Bottom of the Pile: May 17th, 2017

Astro City

I've got an idea for Kurt's first comic book when he's done with the main Astro City series: Kittyhawk!  Starring a super-powered kitty with heightened intelligence, phasing powers and flight, along with her well-meaning but often oblivious super-powered masters!  I'd read it, but then again I'm also a Hero Cats fan.  

If you couldn't guess, this was a cute, whimsical little one-shot about a cat who got adopted by a pair of heroes after an adventure where it got covered in this strange, radioactive goop that gave it powers, and since then it's been (presumably) helping the duo on cases.  I appreciate Kurt for mixing it up too--if Astro City has any one flaw its that all the bittersweet stories that end up being heartbreaking for one way or another can kinda pile up on themselves.  This was a nice change of pace to shake things up for a short while.

Batwoman spends so much time going out of its way to talk about what sets Kate apart from Batman, but everytime they bring it up they just say a thing Batman wouldn't do while ignoring that Batman's done exactly those things before.  Like how he'd "never ally himself with murderers and criminals", even though that's like the first thing he did when he tried to fix his back after his first run-in with Bane.

Meanwhile, it overlooks things like how Kate and Julia have a much closer, more comedic relationship than that of Batman and Alfred.  A thing Batman would never do?  Make jokes about the creepy twins he's up against.  Or make jokes period, for that matter.

Green Lanterns
If there's one thing that this era of Green Lantern books excels over from Geoff's era, it's that it's allowing all of its Earth-based Lanterns to be themselves.  Guy's a lovable dick again, Kyle's back being the flighty artiste, John gets to be the leader he was born to be, and Hal is...well, Hal.  During Geoff's era everything was so serious because they spent so much time catapulting from one threat to the next and barely surviving that a lot of times the fun moments got lost and we just had to see everyone in crisis mode all the time.   Downtime like this is crucial for helping us develop and distinguish these characters from one another.

Plus it even makes sense within the framework of the story--both Jessica and Simon could use some training, and writer Sam Humphries makes sure to give both of them the training they need: Jessica being submerged in the grit of harsh military training while Simon has to learn how to think outside of the box, a lesson every Green Lantern has to eventually learn if they're going to become great.  

Invincible Iron Man
What I've been saying since day one: Riri is Tony Stark's legacy.  Tony just isn't the type to settle down and have children, but no matter how much he might come off as a jerk from time to time, there's really no way a renaissance man like him shouldn't have inspired someone to be more like him.  And even though I know it won't be long before my boy is back, I hope they don't abandon this as an idea--he needs someone who can carry on as Iron Man (or Ironheart), someone who can learn from his many, many mistakes and hopefully be a better hero than he was.

In the meantime, this issue has her basically dealing with the fact that now that she's made herself known to the super-powered world at large that she's surrounded by offers from people wanting to see what she can do, from M.I.T. to the Champions.  And while I would love nothing more than for the Baby Avengers to get their own Iron Man, I'm glad they're not just shoving her into every single book possible.  Give her time to develop--I mean, this issue she got her ass kicked by freaking Will O'Wisp.  That dude was barely even a proper Spidey villain. I'd say she needs a bit more training. 

Luke Cage
You just know when a hero gets this cocky, they're about to get their ass kicked.

Still, it's dope that the Netflix series managed to get Luke Cage his own comic book again.  One of the oldest black heroes in the game, if Iron Fist can get a comic I feel like Luke should have one too. I'll give Marvel credit too: Luke Cage features one of the best black writers working in comics today in David Walker, and pairs him up with a talented black artist as well in Nelson Blake II and the results are pretty bad-ass.  It's a smart decision to revisit Luke Cage's origin for fans that don't know it, but as a long-time comic book geek, I also appreciate the comic being its own unique thing instead of just altering things to fit the Netflix show.  Plus it makes Luke look like a bad-ass.   If you have to read one Marvel comic this week, make sure its this one.   I don't want to see a potential new favorite get canceled. 

Speaking of canceled, this week's Nightwing looks to be a bit of a fill-in, presumably while our normal creative team gears up for their next big arc dealing with Blockbuster.  It's a team-up between our main hero Nightwing and the recently returned Wally West, and it just made me realize how much it would make sense to maybe start developing both new and old characters in settings that aren't solo comics before we move on to just giving them their own comics. 

Very few heroes start out with one, for the record--some of the biggest heroes you know today were developed in anthology books before they ever got their own comics.  Batman, Superman, Thor, Iron Man--none of them were in self-titled series at first.  And no, anthologies may not work as well as they used to, but team-ups might!   Watching these two characters (who've been friends forever) hang out was a refreshing change of pace for both heroes and I'd love to see the same thing done between other characters in a separate series.   Team up new characters with old or show us a relationship between a pair of old characters that we're unfamiliar with or don't see together often, and if any of them break out maybe then get them their own book?  Just a thought.

What I love about Revolutionaries is that it's so different from the political intrigue you find in a comic like Optimus Prime or Transformers: Till All Are One.   And it certainly doesn't have the comedy or heartwarming/heartbreaking character study that Transformers: Lost Light.  No, Revolutionaries has one, clear point: to bring to life all those stories you told as a kid, when you just did crossovers between the G.I. Joe and Transformer action figures in your toy chest every night.

Every month, Revolutionaries doesn't pretend to be anything else; it just brings you the most ridiculous, high-octane action between some of the biggest/best properties of the 80s, from Transformers to G.I. Joe, Action Man to M.A.S.K.  If I had a complaint, it'd be that I wish they had even more 80's properties to toss in the mix.  Why not He-Man and Thundercats, for instance?

The Flash
Though I've vacillated on it before, I have to congratulate DC for the work they're putting in on Rebirth. Disappointed as I was with how The Button was playing out at first, now that the story's played out I see its purpose in a different light.

If we look at Rebirth from the long form, it's a story about optimism versus cynicism.  Our "villain", Dr. Manhattan, has been pushing and pulling at the DC Universe for apparently who knows how long, or to what end.  Every move he's made though has been to weaken the universe through altering its reality.  If we assume that Manhattan has had his hands in most of what's been going on, then we have to look at what's happened to Wonder Woman--nearly driven insane with the knowledge that Themyscira has been lost to her from the very beginning of her career.  This Flash/Batman "The Button" story was purely about getting Bruce to meet the Flashpoint version of his father, knowing that he would encourage Bruce to give up on being Batman. Even as our heroes work to reclaim the years and people and relationships they've lost, events around them are pushing them to doubt themselves and their work as heroes. 

Even over in Justice League every arc seems to be about how aliens, demigods, and even time itself is noticing that something is very wrong, and they all appear to be fighting back as hard as they can. 

Now that we finally know what the "end goal" is to Rebirth in Doomsday Clock, I can't say that I'm not excited for now.  In the face of this overwhelming foe that seeks to divide them and prove that there's no such thing AS a hero, how will our heroes react?   So long as Doomsday Clock's battles are largely philosophical in nature rather than just Superman punching Dr. Manhattan in the face (without the proper context at least), I'm on board.

U.S. Avengers
Despite the obvious trade dress on the cover, I didn't realize this was a Secret Empire tie-in until about mid-way through the book.  Unfortunate for me, as I might've saved myself the time from reading this book.  Not that this comic isn't a great tie-in choice for the event: as leader of the U.S. Avengers, Roberto Da Costa would be a great choice to go against Hydra Cap as a primary protagonist.  With Hydra trying to reinforce the idea that there's a "rightness" to being monolithic, a concept that goes against everything that is America, who better to face their brainwashed leader than a mutant immigrant that's defended America since he was but a teenager?   But since that's obviously not the story being told as U.S. Avengers is just a satellite book, it just feels like this is getting in the way of the adventures I actually want to see these characters go on. 

Also: Since it totally wasn't an accident that Dr. Ho was wearing a Hulkbuster-styled version of her armor the same issue we see our Red Hulk trying to upgrade his powers, I sincerely hope it goes better for her than every time Tony Stark tried to suit up in the Hulkbuster....

The Wild Storm
The trouble I'm having with The Wild Storm isn't that it's not entertaining--every month I read with fascination as I watch what was once a sprawling universe that spanned multiple titles grow inside this single book. This month we get to see WildC.A.T. members Grifter and Voodoo fail to bring Angela Spica (The Engineer) into their organization after an...explosively violent run in with a government approved covert action team from International Operations, leaving Angela still in the wind and being chased by an I/O that would very much like her captured and (probably) killed.

Writer Warren Ellis continues to find a way to both ground these ridiculous 90's concepts in reality while simultaneously not trying to make them "realistic".  The term "WildC.A.T." goes from being an absurd name from the "radicool" era to being a generic name to describe a covert action team that doesn't belong to any known governmental organization, a reason for concern because it means there's no information on the team or its purpose.  No points of contact, no intel that can be formulated to even attempt to shut them down, they're just free to pop up and do whatever they want, a concept doubtlessly terrifying in the world of espionage.

If anything, my biggest problem is that this world is growing too slowly.  It's been four months already and while the book isn't suffering from decompression there's also only so much story you can even tell inside of less than 90 pages.  Even a small company like Valiant would've gotten a second monthly series by now, but since Warren's basically in charge of the entire WildStorm line, there's really only so much one man can produce at once.

X-Men Gold

After doing battle with a new version of the "Brotherhood of Evil Mutants" and setting up our latest mutant hating extremist, up next on our X-Men nostalgia tour: a bout with the Sentinels! Also, there's Gambit.

I know it sounds like I'm hard on X-Men Gold, even though it's not a bad comic book.  I'm just still frustrated that the best vision for X-Men currently (I can't take any ongoing with the O5 team seriously) is one that's steeped in looking back so much.   One thing that is nice about X-Men Gold is having the team as an actual group of superheroes again.  Even if the X-Men were technically never really superheroes, it makes sense as a concept doesn't it?   How hated can you be when you're actively saving the world on a monthly basis?   The X-Men as a paramilitary group was a neat enough idea for the 2000's, but nearly two decades later it's played out and we have to do something different.

I can also really get behind a version of Kitty Pryde that's hyper-competent and leader of the team.  She's been an X-Man since the early 80's--even with the sliding timescale she's seen more eras of the X-Men than most longtime fans have--there's no reason why she can't be at the forefront of the team, kicking ass and taking names. 


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