Monday, September 25, 2017

Real Name: Norrin Radd
First Appearance: Fantastic Four #48 (March, 1966)
Fight Club Ranking: #33

Featured Fights:
- vs RONAN THE ACCUSER: Silver Surfer #13 (Jul 1988)
- vs NEBULA: Secret Defenders #10 (Dec 1993)
- vs DOCTOR DOOM: Silver Surfer #107 (Aug 1995)
- vs GREEN LANTERN: Marvel versus DC #3 (Apr 1996)
- vs THANOS & DARKSEID: DC versus Marvel #4 (Apr 1996)
- vs SUPER-SKRULL: Fantastic Four #6 (Apr 1997)
- vs ZOMBIES: Marvel Zombies #3 (Apr 2006)
- vs HULK: Incredible Hulk #95 (Jul 2006)
- vs BETA RAY BILL: Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter #2 (Sep 2009)

Typically Hero of the Week is reserved for the big stories, or topical curios of the moment. I could try to connect Silver Surfer to the conclusion of Dan Slott and Mike Allred's impressive Marvel Comics run -- but that isn't really what's been on my mind.

Every now and then HOTW is a purely self-indulgent exercise, and I'm putting on my tin foil hat to speculate whether the impossible might actually be plausible! It's been a simmering thought for a while, but now seems like the time to lay it down.

I was recently reading Jim Starlin's space epic The Infinity Gauntlet and thinking about how it relates to Marvel Entertainment's hugely anticipated 2018 sequel: Avengers: Infinity War.

The big appeal of the movie is its gathering of characters and plot threads from the last ten years of successful Marvel movies. Thanos first threatened movie-goers after the credits of 2012's Avengers, and he's expected to take possession of gems scattered throughout the various films before, and after, to create a version of The Infinity Gauntlet story.

One of the most important heroes throughout the comic book is the Silver Surfer. He crashes into Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum to announce the threat to the heroes of Earth -- and he stands solemnly with Adam Warlock when they make their final stand against Thanos in space.

Admittedly, there are other characters who could stand-in for The Surfer, but he's the new addition I'd most like to see. A more integral inclusion, I would argue, than Spider-man was in the 2016 big screen retelling of Civil War. The only problem is: Silver Surfer's film rights are presumably still tied up with 20th Century Fox, who made 2007's disappointing Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

It's popularly understood that Disney have mandated a cold shoulder approach toward the X-Men and Fantastic Four properties held by FOX. The FF have implausibly been out of print since 2015, and in most merchandise and media, the characters have been an expressed no-go zone for licensers.

Yet, if I didn't know better, I'd say Marvel was starting to warm up to both franchises! We've already seen the confirmed return of a Thing & Human Torch led Marvel Two-In-One, which may or may not return the Fantastic Four to Marvel Comics. The X-Men are also slowly repopulating across multiple major and publicized series, including a Sabretooth crossover covered a few months back.

There's also the unlikely confirmation that The Skrulls will play a major role in Marvel Entertainment's 2019 Captain Marvel movie.

The Skrulls are inseparable from the Fantastic Four, which suggests at least some sort of deal between the two major studios. Rights to Ego The Living Planet were relinquished by FOX in exchange for permissions to change the powers of Negasonic Teenage Warhead in last year's Deadpool.

A partnership like the one forged with Sony seems unlikely, but a broader deal to revert the Fantastic Four and related properties back to Marvel doesn't sound quite so strange. FOX's efforts with the FF have been mediocre to downright disappointing. Maintaining the rights may prove to be more trouble than its worth, especially if Disney is willing to offer monetary compensation!

Most other heroes involved in The Infinity Gauntlet are already under the Marvel umbrella, with Sub-Mariner reportedly reverted back to Marvel from Universal Pictures. Wolverine and Cyclops could be missing from the action, although Hugh Jackman did make it known the one thing that could bring him back to the role he retired earlier this year is an Avengers team-up.

The one I'd really like to see is Silver Surfer, and dare I say, I'm not ruling out the possibility!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Comic Book Fight Club has been in heavy backlog mode of late, but we couldn't let the annual festivities of Batman Day go uncelebrated! The second last Saturday in September is all about DC Comics' Dark Knight Detective -- and as the #1 ranked combatant: he's played a big part on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths! That's why this edition of Cover To Cover has been super-sized to spotlight some of the best -- and most interesting -- Batman battles in history!

By clicking cover to cover below, you'll open the case files of The Caped Crusader's classic Bat-battles against: The Joker, Harley Quinn, Darkseid, Two-Face, Bane, Scarecrow, Killer Croc, Deadshot, Mongul, Gorilla Grodd, Amazo, The Injustice League, The Society and even Marvel's Captain America and Scorpion! With such a dastardly line-up of rogues, it's a good thing Batman is joined by his friends: The Justice League, Nightwing, Robin, Catwoman, Red Hood, Superman, Wonder Woman, Black Canary, The Flash, and more!

