Friday, July 29, 2016

Breach of Faith! (DC)
Legends #2 When: December 1986
Why: John Ostrander & Len Wein How: John Byrne

The Story So Far...
From distant planet Apokolips, the New God Darkseid and his minion Desaad curse the heroes of the world known as Earth. Their designs for destruction have been thwarted one too many times by the meddlesome mortals. Thus, they plan Operation: Humiliation to destroy them in body, mind and spirit!

Born from a techno-seed planted in a nuclear reactor, Brimstone is a burning goliath on the frontlines of the attack! He decries the heroes as false gods with a gospel of Darkseid, declaring himself a fallen angel to cleanse the sinners. His march of destruction laying waste to New York, Firestorm and Cosmic Boy!

Fortunately for Firestorm, he knows a team of heroes who can help him even the odds against the towering inferno! Thus, the Justice League of America enters the fray to try to stop the monster before he burns the town!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Brimstone 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Elongated Man 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Steel 5 (Super-Human)
Stamina: Brimstone 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Martian Manhunter 7 (Unlimited)
Fighting: Gypsy 4 (Training)
Energy: Firestorm 6 (Mass Destruction)

The Justice League of America are: Martian Manhunter, Elongated Man, Vibe, Vixen, Steel and Gypsy, with Firestorm and Cosmic Boy.

You may know this JLA arrangement by reputation as the short-lived, infamous Detroit era team. They're an eclectic mix of classic membership, cast-offs, and unusual new characters. They're held together by the leadership of Martian Manhunter, who inherited the role from Aquaman after he stepped down.

They've been summoned to today's feature fight by Firestorm, who we saw hit a big flaming wall when he took on Brimstone just an issue earlier, in Legends #1! They gather around time displaced hero of the 30th century, Cosmic Boy, who also tried to put a stop to Brimstone's warpath in the last issue. Just who is this walking, talking towering inferno that's giving everybody so much trouble?

Brimstone is a weapon on the front line of Darkseid's Operation: Humiliation - designed to defeat and discredit the mightiest mortals of Earth! He was born from a techno-seed in the heart of a nuclear reactor, exploding in size to stand equal to the skyscrapers of New York City. He is sentient plasma, commanding super-human strength, intense heat, and flame manipulation.

For a team whose primary heavy hitter is the Martian Manhunter -- a giant flaming monster is a definite cause for concern! Even at his most valiant, the Superman scale powerhouse is all but eliminated from offensive consideration by his fire weakness. We saw burning church curtains freeze him in his tracks in DC: The New Frontier #2, a contrast to his disguised participation in an early fight with Doomsday [Superman #74]!

Elongated Man, Vixen, and Gypsy are also pretty much out of their depth. It would take an inventive combination strategy to make use of their individual powers of elongation, animal mimicry, and projections.

Steel (Henry Heywood III) -- not to be confused with armored hero John Henry Irons -- may be able to withstand Brimstone's heat, and exert enough physical strength to move the beast. Likewise, the sonic shockwaves projected by Vibe could effect some physical motion. Combined with the nuclear powers of Firestorm and magnetic field manipulation of Cosmic Boy - they have a good shot to attack Brimstone. Can they possibly beat him, though? That's what we're about to find out!

The Math: Martian Manhunter Ranking: Martian Manhunter (#29)

What Went Down...
Abandoned vehicles litter an empty Manhattan street. Standing over these tokens of human insignificance - the burning giant: Brimstone! He cries out the manifesto of a fallen angel - a false prophet sent by Darkseid to "cleanse" the world of sinners, graven idols and false gods. Lies to discredit Earth's heroes!

Incensed by the burning behemoth's challenge, the Martian Manhunter leaps into the air to meet it head-on! Ordinarily his natural gifts of strength and power would afford him a rash attack, but his actions are without thought! Elongated Man desperately tries to warn him - Brimstone is his very weakness personified!

The warning reaches Martian Manhunter just in time. He pulls back from his airborne attack at the last minute! A near miss for a man vulnerable to fire!

Vibe steps up to take advantage of the long range application of his "vibratory powers". He sends a powerful shockwave directly at the feet of the giant!

The blast knocks the giant off balance! He tumbles backward into the buildings surrounding -- making Vibe the first man to knock Brimstone off his feet!

Undeterred, the creature spews his villainous gospel. Forging a sword of pure flaming plasma, he lashes out at a nearby skyscraper!

The demolished building becomes a curtain of debris descending upon the assembled Justice League. Martian Manhunter goes on the offensive, to use his phenomenal strength to smash through the threat and defend his team.

Cosmic Boy begins to affect a magnetic field of some kind. Firestorm tries to mount a defense, as well. It's all for naught. There's simply too much building!

The skyscraper tumbles down directly upon the League. Burying them alive!

The Hammer...
Another battle, another victory for the blazing behemoth: Brimstone! Can anyone hope to stop his self-righteous rampage? Another grouping will make an attempt when we venture into the dirty deeds of the Suicide Squad - next week!

The curbed villainy of the Squad's should provide smooth transition from the month of July. By virtue of coincidence, it's been the bad guys winning all month in our featured fights. The theme of DC's past Rebirths has meant revisiting stories dedicated to breaking down heroes in order to rebuild them. In the case of Legends, we see here the effective deconstruction of the Detroit era Justice League. Not quite the last hurrah, but the transition.

Things would actually get much worse for this JLA in their final starring issues of Justice League of America. An attack by Professor Ivo's androids whittles the Detroit League to its final standing members: Martian Manhunter & Vixen. They fight, in particular, to avenge the death of Steel. Their loyalties are then divided.

As Legends and "Operation: Humiliation" unfolds over six issues, a new Justice League will begin to form itself - the iconic "Justice League International". Not before Amanda Waller will assemble her first collection of leashed villains and rogues as Task Force X, aka; The Suicide Squad. That's where Vixen finds herself, while the Martian continues on as the soul of the JLA. A position sorely lacking from first impressions of the cinematic Justice League.

These ties between the fledgling DC cinematic universe of 2016, and the post-Crisis "Rebirth" seen in Legends are interesting to compare and contrast.

In design and detail, the movies based on DC Comics have seemed eagre to run from their comic book sources. Even as the boldest and brightest of the culture rises to the top, Hollywood's reluctance to fully embrace four-colour superheroes has snaked its way throughout.

