Bottom of the Pile: November 1st, 2017 – Death Stroke, Green Arrow, Green Lanterns, The Jetsons

by Sage Ashford

The selection is a bit short in Bottom of the Pile this week, but they’re still some of the best books being put out. Let’s get into it.

Deathstroke #25
“The Society”
Story: Priest
Pencils: Carlo Pagulayan
Inks: Norm Rapmund, Trevor Scott, and Jason Paz
Color: Jeremy Cox

You know, it might be the most sinister thing ever if all the heroes had come together to develop a sort of “Good Guy Virus” that transformed any villains they came in contact with into decent (if occasionally morally questionable) people, and yet…given that DC’s Earth gets ripped in half by the latest major villain gimmick at least once every financial quarter, I’m betting the citizens of Earth-0 would be fine with it.

In any case, last week’s Deathstroke sees Slade wind up called before the Society for his actions against Deadline several months ago, where he stole Deadline’s weapon and blew his arm off. I love when stories are set around little things like this, where a story is either based around answering or inadvertently answers a burning fan question. In this case, that question is “What stops Earth villains from fighting each other all the time?” They’re sociopathic and generally loners with way too much power, so when you combine all that they should be at each other’s throats…but as it turns out, there’s basically a “villain union” that holds you accountable for your actions towards fellow villains.

This issue also gets into how supervillains see themselves with respect to being called “evil”, ranging from outright denial to getting philosophical in several characters’ cases.  Priest excels at giving all of these wildly differing characters their own voice, and the fact that he was able to account for all the weird continuity stuff happening with respect to Lex Luthor and Killer Frost makes me more excited than ever that he’s taking on Justice League.

Green Arrow #34
“Time Will Tell”
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Stephen Byrne

I’ve said it before, but Green Arrow doesn’t usually wind up here. It’s not a bad comic by any means, but it always feels off by just enough in one way or another that gets under my skin enough that it stays off this list even though I’ve read it faithfully since the beginning.

But I did want to give it a shout-out this month, because it’s doing something that most comics in the post-Identity Crisis/Civil War-era just don’t do anymore.  By having the same writer for every issue since its first over a year ago, Green Arrow is able to maintain a consistency to its tone and the stories being told that most superhero comics can only dream of.

Somewhere along the way as the widescreen/decompressed storytelling era settled in as the norm amongst superhero comics, writers started doing what I like to call “essays”, where they show up for a six or twelve issue run that usually has one or two storylines before flitting off to their own work or some other assignment. I won’t pretend to know anything about the behind-the-scenes efforts–maybe that’s what the editor wanted, maybe they just did it for promo–I’m not here to judge, I just always thought it was sad when your favorite writer hopped onto one of your favorite characters and was gone in two years.

But Ben Percy has truly settled into Green Arrow, taking his open-ended run and using it to flesh out the Emerald Archer’s universe. We’ve learned about his flawed, good-natured father and the troubled relationship with his mom. We’ve gotten to see him re-establish ties all across the DC Universe, bringing us back to the Ollie we knew and loved from the pre-Flashpoint era, with those relationships re-contextualized for the modern day.

There’s a massive overarching story being told with respect to him being on trial after being framed for the murder of one of his employees, but in the middle of that he and his friends battle other villains both brand-new and from his classic rogues gallery.  All of that makes an appearance this issue and it just reminded me that this is the kind of issue I could have only gotten from someone who was well and truly devoted to giving us their own era of a specific character they like writing about, and that deserves a lot of praise.  So thank you, Ben Percy, for helping to make Green Arrow cool in this Rebirth era.

Green Lanterns #34
“Work Release Part Two”
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Ronan Cliquet
Colorist: HI-FI

I was wondering exactly why Jessica’s ring had suddenly become so…expressive. Seemingly, there’s either a being living in it or Jessica’s unique make-up and programming of the AI has caused it to grow a personality. Here’s hoping it’s not secretly a stalker! Oh…who am I kidding? Of course it is.

There’s a lot going on in this issue. While Simon saved us from an international incident, as I suspected, it appears there’s an entire secret organization among the Ungaran people that really hate Green Lanterns. That’s kind of understandable, though realistically since these two only saved an entire planet and fixed the damage they inflicted on their society, I’m not really sure what the issue is with them, specifically. There’s also another appearance of Simon’s ability to heal as a Green Lantern, which is weird and I’m hoping Seeley eventually explains, along with his gift of Emerald Sight. Is Simon some kind of weird chosen one, or can every Green Lantern unlock their own unique powers no other Lantern can use? The latter would be kind of cool if there were some rules or explanation for why no one’s ever shown it before.

Also, there’s an appearance by Bologna the Unrelenting, a character that’s so non-threatening I actually know his name and refuse to correct it. Guess every hero’s gotta have some light work to take care of.

The Jetsons #1 (of 6)
“Meet the Jetsons”
Writer: Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Pier Brito
Colors: Alex Sinclair

As big of a hit as it is, I’ve never really been a fan of DC’s new Flintstones comic book. I’m sure Mark Russell is a perfectly talented creator, but his disdain for the original property is evident in the few issues I’ve read of his modern iconoclastic take on everyone’s favorite modern Stone Age family. I’ve actually been pretty reluctant since then to get involved with most of DC’s revivals of their classic properties, which aside from the sublime Future Quest series just seems to be looking at everything IDW’s doing right with the Hasbro-verse and doing the exact opposite.

But well, it looks like Jetsons is about to join Future Quest as a franchise DC’s nailed. Sure enough, they’ve gone with the rather dark headcanon theory that the world of the Jetsons sees people living in the sky because they wrecked the Earth, but beyond that it’s a very smart, updated take on these futuristic characters living in an idealistic future.

Elroy’s scientist leanings have caused him to become something of a Jonny Quest-type adventurer, traveling into the depths of Earth’s poisonous oceans to recover ancient artifacts. Jane is head of an organization that clearly includes some of the brightest minds of Earth, working together to stop the almost certain destruction of Earth and the remainder of the human race. Even Rosie has been re-worked to become the robotic reincarnation of George’s mother, which opens the door to all kinds of discussions of human-robot relations, choosing immortality over discovering the Earth’s final mystery, and more. I’m not sure about George or Judy yet, but there’s plenty of time to develop them and I’m confident based off this issue that there’s a plan for them as well.

Basically, everything about this book works perfectly, from Jimmy Palmiotti’s writing, to Pier Brito’s modernized character designs, to Alex Sinclair’s beautifully bright colors that portray this futuristic world and make it look appropriately full of wonder and amazing things. I’m looking forward to the rest of this book and I’m hoping we get a bit more than just a mini-series when it’s all said and done.

See you in seven!