Saturday, July 4, 2015

Bottom of the Pile: Jul. 1st, 2014

JiH's longest-running column returns. 

A-Force

For Doom to have "crowned" barons of each realm, it sure seems as if each one's hold on their power is just as, if not more precarious, as it would be on the real world.   Also, it seems like the ladies of A-Force just can't stay out of trouble.  After losing junior member Miss America during what should've been a standard "stop the giant monster wrecking the city" mission, they're right back to crossing the barriers between realms.

Still and all, the novelty of seeing all the major lady heroes of the Marvel Universe hasn't worn off and likely won't, which means I can keep my hype for the inevitable re-launch of this book during Marvel October.

Amazing Spider-Man: Spiral
Mr. Negative displaying some actual common sense--something that would probably crack most of the secret identities left if used in more stories.   "How do you know who I am?!"  "Motherfucker, I gave you this really specific information that no one else could have known, and then inexplicably a vigilante of your exact build popped up.  Do you think I became a crime boss without being able to add 2 + 2?"

He even repeated the experiment in order to confirm his findings.  Dude's not only a good businessman, but a half-decent scientist too.  

Anyway, Spiral is everything I wanted from a Gerry Conway Spider-Man story in 2015.  It manages to remember the noir-ish roots Spider-Man had during the Spectacular comic in the 80's, keeps Spider-Man trademark humor ("These guys?  I hate these guys!"), but updates things with a modern sensibility.  For that matter, it also manages to include both females and minority characters without being hamfisted about it, something a ton of writers these days still don't have down pat.   Reading this, now I'm bummed that the only thing Conway's doing in October is a Carnage comic, and not something about the Wraith or just a Spider-Man comic that focuses on street crime.  

Future Imperfect
So, we're just going to do a "Peter David's greatest hits" with this book, I see.   Not that I have a problem with that--a greatest hits mini-series from PAD is leagues above some writers' best work.  Bonus points if Layla here is still somehow the one from the main Marvel Universe and she's gone right back to "knowing things"--though that might have just been the purview of child Layla.  


Secret Wars
So: A quick rundown.  Midway through the series (and this should've happened far sooner), the raft from the main Marvel Universe is revealed.  Dr. Strange, who's been working with Doom since they first went to fight the Beyonders, apparently found it three years ago but decided it was best if he kept it sealed--the only reason he opened it at all is because the one containing the Cabal from the Ultimate Universe popped open and some people were inside.

So half-way through this crossover, we finally release the few heroes who were on the Raft--including amongst other people, Reed Richards and Cyclops bearing the Phoenix's powers.  Doom immediately shows up once he sees Reed, claiming that something to the effect that this is the first time he's found a Reed Richards.  Okay, let's stop there and discuss for a second.   That has to be a crock of shit, right?  "Battleworld" is made of the remnants of roughly 20 or 30 Earths and you're telling me that none of them had a Reed Richards?   My theory is a bit darker, but probably a lot more likely: They've already established Doom as "omnipotent, but not omniscient" which means he probably doesn't actually have the proper mindset to control all of the power he DOES wield. 

The Beyonders were strong enough to wipe out the Celestials--in every universe--wholesale, and he has the power of at least one, if not all of them.   So he gains this power and starts assembling the remnants of worlds into a single planet--a ridiculous concept in itself, but one you buy it questions start to arise.  Why these realms, specifically?   Why so few?   Are these all that were left or did you pick and choose?   When you start asking questions like that, there are certain semi-logical assumptions like:  These realms were hand-picked.  There were others, but Doom let them fall.  He chose areas that would be highly unlikely to mount up any sort of offense against him--that's why so many of them are war-torn wrecks of his actual world.  They're so busy trying to survive in their own worlds that they don't have time to deal with Doom.  And there's one other rule: Reed had to be dead, disgraced, or simply did not exist on any of them.  Because why would you have "all power" and then just allow your greatest enemy to have happiness?  It doesn't track.

