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.
Because Elektra is the world’s greatest assassin, she escapes. We never had any doubt she would.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
I’ll give you a hint. His name starts with “Z” and ends in “eus.”
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.
Father-son bonding time in the superhero world always involves the same concept: crime-fighting.
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?
The overarching plot involves some magical artifact, but the story gets weird:
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:
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.
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.
Hard to pick a side, right? Thor, the ye ol’ Aryan god with a heart and hammer both equally large, versus Storm, the X-Men powerhouse and leaderwho somehow finds Wolverine attractive. But luckily for you today, you don’t have to break your heart rooting for one superhero over the other. Y’see, this fight in Black Panther #25, written by Reginald Hudlin and drawn by Marcus To, takes place during the Marvel event Civil War. And Thor wasn’t around during it.
With morality pretty much siding with Captain America, our dear Iron Man figures he might as well go full-on mad scientist. After all, when the story portrays Iron Man as the villain (sort of?), he embraces the opportunity by creating a robot Thor using stolen DNA and Mr. Fantastic’s desperate gamble. So today, Storm does battle Thor, just not Thor Thor.
We underestimate Storm’s power sometimes. She doesn’t have the durability of an Asgardian, but no one looks cooler summoning thunderstorms. Y’know, I don’t know if Storm could win against the real Thor. Though to be fair, neither could 98% of the Marvel universe — but you know superheroes, part of the contract includes playing really terrible odds.
Apparently, Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic programmed misogyny into the robot as well. The real Thor’s nothing if not a gentleman. Chivalry tops the list of Asgardian traits, right after smushing frost giants and maintaining a mead buzz.
I wouldn’t say Invisible Woman (mother of two) used great word choice there, but the idea’s still solid. While Storm could probably win the fight on her own, superheroes tend to be busy and spending hours fighting robots takes a lot of valuable time away that they could spend fighting non-robots. Plus, teamwork and whatnot.
When creative and interesting plans fall through (precise EMP blast, for instance), brute force always works as a fall back plan. Robot Thor shows up a few times after this, but nothing wildly significant.
On a similar subject, I wonder if Storm ever fought Electro?
If we consistently drop everything to follow a car chase every time it appears on TV, how can civilians in the superhero world ever get anything accomplished with all the daily battles? In New York City, with the combined rogue galleries of dozens of superheroes and superhero teams patrolling the city, I figure there must be at least two or three supervillains attacks a day. So all the normal folks, probably to ease some of the pain of living in a spandex-filled war zone, hope to gain some benefit from all this destructive world-saving. Y’know, a benefit besides not having Galactus eat the planet.
In the fantastic first half Spider-Man: Unlimited #11, written by Brian Reed and drawn by Michael Lark, our setting never ventures outside the bar:
Do you think the jokes distract criminals from realizing just how powerful Spider-Man is? Super speed, super strength, projectile webs, spider-sense, and a genius intelligence. Though all those powers still pale to Hulk’s potential — the ability to crush Spider-Man into a red-and-blue smear of goo. The responsible ex-cons and beer patrons take advantage of this chaos:
One of the benefits of comics allows the artist to make a character invisible while still showing their face. We have no idea the identity of this Spider-Man fan — it could be anyone from a Peter Parker clone to the Silver Surfer to Black Panther, though chances are probably slim on that last one. Lark’s a super talented artist, but I like the idea of anonymity while still prominently in the spotlight.
Hint: it’s not Professor X or Jean Grey. After years of Spider-Man punching his way around the city, it can’t be difficult to imagine someone figured out his combat formula. Though Spider-Man’s fighting style usually involves less technique and more a focus on tether ball.
Logistics aside, I can totally see Spider-Man beating the practically invulnerable, limitlessly strong Hulk. Sure, Hulk could liquify Spider-Man with one solid kick, but superheroes hold back. Especially when fighting buddies. Besides, a series where Hulk spent every issue jumping around effortlessly stomping the Marvel universe into paste would only last two or three hundred issues max.
Oh, and figured out the mystery Spider-Man expert? Spoiler alert:
The trailers are dashing my hopes, but I wish Jamie Foxx’ll wear the starfish hat in the new movie.
