Bottom of the Pile 07/13/2016: "Still not sold on you, Pig."

This week: Hal Jordan and Nightwing experience a Rebirth, Earth 2 goes from the frying pan...to another frying pan (things are never good there), and Sunspot of the New Avengers proves to be dangerously genre-savvy.  All that plus...*sigh*...Civil War II.



Action Comics
Action Comics has basically been one giant fight scene for the past month and a half/three issues, so instead of commenting directly on the comic I'm gonna go crackpot for a sec: My current theory with the DC Universe is that what we're seeing with Rebirth is essentially "training wheels", prepping fans for the eventual restoration of the "missing ten years".  As proof, DC has been referencing events that occurred in that time span a lot more frequently.  Action Comics has "the original" Superman fighting a very familiar Doomsday.  The Flash keeps talking about the original Wally West even though he's not in the book at all.

Basically, it's partially reminding old fans of the missing universe, partially showing the newer fans that came on with the New 52 what we're eventually transitioning back into.  I don't think everything will be the same--there's no way it can be--but I do think whatever comes of the eventual "battle" with Doctor Manhattan will look more like the DC I grew up with than the one they created back in 2011.
Nightwing: Rebirth
Speaking of that training wheels theory...   Nightwing: Rebirth directly references the reason Dick originally became Nightwing--he met a pair of superheroes inside the bottle city of Kandor and when he realized he was done being Robin but not done with superheroics, he decided to get as far from Batman for his inspiration as possible.   It also reminds us of Dick's time as Batman, which is interesting to me because Dick was only Batman because of the events of Final Crisis where Bruce was sent into the past by Darkseid, and none of which should've happened anymore. Timeline wise it shouldn't even fit into the six years the n52 DCU has been around, so hopefully sooner rather than later they talk about how their history doesn't make sense anymore.

Aside from that though, Nightwing is in pretty good hands right now.  I bailed on Grayson fairly early due to a disillusionment with the comics of DC at the time, and because I honestly just wanted to see Dick in his proper superhero outfit, which is probably one of the coolest suits in comics.  But Tim Seeley (and Tom King) have always had a great handle on how Dick Grayson works, and this Rebirth one-shot just cements it all.   It's extra busy, but it tells a fairly complete "epilogue" wrapping up the last of Dick's time as Agent 37, a small plotline from the Robin War, and successfully sets up a potential major plot point for the Nightwing ongoing.  As Rebirth specials go, handling all of that in less than thirty pages is quite impressive.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps: Rebirth

Continuity is a tricky beast in comic books.  There's a difference in being a slave to it, which leads to explaining minor issues that occurred twenty years ago in a single comic...and ignoring it entirely, which leads to books being published at the same time that don't seem to make sense when you say they take place in the same universe.  Hal Jordan and the GLC: Rebirth kinda skims that line.

See, here Hal Jordan is saying that Simon Baz disappeared with the rest of the Corps, who got stuck on the wrong side of the Big Bang sometime last year or so.  But last month he came directly to Earth and charged both Simon and Jessica Cruz with being the Green Lanterns over Earth.  Didn't seem surprised the guy was there, or anything.   It's a minor mistake I suppose, but one that's a little disturbing since you'd think the guys involved in the Green Lantern office would talk to one another before they got stories sent to the printer.

Having said that...like I said when I covered DC Universe: Rebirth, there's just something about Ethan Van Sciver's artwork that makes Green Lantern and Flash feel more...official.  I'm not quite on board with reading another book from Robert Venditti after Relic and the Godhead, but what I read here: a Hal Jordan trying to track down the GLs, Sinestro in charge of a Corps that polices the entire galaxy his way, and the frequent appearances of Kyle Rayner even in an issue that should really be focused entirely on Hal, has me intrigued enough to give this book a shaky chance.

Civil War II
*sighs*  I remember when the only thing I used to write about on JiH were things I liked.  I still try to do that as much as possible, but sometimes you have to go where the headlines are. 

So, if you've been under a rock lately--Marvel just killed Bruce Banner, the former Hulk.  Last issue future-seer Ulysses saw Hulk going crazy and literally murdering everyone in sight.  Carol, who's been written like a complete idiot for the past few months, decided to go poke the gamma-irradiated beehive by approaching Bruce about it directly...while also having literally every superhero she could rouse up just in case it all went bad.

