Another week, another Bottom of the Pile. My name is Sage Ashford and each week, I take a handful of some of the best and/or most interesting comics of the week, and do commentary on them. This can range from my painful attempts at humor, to pointing out ties to other comics for potential theories, all the way up to mini-reviews. Basically, the point of this column is to talk comics. If you like it, be sure to RT this on Twitter and share it on Facebook, it really helps. If you want to contact me about this or any other columns I do, feel free to hit me up @SageShinigami on Twitter.
Bloodshot Reborn #1
“The Book of Rebirth”
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artists: Lewis LaRosa and Mico Suayan
Color Artist: Brian Reber
Probably the most disturbing ersatz Marvel Family I’ve ever seen. Bloodshot’s relaunch is something I’d been waiting on for some time and, thankfully, I can say it doesn’t disappoint. Having finally gotten away from the clutches of Project Rising Spirit, Ray’s been able to start a normal life alongside his lover Magic and their child Jessie. Speaking of, this newest Bloodshot book seems to want to focus on Magic’s mysterious past, finally taking us off in a different direction than previous volumes, which just kept digging deeper into Ray’s own past.
Switching things up is nice, as it motivates Ray to fight for something less selfish than himself, but more personal and less altruistically generic than “the world”, even if eventually he’ll likely end up saving it anyway. As we discover though, his quest might not end too well, as they hint in the future that Ray’s been killed, leaving his wife and daughter on the run from…well, that remains to be seen, though it seems like a good guess is the rest of Magic’s family, who’ve somehow taken the nanites that once belonged to Ray. Yup, looks like it’s going to be another hard journey for ol’ Bloodshot.
My hope? While I’m fine with the family drama, I seriously hope we dig into another twisted conspiracy theory-worthy organization. Project Rising Spirit was the stuff of nightmares, ones that Jeff did quite the job contributing to, so creating a new organization wholesale is going to take a lot to equal up to.
Future Quest Presents: Space Ghost #2
“The Buried Past”
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Ariel Olivetti
I wouldn’t have thought Ariel Olivetti’s art would’ve been so suited to a 60’s pulp superhero like Space Ghost, but here we are. He brings these characters to life in beautiful detail, backed by Jeff Parker’s stories, which seem like modern updates to the H-B stories from back in the day. It’s a sharp contrast from the rest of the H-B revivals, which could never be shared with one’s younger children like Future Quest and now Future Quest Presents could.
This issue builds on both the H-B universe by adding some creepy new villains as well as filling out more of Space Ghost’s backstory, as he, Jan and Jace try heading deep into the caverns of planet Amzot in order to gain more of the material necessary for the power bands that give Space Ghost his unique abilities. Now though the villains here have a tragic back story and a quite valid reason to want to destroy the Space Force, I’m hoping our heroes not only manage to escape, but recover some of the ore they need. It’s a small step, but building out the Space Force to have more people in it than just Space Ghost would go a long way towards really developing this world.
Green Arrow #31
“Hard Traveling Hero Part 6: Rogue”
Story: Benjamin Percy
Art and Color: Otto Schmidt
There should be an “Emotional Tie: Established” every time continuity starts to restore itself to a pre-Flashpoint state. This issue finally sees Ollie unofficially join the League, and a sigh of “Finally!” from all Green Arrow fans everywhere. Now we just need Black Canary back on the team and we’ve got the Silver Age team…mostly back together again.
Ben Percy’s Green Arrow has always been a weird read for me. It’s always just a few inches away from being the best thing on the stand, with a weird character choice here or a strange plot point there that irks me, but is based on such solid world-building and slick action scenes that I know it’s just me being picky and I still have to acknowledge the team’s ridiculous level of talent.
Green Lanterns #31
Out of Time: “Homecoming”
Writer: Sam Humphries
Art: Ronan Cliquet
One of the best things about Green Lanterns is that it’s successfully built a completely platonic relationship between two characters that are, as far as we know, straight. Simon and Jessica have gone from the Lethal Weapon/Odd Couple to basically being JD and Turk with Green Lantern Rings, and it’s the most adorable thing to read from month to month. They support each other emotionally and in battle and they’ve become stronger and grown much faster together than they could ever have hoped to apart.
I’m saying all that to say: I know we’ve got a new writer coming soon in Tim Seeley, and I seriously hope he doesn’t screw that up by going back to the whole “superheroes can’t keep it in their pants” trope and tossing them in bed together in a matter of issues. I just want Green Lantern Earth Bros for as long as they can keep this comic on the stands. Leave the relationship drama to Kyle.
Invincible Iron Man #11
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Stefano Caselli, Kate Niemczyk, Taki Soma, & Kiichi Mizushima
Color Artist: Marte Gracia
For what it’s worth, I’ve quite liked a good portion of Bendis’ run. The early, pre-Civil War II parts of it reminded me of early Silver Age Iron Man comics, and while I didn’t much care for International Iron Man, I find Riri Williams absolutely charming. I don’t actually find this issue to be too bad either—that’s how it ended up here, after all. We’re finally starting on the journey to bringing back Tony Stark, and as much as I love Riri, I’ll be overjoyed when everyone’s favorite goatee’d asshole is back as the star of his own comic. (Riri meanwhile, should be moved off to her own comic…while Doom goes back to Latveria and…I dunno, sits on an ice cream truck.)
That said, there’s still the matter of…this. I’ve never been a fan of the idea of Tony Stark (or most superheroes, really) not having a secret identity. It invites danger into the lives of every hero’s friends and families that’s wholly the hero’s fault for being too lazy to separate the two lives, and kind of forces that character to be a superhero one hundred percent of the day. I take this pretty seriously: Tony revealing his identity was the worst part of his first film. Since then, it’s become almost a given that Tony would basically never waste time letting people think he’s not the guy in the suit, because his ego wouldn’t let him do otherwise. And…sure, whatever. I let that go.
But things like this? They poke holes in the suspension of disbelief of your universe. Of course people believed Tony Stark wasn’t Iron Man. The same way people believe Peter Parker isn’t Spider-Man even though he’s the only one who can get pictures of Spider-Man. This is basically pointing out that Superman is just Clark Kent in glasses, and I don’t feel it’s a thing anyone should ever do.
Having said that, this is an otherwise good issue all around (corny “he hugs the world’s babies” moment aside), and Taki Soma’s art is gorgeous. I’d love to see her work on Riri’s book if and when that happens.
The Wild Storm #7
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Jon Davis-Hunt
Colorist: Steve Buccelato
This whole scene lasts about a page or two. I’ll be honest, I don’t have anything profound to say for this one–this is just some really beautiful choreography. Every now and again, just when you think Warren Ellis’ comics haven gotten too talky and not enough action is going on in what’s meant to be an action comic, he’ll sneak in something like this—easily my favorite fight scene of the week. Jon-Davis Hunt gets to do some fun tricks with comic panels that look so smooth this scene that they wouldn’t look out of place in the latest Kingsman film. (Or would have been downgraded to boring shaky-cam footage in a lesser film.)
The comic itself is still a bit slow-paced for a book that’s essentially rebuilding one of the biggest universes of the 90’s/early 2000’s, but that was the draw of some of the widescreen storytelling style that WildStorm eventually helped popularize, correct? Massive decompression? So yeah, everything’s working out perfectly at the moment.
X-Men Gold #12
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Artist: Luke Ross
Colorist: Frank Martin
The vast majority of X-Men Gold #12 is devoted to introducing what I think is a new villain; he hasn’t shown himself to be one or the other to the team yet, but this much murder usually comes from a bad guy. That’s exciting because as I’ve mentioned before X-Men Gold can often come off like a nostalgia tour, so seeing a brand-new villain is exciting, especially when they’re likely going to put the X-Men right back where I love them most: outer space. It drags them so far out of their element while simultaneously proving that the X-Men are such versatile characters that you can get cool stories out of them no matter where you place them.
The last couple pages of the book though re-introduce another classic X-Villain: Mojo, the evil television mogul from another universe! For what it’s worth, though, this is yet another old bad guy; it’s one I feel we don’t see terribly often and certainly it’s been quite some time since we saw him featured in a major way in X-Comics. I’m concerned that it’s a bit too soon to do an event—particularly when Marvel had been trying to convince people they were going to give them up for a year and a half—but sometimes events can be a good thing. They serve as a unifying influence, getting all the books on the same page briefly before they all go in their separate directions again, hopefully stronger for the experience. Let’s see what happens—I still think there’s like five too many X-Books, so hopefully this changes my mind.
See you guys in seven!