Friday, January 13, 2017

Rapid Nintendo Switch Thoughts

With the conference basically over and done with, I thought I'd go ahead and get some of my opinions about Nintendo's newest console out real quick.

Overall, the highs of the conference were really high.  Nintendo's major first-party titles all looked incredible--just about all of them were big AAA titles that looked fantastic.  It really looks like Nintendo came to play this year, and vy for that second place spot that Microsoft is lately looking like they don't care about very much.   That said, the lows of this conference were pretty fucking low.  They wasted so much time trying to explain the intricacies of the system that my friends and I were half sleep by the time they showed off their first game, which looked like a glorified tech demo.  The perfection of an edited Direct pulled away, they had to rely on their presentation skills--which have clearly atrophied after years of foregoing E3 and launching pre-prepared videos.

Other Thoughts:

- That price is much higher than I would've guessed, and that extends to basically everything.   The Switch itself is $300--the same price as the PS4 Slim and XBox One S.  This is in no way any kind of impulse buy--you're either rich or being told to choose between Nintendo and everyone else.  And that's before you get to the overpriced Joycons at $80, the new Pro controller being $70, and additional docks being $90.  Everything about this system seems like it costs $30-50 more than it should, but that's what happens when you have to create so much new tech I guess.

- Third party support seemed...anemic.  There were some big titles that I'll get to, but overall there were way too many people standing up on stage who basically went "This thing looks cool, I guess".  No More Heroes as a sequel would be cool, but why not hold back until there's a trailer?  Why is SEGA standing up there to talk about how they want to work on a game for the Switch in the future?  Why is EA only there for FIFA?  

- Having said all that, there's no way this thing doesn't do STUPID numbers this year as the calendar looks stacked: a long-awaited Zelda game in Breath of the Wild, the first 3D Mario game in years, a sequel to Splatoon, and a portable version of Mario Kart 8?   Those four games alone could easily move ten million consoles in the first year, something that sounds like a minor success but in all honesty is something Wii U wishes it could've done.

As for games that I enjoyed myself...

My mouth gaped from the moment I saw "Monolith Software".   The rumors were that there was an XCX port for the Switch in the works, and I absolutely would've been satisfied with just that--but then they announced this and I just melted.   A gorgeous fantasy world that looks like a mix of Skies of Arcadia and Baten Kaitos?     One of the creators close to the game claimed it was a 2017 game, and if so?  Fucking sold.  I'll pick up a Switch just off the strength of this title alone.

Octopath Traveler is the other title that really caught my eye as far as the Switch's initial reveal goes.   With art that looks like it belongs in a Tactics Ogre or an FFT, and graphics that are reminiscent of a tabletop RPG/diorama, this sold me on the Switch's capacity to allow handheld titles like this to come to the big screen.  In fact, the Switch offered quite a few RPGs in their presentation--which is usually a genre that gets woefully ignored until months later.

And of course, all that is without talking about how potentially cool Fire Emblem Warriors could be, the inevitable Pokemon Switch title, and that Zelda actually looked interesting to me for the first time in my life.  So while the Switch's actual presentation left much to be desired, a few of the games IN that presentation seemed like fun and I'm looking forward to seeing what they have for us in the future.   Hopefully the lines of communication are kept a little more open than they have been since the Wii U's sales fell off a cliff back in 2014.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Bottom of the Pile: January 4th, 2017

It's here--the first comics day of 2017, and I'm back (albeit a tad late) with the first Bottom of the Pile column of the year.   If you didn't know, Bottom of the Pile is a column where I take some of my favorite comics (anywhere from 5 to 10, depending on the week) and talk about them.  It can be anything from funny commentary, exploration of the themes and ideas being used by the author, or even a flat-out mini-review.   The hope is that I get you interested in the comic itself, because if it found its way here there's a good chance I think it's one of the best on the stands that week.  Please feel free to share this column as many places as you like, and comment if you think it's good (or if you think it's bad).

