Sunday, September 28, 2008

We've been making a lot of noise about DC's upcoming clash with the murderous fighters from Mortal Kombat, but let's not lose sight of the classic rivalries, eh?

Decades before Scorpion was spreading Staphylococcus aureus around the pond with his unsteralized spear attacks - the DCU was at metafictional odds with it's across-the-street counterpart - Marvel!

In recent years the friendly competition has been reignited in an industry built upon exclusive contracting of talent, and diverging philosophies in both publishing houses. DC, despite being backed by entertainment giant, Time-Warner; has struggled to respond to Marvel's dominance in direct market sales, and wide mainstream successes with feature films.

As if to represent the characterization of DC's publishing practises, the recent Batman sequel, The Dark Knight, struck a chord as both a significant artistic contribution to the superhero cinema complex, and an action film widely appreciated by diverse audiences.
The acclaimed record breaker potentially mirrors projects like The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen, which typify a differentiation between DC's occasionally edgy artistic explorations, and Marvel's centred brand of relatable superheroics, which straddle the middleground moreso than DC's bulk of conservative releases.

Vague generalizations like these populate the undying arguments lodged by dedicated fans of either brand. Here at the Infinite Wars we've had a bit of a DC leaning in recent years, but continue to showcase strong representation of Marvel's nineties dominance.
Despite filing bankrupcy in 1996; Marvel comics' presence as a mainstream icon burned as bright as ever, leading the fanboy vernacular to make the interesting choice to canonize the battle of brands as Marvel versus DC, despite the reversed title leading and ending the series.

It's these on-the-page battles that we're looking at today!
After taking a look at Thorion #1 this week, it seemed fitting that we go back to one of the most popular subjects in Infinite Wars history! The mid-nineties DC versus Marvel/Marvel versus DC remains a popular checkpoint for both casual and diehard fans, and a curiosity in the history of publishing relations. A decade later the truce proves to be well and truly ended!

A cancelled Batman/Daredevil crossover publicly boiled over in 2004 when Brian Bendis revealed stubborn opposition from DC at a convention, leading to a pseudo-confrontation with DC rep, Bob Wayne. The meeting of urban vigilantes was allegedly greenlit until press comments from Marvel's EIC, Joe Quesada, offended conservative DC publisher, Paul Levitz.
Since; the lines have been clearly drawn, nixing prospects of a revival of DC/Marvel crossover practices begun in the seventies (with seminal classics like; Superman/Spider-man, Batman/Hulk, and Teen Titans/X-Men).

Green Lantern/Silver Surfer (December 1995)
"Unholy Alliances" Marz/Banks

The day begins as simple as it can for any cartoonist-slash-intergalactic lawman. Using his alien ring, Kyle Rayner stencils designs, when he is rocked without warning from his drawing table by an explosion! Thus, the Green Lantern charges his ring before flying to investigate!

As Kyle Rayner discovers the granite alien Terrax, he could not possibly conceive the interdimensional ballet occuring across space. In another world, a chrome warrior suffers a similar fate, happening upon a destructive warrior that appears to be more machine than super-man.

The truth can wait! As protector of truth, justice, and the space ways, Green Lantern must summon all his powers to defeat the cosmically charged Terrax.
Still inexperienced, Rayner may be facing the biggest challenge of his short career, but little does he know, the grand plot designs an ally in the wings!

DC versus Marvel #1 (March 1996)

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. As a result of the actions of various beings of different realities, instabilities emerged. After eons of recollecting their fragmented thoughts, the two brothers turned, and remembered their existence.

Now they pit their warriors against one and other.

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

When cosmic events conspire to endanger both the DC and Marvel universes, the heroes of each Earth is faced with a secret crisis that could destroy them all.
By the will of two opposing omnipotent brothers, champions of the DC and Marvel universes are forced to fight for survival. To the victor goes the spoils of existence, but for any hero who would refuse to fight, a forfeit that brings their world closer to eradication.

In the final stages of the interdimensional war, it is Batman and Captain America that meet to reluctantly fight for the survival of their worlds. With the extra-dimensional keeper, Access, working to protect their existance, and the Spectre and Living Tribunal seeking alternative solutions, they battle on the streets below the skies that weep blood, for stakes far beyond anything either has faced!

Dark Claw Adventures #1 (June 1997)
"Face to Face" Templeton/Burchett

When cosmic events conspire to endanger both the DC and Marvel universes, the heroes of each Earth is faced with a secret crisis that could destroy them all. In the middle of this clash of worlds is Axel Asher - a citizen with a cosmic destiny that will embue him with the powers of Access!

By the will of two opposing omnipotent brothers, champions of the DC and Marvel universes are forced to fight for survival. To the victor goes the spoils of existence, but for any hero who would refuse to fight, a forfeit that brings their world closer to eradication.

What if... an elseworld existed composed of both universes?!
As histories are rewritten, and a new universe is borne of a bizarre cosmic amalgamation, is this existence the ultimate solution? In a universe made of one world is reality assured, or is this simply a mutual destruction?

A new breed of heroes - such as Dark Claw - may never know as they fight the good fight in a world where Batman and Wolverine never existed, and their reality is not as we know it!

JLA/Avengers #1 (September 2003)
"A Journey into Mystery" Busiek/Perez

When the exiled villain, Krona, develops powers of entropy, he uses his cosmic omnipotence to annihilate entire universes in the pursuit of understanding how they are formed. His rampage brings him into meeting with The Grandmaster - a warrior of another realm who claims to hold the secrets he seeks. Thus, the Grandmaster arranges an interdimensional competition, with the secrets of the cosmos the potential prize!

While the heroes of the DC and Marvel universes are manipulated into a race to scavange powerful objects from each world -- Krona and the Grandmaster prepare to betray one and other!

For the heroes, the first strike goes to Marvel, as Thor and Superman come to blows in a clash of superpowered titans!

