Friday, January 30, 2009

All Together Now (DC)
Secret Origins #32 When: November 1988
Why: Keith Giffen & Peter David How: Eric Shanower

The Story So Far...
On the distant planet of Appellax, the Kalar has been assassinated! Seven Appellaxians claim responsibility for the murder, seeking to succeed their beloved leader by the law of warring tradition. In order to reveal the true Kalar among them, a competition is devised, a trial by combat!

Rather than risk devestation to the Appellaxian people, Earth is selected as the arena of their gladiatorial quest. Transported inside strange meteors; the seven warriors take synthetic form, their false bodies possessing unique powers to aid them in a quest across the globe to defeat their rivals. Such a task may prove more difficult than anticipated, however, as their violence tempts the unanticipated interference of Earth's newest wave of champions!

With five of the seven warriors already defeated, the individual heroes responsible converge on Florida upon reports of another meteor landing in the everglades. There, the group face an opponent unlike any of the others!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Martian Manhunter 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Flash 5 (Professor)
Speed: Flash 7 (Lightspeed)
Stamina: Green Lantern 6 (Generator)
Agility: Black Canary 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting Ability: Black Canary 4 (Trained)
Energy Power: Green Lantern 7 (Cosmic)

- The Justice League are: Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Black Canary, Green Lantern, & Flash.

Born of necessity; the Justice League represent a coordinated effort by the world's finest heroes to protect and serve in the many iterations of their regional representation, and on a global scale. Boasting some of the planet's most powerful humans and extra-terrestrials, the League is equipped to combat any threat that should overwhelm the individual efforts of their member, or conventional defenses of the world's nations.

The League is classically defined by the core membership of it's founding members, affectionately referred to as the big seven. Overseen by stalwarts, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, they are; Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter. Several of these members would come to be succeeded by others baring their name, Wally West and Kyle Rayner, while many other heroes would come to be prominently listed with the group; Hawkman, Atom, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Zatanna, Elongated Man, Firestorm, Captain Marvel, Red Tornado, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Fire, Ice, and others.

- Wood King is a member of the gladiatorial race of the planet Appellax.
Upon the death of their leader, the Kalar, Wood King was among seven Appellaxians who claimed credit for the murder. In an effort to settle the dispute at a minimal cost to the planet Appellax, each warrior was granted a synthetic vessel empowered, with unique abilities, to combat each other on distant Earth.

Wood King, as his name suggests, beheld a body made of wood.
Like some of his counterparts, he possessed the ability to transform other humanoids into wooden minions under his control. This ability served him well during a confrontation with a pre-Justice League collective.

History: Prior to their encounter with the Wood King, each of the eventual Justice League were to defeat their own Appellaxian opponent. The following match-ups include five key encounters, as well as an additional battle fought in Antarctica by a lone Superman. In this version of the Justice League origin, the group does not approach him, and consequently does not petition his membership.

Martian Manhunter battled Stone God
Aquaman battled Mercury Monster
Black Canary battled Glass Man
Green Lantern battled Golden Roc
Flash battled Fire Giant
Elsewhere, Superman faced the Crystal Creature

Math: Justice League Ranking: Green Lantern (#28)

What Went Down...
One by one the heroes funnel in to the everglades, each falling victim to the same strange trap! With no alien warrior in sight, only the eerie glow of a partially submerged meteor greets them, it's proximity beginning a transformation that roots each champion to the ground -- literally!

Trapped inside a wooden facade, the heroes stand helpless as human-trees!
The strange meteor splits in two with an explosive crack, finally revealing the creature responsible: the Appellaxian dubbed, Wood King!

With the wills of the Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Flash, Black Canary, and Aquaman under his control, the Wood King begins a slow march toward his final opposition - the Crystal Creature - whose landing has brought him to Antarctica!

Recognising the potential power of the Green Lantern, it is Aquaman who begins the vital chain reaction in a plot to escape. Summoning an unlikely resistance to the Wood King's control, Aquaman shifts his weight just enough to bump into the wooden visage of the Martian Manhunter!

The knock is enough to clumsily steer the Martian toward the Green Lantern, inspiring in him the same plan as his fellow. With an effort of his own, his branch-like hand does enough to crack the shell encasing Hal Jordan's ring!

With his will supressed by the Wood King, the inexperienced Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, proves unable to escape his predicament single handedly. Instead, he summons what little effort he can, firing a beam with the intention of freeing the hero at closest poximity, the Black Canary. Unable to resist Wood King's for long, he is only able to expose her head, but in the case of the Canary, it is enough!

With the Wood King sensing resistance from his slaves, the Black Canary takes her fleeting opportunity, directing the sonic waves of her "canary cry" to offer Flash the nudge necessary to allow him to vibrate his molecules enough to escape the transformation process!

