Punisher vs. Thor

For a man like Punisher who’s so grounded in human limits and reality (to a certain extent), he’s more similiar to Thor — a Scandinavian thunder god who can fly and shoot lightning — than we think. Thor’s hammer isn’t for carpentry, after all.  Ever since Punisher’s teenage years and when Thor was an adorable godling, these two have been entrenched in the soldier lifestyle.  Hell, I bet Thor’s killed more people than Punisher could dream of.  But today, they have to fight, as (are you sitting down for this?) the Punisher is currently on the run from the law.  Time for Avengers to take care of this matter, hence our upcoming conflict from Punisher: War Zone #3, written by Greg Rucka and drawn by Carmine Di Giandomenico.

Frank Castle currently hides in Nicaragua, and by hides I mean wrecking havoc on every weapons trader he comes across.  For a man wanted by every enforcement agency in the known world, he leaves quite a mess everywhere he travels.  So, after the Punisher bested Spider-Man and Black Widow, a more powerful force needs to be called in.  All that’s left is for Thor to find his prey.

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We can be honest here, right?  The Punisher doesn’t stand a chance against Thor.  Not a freakin’ chance.  No weapon or device in his arsenal can even scratch Thor, much less take down the strongest Avenger.  Seriously: Castle could shoot with him with every bullet, rocket, grenade, mine, and whatever alien guns he’s using — it wouldn’t even make Thor bleed.  So being the smart soldier, knowing his time with Thor holds only one conclusion, he’ll have to use the thunder god for something useful instead.  After all, Thor’s better against these weapon traders than every bullet, rocket, grenade, mine, and alien gun the Punisher possesses.

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You remember that scene from Avenging Spider-Man #4 where Hawkeye explains to Spider-Man that he can never, ever miss an arrow shot, because on a team with gods, wizards,  Iron Men, super soldiers, and more, a single missed shot would only make him a normal man instead of a superhero capable of competing on the same level as his other teammates?  It’s relevant.  Punisher most likely spent weeks tracking these men down, finding their weaknesses, engaging in long firefights, watching out for flanking, etc. — and Thor takes down the whole camp in seconds with a single lightning strike. Damn right Hawkeye never misses.

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Now comes the philosophy part of our battle.  I guess the “vs.” in the title is misleading, huh?  No more punches get thrown, but we do get a very revealing moment as we all realize that of course Thor understands everything about Punisher’s mission.  Captain America understands the horrors of war, and Wolverine understands the necessity of killing, but Thor gets why he fights.  While our thunder god may not be on the same intelligence level as Tony Stark, he has a wisdom gained in his thousands of years that the others occasionally lack.

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I’ve made it my personal mission in my own life to never take advice from anyone wearing a cape, but Castle will just have to obey.  It’s not like he can run away.  And that al-Qaeda beard of his won’t let him book any escape flights anyway.  Let Thor rant about war for a while, because it’s most likely the topic he knows the most about anyway.  That or mead.

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“I fight in a war,” the Punisher states, but how amazingly poignant is Thor’s response to that line? “No, you have made a war so that you may fight.”  Just as that exact same reasoning can apply to a multitude of heroes (Batman), we know the end result.  The Punisher’s comics must continue and thus any sense Thor makes will be thrown to the wind.  And oh my goodness does it.  Two issues later and Castle fights Iron Man, Spider-Man, Black Widow, Captain America, and Thor all at once. It’s an eight page battle, which is seven pages longer than Superior Spider-Man lasted when he tried to same thing.

Thor’s plea falls on deaf ears to the Punisher.  As Plato puts it, “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”  That’s more Punisher’s style.


Jubilee’s baby, Pt. 2

Motherhood can begin with a surprise, like rescuing a baby from a terrorist meteor strike in Hungary. Most of the time I assume babies show up mainly from two people who love each other very much in the bedroom, but in the Marvel universe, freak scenarios occur far more often.  The X-Men’s resident vampire now has her own kid, officially and eternally hers, and as we pick up exactly where we left off last time — it’s time for a vacation.  The infant just become an official member of the X-Men, after all. Superpowers include random vomiting and sleeping 18 hours a day.

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Besides Wolverine’s female clone X-23, I bet he has dozens of other identical clones running around so that he can be on every team and in every story and travel to every location in every comic. Oh, and Jubilee doesn’t actually have full leg tattoos, those are just cool leggings.  Remember, she’s more fashionable than we are.  I imagine most of us dress like a shabbier Wolverine, and that’s just our facial hair.

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You ever wonder how the X-Men get so much money?  Professor X comes from a loaded family. Emma Frost is practically a billionaire.  Angel is a billionaire.  The X-Men students run Angel’s company.  The school even sits on a living piece of land — nuclear tests made it sentient, duh — named Krakoa that can grow diamonds.  So Wolverine and friends bankroll the entire school themselves, which includes replacing the exploded jet and paying for massive property damage every three issues or so.