While I read old comics that Sportsmaster (real name Lawrence “Crusher” Crock) appeared in, I came across one that deserved its own article. A comic from 1965 that’s silly, goofy, and loaded with horrific never-ending sports puns. Today, enjoy select scenes from The Brave and the Bold #62, written by Gardner Fox and drawn by Murphy Anderson — an issue that wanted to be serious, action-packed, and loaded with horrific never-ending sports puns. If we can forgive superheroes for wearing underwear on the outside of their clothes, let’s also give puns a pass.
I know that if I wrote an article cataloging every time Batman and Catwoman made out instead of covering a fifty year-old comic starring a supervillain with only twenty appearances under his belt, I’d receive 30x the hits this one’ll get. I regret nothing. I have a soft spot for the weirdos.
Oh, and before we begin, I stated last article that I didn’t look too deeply into Green Lantern Alan Scott’s weakness to wood. Aside from not wanting to scan Wikipedia for the answer, I think my real solution will be to stop writing these things at 1 AM. Luckily, my dear friend Reid Vanier explains it for us. Thanks buddy!
Alan Scott – his weakness to wood is a result of the Starheart (the green flame that gives him his power) deriving its power from green, living things. So employing the “you can’t defend against yourself” logic, the Starheart cannot defend Alan Scott against anything made of plant matter, specifically wood. This comes up a lot in his early battles with Solomon Grundy, who is largely composed of plant material. Also, see: http://modernmythologies.com/2013/10/02/diametrically-opposed-golden-age-green-lantern-solomon-grundy/.
Let’s take a look at our cover today. Behold a small preview chunk of this delightful cake:
Sportsmaster flying on a single ski as he chucks the other one at Starman? Promiscuous Lady Tarzan swing-kicking into Black Canary? A special super-star comeback for Wildcat? How can anyone be more excited? Starman (real name Ted Knight) premiered in 1941, two years after Batman and nine months before Wonder Woman. Using his cosmic rod, Starman operates exactly like Green Lantern except without that pesky wood weakness.
To fully understand the criminal undertones Sportsmaster possesses, feast your eyes on his opening heist. While he may not turn thievery into an art form, he can at least do the opposite.
Take a moment. Breathe in and out. Let’s count the insanity we all just witnessed:
1) Sportsmaster dresses like a fisherman when using his fishing rod.
2) He wears his actual supervillain costume underneath the plaid and vest.
3) He does the above after hiding for hours inside a statue.
4) He escapes on rocket skis.
5) After all that, Sportsmaster only planned to steal a trophy.
6) Old mustard is not sport slang for “fighting spirit.” I checked.
Thankfully, to stop Sportsmaster from stealing twenty bucks worth of metal, Starman and Black Canary volunteer to battle our dangerous antagonists. But first this happens:
Sportsmaster’ll totally protect and his partner-in-crime-and-marriage Huntress. No morals doesn’t mean no heart. Commence round one. Game on. En guarde. Touchdown.
You’re about to witness one of Black Canary’s most humiliating moments. That includes dating Green Arrow for decades.
That’s no way for a superhero to bonk their head on a tree. Her feet flail high in the air as she slams her skull much in the style of an unconscious skydiver. The two supervillain masterminds escape to rob another day. Will their next plot be as dastardly as the first one? Will truth, justice, and the American way prevail against such evil? Will Sportsmaster wear an appropriately themed outfit?
If you don’t fully follow the newest scheme, Sportsmaster and Huntress plan to steal $100,000 by knocking out every single golfer in the tournament with a ball to the noggin. While riding a magic putting green. Sometimes I think I missed out on something enchanting back in the ’60s. Especially the potential of sky battle golf.
Finally our superheroes give these baddies the beatings they deserve:
A happy ending! Thankfully the trophy returned to its owner, saving an intern from making a single awkward phone call. But before we finish our journey, I’d be remiss for us not to read Wildcat’s story within this issue. After all, his name and face appear on the cover promising his special super-star comeback:
That’s the real name of a supervillain — Sportsmaster. He’s been around since the 40s, and really the only decade he could have possibly been invented during. Here’s one of his earliest appearances in Green Lantern #28, volume one:
So it’s like if Olympic athletes decided to fight superheroes using only equipment currently in their hotel room. The Sportsmaster’s ego truly amazes me, especially when he’s talking trash and waving around a tennis racket against Green Lantern, who has a weapon that makes literally anything the user wants with enough force to bring down Superman-level supervillains.
