Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Most comics sites and blogs spend some amount of time looking back at the year in review, but here on the Infinite Wars, we like to do things a little bit different. Combining the always sought-after practise of Fantasy Fights with a year-end retrospective, we take a look back through 2008 by drawing parallels between the major events and characters of the two major companies and pit them against each other!

ARTWORK: Doug Mahnke2007 produced some memorable fantasy pairings, but as always, some of the close encounters left room for doubt. Thus, in 2008, the Infinite Wars changed the game, handing control over the final results to you!

If you missed it, be sure to track back to the first half of our year-end Fantasy Fights where DC gained the overall advantage with eight wins-to-three. Also included in the first half, links to last year's summary Fantasy Fights!

Defining the movements of DC and Marvel in 2008 were two key events: Final Crisis (DC) and Secret Invasion (Marvel). How have they shaped the fates of your favourite superheroes and villains? Let's see!...

[NR] :2008
[#162] :RANKING

2008: [#230]
RANKING: [#258]
Cosmic War Generals...
Strength: Ultron 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Ultron 5 (Professor)
Speed: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Ultron 6 (Generator)
Agility: Sinestro 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Sinestro 4 (Trained)
Energy: Sinestro 7 (Cosmic)

The Math: Draw

The Year in Review...
Spillover from 2007 brought with it a series of cosmic challenges for select characters from both companies!

DC played host to a major mini-event, the Sinestro Corps War! For the Green Lanterns, the threat of Sinestro and his yellow fear Corps threatened not only their existence, but also that of Earth and the entire DC multiverse!
Marvel had their own space crisis brewing in the former of the Annihilation Conquest event, which ushered in the return of another yellow menace, the technoarchy of the Phalanx! Worse still, the Phalanx had themselves their own figurehead to lead their assimilation of the universe -- Ultron!

Both events might have been overshadowed by larger promotion for Final Crisis and Secret Invasion, but at the beginning of 2008, their significance could not be debated. Particularly not for those keen to see the revival of cosmic superheroes!

Sensing something of a trend with DC-centric favortism, you, the voters, saw fit to declare Sinestro the victor in this encounter. I'd like to think their abilities (and armies) are different enough that multiple outcomes might occur from their meeting, but I'd probably tend to agree with your vote.

Winner: Sinestro (100%)

[#5] :2008

2008: [#159]
RANKING: [#304]
Government Contingency Pawns...
Strength: Hulk 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Lex Luthor 6 (Genius)
Speed: Hulk 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Hulk 6 (Generator)
Agility: Draw 2 (Average)
Fighting: Hulk 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Lex Luthor 4 (Arsenal)

The Math: Hulk

The Year in Review...
Oh, now we're getting our hands dirty!
Bouncing off of the Superman/Hulk rivalry, we spin the bottle to the man whose genius and technology has allowed him to go toe-to-toe with the Man of Steel! Why? Because during the year both Hulk and Luthor found themselves in similar predicaments!

New Krypton saw the release of thousands of Kryptonian supermen from the bottled city of Kandor, leaving them to influence the world however they please in the boundless realm of Earth! Powered by the yellow sun, those who would choose evil, such as the Zod fanatics, would become a dangerous threat! Thus, another release was made, this time of the incarcerated Lex Luthor, who is now to be used as a weapon against these would-be destroyers!

Flip the page to the Marvel Universe where a new rampaging red goliath has emerged and a post-WWH Bruce Banner is lying in a cell! Banner was released, revealing a new, less cagey incarnations of the Hulk, and used as a weapon against the Red Hulk -- or so it seemed. "Rulk" actually turned out to be the weapon, sponsored mysteriously by Thunderbolt Ross and Doc Samson. Who he is, remains unknown, but the need to stop him outweighed that of Hulk.

Despite the fact that Lex Luthor has been known to go head-to-head with Superman, and Hulk was previously defeated by Superman, you still saw fit to declare Hulk the winner. It was a suitably close vote, though, which seems to at least acknowledge Luthor's potential to herd the rampaging beast into bondage.

Winner: Hulk (57%)

[#367] :2008
[#696] :RANKING

2008: [#205]
RANKING: [#403]
Morally Ambiguous Manipulators...
Strength: Norman Osborn 4 (Enhanced)
Intelligence: Norman Osborn 5 (Professor)
Speed: Norman Osborn 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Norman Osborn 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Norman Osborn 2 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Amanda Waller 4 (Trained)
Energy: Norman Osborn 4 (Arsenal)

The Math: Norman Osborn

The Year in Review...
Here you have a pair of characters who have a power most of the superhuman counterparts can't even touch. Both Waller and Osborn have been in bed with a team of villains - the Suicide Squad and Thunderbolts - but both have managed to maneuver through events to hold significant political powers within their respective universes!

Norman Osborn's stock within the Marvel Universe has continued to rise since retiring his Green Goblin mask. Now he joins Dr. Doom, Sub-Mariner, The Hood, and several others in a secret cabal observing global events as a Dark Illuminati. More publicly, he's become the name in which the public trust, dethroning Tony Stark as Director of SHIELD, to become the new leading power in intelligence within the Marvel Universe. He was also in the right place to fire a decisive shot to secure victory against the Skrull Invasion!

Waller's year began with her stabbing her Suicide Squad underlings in the back, only to jettison them into space along with the other villains of the DCU, in Salvation Run. Her previous role as White Queen within Checkmate is comparable with the clout amassed by Osborn, and she maintains a similar power, even if her activities outside of the International organization saw her demoted.

Recently Waller was implanted with nanotechnology allowing her to control Chemo, but if push came to shove in an all-out one-on-one, I'd agree with the final outcome favouring a Goblin Osborn. If, however, the struggle between the two positioned them as Generals commanding their respective forces, I'm not sure it would be quite as clear a scenario.