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Jubilee worries she’s too young to have a child?  This girl has traveled the cosmos, fought world-destroying entities, saved the universe dozens of times with only a yellow raincoat and hand-blasted Roman candles. After all that, she can handle a baby.  More importantly, even if Shogo grows up and kills one or two people, she’ll still have done a better parenting job than Wolverine.  That dude’s offspring pop more psychopathy during puberty than zits.  Maybe that’s why dear Logan dotes so much on all the young X-Men girls.  Nothing pervy, just making up for a century of terrible parenting.

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Didn’t know Wolverine knew the real estate market, huh?  So before we begin our next section of the story, we should talk briefly about the X-Men crossover event Battle of the Atom.  As I explain this, no matter how insane this sounds, it actually turned out to be a wonderful story — lots of cool plot twists. I loved it and highly recommend it.  But recently, Beast went back in time to bring the original five X-Men (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Angel, and Iceman) into the present, hoping they would convince present-day Cyclops not to be such a jerk.  Big mistake.  So in Battle of the Atom, two groups of future X-Men go back in time to the present to force the original five X-Men to go back to the past. Essentially, you have five groups of X-Men — Cyclops’ group, Wolverine’s group, the original five group, and the two different future X-Men groups — and SHIELD, all with radically different ideas about what to do with these original five.  I promise you, it’s a great story, no matter how convoluted it sounds.  Anyway, it gives us some important Jubilee/Shogo scenes.

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But all that’s not enough for me to warrant showing you scenes from Battle of the Atom.  Here’s what is: the future X-Men bring with it not only future Colossus with a Hulk Hogan mustache, but future super vampire Jubilee as well.  That and one more surprise.

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Aw, how delightful!  You get a glimpse into the happy-Shogo-and-Jubilee future!  Even with no superpowers, Shogo still gets an Iron Man ripoff armor to go fight bad guys with.  As for current developments in the Jubilee and Shogo adventures, I point you to the most recent arc of X-Men. Unfortunately, I can’t post it because it doesn’t actually end for another two months in X-Men #18, but I’ll give you a tease from X-Men #13, written by Brian Wood and drawn by Clay Mann.

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Go buy the comics, because what kind of monster would you be if you don’t support mutant vampire Asian teenage mothers?

 


Jubilee’s baby, Pt. 1

As we end our series where I update you on what Jubilee’s up to lately (finally you can sleep easy again), she’ll be embracing a role far more dangerous than bloodthirsty vampire: mother.  While raising a child may be scary, raising a child in a world where dodging explosions is how most people get their daily cardio is downright terrifying. Today and Monday, we follow her arduous path in X-Men #1-6, volume four, written by Brian Wood and drawn by Olivier Coipel & David Lopez, to explain how her newest development came to be.  Spoiler alert: it’s an “oops” baby, but not in that way, you pervert.

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Note, this is the baby’s first appearance in comics.  I didn’t skip over any back story — it’s supposed to be all mysterious and confusing.  How did Jubilee end up with a child in Bulgaria?  You know how superhero powers work, they all get the ability to be in the right place at the right time.  With Jubilee in control of her vampire urges (I assume by this point since those are never mentioned), she can totally be a responsible vampire mother.  Plus, babies don’t have a lot of blood anyway.  Though I’m jumping the gun — we have to build up to Jubilee claiming the infant as her own.

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I like to think Kitty Pryde said the words “oh my god” as opposed to only announcing the letters.  That girl must be in her late teens by now, not halfway through middle school.  Also, notice the accusations in Storm’s questions?  She straight up thinks Jubilee swiped a baby from some random lady.  But this child has no parents, so finders keepers, I guess.  Welcome to the X-Men, baby.

Oh, and that suspicious man following her?  He’s supervillain John Sublime, hunting his sister Arkea. She’s a technological bacteria.  I’m serious.  And she takes over bodies with her super tech powers, especially those that the X-Men would never suspect.

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Arkea switches from the infant to cyborg superhero Karima Shapandar, the Omega Sentinel.  You saw Days of Future Past, you know what those sentinels can do.  I include the next page only so you can see the gorgeous picture of our vampire and her baby sleeping.  Jubilee looks like a 1970s coke dealer.  And her polka dot socks.  I love it.

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As the X-Men go on the super dangerous mission of hunting down the Omega Sentinel/Arkea combo, I’d like to list off the current team roster: Storm, Rachel Grey, Kitty Pryde, Rogue, John Sublime, Jubilee, and a baby.  And why name the baby Shogo?  It’s a Japanese name (because the child’s Japanese — Jubilee herself is half-Chinese) and from an interview I found with the writer Brian Wood, it’s just a name he liked.  Why not?  You create a character, you name him or her whatever you want. Much like our pets.

