Friday, May 01, 2009

MONTHLY PUNCH-UP #41 (May 2009)
Here on the Infinite Wars we like to be internationally minded.
With all their jingoistic flag waving and WWII-era origins, Americans actually have something resembling a good reason to forget the global significance of their characters. While many insulated readers might be unaware of the trends and interests of the rest of the world, even the most casual reader knows all about the influence of creators like Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Dave Gibbons, Adi Granov, Ben Templesmith, and Warren Ellis, to name just a few.

In the search for simple site content we look abroad, toward mid-May, when the pop shenanigans will fly in the search for a song for all of Europe!

At the merest mention of the Eurovision Song Contest, global tongues might hit cheeks faster than you can say "Azerbaijan," but like Communism, it's a model only as flawed as the politics determining the outcomes!

Here on the Infinite Wars we're all about the spirit of competition!
So, just like our 2008 Infinite Wars Olympics, it seems only logical that we introduce our own method of celebrating the tenuous European union. Thus, if you turn your gaze to the right (during May/June), you'll notice twelve options confronting you as part of the first annual Infinite Wars: Eurohero Contest!

Representatives of the top twelve ranking European nations have been selected to be submitted to your discretion. Like Eurovision itself; we encourage you to indulge in any ancient prejudices or shady deals with the only criteria being that you make sure your vote does indeed register. If you have means of corrupting the system to vote again -- please, feel encouraged to do so!

In the interest of giving you the option of being well informed, we offer a Street Fighter style character select! Clicking the mugshots will take you to all the recorded battles featuring selected characters, and where possible, something resembling information about them. Use these links to better inform yourself on the characters and nations (fictional, or real) that are represented.

For the countries and characters not represented, there's always next year.
Voting will end whenever it is we actually get around to posting the Punch-Up for June, so there should be plenty of time on top of voting that's been going on throughout the middle of May. [Yes, future readers, we were still behind!]

May, of course, also marks the release of X-Men Origins: Wolverine in theatres worldwide. As you might imagine, our May line-up of feature fights will kick off sometime after this post with a thematically suitable showing by Wolverine!
Also on the cards of what hopes to be an ambitious month of competition is the prospect of stopping in with Wolvie's cinematic co-star, Deadpool!

Hey, if we're going to get all this done, I can't stand around here talking!
Things are heating up in the 2009 Top Five, we've got developments including new teams in the Fantasy League, and the induction of new characters has the Cumulative Super Stock offering mixed returns for the 700+ ranked heroes and villains documented here on the Infinite Wars. So scroll to check it all out!

Wall Street War Journal: Market Analysis...
"Amazing" Sales Fig.
November 2007:
#545 124481 (-1.2%)
December 2008:
#581 64961 (-47.81%)
January 2009:
#582 59932 (-7.74%)
#583 352953 (+588.92%)
#584 63754 (-81.954%)
February 2009:
[#583 148805 #1/300]
#585 60286 (-5.44%)
#586 59521 (-1.27%)
#587 60118 (+1.00%)
March 2009:
[#583 20073 #96/300]
#588 61334 (+2.02%)
#589 58832 (-4.08%)
Month End: (-2.14%)
The memorabilia swell provided by the much publicized "Obama" issue(s) of Amazing Spider-man (#583) are fast becoming a distant memory as the semi-weekly series continues it's consistent sales decline.

While the book failed to poll a top ten position [arriving at #12 and #13], it's worth recognising that estimated sales figures failed to break 100k in the month of March.

These figures are lows not matched since 2001, but aren't exactly worth worrying about just yet. One would look to the villainous Global Financial Crisis for some explanation, while the summer cycle of comics blockbusters will also have attentions looking beyond the current crop of monthly titles, toward bigger events starting in July.

Upcoming storylines bringing Norman Osborn back to the title, (now in a position of authority as Director of HAMMER and the Iron Patriot), promise to invite increased numbers in future months. American Son turns the spotlight back to BND's resurrected Harry Osborn, offering a new spin on the role of legacy that once led Harry to become the second Green Goblin.

