Steel vs. Lex Luthor

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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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Next week: more minor characters fall in love/fight monsters.


Spider-Man vs. Thing

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:

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


Captain America vs. Giant Man

After a week of love, romance, and all that other gross mushy stuff, let’s take a week off for punching. We’ll get back to emotions and feelings next week.  Today, we start with Ultimate Captain America battling Ultimate Hank Pym from Ultimates #8-9, volume one, written by Mark Millar and drawn by Bryan Hitch.

Y’see, since Ultimate universe isn’t part of the canon Marvel universe, they have the freedom to do whatever they please with the characters.  Like instead of a mentally ill Hank Pym backhanding his wife Janet Pym once and then spending the next thirty years attempting to redeem himself, Ultimate Hank Pym has a history of abuse and just ended the previous issue by unleashing thousands of hungry ants onto the shrunken Janet Pym.  That tends to be a bit more calculating and vicious, and the good captain would like to have a word.

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Please keep in mind this isn’t the normal flag-waving moral paragon back in our canon universe.  Sure, he’s all that here, except for this Steve Rogers coming clean off a 1940s Nazi-shooting, explosive-ridden war zone that he never really recovered from — less superhero, more soldier.  At least his personality anyway: he calls Hank Pym a meatball in two pages.

So when a former Avenger almost kills another Avenger with an army of killer insects, he’ll have to answer to Captain America.  And once again, by answer I mean get punched in the face.

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While meatball doesn’t really have much of a crippling derogatory effect, compared to Captain America’s 0% body fat and perfectly sculpted super soldier build, we’re all meatballs by contrast.

Nick Fury’s screaming at the beginning today rings true – there is an alien invasion upcoming and savagely beating a drunk Giant Man will solve nothing but potentially bruising Captain America’s fists. And he needs those for punching.

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Keep in mind this was Captain America’s goal the whole time.  He picked up a lift with SHIELD so he could jump kick a naked 60-foot man.  A man who could swat the captain across an entire football field with one well-placed slap.  Though now at least it’s a fair fight.

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If you haven’t read the first two volumes of Ultimates, you’re missing out.  Every issue plays out like a movie, and as you just saw, a weaponless Captain America scaled a two-story building to ride Giant Man’s nose into a construction site.  Vibranium shields are for wussies.  Oh, and did you see that Giant Man just chucked a bulldozer at Captain America?

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While no problem was solved or lesson was learned, Hank Pym totally deserved it.  Spouse abusers and whatnot.  For more of this delightful Captain America, allow me to self-plug an article I wrote about him here from way back in the early days of the blog.  On Wednesday: Spider-Man!


Pixie and the X-Men’s revenge, Pt. 2

We left off right as the X-Men attacked the Hellfire Club’s little base, because the people in the base savagely beat Pixie and dozens of other mutants and totally deserve this beatdown.  Note for future bigots: if one wishes to attack a minority group of people, it would help if this minority group aren’t all trained fighters with superpowers like laser eyes and diamond skin.  We’ll pick up once more with Uncanny X-Men #501-503, written by Matt Fraction & Ed Brubaker and drawn by Greg Land with the beginning of the X-Men’s retaliation:

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We know enough about superhero fights that henchmen never stand a chance.  They exist solely to ramp up the excitement and show off what our heroes can do.  Crowded battles rock.  But let’s not forget about the mutant supervillain Empath (Manuel de la Rocha) and his emotional death glares.

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I know we’re supposed to witness Empath igniting each X-Man’s individual biggest emotional burden, but I’m more focused on Cyclops helping Wolverine up.  Remember when they used to be friends? Teammates?  When they didn’t attempt to slaughter each other under the boot of a murderous sentinel? This comic is only five years old – the Marvel universe changes quickly.