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Now it’s official — Jubilee’s a bona fide mother.  Don’t fret that little Shogo’s not a mutant, he’ll still be allowed to live and flourish with the X-Men.  If we’re going to get technical, Jubilee’s not a mutant anymore either and Wolverine still lets her crash at the school.  What’s a vampire among rock monsters, psychics, alien insects, and a boy named Glob Herman?

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With Google coming up empty (especially considering she has no idea the child’s real name and the whole finding him next to a terrorist meteor explosion attack), Shogo will forever remain firmly in the loving hands of dear Jubilee.  On Monday, we have a bunch more updates on these two.  I won’t leave you in the dark when it comes to infant-related news.


The friendship of X-23 & Jubilee

X-23 spends most of her solo series slashing and moping.  That girl may be many things, but happy isn’t one of them.  It sorta comes with the territory of being a Wolverine clone.  Well, that and the test tube birth and being raised since birth to be a merciless killer child.  So now that she’s free of all that evil lab experiment Winter Soldier-esque stuff, dear X-23 (real name Laura Kinney — kind of) has the task of forgiving herself, picking up all those shattered self-esteem pieces, and figuring out her new path in life.  And shaving her back — she’s a Wolverine clone after all.  Gambit accompanies her on her find-herself journey and today in X-23 #10-12, written by Majorie Liu and drawn by Sana Takeda, our cajun role model figures maybe she could use a pep talk.

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See Laura’s slash-first-ask-questions-later policy?  What better proof do you need that she’s Wolverine’s clone?  He claws dudes for ordering light beers at bars, much less possible vampire attacks.  But Wolverine showed up not just to force Jubilee on her — possible friend her age and whatnot — but for that brief moment of sage advice a fellow Wolverine can bring.

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The point Wolverine attempts to make to girl Wolverine lies in our two protagonists teaching each other.  Jubilee needs to learn how to calm her newly spawned killer instincts and X-23 must learn how to not be a sad sack every moment of her life.  By the way, because there’s no other place to put this — the two will meet again in the penultimate issue of X-23 and they go dancing at a club.  Jubilee still has her famous yellow raincoat on amid all the rave lights and attractive people grinding, so my only conclusion is that’s part of her skin now.

Oh, and now X-23 does some questionable.

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Aside from X-23’s recent attempted suicides (healing factor can’t really kill her, so it’s more of an emo teenage girl cutting scenario), her sacrifice serves a greater purpose.  For one, she can’t turn into a vampire due to her being a Rule 63 Wolverine.  But because the Marvel universe can bend the rules on the limitations of mythical monsters, every vampire bloodsucker also absorbs the memories and thoughts, like a creepier version of Rogue.  Or maybe just her.  I’m not an expert on this.

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While X-23 has the the PTSD childhood that would make the sternest therapist cry, she makes a good point to Jubilee while simultaneously knocking off any possible responsibility for the lesson.  X-23 totally understands the desire to kill everyone, that’s pretty much her whole gimmick.  It’s good for both of them to have someone relatable to hang out with.  Wolverine spent decades perfecting his zen — accepting and forgiving his past mistakes — something teenage girls can’t do with a wrong number text much less a former murder spree.  But since we’re reading a superhero comic, we’ll soon get to an incident that requires superhero intervention.  Though first, dress shopping:

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And now the superheroics:

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Let’s talk about trigger scent for a minute.  You know how Wolverine goes into his “berserker mode” anytime someone hits him with a bazooka or smokes his last cigar?  That primal attack-everyone-aiming-for-squishy-parts with his loved ones screaming for him to stop?  The scientists who created X-23 developed a gas that causes the same reaction to her, and as you can suspect from the massive foreshadowing above, our protagonist inhales a whole crapload of that stuff.  Here’s Feral X-23 vs. Vampire Jubilee:

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Jubilee can’t beat X-23.  Sure, the vampire blood makes her faster, stronger, and more undead than Laura, but X-23 has adamantium claws and a lifetime of combat training.  Luckily, the adults won’t let children slice open other children, much like myself when I taught middle school.

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Happy ending for all except Wolverine’s kidney.  Jubilee feels a fraction of a bit better for her predicament and X-23’s about to receive her own marginally improved emotional stability from our dear mall rat.  The irony in Jubilee being undead is that no one enjoys living more than her.  A zest for life that can only be brought from (formerly) shooting fireworks from your hands.

