Bottom of the Pile: Feb. 22nd, 2017

A quick update to get ahead before tomorrow's comics drown me.

Amazing Spider-Man
In this epilogue to The Clone Conspiracy, we learn Ben Reilly actually managed to escape the fact he suffered over twenty years ago in the original Clone Saga, keeping his body from breaking down completely and still having plenty of pills to allow his form to regenerate every few months.  With his plan having gone up in flames, he heads to a safehouse that looks identical to Peter Parker's old childhood home, only to find the real Miles Warren waiting for him in his Jackal persona--who also promptly sets said safe house on fire.

Rather than providing us with the knock-down, drag-out fight you'd expect, Reilly realizes the pointlessness of the fight and decides to bring the whole house down on Jackal before escaping on his own.  I think my biggest problem with this is that unlike my prediction for The Clone Conspiracy as a whole, I guessed right with where Ben Reilly as The Jackal was going to lead us--he's either going to be a villain going forward, or he's going to be Kaine part two.  Which is ridiculous, because we already have a Kaine, and he already did the Scarlet Spider act back in 2012.   So this is kinda like recycling.  I'd be more pissed, except I've got faith in Peter David to turn what I'm sure is an editorial mandate into a decent ongoing.  Anyhow, join us next time, where we see a one-shot that's Epilogue #2 of The Clone Conspiracy!  Yeesh, Marvel's events are getting to be as overbooked as a WWE RAW Pay Per View.

Astro City

If Priest wanted it, Red Lion could easily become a wisecracking anti-hero type...and yet, the issue doesn't even finish without someone reminding us that in his civilian identity he was a mass-murdering despot.  That's what makes Deathstroke so endearing to me--they never try to ignore or "soft retcon" the horrible things each character's done.   Each character isn't just imperfect, they're actively horrible; more often than not they can barely get through an arc without betraying someone that's really close to them.   And Deathstroke gets to be the main character because on every level he's better at screwing people over than anyone else.

This leads me to wonder exactly how long it takes before the new Power Girl, a largely innocent and well-meaning teenaged girl, is morally ruined by this cast of whackjobs.

Also: shouts out to Red Lion for knowing not to directly confront Slade about the trunks thing.  I'm pretty sure he knew he'd get gutted.

Detective Comics
The reintroduction of Lady Shiva to DC's "Rebirthed" Universe.  She made some brief appearances during the New 52, but they were largely inconsequential.  Here, she's given the proper amount of respect; utterly terrifying and ruthless, she promises to brutally torture a whole group of Colony soldiers if they don't give up the information she's looking for.   It seems like Jacob Kane's group was out of their element from the start, as Shiva lays waste to over two dozen soldiers before the issue starts, and we learn (and see!) their group as capable of destabilizing any location they choose with zero trouble. From the looks of solicitations, she's positioned in exactly the way she should be--leader of an organization that appears to be directly opposite to Ra's League of Assassins, who should be making an appearance soon.

This is exactly the kind of threat Batman should be facing to show him that a team like the one he built isn't just a good idea, it's necessary.  My only issue is that Bats kind of comes off like a chump in this issue--getting shot by the cops in an escape when his whole suit should be bulletproof is a little weird.  Other than that, though?  Smooth sailing--Gotham got its better class of hero, now here comes the better class of bad guys.

Future Quest
This issue of Future Quest finally got down to putting all these different characters together as a team, but...this is issue 10. And that's when it occurs to me that Future Quest really, really should've started as an OGN before graduating to getting a full-blown ongoing.   DC's about to start doing cross-overs with a whole separate wave of H-B AND WB properties now--there's a chance they'll relegate this to a third wave or worse, forget about this little action universe altogether.    The OGN format would've allowed this story--which I'd bet would read much better as a whole than in parts--to be told in full, and perhaps from there we could've launched a full-blown ongoing with shorter arcs that get right to the action of filling in this exciting universe of old-school 60's pulp heroes.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps

The smart thing for Arkillo to do would be to just use his ring to gut Guy, and by the time the rest of his team found his body the points would be being used to pick Arkillo's teeth.  And yet, because superhero comics have an element of stupid embedded in their DNA, I'm willing to bet that next issue sees either an actual fight between these two which is way closer than it should be, or the GLs come just in time to save Guy from danger.

It's all good though: that same element of stupid is what makes superhero comics fun, and helps them stand out from other genres of storytelling.   And overall, this is a well-built issue--we touch bases briefly with Hal and Kyle who help Saint Walker with his own mission, we get to see how John and Soranik are dealing with their combined Corps, and we get this bit of craziness.  All beautifully illustrated by Mr. Green Lantern himself, Ethan Van Sciver.   Back when Geoff Johns left, if you'd told me some of Green Lantern's best days were ahead I'd have been skeptical, but here we are.  Everybody's basically pitch-perfect fifteen issues in, with the small exception of Kyle being referred to as the "little brother" of the four six Earth GLs.   Everyone realizes at this point he's got 20 years of experience right?  Even filtering that through the sliding timescale, he's been a GL for no small amount of time.

The other thing to deal with here: is John basically leading all the Corps, now?  Saint Walker and Kyle included?   He talked about letting Hal and Kyle fly off, but Kyle hasn't been a Green Lantern in half a decade.   That's going to create some interesting dynamics if the Guardians ever make any sort of reappearance.

Justice League of America
 Okay, so I just did an article about how a benevolent dictator isn't the worst thing in the world, but...this guy's nobody's benevolent.  And he just said his attempt to take over botched things up worse, which begs the question of why is he trying again?

More importantly, just what world is Havok from?  He mentions The Thunderer, but the Thunderer we know had his world wrecked by the Gentry--no need for human involvement in the least.  So is he just from "parts unknown" (which would be a waste of the massive multiverse Grant set up just two years ago)?  Hopefully we learn more about Havok--and why he keeps having failed attempts at taking over other worlds--later in this arc.

Optimus Prime
Not that they've ever shied away from it before, but this month Transformers deals pretty heavily with the topic of religion.   As Optimus Prime has fewer traditional Cybertronians and more of their brethren and sisters from the thirteen colonies, he's had to deal with Camien--a planet that really, really believes in the idea of the Matrix of Leadership creating a chosen one, a messianic figure that will lead all Cybertronians into a greater tomorrow.  Here you see Optimus being confronted by Pyra Magna, a woman who believes in the Matrix so strongly she thinks whoever holds it is simply "meant" to be followed, and if they can't see things the same way then she believes it'd do better in her hands.

The only problem is she can't see the flaw in her own thinking--if the Matrix truly denotes leadership, then manipulating whoever owns it would just lead to disaster, something Optimus is painfully aware of after watching millions of years of people thinking that just being bequeathed the Matrix gave them carte blanche to do whatever they liked to the bots of Cybertron.  

What's noteworthy here is that Optimus is still a bot who has everyone's best interests at heart.  He's the one who says things like "Freedom is the right of all sentient beings" without any hint of irony.  They've successfully kept him as straight-laced as he's always been, and yet he's a source of conflict because people either don't agree with his methods or don't care about his ideals at all. 

Street Fighter vs. Darkstalkers
It honestly never occurred to me that the way Darkstalkers could come back is through the Street Fighter universe.  Why not?  Project Justice/Rival Schools AND Final Fight exist in the same world, you might as well just make it full-on Capcom Fighting All-Stars with it.   Too bad the actual fighting games are so "srs" they can never just toss in all the characters at once for funsies and see what happens, but there's definitely room in their comic universe.

S/N:  It's nice that we're including Street Fighter V characters into UDON canon--it's been behind the times for so long, I thought they'd never get to it.
The Flash
I love when a story's true meaning isn't revealed until the end.  When I first saw "Rogues Reloaded", I figured it was headed towards re-situating the Rogues as a major, credible threat of Central City and finally getting away from that hero/anti-hero perception they've had over the past few years.   What I could never have guessed is that the ending would lead to a scenario where Flash didn't just fail at convincing the Rogues to turn good, but in fact inadvertently gave Cold the idea to become Central City's Kingpin.

There's a lot of cool (ugh) stories that could come out of a Captain Cold that stays in the shadows and employs Rogues that Barry doesn't even know have an association with him--you could get multiple arcs out of him in the shadows, manipulating things and changing Central City into a place that's more comfortable for him and his inner circle.

Transformers - Lost Light
Lost Light is also dealing with just also has the idea of alternate universes and our resident scientists having adorable geek-outs over it.   As it turns out, our heroes haven't been sent to an alternate universe alone--everyone remaining on the Necrobot's planet has.  They're entirely removed from everything they've ever known, and as of now have no way of getting back.

While they're stuck in this universe, we discover that this version of Rung is apparently the most important Cybertronian on the planet.  With a controlling society that teaches that every bot is made to have a purpose, Rung has become a key piece in the fight against the religion of having no function.   (Obviously this is incorrect--Rung is a ladder...they've just never actually figured out what a ladder does, I suppose.)    Dubbed "The Useless One", he casts doubt onto everything the Functionists believe by being the only 'bot who doesn't seem to have a use, thus weakening their control over the populace.   This is a society free from the interference of Megatron, and while it's a bit annoying that Megatron's gone "good" at the same time we've learned that things are somehow worse off without his influence on history, getting to explore this dystopian, "Big Brother" version of Cybertron has a lot of potential.


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