While Batman and Superman beat up local supervillains, the past decade of Green Lantern comics amp’d up the stakes considerably higher than a building explosion or lost hostage. Wars raged non-stop between the few thousand Green Lanterns and planetary-sized armies, the other rainbow spectrums of Lanterns, their own leadership, and practically everyone else in the universe with a weapon and a temper. I’m saying if you ever wanted to see a lizard-esque Green Lantern blown in half by a space laser, any random issue from 2004 on should do.
Today, there’s more war brewing in Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #8, written by Peter J. Tomasi and drawn by Fernando Pasarin. While the darling genius of DC, Geoff Johns (who deserves every ounce of praise) receives most of the credit for the Green Lantern surge, Tomasi’s contributions shouldn’t be minimized. His stuff remained on par, if not sometimes better, than Johns’ main series. Like this we’re about to read:
So I’m skipping enormous amounts of back story. Sorry. I’ve discussed Jordan before (the most famous one), but let’s quickly talk about Gardner, the third Green Lantern after Alan Scott and Jordan. Y’see, when the dying Green Lantern Abin Sur crashed on Earth, two candidates were chosen as his successor: Jordan and Gardner. Unfortunately, the ring chooses its wearer by proximity, and Jordan happened to be closer to Abin Sur that day. Our red-headed protagonist grabs a spare ring soon enough and over the years, Gardner’s persona has developed into one lush of machismo. He’s a dude’s dude. He runs a bar on the planet Oa. He probably has back hair. And now he’s going to punch Jordan in the face.
The fight ends quickly; I only have five pages left. But for the fans wondering which Green Lantern’s the strongest, keep your expectations low. Spoiler alert: it’ll end in a tie — all superhero versus superhero battles tend to end without the scales tilting one way or the other. Still awesome to read.
Oh, the baggage for these two is definitely not carry-on sized. Jordan became a supervillain, possessed by Parallax, and destroyed the entire Green Lantern Corps. Gardner’s insane anger issues caused him to switch teams to the Red Lanterns and make all sorts of secret deals with other Lantern-wielding monsters. But most egregiously, Gardner wore a bowl cut for decades. He didn’t even keep a mask to hide his identity from that haircut. As for the second picture below, it’ll get larger if you click it.
Only superheroes can kick each other in the face to the point of major head trauma and team up a minute later. As we end, I want you to remember the moral of this story: Kyle Rayner could have taken them both.
The Batman event No Man’s Land continues to be a treasure trove of awesome stories to pull from. If you’re unfamiliar, Gotham City suffers a catastrophic earthquake, leveling the city and turning the controlled chaos into absolute chaos. It’s about as close to a canon post-apocalyptic Batman as we’ll get — and the best part? The whole thing lasts for around a hundred issues spread throughout a half dozen titles. Today, as the Gotham City supervillains carve up their own territories with their own colors and rules and murders, the Penguin puts forth a more intelligent scheme. Y’know, cashing in on people’s misery by making them compete in death fights for the entertainment of the betting masses. The normal stuff. Enjoy a moment from Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #117 and Batman: Shadow of the Bat #85, both written by Ian Edginton and drawn by D’Israeli.
The Penguin figures with no electricity or entertainment flooding the city, he can rake in all the leftover supplies by creating his own betting palace. I’m not saying the Gotham masses enjoy seeing reluctant civilians get horrifically torn apart by shirtless bodybuilders, but it is something to do when the TV doesn’t work. Unfortunately for the Penguin’s pocketbooks, one man only came to poop on the party.
Y’see, Batman disappeared during the first half of No Man’s Land. Bruce Wayne flew to Washington DC to beg for aid for his city, and it all ended with wasted time and not one punched supervillain. Luckily, he’s back in costume and loaded with plenty of jump kicks for those who deserve it. Plus, don’t forget all the jump kicks he has to make up with his time gone. To unify the city once more, Batman decides to rule over it by fear — the fear people get when they commit a crime and receive a batarang in their face.
The Penguin doesn’t always get the supervillain credit he deserves. It’s not hard to see why — the guy can’t fight, he’s physically un-intimidating, no one’s scared of him, his greatest asset is a nightclub, and he named himself after an adorable bird. But let’s not forget: wealth buys a crapload of henchmen.