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Jubilee turns into a vampire, Pt. 2

As we left off on Friday, Vampire Jubilee and Vampire Wolverine put a hamper into the X-Men’s plan to defeat this undead enemy — and also have none of them turn into vampires.  Sadly, that solitary neck chomp also brings it with an evil personality devoid of all the good stuff that sunshine, puppies, and such provide.  Well, Cyclops won’t stand for it.  Remember his new ideology of the X-Men being less of a school and more of a highly-trained heavily fortified army?

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Bad guys don’t listen to the threats of Ol’ Laser Eyes (whose eye lasers are not compressed energy but instead portals to a universe that doesn’t follow the laws of physics — or something like that). Plus, Cyclops hasn’t smiled all arc.  Masterminding the potentially greatest slaughter of vampires ever known can be quite stressful.  But Xarus, being a traditional supervillain who doesn’t realize that the superheroes always emerge victorious, attacks the X-Men base Utopia with the full vampire force because he has to learn his lesson the hard way.

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Vampire Wolverine has the benefit of being unfiltered and evil as opposed to his normal unfiltered and curmudgeony.  Nowadays, the X-Men preside as the Batman of the Marvel universe, in that they have plans for every single possible scenario — poor planning prevents the extinction of the few hundred remaining mutants against almost ten thousand bloodsucking monsters and Vampire Wolverine. Anyway, they win.  Go buy the book for all that.  Most important to today’s topic:

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Yes, now instead of a being a powerless nobody, Jubilee now gets to walk the streets as a hungry, bloodthirsty night demon.  It might have been better for her emotional health if she stayed useless. Unfortunately, like I mentioned earlier, there’s no going back — vampirism doesn’t cure if someone doesn’t possess a healing factor or the writer no longer wants her to be a vampire.

We jump five issues to a simpler time, where Professor X still had that shred of kindness and teacher-ness deep inside him before all that uncovered psychic manipulation tainted his reputation.  We start with an angry Jubilee, as most people who are turned into vampires against their will tend to be:

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In this issue, he tells a long story from his pre-Magneto past where he tracks hunters in Africa.  The story itself doesn’t become relevant until the final scenes, when he meets a special man.  Or used to be man.

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You can probably guess his secret.  Hint: it starts with a “v” and ends in “–ampire.”  Like all mythical monsters, you get the good and the bad populating a universe with billions of other fictional people. Take DC’s sword-wielding Frankenstein.  DC’s ghost Deadman.  Half of Blade.  So when Professor X assures Jubilee that her actions from this point have no influence from the vampire baddies of the past, he has proof.  That and the only vampire to ever wear a tank top.

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On Wednesday, we’ll read more Vampire Jubilee stuff, because I’m never afraid to beat a dead horse well beyond the point of embarrassment.


Jubilee turns into a vampire, Pt. 1

I mentioned briefly that Jubilee currently prowls around the Marvel universe as a vampire and mother. The latter is a story for another day, but in a fictional universe with mutants and space gods and mole people, why not throw in the classic monsters as well?  Jubilee joins the ranks of vampire-hood (the scary kind) in X-Men #1-6, written by Victor Gischler and drawn by Paco Medina, as well as X-Men #11, written by Gischler and drawn by Al Barrionuevo.

Before we begin, it’s important to know that all that’s about to happen spawned from the Marvel event House of M.  At its conclusion, Scarlet Witch wipes out the genetic mutation of all but 198 mutants (mainly those Professor X protected).  Jubilee unfortunately misses out on the professor’s gift, rendering her among the millions now powerless.  No more fireworks for our dear mall rat.

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You see, we expect vampires to remain as old fashioned and Victorian as their myth dictates.  But of course they adjust to new technology and skills.  In today’s modern world, couldn’t something (or someone) be created to mimic the effects of a bite without all that hassle of the romanticization and allure of a neck puncture?  Vampires use Facebook just like the rest of us, or in this case, manufacture biological weapons that accomplish their goals under the guise of a terrorist attack.

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No going back now.  Our girl’s on her way to vampire-dom.  Want to talk about vampires in Marvel comics?  I guess if not you could always skip this paragraph.  The mythical creatures first appeared in the Marvel universe in the early ’70s, as Marvel comics’ version of Dracula received his own comic book.  Morbius the Living Vampire technically premiered before him, but Morbius is also technically not a vampire.  The Comics Code Authority finally allowed comic books to return to their horror roots, and they jumped on that with a fury you’d expect from an easy way to make bijillions of dollars.  Thus the series The Tomb of Dracula ran for over seven years and seventy issues.  The superhero Blade premiered in that series as well.  He’s a major character in this arc we’re reading now, but I’m skipping him in favor of Jubilee.  Note: it’s worth buying the book just for Blade’s Hulk Hogan mustache.

So the vampires’ plan?  Hint: it involves delusions of grandeur.