Winner: Norman Osborn (57%)

[#323] :2008
[#58] :RANKING

2008: [NR]
Time Travellers...
Strength: Booster Gold 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Dr. Doom 6 (Genius)
Speed: Booster Gold 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Dr. Doom 6 (Generator)
Agility: Draw 2 (Average)
Fighting: Draw 3 (Street Wise)
Energy: Dr. Doom 5 (Lasers)

The Math: Dr. Doom

The Year in Review...
2008 has proved to be something of a coming of age for Booster Gold.
His journies through time have forced him to review certain ideals and pieces of his life in a different perspective, maturing a once egocentric personality. Now he has taken it upon himself to be something of a guardian of time, intervening when necessary to ensure the protection of the fluid, but fragile scope of history and existence.

Dr. Doom is smart enough to have a healthy respect for time and the, (at least for that accursed Richards), unpredictable laws of causality. When one of his secret weapons - a symbiote bomb - was detonated over New York City, it resulted in an inevitable clash between he and one of the most powerful men in the Marvel Universe - Iron Man. The resulting showdown accidentally threw the pair, along with the Sentry, into time.

Doom is no stranger to time travel. In another universe where they might co-exist the pair might meet, fight, or even work together, making this a fairly obvious clash of thematic peers. When it boils down to it, however, Dr. Doom is in a whole other stratusphere. The two suited opponents might find varying results in a fisticuff scrap, but no matter how much maturing Booster's done, he might still have a ways to go before

Winner: Dr. Doom (100%)

[#49] :2008
[#16] :RANKING

2008: [#227]
RANKING: [#14]
Warriors Without Kingdoms...
Strength: Black Adam 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Draw 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Black Adam 5 (Superhuman)
Stamina: Black Adam 6 (Generator)
Agility: Draw 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Black Adam 7 (Instinctive)
Energy: Black Adam 3 (Explosives)

The Math: Black Adam

The Year in Review...
The past few years for these old war horses have been tough. As it stands in 2008, they are each fiercely proud warrior-monarchs without a kingdom to rule over, or protect. Consequently, it seems their decisions will again make them hated by those heroic few they sometimes call allies.

Geoff Johns' well documented work with Black Adam has effectively elevated him to a status easily compared to, but far beyond, what Namor once was. While Adam becomes the fiery unstoppable force, Namor has become pacified in modern times, exhibiting a calmer wisdom in his old age. Both, however, have come into league with other forces that may once again lead them astray; Adam, for the love of the deceased Isis, and Namor, his lost Atlantean kingdom.

Both scenarios should make for an exciting year in 2009!

Sub-Mariner is sometimes overlooked as one of the most powerful men in the Marvel Universe, but the powers of Shazam dwarf even Namor's undying passion, posessing none of the weaknesses that sometimes ail the Atlantean mutant. It would surely be an epic fight of pointy-eared proportions, but for now, I'm inclined to agree once more with your votes.

Winner: Black Adam (100%)

[#193] :2008
[#305] :RANKING

2008: [#7]
RANKING: [#15]
One Against the Gods...
Strength: Wonder Woman 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Wonder Woman 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Wonder Woman 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Draw 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Draw 2 (Average)
Fighting: Wonder Woman 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Draw 1 (None)

The Math: Wonder Woman

The Year in Review...
Alright, from a publishing standpoint, they're actually polar opposites. She-Hulk recently suffered cancellation, while Wonder Woman is contractually obliged to remain in print so long as DC wish to do business with the brand. It might be a shame for Shulkamania, but as we observed last month, it's a fact of print life.

During the year, both powerful women stood against gods, of sort!
She-Hulk had the (bad) luck of the Irish as she delt with the likes of Bran the Blessed. Wonder Woman's gods of choice were those commanded by Mary Marvel and the descending influence of the New Gods! Her trials against the young Shazam brought Wonder Woman into forced membership with a new team of Female Furies under the control of the Anti-Life Equation (along with Giganta, Catwoman, and Batwoman). She-Hulk joined a team of her own, willingly forming a new quartet of Lady Liberators (with Thundra, Valkyrie, and others).

They are arguably the most powerful female identitys in their respective universes. Once again, I'm not inclined to make any kind of argument against the voting, largely agreeing with Wonder Woman's superiority against a less versatile opponent. We could get into a whole thing about how far She-Hulk's super-strength traditionally goes, but if you haven't noticed, I'm trying to finish...

Winner: Wonder Woman (80%)

[#37] :2008
[#88] :RANKING

2008: [#2]
Archetypal Heroes...
Strength: Draw 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Superman 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Draw 6 (Mach Speeds)
Stamina: Draw 6 (Generator)
Agility: Draw 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Draw 3 (Street Wise)
Energy: Sentry 7 (Cosmic)

The Math: Draw

The Year in Review...
Like Part 1's Todd/Barnes rematch; this was a fight I felt held enough relevance to weigh-up with your vote for a second time. Actually, in 2007, this was the only battle we held a vote on, but as results will suggest, things have changed!

The Sentry began as an imaginary character in 2000, allegedly discovered in archives as a lost Stan Lee creation from the Silver Age. A collection of mini-series revealed his secret (mis)adventures in the Marvel Universe which became part of the canon when the Sentry was fully introduced as part of the development of the original New Avengers team. Since, he's held questionable weight as Marvel's mentally fragile parable of the Man of Steel.

For some, the character still seems to represent an innocent idea of fun, but across the internet fans have called for Sentry's head. Whether it's the constant crying in battle, the iconic DC ideals he represents, or the misconception that he's somehow "too powerful" for Marvel: the character is just not well liked.

In 2007 one could say a Marvel bias existed within the site, but that balance has tipped well and truly in favour of DC amidst a 2008 filled with site reviews and praises for the company. That, combined with the afforemenioned growing unpopularity the character is experiencing, might have been what reversed last year's decision.

The boundaries of Sentry's abilities remain so ill defined, I'd struggle, as I did last year, to make any unimpeachable ruling, but I'd look to that mental instability as the breaking point of Sentry's argument. Few heroes represent an awe inspiring stature the scale of Superman, so in a Fantasy Fight, that's good enough for me.

