Bottom of the Pile: Oct 9th, 2013

Astro City 5

Any week in which Astro City comes out is a good one.  No other comic series displays this much love for superheroes and continuity despite remaining accessible and interesting month in and month out.  This month we revisit the Broken Man; introduced in episode 1, the Broken Man has been our guide into the latest volume of Astro City, telling us about goings on both old and new since our last visit.   Obsessed with a far-reaching conspiracy theory, the last page of issue 1 showed us that the Broken Man could just be like those whackjobs who see triangles and immediately think Illuminati.

Well now Kurt is doubling back on us and showing that there may be more to the Broken Man's accusations about what's really going on than we thought, with a lovely story that plays with traditional narration techniques to tell us readers that there's definitely something fishy going on in the world of Astro City, though exactly what it is remains to be seen.  All-in-all though, its a beautiful comic book with gorgeous illustrations from Brent Anderson, who can bring to life everything from a pulp-y 1940's Jonny Quest-like tale to a cult deep in the rainforests of a country we've never heard of.    Comic book superheroes at their finest.

Superman/Wonder Woman 1

I approve of Superman/Wonder Woman both as a couple and as a comic.  As a couple because DC needs to show me at least one new thing to justify why we lost so many great characters and why their line overall is so weak.

I approve as a comic because...its actually good.  Writer Charles Soule's story is brought to life by Tony Daniel's beautiful pencils.  It's nothing special; but it does a great job of introducing us to the lives of Superman and Wonder Woman both in and out of the costume.  It doesn't feel ancillary, nor does it drown itself in so much continuity that you're lost as to what's going on with these characters.  Superman and Wonder Woman are a couple, they're together both in and out of costume--that's really all you need to know with this opening issue, and they hit the ground running after that.

Already the book has set up the couple's first big challenge (their polar opposite stances on secret identities and Clark's insistence that they keep their relationship a secret), while also presenting an idea I've wanted to see for ages: someone training Superman.  Not only does it just make sense as there have been so many times where Superman hasn't been the strongest guy in the room that its actually becoming irresponsible that he doesn't know how to fight, but it also clicks from a relationship standpoint.  In every couple each person has something to offer the other; Diana can teach Clark how to fight, and hopefully Clark can help Diana learn how to mute that warrior temper of hers, just a bit.

Oh, and that ending?  HYPE.  

Transformers: Robots in Disguise 21

I don't know how many times I've said this, but both Robots in Disguise and More than Meets the Eye are consistently two of the best titles in comics, every month.  Continuing the ramp up into their next "Crossover", Dark Cybertron, Robots in Disguise contrasts the two unbelievably similarly named Soundwave and Shockwave.

It starts out slightly confusing, but as Soundwave's odd form of Decepticon hope and idealism makes itself plain against Shockwave's cold objective plans for the future, the two characters suddenly become impossible to mix up, as the future of a planet recently freed from war starts to become dark again. 

It's my hope that we never see another full-on Decepticon/Autobot war in this continuity, but at this point, both John Barber (RiD) and James Roberts have both earned more than enough faith from me to follow them where ever they go. 

Meanwhile Andrew Griffith and Livio Ramondelli create a perfect contrast of "past and present", with Ramondelli's somewhat scratchy artwork seeming cold and distant (the way the past is often viewed) while Andrew Griffith's art is bright and vibrant, both thanks to beautiful colors by Priscilla Tramontano

X-Men 6

Battle of the Atom is proof of just how stupid (in a good way) comics can get while still being immensely entertaining.  There's enough time jump craziness packed into this crossover to make your head explode, and yet I still can't stop turning the page to figure out what's going to happen next.

With the X-Men now learning that the "future" X-Men aren't who they claimed, it's full-on war, as we learn just what these new X-Men are truly capable of.   With the good guys largely rendered unable to act, we are soon introduced to the "good" future X-Men, who come back to keep their enemies from achieving their goal.  It's complicated and dumb, but it makes sense so long as you start from the beginning, and most importantly?  It's crazy, crazy fun.  I can't wait to see how it all turns out. 


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