Bottom of the Pile July 6th, 2016: "It's not impossible, kid. It's Batman."

Apologies for the lateness.

Amazing Spider-Man

No one ever said a villain's logic had to make sense, just that he had to have some.  Still, I'm kind of glad we're putting Regent to bed.  He's one of my least favorite villain-types: all powerful because they copied/stole everyone else's shit.

Plus, the whole point of Slott's latest Amazing Spider-Man run is seeing how Peter operates as the head of this massive corporation and his battle against the shadowy organization Zodiac, and this just felt like a massive distraction from that.

Of course, having said that, we're about to start "Dead No More" which I'd be willing to bet has absolutely nothing to do with Parker Industries or Zodiac, so maybe I'm wrong in what Slott intended for this story to begin with.

Aquaman

This is a strange ending for Aquaman's "first" arc.   Not bad, and not necessarily good, just...strange.  It's meant to be thought-provoking: a character who's entire life has been driven by vengeance is given a chance to have that thirst satiated, only to realize...his entire life is driven by vengeance.  It asks the all-important question of "then what"?    It's not like killing Arthur is getting the way of him finally starting that marathon of "House of Cards" he always wanted to get to.

The only issue here is that if you're as consumed by rage as Black Manta is, you'd almost certainly murder Aquaman and THEN figure that out.  I'm thinking Arthur wouldn't have even gotten the speech out--he'd have given Manta the chance, got murdered, and only AFTERWARDS would Black Manta realize the problem with his world going forward.

And even if something like this works, it should be the "ultimate" defeat of Manta.  I want to see him leave and go start a life for himself, realizing that's the only way to truly spite Aquaman: prove that he can find happiness.  Instead the end of this issue sees Manta almost going to jail only to be freed by some guys who presumably want to find a way to ruin Arthur's life, something he's already succeeded at and realized the pointlessness of.

So yeah.  Not good.  Not bad.  Just...odd.

Batman

We're on the second issue of Tom King's Batman, and right now I've got two thoughts:

1.) The last time Batman's world was drawn as beautiful as David Finch is rendering it was when Francis Manapul was on Detective Comics.  That wasn't terribly long ago, but it's a high bar to reach so congratulations.

2.) This book is getting everyone's voice right except Batman's, to me.  Like--I had a problem with last issue because while stopping a plane is an impressive task...it's nothing to some of the almost Herculean labors he's achieved in the past.  Yes, people have a problem with BatGod, but it's too late to stop now.   It's been a thing for roughly twenty years, you can't turn it off.   Just have him face more and more ridiculous shit until he's basically the Bats from Brave and the Bold.

Still, as said I'm certain he's nailed the voice of the rest of the supporting cast.  Even Gotham and Gotham Girl are growing on me.  Sure they have the stupidest names ever and I know where their plots are headed already, but for now Gotham could use a super-influence of some sort for the forces of good.

The Flintstones

*sighs*  So.  The last of the major Hanna-Barbera Revival comics are out.  Prior to Rebirth, hearing about this was probably the happiest I'd ever been about something DC Comics related.  If you're not aware already from my multiple, clumsily written columns about nostalgia, I used to love Cartoon Network.  More importantly, Hanna-Barbera was king to me.  The love most people have for Disney is what I feel for H-B's characters and universes, and few have a bigger spot in my heart than The Flintstones.

No, it wasn't a perfect cartoon and there are some...problematic elements to it to be sure, but it could also be surprisingly funny.   The cartoon itself was surprisingly ahead of its time in terms of being a cartoon aimed at adults, airing in primetime with a humorous take on what was then modern society.

The Flintstones revival does something similar, but it loses a lot of the heart and soul.  The humor is much more understated and while it shines a spotlight on modern culture it also shines one on what would've been caveman culture as well.   It's a much more somber, darker take--almost a deconstruction of the original--and honestly it depresses the hell out of me.   From watching a defeated fighter get used as carrion for Pteradactyls to Fred attending a Veteran Help Group from being in the Paleolithic Wars where one guy runs out screaming because he can't take the horrors he inflicted during them, it's just...depressing.

But then, I'm not exactly shocked.  This is what happens when you put a guy who never liked the original series on a remake.   Of course, it's going to sell fantastically because the writer in question is known for a critically acclaimed book, and so far it's reviewed incredibly well.  I just can't help wishing someone who had the same love for the characters I do had been given the go-ahead, and we could've gotten the equivalent to Mark Waid's Archie--a modern take on classic characters that's clearly crafted with love--rather than what feels a lot like the Stone Age Mad Men.

Future Quest

....Of course, it's all good because FUTURE QUEST IS THE SHIT.  As much as I'm in love with H-B's comedy characters, I'm an even bigger fan of H-B's action toons.  Birdman, Space Ghost, The Galaxy Trio, The Impossibles, The Herculoids, even the 60's Johnny Quest that was basically a moving pulp novel.  I was a freaking sucker for all of that when I was a kid, and when I was a teenager I always wanted to see someone combine them into a single universe and Future Quest has nailed it.  It's just serious enough to be believable, but not so dark you couldn't hand it to your son/daughter or little cousin.

Honestly, of the revival projects, this was the one I was most sold on and this was the one they nailed, so good work DC.   Now just get me SWAT Kats, Pirates of the Dark Water, and Centurions, and I'll consider the last few years of the New 52 forgiven.

Green Lanterns
Simon Baz is starting to feel like a less jerky, more impulsive version of Guy Gardner, and I'm all in on that.  Does driving into a shopping mall in a giant, green Hummer make any sense at all?  Nope, but it works 'cause Green Lanterns are, apparently, awesome.

Seriously though, two issues in and Green Lanterns is absolutely the book I've been looking for from this franchise for years now, even if its not featuring the characters I love the most (Alan and Kyle) in it.  It's reminiscent of the 90's-era GL which while it had its fair share of cosmic fuckery, was never afraid to spend a good bit of time on Earth, by far the most troubled (and troublesome) planet in Sector 2814.   Both Simon and Jessica are growing on me, and honestly at this point I'm wondering if Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps can even compete.

Invincible Iron Man
Okay, so let's talk Riri Williams for a sec.  If you haven't been keeping up with the comic world, she's the new character created by Brian Michael Bendis, intended to (however briefly) take the place of Iron Man in a new comic launching sometime later this year/early 2017.  And she's kind of driving me nuts, but not for any of the reasons you'd think.

From what I can tell, Riri herself is actually pretty awesome.  She's got a great look, the Iron Man universe could do with a bit of expansion--and if that expansion involves adding some diversity, all the better.  No, my problem lies in Marvel's approach TO diversity.   Very soon, there will be two separate Iron Man comics, and neither of them will feature Tony Stark.  Or even James Rhodes.

There are a lot of pissed off comic book fans, and not all of them are just "afraid of inclusion".  They're annoyed because the characters they've followed for decades have been shoved to the side.  You don't have to build your new diverse world literally on the dead/disappeared/aged bodies of the characters that have come before.   Well, you could.  But the thing is (and all the long-time comic fans know this, hence the irritation): you're not bold enough to stick with this.   You could kill off all these old-ass characters and re-populate the Marvel Universe with characters inspired by them--POC characters, women and LGBT characters alike.   If the classics were suddenly all in the era of the 1960's-1980's while these new characters filled the world of today?  That'd be an impossibly ballsy, inspired change that I could support.

But since Tony (and Rhodey too, just watch) are only gone temporarily...why shove them aside at all?  Why not have them all around at the same time? There's story potential in having Tony have to be responsible for someone as smart as him who has none of his experience.  There's story potential in a "two dads" scenario of having Tony and Rhodey guiding this bright, shining mind into the world of superheroes.

So why wipe out the old characters?   It was impressive the first time you did it in 2007, when Steve was killed off and Bucky took his place.  But that was nearly a decade ago, and now it's just old hat.  Even DC isn't doing that anymore--the new Blue Beetle series focuses on Jaime Reyes and Ted Kord. It's time to take a new path.  If you're really about inclusion, then that means you don't just throw out the old because it's old.

Justice League: Rebirth
Artists going the writer route can often produce...mixed results, but Bryan Hitch has managed not only to make the change, but to do so while writing the World's Greatest Super-Heroes.  In any case, this book features the League coming together to battle a villain not unlike Starro the Conqueror (a nice shout-out to their Silver Age adventures) while the pre-Flashpoint Superman watches, pondering whether or not he should step in.

Though the character's voices could definitely stand to be a little stronger, it still feels like the Justice League: the book where the DC Universe's best and brightest heroes work together to stop the most impossible threats.   For a Rebirth issue it's one of the stronger ones, managing to fit the re-introduction of the "original" Superman in the same book where two new Green Lanterns join the team and foreshadowing threats that will doubtlessly be popping up in later issues of Hitch's run.

For now, any connection to DC Universe Rebirth are tangential hints at best, but I can only imagine that this (or the other Justice League title) will be one of the major places where a story like that will unfold after Titans and Flash.

Superman

A while back, I shared a theory with a friend that Flashpoint was basically Crisis on Infinite Earths, and the New 52 was the new Post-Crisis Earth.  I pointed out how at the start of that, everyone was also majorly confused on the rules to the universe and how things were going to be going forward, and that it would be years before things settled and became the awesome version of 90's DC that came from the mid-to-late 90's.  Not until after Zero Hour, in fact.

And that theory holds up, as we run through another Death of Superman story and the re-introduction of The Eradicator, a character that last rose to (admittedly brief) prominence during the Reign of the Supermen story following the last time Superman died.    We're going over some of the exact same story beats, just in different ways than the last time.  Only hopefully it's going somewhere purposeful and not in a "time is a flat circle" kind of way, 'cause I get enough of that from WWE.

Transformers - Till All Are One

In addition to accidentally being the most socially relevant comic book to release this week as it features the Cybertronians discussing police reform after the murder of an otherwise innocent Cybertronian by their police force, Transformers: Till All Are One just might be my favorite comic book this week.

Back when IDW first launched their pair of Transformers books focused around the Generation One-era characters, we got two comics.  The hilariously ingenious More than Meets the Eye, and Robots in Disguise, which focused on the political intrigue of a post-war Cybertron.  Unfortunately, as Robots in Disguise shifted into being just "Transformers", we reverted back to a world where one of the comics was set almost entirely on Earth, eventually just becoming "Optimus and Friends".  This left us deprived of the intrigue that made Robots in Disguise a competing book with MTMTE, and there was never anything to take its place...until this mini-series launched. 

Now the conniving Starscream, the virtuous Windblade, and sassy ghost Bumblebee all have a book to themselves again, restoring proper balance to the IDW's universe.  Maighread Scott has taken over for John Barber perfectly, and hopefully Till All Are One becomes popular enough to become a new ongoing all on its own.

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