I can't say I have any strong feelings one way, or the other, on whether or not the Sentry should be allowed to exist in Marvel Comics. As a fan of both brands and someone who considers himself something of a student of the medium, I can appreciate the potential of this analagous character in a world supposedly defined by it's human problems and mental frailties. The Sentry presents a discussion of differentiation, but I think, also, goes much farther than that, exploring more general ideas than the company ethic, or popular belief. Ideals that were well touched upon, I think, in a story like World War Hulk. Like Superman, I feel the Sentry has the capability to reflect different meaning upon different characters, but it remains to be seen whether or not fans will allow the character the space to reveal that. The hate is awfully loud!

Winner: Superman (75%)

[#43] :2008
[#289] :RANKING

2008: [#64]
RANKING: [#137]
Gods Against God-Killers...
Strength: Draw 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Orion 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Orion 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Orion 6 (Generator)
Agility: Hercules 2 (Average)
Fighting: Draw 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Orion 5 (Lasers)

The Math: Orion

The Year in Review...
For me, one of the greatest moments of 2008 was the fight to the death between Orion and Darkseid [Countdown #2]! Fitting, then, that Orion should be pitted against a character who starred in one of the most enjoyable series of '08!

Hercules was forced to contend with a variety of opponents this year as his series got down to some good old fashioned superhero slugfests! When Secret Invasion came to the pages of the series, it proved to be just another roadblock to be knocked down, this time pitting Herc' against the Skrull gods and their plot to erase the pantheons of Earth's gods!

Orion, as already mentioned, was forced to clash with his father in a supposed final battle. Theirs was not only a fight that began the Final Crisis, but was also the last page in the parallel epic of The Death of the New Gods. Orion's legacy has been one of mystery since his murder with the unique device of a time travelling bullet! Though far less successful than Hercules, the power than Orion represents was well documented in his victory over Darkseid. A victory that inadvertently unleashed doom upon humanity, but a victory, none the less.

Hercules is truly the prince of power, but his feats of strength are physical in nature. Orion represents a raw energy arguably beyond anything Hercules himself can produce. Fight bravely though he would, I'm not sure even Hercules' might could quell the rages of Orion.

Winner: Orion (70%)

[#238] :2008
[#24] :RANKING

2008: [#163]
RANKING: [#293]
Resurrected Gods on Earth...
Strength: Draw 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Darkseid 5 (Professor)
Speed: Thor 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Darkseid 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Draw 2 (Average)
Fighting: Thor 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Darkseid 6 (UWMD)

The Math: Darkseid

The Year in Review...
Rivalled only by the hype of the Joker [RE: The Dark Knight], I would have to say Darkseid has been the villain of 2008! His crossmedia exposure came from being part of the merged villain in Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe, but the real acclaim comes from the comics. Final Crisis, at it's heart, is a story about Darkseid, and those acting in his name, achieving the unthinkable: the destruction of Earth and the fall of the world's greatest superheroes.

The catalyst for Final Crisis: Darkseid's prophecized death at the hands of Orion, which sent him hurtling from the existential plane of New Gods, into the ether of the universe. His fall ruptured time and space, and began the reemergence of the darkest of the dead New Gods, as his agents on Earth. It was here that Darkseid himself was eventually reborn among us.

Thor too fell to a mythic prophecy several years ago.
He and his Norse gods were wiped out as the events of Ragnarok destroyed them and their heavenly realm of Asgard. Eventually, however, he too was reborn on the Earth, under far less grim circumstances. His mission has been one of reestablishing and discovering his Norse brethren, which has largely kept him away from the superhero spotlight, at least until Secret Invasion!

As two of comics' most amazing powers; a collision between Darkseid and Thor would truly be something to behold! In the heirarchy that defines so much of the fiction, it's undeniable that Darkseid sits somewhere above the likes of Thor, even though we've seen it possible for Superman, or even Batman, to engage Darkseid in mortal combat. With that in mind, I wouldn't call a clash between gods as trivial as a one-sided affair, but, from a hypothetical of ideals, Darkseid does seem the more likely victor.

Winner: Darkseid (66%)

[#3] :2008

2008: [#1]
Self-Made Movie Heavyweights...
Strength: Iron Man 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Draw 5 (Professor)
Speed: Batman 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Iron Man 6 (Generator)
Agility: Batman 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Batman 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Iron Man 5 (Lasers)

The Math: Iron Man

The Year in Review...
No two characters defined 2008 quite as much as Batman and Iron Man.

Sponsored largely by multi-million dollar feature films, the pair came to iconic prominence the world over, this year. Iron Man put forward a very positive idea of what was visually and conceptually possible in a modern superhero film, while The Dark Knight took that one step further, embodying the spirit of comics like no other movie, and racking up a host of records in it's wake -- including a Golden Globe award for Heath Ledger's supporting role as Joker!

In the comics, Iron Man spent most of the year in the most prominent role in the Marvel Universe. Bouncing off of his ascension in Civil War, he continued a career as Director of SHIELD, touching on every conceivable corner of the Marvel U!
Batman's prominence in the comics wasn't quite as obvious. His role in the major crossovers has been minimal in comparison to Iron Man's post-baring presence in Secret Invasion, but that's not to say the Dark Knight was quiet. RIP made headlines around the world for it's proposal that the Batman might have died! His true fate remains unknown, pending the conclusion of Final Crisis, which might yet ascend him to a higher level than ever before, or simply whisk him away to a dark corner from whence he may spring again.

Making this an even more perfect match-up: the comparable strengths of the characters are brilliant men who used their fortune to recreate themselves as self-made supermen. Neither had any inherent right to stand beside gods, but through their dedication a genius, they surpassed them.

Batman is traditionally regarded as the superhero who can beat them all, but I can only assume a series of events conspired to hand him this conclusive victory, not the least of which would be the success of his film. While Batman possesses a notable penchant for out-strategizing his opponents, Tony Stark isn't exactly a schlub. The Extremis tech might actually have made him more vulnerable to a Batman strategic assault, but to pander to the Fantasy Fight side of things, there's no way this would be a clean fight.

