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@@@@ 10-pg Preview of SKAAR: SON OF HULK! @@@@ The Tournament Championship Match-Up Begins! @@@@


Well, AICN COMICS: SHOOT THE MESSENGER is your weekly one stop shop for comic book news that’s dropped in the previous week. Thanks to Newsarama, CBR, Wizard, etc. for reporting it as it breaks. Click on the links for the original stories. This column cuts the crap to run down all the vital information for those of you who don’t follow it as it comes in, and serves it all up with that special ingredient of @$$y goodness. It’s also the place for interviews, previews, and special reports.

Hey folks, Ambush Bug here with a special preview to a new Marvel Comic that drops this week! Everyone is going green lately with THE INCREDIBLE HULK hitting theaters soon. Marvel is jumping on the bandwagon by releasing a new series, SKAAR: SON OF HULK which picks up where the highly popular PLANET HULK story arc ended. Writer Greg Pak and artist Ron Garney have a whole lot of Gamma-powered barbarism coming up with this book and we’re going to preview the first 10 pages (plus two covers, the normal cover by Ron Garney and the variant by Julie Bell) below. Enjoy, Hulk-a-maniacs!

The art looks fantastic and I’m excited to read the rest of the issue! Greg Pak came out of nowhere and really did a surprising job with PLANET HULK and WORLD WAR HULK. Things look promising for SKAAR. Look for SKAAR: SON OF HULK this Wednesday!
And now, on with the fights!

Logo by superhero


Sixty-four of comic bookdom’s best fighters enter, only one will be crowned THE SECRET TOURNAMENT OF INFINITE @$$-KICKERY Champion. It’s comics’ version of March Madness, only it lasts a bit longer. This is your ring-master, Ambush Bug here with our final match-up. It’s all boiled down to this one, folks. We’ve had ten tough-as-nails weeks of balls to the wall action. On behalf of the @$$Holes at AICN Comics, I want to welcome you to the Championships! It’s been a contest like no other---up to you the readers to determine the best of the best and boiling fanboyism down to its basics...whether one guy can kick the other guy's @$$.
After last week’s bouts, only two remain. Both noble warriors. Both disciplined and battle savvy. Born to win or just plain lucky, it doesn’t matter how they got here—it just matters who comes out the winner. The final match-up is about to begin, but before we move on to this week’s fight, let’s see how these two made it to the final round.


Winning submission by Kat

Nightwing and Sonja circled each other warily. Sonja noticed that, for a warrior of such reknown, his stance seemed a bit…off. He was distracted.
“Could it be that you’ve never fought a woman, child?” She lunged, rolled and swept his legs.
He easily leapt out of the way, falling into a tumbler’s roll that let him keep his distance. “Child!” He seemed indignant. “You’re, what, a year or two older than me? And what’s with the chain-mail bikini?”
“I am unfamiliar with ‘bikini’, but chain mail…” She sensed his hesitance and pressed forward, still unable to land a solid blow. “I would need none but for concerns of modesty.”
“You don’t seem that concerned.” He rolled away again, out of her reach.
“Oh!” She smiled inside, knowing there was always ONE way to draw him closer! “Is my figure…distracting?” She let one side of her halter slip down a sinewy shoulder. “There’s nothing that prohibits a delay,” she said softly, “for other matters. Do you like…redheads?”
She noticed his nostrils flair. That was it! A foolish man, like every other. She saw he was already inching closer. The fight was over. He simply didn’t realize it yet. “We have a saying about redheads where I come from,” she purred, as her fist balled behind her back. “Let me whisper it in your ear.”
Nightwing moved within arm’s length. Sonja’s fist darted like a snake, but Nightwing parried and struck the nerve cluster below her shoulder. Her arm fell, useless.
“You…!” She sputtered, lunging again. “You are clever, child, but—“
“Stop talking,” said Nightwing. A quick finger strike to the throat left her gasping. He swept her legs and disabled her other arm, then each of her legs. Her eyes went wide as she realized she was helpless on the ground.
“Don’t worry,” he said, taking a knee next to her. “I would never take advantage of you. And I’ll give you the respect you wouldn’t give me. Warrior to warrior.”
Sonja’s face wore an expression of pained regret. She had underestimated him, as man AND warrior. She tried to get up, but could only lift her head a few inches.
He leaned closer to her face. “And I’ll tell you the truth: it WAS the hair,” he admitted. “But there’s only one redhead for me, and you ain’t her. Lights out, warrior.” A palm to her forehead, and Sonja’s head, at least cushioned by her crimson tresses, fell softly to the ground.



