Bottom of the Pile: March 22nd, 2017

And so the first arc of Alters comes to an end--with a surprisingly brutal slugfest between Matter Man and Chalice, as after being captured at the end of the last issue, our hero discovers a major flaw in Matter Man's abilities: they can't be used for more than sixty-one seconds.  Its a unique flaw, and I do feel like it was a bit convenient considering there wasn't really a hint beforehand, but I can't get too mad at it.  For one, the weakness is clever, and for another my argument for new comics and unproven characters is always to tell shorter stories.  Twelve year long epics assume an interest fans may not even have, while short arcs allow you to give a quick overview of the world and if a story doesn't click, the next one will be out shortly afterwards.  Here the story is over after the fifth issue, and next we can move on to (hopefully) bigger and better things for Chalice and her squad.

All in all, not a bad start to a budding new hero's adventures; five issues and she's already saved the world.

Action Comics

I'd be lying if I said I knew what this meant, so I can only imagine what it's like if you're not as deeply embedded in comics' craziness as I am.   The crux of this "Superman Reborn" storyline has been that Mr. Mxyzptlk has been pretending to be Clark Kent for months, only to finally reveal himself after he asks Lois Lane out and gets turned down.   From there, Mxy attacks Supes and his family, ripping them apart and making them forget one another...only because Superman has literally overcome the death of the universe itself, of course Mxy ultimately fails.

But just at the climax of the story, he reveals that his reality altering and forcing Superman and Lois to forget their own child are not his own doing--merely him taking advantage of something someone else had already done.   But as Superman and Lois merge with their New 52 selves, apparently doing so has changed the very history of the DC Universe (again) as we have come to know it (for the past six years), and seemingly combines his early New 52 life as an origin with his current, married with a child life from the original pre-Flashpoint period.

What does this mean, in practical terms/how it affects things going forward?  Well, that's where I have an issue: I don't know.  If they wanted they could start outright referencing events from pre-Flashpoint and just act like "Oh, that's canon now".  Or they could be boring about it and just keep telling stories the same way they are now, which would be lame because it would mean nothing changed at all and this month was pointless.  Let's hope it's the former.

Detective Comics

Told you last week that Bruce had become more Bat-dad than a swinging bachelor, and it looks as if James Tynion IV agrees.  But it is a strange connection that Bruce has with Cassandra--for once, he actually can't relate to Cass' issues.   Bruce's parents were good, decent people and brought him up as best they could before they were taken from him on that fateful night.   But Cassandra?  Her father was an emotionless murderer who wanted nothing more than to raise her to be even better than he was at the whole...emotionless murderer thing.   And for a young woman who just wanted her mother to be someone who actually cared, to be an actual "mom" and not just another homocidal maniac---it's obvious this is destroying her.   Her family was never good, and while Bruce is trying his best, right now he's still too emotionally distant to break through her shell.  My heart broke for Cass this issue, as she dealt with having both her dad and mom refusing to give her the love most teens take for granted.  

One thing's for sure--coming out of this, they really need to give her a better name than "Orphan".  I hear "Blackbat" is free?

If you were wondering how April's Flash/Batman "The Button" crossover gets started...this is probably it.   And I may stand corrected regarding the idea that Superman's "Superman Reborn" comic didn't change anything.  It's probably no coincidence that it wrapped up the exact same month that the original Professor Zoom, Eobard Thawne, came back.   The pretender Daniel West was put down once and for all, and currently the only evil speedster running about right now?   The original, who's bound to make a mess very soon in the lives of Bruce AND Barry.

Future Quest
Watching Omnikron destroy Space Ghost's former army, absorb Gloop of the Herculoids, rip Frankenstein Jr. apart, and absorb several major areas in the world, this is probably the biggest page of the issue: where they reveal he was most likely made by a scientist.  But not just any scientist: Brak, of Space Ghost fame.    Taken on its face, its a neat enough's just kind of strange to see the creator of the greatest threat to these legendary pulp heroes be the same guy who sang an ode to mashed potatoes.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps

I'm frustrated that Kyle sacrificed the thing that made him unique in order for us to have another human Green Lantern, but...this was only a matter of time.   Him being the White Lantern was always weird to begin with--the humans shouldn't just always be the best at everything, but I did appreciate that it helped him to stand out.  Now he's just apart of the Four Musketeers...and this after a speech about how Kyle was the greatest Lantern....but Hal was the greatest Green.  They basically actively acknowledged his position as "less than the best", then made sure to put him into it. 

So yeah, as a fan of Kyle (and Alan) over the rest of the Corps, that part was undeniably annoying. And yet, I can't deny the sheer awesomeness of Kyle's original Green Lantern outfit, crab mask and all.  Hopefully we can get him his own book again soon.