Marvel can be given more credit for turning red and gold armor into superhero chic, but even they've been guilty of shying away from their own colour and imagination. DC have just had a knack for going much further, turning their heroes into detestable funhouse mirror reflections of classic characters. A path they carried into print in the dour New 52 -- a line-wide shift to suit the comics to their adaptations. A creative cultural downward spiral.

The Legends mini-series isn't really strong enough to escape the shadow of the comics it spawned. The slapstick superhero fusion of the Justice League launched by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire is iconic to this day. The shadowy inter-personal drama and intrigue of John Ostrander's Suicide Squad -- inarguably responsible for launching and defining a phenomenon. Even so, the foundation of world building and arrangement Legends provides is in many ways a perfect road map for today's franchised cinematic landscape.

Unique, independently constructed visions of each film property is an appealing conceptual difference for DC, even if its returned severe disappointment, so far. An intricate tapestry isn't what we need more of -- but some Legends-like planning might have helped. Rather than perpetuating the ink stain of Man of Steel, Dawn of Justice might've been better served laying the groundwork for both the Justice League and the Suicide Squad. A very different film, with an end goal to pit the two teams against each other, rather than the rumored stepping stone of Steppenwulf before a presumed New Gods offensive.

We haven't actually explored much of the Legends mini-series at all, but for an example of how it builds to the two super-teams, you might like to flash back to another featured fight from Legends #1: Flash vs Deadshot. The early skirmish puts Deadshot in incarceration, to be recruited later on for the Suicide Squad. A sequence of introduction and construction the movies could've benefitted from.

Of course, I'm assuming that Legends wasn't an inspiration behind DC's initial films. The similarities found, more likely a presumed happy accident massaged by convergent evolution. Multi-picture franchises are just a fact of the box office thanks to the esteemed competition. The studio: ripe with old, stalled projects to benefit from the new world order. Justice League is an old goal that almost happened in the mid-2000s under George Miller and a plot inspired by Infinite Crisis (and Project OMAC). Suicide Squad: a mutation of rumored pitches like David Goyer's Supermax - a movie about Green Arrow imprisoned with villains.

I'm sure we'll be talking a lot more about these topics in August. Stay tuned for Friday Night Fights, and the inevitable walk through Hero of the Week.

In the mean time, we say hello to the Detroit Justice League for the first time on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths -- and good bye, as they face disbanding after the events of the featured issue!

If you'd like to get ahead of the game and see the story in its full context, you can check out the collected edition via Amazon purchase link provided! You can also rummage through the back issues of past features in the Issue Index Archive to uncover more! Both go a little way to helping keep the site going!

Winner: Brimstone
#92 (+197) Brimstone
#30 (-1) Martian Manhunter
#291 (-174) Elongated Man
#341 (-11) Vixen
#793 (new) Vibe
#794 (new) Cosmic Boy
#795 (new) Gypsy
#796 (new) Steel (Henry Heywood III)
#806 (-14) Firestorm

Monday, July 25, 2016

Real Name: Adrian Toomes
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-man #2 (May, 1963)
Fight Club Ranking: #500

Featured Fights:
- vs THE AVENGERS: Marvel Knights; Spider-man #11 (Apr 2005)
- vs SILVER SURFER: Marvel Zombies #3 (Apr 2006)

To say there were a lot of contenders fighting for this week's Hero of the Week is to make a massive under statement! San Diego Comic-Con International (SDCC) launched a steady stream of major daily headlines. Trailers for movies and TV overwhelmed. On Day One, I thought a certain unbreakable Hero for Hire was going to be called upon early - but we're saving him for later in the year. Compelling cases for Dr. Strange, Iron Fist and Wonder Woman could all ruled out by previous features. The less said about the cinematic Justice League - the better!

There were some other outliers we may yet visit before the end of 2016, but when all was said and done, one character got me significantly more excited than any of the others: Vulture!

The thought that an old man in green long-johns would beat out some of the biggest icons in comics is good for a laugh, but that's only because the days for Spidey have been long and dark.

Vulture is a classic villain, one of Spidey's earliest. He was almost brought to life by Ben Kingsley, who was cast for the ill fated third installment of Sam Raimi's beloved trilogy. (The character was cut from the script). The hot rumor now is that former big screen Batman and resurrected Hollywood darling Michael Keaton will turn villain for the role. A little on the nose, considering the feathers he sprouted for 2014 Best Picture Oscar winner Birdman, but an intriguing prospect, never the less.

For me, it's the mere thought that a cantankerous old man with wings might be the villain for next year's Spider-man: Homecoming that has my enthusiasm restored! It's such an unconventional, anti-commercial concept that the mind boggles. Of course, by casting Michael Keaton, the character is already undergoing a metamorphosis to make it more palatable to the movie-going public.

Concept art [via Comic Book Resources] pretty quickly tells us Homecoming will try to play with the pseudo-reality popular in most comic book movies, right now. Circular fans aren't a staple of the comics. Talons, a newer addition once more associated with The Owl -- another green garbed wingman of the Marvel Universe. In keeping with this, Keaton's Vulture will probably look a little younger, a little more dynamic, and have a clearer sense of motivation. That's fine. Inoffensive tweaks, by Hollywood standards. Expected concessions in modern fantasy, for better or worse.

Convention goers were shown brief footage that didn't quite clear up the mystery of whether or not Keaton is playing Vulture, but had plenty of people talking. I'm eager to get a better look!

Of course, as much as I'm simply looking forward to seeing Vulture, there are also the many other questions that surround him! Like - will he be working alone? He would've been beside Sandman in Sam Raimi's Spider-man 3. He would've been part of the Sinister Six, if Sony's last series went ahead. A second villain could certainly spice things up. The list of candidates, too long right now.

Of course, the elephant in the room is the fact that this is the first Spider-man created by Sony Pictures in collaboration with Marvel Entertainment! This unprecedented creative partnership facilitated Spidey's appearance in Captain America: Civil War [see; HOTW 03/14/2016], and has many commentators and fans buying into rumors of a strong Tony Stark presence in Homecoming.