Winning submission by Alec Christian

The rain pounded down, turning the cracked asphalt of the abandoned lot into an oil-slick mirror that reflected twisted parodies of the gothic skyline of the city. Perched upon the lip of a nearby edifice, in a pool of darkness so black that it seemed to swallow the light from the feeble streetlamps around the perimeter, the Batman watched the two men face each other.
“It doesn’t have to be this way, son.” Murmured the older of the two, a flash of lightning highlighting the silver in his hair. “Despite what your intelligence has gathered, my mission synchs with yours nicely.”
The younger man, clad all in black from head to toe, a visor obscuring his face, said nothing and approached the older man warily, raising his arms in what the Dark Knight recognized as a rare, thought to be extinct style of unusually brutal ninjitsu. He suppressed a low whistle of appreciation, even as he noted the stiffness of movement that indicated recent injury.
The rain hissed down from the melancholy skies above Gotham, covering the two men facing each other in a silvery sheen as the droplets shattered against their bodies, and the two regarded each other for long heartbeats.
“Aw hell, I was afraid it would come to this.” The older man shook his head wearily, shrugging off his cumbersome raingear and revealing some sort of military commando uniform underneath. He lifted his hands in a classic boxer’s stance. “Let’s get this over with, boy.”
Without hesitation the younger man struck, his fingers darting at the throat of his opponent. Then, meeting no resistance, he whirled into an elbow-shinkick-backfist combination. He moved like a snake, flowing from one attack to the next with the grace of a dancer and speed born of zero hesitation. But his foe, the older man, simply…wasn’t there.
For long seconds the Batman watched, marveling in the spectacle before him. The old man wasn’t as fast, or as strong, or even as skilled as the ninja, he just…knew where to move, reading the young man like a well thumbed book, like he’d fought this exact same fight a hundred times or more. Where he could move aside, he moved. Where he could check his opponent’s techniques, he did so. Where an impact was unavoidable he deflected most of the force of the attack. With a start, the Batman realized what was going on. The old warrior was just that. The rarest of things. An OLD warrior. He’d seen every trick, every attack that could be thrown from every possible angle; he’d fought dozens, hundreds of enemies in his career.
After nearly a minute of suffering on the defensive, bruised and battered from the ninja’s onslaught but not seriously injured, the one-eyed man turned the fight, suddenly driving a fist into the side of the young ninja where he was nursing cracked ribs from some previous battle. Then, seizing the moment of respite granted by the young man’s wince of pain, he turned decades of brutal front-line combat experience on his adversary, attacking the nose, throat, groin, instep, solar plexus…anything that would hurt or incapacitate someone.
To his credit, the younger man took a long time to fall, avoiding most of Eyepatch’s attacks until a solid trio of knee-strikes landed in his ribcage like bombs, and through it all he never uttered a single sound of complaint.
Nick Fury stood over Snake Eyes as the commando fought to rise to his feet.
“Time to end it, son. You fought well. You deserve your reputation. But I can’t have you coming after me. What I’m doing is too important, it’s bigger than that ruthless terrorist organization you’re up against. I’m sorry.”
As the old man stepped in to finish the fight, Snake Eyes’ hand whipped forward, and there was a soft squelching sound as his handful of mud splattered into Fury’s one good eye. As he gasped in surprise, Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D, felt a fist thud into his solar plexus like a missile.
He woke up some time later, staring into the hooded eyes of the much-feared vigilante he’d heard the locals talking about.
“Did you see the fight? Did he take the disc?”
“Yes.” Replied the Batman.
“Have to hand it to the kid. He got me.” Nick Fury chuckled to himself in appreciation. “He got me…ME…with the oldest trick in the book! I’m getting too old for this.”
“I’ve found that the old ones are the best.” Said the Dark Knight, extending a hand to the fallen man and helping him to his feet. He then dipped a hand under his cloak, and held forth a data disc to the old man.
“How?” Asked Nick Fury, taking the disc from the gauntleted hand.
“Oldest trick in the book.” Replied the dark-clad vigilante with a dry smile, and held up Nick Fury’s wallet in the other hand.