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She can officially stamp her vampire card.  Definitely no going back from that.  I’m not happy about the weird pseudo-seduction of the young Jubilee by an ancient creepy vampire (Dracula’s son Xarus), but I guess it wouldn’t be a good vampire story if we weren’t all weirded out.

Up next you’ll witness a beautiful exercise in a slow burn.  Not like an insult, but the overextending of a scene to heighten the effect of the ending.  And of course Xarus is right: the X-Men’ll totally rush to save their precious former X-Men.  No one more than Wolverine, who collects teenage girl protégés faster than matted back hair.

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For all of Wolverine’s unpleasantness, his father figure-ness towards the younger X-Men almost compensates for his many, many, many faults.  Sure, he may smell like meat, drinks too much, needs anger management, and murders every other person he talks to — but you see how much he cares about the kids?  He’s tortured, not evil.  Kitty Pryde, Jubilee, Armor, and the rest are objectively better people for knowing him.  Now remember this for our slow burn.

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What a jerk.  Can Vampire Jubilee redeem herself?  Maybe, but at least she’ll have her buddy Vampire Wolverine.  Now when he goes to the bar, it’ll bring a whole new meaning when he orders a Bloody Mary.  Right?  Sorry, I promise I won’t do that again.


Robin loves Jubilee

Every decade or two, DC and Marvel come together to have their superheroes punch each other in the face.  That’s about it.  Some excuse is made up as to why these two companies have to kick and throw batarangs at each other, but the story always revolves around the fights.  And good.  Because thanks to these crossovers, you get to see Aquaman and Namor chuck whales at each other.  Flash vs. Quicksilver.  Catwoman vs. Elektra.  Lobo vs. Wolverine  Batman vs. Captain America.  And the list goes on, but I know the fight you’ve been really shouting for.  Jason, you ask, it’s cool to see Superman fight the Hulk, but what about the match up that critics and fans alike have desperately begged for years and years?  That’s right: Robin vs. Jubilee.  Finally.  Today, we’ll be using the following issues:
DC vs. Marvel Comics #1-3, written by Ron Marz and drawn by Dan Jurgens & Claudio Castellini
Legends of the Dark Claw #1, written by Larry Hama and drawn by Jim Balent
DC/Marvel: All Access #2-3, written by Marz and drawn by Jackson Guice

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In the first time our two protagonists meet, two godlike creatures basically pick a superhero from each company and have them brawl.  It’s for the survival of one of the two universes or whatever.  Here’s the important part:

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Teleportation complete.  All that remains now is a dose of melodrama to heighten the tension and the two can throw fireworks/hit each other with bo staffs.  I’d like you to always have in the back of your mind that in current comics, Jubilee is a mother.  Also, a vampire.  The past couple of years have been rough to her.

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Of the eleven matches in this series, six were determined by writers and five were determined by voters.  This one did not get left up to the fans, but we can all pretty much guess our eventual victor. Whether it’s a constant overcompensation by the writers for no superpowers or simply the benefit of an incredible amount of training, Robin totally takes down the living Fourth of July.  I don’t normally like to spoil this stuff, but I can’t see this coming as any sort of shock whatsoever.  For the other fights, you can buy the book.  I won’t spoil those.

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While Robin takes some time to learn about Jubilee’s fetishes, I can’t stress enough just how insane this crossover event becomes.  It’s great.  Situations that have never occurred in comics and never will again pop up on every other page.  Want to see Peter Parker flirt with Lois Lane?  I’m about to show you.  How about Dark Claw (Batman merged with Wolverine) fighting Hyena (Joker merged with Sabretooth)?  Yes, it’s amazing.

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By the way, those Amalgram combo-superhero issues?  They made 24 of them.  The ’90s could be a wacky time for comics.  But as we jump back to our sorta-love story, we pick up a year later in the sequel.  The superhero Access (real name Axel Asher) has the superpower to travel between DC and Marvel.  That’s his sole purpose for existing, and Jubilee wants to abuse that power.

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Remember what happens when two superheroes attempt a serious talk?  That emotional bubble must be popped before it manifests itself into something mushy and gross.  Luckily, before Robin and Jubilee can round the bases in the rain, they have to first overcome an obstacle.  It comes with the cape and cowl duties.

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In this series, Robin’s petrified of Two-Face.  Like Harvey Dent’s the Darkseid of Gotham City.  I understand that Two-Face’s a good shot and such, but so is 90% of the bad guys Robin battles every night he goes on patrol.  For the sake of this story, Two-Face is someone to be feared.  Robin’s blood freezes as a grown man wanders the soaked streets looking for children to shoot.  Plot-wise, what’s about to happen works — the goal to heighten suspense and give the two young superheroes a legitimate challenge is totally achieved.  But just how dangerous is Two-Face really?  Couldn’t Jubilee light a Roman candle under his chin followed with Robin’s kick to the face?  Down goes the supervillain.