Kang War One continues, with Wasp journeying through the timeline holding the baby Kang in an attempt to return him to his rightful place in time and keep Kang from having ever wiped out the entire team as infants. I know this is meant to be a statement on the Avengers' mission, mixed with a little bit of the ultimate Minority Report "you can't judge someone on what they haven't done yet" type of deal, but...realistically.  C'mon.  This isn't a "maybe he might turn out evil" sort of story--Kang is easily one of the Avengers Top Three villains in a walk, and even if we tried to say they placed him somewhere where he wouldn't end up evil.....his future self essentially traveled back in time to kill you so that he'd be the same.   

I don't ever want to say one person can ever be responsible for someone else's actions--down that road leads to you calling heroes murderers for not being murderers with respect to most of their rogues' gallery--but the idea that Kang has to be protected just because he's a child feels...uncomfortable.   You could throw that kid into a fire and literally save millions, possibly billions of lives across time.   The only reason not to do it is because Kang's time-travelled so much, killing him at birth would cause so many paradoxes I'm not sure if Earth-Prime's timeline wouldn't literally fold in and implode on itself. 

 Death of Hawkman

I've been saying since the beginning that Death of Hawkman feels like the prelude to a much larger story, and with every issue that feeling grows.  Now that Despero has caused war between the two most recognizable/notable races in the DCU that don't have family crests emblazoned on the chests of their outfits, and is drenched in the arcane Nth Metal, I feel like he belongs as the villain to a story that has more powerful protagonists attempting to stop him than just Adam Strange and Hawkman.   Or at least more development on the fall out between two great powers in the universe going to war.  Of course, this might all just be my desire for DC to finally come out to a worthy counterpart to Marvel's excellent Annihilation series.

 Justice League
This month's Justice League is a Justice League vs. Suicide Squad tie-in, featuring the story of how Max Lord learned the location of the "Lost Prisoners" (more on that later) he freed at the beginning of the event, during an intense prison showdown with Amanda Waller.  In this altered timeline, Checkmate is once again headed by Max Lord--and rendered even more defenseless, as Lord manipulates the rest of Checkmate's royal members into being removed from service.  This leaves Max as the sole controller of the massive spy organization.   If this sounds eerily familiar to you too, don't worry--we're all just having 2005 flashbacks.

Of course, if we're at the part where Max is head of Checkmate, I'd really love if we skipped ahead later this year and got to the part where Checkmate is a kick-ass comic showing the spycraft that happens in the DC Universe.   With Spyral, The Court of Owls, and a rejuvenated H.I.V.E. running around just to start, that's a book that's begging to be brought back.

 Justice League of America - The Atom Rebirth
I love that Ray has chosen this incredibly garish "research rig" along with a catchy "code name" and yet still tries to pass himself off as something other than a future Justice League member.  This week started one of the four tie-ins we'll be seeing in the lead up to the new Justice League of America series we'll be getting from Steve Orlando (Supergirl, Apollo & Midnighter).   I wasn't really sure before, but its books like this that convince me the end of Rebirth simply isn't going to be any kind of massive reboot that restores the pre-Flashpoint universe.  It's basically a complete re-working of not only Ray Palmer's origin as The Atom (turning him into a Type A, charge headlong, almost swashbuckling sort of hero), but Ryan Choi's--explaining how they worked together before The Atom was a thing, and how Ryan actually helped Ray with his adventures in the Microverse.

By the end of all this, at best I'm expecting an Infinite Crisis-level rejiggering that leads to the timeline being a little less "smushed", but that's about it.  Still, the 2006-2010 era of DC Comics has some of its best stories in it, so perhaps its not all bad?   As for Ryan's new origin--I like the idea of him and Ray being partners, but I may be slightly irked that he seems to be allergic to nearly everything.  Still, in just these 20 some odd pages he goes out of his way to show how he wants to overcome all that--and seeing a character actively trying to improve makes all the difference for me.

Justice League vs. Suicide Squad
This is Superman's reaction when, after being freed from Belle Reve by Batman and shown the "Lost Prisoners" by Amanda Waller, they finally get to the leader of the group--one Maxwell Lord.  This is actually a fantastic scene, because it's the most direct tie to the original pre-Flashpoint universe we've seen since Wally West came back.  If you'll remember, this version of Superman is the original, pre-Flashpoint variety.  But usually when he has flashbacks its mostly to nineties events, otherwise he talks about the "old" universe in kind of vague generalities...until now.