Oh yeah, and now that motorcycle chase I promised:

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Notice the pink text boxes?  That’s not Angel speaking, because I assume his would look like clouds or something.  Truthfully, if this issue only involved Pixie getting beat up and then her hanging out in the infirmary the rest of the arc, her name wouldn’t be in the title of the article.

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So let’s talk a bit about Pixie.  Originally from Wales (didn’t know you were supposed to read her dialogue with an accent, right?), Megan Gwynn enrolled in the Xavier Institute as part of the New X-Men series they released back in the mid-2000s.  Because when X-Men run a school for teenage mutants, it’d be smart to populate the school with actual teenage mutants.  Her mutant powers consists solely of the insect wings and hallucinatory dust.  Everything else came from one really bad experience in Limbo.  Magik — Colossus’ sister and ruler of Limbo — uses part of Pixie’s soul to create a Souldagger.  If you want to be angry at Magik for corrupting a young girl’s essence, just remember that Magik has had goat legs for much of her adult life.

Anyway, Magik teaches Pixie some teleportation magic (making that ability a black magic spell and not a mutant power) as well as being able to pull out that Souldagger to demon-style slash up baddies.  And finally, notice those black streaks in her pink hair?  Besides being fashionable, that’s black magic residue at work, my friends.  Yes, the Marvel universe is insane — in the absolute best possible way.

We jump back to the motorcycle chase.  The reserve team (Cannonball) has been called in for a scene right out of an action movie.

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Trust me, I adore delusional supervillain rants.  Something about an egomaniac screaming despite a full squadron of X-Men just moments away.  But everything comes full circle — a redemption only possible in superhero stories.  Empath ordered his henchmen to maul all mutants in order to prevent mutants from bringing about the end of the world.  Violence to stop violence.  But we as readers understand full well that to stop evil, violence remains an acceptable solution.  We embrace it.  We look forward to it.  All superheroes end their stories with bloodied knuckles and a furrowed brow.  Even the cutest, sweetest superheroes can’t escape this ideology.  Because after all, the cutest, sweetest superheroes are still superheroes.

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Electro vs. Spider-Man, Pt. 2

After Spider-Man’s embarrassing loss on Wednesday, he has some serious self-reflection to do.  I mean, not too much because of an insane supervillain prowling the streets that desperately needs a punch in the face — but dear Peter Parker realizes the hard way that webs and kicks alone won’t take down this newly enhanced Electro.  Luckily, he’s also a super genius, and that helps him tremendously in Amazing Spider-Man #425, written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by Bud LaRosa.  But first, Electro:

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I know there’s a typo in the third panel on the first page, but let’s chalk that up to Electro’s lack of a quality education.  More importantly, Electro does make a good point.  The dude’s kind of a joke. He doesn’t get the respect that Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus get, and even at his best, he’s only used as muscle for the Sinister Six.  While he lacks the ability to instill fear, at least his emotional instability matches the level of Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus.

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Meet Nate Grey, an alternative teenage version of Cable.  He goes by the superhero name X-Man, which is honestly just his job title.  X-Man is a singular version of X-Men.  It’d be as if I fought crime as Blogger.  Plus, like all great superheroes created in the 1990s, X-Man has the power set of an roster of Avengers.  He possesses molecular manipulation, telepathy, telekinesis, precognition, flight, force fields, invisibility, healing, intangibility, dimensional travel, reality warping, physical possession, and he can even stop time.  Yes, that’s just one superhero’s powers.  Nowadays, he only has telekinesis, presumably after writers realized one mutant can’t have every superpower every created.

So to even up the odds, Spider-Man asks Nate Grey to help him.  And remember Electro’s plan to build up his evil reputation?

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Well, time for Electro to realize the mistake he made mocking Spider-Man.  Peter Parker never gives up after a smackdown, complete with eight or nine new ideas for round two.  Say goodbye to Electro and any hope he has of making it to the A-list.