Today, we’re focusing on the second Sportsmaster — oh yes, more than one of these guys have existed. In JSA Classified #26-27, written by Frank Tieri and drawn by Matt Haley & Gordon Purcell, our featured bad guy Sportsmaster (real name Victor Gover) gets to brawl with Wildcat (real name Ted Grant), who possesses all the superpowers of a 60 year-old boxer. But first, let Wildcat reminisce:
I’d like to build up this battle as a thrilling back-and-forth as the Justice Society-er Wildcat scraps with the agile hockey stick-wielding Sportsmaster, but even a comic book reader’s suspension of disbelief only goes so far. Wildcat beats the ever-loving crap out of Gover.
Though Wildcat savagely crushed Sportsmaster’s bones and spirit, he did it out of tough love, y’know? Sometimes, that’s the only way for a fighter to realize the truth, or else they’ll never stop making Rocky movies. Though this mentioned superhero betting place? Genius:
While I’m no expert on addicts, I imagine the bad behaviors continually re-surface, especially when scary mob bosses offer Sportsmaster another chance to erase all those outstanding betting debts. And I’m sorry for spoiling everything today.
Remember how Sportsmaster lost horrifically to an elderly man with no superpowers wearing a cat costume? Now he gets to do the same thing, just against Hourman, Mr. Terrific, Power Girl, Damage, and the Flash. It must be a helluva trump card held by Joe the Slob, because exploding soccer balls won’t even scratch Power Girl, much less the other four powerhouses.
Ma Hunkel’s an old woman serving as the JSA’s Alfred Pennyworth-figure. So now the JSA has to either throw the match or lose their dear chef.
There seems to be a trend in supervillains that the fewer powers one has, the more arrogant one acts. I imagine mainly for comedic effect, but when the Flash can circle the entire planet and hit you with a punch hard enough to blast your organs across the continent before you’ve even finished your first egotistical sentence — why all the cockiness? Trump card aside, Sportsmaster should at least shake hands and thank the JSA for their participation. Y’know, or else this could happen:
Poor Sportsmaster just realized that superhero problems tend to get solved with violence rather than a discussion or vote. It’s the default problem solver for those that wear spandex and capes. One doesn’t spend a decade learning martial arts and crafting their twelve-pack abs to simply chat about their disagreements.
Hopefully this experience has been educational for Sportsmaster.
I admire Wildcat’s brand of tough love. He takes the Batman method of pounding opponents until they’re human goo, then threatening them to go straight or next time he’ll batarang their spine. Gover never shows up again, but he does get to be a permanent mark in the win category for Wildcat, sadly living in a world plagued by the ever repeating status quo.
Sportsmaster should fight Superman.
After his assist from Aquaman last article, Martian Manhunter has to brawl his way to victory by himself today. The two aliens who both wear clothing that makes any lady superhero costume look Amish, have far more differences than their appearances give off. Martian Manhunter, the tragic final survivor of his ruined planet, fights valiantly to protect his adopted home from suffering the same fate. Despero, the naked tyrant from the well-populated planet Kalanor, only wishes to seek vengeance on and destroy that pesky Justice League. Commence the punching.
So why Gypsy, you ask? She helped take down Despero during his “mad god” phase last article. The mid ’80s to early ’90s were a strange time for comics, where diversity meant loading up on gimmicky characters with slightly racist names. Though we should still at least half-heartedly applaud the efforts of the publishers. Diversity before then meant adding a Martian to a team of white dudes. In the fight we’re currently seeing, we finally get some of that good ol’ telepathy clashing. Psychic fights translate well into comics, where the visuals can highlight the subconscious better than other forms of literature. Not to unashamedly plug my own stuff, but remember this fight between Professor X and Emma Frost (and Cyclops)? Brain battles tend to get both weird and emotionally painful.