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How do these kids beat this unstoppable maniac?  Capes, of course, which blows The Incredibles‘ moral right out of the water.  Also, note that giant coin?  Symbolism, dude.

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You know how earlier I mentioned it would take one firework and a good kick to defeat Two-Face.  I’m wrong and I apologize.  It took one firework and two kicks.  I’m a big man and I can admit my mistakes.  Scorpion (Spider-Man’s baddie) pops up in the next page.  He’s a much scarier supervillain in terms of abilities, but I’m going to skip the fight.  In summary, Batman pops up to shows Scorpion why he’s the C-lister he is.

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If you look again, Robin’s the one leaning in.  He totally kissed her.  Good for him.  And to be fair, it’s probably not cheating if the girl lives in another universe.

 


1980s Cyclops battles, Pt. 2

We continue our ongoing series where Cyclops has to laser eye blast his fellow X-Men (and a sentinel).  Scott Summers, ever the formidable leader, realizes that sometimes being in command means kicking your team members in the face — though that probably is more effective on a superhero team than, say, an accounting office.  Still, today in two more battles Cyclops has to face all by his lonesome, he shows once again why he’s the undisputed champion of the greatest genetic mutated team of superheroes in the Marvel universe.

Well, maybe not undisputed.  Y’see, in Uncanny X-Men #201, written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Rick Leonardi, Cyclops adjusts to married life outside the X-Men.  He achieved the dream — he escaped the superhero life, let those he mentored continue the legacy, and happily married the love of his life.  But you know that fine line shatters the second it’s stepped on.  Storm wants his title, and Cyclops’ll have to fight to keep it.  It’s like the UFC only with illusions, no rules, and far less humping.

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Punk Storm aside, Cyclops doesn’t stand much of a chance against Storm.  She can summon lightning, fog, blizzards, hurricanes, electromagnetic fields, cosmic storms, hail, and so much more. He’s quick on his feet, but optic blasts can’t take down the Hurricane Katrina of X-Men.  I’m serious, he’s tried before — Cyclops forms a rainstorm in his underwear.  But here’s the catch today: Storm’s de-powered.  No weather control, just face punching.  It’ll be embarrassing if the original X-Men loses to Storm’s kung fu — mohawk or not.

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Most UFC fighters don’t think about philosophy during their fights.  Probably.  Look, Cyclops has a lot going on right now, maybe too much to handle leading the team he originated on.  Or maybe like any good leader, he’s just multitasking his problems.  Optic blast here, marital problems there, Storm laser blasted here, the wife cool with his yellow underwear there.  But Storm, not having to worry about angering her significant other, takes the initiative — superheroes are always too kind to blatantly destroy huge sections of buildings to win minor battles.

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While I early went on a full paragraph about Cyclops’ leadership skills and deserved command of his team, he “retires” for five years until 1991.  He hangs out with the X-Factor team in the mean time, a spin off giving the original five X-Men (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Iceman, and Angel) a chance to shine one more after getting overshadowed by Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Storm, Kitty Pryde, Colossus, Rogue, etc.  But embarrassing lost to Storm or not, Cyclops retains his awesomeness in X-Factor #14, written by Louise Simonson and drawn by Walter Simonson.

You know about the sentinels, right?  Mutant-hunting killer robots that zap X-Men into dust, right? Meet Master Mold, the ultimate sentinel.  This baby’s a walking talking armory with defense capabilities far beyond those normal boring sentinels.  Think of the best Decepticon and the least angsty Gundam mushed together into one giant ass-kicking robot.  Cyclops has to solo this thing.

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Cyclops’ power gets frequently misunderstood.  Think of it as a long-range punch in the face instead of anything melty.  Concussive energy instead of heat.  But for all the intensity of his laser eyes, he’s going up against an enemy powerful enough shoot off Cyclops’ pants.  Thank goodness he wore his uniform underneath.

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Cyclops, currently under police investigation and possible arrest for blowing up a house (long story) only increases his eventual bail by elbowing a policeman.  I know it’s to save the guy’s life and whatever, but superheroes don’t “chonk” law enforcement — that’s part of the deal of being superhero. Cops’ll occasionally shoot and slander superheroes, but our good guys’ only option is to dodge the bullets and shed those tears underneath the masks.  Though to be fair to Cyclops, he does make a fair (though grim and pessimistic) point in the next few panels:

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See the lesson here?  Save the cops from a deadly giant robot and they’ll forgive your crimes. Education doesn’t end when school does, y’know.  On Friday, we venture over to DC for a few weeks. I figure we should try to even the two companies’ coverage a bit.