Psh, like he’s really that obligated about this. Batman lives to beat bad guys unconscious and now he has a whole gallery of them to fight one-by-one while thousands of people watch Batman break each bone and rupture each kidney. The audience certainly won’t be turning to crime once they see Batman singlehandedly destroy three dozen trained warriors.
Finally, the Penguin realizes the error of his ways. Not morally, of course. When someone runs a betting scheme, the fights have to be close enough that people betting make mistakes and lose money. The Penguin learns this the hard way:
To save his fortune, the Penguin decides to intervene the only way he knows: insincerely.
In a way, Gotham supervillains should be lucky that Batman’s their local superhero. I mean, he’ll put them in the hospital and cave in their faces and cripple their limbs, but as dawn rises, he’ll make sure all the bad guys are still alive (some breathing through tubes) and protected. Black and white justice is far safer than that gooey gray area. So just how Batman puts the Penguin out of business, he’ll also make sure the Penguin doesn’t get hit with pipes and crowbars. Batman’s a nice guy, but let’s never forget that despite his superhero-ness, the dude’s undeniably frustratingly scary.
Step one to ruling Gotham City: beat up a dozen bad guys in front of the whole city. Step two: secure a reliable information pipeline. Step three? I think it’s beating up more bad guys.
Hercules died. At least for the short time that this article takes place. In an awkward tip of the hat to Delphyne’s intuitions/grudges, Athena betrays Hercules by having him get caught in a god-destroying explosion. She totally feels bad about it, but that doesn’t stop her from doing it. To somewhat justify her actions, Athena’s only allowed one “champion” at a time, and in order for Amadeus Cho to have risen to that honor, Hercules had to go. Like the mob, it was strictly business. Luckily, with Amadeus wielding Hercules’ adamantine mace, Bruce Banner’s Bannertech shields, and his own genius mind and sharp fashion sense, the new Prince of Power puts up a fairly solid fight. But first, a reunion.
After Hercules perished, Amadeus now devotes all his time to locating and retrieving his dear departed friend. Gods can totally die in the Marvel universe — ask any Asgardian. Fortunately, Amadeus discovers a way to access omniscience (y’know, the ability to know everything about everything). But when the supervillain Vali Halfling steals all the ingredients, Amadeus and Thor team up to find and presumably hit Vali with blunt weapons.
But our focus’ll be turned away from these two for a while. While our article today will totally end in a full confession of passion and delight for our two lovers, the climb will be slow and bloody. Before the inevitable make out session, Delphyne has some goals of her own to accomplish first. Like getting out of the awful Olympus Group prison that Athena put her in.
Though Amadeus has that crazy high intelligence that lets him know exactly how maneuver his body to avoid attacks or know exactly wear to smack his mace to subdue opponents far stronger than he is, Delphyne possesses no superpowers. I guess poisonous snakes for hair counts as something, but an escape from a prison full of gods will take every bit of her skill, bullets, and gloating — of which she possesses multitudes of all three. My goodness is this next scene amazingly awesome:
We always forget the fringe benefits of being a cursed reptile. How can Amadeus not fall in love with this woman?
I know Amadeus stated to Delphyne’s face last article that he doesn’t date those who murder. And he probably didn’t enjoy the whole her-trying-light-him-on-fire thing. But one never forgets their first love, right? Besides, Amadeus currently is a full-fledged superhero, and he needs a woman who can protect herself. Poor Spider-Man keeps pushing ladies away by making them unwilling targets in his supervillains’ eyes. But Delphyne? That girl only gets turned on by gunfire and bloodstains.
Curious as to what Amadeus is up to? Battling Thor, it turns out (for the second time).
I understand that some fans may be upset by Thor being taken down in a single strike. Let me defend Amadeus. First, Thor got hit with his own wildly powerful lightning blast. Second, Amadeus totally sucker punched Thor. Third, it’s a comic book and fictional characters will occasionally have varying degrees of vulnerability due to story-related matters. And fourth, it’s important that Amadeus battles Vali solo, because of the cross-symbolism between Amadeus and Delphyne. It’ll make sense in a second.
