Bottom of the Pile: July 27th, 2016

New installment.  Next update on Thursday.

Action Comics
A shadowy, cloaked figure has been watching Superman since Geoff Johns briefly took over the character back in 2014.  To date, no explanation has been given and at this point I'm thinking if this isn't tied to something DC: Rebirth related people are just going to be disappointed.

I wanted to say it was a Time Trapper thing and this was leading into the Legion of Super-Heroes.  After all at one point Time Trapper was like an old, grizzled version of Cosmic Boy.  But Geoff decided Time Trapper was a future version of Superboy Prime so that can't be right.  The going theory online is this is Ozymandias from Watchmen (playing off of Dr. Manhattan being behind the DCU's missing history) but I've never liked that and there's nothing to support it anyways.  Dr. Manhattan was a cosmic being by the end of Watchmen, but Ozymandias was just evil Batman-lite--that don't get you cosmic "fourth wall" abilities.

Either way, I hope whoever it is sheds some light on Superman's rather strange status quo right now.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps
All complaints aside, this is as close to the kind of space-focused, high-octane superhero action from the Geoff Johns' era as we're going to get.  I still think this doesn't quite have the vision that Johns' stuff did, but the last time someone tried to do something new we got "Relic" so that's probably for the best.

I was initially worried when Tim Seeley, writer for Nightwing, said his first arc was going to be about Dick Grayson finding a new mentor.   At this point in his career, as someone who's had as long a career as he has--including leading super-teams and taking over for his actual mentor--it just doesn't make sense for him to even train under anyone new.

Fortunately, the whole thing was just a curveball to avoid giving us information on what's actually happening: Dick, still trying to get over on and shut down the Court of Owls, has been saddled with some new chump as his literal "partner in crime".  A guy who believes himself to be "better than Batman", and has decided to take on the job of being a real mentor for Nightwing going forward.

It makes perfect sense for the story, so now the only problem I have is that I can't wait for Dick to embarrass the guy when he shuts down the Court once and for all.

The Flash
I wasn't sure how to feel about Josh Williamson's first story on Flash, one in which dozens of people across Central City get embued with super-powers, but this issue made it click for me when I realized it's a way to make Flash stand out from his fellow heroes by emphasizing the teaching, familial aspect that's always been a big part of being Flash.  The only thing is I hope this has more lasting ramifications by the end than just new Wally West gaining super-speed.

I was worried about Dan Abnett lately.  Between Aquaman and Earth-2: Society, his work at DC hasn't been nearly as strong as it was with Marvel.   But apparently I got ahead of myself--this Titans comic is probably the best these guys have been since the heyday of Wolfman/Perez.  He's got a strong grip on each individual character's voice, the characters have a reason to be together, it's probably the most pivotal comic coming out of DC Universe: Rebirth, and it's actually just enjoyable to read.

Now if only I felt the same way about the upcoming Teen Titans ongoing...

Wonder Woman
The thing that separates Wonder Woman from Batman, and even from Superman, is that her solution to every problem isn't to punch it until it stops moving.   You're never going to see Batman make an earnest effort towards trying to reform Joker, even if it's somehow a Joker that's never taken a life before and is just a thief/general nuisance to Gotham.  Even Supes lately looks like if Lex Luthor's voice gets out of pocket (just one octave) he'll zap him into tiny Lex-bits.

But Wonder Woman?   She's capable of reaching out to her greatest arch-nemesis.  She wants to change every one of her villains into a friend, because ultimately that's what's going to make her mission come to an end.  Well, either that or killing them--but since this is DC there's a very good chance they'd come back, possibly with a power boost.  So yeah--reforming is almost definitely the best way to go.   Greg Rucka understands that, which is why the key conflict in this book is basically a hug.   Something which sounds stupid if described cold, but seen in action is the most powerful scene I read from that week of comics.

There's also something to be said about how ridiculously impressive a feminist message it was.  It *almost* treads the line of being a bit after-school special in that the subtext is basically the text, but seeing Wonder Woman explain to Barbara Ann that the curse is not her fault, but rather than of a vengeful man wanting to inflict pain because he has the power to gave me shivers.

 Transformers: More than Meets the Eye
...Well you know.  Almost the most powerful scene of the week.

Over a year since Dark Cybertron, I'm still torn on Megatron going "good".  He has understandable origins--Cybertron was a disgusting place with a stratified society based on how useful each robot's alt-mode was.  It was an oppressive dystopia that initially Megatron only wanted to free from the chains of its caste system, and well...he lost his way.

Only thing is: he's still Megatron.  And I know when you watch the cartoons or the films or whatever you don't really get a sense of what that means.  He's no more of a threat than Cobra Commander or any other Saturday Morning Cartoon villain you can think of.  But in the IDW universe?  Space Stalin doesn't even begin to cover it.  The IDW comics tell a very straightforward story of a war that's lasted for millions of years and spanned thousands of planets and multiple galaxies.   And over the course of that war, Megatron was either directly or indirectly responsible for the loss of trillions of lives.  By the time the war had reached Earth they'd developed technology completely capable of wiping out entire planets...and those were just the weapons that hadn't been banned.

You have to, eventually, reach a point of no return.  A point where there can be no redemption because you're so far gone there's no way anyone would forgive you, and if you had a conscience (or developed one) you shouldn't by any means be able to forgive yourself. And ultimately James Roberts made the wrong decision in allowing Megatron to save himself earlier in the story.  But since everything is magical and hilarious and sweet and perfect in the MTMTE section of the universe this whole thing still made me cry, so shut up.

Future Quest

You can guess where this story went next.  Future Quest has given the Herculoids one of the most obvious, stereotypical backstories ever...but it works and I'd be interested in seeing more from them in the future after the initial bad guy is wiped out.

Civil War II
My opinion, having read this, is unchanged from last week.   Tony Stark is in the wrong but he's going about everything the right way--and Carol's in the right but being a total jackass about it.  Complain about Bendis' talky comics all you want, this is the most logical course of action here--talking things out like proper adults, and Carol still basically tells them to fuck off and she's going to do things her way.

The only problem is, outside of her own comic book Ulysses' powers have only ever been proper useful once--and that's in the first issue with that weird Celestial thing, that didn't even make sense in the first place.  Seriously, those guys are too busy running science experiments to try to pop up and destroy everything.   Every other time I've read, Ulysses' interventions have just made things worse.  Worse for Spider-Man.  "Worse" for the X-Men.  (In so much as things can actually GET worse for those poor chumps.)  Worse for Ms. Marvel.   Like, dude's just caused nothing but problems and she's still like "but we can change the future!"   Well yeah, you totally can...but I think your goal as a hero is to make things BETTER, not worse.

Of course if this keeps up at this rate she'll get a "soft" reboot right before her movie launches in 2018 by Greg Rucka and it'll be the best comic ever, so maybe this isn't the worst road in the world for Carol to go down. 

The Mighty Thor
So this is one of those comic nerd things, and you'll have to bear with me.  There's definitely other stuff I could've pulled--like the sheer idiocy of SHIELD going up to anyone in Asgard and "demanding" anything--but this is the thing that got me.

Iron Man...can't beat Thor.  He could give him/her a good run for their money, but ultimately he's getting trounced.  Rip his armor off and it's pretty much a wrap.  Silver Samurai (pictured here)...damn sure can't beat Iron Man.  Doesn't matter if he knows kung-fu--so does Mandarin and that's never stopped him from catching that fade.

Following this logic: Thor should paste Silver Surfer with a lot more ease than she did here, but I suppose the villain has to pose SOME kind of threat...even though he's a tertiary threat at best to the overall story here. 

New Avengers
Called it.  Also, at some point in the near future, Toni Ho (Yinsen's grand-daughter, seen here in an Iron Man suit) needs to team up with Riri, and then they all need to be in an Iron Man-related comic book together, because honestly Iron Man's "world" hasn't had any major expansions since the 80's or so.  I mean, Kieron gave him a brother and now no one even knows where he is!

For now though, I guess I'll have to settle for her being Iron Patriot in US Avengers later this year.  Sigh.

Totally Awesome Hulk

I was sincerely hoping there'd be no Civil War II tie-in for Totally Awesome Hulk.  'Cause see, this is the comic that makes issue 3 fall apart.  Amadeus cured Bruce's Hulk problem completely.  There's no way Bruce could've turned into the Hulk, 'cause he "took" Bruce's Hulk powers altogether--transferred all of Bruce's gamma radiation to himself.  Yes it's stupid, but stupid in a the kind of comic book-y way I approve of, but once you establish something like that you just have to work with it.  Which means for all intents and purposes, Hawkeye murdered a man who literally could not have been a threat.

And y'know, I get that Civil War takes priority over Hulk, but at least act like this event isn't happening in this comic.  


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