Now, setting aside the fact that she basically set up the conditions for which the Hulk could murder everyone....a few thoughts.

One: I finally see why people like Bendis.  He's good at writing dialogue, and if you're new to comics or don't read them very often, you're actually unaware of how out of character people are acting.  Hell, you might even be unaware that he's particularly ignoring continuity.  And again, not the kind of continuity that requires you to remember a single issue from 1978.  The currently published kind.

See, the story in the only Hulk book on the stands, Totally Awesome Hulk--saw Amadeus Cho drain the Hulk of all his gamma radiation and take it into himself, leaving Bruce completely unable to become the Hulk.  At all.  Ever.   There was even an issue where he got pissed off--several times--and was completely incapable of transforming.   For one this means that the writer of this series basically ignored that whole plotline.    For another it means Hawkeye just killed a guy in cold blood, which sets up my second point.

Two: Hawkeye is pretty anti-killing.  He's anti-killing enough to have been on a merc squad and insisted no one do any murdering.   It's just not his schtick, yet in this issue Banner insists that "only he" could have done the deed because Clint would be the only one who would be alright with it. 

My first problem with this is by basically having Bruce pat Clint on the head and say "It's alright if you murder me", you suck all the ambiguity out of things.  This was basically assisted suicide.  My second problem is that in that same convo, Banner essentially sounds like everytime the Hulk gets out he's this unstoppable murder monster that's literally killed thousands...and not just a nuisance hated by insurance adjusters everywhere.

All of these problems will be ignored going forward, because all that matters is that you bought the comic, and the "nerds" crying about this will be summarily told to shut up by at least one person at Marvel at some point.  That, or the classic "We'll be referencing that later" at a con which will result in an unsatisfying asspull of an explanation months down the line.  Aren't comics fun?

Horizon

Now before you get ahead of yourself and tell me why the problem is that I'm reading Big Two, let's look at the one non-superhero comic I decided to read this week: Horizon.

Horizon is a sci-fi story by Brandon Thomas.  I became a fan of Brandon when he did a one-shot on Robin around the One Year Later period of DC Comics that I felt really captured the spirit of the character--something no other writer had a grip on to me at the time.  He did a great job and I was always sad he didn't go on to do more with the character, or at DC in general.   He's done some pretty cool stuff since then--particularly Miranda Mercury, but also Voltron: Year One for Dynamite.  Horizon's his latest work, and it's a novel enough concept: aliens from another planet want to attack Earth because they believe we're about to invade their planet and ruin it the way we've ruined our own.

It's a strong enough story, and told very well...but ultimately it falls flat for me.  Now to be clear, Brandon is a better writer than I'll ever be--but when I pick up a comic I'm not looking for yet another dystopian tale.  The Earth is pretty much a horrific wreck in half the indy comics on the stand.  If we didn't fall to zombies, nuclear war, or evil superheroes, then society itself just collapsed under the weight of our arrogance and refusal to reach out and help one another.  And for plenty of people, these stories are perfect: but they're not for me. 

Which is how I feel about the vast majority of independent comics.  I love quite a few of them (More than Meets the Eye, Astro City, 18 Days), but more often than not they focus on darkness or try so hard to be "weird" for the sake of it that I end up not being interested.   The creativity they're supposed to be displaying once freed of their corporate overlords all too often looks very much the same.

Whew.  I've been super wordy this week, not sure what's wrong with me.  Welp, let's see if I can lightning round some of these:

Daredevil
I said it a few months ago, but Charles Soule has definitely found his groove on this book.  This should've just been a meaningless one-shot featuring Spider-Man but turned into a neat little story about the ridiculousness of the super-hero world.  Daredevil's had everyone's mind erased so they don't remember his secret ID, which is why Peter is having such trouble trusting him.

...Only thing is, Peter's guilty of the exact same thing, which leads to a hilarious exchange between the two when it's finally revealed why he's having gaps in his memory.   It's good that Soule is examining the actual effects of what happens when someone starts playing about with people's memories, and I hope we see more of that going forward. 

Detective Comics
 50/50 chance here the threat Big Daddy Kane here is worried about is actually real and something our heroes will have to face down the line, or him talking about ISIS or whatever the comic version of that is and actually sticking his nose where it doesn't belong.

