Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 11/10/12

Marvel NOW! is in full effect with this week’s books, and we get our first looks at the new Iron Man and Deadpool. Sad to say, I wasn’t terribly impressed. Marvel has a big opportunity on their hands with this relaunch. But I have yet to see that potential really come to fruition just yet. Hopefully some of the other upcoming series can really wow me. But at least there are plenty of other good comics still plugging along. I think AvX: Consequences once again seals the Comic of the Week for me. Too bad it’s the final issue of that mini-series.

While a certain Merc with a Mouth earned ‘worst comic’ honors

Weekly Reviews: AvX: Consequences #5, Deadpool #1, Green Lantern #14, Iron Man #1, and Uncanny X-Force #33.

AvX: Consequences #5

AvX: Consequences #5
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Gabriel Hernandez Walta

I haven’t been this excited about the X-Men in years. Cyclops’ journey through darkness has been utterly fascinating, and so wonderfully on point as his character is redefined in startling new ways, while still sticking with the same Cyclops base. He hasn’t simply become a villain after Avengers vs. X-Men. That would be too easy. But he’s not a hero or an anti-hero either. Nor is he on a path of redemption. Cyclops is his own man, allowing his personal code to flex and bend as he’s put through the ultimate test of faith. I can only hope that Brian Michael Bendis can write the new Cyclops as well as Kieron Gillen has done in this epilogue series.

The big prison break is on, with Magneto, Magik and Danger storming Cyclops’ prison to break him free. They do so with ease, considering the fact that Cyclops was simply placed in a normal prison, rather than a super-villain prison. Once they free Cyclops, he hands out a little justice to the wicked people inside. Cylops has Magik send Jake’s killers to limbo, and, in a scene reminiscent of Inglourious Basterds, he has Danger carve an ‘X’ across the face of the mutant hating warden. That part was a little much, but then Cyclops isn’t a lily white boy scout anymore. In the end, Cyclops lays down his mission statement, which is the same as it’s always been: he’s going to be saving a world that hates and fears him.

Hope’s story also comes to a close in this issue, though it’s hardly as exciting as the Cyclops stuff. Hope is found sleeping in an alley by the Avengers, who try to give her a big ‘we’re disappointed in you’ speech before they’re called away to deal with Cyclops’ break-out. Hope does return to that prep school she was apparently attending, where she gets a visit from her adopted father, Cable, who tells her he’ll always been watching out for her. So basically Hope’s story was a little pointless in this series. As was Iron Man’s from previous issues.

But the best moment in this issue is what happens when Wolverine and the Avengers arrive at the prison, too late to stop Cyclops. Wolverine finds a note from Cyke, and it perfectly defines both Wolverine and Cyclops over the past few years. In a stunning reversal (which I’m sad to say I didn’t see coming), Cyclops reveals that Wolverine has now become the respectable, moral leader of the X-Men, what with both leading the Jean Grey School and joining the Avengers. Wolverine has become the new Cyclops. And in turn, Cyclops declares that he is the new Wolverine. Cyclops will be the rogue warrior operating out of the shadows, doing the things that need to be done to protect mutants. This is brilliant.

Comic rating: 4/5: Good!

I didn’t want to give this comic a perfect score, like I did last issue, but Consequences #4 was just that damn good. And while this issue is exciting, with some brilliant twists, it just didn’t match last issue’s excitement. The Hope story went nowhere, and didn’t even really set up her role in Cable’s upcoming series. And the Iron Man segments from previous issues didn’t return, so what was their point? And while Cyclops’ letter to Wolverine was great, the breakout itself was pretty ho-hum. The art, likewise, wasn’t up to par with previous issues. It was a duller, sort of painted style by Walta, and wasn’t as clean and detailed as past issues of Consequences. But none of this detracts from the fact that AvX: Consequences was an amazing series overall, and a wonderful epilogue to Avengers vs. X-Men. Cyclops is in an absolutely stunning place in the Marvel Universe these days. I can’t remember the last time any comic book character had such exciting character development. Bring on the new Uncanny X-Men!

Deadpool #1

Deadpool #1
Writers: Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn
Artist: Tony Moore

I’ve never been a big Deadpool fan. A sense of humor is a very subjective thing, and most of the time, Deadpool’s zany wackiness just doesn’t match up with what I find truly funny. There have been times where I’ve found Deadpool humorous in the past. But this is not one of those times. Even in the hands of Brian Posehn, a standup comedian that I enjoy, Deadpool’s humor just doesn’t work for me. I wanted to give Deadpool a shot in this new Marvel NOW! relaunch, but I just didn’t find this issue funny. Of course, this could just be me. Perhaps you find the scattered, wacky, joke-a-minute comedy in this issue to be the best Deadpool ever. Maybe this is completely your sense of humor. If so, more power to you.

A necromancer has started bringing the ghoulish spirits of dead U.S. Presidents back to life, and all of them are evil, twisted, villainous versions of themselves. And after Captain America gets caught decapitating Harry S. Truman, SHIELD decides that they can’t let America’s superheroes be seen beating up Presidents. So it’s up to SHIELD Agent Preston to find a solution that works for everybody. Fortunately, Deadpool just so happens to get into a random fight with FDR in Manhattan, using wacky jokes, his healing factor, a subway train and lots of guns to put the dead President down. Agent Preston finds Deadpool and agrees to pay him a million dollars to defeat all these dead Presidents before they can remake America in their new twisted image.

Comic rating: 2/5: Bad!

Again, feel free to disagree with me, but this was a bad comic. Right off the bat, the jokes are just terrible. There are maybe a few funny jokes here and there, but for the most part, this issue is full of bad jokes. This is someone trying too hard to be funny as Deadpool. This is someone thinking they have to have a new joke in every panel, and not allow Deadpool to slow down long enough to do anything but make more wacky jokes and pop culture references. For example, the evil FDR throws a taxi at someone and Deadpool quips, “Who says you can’t catch a cab in New York?” That’s the kind of bad joke you’ll find in this new series. The most basic and pathetic sort of one-liner. FDR says, “You have nothing to fear – except me!” That’s the most basic evil FDR joke imaginable, and they didn’t even get the quote right. This issue is devoid of any wit or cleverness, and in my opinion, that’s just not funny.

Make no mistake, the idea of the U.S. Presidents being brought back to life as super-villains is funny, and probably a good Deadpool plot. But there’s nothing particularly clever about it. This appears to just be an excuse for a bunch of ho-hum President jokes. SHIELD is shoe-horned into this comic for no reason, or at least a bunch of wafer-thin reasons. To tie into the movies? Maybe. But there are plenty of reasons why Deadpool might go head-to-head against these Presidential ghouls. There are less forced ways to give Deadpool a supporting cast.

And the worst part of this issue is Deapdool himself. He is nothing but bad jokes. He has no depth of character beyond those jokes, and that’s just not entertaining. Deadpool is capable of being witty. He is capable of cleverness. But you won’t find that in this issue. On a personal note, I think Deadpool is better in smaller doses. I think he works best when he’s the only funny guy in a room full of straight men. If the entire world around Deadpool is just as wacky as he is, then Deadpool automatically becomes less wacky. And that’s not what anybody wants – but it’s the only thing you’ll find in this new relaunch.

Green Lantern #14

Green Lantern #14
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Dough Mahnke

I am absolutely loving Simon Baz. After so many years turning the Green Lantern franchise into one of the most popular in all of comics, Geoff Johns finally gets the chance to create his own Green Lantern. Hal Jordon, Guy Gardner and the rest of the human GLs have been around for decades. And while Johns has done good work with them, it’s finally time for him to create a new, lasting force in the Green Lantern universe. I hope Simon Baz sticks around for a long time to come, because he has been a wonderfully fascinating and modern protagonist. And his cool factor only ratchets up in this issue as he takes on the Justice League, albeit unintentionally.

There is a lot of set up here, but I’ll try to be brief. So the Guardians of the Universe have gone full super-villain, deciding that the only way to ensure order in the universe is to erase free will. They are now using an all-powerful prisoner, known as the First Lantern, to empower their Third Army (the first two being the Manhunters and the Green Lantern Corps). The Third Army are basically mindless drone monsters who spread from person to person like a zombie plague, turning people into subservient slaves of the Guardians. Hal Jordon and Sinestro tried to stop them, but Black Hand transported them to some kind of dark Death Dimension. Before they disappeared, Sinestro abandoned his Power Ring and instructed it to find someone on Earth who could help them.

The ring chose Simon Baz, a Middle Eastern-America car thief. Baz is an American citizen who grew up in a post 9/11 world, where his family was prejudiced against just because of their ethnicity. But he’s a noble car thief with a heart of gold, so he’s easy to root for. Simon stole a van in his hometown in Michigan, only to discover that the van had a bomb inside. Simon drove the bomb to a warehouse that he knew would be vacant so that it could explode safely – but everyone just assumes that Simon is a Middle Eastern terrorist. So he’s shipped off to Guantanamo Bay without a lawyer or due process, and nobody believes his story. Sinestro’s ring finds him and sets him free. Simon wants to use the ring to find out who really planted that bomb, but the government, and now the Justice League, are after him.

In this issue, Simon is confronted by the League, who are a little concerned about what has become of their friend and teammate Hal Jordan. They know that the only way there can be a new Green Lantern is if the prior one has died. But Simon has no idea. He’s willing to work with them and answer their questions, but when he goes to remove his ring, Sinestro’s defense mechanisms react and attack the League. So Simon goes on the run and gives them the slip. He meets with his sister, and she helps him in his quest to find the bombers. Meanwhile, the Third Army continues their assault on the people of Earth and Hal Jordan and Sinestro are stuck in the Death Dimension.

Comic rating: 4/5: Good!

Simon Baz is awesome. I finally have a Green Lantern I can call my own. I never cared for Hal, Kyle, Guy or John, but they were the Green Lanterns we were stuck with. Fortunately, Geoff Johns is flexing all of his considerable writing muscle to create a new, well-rounded, modernized superhero. Simon is heroic, but he’s been burned by the system, so he’s got that rebel appeal. He doesn’t stupidly try to fight the Justice League, which shows that he’s smart. Plus, his costume is just really, really cool. Doug Mahnke draws the hell out of this series. I hope Simon Baz is here to stay. And while the Third Army has yet to really impress me as all that interesting, Simon’s story more than makes up for those shortcomings. Green Lantern continues to be an amazing series deep into the New 52.

Iron Man #1

Iron Man #1
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Greg Land

Considering Iron Man’s current status as king of the Marvel movies, you’d think they would want to take very good care of his comic, and make it the best it could possibly be – but apparently that’s not the case in Marvel NOW! I was a huge fan of the previous series, Invincible Iron Man, by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca. It had fun, fascinating plots, great art and a wonderful cast of characters, especially Tony Stark himself. So I decided to try Kieron Gillen’s new relaunched Iron Man series…but I probably won’t be picking it up again. This is some of the worst Greg Land art I’ve ever seen (and I’m not one of his haters), and the story is so pathetically plain. Rather than trying something new, Gillen retreads an old story by bringing Extremis back into play, kicking off a boring fight scene and a potentially even more boring ongoing story. I suppose it doesn’t help that Iron Man 3 is going to be about Extremis.

We don’t even get an explanation as to why Iron Man’s armor is now black instead of red.

Tony Stark is a free man following the end of Fraction’s run. His company, Resilient, is safely in the hands of CEO Pepper Potts, and Tony is free to do whatever he wants with his life, including picking up a hot blonde chick at the bar. For some reason, both Tony and Pepper are just kind of out at a club in Manhattan (nice cameo of MJ’s club from Spider-Man, by the way). But Tony’s gets interrupted by an emergency message from former associate (and Extremis inventor) Maya Hansen. She has been forced to rebuild Extremis for some criminals, and now they’ve killed her for it. So Tony goes undercover to investigate an Extremis auction, then does battle as Iron Man to stop the sale. In the end, he learns that there are four Extremis kits now out in the world, and he plans to shut them down.

Comic rating: 3/5: Alright.

I’m not going to say this was a bad issue, merely a dull issue. Iron Man is all about technology and futuristic change, and Gillen even has Tony Stark say those very things in the opening of his book. But the plot is just so boring. This relaunch should be a time to do something new, not retread on old storylines. Extremis isn’t even all that unique. It’s just a thing that gives super-powers to goons. And the plot that Tony must now stop four different Extremis kits isn’t even all that exciting. So Tony tracks down four bad guys. Big deal. The only really futuristic thing in this comic is Tony’s new liquid metal armor. He carries it around in a briefcase, and it can magically just turn from goopy liquid metal into his hi-tech Iron Man armor. I’ve never liked this crap about liquid metal or smart metal that hides inside his body and then oozes onto him. Is it really so horrible to have Tony just put on his armor like a normal person? Clearly Gillen should have just stuck to writing Cyclops.