It's undeniably hilarious to imagine that "Birdman" Michael Keaton might actually go toe-to-toe with Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man -- the actor/character combo he deliciously dissed early on as superhero movie pioneer turned Hollywood burnout, Riggan Thomson. Keaton and Inarritu joke in DVD supplemental material that it'd be funny to do a superhero blockbuster sequel to Birdman. This scenario is just as good. Of course, it's not the only crossover I'm thinking about, though...

There's a definite sense that Marvel isn't completely in control, here. They've got the mojo to steer things to everyone's benefit, but Sony's still calling the shots. So exactly how much cross-pollination will exist between the Spider-man franchise as Marvel's larger cinematic universe is up for debate. If this is a complete working relationship, then the thought occurs that Spider-man characters could find their way into other films. Which might not be a huge priority for a Vulture, say, but what about a Norman Osborn? His Green Goblin was well mined with Willem Dafoe, and the last Sony reboot did just retread aspects of the Goblin mythology. If Osborn is able to attack the larger Marvel Universe -- as he did in Dark Reign, when he deposed SHIELD, and became Avengers leader as the original Iron Patriot -- then we have some very interesting prospects for much more than just Homecoming.

I'm looking forward to getting back to Spidey. Everyone needs good Spider-man in their life!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Flash Facts (DC)
Flash: Rebirth #4 When: September 2009
Why: Geoff Johns How: Ethan Van Sciver

The Story So Far...
Before this universe came to be, there existed an infinite array of Earths populated by super-powered champions. When life throughout the multiverse came under threat from a violent creature called The Anti-Monitor, one hero rose above all others to run his final race to stop the end of everything. That hero was Barry Allen - The Flash!

To the merged universe that was created after the Anti-Monitor's defeat, Barry Allen had given his life so that all may live! The legend of his sacrificed lived on in the legends of all the heroes he'd known, especially Wally West - who carried the torch of scarlet speedster into a new age as The Flash.

Only, when the New Gods fell to Earth and another crisis threatened reality, Barry Allen made his shocking return - alive!

In truth, Flash had become one with the cosmic phenomena called The Speed Force: the lightning that powers all speedsters! His return has mysteriously meant death for other runners bound by the Speed Force - a fact that forces him to return to the otherworldly dimension, where he will face another who has escaped death - Professor Zoom, The Reverse-Flash!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Draw 5 (Professor)
Speed: Draw 7 (Light Speed)
Stamina: Draw 6 (Generator)
Agility: Draw 2 (Average)
Fighting: Flash 3 (Street Wise)
Energy: Max Mercury 3 (Explosives)

Super-villain royalty finally joins the ranks of the Secret Wars on Infinite Earths in today's feature fight! Professor Eobard Thawne is better known throughout the ages as Professor Zoom, the villainous Reverse-Flash!

Originally born in the 25th century, he was a scientist who idolized the Silver Age of super-heroes, in particular the museum memorialized 20th century icon: Barry Allen, The Flash! Adoration turned to resentment when the Reverse-Flash chose to use his speed powers to commit crimes, beginning his inversion as the counter opposite to the scarlet speedster!

By recreating the chemical bath that accidentally connected Barry Allen with his incredible powers, Professor Zoom gained comparable super-human speed and mastery over all that entails. He can move and react at unfathomable pace, endure harsh physical forces, manipulate his molecules fast enough to pass through solid objects, and even use his speed to travel through time!

We haven't seen Professor Zoom in action in past entries, but his successor Hunter Zolomon could be found buzzing in the background of Infinite Crisis #1 as a member of The Society. The nature of Zolomon's powers differ in that they are more specifically linked to time manipulation and displacement.

The Flash has clashed with many speedsters throughout his career, including, but not limited to: Savitar, Lady Flash and even the faster than a speeding bullet - Superman [Flash: Rebirth #3]! We know he can run in step with Professor Zoom, but can he take him down alone? He won't have to!

For every fast running nemesis, The Flash has a speedster to call a friend! Max Mercury is a whirlwind runner from the 19th century, whose early encounters with the speed force eventually led him to become a Zen guru of speed! His life's exploration of The Speed Force phenomena led him to befriend Jay Garrick in the 1940s, and later mentor Wally West in exploiting the fullest of his speed!

Are two speedsters better than one? You'd think so - but let's find out...

The Math: Max Mercury & Flash Ranking: Flash (#14)

What Went Down...
A dance of ghosts greets The Flash as he rejoins the blurring red haze of The Speed Force. The Reverse-Flash - buzzing with afterimages and crackling with red lightning. He didn't expect his nemesis quite so early. It hardly matters...

The yellow clad villain blitzes across The Flash and Max Mercury in the blink of an eye. The collision of his fist against their jaws leaves a ghostly snapshot in time -- a fleeting memorial of his lightning quick ambush!

The world has only recently learned Barry Allen is no longer dead - lost to the world in an act of self-sacrifice that kept him a part of the Speed Force. With his return to the energy phenomena, the scarlet speedster now knows of Professor Zoom's imminent resurrection. A broken neck no longer an end to his tyranny.

Flash tries to rush his enemy, but catches only a fading image. Zoom is already behind him, stabbing through his arm with a lightning tipped baton! He leaves it there - dashing to overwhelm Max Mercury with an onslaught of punches!

Zoom is tapping into a negative Speed Force, cutting through the positive like a cancer - or the jagged lightning rod he left inserted in The Flash's arm.
The zig-zag bolt does as much damage coming out as it did going in. Flash cries in agony! Professor Zoom simply cries foul - admonishing Flash for the heroic legacy he left when he seemingly died stopping Anti-Monitor and his cannon.

Spiteful Thawne keeps Barry off balance - rushing him down with another super-fast flurry of fists! Then he assaults the Flash with a revisionist history - a grand plan to undo his legacy by bringing the hero back from the Speed Force!

Flash regroups with Max Mercury by his side, both under attack from the infectious red lightning of Reverse-Flash's Speed Force. He prepares another attack, but the impurity is too great. Zoom's force is too fast!

The sneering grin remains as Flash's hands clutch for a throat that's no longer there. Just a haunting image - fading, as Professor Zoom leaves the dimension of speed to complete his plot for revenge. If Flash won't infect his friends, Zoom will kill them himself. The starter's pistol to a race of life and death!

The Hammer...
It was a fight that ended with a threat, not a knock-out. Yet Professor Zoom ran rings around the heroes, and left them bleeding behind him as he set out to fulfill his wicked designs.

