Monday, May 29, 2017

Real Name: Grodd
First Appearance: The Flash #106 (May, 1959)
Fight Club Ranking: #355

Featured Fights:
- vs SUPERGIRL: Supergirl #3 (Nov 1996)
- vs JUSTICE LEAGUE: JLA: Classified #3 (Mar 2005)
- vs JUSTICE LEAGUE: Justice League of America #15 (Jan 2008)
- vs MARTIAN MANHUNTER: Final Crisis: Requiem #1 (Sep 2008)

This month on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths we've been spotlighting comic book battles featuring heroes and villains found in Injustice 2!

The DC fighting game sequel has been a sporadic influence on this year's Hero of the Week, but one of the more exciting additions we never got around to acknowledging was Gorilla Grodd! With the game officially available for home consoles -- now seems to be the perfect time for a HOTW salute!

Generally speaking, I'm not the biggest fan of superheroes in the fighting game genre.

Fighting games -- especially in 2017's pseudo-sport, streaming world -- are all about mechanical parity and balance. Superheroes simply don't function that way. They leap around environments and clash with unique chemical reactions determined by story! Shuffling side-to-side with attacks that reach approximate equivalency simply isn't how you get the most out of the characters. I prefer hand-to-hand combatants and distinct martial arts in my fighting games [see; Street Fighter, Tekken].

If you're going to put superheroes in the fighting game arena -- you might as well try to get the most interesting functional and visual distinctions. That was why when Mortal Kombat Online was putting together a Top 10 Villains Wishlist for the first game, I was eager to see Grodd included.

Just as Solomon Grundy was a pleasant surprise in the initial line-up of 2012; Gorilla Grodd was a unique stand-out included very early in the sequel's character reveal cycle.

I'm not the biggest fan of a tubby or armored Grodd, but NetherRealm aesthetics can be pretty hit or miss, particularly in the superhero realm. The imposition of an RPG armor-unlock Gear system at least meant Grodd's accoutrement offered a functional purpose. At his core, he's a weird and wonderful villain to oppose the usual suspects of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the gang.

I also really like the way they've created character for Grodd in his animations, expression and dialogue. Too much real-world gorilla reference always make Grodd a dull boy.

What I've seen of the Injustice 2 story mode doesn't exactly bowl me over. These modes have been widely praised since 2011's Mortal Kombat reboot, but the material is usually pretty weak. There isn't a strong sense of character, or the kind of textured storytelling long time comic book readers would be used to. There doesn't seem to be a huge amount of crossover between the dedicated fanbases, but I have to imagine Injustice functions as a decent enough introduction for new readers.

I thought it was fun that The Society found its way into the games. The basic premise of the Injustice universe is that Superman and a band of loyal heroes are themselves the villains. So to inject a faction of classic villainy pleases me -- even if they wind up somewhere in the grey puddle that a lot of the characters ultimately occupy. That Grodd is in charge of this version of The Society - also fun.

I have a tough time wholly embracing the experience of Injustice, in much the same way Injustice has a tough time wholly embracing the characters and comics it's loosely based upon. Unfortunately, that seems to be a consistent tone throughout many contemporary DC products -- including the current comics themselves.

The fundamental premise of bad guy Superman was so poorly realized, and is so thoroughly without flavor in 2017, there's just no joy there. Which, in a strange way, makes the relative simplicity of Gorilla Grodd and his villainous fellows that much more important.

The variety of the Injustice line-up is very much appreciated. The quality of the game experience - tough to argue with. These are generally pretty good games. Just frustrating if you have any existing attachments, or broader frames of reference.

If you're curious about some of the other Injustice characters who grabbed attention, be sure to flash back to Hero of the Week spotlights for: SupergirlReverse-Flash, Black Canary, Cheetah, Doctor Fate and Firestorm! You can also find plenty more of the comic book fighting perspective by diving in to the Secret Issue Index for a complete archive of past featured fights, or by subscribing to Twitter and Facebook for daily links!

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