Winner: Batman (70%)

That concludes our slightly rushed review of the events (and characters) that defined 2008. This is also the last post for the Infinite Wars Season!

Many thanks to those of you who voted in the Fantasy Fights!
No doubt we'll be back to do it all again next year, hopefully with a few more voters, and maybe even readers. With any luck 2009 will run a bit more smoothly, but still produce some of the same fun we had in 2008!

Be sure to share any objections and/or opinions in the comments, and hey, why not tell a friend about your outrage, too? Cheers!

15 versus 6
(DC wins!)
NOTE: Delayed shipping for New Years!
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.


The Independents...
SEP082246 BACK TO BROOKLYN #3 (OF 5) (MR) $2.99
OCT080039 GOON #31 $2.99
JUN084117 PHANTOM #26 $3.99

The Corporates...
OCT082394 AVENGERS INVADERS #7 (OF 12) $2.99
OCT080122 BATMAN CACOPHONY #2 (OF 3) $3.99
OCT080142 BLUE BEETLE #34 $2.99
OCT082396 CAPTAIN AMERICA #45 $2.99
MAY082347 KICK ASS #5 (MR) $2.99
OCT080094 TRINITY #31 $2.99

The Spotlight...
- OCT080110 BATMAN #684 $2.99
Legendary Batman scribe, Denny O'Neil, takes the reins as writer for our first big taste of a Gotham without the Batman! Crime has gripped the city in it's Dark Knight's absence, and with Two-Face back in town, Nightwing finds himself in a tough spot without help! The big question is -- what happens in a world without Batman when Commissioner Gordon lights the signal? Brace yourself as we head toward the next big chapter in Bat-history: the Battle for the Cowl!

Secrets will be revealed in this companion to the biggest event of 2008: Final Crisis!
Learn more about the ripples spread across the multiverse by Darkseid's death at the hands of Orion [Countdown #2] and the mysteries surrounding Earth's timeline! With any luck, it will be the perfect companion piece for anyone feeling confused by the deliberately jarring sequence of cosmic events!

- SEP080151 GREEN LANTERN #36 (RES) $2.99
The Blackest Night is coming, but before dead rise as the Black Lanterns, the Red Lanterns will spread rage across the universe! The Green Lantern Corps are heading to Ysmault to confront Atrocitus and their Red Lantern counterparts in a battle that will shape their future. PLUS: The emotional spectrum grows as the Controllers seek out the selfish Orange Lanterns and continue to bring about the fullfillment of a dark prophecy that began with the Sinestro Corps War! Exclamation point!

- OCT082398 INCREDIBLE HERCULES #124 $2.99
Hercules was already the MVP of 2008, but with the Axis Mundi showing up, that's just doubled the value of this book, as far as I'm concerned!

- OCT082347 WAR MACHINE #1 DKR $2.99
War Machine returns to solo action, spinning out of the pages of Invincible Iron Man! Yay!

- OCT082473 WOLVERINE #70 $2.99
The wait is finally over as we eagerly anticipate the dark future-past that pushed Wolverine to sheathe his claws and renounce violence! Mark Millar and Steve McNiven's flash forward future shock to a world where events saw the downfall of America, the dominance of villains, and a dark hour that turned Wolverine into a pacifist. There will be blood!

- OCT082466 X-FORCE #10 $2.99
Ghost Rider, Mr. Sinister, Vanisher, Domino, and a bunch of other hoohah.
I have no idea why this motley crew of characters is in this series, but I'm keen to know why!

Advertise here! Contact for more!

Know Your Trade...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2004-2008 Top 25
#1 Tara (2004)
#2 Firestorm (2004)
#3 The Gorgon (2004)
#4 Soldier (2005)
#5 Hotaru (2004)
#6 Tally Man (2006)
#7 Mallen (2005)
#8 Thor Clone (2006)
#9 Tommy Jagger (2006)
#10 Non (2006)
#11 Gravity (2005)
#12 Monolith (2004)
#13 The Blonde (2004)
#14 Dragon King (2004)
#15 Bulleteer (2005)
#16 Miss Martian (2006)
#17 Queen Veranke (2005)
#18 Pagon (2007)
#19 Blue Beetle (2006)
#20 Equus (2004)
#21 The Captain (2006)
#22 Robot (2005)
#23 Blockbuster (2006)
#24 Captain Boomerang (2004)
#25 Lionheart (2004)
Well, we've been on a tour of the past twenty-five years, but here we are! Back in the present, which, ironically, is actually the future, because we're well past deadline on our 2008 material...

To fully appreciate our tour of the ages, track back through our flashes of the past; 1984-1988, 1989-1993, 1994-1998, 1999-2003.

In the last five years we've seen the mythology of superheroes grow exponentially through carefully plotted epics and milestone occasions. When they've been good, they've been very good, bringing together the advantages of strong writing developed in the previous five year period, and a structural indulgence that lends itself to creating a landscape - a universe.

In this period, DC in particular have harnessed their finest minds to construct a cohesive environment. Unfortunately, this process, at it's worst, has reopened comics to the temptation of frivilous marketting and excess. Accompanying these negatives are other tropes reminiscent of the downfall of the nineties, such as an obscene number of variant covers and gimmicks.

On a more positive note, this period was also arguably the true coming of age for superheroes on the big screen. While previous ventures like X-Men (2000) and Spider-man (2002) paved the way, it was much later successes like, Sin City (2005), 300 (2007), Iron Man (2008), and The Dark Knight (2008), that truly endeared the genre to mainstream audiences and critics, alike.
In fact, Heath Ledger's performance as Joker is the much revered Bat-sequel has successfully earnt him a post-humous Golden Globe award for best supporting actor, and looks likely to capture nomination from the Academy, if not the award.

This really should be a booming period for comics, yet, somehow, they still fail to break the numbers once seen in decades gone by. I wonder if enough efforts are being made to tie the brands together, or if it is even viable. Regardless, it certainly should be an interesting few years ahead of us this decade. Perhaps the 2009 Watchmen film will help break the same kind of ground for the medium that the original comic series did.