Wood King attempts to use his strange powers to once again entrap the Flash in his own body, but without the element of surprise, he cannot overcome the speedster's unique ability to control the movements of his own molecules!

Moving at super-speeds, the Flash converts his hands into human buzzsaws!
He makes light work of the synthetic wooden form that houses the spirit of this Appellaxian warrior, freeing the other heroes in the process!

The Hammer...
With the entire team contributing vital assists, it is the Flash who secures victory for they who would become the Justice League!

For those who came in late -- this concludes our abbreviated tour through the characters who finished 2008 at the top of our seasonal ranks. The Infinite Wars uses superhero fights to steer us through the review process, giving us the unique opportunity to make a gestured attempt at tracking the battling success of the heroes and villains of the major superhero publishers. Longtime readers will know this, but I recognise that sometimes it wouldn't hurt to recap for those just joining us.

While I was tempted to conclude the month with the Final Crisis: Reqiuem special, (highlighting the Martian Manhunter), it did occur to me that I've owed this week's entry for quite some time. If you're curious about the previous instalments of this version of the Justice League origin, you'll find all of the individual battles, as well as Superman's brief appearance, in The Tape section.

As is so often the case on our strange little blogsite, curious resonances emerge from this week's deviation. While avoiding a slightly more topical review, we inadvertently find ourselves inducting Barry Allen into the first 2009 Top Five. The Silver Age Flash, of course, will be the subject of DC's upcoming mini-series, Flash: Rebirth, which follows on from his apparent "return" in Final Crisis.

With our annual January tradition out of the way, Final Crisis will be a subject sure to emerge prominently in the next few months of Infinite Wars.
Among the February features stemming from the much-discussed series will be our thoughts on a potential post-FC reinvention of the Justice League franchise -- another approriate connection to this week's review!

While I'm inclined to be very critical of misconceptions about the complexity of DC comics, I do have to acknowledge, there are hiccups to navigate when exploring the historical development of major brands. The Justice League are certainly no exception, as evidenced by this, the 1988 Secret Origin, which had the duty of redefining history after the deconstruction of Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Recent history has seen something more reminiscent of the original origin reinstated. Replacing Black Canary in the original line-up is Wonder Woman, while both Batman and Superman; colloquially the World's Finest; can claim responsibility for thwarting the Crystal Creature, thus inducting DC's trinity into the founding formation of their leading super-team. Likewise, it restores the famed legend of the Justice League "big seven."

Top 25 Justice Alumnists
#1 Batman (1960)
#2 Superman (1960)
#3 Wonder Woman (1960)
#4 Flash (1989)
#5 Steel (1998)
#6 Green Arrow (1961)
#7 Hawkman (1964)
#8 Hawkgirl (1977)
#9 Green Lantern (1960)
#10 Green Lantern (2003)
#11 M. Manhunter (1960)
#12 Black Canary (1969)
#13 Flash (1960)
#14 Aquaman (1960)
#15 Zatanna (1978)
#16 The Demon (2002)
#17 Green Lanter (1987)
#18 Firestorm (2006)
#19 Black Lightning (2007)
#20 Red Arrow (2007)
#21 Green Lantern (1996)
#22 Atom (1962)
#23 Dr. Fate (1987)
#24 Red Tornado (1973)
#25 Atom Smasher (1994)
I'm sure, somewhere out there, someone shares a similar affection for the 1988 origin, to me. I do not think any of us could rightly criticize DC for their desire to maintain the influential presence of their three major icons. The modern era has consistently looked to Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, to define the parameters of the vast landscape. They are among the most enduring characters in comics, surviving the Golden Age in a transcendance that has ingrained them in modern history in ways the traditional JSA characters have missed.

That's not to say the JSA have been wronged by this new tradition, either. Through the shifting timescape, the Justice League become exactly what they were -- a deeply influenced byproduct of the JSA's history.

As described in modern versions of the origin, the Justice League derive their name from their predecessors.

The trinity, in leaving behind their Golden Age history, become tributes to it, reemerging as part of a sense of legacy that defines the DC universe.
Despite being part of an awkward crunch of history, it requires little imagination to suspend the cynical dissemination of un-reality, giving room for what eventually becomes beautifully poetic simplicity.

This sense of merging real-world function in the rolling development of superhero fiction, with it's in-fiction consequences, was an underlying feature of Final Crisis. That, however, is a subject to be discussed further in February!

