Bottom of the Pile: June 22nd & June 29th, 2016

A double-feature to catch us up before this Wednesday drowns us in a fresh month's books. 

June 22nd, 2016

Action Comics
 Several years ago, DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan Didio (I know, but I'm going somewhere fun) said that there were three levels of continuity.  I'm paraphrasing, but basically it was: the immutable events like origins and "major" events like Bane breaking Batman's back or Doomsday killing Superman.  Then there's the recent stuff--what you read every month.  And then there's the middle, which is basically stuff too old to be "relevant" or recent" and not important enough to be considered major.  I used to think that theory was kind of weak, but the more I read superhero comics the more accurate I realize it is for both DC and Marvel.

In DC's case, take a look at this panel from the recent Action Comics, where the "original" Superman (not really, but nevermind) is throwing down with what looks like the "original" Doomsday (not really, but nevermind).   You have his wife and kid watching from television, looking horrified because Doomsday "killed" Superman.  Only...that's not true.  For one thing, Superman never "died".  Yeah that was the tagline for the story...but history says he just "went into a regenerative coma".   For another, that really was the first time they fought.  Superman and Doomsday would have match after match, including one in which Superman would actually declare that Doomsday could never hurt, much less kill him, ever again

And yet, here we are, reliving the greatest hits--right down to Doomsday being in that (honestly rather cool) original costume he was when he first landed on Earth.  Oh well.  Sometimes superhero comics can do forward progression...and sometimes they can't.


I have two problems with the current direction of Aquaman.

1.) The most interesting thing to do here, would be to actually set up a working alliance between humanity and the Atlanteans, as that would provide enough fertile ground for an entire run's worth of stories.  But it's pretty obvious, off just this first issue, that's definitely not where this is headed.

2.) What the hell is up with Brad Walker's art?  He's normally ten times better than this, but everything from certain character's facial features to Aquaman's armor looking more like the Thing tells me something's wrong.  The book is bi-monthly (and in fact has an issue coming out this week) but the artists are still on monthly schedules, so what's happening here??

Detective Comics

As much as it bothers me that we're even treading this ground ("You always insisted you weren't Robin" is basically the exact opposite of what Tim did when he was the main guy wearing the symbol), James Tynion IV isn't doing too bad of a job here.   He's got the unfortunate task of balancing not only Batman, but pretty much all of his "Gotham Knights" aside from Batgirl and Nightwing, but he makes it work in this issue.  Everyone's getting separate plot points without it feeling overly crowded or taking too long to unveil the next part of their story, and even though I'm slightly thrown off by how quick Tim and Steph are dating again, the execution for most of it is pretty good. 

And the weird faces Eddy Barrows is typically known for are basically gone.  This is some pretty impressive growth from both sides of the team and I'm excited to see what happens with the team as Rebirth unfolds.

The Flash
It's not much, but here's this week's Rebirth update.  It's what I was afraid of, though.  The references to the comic that made us all come back to DC are getting smaller and smaller, and they haven't accomplished even half of what they set out to do yet.   I'm holding out for San Diego, in the hopes that they suddenly drop a Justice Society, Atom, Legion of Super-Heroes or Young Justice book on us though.

Totally Awesome Hulk

A, perhaps obvious, observation: if Bruce only thought he could transform into the Hulk, he'd be the biggest dweeb in the Marvel Universe.  A guy who's "ninety-eight pounds, soaking wet" talking about "you wouldn't like me when I'm angry".  That's pretty much what this issue looks like, multiple times--as Bruce, utterly convinced that he's still the Hulk, is shocked when he finds out this cure is working.

Transformers - More than Meets the Eye
In any other shared universe, big bads like Deathsaurus, Tarn, and Overlord would get saved for "big event" stories.  And why not?  Deathsaurus notwithstanding, Tarn and Overlord are the worst sort of Decepticons:completely and utterly deprived of morals, with a love for torture and more than enough power to wreck most squads of Autobots time and again.

And yet, there's a good chance that both the DJD and Deathsaurus' little mini-army get wiped out in the same comic book they were first brought up in.  It's a crazy idea--to solve major plots in the same comic you introduce them in--and one that isn't done nearly often enough in the post-90's era of comic books, and yet More than Meets the Eye is making it happen.  Why not?   The book is a masterclass in everything else--why not show off how to do old-school comics right too?

Web Warriors
Can I just say that Web Warriors is one of my favorite comics, month in and month out?  Sure, the Electro subplot is incredibly dumb--but overall?  I'm a fan of seeing these very different takes on what should be identical characters interact with each other.  I know one day things will doubtlessly get pared back to just Amazing Spider-Man, but this satisfies that Exiles fix I didn't even know I was missing.

Sidenote: How does Gwen know what a Porky Pig cartoon looks like?  Did Cartoon Network not turn to absolute crap in her world?

Wonder Woman

And here we are, with Greg Rucka's first true issue back as the writer of Wonder Woman.  A few thoughts: one, Liam Sharp draws an AWESOME Wonder Woman--she's gorgeous, but more importantly she's fucking built.  There's one picture where she's doing a dive while she flies that shows her back and she absolutely looks like the type of superhero that can tear tanks in half--dude just nails what a woman who spent her entire life training with the most bad-ass army in the DC Universe would look like.  He's also excellent at showing off that kind of arcane mystique that Greg's demanding of him for this Wonder Woman tale.  Which brings me to my second point.

Greg is a genius writer, and he's told a very purposeful story here.  There aren't any wasted story beats and every line of dialogue from Diana is to build up what he sees as the way the character should be written.  She's not afraid of battle, but she's not eager to jump into it--offering her prey in this issue several chances to surrender in the hopes that things can be solved without conflict.  She's confident, but not arrogant--making the statement that she absolutely does not want to fight, but if she does there's no question she will win. 

And this is a very, distinctly different feel from the type of stories Greg told with her last time.  In those, he focused on the Greek gods' need to acclimate themselves to the modern world if they were going to maintain any type of relevance.  So Athena would walk around in a button-up shirt holding laptops, and so forth.  This time, he's cranking up the mysticism--Diana's walking around a dangerous, creepy looking forest filled with magical beasts and frightening effigies.  If you had any concern that this would be more of his original run, you can discard that as of this issue.  A shame for those of us who really enjoyed his first take on the character, but this one looks to be just as defining, just as innovative.    Definitely my book of the week.

June 29th, 2016

Captain Marvel
One of the things that makes me mad about Civil War II is that they killed Rhodey.  And not just because he's one of my favorite superheroes (black or otherwise), but because the first issue of Carol's latest comic set up her and War Machine as an item, and I'm mad because it's obvious that only happened so Carol could have equal footing in the argument with Tony.   Y'know, the old "He was your best friend, but I loved him!" deal.  Which is fine, but it makes their relationship a plot device...which sucks because it's one of those pairings that you see and immediately think, "Yeah that makes perfect sense." and it's a waste that didn't get more time to develop before they just threw it away.


Yikes.  Between this week's Spider-Man and Silk, I'm starting to wonder why can't any of these Spider-types ever keep their secret identity.   Even Peter had to eventually use a reality-warping spell from Doc Strange.  

Uncanny Inhumans

Civil War II, currently, can best be described as: "You took my toy!  Give it back!"   Yes, in this situation the Inhuman scry Ulysses is a toy.  In any case: there's been very little reason for an outright "war" to emerge from the goings-on of Civil War II just yet...except Tony's little spat with the Inhumans.  After breaking into the Inhuman city of New Attilan to take Ulysses, they promised that Stark would pay. 

...And pay he did, as the Inhumans proceeded to rob Stark of his personal funds, empty his e-mails into the public, and blow up all of his armor locations and private invention labs.  And that's when it finally dawns on me, why the Inhumans will never replace the X-Men.  They're all a bunch of dicks.

Sure, there are bad mutants and anti-hero mutants, but the X-Men are the good guys.  And there are certain lines the X-Men just refuse to cross.  Here, even though the entire issue is written oh-so-carefully to make sure they don't do anything out and out villainous, it really only makes the Inhumans come off even more childish.  "He annoyed us, so we have to hurt him back."    That's pretty much the mindset of pre-pubescents, and it's one more reason the Marvel universe has to dislike them.

Bad enough that they've rarely ever done anything useful that didn't benefit THEM first, but between the Terrigenesis cloud sending the entire Earth into disarray, and that same cloud wiping what mutants it doesn't fucking sterilze from existence...I'm at the point now where I just want to see the whole group get taken down a peg for being so snooty.  Compare that to the X-Men, where I can barely go a full issue without saying "can't these guys catch a break"?  And then realize only one of these groups always said their destiny was to be the successors to the human race. 

Ugh.  I'd start a petition to help Marvel get the rights back to the X-Men so these guys can be shoved into the recesses of Comic Book Obscurity where only legends like Kurt Busiek, Tom Brevoort, and Mark Waid remember them, only those things never work.  Sigh.

Up Next: More of DC Rebirth, some of Grant Morrison's 18 Days, and possibly me tearing into the Flintstones. 


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