Here we have a variety of fine stories from the last five years, as it happens, encapsulating a variety of methods and styles of stories. 2004-2008 produced character-driven arcs, random encounters, space-faring epics, and one night only smashfests. Enjoy!

Marvel Knights: Spider-man #1 (June 2004)
"Down Among the Dead Men" Millar/Dodson

Theirs is a rivalry that has spanned decades and brought about great misery in each of their lives. Norman Osborn has waged a war on Spider-man in both his identity as Green Goblin, and otherwise. Among his exploits, the impregnation of Parker's then-girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, and her ultimate demise atop the George Washington Bridge.

Norman Osborn would seemingly perish in battle with Spider-man, but amidst the chaos of believing he was a clone who had usurped the life of the true Peter Parker, Spider-man finds a bittersweet truth when Norman reemerges to finally kill the true clone, Ben Reilly.

Yet another skirmish in their lifelong war brings Spider-man to lie resting in an alleyway behind a restaurant. At first mistaking the motionless body for a vagrant sleeping in trash, the store deli employees soon become acquainted with the deadly truth: Enter the Green Goblin!

JLA: Classified #3 (March 2005)
"Seconds to Go" Morrison/McGuinness

With the Justice League trapped on a mission to the infant universe of Qwewq; it's up to the International Ultramarine Corps to respond to disaster in Africa!
Gorilla Grodd, having allied himself with the mysterious cosmic being, Neh-Buh-Loh, has begun a path of destruction intended for the entire Earth!

The Ultramarine Corps quickly find themselves overwhelmed by Grodd and his ape-army, leaving the Knight's sidekick, Squire, to make a call to her mentor's American counterpart - The Batman! The Dark Knight summons his secret arsenal of bizarre and alien technologies, as well as the resources of the League itself, in an effort to rally against Grodd and the Nebula Man.

He leaves Squire to make contact with Qwewq, leading an inhuman proxy-League to distract from the true team's absence. His automatons prove insufficient in battle with the Corps; now under the manipulation of Grodd. With Batman defeated, the Justice League are needed more than ever, but will their escaped from the infant universe come too late?...

Daredevil #87 (September 2006)
"The Devil in Cell Block D" Brubaker/Lark/Gaudiano

A living hell is nothing new for Matt Murdock, but incarcerated without charge, things take a turn for the worse when his best friend - Foggy Nelson - is seemingly murdered mere rooms away.

Manipulated by an unseen player, Daredevil finally accepts the aid of a voluntarily arrested Frank Castle - aka The Punisher.

Finally free to pursue those that have wronged him, the Daredevil's first target is an imposter who has been patrolling his patch with the same vigilance as he.
Is this new Daredevil a friend, or will the confrontation present a new foe?

Green Lantern #24 (December 2007)
"Home Invasion" Johns/Reis

Long thought dead, it is the resurrection of Hal Jordan that prompts the return of the villainous fallen Green Lantern called Sinestro. Revealed, he carries with him the mysterious powers of a yellow ring, gathered in his previous travels of exile in the anti-matter universe, Qward.

Sinestro is revealed to have been imprisoned within the Central Power Battery on Oa, where he conversed with the yellow fear entity Parallax, and hatched the downfall of one of the Lantern's greatest heroes, and his bitter rival, Hal Jordan.

As Jordan joins Kyle Rayner and the other surviving Lanterns to spur the beginnings of a new era of the Green Lantern Corps; Sinestro and Parallax begin their own quest, sending out yellow power rings to gather agents for their Sinestro Corps of fear wielding soldiers. So begins the inevitable first stages of the Sinestro Corps War, prophecized by the Book of Oa.

With their intention to destroy the fifty-two worlds of the megaverse, the Sinestro Corps descend in full on "New Earth." While the Lanterns struggle with their own battles; Hal Jordan rushes to the rescue of his Coast City dwelling brother, and his family, who has come under threat from Parallax, who has possessed the once future Ion - Kyle Rayner!

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 29, 2008

2007 Fantasy Battles:
Captain Marvel Jr vs Hercules
Catwoman vs Tigra
Aquaman vs Sub-Mariner
Booster Gold vs Mar-Vell
Green Arrow vs Hawkeye
Nightwing vs Moon Knight
Wonder Woman vs Ms. Marvel
J'onn J'onnz vs Professor X
Green Lantern vs Nova
Mr. Terrific vs Iron Man
Black Adam vs Hulk
Red Hood vs Winter Soldier
Green Lantern vs Silver Surfer
Batman vs Daredevil
Superman vs Sentry
Most comics sites and blogs spend some amount of time looking back at the year in review, but here on the Infinite Wars, we like to do things a little bit different. Combining the always sought-after practise of fantasy fights with a year-end retrospective, we take a look back through 2008 by drawing parallels between the major events and characters of the two major companies and pit them against each other!

2007 produced some memorable fantasy pairings, but as always, some of the close encounters left room for doubt. Thus, in 2008 the Infinite Wars changed the game, handing control over the final results to you!

Any dramatic contrivances have been completely stripped from the results this year, leaving each duo to face each other in a pure scenario of superiority. How that superiority has been determined can only be explained by those few who voted, but we would assume a combination of fighting ability and excellence in stories, contributed.

Defining the movements of DC and Marvel in 2008 were two key events: Final Crisis (DC) and Secret Invasion (Marvel). Both feature prominently throughout the many thematics that combine pairs of characters.

There were twenty-one polls. The final ten will be posted at the end of the year, but for now, soak up the first ten winners as determined by you! Each result also provides the last shot at bonus points for the 2008 Fantasy League teams.

[NR] :2008

2008: [NR]
Politicized Nationalists...
Strength: Draw 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Capt. Britain 5 (Professor)
Speed: Capt. Britain 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Draw 6 (Generator)
Agility: Capt. Britain 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Draw 4 (Trained)
Energy: Rocket Red 4 (Arsenal)

The Math: Captain Britain

The Year in Review...
While the two major events gripped each respective universe, the true battle was fought beyond the frontlines manned by just the major superheroes. Two organizations vital to both universes, Checkmate and MI:13, respectively.