For those overwhelming reason - we must call this a villain's victory! To the matter of attacking The Flash at the very core of his heroic legacy -- that's a subject up for debate...

Throughout the month of July we've been discussing various points in history when DC Comics has invoked a "Rebirth".

In 2016, they're trying to put back the things they lost during their line-wide reboot: The New 52. It's similar to the predicament found in 2004's Green Lantern: Rebirth, which worked to restore the besmirched legacy of Hal Jordan, and bring back the definitive mythos of the Green Lantern Corps.

Green Lantern: Rebirth, also headed up by writer Geoff Johns and artist Ethan Van Sciver, found itself at a very similar juncture at this point, but heading in a very different direction.

Issue #4 revealed once dead nemesis Sinestro was alive and well, himself reborn, and directly connected to a polarized impurity infecting heroes. In Flash: Rebirth, it's the negatively charged red lightning of Reverse-Flash's Speed Force. In Green Lantern: Rebirth, it's the yellow weakness in power rings, now known to be a vein of fear spread by the spectrum entity Parallax.

Both stories use this villain's power source to infect heroes, and make them a danger to their family in earlier issues. By issue #4, both launches the reborn nemesis into a two-on-one face-off against a pair of heroes. For a better parallel to the Kyle Rayner & Green Arrow team-up we featured last week, there's the mentor & next generation team-up of Jay Garrick and Bart Allen that Professor Zoom runs into immediately after this skirmish. The similarity ends there.

It was easy to get on board with Green Lantern: Rebirth. It fixed something that was clearly broken. Hal Jordan's fall from grace in the mid-nineties, and career thereafter as the super-villain who murdered the Corps, never sat right. Even with the creation of a perfectly adequate replacement (Kyle Rayner), there was no real denying that something significant had been lost. The DCU was smaller, and the Silver Age Green Lantern's legacy not what it should be when he was finally killed off in a half-hearted attempt to redeem him.

Barry Allen never had that problem. Yes, he'd been tainted by murdering the Reverse-Flash, but he was still the same hero he always was, conflicted in his lethal act. Thus, just as its told in Rebirth, the legend of the Silver Age Flash only grew with his demise. His sacrifice in Crisis on Infinite Earths #8 was poignant and well told. A cosmic predicament only he could solve. A death worthy of an icon, told in an important landmark maxi-series, responsible for the Rebirth of the entire DC multiverse!

Unlike the Green Lantern story, 2009's Flash: Rebirth had nothing to fix. The hero's death wasn't a mistake. His mythos - as stronger as ever! "Kid Flash" Wally West had quickly transitioned into the mantle of his dead senior. There would be plenty of times to miss the Silver Age Flash, but his modern successor was easy to accept. For over twenty years, he was The Flash, expanding upon the role as a multi-media icon, and the shining example of a legacy hero.

So, was the return of Barry Allen a victory - or a defeat?

I like the way these meta-textual questions play directly into the fiction of the story itself. If the series must happen, that's a very worthwhile idea to explore through the characters -- even if the end goal is never to answer the question.

For better or worse, Barry Allen would end this series as The Flash. (In truth, he'd already returned a few months earlier, in the pages of Final Crisis). His legacy would not be that of a selfless hero who sacrificed himself to save the universe. The DCU would not move forward. Wally West would continue to be The Flash, but became irrevocably lost in the shuffle, to eventually be jettisoned two years later when someone decided it was a good idea to rubbish the entire universe -- The New 52 reboot. [For more, see; Hero of the Week: Flash].

As a long time reader, I have an undeniable affection for the Silver Age heroes. Barry Allen was The Flash I knew and loved in some of the earliest comics I read. How could I not enjoy his return? Yet, I cannot ignore the conflict it creates with all that was spawned from twenty-plus years of Wally West! If Green Lantern: Rebirth was created to bring something back - Flash: Rebirth was created to take something away. Which seems like such a shame.

Sadly, our run through past DC Rebirths is also almost at an end. If you haven't read Flash: Rebirth and want to know more, take advantage of the Amazon link provided [to the right]. You can also find many more featured fights from Rebirths past by diving into the Secret Archive!

For a special fifth week our month of Rebirth goes back to where it began to take another look at a post-Crisis battle from the pages of Legends! Don't miss it!

Winner: Professor Zoom
#290 (new) Professor Zoom
#15 (-1) Flash (Barry Allen)
#794 (new) Max Mercury

Monday, July 18, 2016

Real Name: Dr. Robert Bruce Banner
First Appearance: Incredible Hulk #1 (May, 1962)
Fight Club Ranking: #5

Featured Fights:
- vs HERCULES: Tales to Astonish #79 (May 1966)
- vs CRYPTO-MAN: Incredible Hulk #205 (Nov 1976)
- vs EGGHEAD: Defenders #43 (Jan 1977)
- vs DAREDEVIL: Daredevil #163 (Mar 1980)
- vs SPIDER-MAN: Marvel Treasury Edition #25 (1980)
- vs THE STALKER: Incredible Hulk #335 (Sep 1987)
- vs SUPER-SKRULL: Incredible Hulk #374 (Oct 1990)
- vs METALLO: Marvel versus DC #3 (Apr 1996)
- vs SUPERMAN: Marvel versus DC #3 (Apr 1996)
- vs MOLEMAN: DC versus Marvel #4 (Apr 1996)
- vs IRON MAN: Iron Man #2 (Dec 1996)
- vs THUNDERBOLTS: Incredible Hulk #449 (Jan 1997)
- vs AVENGERS: Avengers #4 (Feb 1997)
- vs THOR: Avengers #5 (Mar 1997)
- vs DEADPOOL: Deadpool #4 (Apr 1997)
- vs GREEN LANTERN: Unlimited Access #1 (Dec 1997)
- vs SILVER SURFER: Incredible Hulk #95 (Jul 2006)
- vs THUNDERBOLT ROSS: World War Hulk #3 (Oct 2007)
- vs SENTRY: World War Hulk #5 (Jan 2008)
- vs HERCULES: Hulk vs Hercules: When Titans Collide #1 (Jun 2008)
- vs RED HULK: Hulk #6 (Nov 2008)

The circus of death and rebirth in Marvel Comics is something we should all be pretty much resigned to. With every passing year another sacrifice is made to appease the need to 'Change Everything Forever!' A new name added to the queue of next 'shocking' returns from the afterlife!