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Seal - Kiss from a Rose (1994)

For the 1992 Batman animated series, acclaimed composer, Shirley Walker, devised a mourning rendition of Danny Elfman's famous Batman march from Tim Burton's feature film.
It could be said Walker's version captured the morose and grim tones of the Dark Knight detective, and the world of Gotham City, better than any other anthem, but I'm sure this isn't the only school of thought.

Of all the soundtracks associated with the Batman brand, Seal's re-issued romantic ballad, originally from his self-titled 1994 album, might just have the biggest mainstream penetration [pun convenient, but unintended].

Not to say I don't appreciate the falsetto and high fashion motiff of Seal's music, but it's fair to say it represents one of the purest encapsulations of studio agenda in cross promotion. The song's wide recognition may owe Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever credit as a launching pad, but I imagine few connect it to the moody struggles of Batman's war on crime. More likely pubescent's war on bra straps.
Am I right? Hollah at me playas! [sic]

Friday, September 26, 2008

Thorion the Hunter! (Amalgam)
Thorion of the New Asgods #1 When: June 1997 Why: Keith Giffen How: John Romita Jr

The Story So Far...
When cosmic events conspire to endanger both the DC and Marvel universes, the heroes of each Earth is faced with a secret crisis that could destroy them all. In the middle of this clash of worlds is Axel Asher - a citizen with a cosmic destiny that will embue him with the powers of Access!

By the will of two opposing omnipotent brothers, champions of the DC and Marvel universes are forced to fight for survival. To the victor goes the spoils of existence, but for any hero who would refuse to fight, a forfeit that brings their world closer to eradication.

When Batman and Captain America meet in a hard-fought final battle, all seems lost, but as Access comes to realise the full extent of his incredible powers, the Spectre and Living Tribunal use their own awesome energies to create the ultimate loophole to save - or destroy - the lives of everyone in both worlds!

What if... an elseworld existed composed of both universes?!
Access is the only being alive to witness the outcome as histories are rewritten, and a new universe is borne of a bizarre cosmic amalgamation. Is this existence the ultimate solution, or mutual destruction...?

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Thorion 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: L'Ok D'Saad 5 (Professor)
Speed: Thorion 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Thorion 6 (Generator)
Agility: Thorion 2 (Average)
Fighting Ability: Thorion 6 (Warrior)
Energy Power: Draw 6 (UWMD)

- The result of merging the core DC and Marvel universes; L'Ok D'Saad is in actual fact two seperate beings: Desaad of Apokolips, and Loki of Asgard.

The treacherous half-brother of Thorion was traded to Apokolips' despot ruler, Thanoseid, in part of a peace keeping pact with New Asgard. The two sons were reshaped in the image of their environments, turning L'Ok D'Saad into the embittered servant of his master. His hatred for his heroic half-brother is so strong he is willing to serve Thanoseid's desire to exterminate all life in dedication to Lady Death.

The inherent extent of L'Ok D'Saad's powers is unknown, but his subserviance to Thanoseid allows him access to immense cosmic powers. Among them, the Mother Cube; a construct housing the raw cosmic energies of the Infinity Essence, which are capable of instigating the will of it's possessor at a potential cost of their life.

- The result of merging the core DC and Marvel universes; Thorion is in actual fact two seperate beings: Orion of Apokolips, and Thor of Asgard.

Thorion perished during the Secret Crisis by was able to be resurrected by the exchange of his half-brother, L'Ok D'Saad, for the hammer Mjolnir, as part of a peace keeping agreement with warring Apokolips ruler, Thanoseid.
Nurtured by the positive influence of New Asgard and Odin the Highfather; Thorion overcomes his instinctive rages to channel them in battle for good.

Thorion defies the forces of Apokolips that infringe the neutral territory of the Blasted Lands, located between there and New Asgard. Wielding the Astro-Force, Thorion is privvy to incredible cosmic energies channeled through his hammer, Mjolnir. As a New Asgod he also possesses inherent strength, speed, and endurance, as well as the battle hardened experience of a warrior.

Additional: While the Amalgam characters have not yet appeared in the Infinite Wars, a previous entry detailed one of the many confrontations between Thor and Loki. Avengers #1 showcased Loki's penchant for treachery, and Thor's sheer will to overcome in the face of adversity.

Math: Thorion Ranking: Draw (NR)

What Went Down...
With the power of the Mother Cube in his possession, L'Ok D'Saad petitions the wrath of the Promethean Giants bound by The Source to the Ego-Mass. These monsters of destruction are the instruments of Ragnarok - the twilight of gods!

Bitterly opposing his favoured half-brother, L'Ok unleashes the power of the Cube with a blast of energy that engulfs his brother and stirs the infernal giant, Surtur, from his slumber. The demonic beast responds with fury dwarfed only by the heroism of Thorion, who refuses to allow the giants march.

Clutching Mjolnir in his clenched fist, Thorion summons the Astro-Force to contain the dark powers of the Infinity Essence! His body disappears in the rush of energies and explodes in a cosmic burst that recalls the day Odin himself unleashed the powers of the Source and reignited the flame of the New Asgods!

Thorion had succesfully stemmed his half-brother's mad plans, protecting the universe in doing so, the resurrected New Asgod paid the price of his immortal body. Stripped of his flesh and embued with the combined powers of the Infinity Essence and Astro-Force, Thorion becomes something much more awesome.

No longer welcome in either Apokolips, nor New Asgard, Thorion is reborn from the remnants of the Promethean Giants and Ego-Mass, fashioning a new epic visage that earns him the title -- the Celestial!

The Hammer...
Though not without sacrifice, Thorion emerges from the destruction of both the giants, and L'Ok D'Saad, to be our weekly winner!

With the November 10 release date of Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe looming ever closer, it seems the Infinite Wars just can't escape the subject. Such is the impetus for our stop in the Amalgam universe, where fans get a glimpse of things to come!