The next few pages allow comic books to truly shine as a literally medium. As Amadeus fights his opponent, Delphyne fights Atlanta at the exact same time on the exact same page. It’s a small beneficial joy of comics and it works wonderfully — after all, what better way to prove the two are worthy of each other’s affections?
Is this the ending you hoped for? What other literary medium would have the former Amazonian queen/gorgon snake lady kissing the Korean teenager Prince of Power super genius? And right after she shot a magic arrow at a traitorous Asgardian god mere moments away from accessing the omniscience of infinite multiverse knowledge? This isn’t exactly The Notebook.
A happy ending! Next week: more fights. I promise the only kissing’ll involve a superhero’s fist smooching a supervillain’s face.
We pick up soon after we left off. Amadeus Cho, teenage genius and Hercules sidekick, had just been refused by Delphyne Gorgon, the new queen of the Amazons. Mainly because any romance between the two is legally forced to end in Amadeus’ slaughter. The Amazons don’t play around when it comes to love. At least no more than once. Yet with Hercules wrapped up in an Olympian feud (followed closely by Amadeus and Hercules’ half-sister/goddess Athena), our two protagonists are sure to meet up again. Like when Hercules has to battle Hera’s evil Olympus Group.
But what’s the fun in two gods and a child versus four gods and a snake girl? To amp up both the excitement and colors used on the page, the battle gets crashed by Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers. I know romance doesn’t flourish in a massive warehouse superpowered free-for-all, but maybe some questions could be answered. Like surely Delphyne could look past murdering Amadeus if they ever became a couple, right? Unfortunately, a bigger issue keeps the star-crossed lovers apart: pesky vengeance.
I blame Poseidon more than Medusa. He knows Athena can’t punish her uncle, forcing her to unfairly take out her anger on the girl instead. More importantly, what is Poseidon doing hanging around Athena’s temple? Sure he could find a tipsy mermaid or attractive manatee to seduce instead of a poor priestess who decided to devote her life to (petty) Athena. Despite Amadeus’ unwavering affections towards our gorgon, I imagine Delphyne must still be angry that Athena took away most of her nose. And probably the hair made of snakes.
Unfortunately, any convincing by the seventh smartest person in the world has to be delayed when Bullseye-as-evil-Hawkeye interrupts:
What a fantastic final line by Delphyne. It’s disgusting, arrogant, and makes me like her way more than previous pages. The arc ends with their possible relationship in limbo, and I imagine you figure their next encounter would involve a beach or restaurant or something where feelings could be discussed. But Hercules is a fighter. Delphyne is a fighter. Amadeus could probably fight. So we begin eight issues later with another battle. This time, at least, Hercules gathered up all the (real) Avengers ahead of time. The Olympus Group is much more beatable when you have Wolverine willing to foolishly claw gods.
I should have probably explained this earlier, but Athena’s quite important to dear Amadeus. While Hercules is his best friend, Athena’s his mentor — she’s the goddess of wisdom after all. And despite Athena’s vague speeches, incoherent actions, and suspicious motivations, she still protects and guides young Amadeus. And Hercules. But mainly Amadeus.
Unfortunately, Delphyne didn’t come into this battle empty-handed. She has some tricks up her fishnet sleeves (and a disregard that Amadeus won’t date murderers).
The holes are for the snakes. They would get fidgety when smashed under a helmet. And sadly for poor Athena, the realm of the Olympians means lots of crazy magic. Magic that would totally defeat an unsuspecting god by a woman still horrifically angry at being turned into a walking reptile.
With vengeance fulfilled, the flames of love and passion can finally ignite between Amadeus and Delphyne.
Never mind, wrong flames.
I include the next scene for it’s beautiful simplicity. For two people of absolute opposites, Hercules and Amadeus work so perfectly together. Their friendship brings tears to the eyes of all other superhero friendships. I can’t think of further proof than this:
Delphyne makes her move. It’s confusing and I’m going to give my theory afterward.