Marvel really got this pattern underway ten years ago with their hero-v-hero event: Civil War. That story offed third-string Giant-Man Goliath, before dovetailing into the dramatic death of Captain America. This year, they're chasing their tail with a follow-up sequel - "Civil War II" - and ramping up the dead pool by giving Marvel Age icon Bruce Banner time away from life. You may know him best as the scientist who could never manage to find peace on his own: The Incredible Hulk.

As the big story of the moment, Hulk seems a fitting Hero of the Week, but it's getting very difficult to have any genuine enthusiasm for events like these. No matter how much time is wasted selling their impact - we know they're not for keeps. Nor should they be.

The flaw in killing major characters was always that its writing a cheque a corporate publisher doesn't want to cash, for a bill readers don't really want to pay. We love our heroes and the unique saga of their continuous serial adventures! It's what makes them unique. The need for an ebb and flow may be true over time, but the joke of meaningless death in comics was never very funny. Something we should have grown out of when the books kept printing decade after decade, reserving death for carefully considered generational commitment, and/or well conceived plots. Not stunts.

On Firdays this month, we're wandering back through some of DC Comics' various Rebirths. As in some of their past efforts, they're currently in the process of trying to patch up mistakes made with the hatchet job line-wide reboot of The New 52 [see; HOTW: Dr. Manhattan, Flash].

In our last installment, we returned to the mid-2000s mini-series Green Lantern: Rebirth -- the first prominent entry in the DC "Rebirth" canon. It's a story best summarized as a conceited effort to correct the thoughtless, destructive urges of the 1990s. It was a restoration of the classic Green Lantern mythos that was harshly dismissed shortly after Hal Jordan turned villain, but would prosper in the years following the Rebirth. A shining example for an industry that seemed to spend the 2000s hungover, but learning from the excesses of past mistakes, as well as new triumphs.

Marvel already have a shiny new Hulk in place for the dead old one - the "awesome" Amadeus Cho. He's one of a slew of substitutions for classic icons operating in the current comics. The umpteenth alternate added to a Hulk brand still recovering from the Hulks-a-go-go of Jeph Loeb's time on the series. Relatively inoffensive in isolation -- Cho has been a Hulk mainstay for over a decade -- but overwhelmingly tedious in the bigger picture of both Hulk comics, and Marvel as a whole.

In recent years, many myths have started to pop up surrounding the Hulk as a character. One of the more miserable is the notion that a good Hulk story is hard to find. Hollywood's the source of that one, but at the Big Two, that's tantamount to the team bosses. Wisdoms established over decades of New York minutes - the cultivation of an entire culture - isn't worth what it used to be. To their credit, for what ever difficulties have arisen after a few bungled movies, Hollywood still hasn't thrown their Hulk out with the trash.

As you can see in the Comic Book Resources preview [pictured above], Bruce Banner's killer is an old ally - Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye. The permanence of Hulk's death - something to be reviewed over the next five or so years. It's hard to believe they'd kill off their legend much longer than that. Not that I'd want them to.

We've done replacement heroes, death, doom, and diminishing returns. The really novel high concept that would demand attention at this point is some good old fashioned, run of the mill, honest to goodness comics about the characters they star. Self-contained episodes in an unbroken series. New chapters to take the endless journey forward. Heroes of this week, and many weeks after.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Force of Will (DC)
Green Lantern: Rebirth #4 When: March 2005 Why: Geoff Johns How: Ethan Van Sciver

The Story So Far...
He was once called the greatest Green Lantern of all time, but Hal Jordan of Earth was disgraced when he succumbed to his darkest desires after the destruction of his home - Coast City. He became the villain Parallax, until a moment of self-sacrifice ended his tortured life.

Years later, Coast City has spontaneously returned. Now the human anchor to vengeful spirit The Spectre - Hal Jordan learns the truth about his years as Parallax. He was a vessel for another entity, one born of pure fear and trapped within the central power battery of the Green Lantern Corps. For years it had manifested as a yellow impurity in the Green Lantern's power, but the creature known as Parallax is ready to be reborn!

With the power of The Spectre within Parallax's grasp - Green Lantern Kyle Rayner and Green Arrow scramble to formulate a plan of attack. Little do they realize - Parallax isn't the only villain wielding yellow energy who has returned!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Sinestro 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Sinestro 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Sinestro 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Green Lantern 6 (Generator)
Agility: Green Arrow 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Green Arrow 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Green Lantern 7 (Cosmic Power)

A villain reborn! Heroes on the ropes! The Secret Wars on Infinite Earths are playing host to a two-on-one handicap match! We've seen the competitors facing off under similar conditions - but we've never seen them quite like this!

Thaal Sinestro is sinister by name, sinister by nature. Once considered the greatest of the intergalactic Green Lantern Corps, he was exposed by upstart recruit Hal Jordan for the over zealous fear monger he truly was! Overthrown on his home planet Korugar and banished from the Corps by its masters, The Guardians of the Universe, he was exiled to the Anti-Matter Universe of Qward!

Sinestro soon came into possession of a new yellow power ring crafted by the Weaponers of Qward. With this ring, Sinestro carried out his plans for revenge and tyranny! In time, the true source of its power would be revealed to be fear, around which an entire Sinestro Corps would form, using yellow rings to inspire terror in much the way Green Lanterns wield willpower!

In this instance, the Green Lantern that Sinestro has come to bedevil is Kyle Rayner! The Earthman of Sector 2814 was the last recruit after Hal Jordan was possessed by the fear entity Parallax and destroyed the entire Corps - Sinestro included! In ten years of publication, Rayner would earn his place by proving to be every bit as tenacious as the man he had replaced!

In his past adventures, we've seen Kyle Rayner contend with inter-dimensional threats from the Marvel Universe: Terrax [Green Lantern/Silver Surfer] and Silver Surfer [Marvel versus DC #3]. His results would vary, but years after this appearance during the Sinestro Corps War, he'd find some success in another two-on-one involving Sinestro [Green Lantern #25]! That time he had Hal Jordan at his back -- this time he has friend and mentor: Green Arrow!

The wealthy playboy turned self-styled vigilante is an expert marksman with a preference for a bow and arrow. His quiver is stocked with a cutting edge arsenal of trick arrows that keeps him in stead with the deadliest of enemies. An important contingency through his tenure as a longstanding member of the Justice League and best friend to Hal Jordan!

