Daily Archives: May 22, 2008

DC vs. Valiant Universe 1: Archer & Armstrong vs. Batman & Robin

The top hero and sidekick teams of the two universes are pitted against each other.  In the Valiant case, the hero is the immortal Armstrong (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archer_and_Armstrong) but he often acts like petulant child compared to his teenage partner.  Archer is the sidekick but the relationship between Archer and Armstrong is much more complex than the relatively simple Batman and Robin one.  Batman is the omniscient father figure and leader to Robin’s apprentice role.  In many ways Archer is more mature than Armstrong despite his youth and perhaps is not really a sidekick after all.  Archer’s name is after all first in the title and perhaps not just due to alphabetical conventions.  Archer and Armstrong represent the postmodern parent/child relationship were the child often has to take care of the parent with addictions and/or human frailties.  Did I mention that Armstrong is a lush?  This was by far the strongest title in the Valiant line and had a great deal of black humor and irony in the title.  Irony is a rare commodity in comic books.


Armstrong, as mentioned, is immortal and thousands of years old. Armstrong has super human regeneration but nowhere near Wolverine levels.  Armstrong is freakishly strong but not Spiderman strong. I would say slightly over the limit of a human at peak performance.  Armstrong is also a lover not a fighter as opposed to his elder brother, the Eternal Warrior. Armstrong will not seek out evil as he has made clear to his older brother. 


Fortunately for the reader, evil seeks him out mostly in the form of a conspiratorial sect that sees him as a sort of Anti-Christ while the leadership of the organization has figured out that actually killing Armstrong removes the organizations reason for being and try to make a deal with Armstrong and Armstrong is not totally opposed to the idea. Complex motivations of this sort for both hero and villain are very rare in comic books, unfortunately.


Batman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman) not be as strong as Armstrong but he’s a fighter not a lover although he pretends otherwise as Bruce Wayne.  I might add that Armstrong would probably know about Batman’s rep and might very well run away!  We have to assume that for this fight to even happen both fighters live in a common universe.  Anyway this is the assumption I will make in all “What if fights” since the whole how they meet write up via interdimensional travel is repetitive and tiresome.  Armstrong hasn’t survived for thousands of years by making futile last stands.  For a big guy, Armstrong has proven himself very adept at running away in the past but Batman is a master tracker and always, always gets his man.  might


There are probably a dozen ways Batman can take out Armstrong.  Perhaps Batman tosses a batarang (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batarang) to the head of Armstrong.  Batman could also toss a vial of knockout gas from his utility belt.   Defeating stronger but less skilled fighters is kind of Batman’s trademark, the Blockbuster comes to mind, but how will Batman fare against Armstrong’s older brother, the Eternal Warrior?  What about the battle between the sidekicks?


Archer has a type photographic memory that is sometimes referred to as photographic reflexes, like the current Batgirl (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassandra_Cain) and Marvel’s Taskmaster (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taskmaster).  If Armstrong sees a martial arts move, or any movement actually, he can mimic that move instantly and perfectly.  This is a major super power.  I would put it in the top ten of super powers.  Persons with this power can take on the likes of Batman, as Batgirl does, and Spiderman, as the Taskmaster does, much less sidekicks. 


Personally I have never understood why the characters with this power don’t take up golf.  Golf requires almost zero fitness as opposed to martial arts and is far more lucrative than being a crime fighter and a lot less risky than being a super villain.  The Taskmaster opened a school to teach villians.  Why oh why did he not become a sports trainer to sports super stars.  I am sure the likes of Michael Jordan have deeper pockets than the villians and such activity does not put you on a collision course with the Avengers as his henchmen school did.


Batman finishes off Armstrong and arrives just in time to see Armstrong take out Robin with a perfect sequence of kung fu moves.  Batman observes the action and realizes exactly what power Armstrong has and takes him out with one of his many toys from a distance.  Batman is a strategic thinker and you don’t close in on fighters with this particular power.  Armstrong has fought skilled martial artists but not one with the plethora of toys Batman has and has no memorized moves to fall back on. Anyway, how do you memorize a move to counter knock out gas anyway without a gas mask? 


That’s why the Taskmaster carries his own set of toys including a duplicate of Captain America’s shield and Hawkeyes bow and arrow, the Black Knights sword, etc.  Armstrong with a shield could throw the shield to knock the vial back at Batman or use an arrow to shatter the vial before the vial came to near to be effective.  Archer might even be able to use the sword to swat the vial or batarang or whatever away.  Hey, wait a second! Archer often carries a hand held cross-bow.  Archer shoots the vial of knock out gas in mid flight and then is conked by a batarang before he can reload.  This is why an assault rifle with an extended clip is preferable to a hand held cross-bow.


An alternative ending is that Batman looks at Robins sorry a** , this is a PG blog, kids after all still read comic books, thank you, on the floor and offers Archer a job as a side kick.  Archer might very well accept.  Did I mention Armstrong is a lush? Besides that, Archer is a consummate martial artist and Batman is the foremost teacher of the martial arts while Armstrong has nothing to teach Archer in this area.


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DC vs. Valiant Universe Overview – 0

I probably own every issue of the short lived Valiant Universe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valiant_Comics) and in my view the demise of this line was a sad day in comic book history.  The Valiant line was conscious attempt to make a better super hero for reasons I will outline in the introduction.


