Sunday, October 26, 2008

With our reviews of the month centred heavily on vampires and zombies, I thought it fitting to overlook those obvious options in the C2C this year, to look elsewhere in the spectrum of comic book archetypes.

It's difficult to broach the subject of mystics and magicians in comics without pondering the origins of the superhero genre. We've talked at length before about Superman's union-suited predecessor, The Phantom, but what Lee Falk's creation who trumps even the Ghost Who Walks?

Beating the Phantom into print by two years; Mandrake the Magician used his powers of illusion and hypnotism to fight a range of evils traditionally associated with the medium. As with any early superhero, it's hard to ignore the pulp undertones of the character, but even more intriguing is Mandrake's ties to the then popular practise of magic. Allegedly inspired by Leon Mandrake, this strong inspiration of celebrity echoes practises of modern comics that sometimes draw parallels between the exploits of superheroes and real world celebrity reference points.

Mysticism's endless battle with science to occupy the share of fiction continues. Zatara, (Mandrake knock-off father of Zatanna), shared the pages of Action Comics #1 (1938) to debut alongside the better recognised, Superman. As if by meta-karma, Zatara's obscurity hasn't gone unavenged, leading to the oft discussed conundrum of a Superman's existance in a world of the undermining principles of magic.

Collected here are just some of the battles previously featured on the Infinite Wars, boasting powerful mystics including; Dr. Strange, Dr. Fate, Dr. Occult, Zatanna, and more.

Strange Tales #111 (August 1963)
"Face-to-Face With the Magic of Baron Mordo" Lee/Ditko

Somewhere in the mountainous regions of Tibet lives The Master, ancient master of the occult and mentor to Earth's Sorceror Supreme -- Dr. Strange! The final line of defense against all things mystic, occult and supernatural!

Though Dr. Strange's name inspires intrigue and fear, there is yet another name still that sends an even colder chill down any man's spine. He was once the Master's disciple, but he was seduced by the dark arts, and so he became the exile. The man who could have been the Sorceror Supreme, Baron Mordo.

Using his astral essence to travel undetected into The Master's lair, Mordo uses hypnotic suggestion to command his faithful servant to poison his food!
Unaware of Mordo's act of treachery, Strange sends his own astral form to visit the Master in lieu of new experiments, and finds him besieged. Can Strange overcome Mordo and save his mentor, or is Earth's eldest champion doomed?

JSA #64 (October 2004)
"Night Terrors" Johns/Ordway

In the 1940s Sanderson Hawkins was adopted by wealthy socialite Wesley Dodds; also known to citizens of New York City as the crime-fighting mystery man, the Sandman! Hawkins would soon find himself involved in Dodds' clandestine operation, eventually leading to accident that would turn him into a horrible silicon monster! Dodds placed his ward in suspended animation in an effort to protect both Sandy and the world from his mistake.

Resurrected in the modern era, Hawkins is cured, and inherits the JSA Brownstone and leadership of the team in a new age. Alas, Hawkins' time for this world was brief, and when the forces of Mordru, Obisidian and Eclipso unite their powers, Sand perishes in a heroic sacrifice to protect the Earth from multiple earthquakes -- or so it seemed! Forces far beyond this dimension had other ideas, and so, Sandy Hawkins enters a state of suspend animation once more, waiting to be woken from his nightmarish dreamstate...

Justice League Unlimited #14 (December 2005)
"Everybody Limbo!" Beechen/Barberi

Whenever an animated world finds itself in peril and the threat is too great for one hero, the collective forces of the Justice League are there to step in and save them!

When Wonder Woman starts checking herself out in the mirror, the League have cause for concern, but all is not as it seems! The Amazon warrior is possessed by the wandering spirit called - Deadman!

Deadman is in search of the League's help to combat the upstart menace of the demons three, but this isn't a job for Green Lantern or Flash. This special case calls for the collection of magically experienced heroes affectionately referred to as - the Trenchcoat Brigade!

Seven Soldiers: Zatanna #4 (December 2005)
"Zor!" Morrison/Mahnke

In this Seven Soldiers mini-series, Zatanna has been adventuring within herself, and the world of magic, as she comes to terms with all that she is, and all she can be.

With her powers failing her, Zatanna travels with a mysterious new apprentice called Misty, who exhibits great magical potential, and has a little magic die that seems to serve her every whim.

Encountering the legendary Ali-Ka-Zoom, Zatanna learns more about her own past, and the history of her young friend, on her way to find council with seven unknown men. What she finds, is Zor.

Street Fighter Alpha Vol.1 (June 2007)
"Round. 5" Masahiko Nakahira

For practitioners of an unnamed ansatsuken fighting style, mastery brings great power through the focused energies of ki through practise of hadou. Wielded by a skilled warrior, the hadou can be channelled into fireball projectiles and devestating ki-sponsored attacks, but these powers do not come without risk.

After defeating legendary Muay Thai fighter, Sagat; Ryu struggles with the inner darkness that was unleashed when he delivered the shoryuken that toppled his opponent, and scarred Sagat forever.

Having been taken over by the evil intent of the dark hadou once before; Ryu reluctantly agrees to accompany Interpol agent, Chun-Li, in attempting to uncover the recruitment of underground martial artists by a villainous organized criminal empired called Shadaloo!
Unbenknownst to Ryu, other forces have a stake in his fated confrontation with darkness and the villain called Bison. Watching from afar is Rose, whose tarot predicts an uncertain destiny for the Japanese martial artist.

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