The Fight: 4 The Issue: 5.5

Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, the restructured history of the Justice League has rendered this version of their origin moot, and out of print. Fortunately, the Infinite Wars Gift Shoppe contains collected editions of many great stories featuring the Justice League and it's members! There you'll find editions featuring most issues reviewed previously in the Infinite Wars, all of which will contribute to the site upon purchase. So next time you shop, stop by!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

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...
OCT084061 BOYS #18 BLANK CVR #18 (MR) PI
NOV082268 SAVAGE DRAGON #144 $3.50
OCT082282 TRANSHUMAN TP VOL 01 $14.99
NOV080074 USAGI YOJIMBO #117 $3.50

The Corporates...
NOV080139 BATMAN #685 (FOE) $2.99
NOV080157 BLUE BEETLE #35 $2.99
NOV080127 FACES OF EVIL KOBRA #1 (FOE) $2.99
NOV082383 MARVELS EYE OF CAMERA #3 (OF 6) $3.99
NOV082331 NEW AVENGERS #49 DKR $3.99
NOV082393 PUNISHER WAR ZONE #6 (OF 6) $3.99
NOV080218 PUSH #5 (OF 6) $3.50
NOV082399 SHE-HULK 2 #37 $2.99
NOV080140 SUPERMAN #684 (FOE) $2.99
NOV080170 TEEN TITANS #67 (FOE) $2.99
NOV082412 X-FORCE #11 $2.99

The Spotlight...
Based on the the stylized team-up TV series, the latest Bat-book brings his cartoon adventures back home to the page! I have to wonder if this might mean the end for the fairly mediocre Brave and the Bold revival book from DC-proper, for no other reason than avoiding undue confusion. Either way, the kid-friendly adventures books have a pretty solid history, and with any luck, this one will continue that tradition, boasting a host of potential guests, including; Aquaman, Blue Beetle, Adam Strange, Wildcat, Atom, Deadman, and many more! Shame about the return of the yellow oval symbol, but like Final Crisis tells us, heroes may die, but their legends live forever!

- NOV082366 CAPTAIN AMERICA #46 $2.99
Marvel's recent acknowledgment of their Golden Age has an air of sloppy insincerity about it, making pseudo-seventieth anniversary celebrations a tad tacky. Most would agree the Marvel Age really began with the sixties, but to their credit, it was founded upon the legacy of key icons, the most enduring, Captain America and Namor. The continuing adventures of Bucky Barnes as the new Cap are a far more admirable testament to the age, creating new WWII fiction to flesh out these classic heroes! With the android Human Torch at the centre of this most recent plot, Cap gets bonus points for utilizing recent history too, specifically picking up from Hammond's death in New Invaders!

- NOV082370 DAREDEVIL #115 $2.99
Has Ed Brubaker been taking notes?
It appears both Daredevil and Captain America have undergone an apparent process of much needed reinvigoration! Despite initial impressions, Lady Bullseye has provided exactly what DD needed, drawing in some of the surrounding kung fu heroes (Iron Fist, White Tiger, and Black Tarantula) to splash a bit of colour around the droll pages of this series. The weight of heavy, lumbering story arcs still holds Brubaker's books down a little, but it's been very refreshing to dive in to a story filled with the excitement of variety!

- NOV080123 FINAL CRISIS #7 (OF 7) $3.99
The DC epic finally comes to a close as Grant Morrison, now teamed with Infinite Wars faroutite, Doug Mahnke, delivers the penultimate issue! Earth might've been conquered by Darkseid and the untamed broadcast of the Anti-Life Equation, but the true threat of Darkseid's descent through time and reality has sent shockwaves across the entire multiverse! The heroes make their final stand as events from Superman Beyond no doubt boil over into the conclusion! The finale is sure to bring about as much division in the readership as every other issue, poignant, in it's way. Morrison tells a jam packed, superhero super-indulgent epic as only superheroes can, adding multiple layers beneath that for those interested, such as the blurred lines between function and fiction in the process of creating superhero fiction. This meta-level has seemingly unwittingly exposed some of the truest negatives of the modern reading audience, because, quite simply, if you honestly think the series hasn't made any sense, or somehow betrayed it's title, then you're stupid. More upon review!

The 2007 MVP returns to the pages that reinvigorated him, starring in the long awaited post-Gog arc - Geoff Johns' final - of JSA! Anyone fortunate enough to have been following the character since his 2003 break from the Justice Society has been indulged with one of the most interesting sagas in the DCU! The latest chapter picks up from the dark Marvel's quest to revive his fallen love, Isis, which has apparently succeeded, but not without a cost. All of this builds toward Jerry Ordway's return to the character, which, admittedly, leaves me reticent.

- NOV082401 SKAAR SON OF HULK #7 $2.99
I can't claim any legitimate interest in Skaar, even as the only apparent legacy remaining from Greg Pak's surprisingly positive 2007 mini-event, World War Hulk. That said -- the prospect of Hulk Jr butting heads with Silver Surfer (again?) is reason enough to give pause! Under more positive economic circumstances, this might be the one to try out.

Wolverine becomes a werewolf. Fun, but a peeve we've petted on many occasions.
[See; What if... #24, Blade #5, Marvel Zombies Defense Strategum]

- NOV080171 WONDER WOMAN #28 (FOE) $2.99
I find myself increasingly interested in the plight of Wonder Woman as a perpetually dull character of great importance to the DCU and comics in general. Gail Simone bares the weight of being one of the few female writers to tackle the character, but is reinvention on the table, or is Simone as bound as any one of Wonder Woman's lassoed enemies? This arc, returning Cheetah to the spotlight, while also creating the mythically powered Genocide as a powerful new foe, has my attention, if not my dollars. It's the first time in decades that I can honestly say I've wanted to read Wonder Woman, but alas, as so many others, WW unfortunately fails to make the harsh, financially motivated cut.

Advertise here! Contact for more!

Know Your Trade...
NOV082446 MARVEL 1985 PREM HC $24.99
NOV082440 NEW AVENGERS HC VOL 03 $34.99
OCT080175 SPIRIT TP VOL 03 $19.99
OCT082282 TRANSHUMAN TP VOL 01 $14.99

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Top 25 Black Heroes
#1 Luke Cage (Marvel)
#2 Steel (DC)
#3 Green Lantern (DC)
#4 Storm (Marvel)
#5 Spectre (DC)
#6 Firestorm (DC)
#7 Black Lightning (DC)
#8 Blade (Marvel)
#9 War Machine (Marvel)
#10 Black Panther (Marvel)
#11 Tally Man (DC)
#12 Deathlok (Marvel)
#13 Cyborg (DC)
#14 Thunderball (Marvel)
#15 Vixen (DC)
#16 Birdie (Capcom)
#17 Tombstone (Marvel)
#18 Vaporlock (DC)
#19 Photon (Marvel)
#20 Ron Troupe (DC)
#21 Mr. Terrific (DC)
#22 Amanda Waller (DC)
#23 Bronze Tiger (DC)
#24 Jax (Midway)
#25 Balrog (Capcom)
In 2009, Martin Luther King Jr Day fell on January 19.
The already important American holiday took on special significance this year for it's close proximity to history. On January 20, the first ever African-American United States President was officially sworn into office. His inauguration made him the forty-fourth US President.

In reflecting society around them, comics long failed to adequately represent alternate cultures and ideals, often reducing black characters to minority roles and parody popularized in various entertainment mediums. Exceptions are noteable.
Lee Falk must be recognised for creating some of the earliest major African characters in comics. His famous strips from the mid-thirties boast popular supporting characters like Mandrake the Magician's close friend and ally, Lothar, as well as various prominent figures that emerged throughout the publication history of Phantom strips.

With the sixties' reinvigoration of superheroes via Marvel Comics; the 1966 debut of Black Panther, (in Fantastic Four), became a landmark event for a new era of prominent black heroes.
The character paved the way for new creations in the following decade, which, although coloured by stereotypes, included heroes that have become incredibly significant in the modern era. Including; Luke Cage, John Stewart, Storm, and Black Lightning.

Even the nineties, regarded for many of the era's negatives, cannot be overlooked for it's significant creations. The recently assimilated Milestone Comics, part of DC, created a range of superhero role models for young readers, most prominently including Static. Other major creations included Todd McFarlane's Spawn, and DC's alternate-superman, Steel.

The election of Barack Obama as President has been punctuation to the development of African-American heroes. Like the heroes who now dominate the fictional landscape; Obama walks a path defined by pioneers. Golden Age heroes like Martin Luther King Jr.

I am not an American, nor am I a minority in my home.
Us, as avid readers of superheroics and fictional worlds, could imagine this day.
I cannot fully appreciate the emotional impact the election has had on many people, but as a great admirer of powerful tales of triumph and heroics, I am not completely ignorant.

In belated acknowledgment of the occasion we present a short list of previous reviews that reveal just how ingrained back heroes have become in our mythology. It is a reflection of the modern world we live in, where a black man does not only hold tenure with the Justice League, but now also sits behind what some describe as the most powerful desk in the world.

"Yes we can."

Black Panther #19 (October 2006)
"Holiday in Latveria" Hudlin/Eaton

It was the wedding of an African king and goddess on Earth bringing together not only powers of political and mutant natures, but also the fractured superhero community of America, who partook in a brief cease-fire for the occasion, leaving their ideals at the door.

Wakanda's Black Panther, and the Kenyan mutant, Storm, would not only marry as lovers, but as two potential world powers the likes of which the world have never seen. Thus, the honeymoon is over quickly as the couple head to Latveria to respond to a message of concern from Victor Von Doom.

Responding to Doom's invitation to air greivances of international paranoia for the couple's power, and their relations between an America in the wake of the registration civil war; T'Challa and Ororo make the trek to Castle Doomstadt. Slightly repulsed by Doom's dictatorial hold, the couple maintain diplomacy for the beginning of their world tour, prepared to fight if necessary.