The premise of Mortal Kombat hinges on defending Earth from the invasion of other universes, but if you thought either side was ill equipped to deal with the threat of a merger, you'd be wrong! The DCU has certainly had it's brushes with interdimensional mayhem, ranging from their battle (and brief merging) with the Marvel Universe [DC versus Marvel]; to the homegrown threats of Crisis on Infinite Earths and it's emotional sequel, Infinite Crisis.

Details of the upcoming game's plot remain sketchy, but in our Q&A with the game's Senior Producer, Hans Lo revealed; "... I can say that two major events occurring at the same time in each universe triggers the merging process and that it’s up to the teams from each universe to find the cause and hopefully correct the situation before it spells the doom not just one universe, but both."

A teasing leak of Xbox 360 achievements revealed the defeat of "Dark Khan," which seems to confirm one of the worst kept secrets in the game -- the threat of the merged powers of Shao Kahn and Darkseid!

Fans of the DC/Marvel merger, now over a decade old, will have some idea of what to expect! Pictured right; the result of combining Darkseid and Thanos - Thanoseid!

Amalgam comics, which were printed over two week stints in 1996 and 1997, boast yet another example of a comics crossover which managed to exist within the established continuity of two universes, despite the inevitable distance put between the associated parties.

Comics like these make the decision to remove MKvsDC from contemporary MK plots seem all the more disappointing. While penetration in the domain of entertainment favours video games, it's fair to say there's still a lot of creative direction the young medium could take from it's four-colour counterpart.

Few mediums have the experience with on-going sequential story telling comics do, but as video games settle into franchise development, not unlike Mortal Kombat's fifteen years of releases, the similarities become increasingly evident.
Cross polonization has seen many comics writers successfully lending their talents to the medium, examples like Paul Jenkins springing to mind, who has contributed to titles like; Legacy of Kain, Twisted Metal Black, God of War, Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, and The Darkness, where his influence took on a directorial role to permeate throughout the design of the game.

Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray join MKvsDC as writers for the story mode, but the game exudes an unmistakable leaning toward MK as the home team. In it's most admirable outings the Mortal Kombat narrative has shown great foresight for the future, such as 2002's Deadly Alliance which successfully drew mythology from previous plot, whilst foreshadowing driving events from 2004's, Deception.

Rumors persist of a 2010 straight sequel to 2006's Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, but I'm definitely looking to see how the latest stages of comic book influence effect MKvsDC. Not that this is the first brush with the medium for MK!

Comics have influenced the creation of Mortal Kombat since it's inception, thanks in no small part to co-creator John Tobias, who has worked for a host of companies as a penciler. Jim Kreuger (Earth X, Justice) preceeds Palmiotti and Gray as the first well known comics writer to contribute to MK, having written the script for the adventure spin-off, Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks.

Tobias returns to the brand with Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe to draw a sixteen-page bonus comic shipping with special editions of the game!

The Fight: 3.5 The Issue: 4.5

Thorion of the New Asgods comes from the second wave (1997) of Amalgam releases, and is available collected in "Return to the Amalgam Age of Comics." You'll find that, and collected editions of reviewed issues, in the Infinite Wars Amazonian Gift Shoppe! By using Amazon purchase links provided on the site you help sponsor future entries in the Infinite Wars! Hey, you can also do neat things like pre-order the Collector's Edition of MKvsDC to make sure you don't miss out on the bonus content!

Wednesday, September 24, 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.


Ham and Kirkman...
JUL082168 BACK TO BROOKLYN #1 (OF 5) (MR) $2.99
JUN083675 FLASH GORDON #1 $3.99
JUL082200 GOLLY #2 (MR) $3.50
JUL082202 I KILL GIANTS #3 (OF 7) $2.99
JUL082241 MADAME MIRAGE TP VOL 01 $14.99
JUL080016 SOLOMON KANE #1 (OF 5) $2.99

Thin and Crispy...
JUL080111 AMBUSH BUG YEAR NONE #3 (OF 6) $2.99
JUL082273 CAPTAIN AMERICA #42 $2.99
JUL082280 MARVEL 1985 #5 (OF 6) $3.99
JUL082309 NEW AVENGERS #45 SI $2.99
JUL082324 NOVA #17 SI $2.99
JUL080114 REIGN IN HELL #3 (OF 8) $3.50
JUL082253 SAMURAI LEGEND #1 (Of 4) (MR) $5.99
JUL080120 SUPERMAN #680 $2.99
JUL082325 THUNDERBOLTS #124 SI $2.99
JUL080104 TRINITY #17 $2.99
FEB082204 ULTIMATES 3 #5 (OF 5) $2.99
JUL082350 X-FORCE #7 $2.99

The Deep Dish...
- JUL082276 DAREDEVIL #111 $2.99
... Are you kidding me? Lady Bullseye?! Really?!?
Like his work on Captain America; Ed Brubaker's DD has been on a long running downward spiral into density. Early issues picked up where the Bendis/Maleev era left off, but it quickly seemed the previous creative approach gave license to dwell all too long on stories and concepts that did not warrant the page rate. Now, we have a tough ask: a story that introduces a female counterpart to one of Marvel's great villains! I actually kinda like the design, but the character is sabotaged by either being yet another female facsimile, or, gratuitously named after another iconic character she is irrelevant to.

- JUL082318 DEADPOOL #2 SI $2.99
No more variant cover teases, fools! I've got to give UDON some credit, but their work aside, I'm not sure Deadpool has ever looked as good as he did when drawn by Ed McGuinness! For that matter, is Joe Kelly busy? I'll take anyone over Daniel Way! Sorry, chief. It's just too darn boring for such a great character, Secret Invasion tie-in, or not.
You know it's a slow week when you're spotlighting the negatives. You know it's an especially slow week when you're spotlighting negatives you already spotlighted two weeks ago. Ouch!

- JUL082283 HULK #6 $2.99
Please just tell me once and for all who the "Red Hulk" is, and move along...

Something positive? Another one-shot for Danny Rand's predecessor as the Iron Fist!
Pulp-inspired adventures in the Marvel Universe are a little rarer than across the street, so these issues are especially appreciated!

Marvel Adventures continues to deliver classically inspired Marvel comics! Infinite Wars Top 10 artist, Alvin Lee, delivers deliciously slick, animé-inspired artwork that brings a stunning degree of animation to the trio of titular stars - Iron Man, Hulk, and Spidey! This month the big screen alumnists are up against the time travelling conquests of Kang, and they're joined by a fourth hero to combat his futuristic evil -- Iron Man!

- JUL082331 MS MARVEL #31 $2.99
Frank Martin Jr might not be a Transporter, but he's delivered one of the best Ms. Marvel covers I've seen in years. Too bad it can't salvage the adventures of this boring character.

- JUL082320 SHE-HULK 2 #33 SI $2.99
I love that Super-Skrull is in the house, but if "he" really loved me, this wouldn't be such a dull week...

Know Your Trade...
JUL082241 MADAME MIRAGE TP VOL 01 $14.99

Monday, September 22, 2008

Angels & Demons: Part 5 of 6 (Marvel)
Where: X-Force #5 When: September 2008
Why: Craig Kyle/Christopher Yost How: Clayton Crain

The Tape...
Strength: Warpath 5 (Superhuman)
Intelligence: Wolverine 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Warpath 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Wolverine 6 (Generator)
Agility: X-23 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Wolverine 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Elixir 4 (Arsenal)

Math: X-Force Ranking: Wolverine (#6)

The Fix...
Murphy's law says; when I actually have a bit of spare cash for a comic, chances are it's going to be in a situation where nothing available is actually something I would want. Such was the example that struck me a few times this month, but not always with negative results...

She-Hulk #30 gave us the overdue chance to salute Hercules' 2008 presence, but it proved only to be an average-grade distraction from an X-theme that had infiltrated the Infinite Wars in August. It began after we boldly declared X-Men 2: Clone Wars the greatest comic book video game adaptation of-all-time.
Our interests persisted with reviews of Onslaught: X-Men and Uncanny X-Men #295, which each took us into the mouth of the early nineties X-beast.

It was probably this recent history that convinced me metal wings were a good enough reason to ignore all human instinct to flee from danger, and actually pay money for an issue of X-Force. Who could've guessed it would pay off?

The latest functional deconstruction of the X-brand saw a brand new X-Force jump into action in the aftermath of Messiah Complex. In what could effectively be called the third incarnation of the team; Cyclops, (or, depending on your levels of distain, Kyle and Yost), draft the eviscerating team of Wolverine, Warpath, Wolfsbane, and X-23, into a lethal covert spin-off of Xavier's original dream.

As if to fulfil cynical expectations, the need for this gathering is brought about by an anti-mutant plot that ultimately cobbles together a cast of names familiar to fans of cartoons and cinema. A reconstructed Bastion throws in with anti-mutant zealots that include; Graydon Creed, Cameron Hodge, Boliver Trask, and eventually, William Stryker, all of whom are, thankfully, not as they seem.

Actually, everything about this comic is a bit of a fake-out!

Hidden behind the gaudy black, red, and yellows of the team's 'stealth' outfits is a comic that somehow transcends the tragic nostalgia it represents, exceeding the sum of it's parts to be something strangely admirable.

Like everything else about this book, 'painted artwork' as an emotionless description rings like another tacky sales pitch to an audience probably already obsessively committed, but it isn't so!

Clayton Crain's painted finish rounds out pencils that seem to harbor manga inspirations beneath the motley blotches of blacks, and colour. Characters bare an almost Madureira styling in their features, but unfortunately, the painted render, presumably digital, struggles to be nearly as animated.

If any assumed criticism remains intact it is the snapshot stiffness of the action, which, granted, might be considered a positive by fans appreciative of the moment-in-time quality of pseudo-realistic comics. I'd be interested to see what's been covered up. The underwire of any pencil work might have been nice to see more clearly, but then, that would detract from the design of the series.

Kyle & Yost deserve credit for shining up the proverabial turd.

By arranging pieces of the X-Men's past from various mediums, they somehow manage to build a machine that makes efficient use of them. This is by no means a series I would call 'new reader friendly,' and yet, most fans from the last few mainstream generations will find something familiar to behold.

The previously reversed transformation into Archangel experienced by Warren Worthington is further complicated, but relatively well explained, by the continued presence of Apocalypse's techno-organic influence.
When the Purifiers attempt to make good on their anti-mutant prophecy they managed to unlock the dormant alter-ego hidden within Angel's DNA. The discovery comes none-too-soon as Bastion, the megalomaniacal super-Sentinel, begins a seperatist revolt inspired by puppeteering the corpse of William Stryker.

Though perhaps not quite as artful as Grant Morrison's U-Men, who were also bigots grafting powers stolen from the enemy; the Purifiers use Apocalypse's technology to refashion themselves in Archangel's image, assuming the winged role they already believe they represent. This dramatic overture provides a crescendo toward an epic battle of gore, and razor-wing decapitation, the result of internal dissention feuelled by Bastion's genocidal corruption.

With Bastion's goals tying in to X-history with the Technarchy and the Phalanx, it's incidental that this series coincides with the cosmic Annihilation: Conquest, which tells of the latest Phalanx threat to the universe. While obviously unfeasible, it's almost a shame this couldn't have made some kind of connection, but bringing the Phalanx to Earth in an official capacity probably demands more.

It was the evidence of these over-arcing concepts in X-Force that both defied my expectations, and actually had me really enjoy the issue. That said, the details are laid out in a successive fashion, which offers up meaty variety, including that which is relevant to us -- a mindless fight scene!

Seemingly wingless after his mutant appendages were ripped from his body by a mind-controlled Wolfsbane; Warren Worthington undergoes a transformation that respawns the metallic wings granted to him by Apocalypse, and returns his skin to the sickly blue tint associated with the Archangel transformation.

Gripped by madness, Archangel attacks his fellows, launching an assault that rips the flesh from Wolverine's abdomen, and sprays sparks from his metalic skeleton!

Taking to the air under the power of his newly spawn wings, Archangel fires metallic shards that narrowly miss Elixir, and pin X-23 to the wall. Any other would surely perish from the wounds, but as with the subject she was cloned from [Wolverine], X-23 posseses an advanced healing ability.

Warpath ambushes the Archangel, mounting his back with a knife to the insane hero's throat, but it is a moot tactic against one naturally nimble in the air. Angel ploughs Warpath's super-strong frame through the thick wooden beams of his chalet, before swatting his floored opponent with a stiff right hand.

Still healing his gaping wound, Wolverine steps up to confront his former ally, but for naught. Wolverine is toppled once more as, in a state of panic and rage, the Angel does what comes naturally -- he flies.

Though ultimately inconsequential to the issue, fans of the comics will recognise the weight of history on these scenes with Archangel, recalling the first time he lost his wings at the hands of Cameron Hodge (circa Mutant Massacre). For that matter, those dedicated to the nineties cartoon, will also appreciate at least some of the context that frames Archangel's rebirth and freakout.

Despite hitting our top five rankings in April 2007, Angel's been a bit of a joke on the site. Let's face it -- the mutant power to fly around with giant, handsome wings, isn't exactly conducive to a solid performer on a superhero fight blog.
This issue brings back the joyous memory of just how lethal Angel could be under the right circumstances. No matter how silly, I can't help but welcome the on-off potential offered up by the redefinition of Angel's initial transformation.

That said; however awkward they may have been - I would loathe a situation that strips Angel of the healing properties established by a secondary mutation.
If there were to be any explanation for the mechanic of these abilities that tied in to this new version of the Angel mythos, I might even like it to be that the necessary transfer of his blood actually carried an unsustainable infection of the techno-organic virus responsible for the Archangel persona. Either way, I hope Kyle and Yost can tread carefully as they trek through the tapestry of history.

Surprisingly competent and packed with ideas, I look forward to seeing what the team can come up with in subsequent storylines. Archangel looks set to become a regular staple of the series, showing us just how plot-driven recruitment works.

The Fight: 3.5 The Issue: 5
Winner: Archangel

"Angels & Demons", the first X-Force arc, is available in collected trade format, along with the X-Classic, "Mutant Massacre." You'll find titles like these, as well as many others, in our Amazonian Gift Shoppe. By using Amazon purchase links on the site, you help sponsor entries of future past. For more X-reviews, check out the C2C and the Secret Archives!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Recently off-the-page the Infinite Wars was exploring a little bit of comics history, which got us nostalgic. Nostalgic for an age where a little bit of racism never hurt anybody! An age where foreign policy experience amounted to how much you could dislike those damned dirty nazis/commies/frenchies!

While Hitler and his genocidal boys club has remained firmly in the 'evil' pile; relations between the Soviets and Americans have meant we've done our darndest in comics to accept a difference of philosophy and moved on. What a industry!
Or so I thought...

Perhaps it was simmering unrest between the Cold War rivals that opened the door again to the archetypal villainous Russian, or maybe the US foolishly thought enough time had elapsed to revive these forgotten tropes of the last generation. Either way, it turned out 2006 was a pretty good year for out-of-work Russians who would crush, kill, and destroy for hire, or for free!

The following is a brief catalogue of previous entries in the Infinite Wars that showcases the sinister Commie Russian revival from 2006! Okay, sure, Bucky isn't really Russian, but he was working for them as the assassin, Winter Soldier. So you can stick your semantics, pinko!

Catwoman #49 (January 2006)
"The One You Love" Pfeifer/Woods

While the Justice League crumbles beneath the weight of mistrust and paranoia, the villains seize the opportunity, uniting as an organized unit under the leadership of a manipulative Lex Luthor from another universe. Within this new fraternity of The Society are the many factions from the DCU, with only the stupid, or brave, refusing entry.

With a shread of allegiance to Catwoman -- Captain Cold numbers among those few who refuse to remain with the sinister collective of the Society. Turning his back on the Gotham East End connection, led by Professor Hugo Strange, he is met by resistence by the Russian powerhouse super-soldier - Hammer!

As a seasoned veteran, Cold proves it takes more than might, and strength in numbers, to overcome adversity in the DCU!

Ultimates 2 #10 (March 2006)
"The Axis of Evil" Millar/Hitch

The United States faces the harsh realisation that they are not the only nation with advanced developments in superpowers when rogue European elements band together to form an Axis of Evil, all in an effort to demonstrate the fullest extent of their powers!

The Black Widow reveals her true colours when she turns on her Ultimates comrades to join the Soviet feuelled incursion. Laying waste to the superpowers of the United States, this army of gods and monsters, led by Captain Abdul al-Rahman, are the Liberators!

With each member possessing comparable powers to their Ultimates counterparts, they lay waste to Manhattan, launching what is described as a preemptive assault against preemptive assaults. Their powers, great as they are, may have left them vulnerable to an attack from the least measured member of their enemies -- Hawkeye!

Wolverine #39 (April 2006)
"Origins and Endings" Way/Saltares/Texeira

During the Second World War, Bucky Barnes was sidekick to Captain America and tommy-gun wielding posterboy for the war against the Nazis! His will was almost as indominitable as his mentor's, and like the hero he was, he died fighting the fight... Or so it was thought.

In the time between then and now, Bucky Barnes' frozen body was recovered by the Russians. Lost limbs were replaced with cybernetics, and the boy called Bucky was reprogrammed to become the heartless assassin called Winter Soldier.

As the Winter Soldier he performed many assassinations and murders throughout the years, even as the Cold War came to an end. He would inevitably cross the path of old associates and friends of friends. One such mission brought him into contact with the Wolverine, where he would killed his wife and unborn child. Revenge is a dish best served cold...

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

It's been one year since Blüdhaven was destroyed by Chemo, and Batman battled a living Jason Todd.

In an effort to rebuild a better Batman, Bruce Wayne and wards, Tim Drake and Dick Grayson, go on a year long journey following the original path of the Batman, retracing the steps of his origin.

In his absence, Batman leaves Harvey Dent, whom he has trained sufficiently to ensure crime does not capitalize on the Batman's absence from Gotham.
Having undergone facial reconstruction surgery, Harvey Dent appears to be purged of the Two-Face persona, but appearances can be deceiving...

Street Fighter Legends #2 (September 2006)
Siu-Chong/Double KO/Dogan

Martial arts fanatic and school girl, Sakura Kusanago, begins her journey to become a great martial artist after meeting Ryu, the nomadic street fighting legend who dethroned the king of Muay Thai -- Sagat.

Staying in touch, Sakura receives the advice from Ryu that to become the ultimate martial artist, she should be open to learning from various styles. Thus, Sakura begins a new quest to learn from various fighting champions.

Her quest takes her to the professional wrestling show in town, where she hopes to observe her favourite wrestler in action -- Rainbow Mika!
R. Mika defeats Zangief in the ring, but while signing autographs Sakura finds herself between Rainbow Mika and a challenge from the kayfabeless Zangief!

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Joe Satriani - Surfing with the Alien (live) (1987)

The first in a long line of references to Marvel's cosmic surfer; Joe Satriani's 1987 album goes so far as to feature a panel from the 1982 issue, Silver Surfer #1, as it's cover!

Ever the enthusiast for joyous expression and the common good, John Byrne, the artist on the piece, has noted on his site that he never received payment for the image, which was lifted without permission from the issue.
As you can imagine the community feels indebted to the artist for but one of his many contributions to public well being.

Silver Surfer has yet to comment, but the Skrulls like his work so much, they named a planet after him (Satriani, duh).

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mortal Mayhem (Malibu/Midway)
Mortal Kombat: Blood & Thunder #6
When: December 1994 Why: Charles Marshall
How: Patrick Rolo

The Story So Far...
When Lt. Sonya Blade followed career criminal, Kano, onto a docking ship, she could have had no notion of the destiny she was about to fulfil. Unwittingly chosen to represent the realm of Earth, Sonya was to be ferried, along with Kano and other fighters on board, to an ancient tournament called Mortal Kombat!

Held once every generation; the sanctity of Mortal Kombat was intended to be Earth's saving grace by pitting their greatest warriors against the forces of Outworld in controlled one-on-one contests. Representing their evil emperor, Shao Kahn, Shang Tsung and Outworld's fighters need only win ten straight tournaments to be granted freedom to invade the Earth.

Shang Tsung's desire for victory led him to the mysteries of an ancient book of power called, the Tao te Zhan. This deviaton has corrupted the tournament in which Earth's final hopes dangle. Now, scattered across the realm of Outworld, the warriors of Earth wage their own personal battles in Mortal Kombat...

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Kano 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Sonya Blade 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Draw 4 (Athlete)
Agility: Sonya Blade 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting Ability: Draw 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy Power: Sonya Blade 4 (Arsenal)

- Lieutenant Sonya Blade is a dedicated member of an American Special Forces unit tasked with dismantling the ancient criminal organization, the Black Dragon clan. This mission becomes Sonya's sole driving purpose when Kano, leader of the clan, is responsible for the murder of her partner and several other ambushed operatives with the Special Forces. Her pursuit leads her to take chase onto the Nethership, which ferrys warriors to the hidden island of Shang Tsung, where mortals do battle to defend the Earth from the forces of Outworld.

Thus, Sonya is dragged into a battle not only for revenge, but for the fate of the world. Joining Johnny Cage, and eventual tournament winner, Liu Kang; Sonya becomes embroiled with Earth's chosen warriors, to the point of being captured by Shao Kahn's forces when Shang Tsung's island crumbles after his defeat.
The event forces a brief alliance with Kano and familiarizes Sonya with the ream of Outworld, which, upon her rescue, would become the domain of her and her partner, Jax, as founding members of the secret government exploratory division, the Outer World Investigation Agency.

Sonya is a highly trained operative of the Special Forces, skilled in the martial arts and tactical procedures of urban warfare and hand-to-hand combat. Her role with the military and OIA grants her access to an arsenal of weaponry, as well as her own ability to harness her chi to inflict energy based attacks.

- As a leader in the ancient organization of the Black Dragon clan; the Australian mercenary called Kano is one of the US Special Forces most wanted criminals.
By murdering an entire Special Forces unit, and also the partner of Sonya Blade, Kano earned the personal vengeance of the fiesty Lieutenant, and her subsequent replacement partner, Jax, as well. This rivalry led Sonya to pursue Kano when he joined the Mortal Kombat tournament to steal the lost treasures housed within Shang Tsung's island fortress.

Kano's involvement in the ancient tournament brought him into conflict with warriors from both the realms of Earth and Outworld. A new era began as Kano used his guile and fighting expertise to endear himself to the emperor, Shao Kahn. This would be but the first of Kano's allegiances held in Outworld, his quest for power bringing him into the service of other warriors, such as Shang Tsung and Quan Chi; the Deadly Alliance.

Kano is skilled in a range of weaponry, including munitions, blades, and cybernetic enhancements that grant him additonal powers, such as a laser fired from his artificial eye. Despite being a highly skilled martial artist, Kano's mystic associations have allowed him to escape death many times.

Additional: Since their first appearance Kano and Sonya have been tied together by the archetypal struggles of a cop and her partner's killer. This rivalry, established in the first game, carried over to film, television, and indeed, comics. Malibu's Blood & Thunder #2 adapted the relationship within their microcosm of characterizations, isolating Sonya's personal investment to events occuring during Shang Tsung's tournament. This prompted their only recorded encounter on the Infinite Wars, where Sonya proved the victor.

History: Sonya Blade (1-0-0)
Math: Sonya Blade Ranking: Sonya Blade (#51)

What Went Down...
In the wastelands of Outworld, Kano reclaims the mystic Tao te Zhan stolen previously by Sub-Zero. His celebrations are short lived -- enter Sonya Blade!

The Special Forces operative launches into a diving kick that telegraphs her promise to bring Kano down once and for all. In desperation, the Black Dragon killer tries to broker a deal, but his leverage in the transaction proves lacking...

A crunching blow to the nose puts Kano on the backfoot, with another jumping kick seemingly securing victory for the embittered heroine. Kano shows tremendous resilience, swiping back with a left hook, but Sonya ducks it with grace and ease, returning fire with a rising stiff right!

Kano scoffs Sonya's dedication to the kill; something she is forced to acknowledge, albeit, with a little excessive force for good measure.

The pair battle on, unaware of a recovered Sub-Zero, who makes an attempt at retrieving the unguarded Tao te Zhan, but another warrior lurks, and in time, they are all teleported from the planes by the will of Shao Kahn!...

The Hammer...
Admittedly, the conclusion of the fight is somewhat vague, but I think we're granted more than enough to declare Sonya Blade the victor on the points of her dominance.

Continuing our whirlwind tour of the Mortal Kombat franchise, we're making another stop in the comics! Actually, at this point, we've now touched upon every issue of what essentially serves as the central series in Malibu's catalogue of mini releases.
Blood & Thunder presents the established conceit of the Mortal Kombat tournament, but interrupts it with side plots exclusive to the series, and presumably someone's idea of an appropriate sequential adaptation.

Final MKvsDC Roster:
#1 Batman (DC)
#2 Superman (DC)
#3 Flash (DC)
#4 Catwoman (DC)
#5 Green Lantern (DC)
#6 Wonder Woman (DC)
#7 Sonya Blade (MK)
#8 Raiden (MK)
#9 Deathstroke (DC)
#10 Darkseid (DC)
#11 Lex Luthor (DC)
#12 Captain Marvel (DC)
#13 Kano (MK)
#14 Scorpion (MK)
#15 Joker (DC)
#16 Liu Kang (MK)
#NR Sub-Zero (MK)
#NR Shang Tsung (MK)
#NR Jax (MK)
#NR Kitana (MK)
#NR Baraka (MK)
#NR Shao Kahn (MK)

Infinite Wars rankings
are based on win/loss
records derived from
reviewed fights. Follow
character links for
available data!
One of the many curiosities of Malibu's licensed projects is the treatment of Liu Kang. While the bulk of the work preceeded the first feature film (released in 1995), there was some established reference within the MK canon that Liu Kang was one of the central players in the series -- not to mention eventual tournament victor in the first game.
In later inclusions Malibu caught up with Kang's importance to affirm his role as chief protagonist, introducing other elements from the 1994 game sequel, Mortal Kombat II, such as the defining representation of characters.

Shortly after our Q&A with Hans Lo the final roster for Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe was released.
Confirmed was the strong presence of characters from the first and second games. Missing were some very interesting cuts, such as Quan Chi, but even he has since emerged in a screenshot [posted on] from the hotly anticipated story mode.

Glancing the list inevitably inspires fans to observe the presence and omission of their favourite characters.
It's a factor common to any interpretation, and as we browse the variety of modern sequels to the major fighting brands, it's an issue that seems to arise time and again.

Story telling is a basic mathematical principle: characters + conflict = plot. What seperates the good from the bad is the details and dressing hung on this basic frame.

In the past, fighting games have successfully broached the requirements of design, placing great weight on the first bite taken with the eye. Characters in early games were encapsulated and mythologically defined by their appearances, and the insinuations they made. A fine example: the chest scar -- worn by Sagat in Street Fighter II as an indication of one of the few lasting legacys of the very first, ill fated game -- Ryu's shoryuken! [Depicted; Street Fighter #1]

The interactive mechanics of a game substitute 'conflict' in our equation.
Despite the freedom afforded by current technologies we see an increasing disinterest in devices exclusively dedicated to plot. Novelty gaming; encapuslated by Nintendo's incredibly popular Wii console; shares the market with less casual gamers steering toward the barren platitude of shooting games.

Malibu, despite their best efforts, reflects on the lacklustre reputation video game plots have earned. Presumably the misconception stems from an admission shared by many fans that gameplay is the sole interaction required, replacing the reception of ideas and details that drive story.

Despite removing itself from previous instalments of the MK saga, Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe joins Street Fighter IV in reintroducing the important presence of a narrative to the plot. Divorced from recent history, this game will rely on conventional story telling that pits these vividly recognised characters against a conflict familiar to both brands: interdimensional crises.

Jimmy Palmiotti, in another Infinite Wars Q&A, made the bold claim of another eighty percent awaits keen fans. I hope he's even half right, because this generation of gaming needs a reminder. The mashing of buttons makes these games lasting trinkets in the annals of gaming, but I think we can do a little better. A little better than Malibu's valiant efforts to combine the mindless flashy narcisissm of the nineties and the higher narrative concepts MK so often teases.

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!
Looking back, we can be very critical of this comic, and even the origins of the Mortal Kombat plot in the games. As we meander toward some sort of point to all this discussion, I suppose it's the positive: look at all the brilliant characters!

The Fight: 3 The Issue: 3

Malibu didn't last long enough to collect it's licensed MK comics, but the Infinite Wars is happy to bring you all the important details in this year of the beat 'em up franchise. Be sure to hit up the Secret Archives for more MK comics nostalgia, and browse through our many introductory entries on the heroes and villains of both the MK and DC universes! It's the perfect primer before heading in to the collision of worlds in the upcoming video game, available for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, with the pictured collector's edition including a bonus collector's comic featuring art by the returning prodigal series co-creator, John Tobias!

Wednesday, September 17, 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...
JUL080135 ACTION COMICS #869 $2.99
JUL082344 AGE OF SENTRY #1 (OF 6) $2.99
JUN080209 ALL STAR SUPERMAN #12 $2.99
JUL084201 ATOMIC ROBO DOGS OF WAR #2 (OF 5) $2.95
JUL080125 BATGIRL #3 (OF 6) $2.99
JUL080141 CHECKMATE #30 $2.99
JUL080140 FLASH #244 $2.99
JUL082281 GHOST RIDER #27 $2.99
JUL083591 GLAMOURPUSS #3 $3.00
JUL082308 MIGHTY AVENGERS #18 SI $2.99
JUL082330 MOON KNIGHT #22 $2.99
JUL082370 PUNISHER #62 (MR) $2.99
JUL080152 SPIRIT #21 $2.99
JUL080103 TRINITY #16 $2.99
JUL082342 TRUE BELIEVERS #3 (OF 5) $2.99

The Deep Dish...
- MAY082194 ASTOUNDING WOLF-MAN #8 $2.99
- MAY082203 GODLAND #25 $2.99

If you don't buy these, Robert Kirkman will call you a pansy*!
*[Claim not guaranteed, endorsed, or affiliated with Robert Kirkman, or Image Comics.]

On the page this RIP tie-in poses the question: Can the Outsiders survive without the overbaring leadership of their founder, Batman? A fair enough premise, but one wonders how much this question applies to the metatextual fate of a title that will almost certainly find the axe of cancelation dangling above, if not now, at least within the next year or two. With a cast as obscure as they are, the faithful could almost see it as a vehicle for a new leading character -- how about Hawkman? Eh... Me thinks it's time to start that letter writing campaign, fans. This one promised a lot, but might have tanked.

Without reading the first issue it's so difficult to make a call, but I'd really like to believe in this new series by Mike Kunkel. Starting off with 2007 MVP, Black Adam, is a great way to kick the series off, but I do wonder if the all-ages nature of the comic might just skew a little too young to have the mass appeal of it's Marvel Adventures counterparts. At this point I'm sure there are many who'd appreciate an innocent Captain Marvel comic, but it's hard to say if this is it. Don't worry! I made a promise to myself I'd go a week without complaining about finances or angling for review copies, and... Oh. Oops!

- JUL080136 BIRDS OF PREY #122 $2.99
I routinely have to resist the temptation to fawn over covers, but this one was just too amazing to not mention!
Stephane Roux delivers big time with this cover boasting Huntress, Lady Blackhawk, (and Misfit) looking all business! With Joker looking to spend some quality time with Oracle, and Zatanna on call to take care of a fear-gripped Manhunter, it sounds like there's plenty behind the cover, too!

- JUL082274 CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI 13 #5 $2.99
Blade joins MI:13. MI:13 is Spitfire's team. Spitfire is a vampire. Blade kills vampires. Uh oh!

- JUL080105 DC UNIVERSE DECISIONS #1 (OF 4) $2.99
A murder plot forces the heroes of the DC Universe to band together to defend a presidential candidate who might not line up with their own personal ideals. Sure to be an intriguing character study and a rarely obvious entry into the political arena for DC icons!

- JUL080194 DC WILDSTORM DREAMWAR #6 (OF 6) $2.99
Interdimensional catastrophes seem to be a point of interest for DC as they wrap up their cross promotional stint with Wildstorm, just before heading into the combat arena with Mortal Kombat! MK fans disappointed by the diminutive sixteen page collector's comic, or the apparently absent unstoppable crushing power of Doomsday, might like to look here for not only a preview of things to come, but a glimpse of things that might have been! Then again, if I were inclined to read into things, I might wonder if the threat of the moon being torn from it's orbit in this series, might not connect to clues posted in the lead-up to the announcement of MKvsDCU. Is this what you'd call an "event"? Interesting!...


A celebration of the works of legendary artist, Gene Colan!
Featuring favourites chosen by superstars of the industry, the issue boasts a range of exciting stories sure to feature Colan's classic work with; Dracula, Daredevil, and Iron Man! Net proceeds from this Heroes Initiative special release will go toward aiding Gene Colan, whose health deteriorated in May.

- JUL082284 INCREDIBLE HERCULES #121 $2.99
Herc' bunkers down with Namora just in time to be in Atlantis for an invasion of Amazons! 2008's unrecognised MVP comes out of the Secret Invasion and into a brand new chapter in the rollicking adventures of the Prince of Power!

It's an ungodly love triangle when Odin fixes his son, Thor, a date with daughter of a frost giant, even though the thunder god would rather be out having fun with Storm! The Avengers are on cover duty, but some how I don't think that's going to help the situation!

- JUL080131 ROBIN #178 $2.99
Robin faces down the repercussions of RIP and it sounds like a coming-of-age is in store for the boy wonder, as his world is thrown into turmoil. Brace yourselves for excitement sports fans: not only is a Red Robin in Tim Drake's future, but so is the eagerly anticipated return of Anarky!

- JUL082364 X-MEN FIRST CLASS VOL 2 #16 $2.99
Their dedication to their teammates can run hot and cold, but now the coolest most hot members of two teams are about to abandon their post to form the greatest buddy team ever known! That's right! Ice Man and Human Torch team up to be a two-prong elemental assualt on evil as they ditch the X-Men and Fantastic Four for their own adventures! If that slice of genius pie didn't fill you up, how about a monkey in the wrench? The Torch's old rival in tights, Spider-man, joins the fun in this first class issue!

Know Your Trade...
MAY080069 ASTRO BOY TP VOL 1 & 2 $14.95