The Russian government supported the admission of current Rocket Red #1, Captain Maks Chazov, into the International intelligence agency. Unfortunately, this Captain was much less fortunate in his universe's struggle, succumbing to the Anti-Life Equation that claimed much of the DC Universe.

On the flipside, Captain Britain, who also suffered defeat (death, actually) in the service of MI:13, proved far more successful in his violent battle against the invading forces of the Skrulls.

Both represent their nations in the deepest way possible, but when it came to the vote, your faith was put in one of the most powerful mystic forces in the Marvel Universe. I'm not sure I can blame you given the raw magic powers that fuel Captain Britain -- a source traditionally more reliable than metals.

Winner: Captain Britain (100%)

[NR] :2008
[#98] :RANKING

2008: [#207]
RANKING: [#255]
Duplicitous Crackshots...
Strength: Bullseye 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Draw 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Draw 3 (Strong Willed)
Agility: Bullseye 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Bullseye 4 (Trained)
Energy: Bullseye 4 (Arsenal)

The Math: Bullseye

The Year in Review...
Deadshot might be best known for his cavalier career as a mercenary, but over the years he seems to have developed a select few associations. At the beginning of 2008 he held tenure with the Suicide Squad, but when the villains of the DCU were sent the hell planet, Salvation, those ties were officially severed, allowing Deadshot to commit more specifically to the Secret Six.

Across the Bleed, the situation wasn't quite as amicable for Bullseye.
The divide caused by the superhero Civil War gave many villains the chance to become part of the payroll for a government funded initiative that demanded every available superpower be catalogued, trained, and potentially enlisted, no matter how crooked. Few personalities represent how far the new administration was willing to go in it's pursuit of unregistered heroes, than Bullseye.

The Kingpin's former assassin is kept out of the limelight cast on Norman Osborn's Thunderbolts, kept for special emergencys. This clandestine operation and distrust is not too dissimilar to Deadshot's tenure with the Suicide Squad, and the ultimate betrayal by Amanda Waller makes for a vague analogue to Bullseye's predicament as internal conflict rips at the T-bolts.

When it came to making your choice of deadly never-miss assassin, you felt it was the Marvel hitman who had the deadlier aim. Given Bullseye's ability to adapt nearly anything into a deadly accurate killing tool, I'm inclined to agree, even if it's only a split-end that seperates the two. There's also a sense that, in practise, Bullseye might just be more accustomed to the hard fights.

Winner: Bullseye (83%)

[#317] :2008
[#306] :RANKING

2008: [#6]
RANKING: [#32]
Undercover Alien Shape-Shifters...
Strength: Draw 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Draw 4 (Tactician)
Speed: M. Manhunter 5 (Superhuman)
Stamina: Super-Skrull 6 (Generator)
Agility: Super-Skrull 6 (Rubber)
Fighting: Super-Skrull 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Super-Skrull 6 (UWMD)

The Math: Super-Skrull

The Year in Review...
The two shape-shifting green-skins spent much of the year dealing with armies at home, and abroad. Martian Manhunter began his year on Salvation, disguised as the new Blockbuster, to infiltrate and monitor the villains imprisoned. When he was ratted out by Catwoman, the situation became dire, but the Martian survived. He wasn't so lucky, however, when the newest version of The Society, led by Libra, came looking for a little bit of payback at the start of Final Crisis. In an effort to prove his might to the other villains, Libra led an assault on the Martian Manhunter in an effort to bring about the dream of Human Flame -- a mort of a villain, regularly embarassed by the Martian. They succeeded in killing him.

Disgraced by his many defeats, Kl'rt, the original Super-Skrull, was shunned by his people long ago. Exiled, he has become a masterless warrior walking the line between intergalactic villain, and hero. Super-Skrull began his year alongside Nova and the Guardians of the Galaxy in their struggle against the mounting offense of the Phalanx! War and Nova was a combination that again brought Kl'rt out of the shadows, this time undercover with the new breed of super-powered Skrulls plotting to invade Earth. His allegiance proved difficult to follow, but in the end, his guile and might proved too much for his juniors.

Martian Manhunter's weakness is a famous one, and was a vital condition to making him an easy target for Libra and the other villains. Unfortunately, that simple fear/weakness is fire - an element Super-Skrull wields as part of his imitative Human Torch powers. Ergo, this is one of the more clear-cut scenarios in a conventional Fantasy Fight set-up. That said, sentimentality probably kept your vote quite close on this one.

Winner: Super-Skrull (60%)

[NR] :2008

2008: [#375]
RANKING: [#312]
Movie Maniacs...
Strength: Draw 2 (Average)
Intelligence: Joker 5 (Professor)
Speed: Draw 2 (Average)
Stamina: Joker 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Joker 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Draw 3 (Street Wise)
Energy: Jigsaw 4 (Arsenal)

The Math: Joker

The Year in Review...
2008 was defined by comic book events, but certainly on the Infinite Wars, it was also largely about some of the most anticipated feature films in recent years. Alright, so maybe Punisher: War Zone wasn't one of those, and turned out to be a substantial stinker in the eyes of most intelligent humans, but there's a point to be made. Each of these villains burst onto the screen as disfigured maniacs with a grudge against their damaged vigilante counterparts -- Batman and Punisher. In their own ways, they were each reactions to the "hero."

Reestablished as one of the world's leading pop culture icons, it's little wonder the Joker emerged here the victor. Jigsaw didn't have the penetration I thought he might, but in the end it's irrelevant. In a Fantasy Fight scenario, we too would be forced to hand it to the Joker, if for no other reason that both are well known punching bags, but Joker has a knack for weasling out of these things a bit less bloodied. Not like Jigsaw, who only seems to add to his scars, even if he is one of the few lucky villains to survive battle with Frank Castle.