Green Arrow fought alongside Kyle Rayner during a JLA takedown by Deathstroke [Identity Crisis #3], but we've seen him have far better results against the likes of GL villain Black Hand [Green Lantern: Rebirth #1], super powerhouse Brick [Green Arrow #45], and highly trained fighter Red Hood [Green Arrow #71]. He also fought in the massive final battle of the Sinestro Corps War - which the good guys won [Green Lantern #25]!

Green Arrow is arguably out of his depth in the cosmic clutches of Sinestro, but he and Rayner have developed a good rapport in their short time together, and could easily develop a joint plan of attack. Unfortunately for them, Rayner's already been through the ringer by the time Sinestro comes a callin' to The JLA Watchtower. That does mean they have the home ground advantage, but with Sinestro at full strength - that might not mean much. Let's find out...

The Math: Sinestro Ranking: Green Arrow (#27)

What Went Down...
He stands in mid-air above the wounded Green Arrow and Green Lantern. Arms folded, face shifting from scowl to sneer. He burns with the aura of an intense, golden energy: fear - his to command! Yellow constructs shaped like arrows, buried in the body of the emerald archer. In spite of what recent history would have the cosmos believe - Sinestro is very much alive!

The once great Green Lantern has come to confront the last who took up the Guardian's burden: Kyle Rayner! He throws a wall of yellow spikes at the young ring slinger, who manages a shield just in time to slow them down!

The unrelenting impact of the spikes shatters all constructs - green and yellow - like fine shards of glass! Green Lantern is the first to regroup, forging a giant longsword to swing at the hovering villain. This too shatters!

Skilled in the art of making constructs with a power ring, Sinestro hones his own yellow longsword into a narrowing projection that pierces Kyle Rayner's hand!

He turns his hollow, burning gaze towards the Green Arrow. Hal Jordan's friend wore the color of will power by chance. Sinestro despises it! Ignoring the archer's quips, he forms a giant skeletal hand and brutally slams him against The Watchtower wall! He calls to Rayner, "Don't let him... get near Hal!"

The Green Lantern struggles to tend to his own wounds as the yellow impurity of Parallax infects his ring. He's ill prepared when Sinestro gathers his mastery over fear, channelling it into a swirling storm of yellow fire!

Striding through the halls of heroism, Sinestro defiles it all with his energy, his words, his very presence. He blasts Rayner through the Watchtower meeting room, through his own chair. He decries his very existence - an alley rate who was never meant to be a Green Lantern!

Kyle ignores the gnawing of the fear impurity and launches himself at Sinestro! His fist drives the villain backward into the surrounding electronic structure of the Watchtower! Sinestro throws his whole body back at the young hero - leaping from the wreckage!

The gambit was enough to distract Sinestro from Green Arrow, who's been crawling across the floor desperately trying to reach the Green Lantern battery. Now that he has Rayner pinned down in yellow bondage, he's free to intervene in the archer's plot - but he doesn't. Even if Green Arrow has Hal Jordan's ring, Sinestro is certain Oliver Queen's will is far too cynical to power it...

Jaded though his outlook may be, Oliver Queen's will is still green enough! With a single incredible push - he projects an emerald arrow right at the heart of disbelieving Sinestro!

The heroic trump card is enough to slow the unimpressed villain, who taunts his lack of will. The demolished Watchtower does the rest with a massive explosion!

Rayner regroups just in time to pull Green Arrow to safety! Exhausted from his attempt to use the ring, he's forced to lean on the Green Lantern as the pair hobble deeper into the space station. Running from the inevitable.

Another explosion throws the battered heroes to the ground! Emerging from the swirling yellow fire is Sinestro - triumphant! He lords over them and issues a decree: if they beg - he will end their lives quickly.

The Hammer...
Team Green gave it their all, but victory with extreme prejudice belongs to: Sinestro!

The heroes may have lost the fight, but damn did they get some awesome moments!

It's been a while since I last revisited Green Lantern: Rebirth. I'd forgotten some of the finer details, but one thing I was very much looking forward to featuring was that moment Green Arrow picks up the ring. Pretty darn cool!

It's easy to forget just how much of a game changer the first Rebirth really was. At this point, we've spent more than a decade enjoying Hal Jordan stories anew. So much so, it could be argued the mistakes that required a Rebirth have all since been repeated!

Green Lantern: Rebirth may be remembered for the elevator pitch of Hal Jordan's return to the living, but as we touched on during Guy Gardner Reborn #1, it's ultimate purpose was restoring an entire lost chapter of the sprawling DC Universe!

This was Sinestro's rebirth. Guy Gardner's rebirth. Parallax's rebirth. The entire Green Lantern Corps' rebirth! It was all brought back after far too long away!

Green Arrow's role at the fore of Rebirth made a lot of sense. He wasn't just a hard travelling best buddy to Hal Jordan -- he was also a still recent return from the grave thanks to a 2000 relaunch by Kevin Smith and Phil Hester. Another restoration for an icon fandom had reason to miss.

The genius of the early to mid 2000s wasn't just piecing together lost icons. The long sought return of Hal Jordan wasn't the end of Kyle Rayner. Green Arrow's warm welcome back wasn't a farewell to Connor Hawke. This was a time to both restore classic icons, enhance and embellish them with modern storytelling, and explore their relationship to a new generation of legacy heroes.

Of course, nobody had complete confidence that Kyle Rayner would make it out of Rebirth alive. I daresay many expected the opposite. Part of the fun of reading was a genuine sense of uncertainty! Even the much hyped return of the Silver Age Green Lantern had an air of mystery to it. Even as late as Green Lantern: Rebirth #4 - the heroes are still defending the corpse of Hal Jordan, while his spirit still wanders as the tenured host to The Spectre!

As Sinestro threatens the lives of the heroes at the end of today's feature fight, the ring flies off of Green Arrow's finger - returning to the body of Hal Jordan in a last page splash that announces his reanimation! The moment everyone was waiting for with only two issues to go! Kyle Rayner? Down - but not out!

The nurtured Rebirth under writer Geoff Johns would continue for the rest of the decade, giving DC Comics some of its most successful assaults on the sales charts. Unbelievably, the seeds of the Sinestro Corps War, the Lanterns of the spectrum, and the Blackest Night are all planted in these six issues!

