Bottom of the Pile: March 28th, 2018 – Avengers, Dark Knights: Metal, Detective Comics, Hal Jordan & The GLC, Doomsday Clock, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, The Terrifics

by Sage Ashford

This week is pretty DC heavy. I don’t mean anything by it, they just crushed it last week with all their major releases.
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Avengers #686
“Avengers: No Surrender Part 12”
Writers: Jim Zub, Mark Waid, & Al Ewing
Penciler: Paco Medina
Inker: Juan Vlasco
Color Artist: Jesus Aburtov

I remember when Thor and Hulk would go head to head, and it’d be close and neither side would actually win over the other. But I guess if they’re jobbing out your entire kingdom to old rogues you used to solo yourself, it’s not reasonable to have you stand toe-to-toe with “The Strongest One There Is”.
Annoyance at the Hulk’s sheer OP-ness aside: I’ll admit, I went into this issue expecting what happened at the start, where Hulk just beats Simon until his face was the same colors as his costume. But what do you know, he eventually got through to the guy! We also get a look at what Ewing’s Immortal Hulk will probably be like. The mindless brute is gone, replaced by a seemingly nihilistic guy who–though he might not be a genius–is still quite intelligent. With his book being described as more horror than anything else, this has the potential for some really suspenseful moments.
In the meantime, this issue sees Hulk finally decide to break away from the control of the Challenger and smash the last piece of the game, ensuring the Challenger actually loses his game against the Grandmaster. But since Grandmaster’s been cheating this entire time and had his daughter helping the Avengers spirit away points, the story takes yet another turn–the Challenger just decides to kill the Grandmaster instead of wasting time playing another game. In the Grandmaster’s defense, the Lethal Legion seemed like a bunch of scrubs and there was no way they could’ve stood up to Thanos’ Black Order, so you can’t blame the guy for trying to use the Avengers as a “stealth team”.
This does make me wonder what happens next, though. The game between these two Elders of the Universe was supposed to have a very specific ending for Earth once it was over–they were going to “get rid of the game board”, effectively destroying Earth. With the game not having an “ending”, you’d think Earth was safe, right? And yet I’d guess the Challenger is ticked enough to want revenge on the Hulk–who will of course be nowhere to be found now that he can make himself useful.

Dark Knights: Metal #6
Writer: Scott Snyder
Penciller: Greg Capullo
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Colorist: FCO Plascencia

I didn’t expect to see this comic here, as I actually didn’t like Metal a lot for the majority of it.  I’m tired of Batman’s ubiquitousness to begin with, but I’m also no fan of watching my superheroes cower like Bruce and Clark did the majority of this crossover. Even the last issue felt kind of hopeless and I thought this issue would be a rush to the climax where they pulled out a win, but I was wrong. Everything was perfectly paced, with inspiring prose accompanying the heroes’ rise from their losses and the darkness. Snyder puts on his best Grant Morrison impression with this ending and I fell for it like a sucker–even the ridiculous bits like Batman riding a Joker-faced dragon and the Justice League wearing armor made of pure potentiality (especially the last part)–all worked for me.
I’m still not sure about the ending, though. The idea of cracking the Source Wall only to reveal it was protecting our multiverse from the outside of creation? Genius. But the teases at the end are what I’m not necessarily sold on–I’m not certain the stories they set up are “big” enough to justify what happens here. Of course, No Justice hasn’t come out yet and it could easily shut me up, but it’s also a month off. Unfortunately, I believe the most major changes are being reserved for post Doomsday Clock, and until it’s done they’re kind of stuck in second gear, basically. But I don’t want to undercut how much I loved this issue, or how cool it is they’re creating the Hall of Justice again. It feels like we’re really back to the era of community the heroes had prior to Flashpoint, something which always helped the DCU feel like a living, breathing world you wanted to come back to.

Detective Comics #977
“Batmen Eternal Part Two”
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artists: Javier Fernandez, Eddy Barrows, Eber Fereirra
Colors: John Kalisz & Adriano Lucas

Robin and the Rebirth version of one of his oldest nemeses finally get a chance to talk, as Ulysses decides to offer Robin the chance to make all these massive changes based on information he’s pulled from Brother Eye. Imagine being such a bit player you decide to ask someone else to make you relevant? Yet, that’s what happens here as Ulysses tries to give Tim Drake his own version of “Biff’s Sports Almanac”. I wonder if he even thought about how when Biff got that almanac it turned society into a much worse timeline?
Speaking of thinking, this issue sees Bruce try to reactivate Brother Eye years in the future after deciding the Gotham Knights protocol was a terrible idea. It’s like the guy’s locked into terrible ideas from jump. So much of the latter half of Tynion’s run–specifically post Tim Drake coming back–has been about this horrible future that will tear apart the team and eventually lead to a dystopian war between Kate and Tim that gets Bruce and Damian both killed. It’s obvious that Tim will eventually have to make up his mind about how devoted he wants to be to Batman’s legacy, but my personal hope for the best way for this to end? Tim getting a glimpse of himself from an actual good future. Surprisingly, positive futures are rare for superheroes but they’re always fun because they give a good idea of how these characters can achieve an ending they deserve if they don’t give in to their enemies or their own personal failings.