One way to arrange comic book universe battles is to match up opponents that are more less doppelgangers of each other.  This is what happened in the DC vs. Marvel miniseries (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DC_vs._Marvel)

that matched up such doppelgangers as Aquaman (DC) and Namor the Submariner (Marvel). The advantages of the doppelganger approach are many.  The main one is you get contests between more or less equal heroes.  Secondly, you can keep a score card.  Maybe universe X has the strongest hero but Universe Y has the fastest one.  DC may have more heavy hitters in the area of magic but Marvel has more heavy hitters in the area of the power cosmic.  You put the top mage of the DC Universe, Mordru, against the top mage in the Marvel universe, Dr. Strange, and of course Mordru wins but in another category such as the power cosmic, DC wins. The Silver Surfer, for example, easily defeats the Black Racer.  I did not apply the doppelganger approach to my earlier D&D vs. Marvel post and am trying to do this with a future post, DC vs. D&D. 


I have tried to apply this logic to the DC vs. Valiant post as much as possible.  The problem is that many of the DC characters were created in simpler times when the one gimmick rule applied.  The Flash was the fast guy.  Green Lantern had a power ring.  If they had any other talents or weapons then this never came up.  Thanks to Stan Lee (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stan_lee), at Marvel, heroes starting having something resembling characterization and DC followed suit but not to the same degree as Marvel. 


This use of characterization meant that psychological stuff could impact the fight not just their super powers.  This so called Marvel Revolution started with the Fantastic Four.  The Thing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thing_%28comics%29), of the Fantastic Four, is not as strong as the Hulk or Thor but he is a disciplined fighter.  When the Champion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champion_of_the_Universe), an Elder of the Universe, challenges the “strongest” heroes of the Marvel universe to a boxing match, the Thing wins not the Hulk or Thor.  The Thing wins because he follows boxing protocol.  The Hulk just goes nuts and is dismissed from the ring.  Thor pulls out his hammer and is also dismissed for breaking the rules.  In Secret Wars II (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_Wars_II), the Thing single handily stops and army of evil doers from touching the Beyonder through sheer will power rather than strength.  Ben Grim, the alter-ego of the Thing is a tough New York from the wrong side of the tracks who never gives up.  Daredevil (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daredevil_%28Marvel_Comics%29) has gone up against the likes of the Hulk and Namor and his determination to keep fighting to the end have enabled him to achieve pyrrhic victories against both these Marvel powerhouses.


Later still, heroes started carrying weapons!  This makes total sense to me.  If I was the Green Lantern I would still carry a 45 to shoot those giant yellow eagles that seem to be all over the place when you are a Green Lantern.  The Green Lantern ring is helpless against yellow colored objects.  Interestingly 45’s don’t share this weakness.  Green Lantern could have just plugged any number of yellow colored menaces during his career.  Better yet why not get one of those nifty utility belts from my buddy Batman?  If I was the Flash I would definitely grab some shrunken and knifes that I could hurtle at super speed like the Whirlwind, of the Marvel universe, eventually did.  Ok the Flash is a good guy and can’t use bladed weapons that kill but how about rubber balls that he throws at varying levels of super speed for different levels of lethality?


The Valiant universe is a later more complex universe than DC and Marvel and this complexity makes doppelgangers harder to find than between DC and Marvel.  The Batman aversion to guns, a prime example of the weapon monomania that plagues comic books, does not exist in the Valiant universe.  Most of the Valiant heroes will grab and use weapons as opportunity allows.  Being a martial arts enthusiast and big fan of weapons of opportunity I like this characteristic of the Valiant universe.  The X-O Manowar, a Valiant hero for whom a post will be written, is a barbarian that understands swords and does not fully understand super armor, when abducted by Aliens, but understands a weapon is a weapon and you might as well grab a good one when you can. 


Also, I have noticed that Valiant heroes, inherited from the Gold Key Comics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gold_Key_Comics)

line, often have a category of villain they go after rather than just fighting bad guys in general and this is characteristic is hard to match in the DC or Marvel universe. There will be 22 posts in this series including this one. In comic books there is a fashion to start a series with zero rather than #1 and I like to be fashionable.  Anyway, this is the numbering system of the major arcana of the Tarot and therefore good enough for me.



The Valiant heroes covered in the series will include:

1) Archer & Armstrong (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archer_and_Armstrong)

2) Armorines (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armorines)

3) Bloodshot (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloodshot_%28comics%29)

4) Dr. Mirage (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Life_of_Dr._Mirage)

5) Eternal Warrior (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_Warrior)

6) Geomancer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clay_McHenry_%28Valiant_Comics%29)

7) H.A.R.D. Corps (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H.A.R.D._Corps)

8) Harbinger (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harbinger_%28comics%29)

9) Magnus, Robot Figher (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnus,_Robot_Fighter)

10) Ninjak (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ninjak)

11) Outcast (http://www.valiantentertainment.com/wiki/index.php/The_Outcast)

12) Psi Lords (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psi_Lords)

13) PunX (http://www.valiantentertainment.com/wiki/index.php/PunX)

14) Rai (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rai_%28comics%29)

15) Secret Weapons (http://www.valiantentertainment.com/wiki/index.php/Secret_Weapons)

16) Shadowman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadowman_%28comics%29)

17) Solar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_%28comics%29)

18) Timewalker (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timewalker)

19) Turok (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turok),

20) Visitor (http://www.valiantentertainment.com/wiki/index.php/The_Visitor)

21) X-O Manowar( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-O_Manowar)   


I have about 100 plus “What if fights” planned for this blog so stay tuned. We have to assume that for these fights to even happen both fighters live in a common universe.  Anyway this is the assumption I will make in all “What if fights” since the whole how they meet thing is repetitive and tiresome.  The same assumption will be used in the “What if dates” post the second major category of this blog site.

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