Aquaman vs. Superboy

Before we begin, here’s for my fellow Jews:

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With Hanukkah acknowledged, let’s begin the real thing.

Today a single stoic tear rolls down my cheek as we’re ending our eleven part, month-long series of articles about everyone”s favorite (and the wettest) superhero.  I’m serious this time.  On Friday, it’s Batman.  Y’see, as I was putting together the images for last time’s article about the whole piranhas eating Aquaman’s hand, I perused a bit of the next issue.  And it’s awesome.  And because it’s awesome, I’m going to beat this dead horse until it’s mushy and unrecognizable.  To hush any naysayers who believe Superman would destroy Aquaman (and let’s be fair — 99 times out of a 100, he would), I present to you proof that Aquaman at least can hold his own.  Spoiler alert: it involves water.  Let’s take a look at a scene from Aquaman #3, written by Peter David and drawn by Gene Gonzales & Martin Egeland.

Remember how Aquaman just lost his hand like the final page of the issue before?  Surprisingly, he’s taking the maiming pretty well considering.

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So Aquaman spends the whole issue attempting to visit this Admiral Strom mentioned above.  It turns out one of the Navy’s nuclear subs disappeared.  And that makes Aquaman the best superhero for the job.  Like the Air Force would call Hawkman or whatever.  But since this is a comic book, nothing’s ever so easy as a simple meeting with a simple admiral.  Also, it’d be a really short issue. Nope, you know the drill — there’s a misunderstanding that results in unnecessary punching.  We’d expect nothing less.

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Oh, Superboy is ’90s comic book perfection.  So much ‘tude.  Earring, leather jacket, sunglasses, horrific haircut.   Originally premiering in 1993 as the Metropolis Kid (one of the four Superman replacements after Superman’s death), he now gets the honor of almost being hurt by Aquaman. Sure, the former Atlantean king has oodles of super strength, it’s just not enough to do stuff like injure a member of the Superman family.  Aquaman can punch sharks into goo, but Superboy can do that to moons.

You can click the picture below for a larger version.

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Superboy’s “ass” joke is clever and you should have chuckled to yourself when you read it.  In summary, I greatly enjoy butt humor.  So yes, Aquaman doesn’t stand a minnow’s chance of victory in a fistfight against Superboy.  Of course he doesn’t.  No one stands a chance against the Superman family in a fistfight.  They punch moons into goo and all that.  Luckily, there’s a few weaknesses to exploit — and it’s awesome:

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That’s right, Aquaman doesn’t control water.  But a whale army can.  Surely, Superboy can freeze the tsunami with his super breath and then flick Aquaman into unconsciousness, right?  Probably.  But not this time.  Ambush and whatnot.  Also, that’s a crapload of water.  Like this attack may actually change the ecosystem of the city.  I know why I love Aquaman now.  It’s because he can do stuff like this.  Dude’s a badass.

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The beard really does make his threats scarier, doesn’t it?  Next time, Batman!


Aquaman vs. Black Manta: round two, Pt. 2

Remember when Aquaman’s hand separated from his body?  No, the second time.  We pick up in the first pages of the very next issue.  Look, it’s brutal — a bloody stump can only be good if you’re at the end of Empire Strikes Back.  And luckily, this isn’t a permanent loss as he regains his hand within a few issues (White Lantern magic!) and the DC universe soon reboots to a point where he still has all his limbs.  But for now, Aquaman’s arch-nemesis just scored some major supervillain points.

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That’s right!  Aqualad, who dramatically rescued Aquaman gets dramatically rescued by Mera!  To fight an army, one’d need an army, right?  So the queen of Atlantis went around to every corner and crevice of ocean to gather up every single remaining member of the Aqua-powered family.  Which is only Aquagirl.  Those other superheroes you’re reminded of from previous articles, like say the first Aqualad?  Dead.  The original Aquagirl?  Dolphin?  Dead.  Vulko?  Dead.  Lagoon Boy?  Coma.  Only Topo survives, but he’s an octopus.  It’s been a bummer of a decade for Aquaman’s supporting cast.

You can click the picture below for a larger version if you’d prefer.

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Aquaman’s a badass.  But more importantly, if you need proof that Mera’s the more powerful of the Atlantean super couple, it’s here in all its oceanic delight.  You remember Captain Planet and how we made fun of the Heart guy because he could only control animals (and his power was called Heart and we were pre-pubescent morons)?  Well, we were right.  Controlling nature tends to be far more useful than controlling the things that live in it.

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So I understand your concerns: 1) Aquaman hasn’t done anything cool at all this entire story, and 2) he hasn’t fought Black Manta despite the title of this article.  I can help you with number one and I apologize about number two.  Y’see, DC’s Brightest Day event comes right after Blackest Night — the zombie event when all the dead superheroes became super evil.  Aquaman could summon his fish, but only gross dead fish.  That problem still persists.  As Aquaman saves the day with his awesome Aquaman powers, notice all the zombie fish.  Coming back to life takes some time before all the kinks are worked out, y’know?

