Monday, November 27, 2017

Real Name: Slade Wilson
First Appearance: New Teen Titans #2 (December, 1980)
Fight Club Ranking: #96

Featured Fights:
- vs X-MEN: Uncanny X-Men and The New Teen Titans #1 (1982)
- vs JUSTICE LEAGUE: Identity Crisis #3 (Oct 2004)
- vs FREEDOM FIGHTERS: Infinite Crisis #1 (Dec 2005)
- vs JUSTICE LEAGUE: Justice League of America #15 (Jan 2008)

The Justice League have finally made it to the big screen, but the single most interesting aspect of their theatrical arrival isn't the heroic assembly, or the immediate threat of New God: Steppenwolf. It's the headline grabbing post-credits meeting between Lex Luthor and Deathstroke!

We got our first glimpse of a cinematic Deathstroke more than a year ago, with speculation that he might just turn up somewhere in Justice League, before featuring in The Batman. The man beneath the two-tone mask is Joe Manganiello, and he tweeted out a great photo of himself in full costume.

So far the DC Cinematic Universe has been one big, ugly hot mess, but the innate good of the source property keeps fans hanging on. The presence of an obscure, alien Green Lantern (seen in flashback) was another allusion to the good things Warner Brothers could still put on screen, if so inclined.

Deathstroke shows up to aid Lex Luthor, whose appearance comes with a foreboding vision to form a League of their own. Unfortunately, it's still Jesse Eisenberg beneath the bald scalp.

Fortunately, Manganiello shows plenty of promise in his limited, menacing appearance. The visual alone is enough to get comics fans excited, even if cinema's Deathstroke has gone for a more off-the-shelf look. Bright flourishes of orange and a silhouette of swords at back do enough to imply the character we know and love. That Slade Wilson has retained his age and eyepatch -- more bonuses.

It's been surprising to see the DECU do so little to build its universe of characters. It may compare unfavourably to the Marvel post-credits tradition, but tacking this expansion on at the end of the film helps remove it from the quagmire of what came before.

It's surprising that it's taken this long for a superhero film to build towards a team-up of villains.

The short-lived Andrew Garfield Spider-man was heading for a collision with the Sinister Six, before that franchise was unceremoniously put out of its misery. Marvel Studios have made character conversion points a major part of their business, but emphasis on heroic ensemble has typically made villains too unconvincing to demand reprisal. Otherwise, we may've seen the likes of Red Skull, Baron Zemo, or Abomination coming together to form The Masters of Evil.

DC already have a natural antagonist team in play in the Suicide Squad, but building up a team of super-villains is one way they can finally blaze a trail Marvel hasn't already walked. The injection of name villains like Deathstroke will certainly be a welcome step forward!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Real Name: Michael Morbius
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-man #101 (Oct, 1971)
Fight Club Ranking: #57

Featured Fights:
- vs THE WEREWOLF: Marvel Premiere #28 (Feb 1976)
- vs DOCTOR STRANGE: Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #10 (Nov 1989)
- vs SPIDER-MAN: Ultimate Spider-man #95 (Jul 2006)
- vs NIGHT SHIFT: Marvel Zombies 4 #2 (Jul 2009)

Sony seems intent on constructing a tangled web of Spider-man movie properties -- and it has the potential to be glorious! The Hollywood Reporter has added Morbius The Living Vampire to the growing slate of spin-offs, which already includes Tom Hardy as Venom, and a rumored Black Cat and Silver Sable team-up called Black & Silver.

Morbius is one of those curious characters who's kicked around Hollywood since the nineties. The final word always seemed to be that he could sustain his own film. If Sony follows through on plans, it could be another exciting signal of diversifying their options to break away from the monotony of most Marvel and DC offerings.

Considerations were passed over for all three Blade movies, but an unused teaser was filmed to close the first, showing a shadow cast Morbius watching Blade emerge at dawn from his battle with La Magra.

The Norrington directed city, and pseudo-science of vampirism, lent itself well to introducing Michael Morbius: A doctor whose blood condition leads him to accidentally turn himself into a "living" vampire.

N'Bushe Wright's haematologist character always seemed like a natural bridge to the world inhabited by Morbius, particularly in the comics of the nineties. Their blend of gothic superhero meets The Fugitive meets General Hospital was a pretty good modern direction for the character.

You can't talk about Morbius in the nineties without mentioning Maximum Carnage: a Spider-man crossover story that seems to be presenting itself with every new announcement!

Morbius was one of several characters presented in the weird and wonderful Carnage story, paired with Nightwatch, as part of an ensemble that included: Captain America, Iron Fist, Cloak & Dagger, and Deathlok. Black Cat and Venom also had major parts.

I'm sure it's unlikely that anything as strange as the cast of Maximum Carnage could ever make it to the big screen, but if Sony continue to assemble their characters in individual films, it seems some version of that story is an inevitable Avengers-esque destination point!

Here's hoping whatever form Morbius takes on the big screen - it's worth the hype! You can be damn sure it's worth being our Hero of the Week!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Real Name: Raphael
First Appearance: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (May, 1984)
Fight Club Ranking: #156

Featured Fights:
- vs THE SHREDDER: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (May 1984)
- vs COMPLETE CARNAGE: Savage Dragon #22 (Sep 1995)

Injustice 2 has unveiled its third (and presumed final) DLC Fighter Pack, and as reported on Mortal Kombat Online, it comes with a big four-for-one special deal! Atom and Enchantress were expected presences in the reveal trailer, but stepping from the shadows are the surprise package of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Requested by some, but expected by few!

Typically you're either going to love or hate guest characters in fighting games. There's always the argument that they don't offer much for brand legacy, and the assets could be better spent building up in-house properties.

Ultimately, it's an argument of creative versus commerce that TMNT will inevitably further for the latter. The multimedia darlings hit the sweet spot for Millennial gamers who've aged alongside the heroes in a half-shell, and will gladly buy-in en masse.

Guest fighters as downloadable content has meant players can customize their experience for a price, selecting their character purchases individually, or as part of value (and instant gratification) incentives. Past examples reinforce the fact that the audience is embracing the novelty, making guests the most lucrative post-script option for Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment.

The fact that DC Comics already permeates through so many mediums means the intrusion of guest characters stings a lot less than Mortal Kombat's awkwardly generated movie maniacs.

Injustice 2 has also done a pretty good job of plumbing from natural wells, sourcing Sub-Zero and Raiden from the developer's Mortal Kombat franchise, and independent comics icons Hellboy and the TMNT. All four have history crossing over with DC Comics in the past, with Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles among the most recent examples!

Personally, I prefer my fighting games straight and complete. Street Fighter V hasn't hit on a winner with every new addition, and the piecemeal approach to basic functions has been pretty lousy, but I like their constructive strategy for DLC characters.

If guest characters must happen -- and at NetherRealm Studios, that's the case -- I can dig a novelty like the Ninja Turtles. The TMNT fit right in with the fighting game format, offer a lot in terms of gameplay and presentation, and are just pretty radical. Cowabunga, dude.

It's going to be interesting to see how a quartet of characters functions in the game. We've seen characters like Atrocitus flanked by support options before, but there's a bit of mystery surrounding the heroic foursome. Injustice's Gear System could let players pick their turtle of choice, but this may also be the game's first fully fledged example of tag mechanics! Something for MK11 to consider?

Like any fan, I've got my favourites. I'm a little disappointed we didn't get to see Bronze Tiger, Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, or Steel make the playable cut. They all have interesting arguments, and will probably show up in a future sequel. Steel seemed particularly natural, however, given the heavy emphasis on the Superman Family, and the game's armor aesthetic and customizable Gear.

By and large, Injustice 2 has been an improvement on the first game, bolstered by an excellent line-up of new additions! Don't believe it? Check out Hero of the Week entries for: Supergirl, Reverse-Flash, Black Canary, Cheetah, Doctor Fate, Firestorm, Gorilla Grodd, Red Hood, and Black Manta!

Still not up on the comic book origins of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Be sure to hit the featured fight links at the top of this post, or character tags littered throughout. You can also find a whole lot more from DC Comics by diving into the Secret Archive!

Thursday, November 09, 2017

For years his stories claimed they'd change the status quo forever -- but nothing will shake the Marvel Universe quite as dramatically as news Brian Michael Bendis is leaving for DC Comics!

In one of the most shocking news stories of 2017; DC Comics announced a multi-year exclusivity agreement that will bring the Marvel mainstay into near-uncharted waters. It ends an almost eighteen year association that shaped the identity of Marvel both on the page - and on the screen!

Bendis rose to fame as an architect of the millennial Ultimate Marvel universe, but much of his best work was done with characters like Daredevil, Luke Cage and the creation of Jessica Jones. For better or worse he redefined what the Avengers brand meant to Marvel, creating a memorable series in the first volume of New Avengers, which controversially brought in Avengers hold-outs like Spider-man and Wolverine. These properties featured heavily on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths, so it only makes sense we pay tribute with a look back at some of the weird and wild moments!

Still seeking more thrills and chills? Dive into the Secret Issue Index to discover hundreds of battles from the dark side and beyond! Like & share daily links on Facebook and Twitter to spread the blood amongst your friends! Happy Halloween from Secret Wars on Infinite Earths!

Monday, November 06, 2017

Real Name: Billy Batson
First Appearance: Whiz Comics #2 (February, 1940)
Fight Club Ranking: #110

Featured Fights:
- vs MACRO-MAN: Legends #1 (Nov 1986)
- vs THOR: Marvel versus DC #2 (Mar 1996)
- vs DARKSEID & THANOS: DC versus Marvel #4 (Apr 1996)
- vs SUPERMAN: Kingdom Come #4 (Aug 1996)
- vs SUPERMAN & BATMAN: Superman/Batman #4 (Jan 2004)
- vs BLACK ADAM: Hawkman #24 (Mar 2004)
- vs SUPERMAN: Superman #216 (Jun 2005)

Warner Brothers gave us one of the first big stories of the year when news broke of plans for a Black Adam solo movie. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has been formally and informally attached to inhabit the anti-villain's role for several years now. As 2017 draws towards a close, The Hollywood Reporter delivers news that we finally have a Captain Marvel to go with him!

Zachary Levi isn't an actor who immediately conjures the square-jawed vision of Earth's mightiest mortal -- but who does? Hollywood may have once been replete with tall, dark, handsome leading men, but the Cary Grants and Fred MacMurrays of the world seem to be a thing of the past.

What Levi immediately inspires is hope that "the big red cheese" will view the world through good natured eyes. TV's Chuck can clearly handle a light touch, and with the right physical transformation, has the potential to be channeled into something the DC Cinematic Universe is sorely missing.

With talk that Black Adam won't have any role in SHAZAM, it would be nice to see a movie that goes all-in on family friendly fun, with a retro bent. Think The Incredibles meets A Night at the Museum, with a buff and sheen from a 1940s cloth. The movie is a chance to see the world in a different way, revealing the fantasy so many films -- especially modern superhero movies -- refuse to indulge.

It's easy to believe the movie will go light, but here's hoping it doesn't go light-weight.

Those who are inevitably rejecting the casting choice aren't completely without reason. Levi doesn't seem to have the obvious presence of a classic Captain Marvel, and Warner Brothers haven't shown a lot of instinct, or understanding, when attempting to initiate their various DC properties.

The New 52 has felt like a window into the DCEU, and that's a picture that isn't kind to even the modern-classic Captain Marvel who bobbed around in the 90s and mid-00s. There are a lot of ways the movie could go horribly wrong, diverging into misplaced darkness, or total slapstick. I'm sure we're all bracing for disappointment, if we're completely honest with ourselves.

As Justice League grimly sloshes its way into theatres this month; Captain Marvel has the potential to jolt the superhero movie age into a fresh era. This has the potential to be a strong entry with a wholly unique visual and stylistic aesthetic. A player that exceeds Marvel's step forward with next year's Black Panther. It may be a long shot, but it's enough to make a Hero of the Week!