1980s Cyclops battles, Pt. 1

Cyclops has a tough job — we don’t give him enough credit.  The X-Men are a wildly diverse, ragtag group of superheroes forced together solely because of that mutation floating in their genetics, and Cyclops (real name Scott Summers), whose job can be best described as attempting to herd cats, must keep his people from clawing each other as much as dodging battleships Magneto occasionally throws at them.  Thankfully, Professor X chose well.  We’ll take a look at four of Summers’ leadership decisions/fist fights from the glory 1980s X-Men days starting with Uncanny X-Men #127, written by Chris Claremont and drawn by John Byrne.  I know this issue came out November 1979, but that’s close enough, right?

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Get ready for some tough love.  Wolverine, a character mostly defined at this point by his irrational confidence, has finally faced that precious fear that other mutants feel when they can’t fully heal within minutes.  I know that growing back organs and hair and skin for Wolverine is supposed to be just as painful as losing them, but it’s not as if he makes much of an effort to dodge anything.  Y’know how the fastest way to a point is a straight line?  It’s like that with him, only with having to dig bullets out of his shoulder later.

But Cyclops, desperate to pull his team back together — as leadership demands — hits Wolverine’s immediate nerve: his masculinity.  Though, if you want to make Wolverine angry, it’s not as if it’s hard. Say a few mean words about Jean Grey, Canadians, his past, his height, his body hair, motorcycles, leather jackets, beer, meat, the outdoors — pretty much anything, really.  The dude has anger issues.

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Cyclops realizes the best way for his team to regain that fighting spirit is to fight with spirit is to chuck X-Men at other X-Men.  It’s not a good plan on paper, but it’ll work itself out.  Plus, I’m sure Cyclops has wanted to punch Wolverine for dozens of issues by now.  Still, all it would take for Wolverine to start flailing is to talk some smack about Nightcrawler, Weapon X, his costume, his breath, his claws, his accent, wild animals, the time he fought the Hulk, grilling, classic cars, etc.  I’m saying Wolverine’s always angry.

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See how easy they all forgive Summers for his stunt?  Wolverine admits Cyclops’ awesomeness!  In front of other people!  With complete sincerity!  Cyclops decides to attack his team as a way of saying, “Look, we lose all the time.  But see?  We still have some fight left in us, so get it together.” And then they go beat up Proteus, even Nightcrawler who took an optic blast to the chest.

In our second story from Uncanny X-Men #175, written by Claremont and drawn by Paul Smith and John Romita Jr., Cyclops gets married to Jean Grey clone Madelyne Pryor.  More importantly, the X-Men get mind-zapped into believing Cyclops is the evil Phoenix out to destroy them.  So Summers, being a man of action, makes the only correct decision — he kicks all their asses.

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We know Cyclops isn’t a powerhouse.  His optic blasts can do insane amounts of damage (see Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men), but the guy doesn’t have any super strength or agility to back it up. Luckily, our hero leads the X-Men.  That helps with strategy when having to fight the X-Men.

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Mohawk dog-collar-wearing Storm is right.  Phoenix could ignite the planet into a second sun if she had one really bad day, so losing an X-Man or two to stop the crazy woman from destroying all life would be an acceptable sacrifice.  Y’know, except that it’s not Phoenix they’re fighting.  And Cyclops pulls some serious Batman-mojo pre-planning to defeat his entire team of people whose powers all outclass his.

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While yes, Cyclops does control the shape of the Danger Room, he doesn’t control the car-crushing steel fist of Cylcops going into his skull.  So illusions can be useful in the initial attack, but if Cyclops can’t laser blast his way past five violent X-Men at once, he’ll be spending his honeymoon confined to a hospital bed.

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Want to learn some Russian?  The word “tovarisch” means comrade, as in the never before uttered sentence, “Can you scent our quarry, tovarisch?”  When did Colossus start talking like a Victorian British nobleman three whiskeys into his annual fox hunt?  Remember his earlier scream, “Murderess! Have you come to gloat over your butchery?”  Colossus must have learned all his English from Shakespeare plays.

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And success!  By the way, it’s fascinating to see how Russian-born Colossus talks compared to American-citizen Rogue.  She uses words like “ah’d’a” while Colossus’ vocabulary stems entirely from SAT booklets.

On Wednesday, Cyclops continues punching X-Men — this ol’ timey stuff is fun to read.


Norman Osborn and the Fantastic Four kids

I’ve already covered numerous stories of Norman Osborn and his time as top of the government food chain during Dark Reign.  Spoiler alert: it’s a lot of “Don’t you know who I am?” while superheroes continue to punch him in the face.  After he grabs the controls of SHIELD replacement HAMMER, one of his first acts is to curb the Fantastic Four’s influence.  Y’know, since they hold dozens of planet-destroying machines and zero ties to the current government as the Invisible Woman’s still angry at Mr. Fantastic for messing everything up during the Civil War.  But not realizing that like the Hulk, the Fantastic Four don’t cause any trouble if you leave them alone, Norman Osborn decides he wants to place Marvel’s first family under his slimy, corrupt wing in Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #1-5, written by Jonathan Hickman and drawn by Sean Chen.