Maybe Delphyne genuinely realized that murdering Athena went against her whole Amazonian ideals, but I like to think the real reason is far more wonderful than that: she can’t deny her all-consuming and soul-erupting love for young genius Amadeus Cho. Every thought. Every emotion. Every desire screams into her mind to protect her soul mate, regardless of personal cost to herself or unsuccessful revenge. She just can’t resist the burning sensation of her heart as she meets the eyes of the brilliant teenager. Star-crossed? Not anymore. Not when Delphyne has the power/pistol to save her man from naked gold statues. Or maybe it’s the Amazonian ideals thing. Definitely one of those two reasons.
Unfortunately, Greek gods tend to hold grudges.
I guess pulling someone up from a cliff doesn’t mean much if you pushed them off in the first place. On Friday, our story ends with surprisingly even more combat than today. Love blooms on the battlefield, y’know. But now instead of Amazonian rituals holding them back, it’ll be omniscience, sorcery, and Thor. Especially Thor.
In our continuing series (and by that I mean the second one), we’ll once again explore two supporting characters’ romantic adventures. And I love these two. Amadeus Cho, the seventh smartest person on the planet and the sixteen year-old sidekick of Hercules, will fall madly in love with Delphyne Gorgon, a green-skinned Amazonian warrior with snakes for hair. You can feel the passion between the two just with my words alone. But if you’re not convinced, here’s excerpts from Incredible Hercules #121-128 and #138-141, written by Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente and drawn by Clayton Henry, Salva Espin, Rodney Buchemi, Takeshi Miyazawa, & Dietrich Smith; as well as Heroic Age: Prince of Power #1-4, written by Pak & Van Lente and drawn by Reilly Brown, Zach Howard, & Adam Archer.
Much like Bill and Kelda, our two lovers are recent creations, featuring Amadeus’ first appearance in 2006 compared to Delphyne’s in 2008 which you’re going to witness today. Some backstory from a few years back: Amadeus led a group of Hulk supporters through the streets of New York City (including Hercules) during the Marvel event World War Hulk, and once Hulk’s defeated — he was the (sorta) bad guy after all — the Incredible Hulk series changed to Incredible Hercules as the starring god and Amadeus travel the country. And you have to absolutely read it. Every single issue. Every single word and picture. I cannot stress enough how absolutely wonderful the Incredible Hercules run is, so much so that the series alone propelled Hercules to my top three Marvel superheroes (after Spider-Man and Daredevil). Sadly, Hercules isn’t the focus of this week, but please catch up with some of my previous articles if you’d like.
We begin with the capture of Amadeus Cho. I’m skipping the whole kidnapping event. Y’see, the princess of the Amazonians desires Amadeus for procreation, because I guess Korean teenagers are her fetish or something. The princess’ second-in-command Delphyne Gorgon shows him around his new love nest. Also, and much more importantly, she needs to enlighten our protagonist about this upcoming Amazonian ritual.
Just a typical high school love story. Another boy gets captured against his will to be the love slave of a bossy warrior princess only to be fatally murdered the second he hits his refractory period. Haven’t we seen this so many times before?
So we don’t have to be a genius to realize that Princess Artume is totally using Amadeus to solve some complex puzzle and has absolutely zero intention of sleeping with him. The maiming part’s probably still on though. But even for the seventh smartest person in the world, a sixteen year-old presented with that sort of prize will overlook some obvious logical clues. Sadly, I don’t think he’s into the sort of foreplay she enjoys:
And with Artume’s betrayal sets into motion another traitor emerges — and the focus of this article.
First, Hercules totally still lives. Second, I know that’s a wildly fast courtship, but when you have a young imprisoned genius together with a violent snake woman, how could sparks not fly? Look, if your disbelief can’t be suspended, please understand that Delphyne’s a fictional gorgon monster wearing a kilt and fishnets. That should be your main concern. But story-wise, you know when henchmen hook up with the supervillain’s future paramour/murder victim?
I cut out the waving scene, but we all know that the motivations of supervillains rarely require any real motivations. Oh, before we continue, have you been wondering what’s up with Hercules? I mean, with Amadeus in jail, he’s left to battle the Amazonian forces solo (well, and Namor’s cousin Namora). Let’s check in for a moment:
Atlas used the Washington Monument like a baseball bat to smack Hercules across the National Mall. Have you read Incredible Hercules yet? You’re missing out if you haven’t. Anyway, back to our main story.
What soon follows is an issue-long fake alternative reality as Artume rules as president, Amadeus as her second-in-command, and a failed relationship between the genius and gorgon. You can buy the book for all that, but as we flash back to actual reality, it does end like this:
Luckily for Amadeus, this is only the first part of our story, though that doesn’t make heartbreak any easier. Even in the Marvel universe, one’s first crush takes a while to overcome — especially when she’s the Amazonian queen who’ll now disembowel Amadeus if they ever share the throes of passion.
On Wednesday, their reunion!
As we end our week of fights and hope that the gooey romance aura of Bill and Kelda has fully washed off (though we’ll be covering Amadeus Cho and Delphyne Gorgon’s love story next week), rejoice in a new milestone for this blog: both our combatants today are bald. You should probably sit down and stop clutching your heart in excitement.
You know Lex Luthor already. He’s the egotistical billionaire who may be the most influential and important supervillain in the DC universe. His megalomania and insatiable greed aside, I admire a man who’s battle outfit’s a well-tailored suit. But it’s okay if you’re not familiar with the superhero Steel. Let him introduce himself from Steel #1, written by Joe Bogdanove & Louise Simonson and drawn by Chris Batista:
Steel (John Henry Irons) premiered in 1993 following the death of Superman. Please take a moment and soak in those cartoonishly large ’90s muscles. Anyway, four Superman replacements showed up in Metropolis, Steel being one of them. He has no superpowers, just a genius technical mind and a metal suit of armor. He’s Iron Man with a hammer. Also, Shaquille O’Neal played him in a movie.
So we cut to 52 #40, with all the credits given in the first page I’ll show you below. I loved the idea of 52. Following the DC event Infinite Crisis, the big three (Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman) took a year off from fighting crime. Unfortunately, supervillains still enacted their dastardly schemes and 52 covered what happened during that year. Like Black Adam fighting every single superhero in the known DC universe. At once. By himself. But in our issue today, Luthor has kidnapped Steel’s niece. Rescue time.
Steel brings the Teen Titans with him. Luthor and Steel have been antagonizing each other the whole series, by the way. Our bald bad guy discovered technology that gave normal dudes superpowers and then caused a whole bunch of death and destruction, so our bald good guy has been punching him every ten issues or so. Now it’s time for the finale.
In a fight that can only happen in comic books, Steel’s about to lose his armor. I think it’d be better if you saw it than if I explained it.
James Bond doesn’t fight shapeshifting giant crabs. That’s a superhero thing. Most importantly, in a world filled with spandex and unnecessary cleavage, it’s wildly refreshing to see Steel wearing jeans under his armor. And though he possesses no superpowers except some justified rage and a sledgehammer, that should be more than enough to take down Luthor, right? It’s not as if Luthor’s a Muay Thai champion or can pop out adamantium claws.
I know that Luthor’s immune to sledgehammers, but Steel didn’t realize Luthor’s durability was that high when he attacked. Which means that if everything went according to plan, Steel’s best case scenario is Luthor’s head popping like a watermelon at a Gallagher show followed by Steel and his niece walking triumphantly out of the building with Luthor’s organs around their necks as a disgusting gold medal. Or maybe he figured Luthor’s laser eyes meant full-strength hammer strikes would just bruise or something. Either way, let Steel’s very Superman-esque words ring forth:
Keep in mind Luthor did outright murder dozens of people he gave the Everyman superpower serum by having them fly in the sky and then suddenly turning off their superpowers. Luthor’s bad karma has reached astronomic levels, and Steel, even with fecal matter leaking into his small intestine, is the only chance of cashing in those karmic chips. I mean, not immediately, because Luthor’s currently invincible.
We’re all friends, so I can admit that my research failed to mention how he lost his hand. For Steel at least, it’s a solid conversation topic for Aquaman and him if they bump into each other at the JLA Watchtower.
Luthor’s ego’ll always bring about his own self-inflicted fall, even if Natasha Irons wasn’t a scientific super genius like her uncle. Because though Steel can’t win against a superpowered Luthor, he can totally wipe the floor with a normal Luthor. Lex really should have learned Muay Thai.