52 #42 (April 2007)
"Man Ain't Nothing but a Man" Johns/Morrison/Rucka/Waid/Giffen/Batista

Lex Luthor's everyman project appears to have discovered means of granting normal human beings fantastic powers through the use of an injectable meta-gene therapy.

The only side effects appear to be the development of superpowers, and in the case of John Henry Irons, the armored hero once called Steel, this means literally becoming a man of steel.

When his powers begin to dissipate, Irons realises Luthor's meta-gene not only has finite potential, but also a potential 'off-switch', which leads to the deaths of several experiment subjects. Thus, Irons shrugs off a bitter depression, and dons the Steel armor once more to confront the evil Lex Luthor.

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!

Justice League of America #15 (January 2008)
"Unleashed" McDuffie/Benes

The matrimonial union of Dinah Lance and Oliver Queen -- better known to the world as Black Canary and Green Arrow -- should have been one of the happiest occasions on the Justice League calendar. Instead, it was to initiate a new incarnation of the Injustice League into being, marking another in a long line of personal attacks suffered by the heroes in recent years.

Organized as an "unlimited" version of the team by Lex Luthor, Joker, and Cheetah; the League of criminals forms as a response to the dissolving Society of Supervillains. With motives of widespread corruption and protection of crooks, the Injustice League strikes with startling success.

Having captured the JLA, the Injustice League holds their nemesis in captivity with the intent of executing them, but despite their consumate planning they failed to take into account the legacy of an atomic hero called Firestorm!

New Avengers #36 (January 2008)
"The Trust" Bendis/Yu

Once, the gods and heroes could be trusted to protect humanity in it's time of need, but when the least of their kind entered into a battle that cost the lives of hundreds, a new control was demanded by a traumatized public.

For men like Tony Stark, the prospect of thorough screening and training became a price he was all too willing to pay to repent for the willful negligence of he and his fellows. Trusted powers whose morals had come to harbor cosmically volatile forces within their quarters. A philosophy that puts him at odds with both those who have reasons to hide, and those with a strong belief in the privacy and trust earned by the super-powered guardians.

Divided, Earth's mightiest heroes continue in two factions. Stark's Avengers hunt their secretive counterparts, distracted from the evils the underground heroes continue to pursue with clarity. It is the Secret Avengers who learn of The Hood's play for Kingpin of Villains, and the emergence of a Skrull incursion. Neither, however, could have hoped to anticipate a Latverian satellite position above the Earth. A weapon containing a symbiote bomb that escapes it's master's control and sends an infestation of madness to New York City as an unprepared Secret Avengers is possessed and thrown into battle with their counterparts.

Friday, January 23, 2009

HULK versus RULK
Blood Red (Marvel)
Hulk #6 When: November 2008
Why: Jeph Loeb How: Ed McGuinness

The Story So Far...
Investigation into the shooting-murder of gamma-irradiated Russian superhuman, Abomination, reveals an unexpected twist: a gun-toting assasin dubbed, Red Hulk!

The powerhouses of the Marvel Universe are drawn into battle as the Red Hulk continues his murderous rampage across the globe! Having defeated regular Hulk grapplers; Iron Man and She-Hulk; the Red Hulk inevitabily comes face-to-face with the original when his battle with a newly transformed Rick Jones, aka; A-Bomb, frees Bruce Banner from a military cell.

In a clash that threatens to destroy San Francisco via the resulting earthquakes, the two Hulks clash in an epic, gamma fuelled showdown.
Shockingly, "Rulk" proves the superior in every respect, over powering and out-fighting his predecessor with bone-shattering results! Fortunately for the city by the bay, the battle attracts the attentions of the Norse god of thunder, Thor! However, even the endless gulf of space fails to contain the fury of Rulk, who defeats and escapes Thor, making an uncontrolled descent to Earth! If Rulk survives his fall back to Earth, the Hulk will be waiting...

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Draw 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Rulk 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Hulk 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Draw 6 (Generator)
Agility: Draw 2 (Average)
Fighting Ability: Hulk 6 (Warrior)
Energy Power: Rulk 3 (Explosives)

- Dr. Robert Bruce Banner, a slight and insignificant scientist, lives slavishly dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, as funded by the United States military.
Though Banner justifies his goals as means for peace, he becomes one of America's leading weapons designers after inventing a gamma radiation bomb.

During preperations for a test launch in the desert, Dr. Banner spots a reckless youth on the testing ground, and in a moment of magnificence, knowingly throws himself on a bullet that would grant a far crueller fate than death.
Bitterly aware of the Communist conspiracy of his fellow scientist, Banner struggles to usher he and the boy to safety while his colleague continues to countdown the launch.

After succumbing to an ordinarily lethal doses of gamma radiation, Dr. Banner soon finds himself undergoing a horrific transformation. Originally by night, but soon triggered by rage or unease, Banner discovers the superhumanly strong alter-ego within himself, dubbed simply - the Hulk!
As the Hulk, Banner's brilliance is reduced to a childlike lumbering, while his slight frame conversely comes to possess size, strength, and durability never before imagined.

Hulk has no specific known weaknesses, but is fiercely protective of the few who earn his favour. Though generally good hearted, Hulk is prone to wild rages and varied personalities, particularly provoked by any challenge to the identity of his persona, particularly where matters of his physical dominance are concerned. This provocation comes to the fore when he encounters his red counterpart, "Rulk," with whom he shares an immediate hatred. Hulk is able to sense Rulk at a great distance, detecting his unique gamma radiation.

- The creature known as "Rulk" remains a mystery to the heroes he bedevilled in his early appearances, but his true identity is known to a select few, namely those who helped create him in secret -- Thunderbolt Ross and Doc Samson.

Created into a world that had already survived an intelligent Hulk's declaration of war, and successfully imprisoned a powerless Bruce Banner; Rulk made his debut not battling against the green goliath he was designed to oppose, but rather, in Russia, where he used advanced weaponry to kill Hulk's nemesis, Abomination.
This activity brought Rulk's existence to the attentions of many interested parties, including then-Director of SHIELD, Tony Stark. The Red Hulk subsequently rampaged through Wendigo, Stark's SHIELD Helicarrier, She-Hulk, and Stark himself in his Iron Man guise, before butting heads with A-Bomb (Rick Jones) in a clash that freed and revived Bruce Banner in a familiar child-like state, as Hulk.

Rulk possesses strength, speed, and endurance to rival any of Bruce Banner's transformations, minus any of the customary strength fluctuations associated. Instead, Rulk's rages trigger an increased emission of radiation, and intense heat. Red Hulk also differs in maintaining a cunning intelligence, and combat training, complimentary to his aggressive and sadistic manner.

Math: Draw Ranking: Hulk (#5)

What Went Down...
Emerging from the massive crater caused by his landing, Rulk finds the Hulk waiting eagerly for a rematch. Despite getting the jump on his Red nemesis, Hulk finds the tables quickly turned, having his chokehold countered with a kangaroo-esque dropkick!

Hulk resists his opponent's following advances, declaring his intent with a straight shot to the face and a short uppercut. His simplistic babblings reveal a desire for vengeance, maybe even justice, as according to his own confused perspective. Alas, this grander goal fails to save him from the Red Hulk's persistent bullying.

Rulk brings his massive hands colliding together with Hulk's skull sandwiched between. The devestating blow stuns the green goliath, leaving him wide open to a crossing hook that punctuates Rulk's merciful offer to kill him quickly. It's a threat the raging Rulk might have followed through, if not for an interruption...

MJOLNOWND!!!Verily, bitches!
Returned from his defeat in space, the mighty Thor lets his blessed hammer, Mjolnir, do the talking for him. With the hammer's enchantments restored by the weight of Earth's gravity, Thor unleashes his full fury upon the Red Hulk, launching an attack with unforgiving blows to the jaw and knee!

A-Bomb, the gamma-mutated Rick Jones, arrives on the scene while Hulk recovers from the blows he already suffered. Watching Thor collide with his newest nemesis, the Hulk declares himself the only one who can beat his crimson doppelganger. It is unclear if his inflection is of capability, or right.

As he so often has throughout his partnership with Bruce Banner/Hulk, Rick Jones provides vital clarity to the jade giant, providing him with a course of deduction that inspires in the simpleton, a strategy!

Hulk launches himself between Thor and Red Hulk, tackling his dark mirror amidst a field of crackling lightning. A-Bomb stays the thunder god's hammer, explaining to him the necessity for Hulk to overcome this challenge alone. Thor reluctantly steps aside, allowing Hulk a final chance at personal redemption.

STOP! HITTING! YOURSELF!Having, by his own admission, nearly suffered defeat by Thor's hand, the Red Hulk rallys to once again get the better of his opponent. Rulk delivers a verbal spray, mocking Hulk's inability to strategize in battle, while pounding away at his mid-section with two devestating body blows!

Rulk smoulders a little more with each blow as he unleashes a storm of punches and rage, his irradiated body converting both into radioactive heat. As his body reaches breaking point, the Red Hulk learns a harsh lesson in Hulk's cunning.

Dazed by the build up of heat, Rulk throws a final punch that puts him on the ropes. With that, an enraged and empowered Hulk unleashes the entirety of his strength on an exhausted Rulk that sends the villain hurtling through the air as a result of one single knock-out punch!

Green Hulk is strongest one there is.

The Hammer...
Supplying the vital assist is Thor and A-Bomb, but I give you the last man standing -- Hulk!