Doomsday Clock #4
Writer: Geoff Johns
Illustrator: Gary Frank
Colorist: Brad Anderson

Confession Time: I’m disappointed in Doomsday Clock. But it’s totally my fault, because I went into this wanting only one thing: to see how the DC Universe finally goes back to “normal” and embraces all of its wonderful history. From Superboy to the Legion, from Impulse to the Justice Society. And every issue of Doomsday Clock that doesn’t take an obvious step towards that leaves me kinda bummed out, even though that’s not the story’s fault. To be certain, Doomsday Clock is the effective “end” of everything Rebirth has been working towards so it’s not all in my head, but that’s also not the only way this book has been marketed.
It’s been marketed as these two very different universes in the DC Universe meeting for the first time, and for the most part it’s delivered on that promise. Johns is doing a great job aping the storytelling that made Watchmen so popular, from the nine panel grid to all these dark, disturbed characters. If I had a legitimate complaint, it would be that we’re a third of the way into this story and Superman’s been in one page while Dr. Manhattan’s been in zero, but there’s still eight issues to come, so that might be a premature issue.
In the meantime, I couldn’t help getting super excited at the appearance of what’s apparently Saturn Girl, who’s chilling out inside of Arkham’s asylum for some reason when she meets the new Rorshach. From the beginning, I suspected he was connected to the psychiatrist that tried to make sense of the original Rorshach’s mind, but what I didn’t expect is that he would be the psychiatrist’s son. Driven mad by Ozymandias’ alien invasion, this new Rorshach pieced his mind together in order to attain freedom and discover the person who destroyed his world in the first place. It’s powerful storytelling that left me wondering what was next until the last page, and my biggest problem right now is this book’s status of coming out once every two months. It’s been hyped for nearly a year now, you’d think they would’ve gotten ahead of schedule. Ah well.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #41
“Zod’s Will Conclusion: The Rule of Law”
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Brandon Peterson
Colorist: Tomeu Morey

Somehow after years of the Guardians being overzealous control freaks, the one time they decide not to do anything is when dealing with Kryptonians. Ugh. Still, Zod and company have been kind of everywhere lately, so I can’t help wondering if there’s a grand plan for him and his family? They’ve been making multiple appearances since Rebirth, when there was a time the character only popped up seldomly due to Kryptonians being so absurdly broken they make other characters look ineffectual by comparison.
This makes me think that in the near future, there’s a major story coming up involving Zod and his family, because every time they come into contact with groups of heroes, there’s never any finality to it–they just get away without consequences. Now Zod rules his own planet with a race of slaves who make weapons capable of piercing Green Lantern shields and constructs. Villains like this only keep getting boosts if they’re about to be the focus of an event…or they’re about to get their own book. Guess we’ll find out which is which soon enough.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #25
“Shattered Grid”
Written By: Kyle Higgins
Illustrated By: Daniele di Nicuolo & Simona Di Gianfelice
Colors By: Walter Baiamonte

Shattered Grid is what I’ve been waiting for since the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comic got announced in the first place. As an unabashed weeb, I’ve thought the Japanese counterpart where they get their stories, Super Sentai, has been superior to Power Rangers for well over a decade now. I’ve got no interest in the Power Rangers as they’re generally portrayed on television now–a loose adaptation of Sentai. But I could be extremely interested in what the Power Rangers were back in the late 90’s, where they had this complex mythology tying all of their seasons together. Where they juggled all these different villains, and heroes would float in and out of the series, being imbued with new powers as necessary.
Shattered Grid is leaning into that hard, as the Tommy Oliver from some dark future finally breaks free and starts causing havoc. Thus far, he’s already talked to Ninjor and passed the Ninja Trials to restore some of his old energy. Afterwards, he decides to jump his alternate universe “good” self, running him through with a broken Saba (!) only to get attacked by the Pink Time Force Ranger, Jen…and later Kimberly. See, that’s the edge Power Rangers has over Sentai: continuity.
Sentai crossovers are typically limited in what they can do compared to Power Rangers, which always tries to make everything seem it’s all connected instead of a one time deal. I’m super excited to see how Shattered Grid incorporates the RPM, Samurai, and other teams into this crazy little crossover, but I hope it doesn’t stop there. Hopefully Saban isn’t stopping them from doing more after this story is done, because owning up to that feel of the Rangers being universal would do wonders for this book. We’ve got so many teams to draw from it’d be a shame if they only used the MMPR team, ‘cuz nostalgia.

The Terrifics #2
“Meet the Terrifics Part 2”
Storytellers: Ivan Reis & Jeff Lemire
Pencils: Ivan Reis & Jose Luis
Inks: Vicente Cifuentes & Jordi Tarragona
Colors: Marcelo Maiolo

I think my biggest problem with all these ABC characters making appearances is they’re not really doing much of anything with them. If you’re going to bring them back, they deserve more than just brief cameo appearances for back issue geeks like me, they need to be elevated into positions where people can recognize them for the awesome characters they are. Promethea appears for two issues and vanishes into the ether again, the only sign she was ever here being the kerfluffle involving J.H. Williams. Now here with Tom Strong, he makes a brief appearances as a video recording…and then vanishes. The solicitations aren’t bringing him up for the next four issues, so there’s no proof he’ll be returning any time soon.  It’s not that Terrifics is a bad story without him–Lemire and Reis are killing it–but if you’re going to use him…at least do the guy some justice.
I honestly would’ve been more hyped if Metal had ended by hinting that cracking the Source Wall was going to incorporate characters like the Milestone heroes and the ABC characters.   Has part of it been done before? Sure. Should that stop us from trying again, though?
See you in seven.

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