Winner: Joker (85%)

[#57] :2008
[#44] :RANKING

2008: [NR]
RANKING: [#54]
Resurrected Sidekicks...
Strength: Winter Soldier 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Draw 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Capt. America 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Red Hood 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Red Hood 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Capt. America 3 (Explosives)

The Math: Draw

The Year in Review...
Since their shock 2005 resurrections, the two famous Golden Age sidekicks have been conflicting measures of interest. Granted; since Bucky's transformation into Captain America's successor, a distance has formed between the two characters, but that underlying comparison is still there. In fact, in early 2009, Jason Todd will have a chance at a similar ascension in Battle for the Cowl -- a post RIP competition seemingly pitting Bat allies and villains against one and other to take up the vacant mantle of Batman.

Todd nearly had a comparable experience during Countdown, when, in a parallel universe, he encountered a Batman who had hoped to see Todd ascend to the role of "Red Robin." After the reality altering events, Todd chose to throwaway the tribute, resuming his career quietly as the lethal vigilante, Red Hood.

A little less confident than his Marvel counterpart -- Bucky stepped into the red, white, and blue boots of his mentor with problems. While he seems on the fast track to acceptance with fellow heroes (likely to join the New Avengers in '09), Bucky has still had some teething problems. He's still thinking in the old ways and maybe hasn't yet grown fully into the larger-than-life role. He is a much more fallable personality than Steve Rogers ever was, recently taking his licks from Batroc, of all people.

From the split, the Infinite Wars stood pretty firmly behind Jason Todd as the preference of the two. That said, in our 2007 Fantasy Fights, we saw fit to hand victory to Bucky Barnes. Interested to see what a public rematch might do, I turned this oh-so close battle over to you, and you felt, at least this year, that Jason Todd emerged the superior.

The battles could be so close, I'm pretty happy either way, but I wonder if a bit of a DC bias might have influenced this particular result. It's no secret that the Infinite Wars has been far more impressed with DC's approach in 2008, and became particularly despondent with Ed Brubaker's work on Captain America.
It is surely a subject I hope to revisit sometime in 2009, among others.

Winner: Red Hood (71%)

[NR] :2008
[#176] :RANKING

2008: [NR]
Organized Villain Lords...
Strength: Draw 2 (Average)
Intelligence: Libra 6 (Genius)
Speed: The Hood 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Libra 5 (Marathon)
Agility: The Hood 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: The Hood 3 (Street Wise)
Energy: Libra 6 (UWMD)

The Math: Libra

The Year in Review...
As part of his scheme to manipulate the multiverse, Alexander Luthor Jr consolidated the villains of the DCU as an almost impenetrable union. For the most part, The Society has remained in tact ever since, putting most villains on good terms, even if not regular association. When Libra emerges with powers seemingly beyond comprehension, he proposes his candidacy for leadership, quickly convincing all but the alpha-minds, whom he tempts with the promise of their wildest dreams -- ie; the death of Martian Manhunter and an emotional ambush that preoccupies Superman.

With similarly mysterious (demonic) powers and a hood-centric fashion sense, The Hood continued a comparable drive to unite the Marvel universe villains under his rule as "Kingpin" of supervillains. His pledge came in the form of the brutal bashing of Tigra at the end of 2007, and has continued quietly behind the Skrull Invasion, leading to his membership in a secret Dark Illuminati with other major powers of the Marvel Universe.

Their ascension and scope has been quite similar, but defining Libra's powers has, as yet, been almost impossible. He claims the will of the fallen New Gods, bringing with him the plague of the Anti-Life Equation which successfully enslaves almost all who oppose he and his Society. Once, he was merely capable of pale imitations of his enemies' powers, but after becoming one with the universe, it seems Libra is much, much more. So much more, he was even able to resist and bedevil the vengeful Spectre! This scope puts him in a league far above the twin pistols and less impressive demon-juju of The Hood.

Winner: Libra (100%)

[NR] :2008

2008: [#225]
RANKING: [#432]
Personal Vendettas...
Strength: Hush 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Hush 5 (Professor)
Speed: Hush 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Draw 3 (Strong Willed)
Agility: Hush 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Draw 4 (Trained Fighter)
Energy: Draw 3 (Explosives)

The Math: Hush

The Year in Review...
For Batman and Daredevil, personal vendettas led to dark affairs of the heart as two of their most zealous enemies waged war on them in 2008, costing not only themselves, but also their loved ones, dearly.

The bitter and twisted surgeon, Thomas Elliot, returned in his Hush persona to renew his rivalry with Batman in tangential RIP tie-ins. Hush's strategy included ambushing the woman close to Batman's dark heart - Catwoman - in a plot to combine his surgical skills with the advanced stasis technology developed by Mr. Freeze, to keep Selina Kyle alive while removing her heart from her body.

Larry Cranston, a lawyer by trade, returned to Daredevil's life with a similarly pointed approach. Mr. Fear reemployed old minions, The Enforcers, in an effort to trouble a Daredevil already struggling with the chaos brought by spillover from The Hood's uniting of villains. The fear inducing villain targetted Matt Murdock's wife, Milla Donovan, who was driven irreversibly insane by his toxin.

Villains like Mr. Fear always propose an interesting X-factor not covered by our tape measure. While Elliot's training has brought him up to a level to rival Batman, his emotional baggage exposes him to the potential of Mr. Fear's aura. Although, on the same token, given his association with Scarecrow, one wonders if Hush would still be susceptible. It's an interesting question, but one I probably would've been inclined to answer the same as the narrow majority.

Winner: Hush (60%)

[NR] :2008
[#673] :RANKING

2008: [#373]
RANKING: [#310]
Feline Freedom Fighters...
Strength: Cheetah 4 (Enhanced)
Intelligence: Draw 2 (Average)
Speed: Cheetah 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Draw 3 (Strong Willed)
Agility: Draw 5 (Cat-like)
Fighting: Draw 3 (Street Wise)
Energy: Draw 1 (None)

The Math: Cheetah

The Year in Review...
2007 was a bad year for Tigra, but in 2008, the characters was redeemed.
After suffering the beat-down heard across the world [New Avengers #35], Tigra had an opportunity to quickly strike back at those that wronged her, using their arrogant assumptions against them to launch an ambush when they came looking for the headquarters location of the Secret Avengers. Since, Tigra has acted as both a member of the newly formed Lady Liberators, and stood on the frontlines of alien invasion as a member of the Avengers Initiative -- possibly becoming impregnated by a Skrull posing as Hank Pym!

