Bottom of the Pile: October 2nd, 2013

With my schedule (somewhat) clearing up, I thought it was about time to bring this back, so here we go.

Detective Comics 24

Detective Comics is one of the few DC Comics that survived "the purge" (more on that later), and that's mainly off the strength of Jason Fabok's beautiful, dynamic art and John Layman's stories.  We pick up right where we left off in August, with Batman facing off against the deadly Wrath.  The climax is a little rushed, but its fun to see Batman's gadgets go beyond "stuff that miraculously fit in his belt", as Batman basically suits up in a giant Bat-inspired Iron Man suit for a final throwdown.

The idea that Batman just had something like that on hand is all by itself reason enough for me to love this issue.  But I also love that Layman has (re-)introduced a Bat-villain that can give Bruce a challenge physically as well as mentally, one that also serves as a dark, shattered reflection of what Batman could have become; a crazed murderer who killed both cops and criminals alike.  And finally, most of all I just love that they finally introduced a Bat-villain that Batman isn't technically responsible for creating.  At some point you really do have to wonder just when you're doing more harm than good, after all. 

Too bad next month is dragging us into Zero Year, as this issue had managed to settle back into a good pace for the next month's installment.

Earth 2 16

Hats off to James Robinson for hitting me with a twist that I should have expected, but totally didn't.  With the war against Steppenwolf brought to an abrupt end (and a new war taking its place), James Robinson's last issue has reminded me just how good of an omelet he managed to make out of several broken eggs.  Writer Tom Taylor (Injustice: Gods Among Us) takes over next issue, and he was left with one hell of a cliffhanger ending.

My only problem/question with Earth 2 can be summed up pretty much with this: when do things get better?   The Wonders have all gathered together to battle against the threat of Darkseid and his generals, but for the second time since this book started they've gotten thrashed.  And things can only be worse now that Darkseid has this new person in his arsenal.   I fear we may never get back to the days of the Justice Society/All-Star Society/Infinity Inc., or even Geoff Johns' JSA at this rate.  At one point this was the Earth where heroes were allowed to grow old, change, pass their legacies on--now it seems its just the world where they got kicked in the balls by old stone face.

Forever Evil 2

At one point I wondered exactly what the point of this crossover was since the base plot was much like Grant Morrison's Final Crisis.  With issue 2, things are suddenly clarified: this book, thus far, is purely about the villains.  Aside from a couple isolated appearances, the good guys are largely nowhere to be found and the issue instead focuses on the Crime Syndicate and what's looking to be their most fearsome opponent: Lex Luthor.  

As much as I hated Villains Month, Forever Evil seems to have more of a purpose, showing us just how this twisted, broken mirror image version of the Justice League works compared to the original team.  Learning about their team dynamics has been genuinely interesting to read so far, and just as interesting are some of the questions being set up that hopefully we'll start to get answers on soon: what happened to the Justice League?  Why was the Crime Syndicate so set on leaving Earth-3, and what did they leave behind?  How does the League come back from this?  And how does the world recover after being so horrifically decimated?  Geoff's got five issues to answer these, so there's really no reason for him to waste a single one.

The only problem I'm having with Forever Evil so far is the murky art.  Full stop, it could just be better, but it gets the job done.

All-New X-Men 17

As stupid as the main idea behind Battle of the Atom is, I have to admit the story itself has grabbed me.  Brian Bendis is excellent at writing dialogue, a fact that comes in handy when he has to juggle three or four different X-Men squads, all in one book while still making them unique.

While some of the earlier parts of this new X-Over were a little dry, with All-New 17 the ideas that were mentioned and story potential we have now that "the truth" has come out has made this book truly compelling.  

Superior Foes of Spider-Man 4

The hook of Superior Foes of Spider-Man has been pretty cute so far.  It's like a dysfunctional Ocean's 11 of supervillains, with a team that's held together pretty much by the never-ending lies of its leader, Fred Meyers (AKA Boomerang).  Still, I have to say that they lost me with this one.

Oh, the hook certainly still works if you're into it, but part of the reason stories like this are able to persuade you into caring is because of the characters.   You'd never call them heroes, you'd never call them good people, but they're not outright monsters so their charismatic nature carries them makes them lovable.  But its a lot harder to like a guy when you know he's a sociopathic murderer, which is something that happens in the fourth issue of Superior Foes of Spider-Man.

As the team gets ready to retrieve the head of Silvermane for the Chameleon, we're treated to the typical heist related hijinks that Superior Foes has made us acquainted with, including a hilarious conversation with the original Heroes for Hire, and a scene during which Boomerang pisses off a Phillies fan, only to asking her out a few pages later.  And everything, up to the tail end of the book, is honestly fairly solid.  But if they stick with the ending on the last page, I'm not sure how much longer I can stick with this title.  Shame too, because the creative team is otherwise killing it.


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