For those who forgot (or weren't reading comics then), Max Lord was once a gladhanding liason for the Justice League during the infamous sitcom "Bwahaha" version of the 80's.  After that largely successful run ended, the book was re-tooled by Grant Morrison and the team became the same joke in the comics that it was in real life...except for the missing Maxwell Lord.  In 2005's Countdown to Infinite Crisis, it was revealed that Max had conquered the global spy organization Checkmate and had been amassing files on all of them with the desire to bring them all down, deciding they were unworthy of protecting the planet.  How did Max, who previously had all the swag of a used car salesman and the charisma of an informercial character, pull this off?   A unique form of mind control, that allowed him to "push" people into doing things they wouldn't normally.   And though it took years, Max eventually gained control over the biggest potential asset possible: Superman.

On the verge of being caught, Max sent Supes into battle against his friends...and forced him to fight Wonder Woman, who was just barely able to hold him off and break the hold Max had on him--if ever so briefly.   But once Max revealed he could claw back into Supes' mind whenever he wished, Diana was left with only one choice: break his neck.  It was one of the most iconic moments of late 2000's DC, and the actions of both Max and Diana left the Trinity shattered for months. This is a person that Superman shouldn't just recognize, he should be pissed.  And so he is, with Josh Williamson creating a tiny moment that should've excited literally every continuity geek reading.

As much as I'd love to like Lady Bullock here, I'm going to need her to be corrupt.  Otherwise this is some of the most idiotic detective work I've seen since Hong Kong Phooey.  With literally zero going for a proper motive, we've simply decided that someone who at one point was a non-violent offender and served their time, has decided to murder a person they can't even prove she knows.  Because "I try not to overthink it".   If this is how Bludhaven cops do their jobs, no wonder it seems more dangerous than Gotham--half the people in jail have to got to be innocent, while the real crooks keep getting to commit crimes while the cops are left wondering where all the illicit activity is.  "I mean, we locked all the crooks up, right?"

What's sad here is that Rich was once one of the youngest heroes in the Marvel Universe--pretty sure he started at age 16.   If you think about it in terms of the sliding timescale, for Rich and Sam to both make sense, Richard and Peter Parker had to have been in high school at the same time.  In any case, Richard makes one hero who's wondering when all that Marvel heroes suddenly became children.  Can we go for two...?

The Unstoppable Wasp
And there goes number two.  Mockingbird's a little more justified though--by the time she came on the scene she was at least in her mid-twenties, early-thirties.

In any case, The Unstoppable Wasp is probably the nicest book you're going to read all month.  Nadia Pym is literally the happiest, sweetest girl walking the Earth in this comic--handing out sweets and hugs and compliments to everyone she meets, making it impossible to dislike her without being an utter dick.  So even though this book was just a tad too light-hearted for how I like my usual mainline superhero stories, I'll still give this book until its first arc is over with.


Have you ever read a comic that puts a big, goofy grin on your face?  Just an earnest sense of child-like enjoyment?   For me, that was this week's Superman.  Honestly, as much as I've found the Adventures of Super-dad a change of pace from the typical Superman stories, I haven't been a huge fan of the book itself.  It's certainly unique just because this is one of the more static characters in the DC Universe, but ultimately it mostly doesn't give me what I want from a Superman comic.

...Y'know, until this issue.  Kickstarting the newest arc of Pete Tomasi's Superman, Multiplicity begins with Earth-30 Superman landing on New Earth after running from a strange alien race known as The Gatherers who are seeking to collect versions of Supermen for something called "The Lyss" made by their master, Prophecy.    Multiplicity takes the coolest thing DC's done in half a decade--Grant Morrison's Justice League of the Multiverse--and finally puts it to use in an Earth Prime story.   Despite making such a big deal out of it in 2006, the stories that have involved the multiverse since it came back have been locked away in crossovers, bad, or both.  (Hello, Countdown: Arena.)    Multiplicity might be the first story in a long while that's none of these things, and hopefully doing this the door's opened for us to see other DC characters get to explore this wide range of alternate universes.   Don't create a new toy box if you're never going to open it.