Congratulations to all the winning participants. Winners move on to the Championship Match. But first, the rules:

@ To even the playing field, contestants are powerless and weaponless upon entering the ring. They must win on fighting prowess and character alone! @ Check out the fights listed below and send a 300 word (or less) fight scene to us determining who the winner is and how the fight should play out. (Remember: it’s best to SHOW, don’t TELL, in these submissions. That means write the scene as if it is happening, don’t tell us what will happen…it makes for more interesting readin’, don’t cha know!). @ Be sure to indicate the winner of each match in the subject line of your email. @ Submissions are judged by a select group of @$$Holes (hint: we’re looking for the most entertaining one to win, not necessarily the one that has been done and over done in comics before. ORIGINALITY RULEZ!). @ Winners of each match will be announced in the column a week later (that means if the fights were introduced in Monday’s SHOOT THE MESSENGER Column, the winner will be announced the following Monday, same for Wednesday’s reviews column). @ Submissions can be sent in to @$$Hole HQ via the link below until midnight Friday. @ THIS CONTEST IS NOT FOR PROFIT but done out of love for Fan Fic, comic book store trash talk, and online comic book debate. @ Have fun and enter as many times as you’d like! There can be only one winner, it’s up to you who that turns out to be!

Here are this week’s combatants! Be sure to follow the links to find out how our fighters have gotten this far!

Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for the final match of the SECRET TOURNAMENT OF INFINITE @$$-KICKERY! This one’s for all the cheese, my Talkbacky friends! Two warriors stand before us, battle weary, but ready to face off in the match-up to end all match-ups. It was a long road these combatants had to travel in order to get here. A trail strewn with heroes, villains, monsters, and even a duck has been left in their wake. The end of the road is near. For one it will be a long road home, hanging his head in shame. For the other, it is the road to victory! Only you, Faithful Talkbackers, will decide who that is!!!

In the blue corner, the former Boy Wonder, the original Teen Titan. Master of hand-to-hand combat and most forms of martial arts. He’s a hero. A leader. A vigilante. A lover. A protégé. And one of the few people the Batman trusts. Escrima sticks, Batarangs, attitude, charm, and a whole lot of flips are the ingredients that have brought this urban warrior to the final round. Here is…NIGHTWING!!!
Nightwing was just about sent home in the first round when he was beaten by Blade. But because the vampire hunter used weapons in this weaponless tournament, he was disqualified, giving the Boy Wonder a second chance. This was all Nightwing needed to wade through the opponents in the following rounds. MVP fell due to lack of experience in Round Two. Moon Knight proved to be too unstable to give our hero much of a fight in Round Three. His toughest test to date was with the Master of Kung Fu, Shang Chi, but Nightwing’s experience with high-altitude acrobatics gave him the advantage in Round Four. And above, in Round Five, Red Sonja underestimated the proficient fighter and it cost her a chance for the Championship.
In the red corner, the man with no name other than the one the US Government gave him. The master ninja. The silent commando. The tragically scarred Real American Hero. The UZI-wielding, sword-swinging, COBRA-stomping, Scarlet-loving, wolf-handling, scarred face-having, bad ass military sunofabitch…SNAKE-EYES!!!!
Snake-Eyes took down a powerless Daredevil in Round One, which wasn’t his proudest of fights. In Round Two the commando took out super-spy Black Widow even though she reminded him of his lover Scarlet. Round Three took the silent commando to the Old West where he walked into the sunset wearing the hat of the gnarly bounty hunter Jonah Hex. Last week, in Round Four, Snake-Eyes proved that the Kingpin could fall…100 stories, that is. And finally, as seen above in Round Five, our semi-final match-up, Nick Fury’s experience took its toll on Snake-Eyes, but he was able to dig deep enough to persevere and knock the crafty eye-patched former Director of SHIELD out of the competition.
Who will be crowned THE SECRET TOURNAMENT OF INFINITE @$$-KICKERY CHAMPION? Will it be the arial acrobatics of the Batman’s best student? Or the best product the United States Armed Forces could produce? The heir to the throne of the Dark Knight? Or G.I.Joe’s silent death-machine? Only one warrior can be crowed champion and it’s up to you!