Though traditionally a villainness; Cheetah turned her back on Libra and the newest incarnation of The Society, upon returning from Salvation. Her fenine wiles give her a rare edge in a world dominated by those who have succumed to the Anti-Life Equation. Only when she encounters one of the other rebels - a teleporting Snapper Carr - does she become vulnerable (while getting a little sum'n-sum'n on the side, just like Tigra!)

Tigra ain't the hero she used to be, but the support rallied by fans (and pseudo-feminists) clearly made an impact, because she found some level of awkward redemption in the pages of New Avengers. I'm not sure I rate her quite as high as Cheetah on the feline-powers scale, but the argument is certainly starting to swing back to a respectable level. Something certain fans will be pleased with, I'm sure.

Winner: Cheetah (66%)

[#349] :2008
[#36] :RANKING

2008: [NR]
Tournament Champions...
Strength: Iron Fist 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Iron Fist 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Iron Fist 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Draw 4 (Athelte)
Agility: Iron Fist 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Iron Fist 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Static 5 (Lasers)

The Math: Iron Fist

The Year in Review...
Admittedly, I'm calling this one a little bit soon, but I found myself so enthusiastic about the integration of the Milestone heroes into the DCU, it seemed easier to rationalize the Dark Side Club's secret champion, than maneuvering through some sort of tangential tournament connection from DC's involvement in Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe.

Iron Fist has been one of the real breakout characters of the past few years at Marvel. With Ed Brubaker (and then Matt Fraction) parting ways with the property fairly quickly, I've felt Iron Fist has managed to keep an energy about it, that now continues under a new creative team enfusing it with something a little bit more contemporary. As a ham for superheroes and martial arts tournaments, I thoroughly enjoyed The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven, and very nearly slotted Steel Phoenix into this spot.

It's really hard to say what to expect from Static in the DCU, but fans of the cartoon (Static Shock) should be among the excited. I wonder if perhaps it was those people, less familiar with the comics, that voted Static our winner.
Personally, I'd be inclined to favour Iron Fist's high level fighting skills and experience in combat, but that's me.

Hopefully we'll see big things from Static in particular in 2009, and the continuing maintenance of one of Marvel's great underrated characters. Of the two, it seems Iron Fist is probably the one more likely to suffer, but with major releases like Street Fighter IV on the way, maybe there's still hope for a kung fu comic.

Winner: Static (66%)

[NR] :2008
[#76] :RANKING

2008: [#39]
RANKING: [#23]
Undercover Agents...
Strength: Hellcat 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Draw 3 (Straight A)
Speed: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Draw 4 (Athlete)
Agility: Draw 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Catwoman 4 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Hellcat (Projectile)

The Math: Hellcat

The Year in Review...
Hellcat found herself stationed in Alaska as an under recognised member within the post-Civil War Initiative, not seen as a viable candidate for the last shot at the Defenders, despite Nighthawk's personal request. I guess acting as the lone hero in Alaska isn't exactly "undercover" work, but she's a cat-themed agent (of SHIELD), just the same.

Catwoman's work as a double-agent in 2008 proved a little more catty.
The anti-heroine continued to walk a tightrope between hero and villain, involving herself with dual cause in the Amazon Attack, and falling into a similar trap of survival whilst stranded on the planet Salvation. Grudges with other villains, like Cheetah, forced her into a varying morality that included revealing the identity of Martian Manhunter, who was living among them disguised as Blockbuster!

Like last year's battle with Tigra, this is probably more about pitting two ferocious feline fighters against each other to see who comes out on top.
Perhaps out of dominance or sentimentality, Catwoman reigns supreme, even if I think Hellcat might give her a bit of a run for her money!

Winner: Catwoman (60%)

[#347] :2008
[#307] :RANKING

2008: [#34]
RANKING: [#28]
Mob Trouble...
Strength: Nightwing 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Punisher 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Nightwing 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Draw 4 (Athlete)
Agility: Nightwing 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Nightwing 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Punisher 4 (Arsenal)

The Math: Nightwing

The Year in Review...
Once upon a time he was the bell-toed sidekick to the Dark Knight of Gotham, but it's been a long time since Dick Grayson played junior detective as Robin!
Struggling to escape his former identity and role as second-fiddle to an infinitely more prominent mentor, Nightwing steps into the spotlight with the apparent disappearance of Batman as a result of "RIP" and/or Final Crisis. In fact, Grayson seems the most likely heir to the mantle cum Battle for the Cowl, with various reiterations coming from the now cancelled Nightwing series, which included; meetings with super-powered peers who've known him much of his life (ie; Superman), and a fierce battle with Two-Face. Nightwing also had the grim responsibility of being the first hero to discover the corpse of Martian Manhunter.

Punisher, though motivated by similar circumstances, can never be the hero Batman is. As much as the Dark Knight dwells in the shadows, Frank Castle is a man almost truly alone in his obsessive crusade against crime. Every bit as uncompromising, but focused lower than Batman, the Punisher exists in a tier below, which makes him a strange sort of benchmark for Nightwing to surpass.

With his acrobatic prowess and fighting skills, you felt he could certainly outfight Punisher, regardless of his stature as a hero. In an individual context, he probably already outranks Punisher, but in the vast expanse of the DCU, there's still that stigma of Robin attached to him. It will be interesting to watch how Nightwing develops in 2009.

Winner: Nightwing (100%)

Thus, we conclude the first half of our 2008 year-in-review Fantasy Fights!
Stay tuned for the last few days dated December as we wrap up with the headliners of year! Cosmic villains, moral ambiguity, and self-made heroes!

It'll take a lot for the Marvel Universe to follow-up their 2007 victory, going in to the final ten with a five-win deficit! The results are already in - as per your votes - and they'll be revealed very soon. Stay tuned!

3 versus 8