With so much positive to learn from, it's such a shame DC Comics went down a path of destruction once again. In 2016, they attempt a line-wide "Rebirth" to restore some of the elements eliminated by the New 52 relaunch, while inserting some confounding new ones [see; Hero of the Week: Dr. Manhattan]. It remains to be seen if they can find their groove and get back to their best.

This brand new DC Comics Rebirth is the inspiration for revisiting some of the old ones throughout the month of July. In the past few weeks we've returned to Crisis on Infinite Earths, Legends and Guy Gardner Reborn. Next up we flash forward to another time an iconic hero was reborn for the modern age!

If you're still hungry for more stories, why not go diving through past features in the Secret Archive Index? There you'll find a complete reference list for all the past features on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths!

Get ahead of the Rebirth by checking out the collected edition of Green Lantern: Rebirth via Amazon purchase link provided! It's convenient, and helps out the site with no cost to you!

Winner: Sinestro
#97 (+206) Sinestro
#27 (--) Green Arrow
#103 (-11) Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Real Name: Victor Von Doom
First Appearance: Fantastic Four #5 (July, 1962)
Fight Club Ranking: #67

Featured Fights:
- vs THING: Fantastic Four #350 (Mar 1991)
- vs THING: Fantastic Four #361 (Feb 1992)
- vs SILVER SURFER: Silver Surfer #107 (Aug 1995)
- vs SUPER-SKRULL: Fantastic Four #6 (Apr 1997)
- vs THOR: Heroes Reborn: The Return #4 (Dec 1997)
- vs FANTASTIC FOUR: Ultimate Fantastic Four #12 (Dec 2005)
- vs BLACK PANTHER & STORM: Black Panther #19 (Oct 2006)
- vs IRON MAN: Mighty Avengers #10 (May 2008)

A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but what if another flower takes that name?

The Marvel Universe is about to have two heroes answering to the title of Iron Man - and neither of them is Tony Stark! It was revealed in a Comic Book Resources  exclusive: "Infamous Iron Man" -- a new series that will place Dr. Doom beneath the title on the cover, if not the armor itself. With new creation Riri Williams already announced to don the yellow and gold as a teenage girl also calling herself "Iron Man" - the law of diminishing returns seems to be an objective at Marvel Comics.

Editor Tom Brevoort took to Twitter to sideswipe critical response, calling the installation of a new identity as Iron Man "diversity in the line". He was right to cast aspersions about those immediately incensed by a change of race (or gender), but his examples of War Machine, Beta Ray Bill, or USAgent as hypocritical preference overlook the obvious.

Both of the new "Iron Man" characters are fighting an uphill battle against several decades of stand-in substitutes, as well as Marvel's present trends. We've already got a replacement Captain America, Thor, Hulk and more. There are two Spider-men swinging around, and a couple of derivatives. The sheer volume of time Marvel has dedicated to not featuring its iconic heroes has consumed a massive amount of the last six or so years. These inevitably temporary gimmicks are now stretching increasingly far - at the expense of years worth of mainstay hero stories, and genuine new additions.

It's the tired quality of a repeating concept that Brevoort overlooks. "Diversity" in the most precarious sense. Neither committed to genuinely creating new social icons for a new era, nor expanding the content and branding of "the line", as it was seemingly proposed.

Weak brand and creative management is arguably the most unattractive thing about Marvel right now. The more identities that assume an alias (and powers) - the less special they become.

In the case of Dr. Doom, I'm not entirely sure if he'll be going by "Iron Man" in the book. I'm certainly skeptical about the notion of Victor Von Doom -- a man who names everything after himself -- taking someone else's identity. That said, it revisits old themes of Doom's morality and sincerity, repackaged as another go 'round with Dan Slott's "Superior" Spider-man aka; body hopping Otto Octavius. That storyline took a transformation plot worth a few of days gone by issues, and stretched it out to a couple of years. The suspension of disbelief found in neophyte and gullible readers - no real substitute for playing with a concept, and getting back to business. After the farce of the last Fantastic Four movie -- legitimate Dr. Doom stories are more appealing than ever!

The business of brand management has been as grim as any of Marvel's character shuffling. Being an Avenger, X-Man, Inhuman, Phoenix, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man... None of it really seems to mean much, these days. You've got to think eventually the plan will be to restore order to the line. That's what made much of the 2000s compelling, with Marvel and particularly DC doing tremendous work to rebuild icons damaged by haphazard stunts the nineties. Of course, in the 2000s, comics were still running themselves, and the movies were seen as the inferior bastardized versions that they were. There's no safety in the assumption that that will ever be the case again, at least in the near future.

Maybe Marvel's new Secret Wars was the last hurrah of everything we knew, but I doubt it...

Dr. Doom won't be Iron Man forever. Tony Stark will probably be back some time. Same goes for Steve Rogers as Captain America, Thor as Thor, Peter Parker as Spider-man. The unique strength of comic books has long been their ability to tell decades of weekly or monthly serials with a single character. Mythologies and icons bigger than any of us. It makes good sense to keep adding to that, with increasingly interesting, different, diverse, socially relevant characters. I just hope that's still an option in a Marvel Universe were so much seems to mean so little.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Book One Of Three (DC)
Guy Gardner Reborn #1 When: July 1992
Why: Gerard Jones How: Joe Staton

The Story So Far...
As Green Lantern, Guy Gardner had the cosmos in the palm of his hand. He was an intergalactic space-cop and idol to millions - the Justice League of America's take no prisoners powerhouse. He had it all! Then he lost it...

Having gambled his power ring in a showdown with an Earthbound Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner is now a super-hero without super-powers! Not that that will stop him!

Back on the beat of New York City, Guy Gardner is going to clean up dirty streets - starting with Times Square! Possessing only his fists and a bad ass attitude, he begins a grass roots fight for justice starting with a smut peddling hero-hater he's handled before: Black Hand!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Guy Gardner 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Black Hand 5 (Professor)
Speed: Guy Gardner 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Guy Gardner 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Draw 2 (Average)
Fighting: Guy Gardner 4 (Trained)
Energy: Guy Gardner 7 (Cosmic Power)

Here on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths we use The Tale of the Tape to compare, contrast, and summarize the characters appearing in a featured fight. A popular shorthand has always been the tape stats [above], using an independent metric to highlight the strategic advantages of one character over the other(s).

