Bottom of the Pile: Mar. 25th, 2015
For an arc that has been not terribly inspired, this issue manages to be wonderfully so. With a "new" Juggernaut roaming around, the X-Men are forced to come up with a plan to defeat him. Only...no one wants to. It makes sense, right? The Juggernaut is one of the team's oldest villains. They've fought him for, no joke, fifty years and nothing ever seems to change. They've Stopped the Unstoppable dozens of times and at some point the joke gets kind of old--so to the see the team recognize the futility of their actions and actually pull back and try to think of a plan that might have some, y'know, permanance, felt so perfectly logical I was impressed.
Plus, the X-Men are probably the most overworked team in comics. Someone's always dying or reviving or entering fights where "no quarter is asked, and no quarter given". Storm at one point even proclaims she's just tired of all the darkness and just misses when she could be happy rather than carry the weight of endless X-problems on her shoulders. People forget that when Chris Claremont took these guys from the "sole failure of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby" and turned them into one of the most popular comics of the 1980's, it wasn't always about what threats you threw at the team, but far more frequently the emotions they were dealing with--whether they involved supervillains, their powers, or their friends. This was a great way to revisit that. (And don't worry, they totally smashed Juggernaut in his face later.)
The Cluemaster part was a bit weird and there are some lines of dialogue in this issue that make me want to lean towards it just being him ("Your parents were killed by some two-bit nobody"), but yeah. I called this a month ago. The first Court of Owls story ended a couple years ago, so it was about time for this little plot line to find its way back to us.
Okay, this is probably the most helpful Galactus has ever been. But at the same time....wow. When Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (DnA) first created the current Guardians of the Galaxy team, it was done because the universe was falling apart--there were some issues with a couple time-lost Guardians even then. But that was seven years ago--when Hickman had just started Secret Warriors and though it might sound like it, Secret Wars wasn't even a glimpse in the guy's eye.
There's almost no chance that this is what DnA originally intended, but I love how perfectly Dan managed to fold the larger story into what he was already doing. That used to be the point of the serial nature of superhero comics--sometimes the last guy would leave and a new guy would come and tie up the last of his plots while working on his own. It could be a mess, but every now and again someone would find an elegant solution to it all and it would work out like here, where there's an excellent synchronicity to it all.
New 52: Futures End
These are the worst kind of cliffhangers. After finally succeeding in returning to the past to get rid of Brother Eye, Tim is suddenly shot forward thirty-five years into the future to see what's changed. Is Brother Eye gone and the world "normal" again? Has an even worse future taken over? We don't know, and rather than allowing us at least one glimpse at the "future", and counting on the fact that we've been reading this series this long and maybe we'd just keep reading just to finish it out, they hold that from us just in case. Super annoying. Fortunately they wait is only a week.
I'm going to miss Claremont's Nightcrawler--and I'm stunned that a Nightcrawler comic actually lasted a full twelve issues. But no matter how much I've enjoyed it, this will remain weird. The book only ran a year--in comic time, that's probably a couple months, and yet somehow the main character managed to blow through two girls in twelve issues. One of them died and did the whole "our love will bring us back together" bit, and yet somehow Nightcrawler's just shrugging like "No it's totally normal to bounce from one love interest to another". Is this really Kurt Wagner or is it Tony Stark wearing a blue jacket and prototyping some teleport tech?
Secret Origin, the book meant to detail the history of our favorite superheroes in the New 52, has picked a very weird way to start winding down. The first two origins--Guy Gardner and John Constantine--flat out tell you it's basically a waste of time to even try to learn anyone's origin, since it's just gonna change anyway. And the third, Black Canary's, annoys the hell out of me.
For one thing, we're back to that "these guys don't have real names" thing they did with Tim Drake. There's no "Lance" family anymore, that's just Dinah naming herself after her deceased husband. Also, since there's no JSA on this Earth, she's gone from being a second-generation superhero taking after her mother to having a deadbeat mom and being yet another hero with no parents, joining the proud ranks of Batman and Nightwing. That's not bad company to be among, but...variety is the spice of life. And I don't understand why DC chose to create another hero with family issues. But what do I know? I'm not the guy in charge.
Not that Optimus Prime isn't one of the coolest heroes ever, but "god" is a bit much. Still and all, I like how Camien seems to differ so heavily from Cybertron. They're the tribe of Cybertronians that became gendered, but they also appear to be heavily religious. And whereas Cybertron spent several million years learning that Primes are just as (or more) fallible as everyone else, it seems the lesson has not been learned here.
And, barring someone turning Prime (yuck) evil, there's a good chance they'll always believe the Prime is perfect. Still, for the second part of "The Combiner Wars", this issue is pretty slow-paced. If this is going to top Dark Cybertron, I'm going need a lot more wars. And combining.
The second panel is where, were this animated, Tupac music would start playing and some thug life glasses would gradually float down. Fortunately, animated or not, Scott is always about that Thug Life.
Anyway, I'm probably going to remember Bendis' run for this the most: properly--and likely permanently--breaking up Scott and Emma. When I read Grant Morrison's X-Men where they first started dating, I thought it was a great development. As much as I love Cyclops, I thought Jean Grey was the most boring woman in the world, and Scott wasn't too much more interesting attached to her. They were the "perfect" couple. So while I'm not exactly in support of infidelity, Emma's relationship with Scott--from their early "mind sex" days where she would wear versions of Jean's Phoenix outfit, to the period where they were basically the "King and Queen" of mutants on Utopia--all served to make Scott more interesting, and Emma more likable.
Still, I guess everything works in cycles. I give it two years before Jean is back and they're dating again. But for now...I don't know, I guess it'd just be nice if everyone stopped treating a decent guy like he was the worst person in the world.
Author's Note: Bottom of the Pile is a weekly column (or at least, my attempt at said) in which I cover the comics that found their way to the bottom of my reading stack, thus being the "best". Since bog standard reviews can be found literally anywhere, coverage here can range from mini-reviews to funny comments to commentary on a creator's run or comics as a whole, depending on a wide range of factors including the comic itself, the amount of time I have, and my general mood.