The main plot involves the Fantastic Four accidentally sent through time, leaving them incapacitated for most of the miniseries, forcing the two Richards children (both under the age of ten) to be in charge of the Baxter Building.  Valeria Richards, super genius, and Franklin Richards, sorta-reality warping mutant, can take care of Osborn’s goons themselves.  After all, they live in the most technologically advance building on the planet.  Plus, wild overconfidence.

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When Franklin and Valeria have spent their entire lives watching their parents and uncles fight dozens of supervillains — usually one breaks into their house every other week or so — fear doesn’t really factor in anymore.  I mean, they’ve fought Mole Man, who can summon Godzilla-esque monsters, and Hydro-Man, who can turn into a killer water park, and those are two of the lamer ones.  Osborn’s henchmen might as well be gum they wipe off the bottom of their light-up sneakers.

Still, if I know anything about the former Green Goblin, he’s not too fond of being shown up by those who haven’t even hit puberty yet.  Grow a mustache at least if you want to defy Osborn’s commands. Oh, and wondering what the other Fantastic Four members are up to?

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Make the best of a bad situation, I guess.  Every time I forget why Namor’s infatuated with Mr. Fantastic’s wife, I always find a scene to remind me.  Namor may smell like tuna and soak whatever rug he stands on, but I would never stop pursuing the Invisible Woman too if I were him.

Now, Osborn doesn’t know the Fantastic Four’s busy with gunslingers.  But he figures a small army and Venom should be enough firepower to prevent a fight.  Maybe some polite adult conversation while Venom snacks on a squirrel or something.  A rational person would handle Osborn in that way, but unfortunately, the HAMMER commander’s dealing with children.  And children are insane.

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I’m no expert in Osborn psychology, but I do know his top two most hated things include being made a fool and Spider-Man.  Thanks to Valeria’s ability to decipher fine print, Venom doesn’t snap them in half and make necklaces out of their organs (though that is a fairly graphic image when dealing with children).  But the children are going to need to be punished.  Like a spanking, or in the case of supervillains, something far more severe:

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Norman Osborn is shooting at kids.  The second most powerful person in the United States government is attempting to shoot at a four and an eight-year old.  I get it — the Richards children were rude, but next time Osborn gets impaled by his goblin glider or breaks his jaw on Spider-Man’s fist, you’ll know it’s 100% deserved.  Plus, you know who’s not fond of the former Green Goblin firing a pistol at the Fantastic Four’s kids?

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I’d like you all to remember that the Fantastic Four has defeated Galactus more than once.  Y’know Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds who has traveled the stars for thousands of years murdering trillions of people.  Trillions.  Throughout every solar system in the galaxy.  And four meta-humans singlehandedly took him on and won every single time.

Mr. Fantastic can wrap around Osborn with such force that his eyeballs would pop out of his head like a cartoon.  The Invisible Woman could explode his brain from the inside with a flick of her wrist.  The Human Torch can melt Osborn like a wax statue thrown in a furnace before our antagonist can even blink.  The Thing has the strength to punch Osborn across several state lines before smashing him into the ground hard enough to turn Osborn into liquid.  So keep that in mind for the next page, where Osborn gives quite possibly the ballsiest answer I’ve ever seen in comics:

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Right?  So they do.  Because for all the injuries and scars inflicted on the Fantastic Four by their enemies, the superheroes only have one rule that defiantly shines above all others: leave the children out of this.

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See the ego oozing out of Osborn?  It makes sense, if just because the former Green Goblin has fought against superheroes long enough to know that they wouldn’t inflict any permanent damage upon him.  Stupid morals and whatnot.  Also, Osborn does have the law on his side no matter how much he twists or corrupts it.  Look, we know our antagonist isn’t going to win this argument — Dark Reign’s pretty much categorized by his impressive amount of defeats (with a few notable exceptions like the Punisher).  But at least he never gives up, though he really shouldn’t forget about the children.

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That’s totally a toy gun — Reed and Sue aren’t going to give their kids actual bullets (though I guess laser guns are a different story).  So how does Osborn take some lead in the shoulder?  The beginning stages of Franklin’s reality warping superpowers, of course.  Most mutants don’t get their powers until puberty, but as I’m no scientist, let’s just blame this on cosmic rays or something.

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Mission accomplished, more questions arisen.  But like I said, Osborn deserved he everything that happened to him.  That dude’s a jerk.


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