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Of course they win.  We end today, and just because I haven’t beaten this dead horse enough, there’s one final Aquaman story on Monday.  I present to you this last picture as my State of Aquaman’s Marriage.  Spoiler alert: it’s strong.

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Aquaman vs. Black Manta: round two, Pt. 1

This is a safe place, right?  I’m going to be honest: I like Aquaman, but I don’t know why.  The whole ocean angle is cool, but there’s nothing particularly remarkable about the wettest superhero in the DC universe.  Truthfully, I think half my enjoyment of his stories come solely from him stabbing people with a trident.  Is it because his name is Arthur?  But I’m trying, okay?  I want this website to be a place of positivity instead of the flood of anger and rudeness that normally pours out of the comic book community, so I’ll do my best to fall in love with Aquaman.  I won’t friend-zone him, I promise. And today (and Friday) certainly help his case.

Let’s take a look at his second big Aquaman fight from Brightest Day #19-20, written by Geoff Johns & Peter J. Tomasi and drawn by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Oclair Albert, & Rob Hunter.  Aqualad has a costume now, an official sidekick offer from Aquaman, and those cool water swords (sort of like sharp Super Soakers).  Plus as you can tell, Aquaman has all the qualities of a great teacher:

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This fight begins like all good Aquaman battles — the ocean climbs out of the surf to conquer the surface world.  Only Aquaman can stop this invasion, but — as you’ll protest — he’s from the ocean himself!  That’s right, dear readers, Aquaman fights against the sea itself to save these ungrateful normal land people.  For the hundredth time.  Still, I’d be lying if I didn’t enjoy the spectacle of shark monsters and water soldiers climbing onto a beach — like an evil majestic Normandy.

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Notice how the mean lady looks similar to Mera?  Meet Siren, Mera’s younger sister. They both come from the alien ocean world of Xebel, who wants to kill Aquaman for illegal riding whales or something. Look, I don’t do as much research as I should.  What’s important is Aquaman and Aqualad stand alone against an army of bad guys.

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Seriously, I think it’s only Superman and Batman (and maybe Flash) who are the only DC superheroes who don’t kill.  Wonder Woman’s slain more dudes than most supervillains, and Green Lantern has space-blasted hordes of aliens in his travels.  Even Aquaman doesn’t really have much of an issue with open threats of murder.

But luckily for our protagonist, Aquaman just came back to life a few months before this.  Everything’s cool again — all his body parts are in the right spot and he’s back in his normal outfit again.  Life’s going to turn around for our sea king just as soon as he takes out Siren and her goons. It’s not as if something horrifically traumatic and disfiguring would happen to him now.  The writers have to wait for low sales before resorting to anything dramatic.  Breathe easy, my friends. Aquaman’s going to be okay.

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Oh.

Y’see?  That’s how a supervillain makes an entrance.  For Black Manta to have just the right amount of delusional ego, it must occasionally be peppered with small successes along the way.  Like killing Aquaman’s kid.  Or chopping off Aquaman’s hand.  And just like all perfect attacks, I present to you the perfect one-liner:

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Next time: the fate of Aquaman.  Anything can happen now!  The gloves are off (literally)!  I’m excited too!


Aquaman vs. Black Manta

The moments before the DC reboot were certainly bright.  As in they had a series called Brightest Day that brought to life a bunch of dead characters just before the reboot made that unneccesary.  Luckily for everything wet, Aquaman gets to be one of those fortunate few to come back from the dead.  He died a few years before, it’s complicated, and I’m skipping that life (death?) event.  But before he gets to do things like enjoy himself and be happy, he has a few loose ends to tie up.  Like Black Manta in Brightest Day #10-11, written by Geoff Johns & Peter J. Tomasi and drawn by Ivan Reis, Scott Clark, Patrick Gleason, & Joe Prado.

Oh, and apparently, Mera’s first appearance was retconned so that she was actually an assassin who fell in love with her target.  There, you’re all caught up, but it needs to be discussed so Mera can swim away.  How can Aquaman get back his self-esteem with his more powerful wife at his side?

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You guys remember the Young Justice cartoon?  I know you’re upset it got cancelled.  But most importantly, the series introduced the new Aqualad (Jackson Hyde or Kaldur’ahm depending on comics or TV).  So to keep comics and TV equal(ly flushed with money), we get this kid formally premiering:

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Kind of a spoiler, but I’m going to tell you anyway: Black Manta is Aqualad’s father. Much like other supervillains, he’s an awful father, always trying to kill his offspring and other bad-parent things. Unlike Aquaman, our new teenage superhero has powers more like Mera, which is the whole controlling water as opposed to the creatures that live in it.  And to kill two birds with one stone, Black Manta’s suit gives him the normal super strength, durability, and a delightful horde of weapons to shoot at civilians.  Oh, and a laser face mask.  The basic stuff.

