is on sale online for the low price of $1.99! Your support is vital to the future of these projects, so I encouraged you to check out what the Keeper has to say, and pledge your money to what I hope will be an enjoyable read!

Remember to stay tuned for updates later in the month that will include a special Q&A interview with Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe writer, Jimmy Palmiotti! That, plus more of what you'd expect (a little late) from the Infinite Wars! Yay!


Ciao for now!

- Mike Haseloff; Commanding Officer
Mike Haseloff is actually the horrific byproduct of a cosmic catastrophe that brought two distinct universes into confrontation, and merged the maniacal menaces of each world! Possessing the combined might of these despot creatures, Mike Haseloff rocks the devestating powers of skirt-pants and a skull-faced samurai helmet! Only the combined might of colliding heroes from both worlds can stop his terrifying wardrobe malfunctions!

July Hit Count: [12913/129271] (+8.15%)

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