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Okay, so it’s going to be harder than we thought.  Too bad Nate Grey’s going to take a beating now that Electro’s finally gotten around to reading a science textbook.  Even the strongest psychics have difficulty fighting opponents with enough power to incinerate an entire city block.  And I mean that literally:

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This issue’s double-sized and their fight takes up the whole issue.  I’m having to skip chunks of their battle to fight off my own arch-nemesis (copyright laws), but it mostly involves Spider-Man desperately attempting different tactics hoping to slow Electro down.  Unfortunately, electricity moves at the speed of light.  And you should buy this issue because it’s an awesome battle.

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Understand that despite Electro’s crazy electrical powers, he still only has a normal person’s durability.  A rock thrown with super strength has more than enough force to concuss Electro.  Though not for long.

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Sure, you can poke a bear a few times.  But it’ll eventually maul you and the rest of the zoo.  Y’see, Electro just wanted to show off his new skills, but with wild insecurities revived by Spider-Man’s unnecessary beatdown, poor Electro has to switch from mayhem to mass murder.  After all, that’s what Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus would do.

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We forget that behind Spider-Man’s jokes lies the moral center of the Marvel universe.  No matter how much pain and suffering it’ll cause him (and my goodness has it), Spider-Man has to do the right thing.  No discussions, no gray areas, no justifications.  Great power, great responsibility — y’know, everything we admire and love about superheroes.  That and all the punching.

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Electro returns dozens of times after this.  But despite his humiliating loss, it’s nice to see downtrodden supervillains reach a level where they have to be taken seriously by their local superhero. Let’s hope Shocker gets this treatment next.


Electro vs. Spider-Man, Pt. 1

After Electro’s sob story/childhood recall from last article, it’s time to see our newly enhanced supervillain in action.  Spoiler alert: it’s going to be shocking (I apologize, I won’t do that again).  We keep forgetting that Electro has one advantage that many baddies don’t get: he’s fighting Spider-Man.

Batman, who spends his days inventing batarangs that dispell everything from toxic waste to magic spells to deadly diseases, has a whole belt full of gadgets for practically every power combination or skill he comes across.  Then you add his martial arts and a dozen teenage sidekicks.  But Spider-Man, despite his superpowers, swings around the city packing only web-shooters and a thin layer of spandex.  So when Electro shows up blasting sparks (both physical and emotional) with a level that Spider-Man hasn’t dealt with before, our protagonist’s only secret weapon is praying for a lucky punch. Though to be fair to Spider-Man, he does have the super strength to punch through Electro’s chest and rip out his electrified heart if he really wanted to.  Too bad he won’t.  Check out their first fight in Amazing Spider-Man #423, written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by Joe Bennett.

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And if that’s not enough, Spider-Man’s going to have to multi-task.

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Marvel universe henchmen come in three varieties: terrorists, thugs, and ninjas.  For a planet with thousands of superpowered people flying around smacking each other with laser eyes, the normal citizens have to also avoid hordes and hordes of ninjas jumping around the city tossing shurikens or whipping nunchucks.  How anyone in superhero worlds doesn’t just live in constant paralyzing fear will always perplex me.

Oh yeah, and now Electro.

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Rehabilitation doesn’t exactly work in the Marvel universe.  The status quo demands those that attempt rehabilitation fall back into the same evil tendencies they once experienced.  And my goodness, have they tried.  Sandman (at Thing’s urging) and Doctor Octopus (poor Superior Spider-Man) all saw everything moral and generous they accomplish sink back into that pit of supervillainy they’re doomed to return.  As Electro’s whole life revolves around him being not good enough, you can imagine his greatest foe taking pity on him hasn’t soothed the decades of emotional damage.  Spider-Man’s going to fry.

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I know in this moment, we look forward to Spider-Man mustering up the last of his strength and prevailing over his stronger foe.  There’s a primal and societal joy in seeing our heroes take down evil. But y’know the introduction I wrote before we got to the comic?  Spider-Man has no new weapons, no new tricks, and no allies to support him — his current options have shriveled up faster than his nervous system.  All of Electro’s wishes come true.

