Bottom Of The Pile: August 1st, 2018 – Adventures Of The Super-Sons, Batman, Infinity Wars, Justice League

by Sage Ashford

Another week, another collection of comics at the door. The event game is heating up with the premiere of Infinity Wars, and we’ve got some action from the World’s Finest baby heroes with the Super Sons’ maxi-series, along with a few other comics on the list. Anyhow, welcome to Bottom of the Pile, a weekly column discussing some of my favorite comic books of the week. If you enjoy this series, please give it a share on Twitter and Facebook.

Adventures of the Super-Sons #1
“Action Detectives Part One: Bad Guise”
Story and Words: Peter J. Tomasi
Pencils: Carlos Barberi
Inks: Art Thibert
Colors: Protobunker

As a fan of the 90’s teen heroes like Superboy, Tim Drake/Robin, and Impulse, I often find myself fighting the urge not to root against the new wave of kid heroes. So it’s that much more noteworthy then when I find myself sold on a book as hard as I am with Adventures of the Super-Sons. Damian and Jon play off one another perfectly, as Damian finally has someone his own age to work alongside instead of constantly being the annoying brat whose tantrums the older heroes have to deal with. Peter Tomasi understands what makes both of these characters work and what sets them apart from other kids their age, while Carlos Barberi’s pencils lend an approachable feel to the book that makes it feel welcoming to people age six or sixty.

I’m even sold on the end scene, where our kid heroes are confronted by a diminutive version of the Injustice Gang. It’s absurd, but not really any moreso than the idea that a ten year old and a thirteen year old should be allowed to do proper superhero work. And given we already live in a world where people are just as likely to idolize the villain as the hero, none of this felt out of place at all. If anything, my problem is more in the new Teen Titans comic, which is said to take place after this entire maxi-series. Damian’s twelve year history has been about making him more and more human and heroic, and this feels like the next step for him…so why move backwards and have him run his own version of Guantanamo Bay?

Hopefully when all is said and done, DC finds a way to get Damian closer to this version of himself than the one who’s supposedly hardcore but still unwilling to actually kill anyone.

Batman #52
“The Cold Days Part Two”
Script: Tom King
Art: Lee Weeks
Color: Elizabeth Breitweiser

For me it feels like every other arc Tom King absolutely crushes it. I wasn’t much for his Bane story, but The War of Jokes and Riddles was amazing. They ruined Bruce and Selina’s wedding, but so far The Cold Days is pretty legit. In the aftermath of Bruce being stood up by his One True Love Catwoman, Bruce decides to keep going out as Batman instead of addressing his feelings like a proper adult. The result is him going through a case involving Mr. Freeze, tracking him down and beating him stupid.

Now that was supposed to be the end, but then Bruce Wayne gets called to deal with the aftermath of the case in jury duty. It’s an obvious case that seems open and shut to everyone except the Dark Knight, who starts to call his own competence into question, particularly in the aftermath of recent events. Writers will often place a cap on Batman’s abilities in order to make it easier to use conventional storytelling tropes (and then the hero got captured or knocked out, etc), but this is one of the first times anyone’s acknowledged in-universe that yes, everyone does think Batman’s hyper-competent…but what if it he wasn’t? What if somehow the World’s Greatest Detective became compromised? What then? Well, that’s when Bruce Wayne has to convince everyone that Batman was wrong to bring in what’s otherwise a well-known, hardened criminal.

It’s a fascinating story, made all the better by Lee Weeks’ gorgeous art and Elizabeth Breitweiser’s murky colors lending this book a noir feel on the level of the old school Gotham Central ongoing.

Infinity Wars #1
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Mike Deodato, Jr.
Color Artist: Frank Martin

Just in time for Avengers: Infinity War on Blu-ray, Marvel’s given us yet another story in the Infinity saga. Gerry Duggan’s been building to this for what feels like over a year now, and finally all the pieces are in place for his story–which is good, ’cause I’m not sure I could have taken another prelude that was somehow several mini-series and one shots to lead into a different crossover. But how’s the actual story?

Well, kind of underwhelming, so far. Involving idiots like Turk Barrett (whether it’s a more clever one inspired by the Netflix version or not) detracts from the overall seriousness of the story, which is a problem when it’s hard to take the story very seriously to begin with. This isn’t entirely Gerry’s fault–the sad fact is Marvel moves at the speed of light when it comes to comic events, and we can barely get through the consequences of one before we’ve moved on to the next. It’s not that things aren’t happening in this book, it’s that the things that are happening we’ve seen before. Thanos killed off?  That’s a major plot point from Annihilation, the story that kicked off Marvel Cosmic’s popularity ten years ago.  Star Lord killed off? You just brought him back like five years ago after leaving him in the Cancerverse at the end of Realm of Kings.

That’s not to say this book is all bad, or it wouldn’t have landed in this column to begin with. Setting Gamora as the primary villain who’s taking advantage of the Power Stone in order to recover the missing piece of her soul is a great idea. Shaking up the Guardians of the Galaxy and hopefully getting them back to what they were during the DnA years instead of the cosmic cock-ups they are in the films? That’s all I’ve wanted from the beginning. Even the stuff with Loki trying to figure out why he never wins plus the mystery of the “Original Universe” has me on the edge of my seat waiting to learn more.

Plus this is an absolutely beautiful book. Mike Deodato’s moody artwork and Frank Martin’s darker colors fits this storyline much better than the team from Infinity Countdown, which is about the worst case of incredibly talented artists working on the wrong “kind” of book I’ve seen in some time. Basically, while the first two issues (this and #0) weren’t terribly interesting, much of the background work its doing is, and I’m excited to see what the next four and a half months this story’s got will bring us.

Justice League #5
“Legion of Doom Part One”
Writer: James Tynion IV
Pencils: Doug Manhke
Inks: Jamie Mendoza
Colors: Wil Quintana

Being Lex Luthor has got to be depressing. This issue gives us some detail on how Lex goes from basically attempting to be Superman to forming a cartoonishly evil organization known as the Legion of Doom, and while it’s not intentionally sad the more you think about it the more heartbreaking it becomes.

This rebooted version of Lex wasn’t actually trying to be evil. Yeah Superman didn’t seem to like him very much, but that’s ’cause he had the memories of pre-Flashpoint and was judging this guy based off those memories. But most of the time this Lex didn’t get up to very much evil at all–he was sidelined while writers developed other members of Superman’s Rogues Gallery. The first major story we saw him in was Forever Evil, where he was forced to save the world from the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3.

Not long after that Geoff actually slotted him into the Justice League, and he’s been working as a superhero ever since. But no one ever trusted him–no one believed he was genuine. No matter how many times he risked his life, no matter who he helped or saved, everyone always just kept a running countdown on exactly when he’d turn evil. Now both Snyder and Tynion aren’t focusing on that as the reason that ultimately broke him, but it’s a testament to how hard rehabilitation is. It’s the same reason Loki spent two years in Al Ewing’s Agent of Asgard as a borderline hero but now he’s all but back to normal in Jason Aaron’s Thor/Avengers and Gerry Duggan’s Infinity Wars.

…The extra sad thing is he’s been on this path of villainy only a few issues and in his first spotlight it’s already obvious how he’s failed. He travels forward in time and witnesses a tomorrow where he’s worshipped as a god, only to travel back in time and try to make it happen sooner…and in doing so he wipes out the future. And doubtless by challenging the Justice League, he’s very probably ensured his alternate future will never come to pass. It’s as if Lex can’t win no matter what he does.

See you 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.

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