Send in your 300 word (or less) fight scenes to the link below. You’ve got all week to dig deeper than you’ve ever dug before and come up with the most entertaining, most teeth-gnashing, most fist-crunching fight scene you’ve ever written. Deadline is this Friday. Look for the winner in next Monday’s AICN COMICS NEWS SHOOT THE MESSENGER Column!
Send your fight submissions here!

Good luck, have fun, and remember—no weapons, no powers, just fighting prowess and character…
Now go kick some @$$!


With THE INCREDIBLE HULK coming out soon ready to smash your senses, which comic book movie, despite itself, do you consider a guilty pleasure?

Readers Talkback
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  • June 9, 2008, 7:56 a.m. CST


    by toadkillerdog

    Nice art

  • June 9, 2008, 8:04 a.m. CST

    Skaar looks GREAT!

    by Pogue Mahone

    I dug Planet Hulk almost more than any comic in recent memory. A GREAT spin on an often misinterpreted character! I like the whole whole 'Barbarian' vibe! Can't wait for the sequel! Thanks for the sneak peek!

  • June 9, 2008, 8:04 a.m. CST

    I remember

    by toadkillerdog

    But that was back in the early 90's

  • June 9, 2008, 8:07 a.m. CST

    Damn You Michael Bay


    Damn You Michael Bay

  • June 9, 2008, 8:10 a.m. CST

    Oddly, my submission for the Sonja fight went much the same. {g}

    by JasonPratt

    But more drama at the end. (Starfire shows up to zorch Sonja after she refuses to accept that Nightwing won.)

  • June 9, 2008, 8:20 a.m. CST

    Skaar does look great, but...

    by DuncanHines

    I Like Julie Bell's work, normally haven't seen anything from her in YEARS... and that cover is just plain ugly. Shame...

  • June 9, 2008, 8:21 a.m. CST

    And as for Planet Hulk...

    by DuncanHines

    That should be Hulk 5 (in the movies)

  • June 9, 2008, 8:45 a.m. CST

    So he noticed

    by Diagnostic

    she is a true red head?

  • June 9, 2008, 9:09 a.m. CST

    i'm glad everyone knows

    by Gatsbys West Egg Omlet

    Nightwing is the shit.

  • June 9, 2008, 9:16 a.m. CST

    Skaar actually looks pretty cool

    by kungfuhustler84

    but I wonder how long it will last. superhero offspring usually never get a very warm welcome so the duration of their own series is always pretty limited. The art does look really great though

  • June 9, 2008, 9:18 a.m. CST

    Nice, Snakes vs. Nick

    by BizarroJerry

    As the writer of the Snake-Eyes vs. Jonah Hex fight, I was quite prepared for Fury to somehow beat him. I like seeing the old veterans kick some younger guy's ass. But Snake-Eyes hasn't really faced a real martial arts specific character yet in this tourney, has he? And it's nice to see everyone seems to have liked Snakes taking Hex's hat! That was a last minute addition. I would think Nightwing may end up the victor, though. Interesting that they've both got their redheaded ladies, but then again, there's a lot of prominent comic book redheads. I assume that's because red looked better in the simpler color palettes when these comics started.<p>Geeky spur of the moment list of major comic redheads: Batgirl, Scarlett, Black Widow, Red Sonja, Jean Grey, Mary Jane Watson, and I've bored myself...

  • June 9, 2008, 9:19 a.m. CST

    Son of Hulk need keys to car!

    by Iowa Snot Client

    Son of Hulk smash Hulk if Hulk not give him keys to car!

  • June 9, 2008, 9:30 a.m. CST

    I agree with DuncanHines

    by unuseddraft

    Planet Hulk would be pretty sweet, but only if he's allowed to come back to earth and kick the shit outta everyone.

  • June 9, 2008, 9:48 a.m. CST

    Boo hiss! Kidding.

    by V'Shael

    I still think Nick should have won, but I can't fault the skill of the writer.

  • June 9, 2008, 9:53 a.m. CST

    Planet Hulk was cool.

    by JonQuixote

    Old-school awesome. And now that I made a comment, I'm going to shill. It's HULK WEEK over at the Bad Genious, including the finale to my Mighty Marvel Marathon.

  • June 9, 2008, 11:39 a.m. CST


    by listo65

    your my role model!