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Look, I know Aquaman hasn’t even shown up yet.  You’re looking down the barrel of ten Aqualad pages, and our title protagonist hasn’t shown one gill or fin.  Well, don’t you worry — you know superheroes.  He’s waiting for the most dramatic moment possible to pop up and begin pounding his arch-nemesis.  But does he still stand a chance without his hook hand or cool beard or devil-may-care attitude?

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The trident’s a nice touch, though I guess it’s sort of a quin-dent with five prongs.  Please take a moment in the next few pages and admire Black Manta’s incredible boasting.  Aquaman outclasses him in every area of combat (I guess except in laser face masks), and our bad guy still prattles on like he’s not fighting a dude who can shrug off bullets and lift tanks.

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Am I the only one who doesn’t see the big deal about Mera’s confession?  Sure, she may have originally planned to kill him, but she also married him a few times, popped out a few of his children, and ruled Atlantis for years with Aquaman at her side.  And let’s be fair — Mera has tried to kill Aquaman many times in their relationship, so who cares about the non-first time she was supposed to?  Is it about keeping secrets?  You know who doesn’t have time for these games anymore?  Damn right, Aquaman.

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We’re not done with Brightest Day!  Get ready for beach warfare next time as Aquaman, Mera, Aqualad, and Aquagirl team up to fight other people who have water-themed powers!


Deadshot vs. everyone

Instead my normal lengthy introduction, let’s start with some pages:

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That’s right — in the comic book universe, good deeds always end up with a mob of supervillains ganging up on you.  Deadshot learns this the hard way.  So in Deadshot #5, volume two, written by Christos Gage and drawn by Steven Cummings, Deadshot gets to end his miniseries in a bang — and a fight against a dozen superpowered supervillains.  I know you’re not really sure who to cheer for — sure Deadshot’s the protagonist, but it’s not like you’d want the Joker or Lex Luthor or Gorilla Grodd to win if they received their own five issues.  Bad guys can’t win, because then the world would suck. But Deadshot got into this mess by wanting his illegitimate daughter and her former prostitute mother to live in a neighborhood free from crime and violence.  And that’s worth cheering for, right?

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We can go back to the fight.  While Deadshot doesn’t have any cool superpowers like the snake lady and dude-with-a-mace-for-a-hand supervillains above, he does have plenty of other useful tools like, say, bullets.  But are his skills alone be enough for him to take out a dozen supervillains in the suicide mission for his future and happiness?  See?  I’m getting better at building tension.

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Unfortunately, the status quo must be restored, and that includes Deadshot returning to his life of apathetic crime.  Comic book bad guys can’t get happy endings (well, I guess neither can the good guys).  At least in his battle royale, a horde of embarrassing supervillains get taken off the map.  Green Arrow’ll need to send Deadshot flowers after this, just for saving him a good three or four bank robberies of baddies to clean up later.

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Skaboom indeed.  Look, I’m not happy about this either.  We’re suckers for tales of redemption, but artistically, the stories always turn out better when the hero has to tragically give up his dreams for the safety of those he loves.  So in retaliation to me having to wipe away my own tears (and to be fair to me, this was five issues of build up leading to this moment), I’m not going to show you the ending of the miniseries.  I mean, I pretty much gave it away, but I’m denying you the satisfaction of reading it yourself.  You need to buy this book — it’s that good.

Next time, some Aquaman stuff!


Deadshot vs. Green Arrow

Simple premise: let’s take DC’s two best marksman and have them shoot each other.  Boom, easy money.  I love it.  And poor Green Arrow, using a children’s toy reserved for summer camps having to go up against another children’s toy reserved for summer camps (in some of the more southern parts of the country).  We as a society stopped using bows and arrows once we could make buffalo explode with a single click.  Have you heard of bow hunters?  It’s a real sport for people who think hunting deer with rifles is too easy, but it doesn’t compare to my new sport: you hunt deer naked and can only kill them with your bare hands.  Look, it’s late and my sleep medicine just kicked in hard, so let’s do this.

In a miniseries you should absolutely get because it’s amazing, we’re reading parts of Deadshot #1-5, volume two, written by Christos Gage and drawn by Steven Cummings.  If you need a recap of first miniseries, allow Firebug to do it for you:

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But y’see, he has an illegitimate child with an escort from way back he didn’t know about until the beginning of this miniseries.  And they live in a really awful part of town.  While Deadshot (real name Floyd Lawton) may not have emotions like love or happiness, like hell is his child going to grow up in a dangerous, crime-ridden neighborhood.  So he cleans it up.  Violently.  Because he’s in Star City and he’s murdering truckloads of gang members, the local city’s superhero is bound to notice sooner or later.