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Of course Spider-Man made the right choice.  Part of the cost of being a superhero means sacrificing pride for the greater good.  But on Friday, he’ll be going full-Batman.  Spider-Man’s going to kick Electro’s ass.


Livewire attempts crime

Harley Quinn didn’t emerge onto the comic book scene alone.  A bunch of other less popular, non-solo series starring supervillains joined her in the print medium.  It isn’t as great for them as you sound — Superman and his buddies tend to be far more powerful when you read them.  Leslie Willis (now the supervillain Livewire) finds this out the hard way, than finds it out three more times with other superheroes.  I know supervillains are destined to fail, but this poor girl suffers embarrassing losses. Y’see, much like the Wicked Witch of the West, our electric-themed baddie possesses a debilitating weakness to water — which as you know is like 70% of the planet.  And thus, her crime sprees remain short-lived.  Very short-lived.

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Batgirl #4, written by Bryan Q. Miller and drawn by Tim Levins & Lee Garbett

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But that’s not totally fair to Livewire.  The Bat-people always over-prepare.  That’s the number one trait that keeps normal humans with zero superpowers alive when facing supervillains who can fry cars and zap batarangs.  Worse, there’s nothing subtle about screaming demands and basically lighting an electric flare gun into the sky for all vigilantes to see.  Mystique often gets away because she can sneak out as a security guard or whatever — Livewire’s escape plans involve staying away from sprinklers and praying for an alien invasion to distract the Justice League.  So what about those opponents who don’t have suits packed full of rubber?

Livewire vs. Supergirl
Supergirl #30, written by Will Pfeifer and drawn by Ron Randall

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Look, Livewire has the same problem as Captain Planet.  The dude fights pollution but that’s his weakness as well.  He can explode garbage barges but he passes out when a banana peel flies out and hits him in the chest.  Livewire thrives around technology that she can exploit, but technology also includes sewer systems, pipe lines, faucets, squirt guns, etc.  And while I don’t know what creatures of pure energy smell like, she can’t smell terrific without being able to clean herself.  Still, I should give her some due — she totally gave Superman some trouble back when she first premiered.  Some trouble, as in just a little.

Livewire vs. Superman
Action Comics #835, written by Gail Simone and drawn by John Byrne

This one’ll probably need some back story.  Livewire’s half-brother kidnapped Lois Lane, knowing full well that Superman shows up to save her every single time.  The same Superman that can bench press the moon.

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Notice that even when you smack Superman with enough electricity to power a small village, he still takes the time to address you politely.  The bootastic Livewire knows full well what Superman can do, but supervillains always have to find out the hard way.

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When even children aren’t scared of Livewire, what chance does she have against the Man of Steel? But the best part of this fight?  Besides Lois Lane’s upcoming pun?  Superman wins using that wonderful brain of his, like Batman does when his hands get sore from all the punching.

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Gail Simone writes the best dialogue in comics.  I miss Superman and Lois Lane as a couple, though Wonder Woman does have the same wild abandonment of fear combined with a delightful sense of humor that we enjoy in our superheroes/supporting cast.  Plus, swords and lassos and invisible planes and stuff.

But I still may be treating Livewire unfairly.  So she can’t go up against the A-listers — very few supervillains can.  How about a challenge more on her level?  Someone she can battle that’ll gives her a chance at actually winning?

Livewire vs. Jimmy Olsen
Superman #711, written by J. Michael Straczynski & Chris Roberson and drawn by Eddy Barrows

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Never mind.