New goblin-themed villain, Menace, also proved some power as a draw during previous months. The sporadic on-going role of the character might again provide sturdy filler between stories seen to be more significant. The big payday should come with #600, following up other popular appearances with the return of Dr. Octopus.

None of this should overshadow the recently publicized storyline finally declaring J. Jonah Jameson as Mayor of New York.
While the storyline inadvertently tarnishes the popular misconception that Marvel exclusively reflects political movements of the realworld, it's a classical plotline grounded so deeply in the precedent of the series, it's sure to appease most critics. From a business perspective, exposure in mainstream press, and the groundwork laid by three successful films (and JK Simmons), could see the fictional political development reap some of the rewards of the Obama stunt.

... Who Watches the Watchmen?
Proving the pen is still up to the task of challenging the sword; Watchmen topped sales for collected editions (and graphic novels) in March, boasting an estimated 18,000 units more than it's nearest rival. The cinematic release has earned the series a new generation of fans, nearly twenty years after it's original publication.

A July date has been announced for the eagerly anticipated DVD release of the film, but details have been thus far unclear on the status of a much discussed 'ultimate' edition of the movie, said to include scenes from the animated tie-in, Tales of the Black Freighter, along with other classic scenes from the comic not included in the cinematic release. Like the complete cut of Kill Bill, fans might have a wait ahead of them for the advanced epic.

... Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe: Resolution Pending?
Over the past few months we've been documenting developments in the much publicized fall of gaming publisher, Midway Entertainment.
The latest twist in the saga builds on the previously reported interest of Warner Brothers, solidifying the rumor with reports of an alleged offer amounting to thirty-three million dollars.

The deal, designs to take control of most of Midway's US interests, would include the Mortal Kombat franchise which recently crossed over with Warner Brother's subsidiary, DC comics.

One can't help but flashback to interviews that referenced the briefly considered prospect of treating the MK universe as an extension of the DCU itself. If WB were to take ownership of the brand, it could potentially be a simple hop, skip, and jump for the vast properties to be incorporated in much the same way DC absorbed Wildstorm's properties into their 52 Earths concept, after purchase.

While hardly the juggernaut of gaming it once was, MK continued to prove it's worth despite Midway's struggles. Theories applicable to MKvsDCU, such as the notion of WB attempting to engender goodwill in gaming circles, might also be considered of the buy-out.

... X-Men Origins: Is there a plural for Origins?
A Magneto picture has seemingly been on the cards ever since the first X-Men film gave us a dramatic glimpse of a young Jewish boy's realisation of power to the chagrin of Nazi soldiers. The Master of Magnetism might have to go to the back of the cue, however, if the moderate success of Wolverine is any indication of the future.

The well documented history of the character in Japan -- a favourite reference of Hugh Jackman's -- seems likely to provide the basis of a sequel to the solo flick. As much is alluded to by the inclusion of an epilogue featuring Logan in a bar. The ending was one of three designed to encourage paying cinema-goers after the leak of a pre-release cut of the film.

Also on the sequel slate is Ryan Reynolds, who finally finds his way into a successful comics spin-off after missing out on the opportunity to reprise his Blade Trinity role of Hannibal King. Despite harsh criticism of changes made to the beloved character, Deadpool remains an extremely popular character with existing fans, and neophytes, alike. What to expect from a solo cinematic dalliance with the merc' with a mouth is anyone's guess.

Season 2009: Top Five Update...
Here on the Infinite Wars we like to play a little game of rank and review.
At the heart of the site is a series of reviews that recap the battles that embody the superhero universes as we know them. By tallying these results, we shuffle stats in the pursuit of the knowledge of who truly is the greatest hero of all.

Breaking up the cumulative grind are our yearly rankings, which give us the opportunity to observe the success of characters each year. Season 2009 is now well under way, and unlike previous years, has shown particular reflection on the grind of weekly releases. Feature fights have been diverse and intriguing!

ARTWORK: Ethan Van Sciver#1 Flash (+2) (4) (DC)
Battles: [5] Last Opponent: [Savitar]
Win Percentage: [100%] Cumulative: [#21]
2006: [DNR] 2007: [#38] 2008: [#63]

The Silver Age scarlet speedster, Barry Allen, takes top spot with a return that hasn't been quite as epic as you might have anticipated, but features a nasty case of the match winning deathtouch.

