Bottom of the Pile: April 26th, 2017

This one's for the continuity freaks.

Action Comics

And just like that, in twenty pages, the New 52 "reboot" is eliminated.  Bleeding Cool talked about it earlier this week and it seems to be true: Dan Jurgens has folded both the pre-Flashpoint timeline as well as N52 together into one giant timeline.   Sort of.  The reality is that things are more pre-Flashpoint now than they are N52.   Lois wouldn't have revealed his identity in this timeline.  It's doubtful Superman "became Doomsday".   And the whole "two Supermen" stories are pretty much done now; there's only ever been one Clark.

But all isn't exactly restored.  As Clark has the Fortress recall his history for him, they flashback to his "death" and the replacements that took over for him: Steel, Cyborg Superman, and Eradicator.  Only...there's one missing: Kon-El/The Kid himself, Superboy.  He's nowhere in Superman's memories, and with a recap this purposeful there's got to be a reason for that.  In fact at this point, all of Young Justice's founding members are missing, and it doesn't take a genius to realize that it's being done on purpose and they're probably gearing up for a YJ re-union next year that coincides with a certain television series returning in 2018. 

All-in-all, I still have questions.  I'd love to know just how old these guys are if Damian is 13 and Jon is 10.  This has to place both Clark and Bruce in their mid-30's at the youngest.  It's times like this I miss the old "Secret Files and Origins" thing that broke things down into a ten year timeline.  By now that timeline has to be at least 15 years long for it all to work, which makes it all the more fascinating a potential read.
Ben Reilly - Scarlet Spider

I feel like this new version of Ben Reilly could easily be who Peter became if Uncle Ben had never died, where he's a superhero for money rather than because it's the most responsible way to use his powers.   Fortunately he never ended up that way, because this is the tackiest thing I've ever seen.

But here we go with Ben at the start of his comeback, trying to figure out the superhero game all over again.  Only this time he's got cellular degeneration and apparently going half-crazy, as his original self and the Jackal are serving as the angel and devil on his shoulder, leading to some hilarious moments of self-reflection.

I was initially frustrated with the idea of Ben being a bad guy, but I also didn't really consider his circumstances.  He was cloned and killed by the Jackal dozens of times before he finally broke free and found a "cure" for his condition.  I can't imagine what that would do to a man, but I have to imagine he doesn't instantly go back to being a good guy when that's what got him killed in the first place.   So this is Ben's story of recovery, of redemption.  And I've got the utmost faith in PAD that he can bring the guy back to the heights he deserves.  Y'know, if Kaine doesn't kill him first.

Detective Comics

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps
I loved most of this issue.   We learn that this attempt to have the Green Lantern Corps work with some of the "righteous" Yellow Lanterns led by Soranik is so successful in the future that eventually they just all become Greens, making for a more powerful GLC than ever before.  It feels off that people can just swap rings like that, but it also makes sense in a way.   If these Sinestro Corps members really are half-decent beings, then it makes sense they'd be better as Greens.   Plus, we get to see Rip Hunter again and it's been a few years since he had the same level of importance to the DC Universe he did back in the 52 maxi-series.

I even really enjoyed this scene with Kyle and Soranik in a 90's kind of way: it reminds me of Kyle's old comic back in the day, from his original costume right down to the art that feels reminiscent of Darryl Banks' stuff, and as much as I'm enjoying this comic, it makes me wish he had his own series back again.   But having said that2...I could've sworn the reason these two broke-up was because Soranik realized that Kyle was still in love with another woman.  So this kind of needless sexual tension just feels like a reason to give Kyle a girlfriend again, from a relationship that already didn't work out.  Which I guess I can accept so long as we can pretend like Kyle/Carol never happened.  New 52 is already losing in the battle between it and pre-Flashpoint, what's one more failed relationship?

Optimus Prime
If you haven't been keeping up with one of the best ongoings in comics, Optimus Prime has so far been balancing a story between Optimus' first encounter with the Decepticons in which a betrayal led to him becoming a darker, less trusting figure...and a story in the present with him attempting to work with the Junkions only to be betrayed by them as well.   The difference is that after millions of years of war and having seen countless planets and innumerable casualties, he chooses to pursue a peaceful ending to their conflict.

It's a confusing thing to his fellow soldiers, but for a story that explores the legacy of the Primes it's an ending that makes perfect sense.  Unlike most versions of Transformers lore, in the IDW-verse the Primes have a history of being immoral and war-hungry, abusing their status as a Prime in order to be worshipped.  In that respect, in taking the name and the Matrix, Optimus stands as a symbol of the status quo of millenia of oppression.   For this version of Optimus, it's not about living up to the legacy that existed, but being strong enough to destroy the old legacy and build a new one on its shoulders.  So even if this ending is a bit corny, it rings true to the character this universe is trying to build.

The Flash
And so here we are learning about the true purpose behind this "The Button" crossover: it's a way to revisit the Flashpoint timeline, this time allowing Bruce to tag along with Barry.  Through Flashpoint the universe was re-made into the New 52 timeline, and so through it again we'll start the journey of turning it back to the way it once was.  I can't argue the logic, and more importantly there's a strong  character beat we can get from allowing Thomas and Bruce Wayne to meet and learn how the other turned out with them, so I'm onboard.

The real question is just how meta they want to get with their timeline, as Barry and Bruce literally watched the original formation of the Justice League, as well as the moment in Identity Crisis when the Satellite Era League wiped Batman's memories.  I always thought the only way to explain all these reboots was to just explain to them they're origins as comic book characters, but if Dr. Manhattan really is manipulating things behind the scenes then it could easily be this godlike creature who's been editing their lives as he sees fit.  

Ultimates 2
Ultimates squared continues to be an exercise in Pavlovian Theory for me.  The big story coming out of Secret War was that somehow, Eternity itself had been shackled--an impossibility that just seeing was barely beyond comprehension, nevermind discovering who would be powerful enough to actually accomplish it.  Well after months of teasing, the villain finally stands revealed.

These past few issues of Ultimates have seeded the idea that this version of existence is not the first, but the eighth.  The seventh was killed during the events of Secret War, but that would still mean there were another six versions that existed before the Marvel Universe we know today.  The sixth version contained Galactus, but we don't really know much else about it, or any of the other five...until now.  As it turns out, though the First Universe was thought dead it was simply in waiting.  Enraged that the creatures it created to ease its loneliness had wants, thoughts, and desires that weren't simply about pleasing it.   And so it bided its time, waiting patiently until the day it could destroy the constantly reincarnating version of Eternity that had dared to rise up against it.  

Setting aside the fact that this is almost as biting a commentary on gods/God than The Mighty Thor is, I still can't believe this is a story that's managed to remain contained to a single ongoing.  This group of heroes is battling to against save creation, essentially.  You'd think that by now it'd be a crossover between no less than three different superhero squads, with a "main" mini-series telling the bulk of the stories while the other three did the character work that would be blatantly missing from the main mini.  Oh, and we'd also get at least four one-shots featuring characters Marvel would swear are super important to what's coming next in the MU...that we'd promptly never see again after the crossover ended.  And yet...nope.  This book is just about the impossible adventures of one of the most powerful super-teams ever to form in the Marvel Universe.  It's quaint, and makes one wonder what it would be like to have superheroes exist without major crossovers for just a few years.  (I know, supposedly we'll see soon enough but...I'm not sure I buy it.)

Wonder Woman
While Action Comics explains to us that the N52 timeline has merged with the original pre-Flashpoint timeline, and the Batman/Flash crossover "The Button" has our heroes visiting the Flashpoint time period, Wonder Woman again leaves me wondering just exactly what Diana's been doing since she left Themyscira.  Because if its been fifteen years for Bruce and Clark, it's been fifteen for her too, and yet so many of her foes she appears to be meeting for the first time.  This issue it's the Greek god of war Ares, who's apparently been trapped since possibly the formation of Themyscira itself.

This book is seemingly suggesting that Diana hasn't had much contact with the gods at all, which is absurd considering that it's Wonder Woman, and probably over half the stories ever told about her are about how she interacts with the gods.  It's stuff like this that makes me wish Rucka was going to stick around and explain exactly how this works and what WW has been doing aside from attending Justice League meetings and punching Darkseid in the face.  

Reading this comic is frustrating.  It's not bad--on the contrary, Dennis Hopeless really gets all these "real life" characters and makes them seamlessly transition from our world to this one.  But as a person who's become a fan of wrestling over the past five years, it's hard to believe just how much better Monday Night RAW could be if they just applied a little more work.

This particular issue takes place roughly a year ago now, when Seth first recovered from his busted knee after an accident tore several muscles in his knee.  We spent months waiting for one of WWE's best performers to return and try to take the WWE Championship off then-champion Roman Reigns, and finally on Extreme Rules saw him return and put Reigns down to make himself known again.  Now, on the Pay Per View it just played like we were wondering where the hell Seth was all night.

Here Seth starts to look much more like the plucky babyface hero he needed to be coming away from his injury, and WWE big boss Hunter Hearst Helmsley looks a lot more like a mastermind who's got a million plans to make things go his way, as Seth tries his best to get a face off with Roman while HHH places obstacle after obstacle in Seth's way to keep it from happening.  It's genius and makes everyone come off looking great while building up the inevitable HHH/Seth match we got at Wrestlemania this year and even explaining why Kevin Owens got to hold the Universal Championship.  Only WWE never put this much thought into it all--all the events I mentioned just happened because "they do", and instead of explaining why WWE would rather ignore it and say that fans are never satisfied.  Because it's easier to write the fans off than do any actual writing.  

X-Men Gold
In the midst of a mutant terrorist attack by a new version of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, because it's clearly the 1970's again, we get this scene from the Heritage Foundation.  They talk about deporting mutants because they seem to pose as some sort of "danger" to the nation and reasoning that it'd be better if they all existed in multiple countries like they're some sort of "burden" and other countries should do their part in dealing with them, particularly when you never know which of them could be terrorists?    That's on the nose as an allegory, but then again this is what the X-Men is built for, so I can't really become too upset by it.   And it's topical enough that it deserves to be talked about, but so far it's got enough dressing to it that they're not just passing out a speech and claiming it's a comic book like I've seen Marvel do before.

Having said all that...Heritage Foundation's schtick is that mutants are mankind's successors, so that makes them scary right?  But they aren't that anymore.  In fact, at this point they're more like an endangered species.  Wouldn't it be a point of pride to have them in your city rather than feeling like they're a burden? 


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