The art of war with Elektra

If you ever wonder if superheroes without superpowers can still be called “super,” I assure you they can.  Those without any enhancements (Punisher, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Winter Soldier, etc.) make up for being normal humans with being unstoppable combat machines capable of not just dominating the finest UFC fighter, but all the UFC fighters.  At once.  Realistic?  I don’t care.  If we want to believe a dude with a bow can stand shoulder to shoulder with actual gods and mutants, we understand he makes up for his non-powers in other spectacular ways.  Like not missing a shot in years.  And today in Dark Reign: Elektra #1-2, written by Zeb Wells and drawn by Clay Mann, we see further proof of a “normal” superhero’s capabilities — y’know, as in they’re not normal.

Okay, so right after Secret Invasion — where the shapeshifting Skrull aliens disguised themselves as popular superheroes/supervillains to invade earth secretly — Elektra Natchios gets captured by HAMMER (Norman Osborn’s SHIELD).  After all, her skrull’s death started the whole shebang in the first place.  But this is the real deal now, and it’s safe to say she’s not staying as a guest.

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Because Elektra is the world’s greatest assassin, she escapes.  We never had any doubt she would.

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Elektra, who remains quite vulnerable to bullets, now has to fight her way past a dozen HAMMER agents.  And she has lingering injuries from her Skrull capture.  Luckily, she does have a knife, a hacking glove, and a few dozen years of ninja training.

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You’re about to witness art.  I mean, not just the drawings on the page, but like if the scariest Olympic gymnast spent all her time murdering people instead of on the balance beam.  She may have a few broken limbs, a limp or two, and enough bruises to confuse her for a (sexy) dalmatian, but these goons never stood a chance.  You can click the picture for a bigger version.

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I’ve played enough Batman: Arkham games to know the power of fear.  I mean, after I miss my grapple for the third time, accidentally use the batarang instead of the smoke bomb, and finally jump into a vent with only a sliver of health remaining — the enemies’ll eventually get scared and make mistakes again.  Bad analogy, but you get the idea — who needs superspeed when one’s the deadliest woman alive already?

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That’s right, they don’t show it, but we assume she caught up to the doomed henchman mid-free fall and used his jet pack to fly away.  Then she spends the rest of the miniseries stabbing people while strangely holding on to her own code of ethics.  When a series stars a supervillain (Elektra) going up against another supervillain (Norman Osborn), we’ll root for the slightly nicer evil-doer.  And that’s Elektra, because you can’t be all that bad if Daredevil will make out with you.


Noh-Varr vs. Young Avengers

If you haven’t read Kieron Gillen’s Young Avengers series, you’re only punishing itself.  That man writes at a level beyond human capability — along with a fantastic taste in music — and artists Jamie McKelvie & Mike Norton create stuff with panels I’ve never seen in a comic before.  But in Young Avengers #1 and #7, a battle gets mentioned I’ve never heard before:

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So I decided to search for that fight, half wanting to piece together past events and half wanting to see Noh-Varr wipe the floor with everyone.  Luckily, I found it in Civil War: Young Avengers & Runaways #2-4, written by Zeb Wells and drawn by Stefano Caselli.

If you think the normal Marvel universe can be confusing, wait till you get into the intergalactic stuff. The three big alien empires — Skrull, Shi’ar, and Kree take up most of the comic book ink.  Noh-Varr’s a hybrid Kree/insect.  Seriously, just more with Spider-Man-like enhanced abilities rather than wings and antennas.  Nowadays, he hangs out on Earth to protect it from non-Kree alien forces, but before all that, he got brainwashed:

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It’s going to be a bloodbath.  Honestly, I know only slightly more about Marvel alien races than the Runaways, who are Los Angeles-based kids of supervillains who team up to thwart the plans of their parents.  They have superpowers and whatnot as well.

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While I’d explain the teams one-by-one, Noh-Varr’s currently fighting like twelve at once and it’s better for you to see it all for yourself as it happens as opposed to a huge paragraph with thirty commas. Just know that Noh-Varr’s stronger, faster, and far more skilled than his teenage opponents.