The classic hero's post-Final Crisis elaboration was always going to guarantee a rise to the top in Season 2009, but with Blackest Night just a couple of months away, one questions if the Flash will benefit from his association, or be over shadowed by his headlning JLA buddy, Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern.

There's surely plenty more life (and death) in the pages of Flash: Rebirth, with the series being extended to an extra sixth issue beyond original plans. The change, instigated by writer Geoff Johns, is sure to offer up greater connective tissue with the other events the scribe is managing. Johns has arguably already overcome considerable odds by achieving widespread acceptance of the return of the character who famously died in 1986's Crisis on Infinite Earths.

ARTWORK: Ivan Reis#2 Alpha Lantern Kraken (-1) (3) (DC)
Battles: [3] Last Opponent: [Batman]
Win Percentage: [100%] Cumulative: [#48]
2006: [DNR] 2007: [DNR] 2008: [#121]

Still living off the success of her antaonist role in Final Crisis; Kraken is for now a lingering oddity in 2009's first half of the year. As one of the fallen Alpha Lanterns, her story feels as yet incomplete after the supposedly incorruptable faction of the Green Lantern Corps fell victim to the evil influence of the sinister New Gods. Whether or not this contributes to the on-going War of Light in the Prelude to Blackest Night, or the July event itself, remains to be seen. In recent issues of Green Lantern, the Guardians of Oa did indeed threaten to recall the Alpha Lanterns in their pursuit of the Orange Lantern of avarice, Larfleeze.

ARTWORK: Ed McGuinness#3 Batman (-1) (38) (DC)
Battles: [43] Last Opponent: [Kraken]
Win Percentage: [72.1%] Cumulative: [#1]
2006: [#1] 2007: [#2] 2008: [#1]

They say no news is good news, but for the in-fiction believed dead Dark Knight, his post-RIP disappearance has left little opportunity to reprise the rankings dominance seen in previous years.

Battle of the Cowl seems likely to confirm Dick Grayson as the newest Batman, leading in to a brand new series fronted by the man responsible for his supposed demise in Final Crisis, Grant Morrison. While it seems highly unlikely the cosmic search for Bruce Wayne could feature prominently early in the series; the Scot has promised to breech the subject at some point in the future.

Meanwhile; the original Batman hasn't quite lost his relevance yet.
After featuring in the thoroughly mediocre Neil Gaiman story, Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?, it's far less heady projects, like the animated-inspired Batman: Brave and the Bold, and Superman/Batman, that's keeping the original name alive. Also in the spotlight is Kevin Smith, who will follow his recent Cacophany mini-series with the introduction of yet another new villain.

The animated version of Brave and the Bold deserves mention not just for being another Batman cartoon, but rather, showcasing even the most obscure corners of the DC Universe. I never could've anticipated a cartoon that would serve up everything from Kamandi, to Wildcat. Charming in it's innocent fun, the series makes stupendous use of all eras and incarnations of the Batman mythos, creating something that won't ever replace the comics canon, but is deliciously unique in the landscape of quasi-homages and shakey adaptations. A disturbingly feasible boarish tweak to Aquaman is also among the series' highlights.

ARTWORK: Adi Granov#4 Iron Man (RE) (18) (Marvel)
Features: [29] Last Opponent: [Sub-Mariner]
Win Percentage: [65.52%] Cumulative: [#3]
2006: [#3] 2007: [#11] 2008: [#3]

From hero to fugitive! Tony Stark repulsor rays his way back into the Top Five ranks after just a month's absence, running from the law now controlled by global intelligence successor, Norman Osborn!

After finding his way to the centre of the Marvel Universe through a pro-registration stance in Civil War; the armored hero has been thrown into superhero poverty after being ousted by Osborn at the conclusion of the Secret Invasion.
Now Stark's the villified counterpart to Iron Patriot, forced to cobble together old models of the armor in an effort to erase sensitive data before Osborn can obtain it. This means going toe-to-toe with some of the deadliest heroes and villains on offer, including his recent clash with former co-conspirator, Sub-Mariner!