  • June 9, 2008, 11:40 a.m. CST

    oh and as for the championship..

    by listo65


  • June 9, 2008, 11:40 a.m. CST

    skaar rules!

    by SHEESH1

    i can't wait to read the son of the hulk books!

  • June 9, 2008, 11:45 a.m. CST

    I wonder if...

    by listo65

    I wonder if, in the history of the AINT IT COOL NEWS WEBSITE, anyone ever posted a very pointless and unnecessarily long statement about nothing at all.

  • June 9, 2008, 12:19 p.m. CST

    "Hulk cannot know what Son of Hulk is going through!"

    by rock-me Amodeo

    "Because Hulk was never a teenager!"<br><br>which is true...

  • June 9, 2008, 12:19 p.m. CST

    Guilty pleasure

    by Don Lockwood

    I dunno if you'd count it, although he HAS been in comic books, he's not originally a comic book character. Flash Gordon, anyone?

  • June 9, 2008, 12:33 p.m. CST

    I disagree, Duncan.

    by SleazyG.

    I don't recognize Julie Bell's name, so maybe you don't feel this matches up to past works you're familiar with. I think her cover looks pretty sharp, tho: all painted and Frazetta-like. I'd take it over Garney's picture of a teenager with a stick any day.

  • June 9, 2008, 1:06 p.m. CST

    Gotta side with SleazyG

    by rock-me Amodeo

    I love the Bell cover. Maybe I don't get art, but I think it's got that Vallejo-esque feel (wonder why, duh) that seems to sell a lot of calenders.<br><br>Plus, in a completely non-PC moment, Julie herself is a cutie.

  • June 9, 2008, 2:17 p.m. CST

    Your flawed battle thingy

    by fiester

    Seems to be leaning towards having Bat-Lite win it all--which is asinine since you had Batman and Cap go out early: both are widely considered to be the finest hand-to-hand combatants in their respective fictional worlds.

  • June 9, 2008, 2:37 p.m. CST

    I Don't Know Rock

    by optimous_douche

    Bruce Banner was a teenager and isn't the Hulk just a manifestation of his ID?<p> This is probably taking the discussion to a level it should never go, but fuck it we're here.

  • June 9, 2008, 3:15 p.m. CST

    X men 3 is my guilty pleasure

    by hallmitchell

    It rocked. Great action. Even just seeing the Sentinels head was awesome for me. Beast was fantastic. I love X men 3. It's the only X men film I own.

  • June 9, 2008, 3:43 p.m. CST

    Flawed battle thingy: I have two numbers for you

    by rock-me Amodeo

    18 and 1.<br><br> Need I say more?

  • June 9, 2008, 3:44 p.m. CST

    Optimous - well, here's the thing

    by rock-me Amodeo

    See, the Hulk...well, he never...I mean, Bruce Banner didn't have much of a child hood, so he didn't quite...<br><br>Ah, ya got me. Rats.

  • June 9, 2008, 3:49 p.m. CST

    Your flawed feister thingy...

    by Ambush Bug

    Sorry, guys but you Monday morning quarterbacks don't get much by way of attention or sympathy from me. This tournament has been up to you all. All submissions were considered and read. Anyone in the tournament had a chance to win if the fights were written well enough. If you aren't happy with the way things panned out, sounds like someone should have written up his own fight...

  • June 9, 2008, 4:42 p.m. CST

    Teen Hulk

    by Jonas Grumpy

    Crazy Magazine, anyone? Anyone? Early '80s? Am I the oldest one here?

  • June 9, 2008, 5:06 p.m. CST


    by DuncanHines

    I'm just not feeling that piece by her. She's better at pretty-looking and shiny characters. You can probably google image her old Marvel Masterpieces cards and see what I mean.

  • June 9, 2008, 9:58 p.m. CST

    Son of Hulk art looks good, but...

    by MisterE needs an inker.

  • June 9, 2008, 10:14 p.m. CST

    Guilty Pleasures...

    by SMARTASS8

    The Shadow Swamp Thing Swamp Thing Returns Superman 3 Batman Returns Fantastic Four(2005) Punisher(2004) Howard The Duck

  • June 9, 2008, 10:59 p.m. CST

    Cap may have been the best fighter

    by V'Shael

    but Nick has guile on his side. What was it Marvel called him last month? The most dangerous man in the Marvel Universe?