Bottom of the Pile: June 7th, 2014

Loyal readers, this is why you don't promise things.  This was supposed to be out last week (well, really three weeks ago but shhh), but my laptop's charger had a short in it and I had to go without until just yesterday.    I've had a lot of time to think since then though, and I want to do a lot of updates in the next week/month.

 
Agents of P.A.C.T.
Agents of P.A.C.T. excites me for a lot of reasons.  It's a series that basically crosses Birds of Prey with X-Files, where you've got an all-woman team of heroes dealing with supernatural events, primarily in Canada.  But what's exciting is that this is a new publisher that's created a completely new IP, and even cooler than that?  It's a universe being built up entirely around Canadian superheroes!   Even though the concept of superheroes is uniquely American, it's always fascinating to see how the idea looks filtered through the sensibilities of other nations. 

Here we get to see the Canadian heroes as they have to deal with the "heroes" of America: paranoid fucks who kill/eliminate any aliens they meet, viewing them as a threat to humanity.  Much as I think that's fucked up...currently I can't really argue with anyone carrying that view.

Amazing Spider-Man
And so the Goblin Conspiracy ends with a powerless Peter beating a powerless Norman Osborn's ass with a rock.  Does anyone else remember when--in Slott's run--Peter developed his own unique fighting style to compensate for the brief loss of his Spider-Sense?   What happened to that, exactly?

Setting that aside, it'd be insane if Peter couldn't spin this to make SHIELD look like the assholes.  Spider-Man and Parker Industries technically freed a foreign country from a despot--from Norman fucking Osborn!  If their PR department can't make that a win then the lot of them should be fired.


Avengers
This issue featured Avenger X returning from "the dead" to menace the current Avengers team, with her ability to steal other people's powers and use them for herself.   After nearly defeating the team, the newest member Nadia (the new Wasp) defeats her by leaving her stuck in a shrunken state, unable to restore herself to a proper height. It's a cool ending to a story, but its just weird because there was so much build-up for this: the Avengers Point-One series basically existed to introduce and build Avenger X up as a character; you'd think she would have lasted longer than a single issue.  Or I would've, but clearly I was off-base?


Deathstroke
Deathstroke quoting Psalms 103 to a young lady he screwed over with his selfish machinations is both hilarious and probably the most fitting thing he's done since the arc starts.

Having returned from the Speed Force enlightened, it looks like he's "seen the light" as it were, and is about to form a superhero team himself.  Now I'm largely against the "heroification" of villains, but after 20 or so issues of Deathstroke, Chris Priest has bought more than enough faith for me to see where this is going.  More importantly, I love Power Girl and I'm looking forward to her having a home in an ongoing series, however temporary that is.


Green Lanterns
And with this, we learn two things: The "One Punch" incident is canon, and Jessica Cruz is a savage with the insults/comebacks. Slug a guy after he pisses you off, then remind him of the time he got hit so hard by Batman he turned into a completely different person.  I'm cool with that.


Iron Fist
Oh, look--the whole tournament is revealed to be a sham. As much as I've been enjoying Mike Perkins' brutal yet beautifully choreographed fight scenes in Iron Fist, I'm a bit bummed that this version of Danny--who's had so much training--didn't realize the whole "no shortcuts" thing never goes away in martial arts.

Still, I appreciate the speed with which we're moving through this arc--other writers would have stretched this out into a full eight issue epic, possibly even longer--forcing Danny to face down all seven masters while simultaneously being on the run from the entire island until he finally bested the last one, only then would he be allowed to leave the island to learn about K'un Lun.  But  Ed Brisson isn't about that life, and we've managed to shorten the entire story down to a short five issues.  Take note writers; if people aren't invested in your stories yet, you should always start things with a short arc so people can learn to trust you.   Year-long series just drain a reader's attention span.

Nightwing
I said awhile back that there's something about Dick in Bludhaven that makes him give up who he is without the mask.  Dick Grayson becomes wholly subsumed by "Nightwing".  In the late 90's/early 2000's he came to Bludhaven and became a cop, essentially so his "day job" could be to fight as much crime as he did during his night job.  This time he's so busy trying to tame Gotham's scary sister city that he's not even working a real job at all.

Fortunately this time he's got a support system that includes friends and a girlfriend that can hopefully pull him back from the edge.  We've seen what happens when Nightwing doesn't give himself enough room to be Dick Grayson--it ends in murder and non-consensual rooftop sex, and I'm not really trying to revisit that time period.


Noble

I'm still not really sure how I feel about Catalyst Prime as a universe.  Meant to be the modern day version of Milestone, where diverse characters are not just supporting characters, but the lead protagonists and antagonists, not enough of it has been revealed since we're still basically on the first two ongoings and not enough has happened in its lead book, Noble.   We're seeing our lead hero give out lots of ass-kickings, but their only purpose is to show that even with amnesia, at his core he's still "A Good Man".   And honestly the first issue did that just fine, so the fight scene this issue just feels like wasted pages.

More than anything, I'm the most invested in the main character's wife--who's every bit the action hero bad-ass I expected her to be when she left her son and grandmother to go get her husband back. She's had no problems tracking her man down and taking care of herself so far, and the most exciting thing to me right now is seeing what happens when she finally finds her husband and they start working together.  I'm predicting lots of bad-assery.

Quantum Teens Are Go
Man I've been following Quantum Teens Are Go for four issues wondering what the fuck the story was actually about.  All I know was this Indian kid and his trans girlfriend were working on an invention that "did stuff", and suddenly strange people that couldn't be seen by anyone but the two of them were trying to sabotage his work.

So here we are, four issues later, and suddenly I learn its a time machine--and realize I probably should have figured that out from the "Quantum Teens" part of the title.  Still, for what I imagine is one of the most indie of indie comics, QTAG is actually good.  The art's a little hinky but the sequential storytelling part is solid and the artist doesn't try to be too radical in presentation--always a risk whenever you travel too far away from the standard major publishers.  More importantly, the story ends with the leading lady being given a freaking time machine and encouraged to explore the universe with it, so obviously I'm going to be back for issue 5.

And dammit, there better be an issue 5.


Rocket
Rocket's second issue gets a little wordy and hard to understand, partially due to its panel layout being scrunched for the prose--but the overall story is still solid.  Last issue Rocket was asked to help out an old "friend" named Otta, who wanted his help recovering some land rights in order to save her people.   He hired a heist crew and actually managed to "save" the deeds, though he got himself caught in the process.

Believing himself to have done the right thing, Rocket immediately confesses his "crimes", believing that no jury in the world would convict him for saving innocent people from greedy corporate interests.  ....That is, until its revealed that Rocket was working for the corporate interests the entire time, meaning Otta has screwed him again.   It's good to know that this odd space noir-ish comedy is sticking to the golden rule of noir universes: never trust a dame.


Transformers: Lost Light
And so the crew of the Lost Light (well, the remaining members at least) finish their time in the Functionist universe, surviving mostly intact...aside from Megatron, who gets stuck in that universe and decides to help those fighting against the Functionists.

What I like about this ending is that he was left because they had no choice and no time left, but they still wanted to bring him back to stand trial.  He didn't die a heroic death and they aren't all thinking about the respectable sacrifice he made in staying.  No, Rodimus clearly thinks he's a coward who cheated justice--and that's a valid way to look at things, because that's kind of what happened.

At the same time, there's something to be said for atonement.  This is Megatron's chance to start over--many of the Cybertronians he was responsible for killing are alive in that universe, or have yet to even been born.  It's obvious that he's learned a better way that indiscriminately taking the lives of everyone who gets in his way, and bending the will of everyone who's too afraid to try to stop him--the last scene features him talking about teaching "peace through empathy", basically the opposite world view of a guy who's back of the box toy quote was once "Everything is fodder."  So Megatron does get his atonement, which is what the story has been going for since he first slapped that Autobot insignia on his chest, but he doesn't get forgiveness--which frankly would have felt forced and wrong after the countless razed planets, billions of lost lives, and millions of years of war he was personally responsible for.



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