Bottom of the Pile: March 29th, 2017

Adam Strange-Future Quest
It's fun that this special doesn't take place during some nebulous period during both these characters' lives--the heroes in the Future Quest world are all wary of Adam Strange because he arrived through a strange vortex like the monster that nearly destroyed them in the Future Quest maxi-series (hopefully), while Strange has lost his memory after the monumental showdown he and Hawkman had over during Death of Hawkman.  Together, Adam Strange, Birdman, the Quest Family and Dino-Boy and Ug all figure out a way to bounce Adam off another Zeta Beam and send him home--all while dealing with evil spies and angry dinos in probably the most fun book of these little crossovers.

It is too bad Adam went home, though. Arguably, Adam Strange fits better with these Hanna-Barbera characters than he does in the DC Universe, what with his jetpack, raygun and general 1950's spaceman dress style.  In fact, if I felt like I knew Future Quest was being continued, I'd argue that if he and Alanna both were trapped there they should just...stay.  Let's be serious: no one's recruiting him for another Justice League team anytime soon and there's quite a bit of story to be mined from Strange teaming up with characters like Birdman, Mightor, and Space Ghost.

 Green Lantern/Space Ghost Special
It feels like such a no-brainer to have these two space-faring heroes work together, but I actually don't think it's ever been done.  Writer James Tynion IV gives us the full superhero team-up experience though--the two fight at first before learning they have far more in common than they believe, then later swap powers to amusing result.  I do think it's a shame they couldn't have crossed over the other way though--while this story of two space cops traveling to a planet that smashes all evidence of extraterrestrial life to beat them out of any manner of hope of a better life is done well enough, I think there's so much more potential to Space Ghost crossing over to the DCU.

In fact, much like Adam Strange, it not only would've been cooler to see Space Ghost in the DCU, it might’ve been better to leave him there for awhile.  What space threats does the Hanna-Barbera Pulp Universe have?  Zorak, Brak, and Moltar...I remember he might've faced some kinda weird spider lady?   All of which Space Ghost is almost over-qualified to fight, which is probably why Coast 2 Coast had so many scenes of him blasting all his villains with impunity while they begged him to stop.  In HB’s world, he’s OP.  In a universe with Mongul and the Sinestro Corps, Darkseid and Despero, he’s just powerful enough to be the underdog.   A lone soldier soaring through the endless stars of space, enforcing justice and bringing peace to areas even the Green Lanterns may have neglected.

Justice League of America
I'm still not sure how I feel about this Havok storyline.  I feel like it wants to be political, but also a showcase for this new Justice League’s powered, but it's coming up a bit short on the political end.  Havok claims to have conquered all the countries around his own, but how he goes about it isn't terribly visually impressive or particularly smart--he just threatens those countries with instant "doom" and they all yield.

Having said that, the characters around Havok have made themselves far more interesting, especially as they start to lose their faith in the plan.  It makes sense--they already got together and tried this “rule with an iron shouldn't this be trademarked fist”...and failed.  Why should they think it would work on this Earth?   If Havok is defeated because ultimately everyone turned on him, from his nation to his teammates, that would make this story stand out.   Bonus points if at least one of the Extremists tries to reform.
Titans Annual
Donna Troy’s origins have been “updated” once again.  Or at least, I'm assuming it happened here and not on the Finch Wonder Woman run, which I'm outright refusing to read.   For those keeping count, this is roughly the fifth time her origin has been switched up due to continuity changes.  This by far isn't the most tragic--thatd be the one where she was forced to live versions of her life that were all fucked up, until her mind broke and her captor--a WW villain named Dark Angel--reset things and forced her to live a different version all over again.  That’s right, Black Mirror stole one of its creepiest episode ideas from Teen Titans.

Still and all, this one goes along with the theme of the New 52; a world where relationships have been altered or destroyed in an attempt to weaken the universe as a whole.  And while we still don't know the purpose behind that yet, it's good they’re on script.  In any case, when all this is done I do hope they return things to Donna’s simplest origin: that of an orphan rescued from a burning building who was rescued by an Amazon and grew up on Themyscira.  It's SO simple and they just keep doing things to make it needlessly complex.

Transformers: Lost Light
I've settled with the idea that I'm never going to be completely on board with a heroic Megatron.  It's a cool enough idea, but honestly...he's been responsible for taking so many lives that I can't be with it.  When you think about the fact that Cybertronians are borderline immortal, and that it's been documented even their memory banks force them to eventually forget things as new memories are made and they just don't have the space to hold all that information, the number of lives he's responsible for taking could easily transcend the human population...across all of history.   Their war lasted a millenia and was taken to different galaxies, after all.

Having said that, I do get what's happening here and I love it. Megatron's been transported to a world where he was killed before he could ever do anything to upset the order of Cybertronian society.  As a result, the functionalists got to reign basically forever and have turned the planet into a caste society where if you don't fit the purpose they have for you, they'll force you to--even to the point of "re-purposing" your Spark into bodies that would have more use.   Rodimus points out earlier in this issue that Megatron wants to stay because he's afraid of facing proper justice from the Knights of Cybertron, but as Ultra Magnus correctly points out--that's not it.  Witnessing all this, Megatron has seen a chance to liberate a people...and possibly do it the right way, this time.  He can't help himself from springing into action because he's seeing a whole new opportunity to fix what went wrong the first time around.

I also love the subtle implications that the Cybertronians from this universe are so much weaker than the ones from the IDW-main world.  It only makes sense; war advances technology like nothing else, particularly in terms of weapons.  Several millenia of civil war lead to countless advances on the side of both Autobot and Decepticon, and as a result they have weapons and capabilities this universe could never dream of.  It puts the former members of the Lost Light in a unique position where there are far fewer of them to battle those in power, but they're so much stronger that it might not matter.  And since the whole group as a whole have been transported here, it makes me wonder if this is less of a stop-off and more of a much longer story arc that James Roberts wants to tell.

Transformers: Till All Are One

Poor Windblade. Alas, I knew her well. Seriously though, Windblade is such a lovable character--she’s basically Optimus with all of his heart and desires to help her people, but none of his millenia of leadership experience or battle time. So you just know when you have this pure of a character in a world where even Optimus can seem shady from time to time, that things won't end well. Especially when that person can jump into the heads of other Transformers--specifically Metrotitans, the enormous city-sized Cybertronians who exist to serve the Primes.

This issue sees Windblade make the ultimate sacrifice to control the mysterious “Carcer” Titan against the will of its leader Elite One to help save Cybertron from yet another threat. Only in doing so, they wound up awakening Carcer--who stood revealed as Vigilem, the Titan who stood alongside Liege Maximo, one of the Primes that helped ignite the first true Cybertronian civil war in the IDW-verse. Basically, Robo-Devil. So even though Windblade saved Cybertron from ONE threat, it was at the cost of unleashing what appears to be a far greater one.

More than anything I find myself consistently impressed by IDW’s ability to move beyond the time-worn Optimus/Megatron dynamic into something that has humanized these very un-human-like characters. Megatron hasn't been center villain in six years, and in the same length of time Optimus hasnt been the sole leader of the Autobots, and yet the threats keep coming and these characters just get better.

Here we are, standing at the precipice of another new era of X-Men.   The...fourth or fifth one this decade, depending on how you look at it--Utopia, Schism, Post-AvX, "Inhuman Terror", and now this.

Setting aside the fact that the X-Men can apparently never stay on course for longer than a year or two lately, I read this issue with the hope that we'd see this new era kicked off with a bang, but I walked away kind of...disappointed?

The biggest problem I think I have is the O5 group still being around. It was a neat idea for a couple of years but whether you explain how they're still here or not it feels like they've over-stayed their welcome.  It's just an excuse to tell stories about that team without having to reconcile all the stories those characters have been involved in in the decades since their creation, something no one else gets to do.   I'd honestly be more excited about a book that includes the "Original" Original 5: Beast's enmity towards Cyclops, Cyclops' struggle for redemption in the face of his actions, Iceman dealing with his sexuality, and Angel trying to rediscover his humanity once and for all.  Replace Jean with Emma and you've replaced the "woman everyone loves" with "the woman everyone dislikes" and they have to deal with why they hate her and come to terms with it all?

I'll still read X-Men: Gold, but I'm kinda annoyed that we're still taking a post-Schism approach to mutantkind, pretending as if all the horrible things that happened apparently just...didn't happen.  Last I checked, the cloud roaming Earth had rendered all mutants sterile and made it so there couldn't be any more mutants...again.  What happened to that?  Are we just ignoring it?   Are we just going to pretend like the X-Men were "kinda in the wrong" with the Inhumans even though they weren't, at all?  I...ugh.

....Still. Aside from the Legion of Super-Heroes and the Justice Society, the X-Men might be my favorite super-team in comics though, so I guess I'm willing to just say screw it and look past it all if it means we can finally get back to making the X-Men heroes again.  So yeah...I guess I'm onboard again...for now.   


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