The Unworthy Thor
Jason Aaron has really put the Odinson through the ringer.  After months of being unworthy, and weeks of being brutally beaten and caged by The Collector and his men in an attempt to reach the one surviving hammer from the Secret Wars event, Thor finally manages to get free with the help of Beta Ray Bill.   But its too late--overcome by rage and shame, Thor explodes on Bill and nearly full-on attacks him before other enemies distract both their attention.   After seeing them off, Thor is left with a new test...the test to see if he can raise Stormbringer, and regain the glory he feels he's lost since Mjolnir was stripped from him.

The story has unfolded a little slower than I'd like, but ultimately its a question that Thor should've had asked of him ages ago: are you still worthy, and what constitutes being worthy to begin with?  Being deemed so centuries ago doesn't mean he shouldn't still get tested from time to time, and see what lies underneath all the hair and the muscles and bravado.  Ultimately, the fact that he feels incomplete without his hammer makes sense in a sad sort of way.  Thor, a viking god, feels most at home when he's in the midst of battle....and with his best weapon taken from him, not only is he simply less effective, he's less of a warrior...and thus, feels like he's less of a person.  Hence his break down in this issue--unable to weather the indignities foisted upon him since Original Sin ended, he finally just...snaps.  It's an unfortunate state of affairs for the original God of Thunder, but something he must see and overcome before we build him into the King that Jason's been hinting at since his run began.

 U.S. Avengers

And finally let's top things off with a little subtle election talk.  U.S.Avengers was an iffy concept to me at first--I was bothered by the idea that the comic didn't simply continue being about the New Avengers--but this issue was really fantastic.  Al Ewing introduces all the main heroes, and easily differentiates them all with a simple hook: showing what it means to them to be an American.   Through this question we come to understand these characters better...but also since it's a superhero series we get to see them storm the base of a group who believes that we live in a "post-truth world".

I certainly hope this comic doesn't get overly preachy, but if its going to have smart, subtle commentary like this I'd love to have it continue so maybe people can learn from Ewing and stop being so overt with their own. 

And that's it for this week!  I'll be back this Thursday hopefully with Deathstroke, Detective Comics, Hal Jordan, the Justice League/Suicide Squad stuff, and more.  Look forward to it~ 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Why Aren't You Reading Superwoman?

We're officially six months into DC's Rebirth project, a line-wide publishing initiative meant to restore the sense of legacy and the bonds between characters back to the DC Universe.   With a mission statement like that, one might almost think that the entire thing would be full of older characters from decades past, but Rebirth has come up with a nice mix of both new and old heroes (and villains!) to give the line the variety it needs.  And right now, for a couple reasons, there are few better new heroes (or comics) coming from DC right now than Superwoman.

#1 It's For Continuity Freaks: For a title focused on what's basically a new hero, Superwoman's jam-packed with ties to older DC Comics.   Lana Lang was once a seldomly used character--but writer Phil Jimenez takes the opportunity to populate her comic book with well-known characters from the Superman mythology.   Lana's love interest for Superwoman?  John Henry Irons, A.K.A. Steel.    From Steel we get his niece Natasha Irons, who's starts the series working alongside Lana and her uncle as a so-far unnamed armored hero.  And no hero's solo comic is complete without a connection to the police, and Superwoman features Science Police division head Maggie Sawyer, back in Metropolis after several years in Gotham.  Even the first issue before Lois dies and Lana Lang is forced to take her place is a neat little riff on the Superman Red and Blue costumes from the 90's.

Of course, the ties don't just stop at the heroes.   The first major villain of Superwoman's comic is Lena Luthor, driven mad by her boosted intelligence that's courtesy of a unique Mother Box left on Earth after the Darkseid War from Justice League.   Her legs completely healed, the first arc sees Lena take on the alter ego of "Ultrawoman", wearing a modified version of Lex's old power suit from the early 80's while using an army of lady Bizzaro's in an attempt to conquer Metropolis.  She also seems to have captured a vast number of Superman's old enemies for her army--from Atomic Skull to the Kryptonite Man.

There's even a reference to Lana's old identity as the "Insect Queen", with Natasha showing off an armor that's almost certainly going to play a part in the finish of this first arc.  (I hope.)  For all of the DC longtime fans that are looking for titles closer to what was coming out pre-Flashpoint, Superwoman is one of the closest to that level--it creates new bonds and reinforces many of the old ones that DC Universe: Rebirth claimed had vanished.

#2 Diversity: The biggest criticism I saw prior to the Rebirth initiative starting was that it was going to restore the DC Universe to a place where there was nothing but a bunch of white men running everything.  Though I always found that to be ridiculous (and working off patently incorrect information about the pre-Flashpoint universe), there's no denying that we're in an era where diversity is an important cornerstone of most of the major comics being published today.   And if that's a concern for you, Superwoman's kind of all about it. 

Written by one of comics' premiere LGBT creators in Phil Jimenez, Superwoman is unique in that not only is the lead hero a woman, but it's first/lead villain is as well.  Lex is sidelined early by Ultrawoman for just generally being a self-centered dick, leaving Lena to get further in taking over Metropolis in five issues than Lex has since he became President back in '04.    Meanwhile, Superwoman might just be providing us with DC Comics' first major interracial relationship between Lana and John Henry in years, a union that actually strengthens both characters in terms of their place in the Superman mythology, their place in the DC Universe as a whole (I'm a sucker for superhero couples joining a team together), and the overall readability of the comic.  Steel's always been one of my favorite DC characters (I'm a sucker for armored heroes), so while I came here for Phil Jimenez and to see the secret of Superwoman, I'm staying for Steel and his niece.

Speaking of, while it came as a bit of a shock to see Natasha Irons suddenly revealed as a queer character, it's not an unwelcome change.  I'm just happy to have Natasha and Traci 13 back at all--Natasha was actually starting to develop a storyline unique to herself between 52 and Infinity Inc, and Traci is just a cool magical character, the kind DC has been sorely missing since they reduced the magic side of their world to just Justice League Dark and Constantine.  Ultimately, neither of the two had such established heterosexual relationships that it hurts anything to make them queer, but it does make Superwoman and the DCU feel more inclusive--something many find necessary, particularly after Flashpoint made Grace Choi and Anissa Pierce vanish.   (Plus it's not like I don't see where this could've come from.)

#3 It's Really Good: Of course, neither of the aforementioned reasons would matter if this comic wasn't good.  Except, Superwoman is frequently one of the best comics on the stands from month to month.  Featuring gorgeous artwork by Emanuela Luppachino, the action in Supergirl pops off the screen in beautiful, vibrant colors and reads almost like a Superman cartoon for a new era.

And Jimenez is doing all sorts of cool stuff with these characters. Everything begins with the mystery of how Lois died, and Lana Lang's subsequent struggle to live up to her (and Clark's) legacy of wanting to protect Metropolis while trying to understand why her powers are killing her.  Then there's Natasha's quest for an identity as a superhero--she's spent the past five issues working alongside her uncle and his girlfriend as a hero, but has yet to come up with a name for herself that would have meaning to her.  It sounds insignificant, but a hero's name can often color how you see them--and Natasha's never exactly had the strongest choices. 

Next there's Atomic Skull--all too often we see heroes battle the villains only for them to return later, often stronger and more deadly than ever--making the fights themselves seem futile.  But after revealing that Luthor's prisons are abusing the powers of their superpowered inmates, Atomic Skull later helps save Metropolis and seems to feel good about the idea of helping other people.  A minor DCU villain dating back to the late 70's, seeing Superwoman have an affect on not just the people she saves, but the actual "bad guys" makes her seem truly heroic.

Lastly, and potentially the most cool part of Superwoman, is that it feels like it's as much about it's main hero Lana Lang as it is about Metropolis itself.  Putting other heroes besides Superman on display, reintroducing some of the elements of the Superman mythology that have fallen through the cracks--like the Ace o'Clubs bar or the Science Police division, the book has put a lot of work into fleshing out the city, and it's a welcome development.  I've always felt that Gotham has long been just as important a character to Batman as Robin or Alfred, but far too often Metropolis can just feel like a backdrop for Superman to punch things in.