As you might've noticed from the post-date, we're continuing our overdue look back on the characters that finished 2008 on top, here on the Infinite Wars. In an effort to speed the process up, we won't be featuring the entire top ten as originally planned.

It's very fitting that we managed to stay on target with the Hulk however, as he's currently starring in Marvel's direct-to-video animated double feature, Hulk Versus. It seems very unlikely that anyone would not know, by now, that the shorts bring Hulk into fully animated battles with two of his classic sparring partners -- Wolverine and Thor.

A site like ours is uniquely primed to appreciate the simplicity of a project like Vs, but the beauty is in the story that goes much farther than a simple case of superhero smackdown. This is where Hulk Vs outshines it's most recent comics counterpart, launched in 2008 with Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness.

Anyone tracking the weekly shipping lists would've seen our excitement for the new series turn quickly to dismay. Hulk has meandered from month-to-month, serving little plot to accompany it's chain of headlining superhero match-ups.
As already mentioned, we are somewhat uniquely skewed to appreciate a series dedicated to the exploits of warring superpowers, but even the Comic Book Fight Club demands more of a story - and battle - than an endless parade of foes.

The greatest crime committed by Loeb is arguably the detachment of the series from events that recently occurred in the Greg Pak event-epic, World War Hulk.
Despite being presented as a similar action-adventure to the current line-up; World War Hulk actually managed to invest in the relationships of characters, exploring aspects that could have potentially redefined the basic landscape of the Hulk universe upon the hero's return from space (Planet Hulk).

More frustrations come from one of the few plot points explored in the series, the secret identity of a new "Red Hulk." Rulk, as he has come to be known, remains obscured from readers, despite promises that by this sixth issue, the truth would be known. Writer Jeph Loeb claims enough information was revealed to make assumptions, but a year later, the series still makes very little effort to come clean with the identity of it's character. This isn't necessarily an inherent problem, but given the series' reliance upon this mystery as it's core story, readers are more than entitled to feel frustrated.

I could not rightly described "Hulk" as a good comic.
Having had a few tastes over the Christmas break, however, I do find myself reassessing because, as frustrating as the construction of the series might be, it isn't necessarily a bad comic, either...

Despite clashing with some of Marvel's most iconic heroes, the entirety of Rulk's contribution lies within the pages of Hulk issues, touching the Marvel Universe in only imaginative ways. Rulk appears curiously comparable to Loeb's 2002 DC creation, Hush, in that they have both been shallow creations bound almost exclusively to the relevance of their initial stories. Not explicitly revealing Rulk's identity might even be a response to the volume of negativty expressed toward Hush's anti-climactic reveal, contrasting Loeb's use of ambiguity in more popular Batman tales, like The Long Halloween.

If I'd been reading all along, I imagine I'd still feel the negativity I had writing previous monthly release blurbs. With only a couple of tastes to go on, however, I find I'm enjoying what I read despite myself. Picking random issues to browse leaves little important information to be pondered, this is obviously a plodding comic of little longterm significance. I don't have all the pieces to try to draw my own conclusions about the status of Rulk's mystery identity, but I also don't feel that's really an interesting enough topic to rectify.

If you're an avid Infinite Wars reader, then you might find the positive.
Observing Marvel's past forty years of superheroes in a context comparable to an oversized fighting competition, we see Rulk in a different light.
He's the young raging bull, fixing to be a contender before any of us are ready to accept him. Part of me wants to go back and track the fights through every issue, just to capture Rulk's meteoric rise through the battling ranks of the Marvel Universe. That, for the time being, is where the value of the character lies.

Ed McGuinness is a joy to behold.
His bold, clean lines compliment the bulky giant-size aspects of Hulk and all of his current supporting characters. I'd be inclined to say he's honed his craft to surpass anything he could've achieved ten years ago, (ie; Deadpool #4).

Unfortunately, I would have to cast some doubt on Dexter Vines, whose inks don't seem to serve the artwork as well as others have. I find I prefer a very slick and confident black on McGuinness' work, but against some colour choices, the blacks look occasionally too heavy handed, and then a little bit liney.

The Fight: 4.5 The Issue: 4

Have an insatiable lust for combat? A morbid curiosity about the Red Hulk's identity? Get the whole story in one gut-busting block with the first trade, available soon! You'll find that, along with many other collections of varying quality, in the Infinite Wars Amazonian Gift Shoppe! By using purchase links provided on the site, you not only benefit from Amazon's service and prices, but also help sponsor future entries in the Infinite Wars. Which means more fighting! Hey, speaking of which, why not pick-up "Hulk Vs" while you're at it, now on DVD!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

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...
NOV084204 TALES OF TMNT #54 $3.25
SEP083915 ZORRO #9 FOIL CVR $19.99