Still not enough Batman to satisfy your Batman Day needs? You can always dive into the Secret Issue Index to discover even more famous face-offs starring Batman and his friends!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Real Name: Anung un Rama
First Appearance: San Diego Comic Con Comics #2 (August, 1993)
Fight Club Ranking: #221

Featured Fights:
- vs GROM: Hellboy: The Corpse and the Iron Shoes (Jan 1996)

There was a bittersweet sense of excitement when a new Hellboy movie was announced to the world earlier this year. The obvious downside was a confirmed closing of the door to the live-action series begun by Guillermo del Toro in 2004.

Star Ron Perlman had done a good job of waving the flag for a trilogy finale, but for one reason or another -- probably budget -- the movie proved a tough sell. Enter Stranger Things hot commodity David Harbour and promotional posters by Mike Mignola for what was then being called Rise of the Blood Queen.

It seemed like a particularly exciting first step for fans who found del Toro's vision typically lacking in the atmospheric, shadow-laden quiet created by Mignola's comics. A commitment to the comic book page is exactly what would get me excited about a new film version. Until last week, when the first look at Harbour as Hellboy threw a right hand of doom at those hopeful expectations.

The prosthetic suit is quite clearly a continuation of what was established by del Toro and Ron Perlman. If you didn't know better, you may actually mistake it for a promotional image of Perlman suiting up for a sequel to The Golden Army.

Distributor Lionsgate may very well be counting on the conceivable confusion, preying on what ever built-in audience remains, despite the film's status as a confirmed hard "reboot".

There's still plenty of time for the movie to reveal hidden strengths, but short of getting it completely wrong, this was one of the most unflattering first impression they could've made.

Big screen monster fights are a standard of Hellboy comics, but the thing that could get me most excited about a new film is the quiet, damp world that exists in parallel to our own.

Del Toro favoured a Hollywood-friendly adaptation that created fairytale romantic sub-plots between main characters, and contrived a public face for the secretive Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD). The comics I've enjoyed never really showed any concern for the outside world. These were strange characters involving themselves in strange goings on. Any human characters encountered were already initiated in the strange, and often isolated by their supernatural experience.

The world of Hellboy and the BPRD stands tall as one of the great independent dynasties in comic book history, and one of the finest contributions to come from the 1990s. I'm always going to be interested in a movie adaptation and that's enough to make a Hero of the Week. I just hope there'll be a movie worth watching when it finally arrives in theatres.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Real Name: Thaal Sinestro
First Appearance: Green Lantern #7 (August, 1961)
Fight Club Ranking: #102

Featured Fights:
- vs GREEN LANTERN & GREEN ARROW: Green Lantern: Rebirth #4 (Mar 2005)
- vs FREEDOM FIGHTERS: Infinite Crisis #1 (Dec 2005)
- vs GREEN LANTERN & GREEN LANTERN: Green Lantern #25 (Jan 2008)

Earlier in the year Action Comics inspired a closer look at the return of Cyborg Superman and some of the classic villains joining his Superman Revenge Squad. Now the latest issue of Superman is pitting The Man of Steel against an atypical threat that challenges the power of his hope: Sinestro!

CBR featured the issue last week, with writer Jim Johnson speculating about the future rivalry that may emerged from this clash between Superman and Sinestro.

That's the more attractive aspect of the story, which sees the fear entity Parallax briefly possessing a compromised Superman. A little too easy-breezy for my tastes, given the weight of past possessions, most notably Hal Jordan's lengthy fall from grace. The rainbow array of entities and power rings live and die by the key concepts that keep them different. Grafting Parallax to heroes this easily runs the risk of really diminishing the impact of the concept.

Superman's had to weather a rough run in recent years, compromising the bold heroism and hope the character should stand for. Fear eats away at hope, and pitting Sinestro's yellow light against Superman could be a great way of restoring Superman's strength as an inspirational hero!

Sinestro has been much bigger than a mere Green Lantern villain for a long time now, so I think this is one case of cross-pollination that could really give both characters something more.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Real Name: David Hyde
First Appearance: Aquaman #35 (September, 1967)
Fight Club Ranking: #DNR

Featured Fights:
- Yet To Be Featured on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths.

With so many battles, yet so little time; there are still a few major characters who haven't quite found their way into the Secret Wars on Infinite Earths fight club rankings! Which was one of the reasons Hero of the Week comes in handy, because there are a lot of awesome characters worth noting!

Black Manta originally appeared in Injustice 2 as an interactive background threat in Aquaman's Atlantis stage, but in a very rare case of exquisite taste; players demanded full control of the underwater villain as a playable character. Developers heard fans' cries and last week released the first trailer for their latest downloadable addition!

I love the sheer absurdity of Black Manta's classic bug-eyed helmet, and I love that NetherRealm Studios haven't tried to fix what isn't broken! There's the usual textured irrelevant in the body, but for the most part this is the Black Manta we all know and love!

With the DC fighting game roster climbing deep into the thirties (and beyond), a good visual is all the more important. It looks like he plays pretty well. Special moves include a lot of tech-suit based missiles and flight. Eye-beam lasers will be a favourite. He has a pretty neat harpoon, too.

Aquaman is heading to the big screen in a few months in Justice League, but in 2018 he'll star in his own solo film adventure! As one of the Atlantean's deadliest enemies, I'll be hoping Black Manta not only makes it to the big screen -- but also retains his look as gloriously as he has in Injustice 2.