That kind of attack can even bring Batman to his knees, who like Martian Manhunter, wears his tragic past like a waving flag to remind himself that his quest to prevent innocent deaths’ll never end. Also, to chuck batarangs at criminals. But for the sake of argument, let’s compare Martian Manhunter and Despero to the Marvel sorcerers. Yes, Doctor Strange would totally beat Doctor Doom in a head-to-head magic battle, but even he’s not immune to ambushes and surprise spells. More importantly, I’ve been reading a lot of Fantastic Four recently. Our protagonist today can certainly overpower Despero in a telepathic brawl, but not if Despero sucker punches. Though, round two on the other hand:
And now we jump twenty years into the New 52. Not much has changed for Despero, as he’s still a nude, angry, mauling psychopath who enjoys gloating as much as crushing pitiful humans. But Martian Manhunter has definitely changed. Our Choco-loving friend nowadays scares the bejeebees out of anyone who contacts him. He works in the shadows. He wears a collar. If you say his name three times, he pops out of a mirror. Think less Casper the Friendly Ghost and more Casper the Violent Ghost Who Can Punch Through Walls. But first, let’s admire how far artwork has progressed in two decades:
I always thought Despero needed an accessory. If not underwear, a ring would be a close second. Look, Despero has no idea what he’s dealing with — Martian Manhunter has gone full badass these past few years.
Remember that telepathy fight from the beginning of the article? Turns out like Superman, who has to hold back his attacks to avoid turning every single bad guy he encounters into a pile of supervillain goo, Martian Manhunter does the same thing with his mind powers. Despero never stood a chance.
I liked the sentimental Martian Manhunter of the past, but I don’t mind the new frightening Martian Manhunter. While I’d love to see a rematch sometime soon, I’ll settle for Despero to get some pants. Make it a mini-series.
When you consider the sheer number of supervillains running around on Earth (Batman and Superman alone have about 230 each if you count the one-timers), it’s only a matter of time before the baddies have to come from space. Only so many chemical vats drip into prison cells and gives murderers lava arms or whatever. Despero’s created to be one of those pesky extraterrestrials who invades our planet to mess with the do-gooders. Specifically Martian Manhunter. Something about them both being aliens. Plus, like Martian Manhunter, Despero’s also a scary monstrous being who wears very little clothing:
Over the next two articles, we’re going to see a few of their clashes throughout the 50+ years of combat. To save time, here are all the articles I’m using in the order I’m using them:
- Justice League of America #38, volume 2, written by James Robinson and drawn by Mark Bagley
- Justice League of America #1, volume 1, written by Gardner Fox and drawn by Mike Sekowsky
- Justice League of America #178, volume 1, written by Gerry Conway and drawn by Dick Dillin & Frank McLaughlin
- Justice League of America #253, volume 1, written by Conway and drawn by Luke McDonnell
- JLA #116-118, written by Geoff Johns & Allan Heinberg and drawn by Chris Batista
- Justice League America #39-40, written by Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis and drawn by Adam Hughes & Jose Marzan Jr.
- Justice League #19-20, written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Ivan Reis, Zadder Cannon, Gene Ha, Andres Guinaldo, & Joe Prado
Despero’s first appearance also marks the first issue of the Justice League series (the team appeared before then in the The Brave and the Bold series). You’d think the first issue would feature an world-destroying threat that can only be solved by the combined team’s power of friendship, but the stakes remained far lower. As in Despero played the Flash in action figure chess.
Note one of the very few times Despero’s wearing clothes. As the years passed, so did his muscle growth and thus he started wearing just a cape. Not even underwear. Just a cape. But we have a few issues before we get to that (unfortunate) reveal — though for all the complaints about women’s costumes being too sexy, how about some male Despero skin for you? Especially if you like evil red aliens.
Despero, besides possessing super strength on par with Superman (which puts him a few pegs above Martian Manhunter), also gets a genius intellect and a third eye capable of mind control, illusions, telepathy, and all that jazz. His rivalry with the Martian superhero begins a few issues down the road — I’m jumping around for the sake of storytelling. Mainly, early Despero really loved playing action figure chess.
Soon their relationship evolves (devolves?) into punching each other into unconsciousness, but nothing like a little sporting game to get revenge. I understand that our featured supervillain doesn’t exactly make readers grip their chairs in suspense. DC understood that as well, so in 1986 (in a story that’s very ’80s), Despero gets a power/ego upgrade. We’re down to half clothing and I’ve included the best part of any supervillain reign of terror — the gloating monologue.
I don’t think it’s an accident that Batman’s in a Jesus pose. Despero becomes a real threat, and not just because summon he can dragon statues. To clear up any misgivings though, Despero’s not a god. Not even close, because he’s eventually taken out by Vibe — the former breakdancer who holds the honor of being the first Justice League member killed in action. That guy had a soul patch.