As far as the White Lantern power ring being separated into separate rings from each spectrum and the brief display of Mr. Oz....well, I'm brushing the latter off as a "Red Skies" tie-in, and the former I hope they at least address.  Those rings are special; they were once one and a part of the White Lantern's central power--I hope we discover who they went to, and that becomes a story unto itself.  In the meantime, it's weird that Kyle lost his ring trying to do something...and we don't even know what it was!   I think that's a story we're going to have to delve into soon.

Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows
Aw man, it'd be nice to have at least one Osborn that wasn't a total creep/scuzzball.  Apparently even the little kids are gross--this one has a super crush on Pete's daughter and wants to wipe Peter off the map.

The real question is: where'd this brat come from?  He's Harry Osborn's "kid", but let's face it: Harry was not the brightest branch on the tree.   And yet somehow little Normie Jr. is smart enough to run the whole company?   I'm assuming it's a full-on clone of the original Norman Osborn.  I'm hoping that and not that it's Norman in a child's body, 'cause that would make this crush even more gross than it already is.

Invincible Iron Man
This article is hella late, so by now you're aware I've done an article on diversity and it includes talk about Rachel, the real new Iron Man.  (Fuck Victor.)   My opinion on the character hasn't changed with this issue.  It's funny, I've never been the biggest Brian Bendis fan but he is absolutely nailing it on this character.   Yes, I'd love for Tony Stark to still be around and yes I'd love it if just once he could piece his life together without it being a flaming car crash of a thing....but that's not what's going on right now.

What's going on right now is Riri's mom understanding that her daughter is one of those types--the kind that the world beats on over and over and over, and yet she doesn't know how to do anything but get back up and keep fighting until the world becomes better. (Also known as "a hero".)  What's going on right now is Riri with Tony's help outsmarting a villain that nearly killed Tony when he tried to fight her solo, proving her worth as a hero without making the original look pointless.  And what's going on right now is Riri being a total bad-ass and telling SHIELD, who at this point is almost actively creating more problems than it solves (the Super-Hero Registration Act, Ulysses, Pleasant Hill), that they can't just have her because she's a new hero that popped on the scene and SHIELD supposedly just "does that" now.   She's completely nice and respectful, but doesn't back down from her stance and in the face of what's happened over the last ten years IRL with respect to SHIELD, that's totally understandable.

Riri is cementing herself as a likable character, and introducing herself to the movers and shakers of the Marvel Universe in a way that will hopefully make her a fixture in the future.  And when Tony finally does come back, I do hope it only leads to him replacing Victor, not Riri.

Iron Fist
These eight panels are better than the fight scenes on Iron Fist's Netflix show.  No, I have no idea how that works either.

Unworthy Thor
And so, three years and a five issue mini-series later, the Odinson is still not in possession of a hammer.  Instead, we're getting the "Ultimate Thor", a callback to Marvel's recently deceased Ultimate Universe and the hammer from it that somehow survived Warworld.  What I find frustrating is not the comic as a whole, which shows us a vulnerability in this storied, respected hero that I wasn't expecting.   I'm not even so much bothered by what we discover was actually told to Nick Fury--that worked too, on some level.  

No, what frustrates me the most about this comic are the false expectations.  We were expecting Thor to return to action with a new hammer...and instead we're given "The War Thor".  Another replacement.  Jane Foster's done a great job--it brings me joy to watch her punch other, more jerky gods and goddesses--but if there's going to be another Thunder God roaming around, it REALLY should be the original, in my humble opinion.  But nope, here we are, watching a third Thor take up the hammer.   Honestly?  Hopefully he doesn't stick around very long at all.

I would not have thought I'd be such a fan of the WWE comic, but it probably helps that this issue they threw in a borderline heel-ish version of the New Day, one of the greatest factions WWE has ever assembled.  Combine that, with focus on what I feel is consistently one of the best characters on the show in Seth Rollins, and chronicling his path from injured former champion to his "Redesign. Rebuild. Reclaim." phase from the middle of last year, if next issue is him punching Roman Reigns in his stupid face to regain the belt...then getting punched in his stupid face by MITB winner Dean Ambrose, I'll have a smile on my stupid face the remainder of the day.

Also, since they've basically blown through the entire story of The Shield in all of...3 or 4 issues...maybe do something on New Day next?  Writer Dennis Hopeless really knows his stuff--reading this comic you actually can hear all the characters speaking in their voices from TV and they sound and act exactly as they do in real life.  I can't imagine how much time Hopeless spends watching Monday Night RAW to pull this off, but God bless him.  I definitely can't bring myself to watch the show some weeks.


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