Next week: more minor characters fall in love/fight monsters.
Well, Serpent Thing. Remember a few years ago during Fear Itself when the Serpent sent those seven evil Thor hammers crashing into Earth and gave seven superheroes/supervillains crazy Thor powers? Me too. I loved that event. Poor Ben Grimm happened across one of those hammers, touched it, and became a bad guy for a few issues. Plus, the dude — who already is roughly ten times as strong as Spider-Man — now possesses a magic weapon that would crush dear Spidey’s skull into Spidey goo with one well-placed shot. So, it’s going to be a tough fight today for our protagonist in Fear Itself: Spider-Man #3, written by Chris Yost and drawn by Mike McKone.
With near impossible odds of victory just when we compare Spider-Man’s abilities to Serpent Thing’s alone, there’s one more serious danger added to the mix:
Yes, my friends, he has to stop the unstoppable rock monster inside a hospital. A very occupied hospital. I don’t know where Serpent Thing got the toothy worms he wears like slimy suspenders, but I do think it’s a nice contrast to his current magma barbarian outfit. Sure, on a good day Spider-Man could totally punch through a wall or small truck or whatever’s in his path, but a fistfight can only lead to defeat here, not to mention all those doctors and patients he has to protect as well. This isn’t Man of Steel, our protagonist has to actually save the innocent people. Commence round one:
On a list of superheroes Spider-Man couldn’t take in a fight, Thing and Thor are both totally included. Thus when you have the Thing with Thor powers, poor Peter Parker’s best case scenario ends with him roasting like a kebab draped over the Serpent’s hammer.
Y’see, we like to think that our superheroes could defeat any other superhero given the right conditions, weapons, setting, enormous amount of kryptonite, etc., but it’s okay to admit that our favorites may not be all-powerful. The risk of failure adds to the suspense during the brawl and the joy we’ll feel when our superheroes win. Plus, if you’ve ever read a Spider-Man comic then you know that he never ends a fight without his costume in tatters and half his face swollen like a volleyball. Luckily, Spider-Man has friends.
Norah Winters, Spider-Man supporting character and overeager-bordering-on-unlikable reporter, attempts to outrun a rock monster wielding a medieval weapon just to give Spider-Man time to recover (and allow doctors to restart his heart from pages I’m skipping). Her superpowers include all of those given to a normal 20-something year old woman. Unfortunately, fiery spirit and unrelenting bravery can’t protect her from becoming Serpent Thing’s shoulder worm food. Luckily, Norah also has friends.
The more I read, I keep finding pages that reiterate why Spider-Man’s my comic soulmate. Yes, he’s powerful, but not that powerful. He’ll fight supervillains way out of his league simply because, gosh darn it, that’s the right thing to do. And no matter how concussed he gets or how badly his costume tears, he’ll continue to jump kick and shoot webs regardless of the insanity or recklessness of the situation. Innocents must be protected over personal safety every single time. Great power, great responsibility, etc.
Thing’s exit ties into another Fear Itself moment going on, but I’ll still count this at least as a draw.
Hey, this is sort of related, but do you remember Avengers vs. X-Men #9? After weeks and weeks of the two super teams screaming threats, blowing each other up, and destroying large parts of Wakanda, the Avengers were cornered by Phoenix-empowered Colossus and Magik. Spider-Man, despite once again not standing a chance against either of these normally — much less Phoenix-enhanced — stayed behind alone to fight while the Avengers made their escape. As Colossus and Magik crushed his brain over and over again, they demanded he stay down. If he acquiesced to their demands, all the brain punching would stop. But Spider-Man continued to rise, not just to save his teammates but also because selflessness propels Spider-Man to shine as the center of Marvel’s moral compass. Blogs declared his stand to be what may have been the first heroic act done by anyone in the entire series. And of course it was. God, I love that man. As much as I’ll miss Doctor Octopus Spider-Man (Superior Spider-Man is by far one of the coolest and most beautifully executed ideas I’ve read in a very long time), I’m glad Peter Parker Spider-Man is back. Because he’ll punch Serpent Thing until every bone in his body breaks. Because he’s a superhero.