But let’s get to the meat of today’s first half. Back when Zatanna mindwiped all the supervillains, things became hunky-dory until the bad guys all showed up one day with their memories returned and a justifiable chip on their shoulders. Who could possibly possess the power to reverse the effect of such a powerful magic spell? Hint: his name is in the title of the article.
There’s the nude Despero we know and love. More importantly, this’ll firmly establish Despero as a major part of Martian Manhunter’s rogue gallery. We go back about twenty years on Wednesday (see the middle panel on the bottom row of the first page below for a preview), but I figured we could all enjoy some modern day naked punching before all that.
We know Martian Manhunter doesn’t end this fight with a crushed skull and a giggling Despero. But with the Justice League busy dealing with other immediate threats and Martian Manhunter unable to contact any of them, who’ll come to his rescue? Hopefully someone of immense strength. Someone who inspires fear in the heart of evil. Someone whose strength is only matched by his immeasurable willpower. Martian Manhunter needs a hero, gosh darn it.
We joke about Aquaman’s silliness. You don’t have to convince me otherwise, I already know he’s a badass. Truthfully, Aquaman can totally be useful, especially in a construction site filled with sharp rods. Still, Martian Manhunter can’t take on this massive nude threat alone, so time to combine his powers with a tidal wave and a shark-tamer.
Right? That’s a lot of primary colors battling it out. Though the two eventually lose the fight, they at least win my heart. Next time we get a lot more beatdowns and open threats. Aliens really don’t like each other.
As we left off on Monday, Nightwing’s beloved home circus burned to the ground thanks to that jerk Firefly. Dude’s sort of a mercenary, getting paid to ignite whatever his employer wants. Still, that doesn’t mean that Firefly doesn’t deserve to be punched into a unconscious heap by our young vigilante.
As we finish our story today, we pick up in the middle of the Batman event War Games. Once again, the city’s at war and aflame. Gotham City gets blown up a lot when there’re ten Batman comics to write every month.
Luckily, with ten Batman comics every month that leaves lots of manpower to protect their fair city. All non-powered, but a bunch of them anyway. As each member of the Bat posse (Batman, Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, Onyx, Catwoman, Oracle, Orpheus, etc.) receives a section to beat criminals in, Nightwing finds his inhabited by someone who he still bears a serious grudge.
Oh yeah, despite this occurring a good year or two after Nightwing allowed Tarantula to kill Blockbuster, he’s still riddled with guilt, as most superheroes who commit immoral actions tend to be. Except Punisher. After an evening of gutting and murdering criminals, he soundly goes to sleep counting tiny machine guns jumping over corpses.
We must remember that last time they met, Dick Grayson wore his circus outfit and not that black and blue beauty he currently wears. So Firefly, while he knows of Nightwing and has been kicked by him plenty of times, doesn’t know he incinerated Nightwing’s home. Well, that and one more reason to be fearful of the former Robin. Bad guys are a superstitious and cowardly lot, after all.
Like I said in part one, everything’s way more suspenseful with the background on fire. Symbolism and all that jazz. While Nightwing didn’t actually kill Blockbuster, a little Firefly pantswetting should shift momentum to our hero’s side. More importantly, Nightwing has had fifteen years of training in Batman-style intimidation and fear. Soon, Firefly’ll soil himself on both ends.
Unfortunately, Nightwing’s plan to punch Firefly until his face turns into something resembling a jello mold takes a sharp turn when Gotham’s finest show up.
The relationship between the Bat posse and the GCPD changes every other year or so depending on who’s in command, the horrible tragedy going on, and how much of a jerk Batman’s currently being. When Spoiler (one of the costumes) accidentally sets off a city-wide gang war destroying much of Gotham and taking scores of lives, the relationship between the superheroes and the police has chilled a tad. Like cops shooting freely at anyone in a mask chilly. Luckily, our hero is too fast and skilled to get hurt by measly police bullets.
Okay, so not that fast and skilled. Unfortunately, Grayson’s costume doesn’t contain the armor his adopted father’s contains. More difficult to cartwheel into flying headstands when one has to pack several layers of Kevlar. While our adventure today ends in a cliffhanger (though with Firefly thoroughly punched), it’ll lead up to Friday’s article: an admission of that pesky and total disregard for Batman’s ethics and code that Nightwing passionately broke.