Top of the Pile: Incredible Hulk, X-Men, Omega Flight, Franklin Richards

Looking back over my Top of the Pile columns, and considering what this week’s might bring, I found that I was in something of a rut — I’ve got my standard comics that I get every month — X-Men, Conan, Ex Machina, Batman — but I haven’t been venturing very far from that core. That’s partly a monetary issue — I just can’t afford to pick up too many more comics then I already do — but there’s also my comic comfort level: I’m just used to my routine.

I decided to shake things up this week by trying out some new titles, adding Omega Flight and the Incredible Hulk to my pile, and picking up a fun new one-shot for my daughter StarGirl.

The Incredible Hulk #106

I’ve never been a huge fan of the Hulk — I’ve got a few runs of the title in my collection, but its been years since I read it regularly. I ignore the recent “Planet Hulk” storyline, which saw the green menace exiled to an alien planet by Earth’s heroes in order to keep him out of the soon-to-explode Civil War. Now the Hulk is back on Earth, apparently seeking revenge for the death of his wife on the alien world by an errant shuttlecraft sent to the planet by Earth. Or something like that — I’m not clear on what happened.

What is clear is that the incident has launched “World War Hulk”, in which Bruce Banner launches a one-monster war against his home world. Issue #106 doesn’t have the Hulk in it; rather it focuses on his cousin She-Hulk as she wrestles with her decision to side with the government, SHIELD and Tony Stark during the recent Civil War. She’s just discovered that Bruce was exiled from the planet without so much as a trial, and like Peter Parker, she’d realizing that she may have been on the wrong side all along. It’s a surprisingly good story, and if the title is able to maintain this caliber of storytelling, and I may have to add it to my weekly pull.

Omega Flight #1 and #2

Alpha Flight’s was another of my on-again, off-again comic books — I collected it in high school and college because of its frequent X-Men (or at least Wolverine) crossovers, but the title itself failed to excite me more often than not. Omega Flight is a limited series that sees a new Canadian superhero team forged to deal with criminal refugees fleeing the superhero Civil War in America and causing all manner of trouble in Canada.

In it, Sasquatch is one of the only surviving member of the team. He’s approached by the Canadian government to reform it as Omega Flight, a task he reluctantly agrees to. He tries to get Shaman (or rather, the daughter of Shaman) to join him in this endeavor, but she refuses. He’s left to try and fight off the supervillain team Wrecking Crew by himself, a decision which has disastrous consequences.

This is a darker, more brutal title than the Alpha Flight I remember, but I think it has a good story to tell — there were international consequences to the Civil War, and in this title, we see them.

X-Men #199

The conclusion of the “Red Data” storyline sees Rogue even more screwed up than before: now not only can her touch drain an individual of their superpowers and then kill them instantly, but she’s now infected with millions of alien minds. The show down between the X-Men and the Shi’ar sentient super-weapon Hectacomb is appropriately apocalyptic, but I wish we’d seen Rogue cured of her condition instead of left as a living plague.

The final page of #199 is a teaser for Issue #200, which promises the return of one of my favorite super villain teams: the Marauders. I hope this means that their patron Mr. Sinister (and his diabolical plan for restoring homo superior’s mutant powers) isn’t far behind

Kid’s Pick: Franklin Richards, Son of a Genius

Finally, after months of searching, I’ve found another comic book title that’s appropriate for my 4-year-old daughter. It’s a one-shot entitled Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius – March Madness!

It tells a series of short tales of Franklin Richards, son of Mr. Fantastic, as he deals with all manner of super-powered hijinks. Yes, Franklin does look a little too much like Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes, but the adventures themselves are original, and happily kid safe (meaning there’s cartoon violence, but no death, the good guys win in the end, and there aren’t any adult situations.

Marvel needs to do more of this sort of thing; geek dads need more comics we can buy to get our kids into the hobby, and one shots like this fit the bill perfectly.

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