These stats take from a standardized impression of the character - but sometimes circumstances have it that a character isn't fighting at peak condition. That fact plays a major role in today's featured face-off!

Guy Gardner has been better known for much of his career as one of several Green Lanterns designated to Sector 2814. Legend has it he was very nearly the first man of Earth to be chosen for the honor, but proximity to a fatal crash site of Green Lantern Abin Sur led daredevil test pilot Hal Jordan to receive the ring.

In later years, Guy Gardner became a reservist for the Green Lantern Corps, taking responsibility when Hal Jordan was forced away from his duties. In time, this led to full deployment as a Green Lantern, and even amendments by The Guardians to allow for multiple representatives from a single space sector. No such luck at this point in Guy's career, though!

Hal Jordan's return from a lengthy stay in space led to a showdown for patrolling rights on Earth. Refusing to give up his ring without a fight, Guy challenged Jordan to a powerless fist fight. The cocksure Gardner lost his fight, and we find him today shortly after he'd surrendered his ring.

Not having a power ring obviously lessens Gardner's offensive arsenal, but when it comes to fighting Black Hand -- it also diminishes the threat of the villain!

William Hand would eventually come to be known as the death obsessed scion of the Black Lantern. Long before that, he was merely a pathological hero-hater with a penchant for proverb, cliché, and crime! This profile led to inevitable conflict with local hero Green Lantern, who he battles with a device of special design that can drain a power ring of its energy - turning it against the wearer!

In a past feature we saw Black Hand wave his energy wand at Green Arrow and Speedy [Green Lantern: Rebirth #1]. They don't have super-powers to drain, but their archery gave them the edge against a feverish Hand. Will Guy Gardner be able to produce the same result with his fists? Let's find out...

The Math: Guy Gardner Ranking: Guy Gardner (#95)

What Went Down...
Like a human battering ram -- Guy Gardner ploughs through Black Hand and his gang of rubes! A right hook sends the ringleader flying, leaving his mooks to do the fighting in a descending five-on-one flurry of fists!

Black Hand commentates the action from the sidelines with an assault of applicable proverbs. Gardner takes his lumps from all sides and explodes out of the pack with an extension of muscle. He comes from Black Hand, but the villain uses his position to throw a leg at the stalking hero!

Gardner absorbs the kick to the gut and compliments his foe for scoring an impressive hit. It inspires the hero to strike back with another right hook, and an improvised adaptation of an old cliché: "A fist in the mouth..."

Black Hand's head snaps back from the blow, but is caught with another two-prong assault of mangled wordplay and a mangling left cross!

The big bad is on the ropes and his goons are getting antsy! It won't be long now before the Green Lantern tires of toying with his prey and scoops them up in a big green net of justice. Or will it?...

As the moustached mook tries to run, an observant goon points out a certain power ring absent from the Green Lantern's swinging, white gloved fists. With a twisted grin the meagre muscle rejoins the game, clutching a nearby desk lamp.

Unaware of the conspiracy around him, Gardner continues to sink his fists into Black Hand's waiting stomach. His nose bleeds and his body quivers, but still Hand manages a smile: "The... The... The light that burns twice as bright..."

This time quip serves a distraction gambit that pays off! A desk lamp rockets across the back of Guy Gardner's head - knocking him out cold!

The Hammer...
As commander of the nameless crooks who work for him, Black Hand claims a surprising victory over his arrogant nemesis!

With the former Green Lantern out cold in their midst, Hand and his boys toss him to the gutter, to resume their disreputable trade. It's a harsh lesson in adjustment for the now powerless hero, but as Hand would say, you've gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette! Or scramble some brains, as it were.

If you thought Hal Jordan was the first Green Lantern to be reborn - surprise! Guy Gardner was doing it a whole decade before it was cool! He even kicked off his mini-series with a fight with Black Hand -- something Hal Jordan did twelve and a half years later in Green Lantern: Rebirth #1!

The comparisons between GG Reborn and GL Rebirth taper off pretty quickly after that. There's whole a lot of ring slinging in both - naturally, and a face-off (or two) with Sinestro, but the intent of both stories is binary in difference.

When Hal Jordan was coming back in 2005, DC Comics were correcting course on a mid-nineties twist that turned their Silver Age icon into an arch-villain. The goal was to restore the character to his definitive identity as Green Lantern.

In 1992, Guy Gardner was heading in the opposite direction - ousted as Green Lantern, and in need of a new identity all his own. That identity would come at the end of Reborn through the acquisition of Sinestro's yellow power ring of Qward. A story I'm sure we'll look closer at some time in the future.

Ironically, the definitions of all of these details would be changed significantly by Green Lantern: Rebirth, and the extensive reign of Geoff Johns as writer and creative engineer for the entire Green Lantern mythos.

Rebirth restored Guy Gardner to the Green Lantern identity he was famous for as well, stripping him of Vuldarian powers he'd acquired a few years after Reborn as "Warrior". Guy's Qwardian ring returned to Sinestro, and eventually spawned an entire Yellow Lantern Corps. All the colors of the emotional spectrum would follow shortly thereafter, leading to Black Hand's rise as the first of the death wielding Black Lantern Corps.

I don't know that I'd called Guy Gardner Reborn ahead of its time, but it's certainly an interesting time capsule in the sprawling modern history of the characters involved. It taps into some interesting parody of trends of the time, while also indulging in them. Guy has misadventures as gun-covered vigilante, and doubles down on the bad taste violence in a tenuous team-up with another icon of parody gone straight: Lobo. If you were wondering how a smut peddling Black Hand factors into that - it's actually a callback to an issue of JLA!

If you're a Guy Gardner fan, rest assured there'll be plenty more opportunities to revisit his Rebirth, and other stories. In the mean time, we press on...

As you may know, the entire DC Universe is presently in the process of another line-wide "Rebirth", which is the theme running through all of our feature fights this July! Since we talked about it so much today, next week's feature fight will come from the pages of Green Lantern: Rebirth!

If you're reading this sometime in the future - you'll be able to find that fight and many more by scouring the Issue Index Archive! There you'll find even more superhero smackdown and comic book review!

Winner: Black Hand
#334 (+297) Black Hand
#105 (-10) Guy Gardner