Outside comics; hype continues to build surrounding the filming of the 2010 sequel to Iron Man's popular 2008 cinematic debut. The film boasts an intriguing cast that adds Mickey Rourke as a hybrid Crimson Dynamo/Blacklash character, while Scarlet Johannson provides a headlining (if dubious) Black Widow.

Also of significance is the latest animated outing for the hero in, Iron Man: Armored Adventures. Featuring similar CG cellshaded animation and teen characters to the MTV Spider-man series, the cartoon is a mix of old and new, reinventing classic characters within the setting of a Stark-revolutionized New York City. Stylized tech gives the show a great shine, and reinvented villains like the Crimson Dynamo come off particularly well, but the central high school setting feels completely unnecessary and diminishing to brand recognition.

ARTWORK: JG Jones#5 Sonny Sumo (-1) (3) (DC)
Battles: [1] Last Opponent: [Megayakuza]
Win Percentage: [100%] Cumulative: [#146]
2006: [DNR] 2007: [DNR] 2008: [DNR]

Sadly missing from Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance is the last of our Top Five refugees from last year's blockbuster event - Final Crisis!
It's been very disappointing not to see the popular character burst from Final Crisis with the support of further appearances. Emerging from the obscurity of Jack Kirby's Fourth World series, Forever People; Grant Morrison's imaginative reincorporation of the character was an immediate attention grabber, deceptively simple in it's execution much like the series itself.

Super Sumo-san will return to the Infinite Wars some time in the future when we continue to recap the events of Final Crisis, but in the mean time, we can only hold out hope that the displaced street fighter will find his way into the pages of other books, perhaps Morrison's follow up to Batman's "death," or Multiversity.

#1 (+21) Dark Avengers
#2 (+5) The Cabal
#3 (+14) The Titans
#4 (+1) Green Lantern Corps
#5 (-2) Secret Avengers
#6 (+2) Birds of Prey
#7 (-2) Shadow Cabinet
#8 (-3) Thunderbolts
#9 (-3) Super Young Team
#10 (+5) MI:13
#11 (+2) Guardians of the Galaxy
#12 (-10) Justice League
#13 (-1) Shadowpact
#14 (+4) Fantastic Four
#15 (+4) Teen Titans
#16 (-2) Interpol
#17 (-1) Outsiders
#18 (-14) Justice Society
#19 (+9) Mighty Avengers
#20 (-19) Sinestro Corps
#21 (+2) Astonishing X-Men
#22 (-1) Legion of Superheroes
#23 (-3) Uncanny X-Men
#24 (-18) Shadaloo
#25 (--) Secret Six
#26 (-1) Earthrealm Defenders
#27 (-3) X-Force
#28 (-2) MK Special Forces
#29 (--) Lady Liberators
2009 Fantasy League...
For those who came in late: last year various readers drafted characters into a fanatsy league team which accumulated points based on features on the site, and spotlights in the weekly shipping list.

This year, rather than subject actual human beings to the soul crushing inconsistency of our statistics, we're using teams inspired by the comics themselves! The company's print groups battle it out for our amusement month to month in this highly pointless game.

Norman Osborn and The Cabal play second-fiddle to his minion team, the Dark Avengers, after a convincing stalemate with the Olympus Group! [Incredible Hercules #128]

Slowed competition in 2009 has meant increasing pressure on characters in the lower ranks, and little to support to those not being featured. If this section of the Punch-Up is supposed to somehow reflect the in-print progress of these teams and brands, then that harsh environment could be seen as a useful method of elimination. It's hard, however, not to get the sense that there's a little bit of an imbalance between the haves, and have nots.

With the War of Light simmering in both Green Lantern and GL Corps, the Green Lanterns maintain their bouyancy in a bid for top points come year end. Blackest Night still promises a big payday for the narrowly focused group, but it's shipping list acknowledgments that are doing the heavy lifting right now, more than any valuable ranking movements by the individual characters in our fight spotlights.