The Corporates...
NOV080156 BIRDS OF PREY #126 (FOE) $2.99
NOV082385 MOON KNIGHT #26 $2.99
NOV080149 ROBIN #182 (FOE) $2.99
NOV080166 SPIRIT #25 $2.99
NOV080155 SUPERGIRL #37 (FOE) $2.99
NOV080120 TRINITY #34 $2.99
NOV082334 WAR MACHINE #2 DKR $2.99

The Spotlight...
- NOV080159 BRAVE AND THE BOLD #21 $2.99
I couldn't honestly say this is a title I've had much interest in (since the first issue), but it stands to reason that each issue might be assessed on the merits of it's starring combo. In that respect, it's hard not to at least acknowledge a Brave and the Bold line-up of Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen! It just seems right! Of course, throwing the Green Lantern against a sinister counterpart isn't exactly going to win any awards when Geoff Johns is doing much the same in the same week, albeit, in a much more expansive sense. Consider yourself informed, if not excited.

- NOV082323 DARK AVENGERS #1 DKR $3.99
This issue has a checklist of expectations it would want to meet to fend off being yet another monumental disappointment on the Marvel catalogue (regardless of the number of peasants propping it on top of the sales). It's going to want to begin with the core cast already gathered; it's going to want to make the identity of the majority of the cast clear; it's going to want to conclusively tell a piece of a story; and it's going to want to avoid trying to tease a flimsy mystery that's easily guessed at months ahead of time. Given that Brian Bendis is writing, these might be particularly difficult requisites to satisfy, but here's hoping! (Also, why are they using "DKR" to signify Dark Reign issues?...)

Ugh! After reading the first issue, lord knows my enthusiasm for the various Final Crisis tie-ins reached a new pinnacle, but damn! At a meagre thirty pages, one can only assume the $4.50 price tag is paying for the 3D gimmick, which, admittedly, I haven't even tried. Next to the concluding issue of Final Crisis itself; the second-half of Grant Morrison's interdimensional mini-epic might just be the issue I'm most anticipating! Doug Mahnke's art is absolutely glorious, and thankfully, not too interrupted by the smeared meta-gimmick of 3D/4D vision. If only DC was aware that here in the real world we're facing a crisis of our own! I would've liked to have thought the state of the world economy might encourage the major publishers to finally draw a line in the sand, but prices seem only to continue to rise.

- OCT080147 GREEN LANTERN #37 (FOE) $2.99
That expansive Geoff Johns epic pitting Lantern against Lantern? This would be it.
Rage of the Red Lanterns rolls on as the first of the Black Lanterns becomes revealed through an action figure solicitation! I'm doing my darndest not to spoil it (away from a seperate article), but if you find yourself curious, the hero in question is one of our outsider picks from last year! Dubbed a "prologue" to July's Blackest Night, don't be fooled! Johns' Red Lanterns are an action packed thriller unto themselves!

The Avengers are in trouble for potential tax evasion and the IRS wants answers!!! What are Earth's mightiest heroes to do with their secret identities in peril? Submit willingly to government sanctions? Fight tooth-and-nail against one and other in a battle of ideals? Get snipered by Crossbones?! No, stupid! They're going to buy their way out of trouble by helping collect unpaid taxes from some of the Marvel Universe's most dangerous villains! Bullseye, Man-Bull, Absorbing Man, Whirlwind, and... Oog?!
Marvel Adventures: Won't let you down!

Anyone experiencing health issues as a result of the potential death of Batman -- whoa now! It's not the end of the world! DC continue to publish various series (and reprints) of stories set in the times before his apparent death. I can't be certain what the issue entails, but if I had to guess, it might just be about to reestablish the Composite Superman into accepted continuity. For those who came in late: he's a wacky Silver Age manic-depressive villain who was rescued from death by Superman, employed as a janitor in his super-museum, and was struck by lightning in front of the Legion of Superheroes display, mysteriously granting him their entire array of powers! Still bitter about life, he donned a split costume, half-Superman/half-Batman, and bedevilled the World's Finest on a couple of occasions before disappearing into obscurity. I once; quite some time before Infinite Crisis; fancied the idea of pitching a concept that made him a survivor of the Crisis on Infinite Earths in much the same way Superboy-Prime, and Earth-2 Superman, were. So much for that idea! You snooze, you lose! Here's hoping any reintroduction does the character's potential justice!

- NOV082332 THUNDERBOLTS #128 DKR $2.99
If Dark Avengers turns out to be a bust, you might like to invest your dollar into Thunderbolts! With Norman Osborn (character) fast becoming the new centre of the Marvel Universe, the title is sure to pick up from the potential left by Warren Ellis (writer)! There's always a little bit of excitement around a T-bolts roster change, too, particularly when the man in charge is slowly losing his grip on reality! (Osborn; not current writer, Andy Diggle). Among the new recruits; Paladin, The Ghost, Black Widow (Yelena Bolova), and Ant-Man (Eric O'Grady)!

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