In any case, the next thing that happens is Doom pops up to break up a fight between the Cabal, his Thors, and the heroes from the "original" world.   During that fight, Cyclops has full Phoenix Force powers and decides to fight Doom--which lasts all of twenty seconds.  Tops.  But it gives Strange enough time to teleport the others away before Doom finally offs Cyclops, snapping his neck.  Now, this has to be going somewhere, right?   The Phoenix Force is the "spirit of rebirth", and Scott had nothing to do with this story until the tail end, only to die in a most unceremonious way after having this huge speech about "burning something down and raising something better".   There's no way he doesn't pop up in an Eleventh Hour moment to allow everyone a couple more seconds to take out Doom and "fix" things, right?

Or maybe not.  "Old" Cyke was nowhere to be found in Marvel October.  Maybe him and Logan are just dead and alt. universe versions of them will be around in their place from now on?  That'd be...different, I guess.


The Omega Men

I tackled both issues of The Omega Men this week in order to see what happened to my favorite GL, and all I got from the experience was a headache.  As expected, he's not actually dead.  The story takes place in the Vega System, and you can tell they're trying to do a sort of "rebel forces versus the empire" story here.  And that's cool, but I've got a few problems:

- The first issue was largely gibberish.  Like, real talk it's alien symbols and repeated phrases from this made-up religion we've known all of, well....one issue for most of the dialogue.
- Two issues in and there's no proper introduction to the team of Omega Men.  Seriously, I'm not asking for much here: just some tiny boxes that give a name, maybe their powerset or some cute, funny quote.
-  I've got no real reason to root for the Omega Men.  I don't know if they're good guys, bad guys, or anti-heroes--I just know the first issue saw them brutally murder a ton of "army" guys, and the second they let five thousand innocent bystanders get their brains blown out.
- This thing about Kyle and his ring.  It doesn't track--even when Kyle was a Green Lantern he could summon his ring from great distances.  Now that he's a White Lantern the ring basically is him, so why is he running around as a normal human.  Come to that, why is he obeying old-ass Guardian rules about the Vega System when he's not a Green Lantern anymore? 

I'm not discounting Omega Men yet--it could still be great.  But it's moving way too slow for me to have this many issues with it.   40 pages in and they haven't pulled the curtain back enough to invest me in this story--that's going to have to change, and soon.


X-Tinction Agenda

Even alternate timeline Beast characters can't stop themselves from screwing about with the timestream, I see.  I've got a feeling this is going to be one of those character traits that just *sticks*, y'know?   The same way whenever someone bring up Hank Pym in other timelines they're going to reference him being abusive, Beast is going to be the dude who pulls people from the past in order to make him feel better about the present.

Years of Future Past

And, worst single page of the week goes to: Years of Future Past.

For fuck's sake, I have no idea how this got through the editors.  Considering that it's a perfectly enjoyable issue without it, and that you could cut it with only minor edits, it becomes doubly confusing.

Mid-way through this comic that's ostensibly just "more of Claremont's Days of Future Past", Colossus drops a mini-essay/long-ass Tumblr post on us on a single page with a blank-ass background.  Not even the most hamfisted attempts at social commentary in comics have ever been this lazy.  If you couldn't give the extra pages to the creative team then this whole bit should've been left on the cutting room floor.

And y'know, Colossus kinda-sorta has a point about how eugenics start out as "just a joke" so it's not like I'm trying to rail against that.  What I find insulting is that ignores the most basic tenet of comic storytelling: it's a VISUAL medium.   This needed at least another page so that it could've been a speech wrapped up in a story, told using multiple panels that maybe guided the reader from how things are now to how they got to be so awful.  Instead I got to this page and wondered why I was suddenly being assaulted by so many words that I didn't really even need to slog through since like I said it barely affects the story.

*sigh*  Oh well.  It was all worth it for the appearance of (Giant!)Lockheed at the end.