While a few teams start to look ripe for pruning, we've got a couple of overdue and topical teams to add to the mix. It also seems wise to adapt the defunct Birds of Prey team into something more expansive and representatives of the team that congregated onto Batman: Battle for the Cowl.

Substitutions & Additions:
Black Lanterns: Scar, Black Hand, Earth-2 Superman, M. Manhunter, Aquaman [Ttl: 1112]
Bat-Family: Nightwing, Robin, Damien, Alfred, Catwoman [Ttl: 672]
Dark Illuminati is now known as The Cabal [Ttl: 1491]
Birds of Prey are now known as The Network [Ttl: 1745]
The Network: Misfit, Lady Blackhawk (out) Knight, Batwoman (in) [Ttl: 2001]

This year, the basic set-up is a little different.
Teams start with an allowance of 3515 points; five times value of the top ranked character. Five characters suitable to the team are drafted at a cost derived from their cumulative ranking at the end of Season 2008. 736 characters, means #1 is worth 736pts, working downward to #736, valued at 1pt. This new rule not only offers an immediate reflection of value, but handicaps league leaders.
This year, unranked characters will cost 355pts, a fraction over mid-range.

Subsequent points are awarded based on results throughout the month.
25pts for a win, 7pts for an assist, 5pts for a loss, and 10pts for a draw.
Additional bonuses of 5pts are awarded for spotlights in the shipping list, and other articles sporradically featured throughout the site. As with last year; the final contributor to monthly scores is the cumulative super stock, which will provide literal additions and substractions to reflect the movement in ranking.

Due to the ever changing landscape of superheroics, and characters who hold membership with multiple groups, we will attempt to maintain a delicate balance between accuracy and suitability. Again encouraging some sense of interactivity, it is strongly encouraged for readers to use the comments section to suggest appropriate trades, and/or the inclusion of new teams.

To make the Fantasy League more managable, there may be a culling process in the future months, that eliminates some teams. Once again, be encouraged to make your thoughts on the subject known in the comments section.

Super Stock: Cumulative Rankings...
For those coming in late: the Infinite Wars was founded on a concept of reviewing superhero comics through the battles displayed within.
Results are tallied to form both annual rankings, and a cumulative tally.
These rankings bare no concrete value, but provide fun with lists and statistics on the site. The following reflects the months changes in the cumulative ranks.

Year One: [1966]
Season 2009: [#32]
Last Opponent: [Olympus Group]
Despite relative obscurity in the Infinite Wars ranks, the Olympian god of war finds himself benefitting greatly from an association with the antagonist Dark Avengers, despite familial tensions with their recent opponents, Hercules and Olympus Group [Incredible Herc' #128]. With strength and cunning to rival any competitor, who better than Ares to rise in the environment presented in the competition of Infinite Wars?

Year One: [1974]
Season 2009: [NR]
Last Opponent: [Avengers]
Despite a steady absence from solo competition and no features registered yet in 2009, the debut of X-Men Origins: Wolverine in cinemas today guarantees the clawed X-Man a return to battle! The film throws him against arch-nemesis, Sabretooth, which sounds like a good basis for upcoming features of the recipient of the Weapon X treatment.

Year One: [1991]
Season 2009: [NR]
Last Opponent: [Taskmaster]
Threatening to overshadow the titular hero of the film; Deadpool makes his big screen debut in the just released X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The merc' with a mouth has long had a cult fanbase with fans new and... slightly less new, but is sure to explode as the film gives way to an inevitable sequel for the previously optioned anti-hero of the Weapon X project. Now if they can only get it right...

Year One: [1940]
Season 2009: [#40]
Last Opponent: [Hush]
The Battle for the Cowl mini-series is nearly over, and with very little battling actually going on, the contenders list is all but narrowed to Dick Grayson. Jason Todd - already operating as a false Batman - promises to put up a good fight against his Robin predecessor, but there can be no outcome other than defeat for the villain.

Year One: [2002]
Season 2009: [NR]
Last Opponent: [Tigra]
Lurking in the shadows of the Marvel Universe is one of the most powerful rising stars in the pantheon of evil that's slowly taking control via Dark Reign. As the Kingpin of Supervillains, the Hood emerged as a powerful enemy of the Secret Avengers, but now his association with Norman Osborn and his secret Cabal has elevated him to new status, pitting him against the entire heroic community, should the Iron Patriot ask. His recent battles with Dr. Strange, the Midnight Sons, and Punisher, are all making him a player worth watching!
1. Batman (-) (DC)
2. Spider-man (-) (M)
3. Iron Man (-) (M)
4. Superman (-) (DC)
5. Hulk (-) (M)
6. Wolverine (-) (M)
7. Captain America (-) (M)
8. Mr. Fantastic (-) (M)
9. Daredevil (-) (M)
10. Thing (-) (M)
13. Wonder Woman (-) (DC)
16. Venom Symbiote (+2) (M)
17. Ryu (-) (C)
18. Sub-Mariner (-2) (M)
19. Flash (-) (DC)
21. Flash (+8) (DC)
24. Catwoman (-1) (DC)
28. Green Lantern (-1) (DC)
29. Nightwing (-1) (DC)
30. Phantom (-) (KFS)
32. Green Lantern (+1) (DC)
34. Martian Manhunter (-2) (DC)
42. Deadpool (+1) (M)
45. Union Jack (+1) (M)
50. Johnny Cage (+1) (Mid)
52. Robin (-12) (DC)
53. Aquaman (-) (DC)
55. Red Hood (-) (DC)
57. Dr. Light (+35) (DC)
60. Dr. Doom (-1) (M)
74. Powergirl (-1) (DC)
79. Batroc (-1) (M)
88. Sentry (+2) (M)
93. Dr. Strange (-) (M)
99. Hawkeye (+1) (M)
100. Ice Man (-1) (M)
107. Ares (+100) (M)
128. Black Mask (-1) (DC)
147. Libra (new) (DC)
150. Zauriel (-2) (DC)
181. The Hood (-2) (M)
186. Hellboy (-2) (DH)
188. Jin Kazama (-2) (N)
189. Rose (-2) (C)
200. Mirror Master (-2) (DC)
250. Rorschach (-1) (DC)
251. Effigy (new) (DC)
252. Ms. Marvel (-1) (M)
257. Gambit (-2) (M)
266. Sinestro (-2) (DC)
268. Superboy (-2) (DC)
296. Mongul (-2) (DC)
297. Hercules (-2) (M)
298. Spider-man (-) (M)
300. Captain Marvel (-3) (DC)
305. Lex Luthor (+4) (DC)
312. Solomon Grundy (-2) (DC)
313. Vega (-2) (C)
337. Lilith Dracula (-2) (M)
344. Amadeus Cho (new) (M)
349. Wolverine (new) (M)
350. Hera (new) (M)
351. Captain Marvel (new) (M)
400. Dazzler (-10) (M)
434. Dr. Sivana (new) (DC)
435. Talia al Ghul (new) (DC)
436. Ocean Master (new) (DC)
437. Vandal Savage (new) (DC)
438. Human Flame (new) (DC)
450. Stilt-Man (-15) (M)
451. Count Vertigo (-15) (DC)
500. Silver Samurai (-15) (M)
550. Mr. Majestic (-15) (DC:W)
551. Loki (-15) (M)
579. Black Hand (-15) (DC)
600. Stone God (-15) (DC)
620. Jack O'Lantern (-15) (DC)
650. Dark Beast (-15) (M)
687. Yellow Lantern (-15) (DC)
699. Savitar (new) (DC)
700. Sabretooth (-16) (M)
707. Gorilla Grodd (-1) (DC)
725. Kingpin (-16) (M)
726. Iron Patriot (-13) (M)
732. Zangief (-16) (C)
733. Quicksilver (-16) (M)
734. Magneto (-16) (M)
735. Dan Hibiki (-16) (C)
736. Lizard (-16) (M)

- Mike Haseloff; War Monger-in-Chief
You can also find Mike on blogging tangents about gaming!

April Hit Count: [11048/221931]* (-7.4%)
* Hitcount reflects some content dated March.

No comments: