Saturday, March 23, 2019

Blood Brawl (DC)
Adventures of Superman #464 When: March 1990 Why: Dan Jurgens How: Dan Jurgens & Art Thibert

The Story So Far...
Superman's gladiatorial exploits on Warworld have spread the legend of his strength across the galaxy! As fallen champion Draaga embarks upon a determined quest for redemption; prospects of a main event rematch have space pundits placing their bets across the universe -- inviting unlikely new contenders!

Talk of Superman's reputation proved a professional and personal insult to the bar crawling mercenary: Lobo! Now the Main Man is headed to Earth to prove he's the best there is at what he does by killing The Man of Steel! Tracking Superman to the South Pole, Lobo and his drunken buddies are crashing The Fortress of Solitude for a fight to the death!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Draw 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Superman 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Superman 6 (Mach-Speed)
Stamina: Lobo 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Superman 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Lobo 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Superman 5 (Lasers)
Total: Superman 33 (Super)

For the first time in all the galaxies! Unstoppable force meets immovable object for the ultimate battle of intergalactic super-powered survivors!

Lobo isn't just the last survivor of the planet Czarnia -- he's responsible for its genocide! Born with a lust for violence unseen by the peace-loving Czarnians; Lobo notoriously unleashed a species of flying scorpion that hunted all the defenseless population to extinction - bar himself!

Lobo's name is said to mean "he who devours your entrails and thoroughly enjoy[s] it" in the Khund dialect. These gratuitously destructive urges are facilitated by super-human strength and durability, as well as a capacity to endure, or heal from, severe injury. These powers can sometimes be inconsistent in their depiction. He inflicts punishment on others with an arsenal including guns, a titanium chain, and his space motorcycle.

Lobo's reputation for toughness fuelled controversy when he was defeated by Wolverine in Marvel versus DC #3! The exact details of how he was bested remain foggy, but we can assume Wolverine's accelerated healing factor helped him endure Lobo's vicious offense. That could be the biggest obstacle he faces in his first attempt to snuff out the indomitable spirit of Superman!

The last son of Krypton gains high-level super-human strength, speed, stamina, and durability as he's nourished by Earth's yellow sun. That said, he's not undefeatable! In Action Comics #586, New God Orion showed Superman can be beaten into submission with brute force, albeit on the distant planet Apokolips.

Another ultra-violent 90s anti-hero, Venom, was able to upset Superman during their preliminary crossover in DC/Marvel: All Access #1. No defeat of Superman was more famous in the nineties than Doomsday's, with their initial encounter seeing the Justice League sharing defeat, in Superman #74.

There's no doubt Lobo has the strength to equal Venom's feat of frustrating the Man of Steel, but achieving anything more permanent than temporary victory is highly questionable. On Earth, Superman has the home advantage, and even though Lobo will fight dirty, Supes isn't above getting gritty when he has to.

The Tape: Superman Ranking: Superman (#5)

What Went Down...
Having received a vision of intruders in the Fortress of Solitude: Superman arrives to order their exit! Drunk and unimpressed; Lobo can't help but rise to a challenge, subverting Superman's boasts for a speedy knock-out at the first sign of a punch. Instead of pulling his arm back -- Lobo delivers a sudden kick!

His patience wearing thin -- Superman recovers to his feet and orders Lobo out of the Fortress with a charging uppercut adding authority!

The Man of Steel snatches Lobo by the collar and lifts him into the air. He makes the mistake of presuming he's proven his toughness and the unlikelihood that Lobo will succeed in killing him. Words that only provoke the mercenary!

The Czarnian uses his legs to kick out and reverses the hold, turning it from a one-handed choke into a side headlock. Superman dismisses Lobo's boastful credentials as Darkseid's first-choice assassin, earning a vicious pummeling!

A rapid-fire barrage of punches smash into Superman's face! Even he can't react to counter act the speed and strength of Lobo -- helpless as the mercenary moves to repeatedly ramming him head-first into his own Fortress!

At last the wall gives out, burying the enduring fighters in debris! The ceiling collapse is a much needed reprieve for Superman, who manages to slip away in the cloud of dust and rubble. Short-lived -- as Lobo soon emerges to take a swig of Okaran berry juice and continue his drunken search for supremacy.

It doesn't take long for Lobo and his cohorts to catch up with Superman, waiting in a Kryptonian holograph room. The Man of Steel baits his charging opponent, who runs headlong into a camouflaged wall simulating wide-open landscape!

Inebriated, Lobo feebly contemplates his dulled senses. He's soon set upon by Superman, who smashes the re-motivated Czarnian through the floor into a lower level of simulation! There, the Man of Steel presses his advantage, slugging Lobo with a devastating right hand in a mock Kryptonian gathering!

Supes trash talks his drunk opponent, questioning Lobo's intelligence - even before he tries to drink from a holographic fountain.

Seeking a slice of reality and the means to turn the tables back in his favour -- Lobo rips up the very floor beneath his feet! Superman dodges the resulting sheet of techno-wreckage - and fires back with a blast of heat vision!

Unfortunately, extreme heat has no effect on the powerful Czarnian!Lobo shrugs the burning attack off and rips away a smaller piece of floor to improvise a simple metal prod. Jamming the strip into Superman's chest gets him close enough to take control with a high thrusting kick to the face!

The Man of Steel smashes through another holographic wall, tumbling to his back, where Lobo takes the mount position to rain down with double barreled fists! Lobo only stops when Superman's gaze betrays his greatest fear!

Already bruised & battered, Superman has no choice but to run from the fight as Lobo closes in on a particular chunk of ice easily removed from the wall. Behind the plug is a small canister containing the one thing that could actually help Lobo fulfill his wish of killing Superman: Kryptonite!

Lobo finishes off the last of the Okaran alcohol and orders his boozed up travelling buddy Raof to teleport them to the surface. He's going to look for Superman -- but it turns out Superman is there waiting!

Superman is hidden within the telepathically controlled armor of a Kryptonian Warsuit! He fires on his adversary, but Lobo narrowly avoids the energy blast and pops the lid on the canister of Kryptonite Superman so fears!

The open canister bathes the warsuit in the green glow of radiation. It protects Superman from the worst of it, but he still feels its debilitating aura!

As the radiation begins to wear Superman down, the warsuit lurches clumsily toward Lobo. Time now against him, Superman maneuvers to flick Lobo with his massive robot gauntlet. It sends Lobo spilling to his space cycle -- a gambit with the worst possible results, or so it seems...

Lobo uses the hog's weapons to fire deadly missiles on Superman! They collide with the warsuit in a massive explosion! When the dust clears - Superman lies exposed and bloody amidst the twisted metal of the destroyed armor!

Lobo at last claims supremacy as he gazes upon Superman's corpse and accepts the adulation of Bibbo Bibbowski. He is the cabbie's new favourite. With that, he finally succumbs not to any injuries, but the alcohol in his blood! Passing out onto the snow, he's loaded onto his hog and teleported away by Raof.

As they disappear, so too does the horrific vision of Superman's body! An illusion cast by a holographic projector hotwired into the warsuit at the last moment! The Fortress of Solitude is a lonely sanctuary once more as the Man of Steel exits the armor and retires to his citadel of Kryptonian science.

The Hammer...
Once again we're tasked with parsing a winner from a complicated conclusion!

I can't help but think of The Dark Knight Returns #4, where Batman famously donned a mechanical suit against a superior opponent, before faking his own death with the fight's conclusion. I wonder if that moment might've been on writer Dan Jurgens' mind. Maybe not, but 1990 was just four years removed.

A key difference in "DKR" is the dominance Batman had established prior to his final moments. He was very much in control of the battle before orchestrating an exit with his faked death. He earned his win as well as devising an escape.

In today's example: Superman was very much on the backfoot against Lobo. Not so much faking his death to bolster an unlikely moral victory, as much as avoiding a fight he was already losing. Both the DKR and today's fights involved the scourge of kryptonite. For these reasons - we've gotta call Lobo the winner!

You'd probably think that's something I've done often, but no. This is only the second Lobo fight to feature on the site! A curious omission, if, like the premise of today's featured issue, you assume Lobo's reputation for brawling perfectly fits the bill for a "Comic Book Fight Club". After all, what else is Lobo known for?

I guess that's the reason I tend to feel a pang of resistance when it comes to "The Main Man". Lobo was conceived as a parody of the ultra-violent anti-heroes dominant in the early modern age of the eighties and nineties, but somewhere along the way, - the joke was lost. Instead of reflecting back upon the wanton excesses of characters like Wolverine and The Punisher at their worst; Lobo became a more enduring, un-ironic beacon for their most insane, mindless, ugly impulses.

It would be a mistake to say Lobo is exclusively a joke without a punchline. That's just a lingering facet that sometimes get in the way of my enjoyment of the character. Not so much in today's example, though. As a contrasting foil for the usually upstanding Superman - Lobo works pretty well! It's still a bit of a poor excuse for an issue-long fight, but at least there's a bit more going on beneath the surface!

I've got to admit, I've also got a real affection for this time in comics. 1990 in particular just has an interesting texture. Print was inky. Characters were classic and colourful, but refined. There was experimentation, but it came from a place of knowing, with more restraint than the destructive years that followed.

1990 wasn't the best year for Superman, but it was a time that had all of those qualities. Adventures of Superman #464, and the Lobo fight in it, is Part 2 of a small arc called The Day of The Krypton Man. In it, the Eradicator device slowly imposes its influence on Superman, reverting him to a more cold and calculating Kryptonian dressed in the traditional garb introduced by John Byrne.

A lot of The Day of The Krypton Man involves big dumb alien brawls like the Lobo fight, but it all looks great, and just has a fun vibe. I'm sure we'll come back to more of it at some point in the future. Hopefully my scans will do future issues more justice than this one.

If you just can't wait to get more Superman smackdown in your life, be sure to follow links throughout this post to discover more from The Man of Steel's battle log! You can also dive into the Secret Archive for a complete index of featured fights organized by publisher, series, and issue number!

Join the fight by liking and subscribing to Secret Wars on Infinite Earths on Twitter and Facebook! There you'll get daily links to battles inspired by the topics of the day! Be sure to like, share, or retweet your favourites to show your support and help steer future selections on The Comic Book Fight Club!

Winner: Lobo
#371 (+225) Lobo
#553 (new) Roaf [+1 assist]
#5 (--) Superman

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

By now you may've seen Captain Marvel blazing a trail across the big screen. So what's next? This week's Cover To Cover spotlights some of the battles featuring Carol Danvers and the powerfully cosmic friends & foes she's yet to face in the Marvel Cinematic Universe!

By hitting the covers below you'll be transported to battles featuring: The Avengers, Mar-Vell, Ronan The Accuser, Super-Skrull, Paibok The Power SkrullThe Skrull Empire, Iron Man, Captain America, Doctor Strange, Ronin, The Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer, and more!

Behind The Covers
1. CAPTAIN MARVEL vs THING: Captain Marvel #35
2. MS. MARVEL vs SUPER-SKRULL: Marvel Team-Up #62
5. MS. MARVEL vs THE COLLECTIVE: New Avengers #17
7. MS. MARVEL vs PROWLER: Ms. Marvel #6
8. TONY STARK vs SKRULLS: New Avengers: Illuminati #1
9. SECRET AVENGERS vs THE HAND: New Avengers #27
12. AVENGERS vs LUKE CAGE: New Avengers #2

Friday, March 15, 2019

What If Thor of Asgard Had Met Conan the Barbarian? (Marvel)
What If? #39 When: June 1983
Why: Alan Zelenetz How: Ron Wilson

The Story So Far...
Victorious in battle with the Frost Giants of Jotunheim: Thor, God of Thunder, followed his wicked half-brother into a cavernous labyrinth. In search of the mischief-making Loki, Thor chose a path that led him backwards through time, into the realm of Troy during the Trojan War.

This was but one course of history, but what of the path not taken? In another reality, Thor chose a different tunnel, one that led him to ancient age of Hyboria! There, his memory was lost and godly powers diminished, making him prone to the wanted warrior-thief stalking Corinthia: Conan The Barbarian!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Thor 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Conan 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Thor 6 (Generator)
Agility: Draw 2 (Average)
Fighting: Conan 7 (Living Weapon)
Energy: Thor 5 (Lasers)
Total: Thor 32 (Super)

It's a fantasy fight worthy of the greatest myths and legend! A dream battle, bridging the gulf of time and reality to pit God against Barbarian! The question is simple: What if Thor of Asgard met Conan the Cimmerian?

This is the first time we've seen Conan on The Comic Book Fight Club! His reputation precedes him, but he may not always be well represented by assumptions. Yes, Conan is a savage warrior -- but he's also a learned traveler, and incredibly canny combat strategist. Skills he'll certainly need to best a god!

Conan is stronger and more durable than most normal men, but he isn't super-human. Ordinarily that would put him at a significant disadvantage against the nigh invulnerable god of thunder, but this battle features a weakened Thor.

When Beta Ray Bill first battled the Odinson in Thor #337, he demonstrated that an evenly matched opponent could challenge Thor with pure heart and courage. Conan has plenty of both, but its unlikely the barbarian would be deemed worthy of wielding the enchanted hammer Mjolnir against Thor, as Bill was.

Mjolnir has been key to Thor winning against some other high-profile crossover opponents. The hammer's influence over lightning helped quash the pantheon of powers at Captain Marvel's disposal, in Marvel versus DC #2. He also got the drop on Superman with Mjolnir, sucker-striking him in JLA/Avengers #1!

Thor wasn't quite himself when he attacked Superman and he isn't quite himself in today's battle, either. His travel has left him weakened, but also disoriented. That could be significant, if his history with fugue states is anything to go by!

When Thor succumbed to a madness, he became a rampaging berserker who dominated many powerful challengers, including the Super-Skrull [Thor #464], and Drax The Destroyer [Warlock and The Infinity Watch #21]! There was also the Heroes Reborn pocket universe Thor, who was manipulated by Loki into fighting the entire Avengers to a standstill in Avengers (Vol.2) #1. All in all, disorientation only makes Thor a more dangerous threat. Bad news for Conan!

Conan won't hesitate to exploit Thor's apparent vulnerability, but the odds of cutting him asunder with a sword still seems remote. Without his usual strength, endurance, and command of the storm, Thor's vulnerable, but the only way we can truly know what would happen is by reading on!

The Tape: Thor Ranking: Thor (#29)

What Went Down...
Suddenly struck with an unshakeable disorientation, Thor encounters a pack of Corinthian soldiers on the hunt. Little does any of them realize, they're being watched from the mountains above by the wanted thief: Conan The Cimmerian!

A sudden hail of boulders betrays Conan's position as he uses the terrain to secure a tactical advantage against the four soldiers and Thor! The Thunderer escapes harm, but scales the mountain to confront his unseen attacker!

Conan mistakes the blonde-haired god for a contemporary of Aesir, but his lack of quarrel with those of the North doesn't interest Thor. He launches himself at the appeasing Cimmerian -- sending both tumbling down the mountain side!

The barbarian mockingly presumes madness on Thor's behalf. Only a madman would travel so far to "have his bowels carved in warmer climes!" They scramble to their feet and Conan makes the first move, aiming to oblige his new foe!

The overhead sword strike is easily blocked by Thor's hammer. He swings wildly in retaliation, completing his arc just in time to block the ducking barbarian's sword!

The verbal sparring continues as Conan swings for Thor's neck, but again strikes blade to uru metal hammer! Incensed by Conan's bravado as much as his fighting, Thor swings Mjolnir with renewed purpose - swatting the sword away!

The barbarian is disarmed, but by no means harmless! With impressive strength he hoists a massive boulder above his head and tosses it at his opponent!

Thor goes down and suffers the indignation of further taunting! Conan compares the toppled thunder god to a tortoise and stokes his godly ire! Thor leaps back to his feat and charges at Conan to grapple hand-to-hand in a test of strength!

Even with his senses dulled, Thor's godly strength is more than a match for the Cimmerian warrior. The thunderer hurls Conan wildly into surrounding rock!

The impact would devastate any ordinary man, but Conan endures, remarking in awe of the incredible strength possessed by his mysterious foe! The barbarian rises, not with aggression in his heart, but respect!

His arms hang peacefully by his sides as Conan assures Thor it is no act of treachery. With that, Thor stays his hand & hammer as well, recruited to be Conan's travelling partner. He receives a fallen Conrinthian's sword at Conan's assistance and the pair head off into a new adventure.

The Hammer...
Well, there you have it! The battle ends in a mutual ceasefire, leaving fans of each warrior to debate the merits of their combat beyond its conclusion.

There's an obvious case to be made that Thor had the advantage thanks to his superior strength. That said, Conan is also renowned for his ability to endure, and was down but far from out when Thor turned on the muscle!

Here on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths we primarily focus on the results that did happen, but if prompted to ask "What If?", I would certainly lean in favour of an eventual Thor victory. Of course, by the end of the issue, it's the weakened Thor who perishes in final battle with Stygian wizard Thoth-Amon. Not Conan!

You might scoff at the thought of Thor dying in such a way, but grim death was a traditional fixture of the What if? series, particularly into its second volume, where a 'be careful what you wish for' element to stories was common.

I was already thinking about today's battle from What If? (Vol.1) #39 thanks to the announcement that Conan The Barbarian will join the Marvel Universe in May's Savage Avengers. Imagine my surprise earlier this week when /Film also reported an animated version of What If? is in development for Disney+!

According to the story, the streaming What If? cartoon will feature branching alternate realities based on events from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That makes it hard to imagine episodes punctuated with major hero's deaths, but you never do know! The first confirmed story will feature Loki finding the hammer of Thor, borrowing a basic concept from What If? (Vol.1) #47.

Reducing the series to Marvel's movie slate limits the scope that made What If? one of my favourite series growing up, but if it also minimizes the chance for creating cumbersome rifts within the mainstream universe. A good thing, since it's still a crapshoot whether these movies "get it right", and far too early to start subverting what's still in the process of being established.

Marvel had a library of almost two decades worth of monthly printed adventures before the concept of What If? was introduced in 1977. Even more, if you also include the Golden Age of characters like Captain America and Sub-Mariner! Granted, those stories were much less likely to be drawn from than the modern pages of the "Marvel Age", begun with 1961's Fantastic Four, who also starred in the first issue of What If?, in a reference to 1963's Amazing Spider-Man #1.

Simple ideas like Spider-man joining the Fantastic Four -- instead of being rejected -- are a lot of fun when you have a firm grasp of who the characters are. When these stories intrude upon informing an audience, that tends to erode at the core concept, damage lode baring ideas, and generally lead to sloppy and increasingly meaningless fiction.

I'm not quite sure if that's how I would view Conan The Barbarian becoming part of the Marvel Universe with Savage Avengers, but it's close.

Marvel has a long history with the pulp barbarian, who was created in 1932 for Weird Tales magazine by Robert E Howard. Marvel started publishing stories in 1970, helping usher in the modern (or bronze) age of comics. Despite all this, Conan is owned and licensed by Cabinet Entertainment -- not Marvel.

Marvel have tied some licensed characters into their shared universe before. Iron Man and SHIELD battled Godzilla. ROM Space Knight and Micronauts led superheroes and toylines to meet with some regularity, as well. Of course, in the case of ROM, I can't help but think of the years of licensing entanglements that kept collections from being reprinted. Which is one of the reasons bringing Conan into Marvel Comics proper seems like a bigger hassle than its worth.

To that point: As far as I know, "What If? Classic" collections omitted this and other issues containing Conan. That might be rectified now that the Conan license is back with Marvel, and an animated series might drive interest in reissued collections, but you need only imagine if this were a regular series to see the frustration that could lie ahead with Savage Avengers.

For my money, these type of crossovers are best released as mini-series. Isolated stories that play with the concepts, deliver dream matches, but don't overstay their welcome, damage either property, or cause long term problems.

I'm sure we'll be back to look at more from the Thor & Conan team-up. If you'd like to find more crossover dream matches, or just discover more tales from different universes - dive into the Secret Archive! There you'll find every featured fight indexed by publisher, series, and issue number!

You can also follow and subscribe to Secret Wars on Infinite Earths on Twitter and Facebook to get regular links to fights inspired by the topics of the day! Be sure to like, share, and retweet the best battles!

Winner: Inconclusive (Draw)
#29 (--) Thor
#426 (new) Conan The Barbarian

Friday, March 08, 2019

New Avengers #17 When: May 2006
Why: Brian Michael Bendis How: Mike Deodato Jr

The Story So Far...
When a mysterious energy force from space destroys North Pole, Alaska -- a lone survivor emerges from the burning wreckage. This entity comes to be known as The Collective as it begins a march across Canada, brutally defeating the first line of defense: Alpha Flight!

With The Collective making its way toward the United States; SHIELD Director Maria Hill is forced to reluctantly enlist the aide of Tony Stark and the newest formation of The Avengers!

As The Collective reaches Cleveland, Iron Man is there to greet it with gentle inquiry. For a moment, The Collective stops its path of destruction and attempts to communicate, but the situation quickly escalates when Ms. Marvel arrives -- attacking in response to the distress call put out by the Avengers!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Ms Marvel 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Ms Marvel 3 (Straight A)
Speed: Ms Marvel 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Omega 6 (Generator)
Agility: Ms Marvel 2 (Average)
Fighting: Ms Marvel 4 (Trained)
Energy: Omega 7 (Cosmic Power)
Total: Ms Marvel 29 (Metahuman)

A mutant with the ability to absorb and channel other mutant's powers? That's a road Ms. Marvel has been down before -- and it didn't end well!

The Collective appeared violently and without warning in North Pole, Alaska. At first, it appeared to be a cosmic phenomenon, but in truth it was the consequences of M-Day: the moment Scarlet Witch decimated all but 198 of Earth's population of naturally occurring mutants.

The gestalt energies of thousands of former mutants were absorbed by one of their own: an Alaskan mailman named Michael Pointer. He would eventually be known as would-be hero Weapon Omega, but as The Collective, he was a burning maelstrom of barely controlled energies, unable to articulate as he marched a path of destruction towards Genosha.

Among the energy signatures detected within The Collective were: Magneto, Polaris, Quicksilver, Black Tom Cassidy, Blob, Rictor, Sunfire, and Xorn. Some heavy duty powers, far beyond the basic Tape stats for the later Omega! He seems to have some access to specific abilities, but for the most part he manifest as a bundle of energy, perhaps due to the overriding influence of Xorn.

On the surface, Ms Marvel's ability to channel and redirect energies seems perfectly suited to taking down the awesomely powerful Collective, but there remains many unpredictable unknowns surrounding the conditions of his power.

We've seen Ms Marvel go hand-to-hand with high-level esoteric threats before! She grappled with a Dormammu powered Hood in New Avengers #54, and gave a swift uppercut to an Agamotto possessed Luke Cage in New Avengers #2!

That said: a moment of carelessness also cost her a kayo from the power-borrowing Super-Skrull in Marvel Team-Up #62. We also can't forget that the power-absorbing mutant Rogue handed Ms Marvel one of her most famous defeats, resulting in the permanent absorption of strength and flight.

It's unclear if Michael Pointer can or will steal powers from opponents as The Collective, but if there's any possibility of that being the case, it could pose a serious physical and mental risk to Ms Marvel! Let's find out what happened!

The Tape: The Collective Ranking: Ms Marvel (#67)

What Went Down...
The Avengers are en route to Cleveland when Ms Marvel receives the emergency call from Iron Man. All the heroes are calling in their chips, but only Ms Marvel is available to answer the call. She immediately takes flight!

When the heroine arrives in Ohio, Iron Man is already on the scene standing face-to-face with the swirling energies of The Collective. She has no way of knowing the armored Avenger is on the verge of a peaceful resolution!

Coming in hot like a human missile - Ms Marvel torpedo dives The Collective and takes him skyward with the element of surprise!

Iron Man desperately attempts pursuit to call Ms Marvel off, but she's moving with too much momentum, and the damage is already done! The Collective gains his bearings and unleashes crackling bolts of power!

The discharge succeeds in putting distance between The Collective and his attacker, but Ms Marvel is relatively unscathed!

Ms Marvel's altered physiology can absorb The Collective's energy and channel it right back at the source -- or so she presumes! Without warning: the sky appears to ignite in flame as The Collective unleashes its awesome power!

The blast engulfs Iron Man and the Avengers quinjet, while Ms Marvel is sent hurtling across Lake Erie to crash land in Toledo! When she emerges from the highway impact crater, she discovers a shocking transformation...

... The Collective's energies have restored her to something resembling her Binary powers!

The Hammer...
An unexpected power boost comes as a result of facing The Collective and his awesome energies, but Ms Marvel never the less suffers temporary defeat. If there's such a thing as "failing up" -- this seems like a good way to do it!

It's been a while since I've looked through the "Collective" story. The last time was probably shortly after publication. With the theatrical release of Captain Marvel putting focus firmly on Carol Danvers, it seemed like a good opportunity to revisit her featured return, and those striking Steve McNiven covers!

The McNiven connection isn't insignificant. By the time this issue was published, he would've been working on Civil War: landmark mini-series that really shaped the course for Ms. Marvel, The Avengers, and the entire Marvel Universe!

I'm reminded how valuable Civil War was for sharpening the focus of the New Avengers series. The concept started strong, introducing an unlikely team of heroes responding to a mass prison breakout from The Raft [see; New Avengers #3]. Once the team was actually formed, it seemed to struggle to fully cohere. Civil War split the team, but led to a stellar run into Dark Reign!

The phrase of the day was that Bendis was "JLA-ing the Avengers". There had been many members and iterations of The Avengers to that point, but there was a definite unwritten understanding of what was and wasn't an Avengers flavour.

A top heavy group headlined by Spider-man and Wolverine seemed to fall firmly in the "wasn't" category, and the first year and a half of issues didn't always make a strong case for reconsidering. The hodgepodge nature of the team, and intent to establish something new, meant ideas lent themselves to being thrown at the New Avengers, rather than flowing from mutually organic sources.

Skrull intrigue in the Savage Land wouldn't see payoff until years later in the fairly lackluster Secret Invasion, while tough sells were spun from The Sentry and newly introduced Ronin, offering uneven asides from what I'd now say were weak elements. The series was hugely popular and sometimes tough to get a hold of, which left me dropping in & out with only mixed interest.

By the time of "The Collective", it was getting much easier to buy into the New Avengers as a lineup, but there's a noticeable sense of meandering. It doesn't help that the story ultimately ties back into House of M - a lesser conceptual successor to the Age of Apocalypse that held little to no interest, then and now.

Seeds for Civil War can be seen in these issues, but it's a needlessly repetitive run of battles. The Collective just wasn't a villain interesting enough to warrant so many pages. Repeated swirly battles with Ms Marvel, Iron Man, & Sentry don't satisfy. Killing Alpha Flight in a couple of throwaway panels was lousy.

On the positive, it furthered the restoration of Ms Marvel as a leading force in the Marvel Universe. It brings her back into Iron Man's orbit, putting them on the same page as tensions with SHIELD head toward Civil War. From there, New Avengers gets its much needed focus as the book for Captain America's rebel "Secret Avengers". Civil War also helps launch a new Ms Marvel series [see; Ms. Marvel #6], and a year after appearing on the cover of New Avengers #17, Ms Marvel features on the first issue cover for Mighty Avengers: a series that brought a semblance of the classic Avengers flavor back to regular publication.

If you'd like to revisit this point in history for yourself, you can check out "The Collective" collected in trade format! By using the purchase link provided, you'll help ensure Amazon support the Secret Wars on Infinite Earths!

Follow links throughout this post to discover more from the stories, characters, and battles referenced. Check out the Secret Archive to go on a deeper dive into the multiverse of featured fights indexed by publisher, series, and issue number!

You can also follow Secret Wars on Infinite Earths on Twitter and Facebook to get daily links to featured fights inspired by the topics of the day! Like, retweet, and share to add your battlecry to the chorus!

Winner: The Collective
#323 (new) Omega (Michael Pointer)
#74 (-7) Ms Marvel (Carol Danvers)

Sunday, March 03, 2019

All This and the QE2 (Marvel)
Marvel Team-Up #62 When: October 1977
Why: Chris Claremont How: John Byrne

The Story So Far...
Having been imprisoned by Tigra and Red Wolf within an ancient artefact known as The Soul Catcher; Super-Skrull is once more unleashed upon the Earth when Spider-man inadvertently frees him during battle with Equinox.

The Human Torch and Spider-man stand valiantly against the Super-Skrull while the Fantastic Four and Avengers are unable to be raised, but they're no match for powers boosted by an uninterrupted signal broadcast from the Skrull Throneworld!

In victory, Super-Skrull seeks a Cavorite crystal to power a ship that will take him back to the Skrull Empire. As he attacks the family of vacationing antiques dealer Josiah Rubin -- Super-Skrull has no way of knowing the cruise ship also carries a witness to the earlier carnage: Carol Danvers, aka; Ms. Marvel!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Super-Skrull 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Super-Skrull 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Ms Marvel 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Super-Skrull 6 (Generator)
Agility: Super-Skrull 6 (Rubber)
Fighting: Super-Skrull 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Super-Skrull 6 (Mass Destruction)
Total: Super-Skrull 37 (Cosmic Power)

We've seen Ms. Marvel smack around heavyweight foes like a Dormammu enhanced Hood [New Avengers #54], and an Agamotto possessed Luke Cage [New Avengers #2], but each of those were team situations. She didn't have to throw the finishing blow -- which is her task for today's featured battle!

Super-Skrull is Kl'rt of the Skrull Empire, best known for receiving genetic alterations that grant him the combined might of the Fantastic Four! This one-man army can out-stretch & bend Mister Fantastic, disappear & move stealthier than Invisible Woman, fly higher & burn brighter than Human Torch, and even rival the strength and rocky durability of The Thing!

These powers typically come at the expense of his species' natural ability to shape-shift, but given he can fade completely from sight, it doesn't mean foes are any more likely to see him coming! He also possesses powers of hypnotic vision, with all abilities sometimes boosted by energy signals beamed from the Skrull homeworld.

In the pocket dimension of Fantastic Four (Vol.2) #6, Super-Skrull was able to add but a taste of the Power Cosmic, using it to almost defeat an all-star alliance of the Fantastic Four, Black Panther, and Doctor Doom!

Kl'rt's copied powers were to be the ultimate weapon of revenge against the Empire's Earthbound nemeses, but the Fantastic Four aren't the only familiar foes Super-Skrull's faced! He enlisted Skrull subterfuge & tactics to ambush Bruce Banner at his most vulnerable, in Incredible Hulk #374. He relied on his incredible strength and skills to go toe-to-toe with a mad Thor in Thor #465.

These examples demonstrate Super-Skrulls versatility and combat experience, but when it comes to true war, only the Kree can make a Skrull's blood boil!

Carol Danvers was an officer of the US Air Force when she gained Kree DNA, so combat tactics shouldn't be too big a problem. She's got cosmic muscle to trade blows with Super-Skrull, but won't want to drag this fight out. She's got to go shock & awe, or Super-Skrull's versatility could cause real problems!

The Tape: Super-Skrull Ranking: Ms Marvel (#54)

What Went Down...
Basking in imagined glories, Super-Skrull stalks through the halls of a British cruise ship, lost in visions of a hero's return home. A sudden flash draws his attention. When he turns the corner anticipating fresh combat -- the powerful fist of Ms Marvel greets his wrinkled green chin with confirmation!

The super-powered Skrull is only momentarily staggered before he sets his sights on his opponent. Even with his barings, the sight he sees stirs confusion. This woman claims to be human, yet she wears the uniform of his mortal nemesis - the "thrice-damned" Kree champion: Captain Marvel!

Inspired by deep-seeded hatred, the Super-Skrull fights first rather than wait for explanations -- returning fire with an elastically charged fist of rock!

The blow topples Ms Marvel as briefly as her own hit knocked back the Skrull. With plenty of negative experience to call upon from her brief Kree history, Marvel summons a mighty hatred for the shape-shifting warrior's race - and slams her fist into his vulnerable mid-section!

The impressive hit isn't enough to stop the Super-Skrull, who has all the malleability of Mister Fantastic! The tit for tat continues, causing Ms Marvel to regret her wild, emotional outburst before she's smashed through the ceiling!

Super-Skrull gloats that even the weakest Skrull warrior is superior to a Kree. Rather than rise to the taunt, Ms Marvel manages to put aside her blinding hatred and focus on the task at hand. She theorizes the Super-Skrull is most vulnerable when using the stretching skills of Reed Richards - and strikes!

A devastating right hand explodes against the elongated Skrull's face! Ms Marvel doesn't let up, keeping clear of Super-Skrull's "Thing hands" as she sinks another rising blow deep into his distorted torso!

The blows knock Super-Skrull's intended target loose from his belt. Recognizing a refined Cavourite crystal on sight -- Marvel goes to ground to retrieve it. Alas, the careless distraction provides Super-Skrull the opportunity he needs!

With a mighty strike the Super-Skrull sends Ms Marvel hurtling uncontrollably from the ship and into open air! The devastating kayo sends her on a trajectory toward the Statue of Liberty, unable to move let alone save herself!

The Hammer...
A momentary lapse in concentration has dire results! It gives Super-Skrull the opening he needs to end an otherwise competitive slugfest!

You can probably guess Ms. Marvel didn't come to any severe harm. This is an issue of
Marvel Team-Up, after all! It was the webs of Spider-man that came to her aid, bringing about splashdown in the New York Bay.

A rough landing, but nothing the Kree powered heroine couldn't bounce back from for Round 2 later in the issue! A battle to be revisited in the future, no doubt.

Spidey actually mistook the hurtling figure for Captain Marvel. An easy mistake to make! This encounter would mark the momentous first meeting between Ms. Marvel and Spider-man: a rite of passage for most Marvel Comics heroes.

The pair would notably cross paths much later as members of the New Avengers, with one or two chance encounters in the intervening decades. In fact, it wasn't long before they met again in  the pages of Marvel Team-Up #77 (1979), facing the fanatical would-be Pope: Silver Dagger. By then, Ms. Marvel was wearing the famous black & yellow design she'd be associated with right up until the 2010s.

For the longest time it seemed important to distance Ms. Marvel from her derivative roots. That was one of the reasons I always appreciated the black suit, even if it wasn't the most inspired design. Coming back to Marvel Team-Up #62, I'm reminded how appealing the classic red & blue really is!

Neither "Marvel" was a favourite character growing up, but as I've gone back to discover the rip-roaring adventures of the seventies, I've come to enjoy Ms. Marvel's connection to the original Kree hero.

The fact Mar-Vell has been a rare case for a hero remaining dead for thirty years has made it all the more appealing that Carol Danvers take ownership of the Captain Marvel legacy, and advance it forward.

The current design in comics -- more blue than red -- is a nice adaptation, but it's hard to go past the original Mar-Vell inspired red & blue. Pants seem like a pretty sensible update. Shame to lose the scarf, though. Not sure why, but it just adds something a little extra to the visual. A nice signature, too.

Brie Larson will wear adapted versions of the most recent designs when Captain Marvel hits theatres next week. Considering she'll be taking on the lurking menace of Skrulls, you knew I had to make time for a Super-Skrull appearance!

I'm sure the FF-powered villain won't be showing up in Ms. Marvel's cinematic universe debut, but hey! Who woulda thought we'd be getting Skrulls at all after the Avengers settled for generic Chitauri?! Before the Fox deal cleared, no less!

As always, you can find more from the characters featured today by following links throughout this post, or the character tags below.

Dive deeper to discover more from the Marvel Universe and beyond by visiting the Secret Archive of past battles. You can also get more superhero smackdown in your life by following Secret Wars on Infinite Earths on Twitter and Facebook! Be sure to hit that like, share & retweet and stay tuned for more!

Winner: Super-Skrull
#132 (+253) Super-Skrull
#67 (-13) Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers)