Sunday, December 14, 2008

Marvel in 2008 was defined, as with the Distinguished Competition, by their line-wide crossover event, Secret Invasion.

As has already been well documented on the site, the central story of the Marvel Universe failed to really live up to it's potential. While that might marr the Marvel perspective of the year, that's not to say the House of Ideas wasn't without it's triumphs in 2008!

Emerging from World War Hulk; Hercules usurped control of the Incredible title to become the break-out hit of the year!
With the right combination of carefree superhero smackdown, and connective tissue to the Marvel universe, the Hercules book not only turned around the grind of event-driven comics, but also reshaped the chatacter from mort to must-read!

From the pages of Thunderbolts (and Secret Invasion), Norman Osborn will head into 2009 with the steam of a new MVP. Absent from the farcical Spider-man reboot, the former-Green Goblin now possesses clout and power enough to rule the Marvel Universe. Now also a ruling member of the Dark Illuminati cabal, Norman Osborn ascends to a role previously held by Iron Man, post-Civil War.

Not that Iron Man has by any means been eclipsed in 2008.
Feature films prompted much of the action on the Infinite Wars, and with Robert Downey Jr front-and-centre for the long awaited Iron Man feature film, the shellhead reach new hights!
Also hitting screens was Incredible Hulk, which sadly repelled from Ang Lee's previous version, but brought with it the promise of the superhero crossover on film. Both marked an important entry into cinema for Marvel Studios, who now embark on a journey to produce and control their own intellectual properties in an era of dominance for the superhero summer blockbuster.

Economic crisis kept the Infinite Wars from maintaining tabs on either of the major universes in 2008, but here for your pleasure we have five of the best Marvel spotlights featured during the year. 2008 will no doubt continue to feature with the benefit of hindsight as we move on to brave new chapters in the Marvel Universe. Let's hope it's a better year on the whole!

Immortal Iron Fist #11 (January 2008)
"The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven" Fraction/Brubaker/Aja

In the ancient hidden city of K'un-Lun, it's denizens prepare themselves for the undying tradition of the Tournament of the seven Heavenly Cities, held every eighty-eight years when their planes align; thus sucking Daniel Rand into a plot of intrigue and mystery centuries in the making!

At the source of Iron Fist's plight is Davos, the villain once known as the Steel Serpent. An exile of K'un-Lun, Davos is resurrected by one of the enemy cities, K'un-Zi, in an effort to destroy the long thought dead sixty-fifth inheritent to the Iron Fist mantle; a drug-addled vagabond and survivor of the First World War, Orson Randall.

Randall teams with his successor, Danny Rand, in an effort to prepare him properly for the ancient tournament. In battle, Orson Randall falls, but not before passing on the power of his chi to Danny Rand, who uses it to successfully oppose Davos who himself has consumed the spiritual energies of his benefactor's daughters, the girls of Crane Mother. Davos has also forged an alliance with Hydra, and with plans to destroy the legacy of the Iron Fist and K'un-Lun, the Steel Serpent redeclares himself the Steel Phoenix; champion of K'un-Zi!

World War Hulk #5 (January 2008)
"The End of World War Hulk" Pak/Romita Jr

After an emotionally unstable Scarlet Witch unleashes her powers in an event that threatens reality, and tears Earth's mightiest heroes apart; a secret sect of superhero powers dubbed, The Illuminati, are forced to reconsider the potential threats they harbor within their own number.

Recognising the erratic rampages of the Hulk as a longstanding and overlooked threat on their back porch, the group, though morally divided, conspire to lure the jade giant into a craft that will rocket him into deep space. Their message is one of peace, but for the Hulk, it is the beginning of a dark period in his existence.

After crash landing on the planet Sakaar, the Hulk becomes a gladiatorial warrior amidst an ethnically diverse alien community. He rises through the combative ranks and recovers from his initial wounds to become the new ruler of Sakaar, leading a rebellion by might. As King, Hulk would find love and sire an heir to his throne, but his happiness would sour when the ship that brought him to Sakaar detonates in an explosion that kills thousands, and sets off an environmental chain of events that would destroy the planet.

Rallying the survivors, the Hulk leads his Warbound to Earth where he seeks revenge from Reed Richards, Tony Stark, Dr. Stephen Strange, and the other heroes he believes responsible for the carnage. Hulk gives the innocent time to clear, and swiftly takes Manhattan, and defeats the heroes, leaving America only one man to turn to. Their saviour -- the Sentry.

Mighty Avengers #10 (May 2008)
"Time is on No One's Side" Bendis/Bagley

When a Latverian satellite detonates a symbiote-bomb over New York City, the distant menace of Dr. Doom reemerges on the global radar for an Iron Man whose power includes the resources of an international police forced -- SHIELD!

The rivalry between the two armored geniuses is renewed when the Avengers storm Latveria and Castle Doomstadt, resulting in an accidental shift in time reminiscent of another famous encounter between Doom and Stark. One that this time strands the pair, as well as the Sentry, several years in the past.

With the sanctity of time a grave concern, and no way to repair the technology, the trio devise a plan to return to their rightful time with the use of technology possessed by Reed Richards. Thus, the mentally fragile Sentry steps up to clear the path, but first he will need to clash with the rocky powerhouse that is Benjamin J Grimm, the ever lovin' blue-eyed Thing!

Hulk vs Hercules: When Titans Collide #1 (June 2008)
"Smash of the Titans" Pak/Van Lente/Brown/Cuevas/Pallot/Sotomayor

Once long ago, during one of the Hulk's many rampages in New York City, the green goliath found himself locked in mortal battle with the mighty Odinson - Thor!

In an effort to curtail the destruction wrought by the Hulk's mindless rampages; the sorcerer supreme, Dr. Strange, intervenes in the epic battle with a conjuring that whisks his former teammate into a realm between dimensions.
By sending Hulk to this crossroads Strange offers him the opportunity to explore an infinite sprawl of worlds, a hex assuring that should the Hulk find anything but happiness, he would be returned to the nexus.

Taking pity on the magnificent gamma irradiated behemoth; Gaea extends her hand and directs the Hulk to realm of the Greek gods! Finding himself at the foot of Mt. Olympus, Hulk makes acquaintance with two lame giants, and in doing so, begins a path that will lead him into battle with the prince of power - Hercules!

X-Force #5 (September 2008)
"Angels & Demons" Kyle/Yost/Crain

The resurrection of William Stryker renews the anti-mutant sentiments of The Purifiers, but unbeknownst to them they are the puppets of the genocidal Sentinel intelligence, Bastion!

Warren Worthington - the mutant known as Angel - becomes a prime target of the Purifiers as they are manipulated into seeking out the techno-organic technologies of Apocalypse, who once used them to transform Worthington into his angel of death, the Archangel!

Revealing that the seemingly cured mutant still retained Apocalypse's taint within him, the Purifiers unleash the destructive force of the Archangel once more, whilst plundering his DNA for their own divine transformation. For the covert group, X-Force, the Purifiers are but a part of the big picture as they themselves are faced with the wrath of Archangel!

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