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Green Arrow’s at a fairly large disadvantage here.  Bullets tend to be much faster than arrows and Green Arrow isn’t even wearing sleeves.  But you know how the superhero business works — even the non-powered superheroes have talents far beyond what a normal person would ever be capable of. Disagree?  Tell that to Batman’s dozens of martial arts and doctorate degrees.

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I’d like to ask a question that seems to be popping up about comics recently: why can’t we just enjoy them?  Reddit links constantly to my Deathstroke fights the entire JLA article, and while I’m eternally grateful for the bump in hits (as those are directly tied to my self-esteem), every comment on their website writes paragraphs calling “bull” on the fight.  My response?  Who cares?  These are fictional characters in colorful clothing with skills and ability dictated entirely by the writer, so can we just bask in a cool fight scene without the unnecessary outrage?  Look, Green Arrow probably can’t dodge a hailstorm of Deadshot’s bullets in real life, but he also wears a mask despite having a full Van Dyke beard.  In summary, I get that Transformers may contain some incredulous moments during their fight scenes, but it doesn’t make me enjoy robots punching other robots any less.

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Ironically, Deadshot became the Robin Hood of this neighborhood instead of Green Arrow. Like all great supervillains, Deadshot’s far more complicated than at first glance.  Because while he’s cleaning up the neighborhood entirely for selfish reasons, he’s totally improving the lives of the hundreds that live there.  I mean, it doesn’t make up for the hundreds he’s assassinated, but you get the idea.  Comic book superheroes love those whose moral code involves rehabilitation and second chances, but comic book civilians always tend to favor those who opt for a more permanent solution to evil.  Like murdering gang members.

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A feel good ending!  And to make sure that your warm fuzzy feeling bursts into the bloody sadness pile it’ll always end up at when you read comics, let’s continue with another scene from this miniseries on Friday.  It’s really hard to find this book in stores, even online, and I don’t think the creative team would mind.  Also on an unrelated note, the more Green Arrow I read, the more I adore him.


Batman vs. Bane: New 52

Do you enjoy Batman and Bane beating on each other but prefer the newer artistic techniques of modern day comics?  Well, I’m not going to let you wallow in early ’90s self-pity.  Today, we’ll cap off our five weeks of Batman-related articles (or we’ll keep going, I haven’t decided yet) with Batman and Bane’s newest battle in the responsibly titled Forever Evil Aftermath: Batman vs. Bane one-shot, written by Peter J. Tomasi and drawn by Scot Eaton.  As with many things in the New 52, the venom-riddled Bane we know and love is back.  No recovery, no speeches about weakness, etc.  Just Bane’s veins pumped full of that delightful neon drug and a desire to pummel the Dark Knight until he has a permanent bat symbol stained on his fists.

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Did you read the DC event Forever Evil?  All the superheroes disappeared, the Crime Syndicate (evil Justice League) took over, and the bad guys briefly won if only by default because of no good guys were around to stop them.  Bane used his time wisely.  He took over Gotham City.

By the way, I love this issue — both speak in such grandiose terms and broad metaphors in between hitting each other with statues and stuff.

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I get that the venom makes Bane superpowered, but for all his bravado, even he wouldn’t survive a thirty-ish story fall onto Gotham City pavement.  And he’s a large man — it’d be a lot of mess to clean up.  Sadly, Bane’s Kingpin of Gotham status lasts exactly until Batman shows his face again. Marvel’s Kingpin still traverses New York City with his ninja army and drug mules no matter how many times Spider-Man, Daredevil, or Punisher take him down.  Hell, Daredevil and Punisher left New York months ago — the Kingpin outlasted even the superheroes.  But poor Bane, because Batman’s far scarier than Spider-Man could ever be.

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Beautiful movie action hero line by Batman.  Has Bane thought about wearing sleeves or a helmet maybe?  I’m no strategist, but when Batman ambushes him, he’ll almost certainly aim for the parts that aren’t protected by clothes.  Batman certainly adjusted.  As Batman’s costume has slowly evolved into armor over the past decade or so, we accept more readily that the Dark Knight can take a hit and bounce back.  As you read these next pages, could you really see spandex Batman walking away from blows like these?

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Obviously Bane has to lose this fight.  It’s part of the downside of being a supervillain.  But if we can give him credit, he took a fall from a skyscraper, four batarangs, innumerable punches and kicks, and a stone child to take him down.  I’m just saying the Riddler would have been out by the first batarang. So while Bane hasn’t shown up in the New 52 since this issue, at least he went out like a man.  A delusional man ranting nonsense and addicted to drugs.  But still.

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