Bottom of the Pile: Nov. 25th, 2015

Archie

"Lyrics are stupid. Music needs to SOUND good." They're two points that are totally separate and yet are often conflated with one another, and have been ruining modern music for at least ten years now. A piece of my soul may well have died reading it, yet I have to applaud Mark Waid because it kind of captures the youth of today spot-on.

The comic as a whole is excellent though, finally explaining to readers the dreaded "lipstick incident" that caused Archie and Betty, Riverdale High's most unbreakupable couple to, well...break up. It's a familiar story: they start listening to people outside the relationship. The most terrifying real life villain--two high-school kids--kick things off by essentially telling Betty she doesn't know how to gender right. This leads to a Hollywood-esque "makeover" where Betty goes from tomboy to super girly girl, then goes on a "date date" with her boyfriend Archie, which is incredibly awkward because when you've been together that long all the traditional aspects of dating were never there in the first place--they're just two people who enjoy one another's company and happen to like making out.  Betty senses the awkwardness and gets pissed because "I've seen you look at girls who look like this", and that's what makes it perfect.

Archie has the right to feel weirded out, because she changed the parameters of their relationship without asking, and Betty has the right to be angry because he should already understand that she's the same person on the inside, and ultimately they're both idiots because they should've talked this out with one another instead of just screaming, but it all works because teenagers are stupid and don't know any better. I haven't been this invested in a teenage relationship since Cory and Topanga, so I'm going to say we're on the right track.



Batman and Robin Eternal

The promise of this weekly series is that we'll see the twisted history that ties all of the Robins together, but this is our first hint that it's a red herring.  Or at least, one would hope that's the case.  The idea that all the Robins were somehow molded by some twisted matriarch that manipulates orphan children into perfect little "dolls" that can be sold to the obscenely rich for probably nefarious purposes is both disgusting and depressing, robbing several characters of the very agency that makes them who they are.  They would literally just be dolls in Bruce's

It's "obvious" that Bruce wouldn't have ever wanted a Robin *built* for him, but hopefully this shadowy organization run by "Mother" (quite the cool concept on her own) hasn't mysteriously "slipped" one either.


Guardians of the Galaxy

This comic is full of so many two-page spreads that there's technically only fourteen pages of story?  Comics get smaller every day.   Anyway: this new Guardians villain is just Fatality, right?   A powerful female warrior from a race of people destroyed (though there should still be a lot of Kree left) who now has an intense desire to kill those responsible for it.   The only difference here is Fatality was DEFINITELY after the right people--Hala here definitely is not.  Still, I have this strong feeling that she's going to become a part of the team once they have the real culprit to direct her hatred towards.

Which is fine, the Guardians are desperately in need of members that aren't from the film or a part of Marvel's strange beef with Fox over the lost Fantastic Four and X-Men rights.

Justice League of America

It was a big deal when I read Geoff Johns' Justice League back in 2012 and saw that Martian Manhunter had been the one "new" member of the team that had joined in the team's otherwise unseen five year history, but was kicked out for reasons unknown.   But here we are, three years later, essentially pretending like that never happened and that he's just a regular member of the team.  (Eventually we're just going to reintroduce every lost element from before the massive retcon.)

This is what's so irritating to me about New 52 continuity.  From Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis' Justice League run in the late 80's up until just before in the late 2000s, J'onn was basically the heart and soul of the League.  He would be a member even when the "heavy hitters" like Superman and Batman were considered by DC as "too important" for the team.  To see him now as an outsider...as someone who barely understands humanity at all...it's frustrating.  The New 52 was meant to be a chance for creators to tell stories unbound by continuity, but it seems like all we're getting are them covering the same ground that was already covered but in ever-so-faintly different ways, rather than finding new ways to progress their characters.

Silk
One of my favorite parts of the Spider-Man corner of Marvel, seeing this comic gone while Marvel got all their gears moving on the post-Secret Wars thing was kind of a bummer.  But it's back, and it's doing something far more writers should make a habit of doing: putting all the cards on the table in the opening issue.  After finally escaping from the bunker she'd been trapped in for over a decade, Silk spent her last ongoing trying to piece together a life again and hunt down the family she hasn't seen since she was 16.

Now, with second volume of Silk, the hook is that she's actually a "bad guy" now.  Most comic books would stretch the reasoning for that out, leaving the supporting cast and readers alike in the dark for an entire arc before finally explaining it all.  The danger here is that after being held in suspense for so long it's actually a toss-up as to whether or not the readers will consider the answer to the mystery legitimate or not.  Silk #1 leaves no room for "Is it worth it?" to be asked--revealing not only Silk's new job as a "villain" working under Black Cat, but also her true role as an agent of SHIELD (they accept so many scrubs, taking in someone who's basically Spider-Man but faster and with a better Spider-Sense has GOT to be a bonus) working with one of my favorite Avengers characters, Bobbi Morse (aka Mockingbird) to discover who poisoned her brother.  

Generally, showing this much off in the first issue displays confidence.  You keep things a secret because you're afraid they won't come back for the next issue, but here writer Robbie Thompson lays it all out with the assumption that you'll be back next month anyway.

Sinestro

I don't have much to say about this week's Sinestro, save that DC is always on point with making the "Lantern" version of a DC hero or villain's costume look cool.  It's always a merging that retains the elements that made the original memorable while also making them look unquestionably apart of whatever Corps they're (temporarily) hooked up to. 

Also, upon thinking about it, the leader of The Paling could have been no one else but a corrupt Guardian of the Universe.  The green ones have always been so concerned with "order" in their universe that they already inadvertantly wiped out one sector of the universe.  And an entire group of Guardians were murdered when they were finally pushed too far and created the so-called "Third Army" that meant to purge the entire universe of emotion.  Perhaps this is just the inevitable fate of all Guardians who stray too far from their core purpose?

Transformers: Sins of the Wreckers

Last Stand of the Wreckers is probably the single most popular Transformers-related thing to come out of TF media since the 2007 film, or possibly even the original Transformers movie.  So, here's a surprise: I never made it past the first issue.  Fortress Maximus was one of my favorite Autobots of all time, and if you read the story you know it doesn't go well for him, at all.  (If you haven't, the guy spends basically all of his appearances either beaten or tortured.)  Between that and the ridiculous amounts of gore, the whole thing was a wash for me pretty quickly.

Still and all, I'm willing to give Sins a shot.  And so far, no one's dead, though for the life of me I can't explain why human Verity Carlo has become such an enduring part of IDW Transformers lore.  All the other humans introduced in the Furman mini-series' that kicked IDW's G1 universe off are either dead or long gone, but Verity for whatever reason is like the new Spike Witwicky.   In either case, I'm fairly certain after the way the Wreckers GOT wrecked last mini-series, absolutely NOTHING is going to get made "better" with their appearance.

Venom: Space Knight

I'm supposed to hate this idea. Bendis basically retconned the origin of the symbiotes in order to turn Spider-Man's Black Costume from a murderous parasite into a toned down version of the Blue Beetle minus all the race of evil overtones. And former high-school jock/injured military veteran Flash Thompson wearing the symbiote at all--nevermind being a cosmic hero--is one of those ideas that should be noticed as a "this is too far from the core concept" deals and ignored with the quickness.

And yet it works--with Flash as the amusing everyman in a super suit, exploring other galaxies and saving innocent alien families as part of what is, presumably, a galactic peacekeeping force. Plus Ariel Olivetti's art is pure painted perfection. I finished the first issue and can't wait for the second, so consider me on board for now. And if nothing else, this is loads better than when he was a "Lethal Protector".

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