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The Vision, like the X-Man Kitty Pryde, can phase through people/objects and unphase at will, essentially punching right through enemies if vicious and bloodthirsty enough.  Noh-Varr’s so badass that he just breaks off Vision’s arm with the hand still deep inside him.  That’s Wolverine-esque craziness right there.

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Y’see, the problem with superspeed lies in the recovery time.  With half the team knocked out or disabled within the first moments of the fight, it’d be nice for the rest of the Young Avengers/Runaways to take a breather, refuel, get a massage before round two begins.  But y’see, that’s the problem with superspeed.

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No one’s scarier with a robot hand protruding out of his chest than Noh-Varr.  The good guys (and our antagonist’s a good guy currently with a fuzzy brain), only survive due to our baddie’s recall. Supervillains have way cooler methods of extraction than the heroes.

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On a side note, Noh-Varr’s ex-girlfriend list builds steadily every new series.  Women can’t get enough of this Kree/bug hybrid, even with those short shorts he wears.  The guy looks like he wrestles for his local high school.  But as the miniseries comes to a close and our two teams ambush the enemy ship, Noh-Varr gets his round two.  And he’s just as awesome.

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People sometimes ask, aren’t superheroes for children?  Jason, with your male pattern baldness and salaried job, aren’t you too old to be reading comic books?  And I say, yes, maybe I am, but I never want to live in a world where I don’t enjoy an alien chucking a dinosaur across a spaceship.  I’m a dreamer.

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With that, Noh-Varr lies in defeat, for he still had not removed the android’s body parts from his own body parts.  I imagine it’s a fear thing, like when Wolverine emerges on the page with his face half burned and only his pants still clinging on.

Oh, and read Gillen’s Young Avengers.  Noh-Varr’s a delight.


Hercules, Elektra, and ninjas

The final two issues of the Herc series, #9-10 written by Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente and drawn by David Hahn, contain a delightful arc dealing with mortality, the Kingpin, wizards, and a beheading — I adore it.  But I’d need to give you almost the entirety of both issues to understand all the back story and plot development.  So to make it easier for me (and some encouragement on your part to buy the series), I picked two scenes to delight you with.  Let’s do something fun and light for Friday, plus I don’t think I’d be lying when I claim my love for Marvel’s version of Hercules borders on emotional love. Maybe a little physical.  Okay, a lot physical.

Oh, so recognize this guy?

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I’ll give you a hint.  His name starts with “Z” and ends in “eus.”

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A perfect introduction to the Greek gods of the Marvel universe.  They’re lecherous, perverted, drunk, and full of all the gossip that turned your middle school mythology lesson into Gossip Girl.  Hercules, currently powerless and only with his magical weapons/crazy physique to protect himself, now has a problem to deal with that can’t be solved by reflecting back goblin grenades.

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Father-son bonding time in the superhero world always involves the same concept: crime-fighting.

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At this point in time, the Kingpin controls the Hand (the group used whenever writers want to use ninjas).  Y’know Kingpin?  The bald guy in the white suit who has the cajones to lead organized crime in a city patrolled by hundreds of superheroes.  But you know who also isn’t fond of ninjas nunchucking dudes in the face?

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The overarching plot involves some magical artifact, but the story gets weird:

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Who do you think would win in a fight between our two protagonists today?  Especially now that our former Greek god lost his superpowers.  Hercules has about three thousand years of combat training compared to Elektra’s thirty or so, but she’s way faster than him.  All that body hair slows him down. Well, my friends, I have the answer for you to this question that’s been keeping you up at night and monopolizing every conversation you’ve had for the past few months.  Here’s Hercules vs. Elektra:

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Hercules wields some cool weapons.  The Sword of Peleus can cut through anything and the Shield of Perseus can block anything.  Plus, the shield’s eyes turn people to stone — Medusa and whatnot.

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Okay, so your question still goes unanswered.  Our Greek god lies in comic limbo since Herc ended, but hopefully he’ll return soon.  Comics need more bearded heroes.


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