Friday, January 15, 2016

How To Murder The Earth (DC)
Final Crisis #6 When: January 2009
Why: Grant Morrison How: JG Jones

The Story So Far...
The Anti-Life Equation has been unlocked! Orion is dead! Gods walk the Earth as men! This is the final crisis!

The prophesized death of Darkseid could only be but a passing moment - the beginning of something new! The New God of evil could never truly die as he was already reborn in a mortal shell! Embedded as mortals, the evil gods wage their war on the Earth unopposed by their heroic rivals. Anti-Life justifies humanity's enslavement!

Possessed by Desaad; Mary Marvel fights on the front line as a super-soldier against the heroes of Earth. Their numbers dwindling to the Anti-Life Justifiers, the heroes coordinate as best they can against the greatest threat they've ever faced! Targeting the darkened Mary Marvel is a hero every bit her equal. Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird... It's a plane... No - it's Supergirl!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Draw 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Draw 2 (Average)
Speed: Draw 5 (Superhuman)
Stamina: Draw 5 (Marathoner)
Agility: Supergirl 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Draw 3 (Street Wise)
Energy: Supergirl 5 (Lasers)

The fight fan in me loves this match-up! Two junior heavyweights - each with a 1-0 perfect record on The Comic Book Fight Club. We've seen their forebears go head-to-head in Superman #216, where Captain Marvel grappled with an Eclipso possessed Superman. It took outside interference to settle that battle. Will it be different here? Let's see if we can separate the men from the girls.

Like their counterparts, both characters are statistically very evenly matched. A certain amount of versatility gives Supergirl a slight edge in the tape, however.

Like her younger cousin, Kara Zor-El's Kryptonian genetics are enhanced by the solar energy of Earth's yellow sun. She possesses super-human strength, speed, endurance and stamina, as well as a range of amazing abilities: flight, heat vision, x-ray vision, super breath and enhanced senses. Arriving much later on Earth than the infant Superman, Supergirl remains youthful and less battle tested. Her only recorded battle on the site is a shared victory with the Green Lantern Corps & Justice Leagues during the Sinestro Corps War [Green Lantern #25]. Not a lot to go on, but showing she can hang with impressive company.

Mary Marvel isn't exactly herself at the time today's feature fight takes place. Typically she possesses the acronymic powers of SHAZAM: The wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury. As seen in her takedown of Wonder Woman in Final Crisis #3: the heroic virtues of her pantheon have been perverted by the influence of Darkseid and the evil New Gods. That's the Mary we're dealing with here. Sadistic, unrelenting - evil!

Trickery and the element of surprise were keys to Marvel's victory over Wonder Woman. Supergirl knows what she's flying into at this late stage of the Final Crisis, but can that prepare her for the brutality that awaits? Ordinarily I'd say Mary Marvel has the edge, but there are a lot of x-factors flying around. Earth may have been conquered by Darkseid's Anti-Life Equation, but hope prevails. Lets find out how it went...

The Tape: Supergirl Ranking: Mary Marvel (#139)

What Went Down...
sickly grey sky hangs over desolate streets. The city is become a war zone. High above the skirmishes - titans clash. Supergirl and Mary Marvel are unlikely opposites of good and evil. Their aerobatic struggle cuts a line of demolition through a skyscraper. The corrupt Marvel has the upper hand.

The pair smash through the roof of a parking tower. Supergirl sends Mary back the way they came with an unseen feat of super-human strength! Mary crash lands amongst abandon traffic. Faster than she can avoid - Supergirl flies overhead with a bus. The hero spikes it down at full force, crushing the Marvel beneath and silencing her wicked tongue - at least for now.

Enraged, the dark Marvel explodes through the wreckage leaving an inside-out mess of twisted metal! Lightning surrounds her, but she no longer serves the thunder of the Wizard Shazam or his successor. She's a play thing for Desaad now!

Skyward; Mary flies into the path of a devastating blast of Supergirl's heat vision! It sends the smouldering Marvel immediately falling back to Earth. This time, somebody is waiting -- the battle damaged Black Adam!

Shazam's original fallen disciple has also been weakened by the incursion of Darkseid's forces. Once fuelled by the ancient gods of Egypt - Black Adam hears only the vile prattling of evil New Gods as his powers fade. He catches Mary in a leg hold and seeks answers, only to be brutally kicked in the face! There is no mercy left in Mary Marvel.

The moment provides sufficient distraction for Supergirl to glide unnoticed with a street light. She swings the post toward Mary, but Mary's able to manoeuvre out of serious harm. She drives her left knee into Supergirl's chin - first blood!

Supergirl retaliates - filling her lungs with air and letting it out in a mighty gust of wind! She blows Mary Marvel across the battlefield as Captain Marvel watches on. The new mighty mortal Freddy Freedman isn't much better off than Black Adam, but thinks he has enough magic left for one final gambit!

Supergirl launches herself at Mary Marvel - pinning her to the road with a bent lamp post. Possessed Mary Marvel taunts Supergirl as the heroine contemplates extreme measures to stop the out-of-control Marvel. As she does, a mob of innocent citizens consumed by the Anti-Life Equation descend upon them. So does Captain Marvel!

The young Captain Marvel swoops in and snatches Mary away from Supergirl! He's fought his surrogate sister in this condition before, but now he has an end game! Summoning the last of his magic he shouts the magic word: "SHAZAM!"

When the flash of lightning fades, a scared young girl replaces the demented agent of evil. In the arms of her friend Freddy, Mary Batson swears to do no more harm. For now, this fight is over.

The Hammer...
For coming in late with a crafty strategy to save the day, I've got to split the victory between Captain Marvel and Supergirl!

As you'll note, this was the period when Freddy Freeman dropped the boy and upgraded from Junior to big red cheese. If you're here for facts, you won't want to confuse this one for the classic Captain. He was replacing the Wizard Shazam as guardian of The Rock of Eternity at the time.

That's all well and good, but Cap Jr is an interloper in today's feature! As noted in a dropped reference during the last Hero of the Week post, there's a whole lot of superheroes on television! NBC are reportedly prepping the DC Universe B-list for their upcoming comedy Powerless, which sounds very interesting, but the show that stands high above them all right now is Supergirl!

Of course, if you told me five years ago there'd be TV shows based on Green Arrow, The Flash, Gotham City PD, Hellblazer, and a DCU mixed bag featuring Atom, Hawkman & Hawkgirl -- I would've been sceptical. If you told me Supergirl would be far and away the most compelling of the lot - I might have actually laughed in your face. Coming out of 2015: the joke's on me!

Like Arrow and The Flash; Supergirl shows signs of a lineage of previous productions. Where the other two harken back to the clumsy, unflattering fears of Smallville; Supergirl recalls the airy prime time drama of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Unlike the Dean Cain/Teri Hatcher vehicle of the 90s, or even 2015 contemporaries, Supergirl seems to go far bolder into the realm of superheroes, representing characters like Red Tornado, Son of Saturn, and Martian Manhunter to thrilling effect!

Everything I've seen from the show has felt like a breath of fresh air. From the Devil Wears Prada flavoured office drama, to the glowing heroism of the lead character -- it all feels pretty on point! Some of the TV diehards may have convinced themselves a handful of references, or CG gorillas and sharks make The Flash the most 'unashamed comic book show' around - but Supergirl is the show that seems to mean it. Cape and all!

The superhero visual has been a running theme on the site in movie & TV influenced updates. The CW's efforts in Arrow, Flash and Legends of Tomorrow fall well short, in that regard. I find the half-in costume design typically much more embarrassing than the looks they're avoiding. It screams the next step in cosplaying for the Smallville kids. No such problem in Supergirl, though.

Melissa Benoist looks every bit the Supergirl in classic red and blue, with gold belt. The basic pattern echoes 1984's Supergirl film, with an upgrade in materials so everything looks a bit sturdier. It's pretty much the definitive Supergirl look, showing up inconsistent designs in the source material, including 2009's exposed mid-riff and blue skirt.

It's not often live-action adaptation gets to show comics how to do their business. That says as much about DC Comics having struggled to really do much of note with the Supergirl character. Attempts to modernize have varied - usually forgettable, or cringe worthy.

Jeph Loeb and the late Michael Turner gave us the streamlined Supergirl seen in Final Crisis, introduced as Kara Zor-El in a very awkward Superman/Batman re-introduction in 2004. Turner probably wasn't the artist to set the right tone, but the general streamlining of the character's origins and relationships helped once it was an accepted moving on. That may be a story to look at another day.

I'm sure we'll revisit more from Final Crisis, as well. If you'd like to get the jump on the full epic and see all of today's feature fight, take advantage of Amazon links provided [embedded right].

Winners: Captain Marvel & Supergirl
(+157) #89 Supergirl
(+218) #99 Captain Marvel Jr
(-149) #288 Mary Marvel
(--) #17 Black Adam [+1 Assist]
(-9) #481 Desaad

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