Monday, September 01, 2008

MONTHLY PUNCH-UP #33 (September 2008)
It took some doing, but finally it seems our sprint through hypertime has brought the Infinite Wars to the future of September!

August made for a big month of Olympic-inspired competition and international awareness, but that wasn't the only bonus content to emerge during the month!
We had the opportunity to deliver a Mortal Kombat/DC Universe Q&A with DC writer Jimmy Palmiotti -- and the universe kombat doesn't end there! We'll be following up with an even bigger exchange of intellectual blows as we go one-on-one with the MK team's chosen warrior - Hans Lo!

There's still a whole lot of business to attend to, including, assuming all goes to plan, the scoop a secret new DC cartoon project! Is it a dream? Is it a hoax? No, it's the last son of Krypton! That, plus a whole lot more superhero smackdown!

Before we get to the housekeeping: There's the small matter of a series of polls we held during our Olympic oscillations! As the foremost cosmic authority on fisticuffs of the superhuman kind, the Infinite Wars is usually a solitary voice, ringing out wisdom and truth from deep within the void. That said, while we were postulating our own gold medallists, we thought it might be nice to give you, the readers, the chance to do a little postulating of your own!

By smashing complex quantum engineered astro-equations together - at speeds faster than light - the Infinite Wars was able to devise the patented Haseloff system of measuring superhumans. Though similar, it is designed to process many increments overlooked by other methods, making it one of the most popular features of the site. The Math has a very strong history of predicting outcomes of featured battles, but our extensive team of researchers continue to use the informations gathered on site to fine tweak the system and generally act like a bunch of know-it-all eggheads.

Your opportunity was to choose from four top 2008 ranked powers, the next four cumulative ranked powers, and four wildcards, to determine the strongest in each of our seven respective tape categories. The following results also contribute bonus points to next month's tally for the Fantasy League:

ARTWORK: John Romita JrHulk (Marvel Comics)
Real Name: [Dr. Bruce Banner] Year One: [1962]
Win Percentage: [58.33%] Cumulative Rank: [#4]
Strength Level: [6] Vote Percentage: [42.86%]
Silver: [Superman] Bronze: [Martian Manhunter/Thing]

The Infinite Wars Research Scientists say...
Labcoat wearing number-lovers that we are; we found it difficult to disagree with the forty-plus percent of you who felt Hulk really is the "strongest one there is!" Still, the debate of Hulk's true strength rages on as violently as the green goliath himself. We feel assessments of the Hulk's capacity for strength in conjunction with his rage typically fails to take into account: A) the measure of rage as a limited state; and B) the Hulk's limits as an organic vessel for the manifestation of atomic energies processed by his irradiated super-cellular metabolism. While we fully concede Hulk's strength is phenomenal, we do wonder if there might be a widespread misconception about his boundaries.

Superman, usually the second piece of this debate, brings up the rear with a strong second placing. As a vessel of noted alien physiology, we believe the process by which he absorbs the solar radiation of Earth's yellow sun provides Superman with a greater supply of bioenergy that is not dependent on his own generation (like the Hulk's nitro-adrenalin).

Martian Manhunter surprised us, despite his legitimate claim to great strength. Typically overshadowed by Superman, we attribute post-death sentimentality to boosting his support to the level of regular Hulk-sparring partner, the Thing.

ARTWORK: Alan DavisMr. Fantastic (Marvel Comics)
Real Name: [Prof. Reed Richards] Year One: [1961]
Win Percentage: [61.11%] Cumulative Rank: [#8]
Intelligence Level: [6] Vote Percentage: [50%]
Silver: [Batman] Bronze: [Mr. Terrific/Silver Surfer]

The Infinite Wars Research Scientists say...
The the moral inspirations of superheroes have taught us nothing, it's that often seemingly unbeatable brawn can be overcome with a little bit of cunning, guile, and old fashioned intelligence. As one of the important pieces of the Infinite Wars puzzle, we felt it was somewhat telling that a variety of brands of intelligence polled well with readers.

Reed Richards, one of the most brilliant heroes in either of the two major universes, was the expected favourite with a high percentage of votes. Batman, however, surprised considerably, given that his expertise for intelligence is in specialist fields of tactical warfare, information, and engineering. Tactical intelligence is rated much higher in our formula than many other statistically based numerations, validated often by combatants such as Batman.

Cosmic awareness and experience earnt Silver Surfer a surprise spot on the list also, tying it up with the conventional brilliance of Michael Holt, who shares Batman's tactical thinking, but extrapolates engineering skills exponentially through his meta-grade instincts for machinery.

ARTWORK: Alex RossFlash (DC Comics)
Real Name: [Barry Allen] Year One: [1956]
Win Percentage: [100%] Cumulative Rank: [#36]
Speed Level: [7] Vote Percentage: [50%]
Silver: [Flash] Bronze: [Zoom]

The Infinite Wars Research Scientists say...
We couldn't help but be surprised by the swell of support for the recently returned Barry Allen. For two decades it was believed he sacrificed his life in order to save the multiverse from destruction at the hands of the Anti-Monitor, but in the pages of Final Crisis, that fact has come undone!

Barry Allen's speed proved so great he was apparently able to evade the looming presence of death, allowing him to sprint backward through time to avert disaster in the form of a timebullet that struck the last surviving New God, Orion.
With speedsters the distance between ratings can be so minute, we find it incredibly difficult to seperate Allen from our expected winner, Wally West.

Zoom was the surprise for this category, bumping Jay Garrick out of the Team Flash Speedforce trifecta. We aren't entirely convinced Zoom's nature of speed ranks to the grade of more versatile speedsters, but are willing to accept this choice, even over the likes of Superman, Spitfire, Nova, Quicksilver, and other noted challengers.

Juggernaut (Marvel Comics)
Real Name: [Cain Marko] Year One: [1965]
Win Percentage: [0%] Cumulative Rank: [#319]
Stamnia Level: [7] Vote Percentage: [50%]
Silver: [Hulk/Wolverine] Bronze: [Superboy-Prime]

The Infinite Wars Research Scientists say...
While not especially relevant to 2008; Juggernaut is an entirely acceptable response to the measure of stamina and endurance. Unstoppable by name, the Juggernaut is one of the most compelling human forces known to the Infinite Wars, but combative relevance has perhaps seen this wildcard overshadow existentially defiant presences like the Spectre, Galactus, or Death.

Combative relevance is the catalyst from which the Infinite Wars statistics typically expand, even though they depend most typically on literal interpretations attributed to numerical increments. Juggernaut's capacity to remain refreshed and enduring through battle makes him a worthy winner.

Though Wolverine has longevity that must be acknowledged, typically his mutant healing factor is conducive to a reckless approach easily curbed. Incapacitation is quite common for the Wolverine, as are defeats, but, we accept the submission that suggests he ranks as highly as the Hulk, even if practical circumstances might disavow this hyopthesis.

ARTWORK: Erik LarsenSpider-man (Marvel Comics)
Real Name: [Peter Parker] Year One: [1962]
Win Percentage: [60.53%] Cumulative Rank: [#2]
Agility Level: [5] Vote Percentage: [44.44%]
Silver: [Mr. Fantastic] Bronze: [Chun-Li/Elektra]

The Infinite Wars Research Scientists say...
The importance of agility in combat is relevant to both defensive and offensive maneuvers within any given arsenal. Interpreting the value of these abilities can be difficult, particularly when one considers the nature of the super-poseable, the malleable, and the formless.

Plastic Man and Thin Man were two overlooked options that conform with the upper echelon of the agile. Plastic Man's metamorphing abilities extend far beyond those of mere disguises, allowing him a seemingly endless capacity for physical adaptation. Likewise, Thin Man possesses a range of movements similar to those of the Mr. Fantastic, albeit with the slant of moving in and out of the dimension of physicality. Does this potential intangibility - which allows continued interaction with conventional space - suggest superior agility, or merely complimentary skill?

More readily tangible acrobatics were clearly the preferred option, as indicated by the success of Spider-man, Elektra, and Chun-Li in your voting. Each of these fighters possess an impressive ability to contort and control their bodies in a variety of evasive and physically asserting ways. They do, of course, pale in comparison to Reed Richards' super-malleable structure, but are none the less important.

ARTWORK: Ed McGuinnessBatman (DC Comics)
Real Name: [Bruce Wayne] Year One: [1939]
Win Percentage: [68.57%] Cumulative Rank: [#1]
Fighting Level: [5] Vote Percentage: [30.77%]
Silver: [Captain America] Bronze: [Noob Saibot/Ryu]

The Infinite Wars Research Scientists say...
Given the celebration of fighting skill on the Infinite Wars, it was perhaps not unexpected that fighting ability would be the most hotly contested category in the series of polls. It's interesting to note that readers valued skill over the brutish competence of warrior-like barbarism (ie; the Hulk), which often rates exceptionally high in the superhero realm.

Karate Kid and Jin Kazama deserve compliments for their narrow brush with victory, but the final spread was even amongst representatives from DC, Marvel, Mortal Kombat, and Street Fighter! Perhaps even moreso than Hulk/Superman, it seems the debate of superiority between the fighting skills of the martial arts savvy Batman and the all-American hand-to-hand spirit of Captain America.

Their battle in the DC versus Marvel crossover feuls this rivalry that otherwise falls on concept. We feel the voters got it right, handing the victory to the better skilled Batman, even though our statistics admittedly rate Captain America's regular penchant for overcoming entire armies as a higher warrior rating. This disconnect of design is admittedly something readers should always keep in mind when interpreting the meaning of statistics.

The arcade rivalry for third was appreciated.

ARTWORK: Adi GranovSilver Surfer (Marvel Comics)
Real Name: [Norin Radd] Year One: [1966]
Win Percentage: [57.14%] Cumulative Rank: [#28]
Energy Level: [7] Vote Percentage: [42.86%]
Silver: [Darkseid] Bronze: [Green Lantern/Spectre]

The Infinite Wars Research Scientists say...
There's an irony to the dominance of the cosmic powers in our final category. Often the most difficult characters to accurately measure; their status on the fringes of understanding defines them by being almost indefinable.

As difficult as it can be to attribute hard fact to these levels, we feel there is need for something of a shuffle. If the Spectre's ethereal manipulations can be transcribed as expressions of energy based interactions, the near limitless potential for his magic makes him far more powrful than the other three characters who placed, who are all, not coincidentally, based in pseudo-science.

Heroes of science are based on their interaction with known quantities, and defined by the value of their compliance or objection within these rules.
Characters of magic are defined by the contrast of their defiance of rules and logic sets. Their abilities can fairly operate within these rules also, but typically stem from illogical sources, lending to a greater range of adaptation.

This juxtaposition is what leads to the misconception of Superman's vulnerability to magic, which is just that - an vulnerability - and not a weakness. His role as the seeming ultimate is dependent on his measure against the strength, or stamina of opposing forces, all based on pseudo-science.

Because we know the Spectre's omnipotence to be especially ill defined, he is arguably the most powerful. Silver Surfer is inherently subservient to Galactus, from which his powers stem, but while Darkseid has a conceptually implied superiority, practice often downplays this expression of his power.

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

Join the list! Draft a team today!
2008 Fantasy League...
It's with some reticence and sympathy that we announced a fourth month of dominance from Rokk and The People's Team!

Batman's dominance in the Infinite Wars seems to reflect on a team that also packs the presence of Flash and Wonder Woman! Franchise players like this almost certainly guarantee monthly returns, while the inclusion of Deathstroke in Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe has proved a handy little bonus to round out the team!

Expanded content helped push a wide variety of bonus points around the board, giving returns to many of the top teams, while also softening the blow of recession in the Super Stock for teams weighed down by the crunch of low ranked characters. The Elite Fleet was unable to escape bankrupcy this round, but The Ghost Walkers remind us how comebacks work in this wacky, frivilous, and illdefined game of ours!

September projects a whole lot of uncertainty for those keen to get ahead, but the hot properties remain the Mortal Kombat cast, who, for the most part, still offer high dividends for anyone drafting. As yet uninitiated heroes, like Jax and Sub-Zero, offer low risk options with strong win prospects and no pressure from the SuperStock!

The ebb and flow of interest seems to remain in negative gear after the dominance of film properties earlier in the year, but even unlikely spotlights like that seen on the X-Men [Onslaught: X-Men #1] seem to offer limited option for those betting their chips in one corner.
The Corps, comprised entirely of Green Lanterns, felt that pinch, despite a noted bias toward DC properties amidst continued coverage of their upcoming clash with MK. It's still anyone's game!

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 September 18!
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 37; Month 8
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 [136,109] +9.34%
(Jan 08) Amazing Spider-man #547 [108,485] -20.29%
(Jan 08) Amazing Spider-man #548 [105,122] -3.1%
(Feb 08) Amazing Spider-man #549 [101,112] -3.81%
(Feb 08) Amazing Spider-man #550 [90,874] -10.12%
(Feb 08) Amazing Spider-man #551 [88,084] -3.07%
(Mar 08) Amazing Spider-man #552 [89,835] +1.99%
(Mar 08) Amazing Spider-man #553 [82,648] -8.00%
(Mar 08) Amazing Spider-man #554 [81,072] -1.91%
(Apr 08) Amazing Spider-man #555 [86,902] +7.19%
(Apr 08) Amazing Spider-man #556 [78,458] -9.72%
(Apr 08) Amazing Spider-man #557 [77,057] -1.79%
(May 08) Amazing Spider-man #558 [76,966] -0.12%
(May 08) Amazing Spider-man #559 [74,206] -3.59%
(May 08) Amazing Spider-man #560 [74,012] -0.26%
(Jun 08) Amazing Spider-man #561 [72,372] -2.22%
(Jun 08) Amazing Spider-man #562 [71,409] -1.33%
(Jun 08) Amazing Spider-man #563 [70,792] -0.86%
(Jul 08) Amazing Spider-man #564 DD [68,882] -2.7%
(Jul 08) Amazing Spider-man #565 DD [69,182] +0.44%
(Jul 08) Amazing Spider-man #566 DD [68,912] -0.39%

For the first time in a very long while Spider-man finished the month with sales higher than he began it! This comes as Amazing continues what could be called a reasonable declination, off-set by a steep drop in the first few months after the revamp (Brand New Day).

Back in July we speculated the potential rise in sales garnered by Marc Guggenheim and Phil Jiminez' guest-spot starring Daredevil.
I'm inclined to think the character, as much as the implication of Spidey's interaction with solid Marvel Universe properties, was more responsible for the blip than the creators, who have otherwise failed to draw crowds.

It doesn't take a genius analyst to predict another upturn from next month's sales as Marvel continues to mine it's associations for improvement. John Romita Jr's return will entice fans of his recent iconic work with the character, while the draw card of multiple Venoms, the Green Goblin, and his Thunderbolts are sure to also contribute to the interest in New Ways to Die.
I'd almost be willing to expect sales hovering around the 90k+ mark, but with economic recession hitting America pretty hard, that might be an over estimation of the legs left in an industry feeling the pinch of pennys. I do, however, expect a very low percentage of drops over the next few months as fans flock to the newly introduced Anti-Venom concept, as well as the other listed trinkets.

Bullseye and Punisher both lurk on the horizon as upcoming spotlight guests in what might very well be a designed return to the Marvel Universe proper for post-BND Spidey -- but still smacks of premature backtracking after sloping sales. Still, given our desire to see things even out and hopefully never get to this situation again, I can't express much more than another apathetic reference to Dan DiDio's acknowledgment of the folly of these kinds of reboots.

Fans frustrated by our omission of Spider-man from Season 2008 can look back to the September Olympic Ceasfire which saw us look at a recent battle with Eddie Brock. Also be sure to find some thirty-eight other fights in the Secret Archives. I cannot speak of the quality of the Anti-Venom story, but our review reminded us how enjoyable the original character really can be!

The 2008 Top Five...
ARTWORK: Leinil YuAs the Infinite Wars continues to recover from terminal schedule delays; August provided some relief in content with a great range of diversity on the table. That said, as always, with a wide array of characters comes minimal flow-on to the Season 2008 Top Five.

The big story from August is probably Wolverine's declining stock in 2008, which saw the overall #6 plummet to #197 in this year's stakes. While it's undeniable the Infinite Wars has a love-hate relationship with Marvel's mutant cash-cow, this does seem particularly unjust given the character's strong role in the hit/miss New Avengers, and more importantly, the stellar post-apocalyptic future of Mark Millar and Steve McNiven's wild west inspired, Old Man Logan. Limited funds have rendered this moot.

Also loitering down among the deadmen is the Joker, whose a hype-driven July saw the clown prince of crime ride The Dark Knight wave to the bottom of the ranks, rounding out our 2008 ladder at #201, versus a cumulative #240 [of 564].

ARTWORK: Ed McGuinness#1 Batman (-) (30) (DC)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Joker]
Win Percentage: [68.57%] Features: [35]
2006: [#1] 2007: [#2] Cumulative: [#1]

Joker's rankings misery is to the benefit of the Dark Knight, whose sound defeats of his arch-nemesis have been a key sponsor in his dominance of Season 2008 on the Infinite Wars.

A Spider-free zone has kept sailing smooth for DC's biggest trademark, avoiding the competition seen in previous years. If our desire to gauge Batman's success rate were to be measured against Spidey, it would turn up a superior win-rate with fewer battles listed. Such is the potency of the Batman who, despite being regarded as an absurdly powerful character, has managed only a 68% from wins.

Continued rumblings of a third Nolan-directed Bat-feature offer just more hope on the horizon for those struggling to appreciate history-laden details in RIP. Dini seems to be doing his darndest to further whittle a unique character out of Hush in his RIP Detective tie-in, whilst also fulfilling the design of a more traditional Batman story. There's also the small matter of all that Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe and the upcoming Arkham game, as well as the long production on a The Dark Knight tie-in game that's promising a lot in the quality stakes.
It's always good to have a contingency, especially if there's a chance you might die!

ARTWORK: Jim Lee#2 Superman (-) (8) (DC)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Flash]
Win Percentage: [56%] Features: [25]
2006: [#7] 2007: [#13] Cumulative: [#5]

Geoff Johns and James Robinson are a couple of solid names to be pushing the Man of Steel across his core titles, but for some strange reason, it just doesn't feel like a Superman season...

With DC's lynchpin event, Final Crisis, pushing the headlining heroes to the side, Superman maybe feels marginalized. Not that he has been! An armada of Supermen are at the centre of Grant Morrison and Doug Mahnke's Superman Beyond, which dives deeper into the multiverse as it exists right now!

We're in a bit of a Superman mood and will probably be spending some time in September talking more about the Man of Steel and his capacity for interpretation, but, that just doesn't change the feeling in the air. It simply doesn't feel like a Superman time of year.

ARTWORK: Alex Ross#3 Iron Man (-) (12) (Marvel)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Wong-Chu]
Win Percentage: [62.5%] Features: [24]
2006: [#3] 2007: [#11] Cumulative: [#3]

In reflecting on the superhero business feature films become an increasingly important piece of the puzzle. Iron Man, a character already significant in comics, got what I would say is fair to describe as a boost through mutual promotion of the Favreau movie.

It's interesting to observe how the success of these films is curiously reflected in our 2008 rankings of each character. Granted, it's a coincidence of our review choice as much as maybe a bias toward each project and character, but to see them divided over the five in the odds is interesting! It would almost seem inappropriate for the year to end without celebrating Batman, Hulk, and Iron Man at the top of the ranks, but as we creek ever closer, it seems increasingly unlikely.

Iron Man's close ties to the top selling Secret Invasion should probably have the character enjoying more bouyant coverage in many opinions, but for me, the series' lack of thrust has only hampered post-film success.
Talks now turn to the inevitable Iron Man sequel, which is said to aim to introduce Terrence Howard's War Machine in full force, whilst drawing inspiration from the recent asthetic inbreeding of Matt Fraction's secondary solo title. Jon Favreau has done little to allude to detail, hinting again at the Mandarin. One wonders how this will affect franchise cross pollonation in response to the long rumored Iron Man/Hulk film.

ARTWORK: John Cassaday#4 Phantom (RE) (3) (King Features Syndicate)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Jungle Thieves]
Win Percentage: [100%] Features: [4]
2006: [NR] 2007: [NR] Cumulative: [#23]

Controversy surrounding the secondary licensing of the King Features property, to golden age plunderers from Dynamite Entertainment, recently thrust the Phantom back into the US industry spotlight.

Olympic furor and accompanying discussions regarding the rest of the world made the Phantom a logical entrant in August, given the character's enduring popularity outside of his native United States. The Phantom too seems to be the subject of motion picture rumors in this era that is so irrevocably defined by the success of IPs as crossmedia franchises. The popularity of comic book adaptations breathes new life into what was essentially a dead concept after the 1996 financial flop starring Billy Zane, Kirsty Swanson, and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

As a fan of the preserved qualities that make Phanom a truly unique character in the superhero landscape, it's somewhat concerning to see American interest resurrected, bringing with it the baggage of poorly considered revamps.
In relation to both film and comic projects from Moonstone and Dynamite, words like 'dark' and 'gritty' continue to be thrown around, suggesting asthetics that have only ever been attributed to the character on a case-by-case assessment.

The sensationalism of killing off Diana - the Phantom's wife of thirty years of print - really makes it difficult to respect the modern work of companies new to licensing character. It's fair to say the Phantom has deserved the respect and placement that comes with the contemporary direct market, but if mediocre conceptuals like Mike Bullock's work are to be the price of that, it hardly seems worth it. It's disappointing these modern energy couldn't have been channelled better, toward the long overdue introduction of a twenty-second Phantom, who should have long ago inhereted the role for the modern era.

Fans concerned with the continued success of more traditional takes have international options available to them, like the continued work of various divisions of Egmont, as well as the newspaper strip and translated reprintings catalogued by Australia's FREW publications. More information on the Phantom is guarded by the Chronicle Chamber website, which is establishing itself as the foremost English-language centre for the deceptively popular character.

ARTWORK: John Romita Jr#5 Hulk (-1) (9) (Marvel)
Class: [Meta] Last Opponent: [Hercules]
Win Percentage: [58.33%] Features: [24]
2006: [#6] 2007: [#10] Cumulative: [#4]

Goro finally slips off the top five just as the apparent final cast of characters for MKvsDC is reveals his absence. Hulk provides the shunt, despite securing only a draw in our month of Olympic heroics!

Like Iron Man; Hulk has perhaps failed to sustain the excitement generated in the lead-up to this year's feature film. I do not know who the Red Hulk is, nor do I think I particularly care. Granted, being so far removed from actual output makes it difficult to be enthusiastic about the execution of questionable editorial directions, but barring the passing of review copies *cough cough* that seems unlikely to change here on the Infinite Wars.

Again, if we were to look to crossmedia patterns, the Hulk has a very strong future in DTV animated features which will pit the character against Wolverine and Thor in two aptly named Versus shorts.
Deadpool is shown to play a strong support role in the Wolverine feature, recalling an Infinite Wars favourite; Deadpool #4! This does not, however, save the merc' with a mouth from the lacklustre of a Daniel Way relaunch. Ouch!

Cumulative Super Stock...

Wonder Man unwittingly hoists
his way up the ranks, rocketting up
one hundred places from last month!
[West Coast Avengers Annual #5]
1. Batman (-) (DC)
2. Spider-man (-) (M)
3. Iron Man (-) (M)
4. Hulk (+1) (M)
5. Superman (-1) (DC)
6. Wolverine (-) (M)
7. Captain America (-) (M)
8. Mr. Fantastic (-) (M)
9. Invisible Woman (-) (M)
10. Daredevil (-) (M)
16. Ryu (-) (C)
17. Flash (+3) (DC)
19. Catwoman (-1) (DC)
22. Green Lantern (-) (DC)
23. Phantom (+14) (KFS)
25. Storm (-1) (M)
29. Goro (-1) (Mid)
30. Noob Saibot (-1) (Mid)
33. Deadpool (-1) (M)
36. Flash (-1) (DC)
37. Dhalsim (-1) (C)
38. Ken Masters (-) (C)
40. Aquaman (-) (DC)
42. Wonder Woman (-) (DC)
43. Dr. Doom (-) (M)
46. Johnny Cage (+4) (Mid)
51. Sonya Blade (+40) (Mid)
63. Guile (-1) (C)
74. Wonder Man (+114) (M)
77. Phoenix (-10) (M)
78. USAgent (-5) (M)
80. Ice Man (-5) (M)
81. Sagat (-1) (C)
82. Cyclops (-4) (M)
85. Raiden (-1) (Mid)
87. Deathstroke (-1) (DC)
100. Black Panther (+1) (M)
113. Akuma (+1) (C)
150. Franklin Richards (+2) (M)
161. Hellboy (+2) (DH)
163. Jin Kazama (+2) (N)
178. Onslaught (new) (M)