I'm hoping for the former, though I'm kinda bummed this is our first villain.  Kate's got terrible luck with family--first her sister goes evil, now her pops too?  Yikes.  Well, at least Renee's back.  (Yeah, I'm fully over disliking this title.  Renee Montoya's back!)

Earth 2: Society
Dan Abnett has definitely figured out how to make Earth 2: Society work for him the same way James Robinson did back in 2012.  This is a really strong, powerful moment for the series that I don't think we've seen in quite some time.  The only thing is...I swear I don't care.

It's neat that you created a version of the Justice Society on a separate Earth, but honestly after all the starts and stops I just want the real deal back.  I cared about this book because it was the closest approximation I could get, but now that DCU Rebirth made the JSA returning a major part of its comic I can't think of anything else other than how badly I want these guys to come back and take their rightful place as the original heroes of the DC Universe.

Earth 2: Society isn't going anywhere.  It'll still be around in October, judging by the solicitations. But this universe had to suffer through that awful Earth 2: Worlds End weekly...can't we just put it out of its misery?

New Avengers
There is literally zero chance Robert DaCosta hasn't been doing this on purpose to finally draw The Maker out of hiding.   Also, Al Ewing continues to be the best writer at Marvel.  Dude's even brought back one of my favorite friendships in comics in Sunspot and Cannonball.  Avengers and Avengers World during the Marvel Now era turned these guys into the closest bros in comics and any comic that continues that relationship is alright with me.

New Super Man
I was absolutely against this initially--China needs it's own superheroes, after all.  And they have them in The Great Ten.  The only thing is, those guys are authorized by the People's Republic of China, which isn't exactly the most freedom loving government in the world.  And so if these guys are more independent and work on their own, there's actually a great opportunity here to set up a situation where there's a three way battle going on between The Great Ten, the Justice League of China, and the actual supervillains.

Plus those outfits are different enough from the real thing that we could totally re-name these heroes and they'd be fine.  So yeah...go Chinese Justice League, go go!

The Flash
I still need to see how this story plays out, but I'm not sure how comfortable I am with people being able to easily manipulate the most fundamental force of energy in the DC multiverse.  

Web Warriors
To be fair, I'm fairly certain that Spider-Ham is just as eager to punch Osborn in the mouth as the two of you are.

Wonder Woman

The story of Wonder Woman: Year One begins.  It's amazing DC has taken this long to do a proper "Year One" for the premiere female superhero in comic books, but maybe they just needed to wait until Greg Rucka could come and do it right.  Easily my favorite book of the week, Greg nails Diana's voice as a young woman yearning to see the world and also makes Steve Trevor look like an actual human instead of just some puppet waiting around for Diana. 

As a side-note: the comics world is currently splitting in two over this ongoing.  Or more specifically, over a beef between series writer Greg Rucka and alternate cover artist Frank Cho.  Cho's a little more known for cheesecake and Greg's...absolutely not known for cheesecake, like ever.  Which side do I come down on?  Neither.    Both of these men are two of the most talented creators in their respective field in the industry--both are at the peak of their talents. 

People calling Cho a pig, a jerk, or human garbage are blowing this way out of proportion.  As far as I know Frank's never been known for sexual assault or being a jerk to women in general--the most anyone has on him is that he's a big fan of cheesecake, and that he won't stop poking fun at everyone.  If anything, it's kind of gross that people think it's okay to insult and/or slander a guy just for his art work, which is absolutely not the worst thing the comics industry has ever turned out, sorry. And if you're against Greg Rucka....fucking get bent, mate.  He's the best writer Wonder Woman's ever had in a walk (though Gail's a close second and I love her to death). 

If anything, I can't understand why the two were paired together to begin with.  Cho's been...outspoken about his feelings on stuff like this since long before Rebirth was a twinkle in Geoff Johns' eye, and Greg's been the same dude since forever.   Admittedly though, I do feel it's a bit weird the guy can't turn it off for a second.  Nicola Scott (who's operating on an entirely new level and is turning in some of the best work of her career here) is actually quite known for cheesecake as well and she's had zero problems cutting it down to zero while Greg rebuilds the best lady hero in comics. 

Oh well.  Sometimes irreconcilable differences occur over cover art.  I wish them both the best, and I can't wait for issue 3 in two weeks.


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