Bottom of the Pile: Oct. 4th, 2017 – Avengers, Batman, Deathstroke, Green Lantern, Nightwing, X-Men: Gold

by Sage Ashford

Another week, another stack of comics to get through.  If you’re new to this, welcome to Bottom of the Pile, where I talk about some of my favorite comics throughout the week.  It can be anything from small talk to reviews or what a story’s implications mean for characters and storylines in the future.   If you like this article, feel free to share it on Facebook and Twitter, and if you have any questions or comments, hit me up @SageShinigami on Twitter!

Avengers #672
“Worlds Collide Part One”
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Jesus Saiz

It’s amazing what an artist change can do to the tone of a story. Not to discount Mike Del Mundo–his ephemeral style would be downright legendary on something like a Fables-type story, but most of the stories you’d tell with the Avengers demand the kind of classical, straightforward art of a Jesus Saiz, who seems to get better every time I see his work.

In any case, “Worlds Collide” is the Avengers/Champion crossover no one was waiting on but was as inevitable as the X-Men getting another book announced during NYCC. But that doesn’t stop it from being one of the best stories Waid’s done since he started writing either book, with us seeing what the fully-formed Champions team looks like alongside the more experienced Avengers as both teams deal with the mystery of “Counter Earth”.

They still work well together, even if there’s friction between the leaders–a scene that’s actually echoed in this week’s “X-Men Gold” and makes me wonder when Marvel became so obsessed with teen heroes. I remember when Marvel had a fairly strong stance against sidekicks and now between Champions and X-Men Blue the universe is borderline infested with kids. It’s not a bad thing, I just wonder how necessary it is.

This is all heading towards the Avengers weekly series “No Surrender”, which hopefully leads towards a glorious “Rebirth”-style reshuffling of the deck chairs for Marvel in its aftermath.

Batman #32
“The War of Jokes & Riddles Conclusion”
Script: Tom King
Pencils, Inks, Cover: Mikel Janin
Colors: June Chung

I haven’t been a huge fan of Tom King’s Batman. I’m fine with heroes showing their emotional side, but decades of seeing Batman as this invincible Bat-God makes the softer Batman I’ve seen from “I Am Gotham” and “I Am Bane” feel weird. It works for a lot of people and there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just not me.

That said, I’m all on board with this marriage, and the way “The War of Jokes and Riddles” played out. Though it hilariously runs counter to my previous statement, I’m a sucker for romantic scenes and this just played out so perfectly. Bruce’s worst nightmare has to be his villains teaming up and warring with each other rather than him.  There are so many more people who can get caught in the crossfire that way, just as this story proved, and having him pushed to that limit and cracking felt believable given the circumstances of the last few issues.

The real question is where things go from here. I thought the twist was Selina not agreeing to marry him, but that’s clearly not it. Personally, I’m on board with the idea of aging up some of our heroes–they tried the reverse in 2011 with the New 52, where suddenly Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were all in their early-to-mid 20’s, and that didn’t resonate. Seeing Superman as a dad, Wonder Woman in a committed relationship, and Batman getting married are all avenues that haven’t been explored–and if they have, it’s been decades–and it’s the kind of change I think is welcome.

Plus, between Batman and ‘Tec, it feels like Bruce is actually taking steps towards being a real adult instead of allowing a boyhood trauma to drive his every single action.  Marriage, the “Bat-Family”, he’s allowing himself to heal–even if he does still spend his nights wearing a Bat outfit and terrifying the criminal and cowardly lot. (Of course, this is going to all go out the window when one of them later breaks the engagement off…)

Deathstroke #24
“The Defiance Part Four”
Story: Priest
Pencils: Diogenes Neves
Inks: Jason Paz & Trevor Scott
Colors: Jeromy Cox

Deathstroke’s attempt to rehabilitate himself by leading a team of young heroes (“Defiance”) after his trip into the Speed Force continues. This week, a lot of the action is put on hold while we develop the relationships between all the heroes–there’s a bit of Terra/Ravager, some Wally/Joseph, and lastly…Wally/Tanya, which gives us the hilarious scene above. You know…there’s like a three year age gap between Wally and Tanya, and yet I’m unquestionably on board with Kid Flash/Power Girl as a couple. After spending the last few months getting betrayed, having his powers stolen, or getting his butt kicked by everyone, it’d be nice to see him actually get a win.

Plus, cynical as it sounds, whenever Priest gets done writing Tanya Spears that’s probably the last we see of her unless she can either make it back into the Teen Titans, or becomes supporting cast in a Flash book.

Unrelated sidenote, this issue Deathstroke finally comes face-to-face with the Secret Society of Super-Villains (shortened to “The Society” because people think it sounds cooler), and I’m not too comfortable with the line-up. There are noteworthy folks like Vandal Savage, the Ultra-Humanite, and Black Manta…but then there’s also Killer Frost, who joined the Justice League recently and should’ve cut all her villain ties.  And then there’s Raptor, the Nightwing villain who just became a villain worth mentioning like…yesterday.   I can believe he got in the Society, but there’s no way he earned a high-ranking spot so quickly.

Green Lantern #32
“House Party”
Writer: Sam Humphries
Artist: Scott Godlewski
Colors: HI-FI

There’s a reason Clark eventually just said screw it and revealed his identity to Lois.  Nothing worse than having your civilian self getting romance-blocked by your superhero self.

Nightwing #30
“Raptor’s Revenge Part One”
Writer: Tim Seeley
Penciller: Miguel Mendonca
Inker: Diana Egea
Colors: Chris Sotomayor

I feel like “evil politicians” are becoming more common as villains in superhero comics, for obvious reasons. I’m not against it–American politics are wrecked, and finding intelligent ways to talk about them without being painfully blatant allegories or lazy speeches through Author Avatars is time-honored comics storytelling. Still, it’d be fun just once to have one of these characters gradually change through having their views challenged, becoming less of an callous, “laissez faire is king”, “Muh Bootstraps” kind of jerk-ass to someone who understands the obstacles in the way of most lesser-privileged people. Give someone unlikable a character arc, y’know?

…Failing that, it’d be dope to see this guy made into a member of The Ninth Circle, the international crime organization currently making Green Arrow’s life a living hell in his comic. If you’re not reading, they’re a group of bankers who profit off funding criminal organizations, and tend to have really despicable views on modern society, preying on our fear and division to continue to raise their bottom line. Currently it’s just GA writer Ben Percy’s thing, but it’s such a solid villain group that it deserves to expand. Much better than something like HIVE for the modern era, certainly.

X-Men: Gold #13
“Mojo Worldwide Part 1”
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Artist: Mike Mayhew
Colorist: Rain Beredo

Wow. Y’know, I talked about X-Men: Gold being a blatant appeal to nostalgia before but I didn’t think they’d own up to it so soon. Mojo Worldwide is apparently our heroes literally dealing with past periods of X-History. You’d think we revisited all of this enough during Secret Wars, but I guess not?

This issue started off with all the X-Men groups together playing baseball, only to be interrupted by a seemingly major crisis, only for all of them to be teleported into these realms that look like old events they’ve already survived, and while I’m on board with seeing the teams interact with one another again, I can’t help feeling like X-Men’s gone astray since Avengers vs. X-Men in 2012. There’s no unifying mission like there was during the Messiah CompleX up to the Utopia days, or even the strong mission statements post-Schism. While I’m still enjoying X-Men Gold, I’m not sure I’m up to sticking around post-Mojo Worldwide if we don’t get a stronger direction not too long after its completion.

See you guys in seven!

Sage Ashford

A writer with way too many hobbies, Sage can often be found catching up on the latest anime, or reading a stack of comics between Wednesdays and Thursdays.