The reason I wrote this at all is that I've seen the sales of Superwoman, and they kind of bum me out.  Superwoman #4 sold roughly 30k, and while that's not nearly cancellation numbers--sales trend downwards more often than not.   Though it doesn't feel like it--Superwoman is for all intents and purposes a new hero, featuring a talented team that's doing a lot of cool things with their little corner of the DCU, and they've barely even gotten started.   I spend a lot of time complaining about how DC only ever promotes Batman and Bat-related things, and here they've gone and done something REALLY cool in the area of the House of El, so I'd be remiss if I didn't ask: Why Aren't You Reading Superwoman?

Bottom of the Pile - December 21st, 2017

This could've easily been an overly saccharine moment, as our lady hero Chalice comes out for the first time to her brother, but the combination of dark levity and keeping things focused on other things like being hunted by an insane supervillain cannibal helps to make this the most heartfelt moment of the week for me. 

The theme with"Alters" seems to be that superpowers just can't fix everything.  At the end of last issue a fellow superhero, Morph, got injured during Chalice's first run-in with Matter Man. This issue, we discover that despite being a shapeshifter--the damage done to his spine is seemingly permanent and will leave him unable to walk or use his powers again.  If this were DC or Marvel, I'd be pissed at the idiotic limitations placed on someone who should in theory have complete control over his body--but the sense in Alters is that powers don't always help, sometimes they just complicate. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Bottom of the Pile - December 14th, 2016

This was initially going to be a much, much longer article, but Blogger lost my initial draft and I honestly just don't have it in me to start them ALL over again.  So this is an approximation of the best material of the original, before I move on to last week's comics and then THIS week's comics.

Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows

If you were wondering how Mary Jane as a superhero is going, you go.  Renew Your Vows #2 shows the same day from issue one, only from Mary Jane's perspective.  By doing so, the writer re-frames your entire view of the character, erasing the sort of flighty, flaky girl you're used to and revealing her to be this goals-oriented, driven woman who only seemed flighty because her mind was on a billion things at once.   Showing her as a woman who splits her time between running a clothes shop, a fashion blog, being a mom AND a superhero, Mary Jane is basically the opposite of Peter--she doesn't take pictures or tell jokes, she just punches bad guys in the face and webs off.   Sure, her new name (Spinneret?  Yuck.) needs work, but by the end of this issue Gerry Conway had made MJ seem a strong enough character to justify this book basically being about her.

Detective Comics

This is quite possibly the strongest Batman/Tim Drake panel, ever.  Set just before the start of James Tynion's arc and Batman's formation of his "Gotham Knights", Tim clues Bruce into the true potential of Batman's wide-reaching influence.   What's most fascinating about people who attempt to poke holes into the idea of Batman is how often people bring up that his fortune would be better spent on philanthropic efforts, ignoring that: a.) he already does that, and b.) people do that in real life and the world hasn't magically transformed into a utopia, and we don't have nutcases like the ones in his rogues gallery running around.

But in a comic book that's been consistently great from the moment Tynion started his run, this scene pushes past great and reaches excellence.  It (unintentionally, I'm certain) hints at the eventual DC One Million end of Gotham, which saw the city turned into a crime-free beacon of hope.  Secondly, in just a single two-page splash it encapsulates the entire point of Tim and Bruce's relationship.  The only reason Tim Drake ever donned the cape and mask in the first place is because he believed Bruce needed the light to balance out the darkness of Batman.  And here he is, being that light for Bruce's path into a better tomorrow.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps
If I was trying to downplay how good Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps before, I've got to give it up now.  In a single issue we've reintroduced my favorite Lantern Kyle Rayner, saw him bring back Hal Jordan to life, and made restoring the Blue Lantern Corps (the Hope Lanterns) a major priority going forward.   And that's without even discussing the killer last page reveal.

Since returning from the last universe, the Lanterns have been zipping across creation attempting to re-establish their place as the premiere force for peace and order in all 3600 sectors.  But after a mission on Xudar goes wrong, the team ends up captured on the planet by what initially seems to be Brainiac...until eventually we see the robot hoarder talk about his "master", something that seems initially puzzling until its revealed that Brainiac now serves Larfleeze of the orange light of greed, who realizes he's captured not only whatever exists of the GLC, but the remainder of the Sinestro Corps as well.   It's such a delicious twist and delivered so perfectly that I can't help loving it.