Venom takes a pounding in
the Spider-Boycott ceasefire,
recoiling down the list!
[Spider-man Family #2]
179. Venom (-96) (M)
180. Chun-Li (-) (C)
181. Darkseid (-) (DC)
184. Gambit (-90) (M)
200. Machine Man (-) (M)
213. Lex Luthor (-) (DC)
219. Cannonball (-71) (M)
220. Captain Marvel (-1) (DC)
235. Kano (-1) (Mid)
236. She-Hulk (-1) (M)
237. Scorpion (-1) (Mid)
240. Joker (-1) (DC)
243. Liu Kang (-1) (Mid)
250. Vaporlock (-1) (DC)
300. Stilt-Man (-1) (M)
350. Lobo (-1) (DC)
400. Rommbu (-1) (M)
450. Saviour (-1) (DC)
500. Tasmanian Devil (-1) (DC)
531. Queen Aynos (new) (Mal)
532. Bishop (new) (M)
533. Dark Beast (new) (M)
536. Hercules (-5) (M)
550. Azraeuz (-6) (DC)
560. Lizard (-6) (M)
561. Taskmaster (-6) (M)
562. Zangief (-6) (C)
563. Magneto (-6) (M)
564. Dan Hibiki (-6) (C)

The Hammer...
... I don't know how many of you read the opening segment of this month's Punch-Up, but I think that's the last time we're going to let those guys out of the lab. Between you and me, I'm starting to doubt their credentials...

Speaking of credentials, the Infinite Wars has definitely suffered a blow from being stuck two weeks in the past. I like to think regular content is regular content, so be sure to keep hitting us up for stuff you might otherwise miss! Diehards will want to double check our August output for entries that might have snuck past beneath our interview with Jimmy Palmiotti, which featured prominentaly on the site throughout the month (posted live).

We've held off a little with our Hans Lo interview, but you can expect that to emerge in a similar fashion in the next few days.
That particular Q&A will be shortly followed with more on the final confirmed casts of Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe, so keep an eye out for that now!
Admittedly, it proved difficult to get the kind of introspection and discussion we had hoped, but it's fair to say, amidst the misunderstood questions, there's some interesting tidbits, including vague details about the plot of MKvsDCU! It was certainly a great opportunity to offer something up to readers again.

Big shoutout to any and all of the sites kind enough to acknowledge us!
The return of the Phantom to the Infinite Wars made it easy to touch back on the great work Chronicle Chamber is doing to finally establish a strong interactive experience built around the ghost who walks! If you're a project like this and want to share links, be sure to drop a comment some time!

Speaking of which -- is it a dream, is it a hoax, or is it the scoop of the year?
September might just become Superman Season as we blow the lid on the shocking new outline for a Superman cartoon series that might just be the follow-up to The Batman -- Last Son! It's not what you think!

The Kirby Martin Inquest is still on sale online for the low price of $1.99!
Production on Nite Lite Theatre properties has really slowed so your support is vital to the future success of the story and other concepts. I really hope you can find your way to online purchasing links (via and grab yourself (and a friend?) a copy!


Ciao for now!

- Mike Haseloff; Commanding Officer
Mike Haseloff is the secret fourth henchman of the king.
He will let you pass by if you win three janken matches.
You must choose either the "paper," "scissors," or "stone" before the music stops, or, alternatively, before he kicks you in the face and steals your shoes.

August Hit Count: [9439/138710] (-26.9%)

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