Greg Land has a lot of haters on the Internet, but I’ve never been one of them. I liked his recent work on Uncanny X-Men. But he does a terrible job with this issue. His Tony Stark is a walking, talking example of ‘shit-eating grin’, and his women are just traced-over pin-up models. The blonde that Tony picks up at the start of the issue is especially fake looking. At least Land draws an exceptional Iron Man. If only someone explained why he’s randomly wearing a black armor instead of his typical ‘hot rod red’.

Uncanny X-Force #33

Uncanny X-Force #33
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Phil Noto

I have always been a fan of Remender’s Uncanny X-Force, but this new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants story is getting pretty long in the tooth. It doesn’t help with an issue like this, where the action and the characters are all over the place, and some are just randomly absent. Remender is juggling a lot of balls in the air, but none of them are landing very spectacularly. A lot of it feels kind of mediocre. Any great momentum or emotion was lost a dozen issues ago. We’re kind of just going through the motions, taking just another step towards the end.

X-Force has infiltrated the Brotherhood HQ in order to save Evan, the cloned, teenage Apocalypse. They’ve split up to take on different members of the Brotherhood, some more successfully than others. Psylocke is in a psychic battle with the Shadow King, but shows him mercy in the end – which is her downfall, as he casts ‘Amnesia’ on her. Deadpool has been beaten and bloodied by Omega Black. Age of Apocalypse Nightcrawler has betrayed X-Force so that he can get revenge on AoA Blob, whom he kills by teleporting a shark into Blob’s stomach. I realize Blob is fat, but did Nightcrawler really have enough room to just pop inside Blob’s stomach with a full-sized shark? Blob’s guts are still solid objects that Nightcrawler could teleport into.

Wolverine has been captured, but instead of just killing him straight out, Daken has a long talk with his father about all of their various failings. Then he finally dunks Wolverine into a big tank of water, because his healing factor can’t fix drowning. But Daken doesn’t realize that he’s pushed Evan too far. The young Apocalypse finally dons the classic armor, but who is he going to use it against?

Comic rating: 3/5: Alright.

Like I said, there’s just too much going on for any of it to really matter anymore. Nightcrawler has barely been a character, so his betrayal and revenge mean nothing. And that’s only the Age of Apocalypse Blob, who wasn’t even involved in the original AoA. So he’s really just AoA spin-off Blob. His death means nothing. And as you can see by scrolling up, Deadpool has already moved on to new adventures, so the Deadpool in this story is already obsolete. Psylocke’s battle is brief, and she’s been through so much lately that a little bit of amnesia isn’t a big deal.

Then there’s Wolverine and Daken. Does anybody even like Daken anymore? Has anybody ever liked Daken? Does anybody remember anything about his childhood or where he comes from? How Daken was raised is a big part of his discussion with Wolverine, but I just kept thinking that I have no idea how Daken was raised or in what state he existed before suddenly appearing in Wolverine’s life as a fully grown adult. Who are these people he’s talking about? Why wasn’t Wolverine a part of his life? I’m sure all of this story was told somewhere, but Daken is pretty much universally despised by the fans, so Remender gets nowhere with the character. And I just kept wondering why he doesn’t just kill Wolverine and get it over with already. Are the bad guys really going to be defeated by monologuing?

Considering we already know what becomes of X-Force in the Marvel NOW! relaunch, this story couldn’t end fast enough.

So what did you think of this week’s comics? And, as always, please feel free to recommend some series for me to review in the comments!

About Sean Ian Mills

Hello, this is Sean, the Henchman-4-Hire! By day I am a mild-mannered newspaper reporter in Central New York, and by the rest of the day I'm a pretty big geek when it comes to video games, comic books, movies, cartoons and more.

Posted on November 10, 2012, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I largely agree with you. Consequences was great. Iron Man was mediocre, and Land’s art was even worse than usual. I love Gillen, I really do, and I was willing to follow him to any book. But I’m done with Land. I can’t buy anything he’s drawing. Marvel needs to dump his porn-tracing ass.

    Deadpool was bad. I’m tired “OMG so wacky and zany!” Deadpool. That’s not Deadpool. Remender has been writing Deadpool over in UXF. Other writers – including, now, Posehn and Duggan – are writing a one-note caricature of Deadpool.

    And I haven’t been enjoying UXF for a while. Ever since the end of the Dark Angel Saga (and the AoA arc within that story was bad, too).

    • Glad to hear I’m not the only one who doesn’t like this variation on Deadpool. I like the way you put it: he’s become a caricature of himself. So true. And yeah, that AoA arc, and that dark future arc, both add up to a crummy X-Force for awhile now.

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