We're truly building up not only the space corner of the DCU, but reviving all these great Corps that were inexplicably torn down not long after Geoff Johns left GL, and it feels awesome.

 Wonder Woman
As I correctly predicted, the eventual twist to the chapters of Wonder Woman set in the present revealed that Diana not only could no longer return home to Themyscira...but that she'd never been.  A fact that was highlighted when she attempted to do so only to meet a version of the Amazons and her mother Hippolyta that were entirely unfamiliar to her.   This means that a lot of the memories Wonder Woman has had since the New 52 began are potentially false, highlighted by the excerpts from future issues that see several of Wonder Woman's villains taking advantage of her weakened mental state, not the least of which being Veronica Cale, Greg Rucka's genius scientist that's meant to be the Amazonian Princess' version of Lex Luthor.

Where am I going with all this?  Well, it's never made sense to me that Wonder Woman was a god(dess) of war, and now this issue of WW seems to agree: Diana explicitly states that Ares is not a patron god of the amazons, even though other comics had very plainly stated she'd taken over Ares' job.    It's not that Diana can't be a goddess--she was the goddess of truth for a brief time in the late 90's--but the desire to bring peace to Patriarch's World that's almost hardcoded into Diana's DNA both in-universe and creatively means that for her to be the goddess of war isn't just weird, it's almost antithetical to her existence.  Having said all that, and seeing this panel here, it's possible we're approaching a point at which it's revealed Diana was never the goddess of war at all.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Uchuu Sentai Kyuuranger: Just when I thought I was out...

(Forewarning: This is going to be more of a rant than a structured post.)

Dammit.  I was done!  Done, I tells ya.  ToQger had a similar appeal to me it'd have to an anal-retentive English teacher: this name looks stupid, get it away from me. Ninninger tried, but ultimately the neat design and ties it had to all the previous ninja-based tokusatsu series couldn't quite compare to how idiotic its main character and how frustrating their teacher both were.   (The rest of the characters besides MomoNinja were just too milquetoast for me to have much of an opinion on.)

And Zyuohger?  The name feels unoriginal, the furries are somehow less cool than Doggy Kruger even though we're a full decade-plus removed from Dekaranger, the suit design is lackluster and the mecha continue to suck almost worse than it usually does, and lately mech design has been lacking with very few exceptions.

Bottom of the Pile: December 7th, 2016


Much as I hate to admit it, the second issue of this series isn't nearly as strong as the first.  Last issue, in an attempt to take out his rage on the Avengers for kidnapping his infant self, Kang (and his alternate, paradoxical self the The Scarlet Centurion) went back in time and murdered all the Avengers in their cribs, wiping them out from time.  Well...all except for Hercules, who Kang either considered beneath his notice or was unable to locate at birth.   
This issue, we discover a future version of Kang who discovered the error of his ways basically snatched the Avengers out of time before they could be erased from time, leaving them stranded until a battle with a time-protected Hercules allows them to return for one final battle with Kang.  One in which, despite being Earth's Mightiest Heroes, the group kind of gets smacked around like a bunch of chumps.  They made such a big deal out of having the six of them be enough but honestly it really looks like they could use an Iron Man and maybe a Scarlet Witch or a Quicksilver.  

In any case, it really just feels like not much happens this issue.  Vision realizes they'll only be free of Kang if they return the baby back to his birthplace, but then that just raises the question of: why did we do this at all?   Vision's plan just seems poorly thought out and not really worth the trouble of raising the ire of Kang since they weren't prepared to fight the guy in the first place.  Except Hercules, who had Kang attempt to drain years from his life only to end up backhanding him so hard he got knocked outside reality.

Even the art has kinda lost its appeal to me--last issue it looked mythical, this time it just looks kind of "abstract".  Which is almost certainly appealing to many readers, but given this is a story about on time travel and looks to be visiting the future very, very soon--I'd prefer something a little more concrete, with a sleek style that could embody the futuristic tone things have been going after the team took out that ice dragon in issue one.

Still, I'm onboard for the long haul.  Mark Waid's a genius and I'm certain he's got a few tricks to surprise me before this story's done.