Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 11/24/12

Holy mackerel, it’s a big week in comic books for me! I know I buy a lot of comics each week, but for some reason, a veritable ton of books were waiting for me in the comic shop. I’m lucky I managed to get through them all! I may have to start bleeding over some titles into the week after if I get anymore weeks like this. I’m only one man, after all. So what do we have in store for us this week? A nice smattering of DC and Marvel, with a few new Marvel NOW! starts, including The Indestructible Hulk, the title I was most looking forward to. Did it live up to the hype? Maybe. How about the big Amazing Spider-Man surprise? That definitely lived up to the hype.

But surprise, surprise, the Comic Book of the Week turned out to be Captain Marvel #7! I’m glad to see that title finally carrying its weight.

Captain Marvel fights the Iron Giant’s redneck cousin

Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #698, Batwoman #14, Captain America #1, Captain Marvel #7, Green Lantern: New Guardians #14, Hawkeye #4, Indestructible Hulk #1, Justice League #14, Nightwing #14, Red Hood and the Outlaws #14, Uncanny X-Force # 34, Wolverine and the X-Men #21, and Wonder Woman #14.

Amazing Spider-Man #698

Amazing Spider-Man #698
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Richard Elson

This was it! The big issue! The big surprise! Or at least, the biggest surprise until #700. And it sure was surprising – except that this was one of several possible outcomes I remember someone guessing about the upcoming Superior Spider-Man. So while it was a shocker when I read the issue, it wasn’t completely out of the blue. Other than the surprise, it was a pretty standard issue. Slott basically just took a tour of Peter Parker’s life these days, all of which is pretty nice. But it’s that surprise that’s really going to make a difference in the issues to come.

Doctor Octopus is on his death bed, and after months of silence, he’s finally able to croak out a name: “Peter Parker.” Meanwhile, Peter Parker himself takes some time to enjoy his day and catch everyone up to speed. He’s got a great apartment and works his dream job as a scientist at Horizon Labs, where he invents modern devices. Peter promises his boss that he’ll have some great new inventions for the new business quarter. Peter’s single at the moment, but he decides to pursue a relationship again with his ex, Mary Jane Watson. She’s…luke warm to the idea. Peter and MJ also visit Aunt May in the hospital. She was hurt a few issues ago, and is finally out of bed and walking around again. But Peter has to cut the visit short when the Avengers call him to Doc Ock’s prison.

Peter pays one final visit to his old enemy, having asked the Avengers and guards to wait outside. And here it’s revealed that last summer, Doc Ock switched bodies with Peter Parker! For the past several issues, Doc Ock has been Peter/Spider-Man, while the real Peter Parker is trapped inside Doctor Octopus’ dying body! And the shock of confronting his foe sends the frail old body into cardiac arrest! Doc Ock then strolls out of the prison, content to let Peter die while he lives on as Spider-Man!

Comic rating: 4/5: Good.

Now that is one crazy surprise! And one nobody saw coming, for the most part. Probably because I don’t think Slott gave any hints in either the Alpha or the Hobgoblin stories. It sure felt and sounded like Peter in those issues. But that’s not a gripe. It’s a shocking twist, and I’m eager to see what happens next. Slott is still promising an even bigger surprise in Amazing Spider-Man #700, so Doc Ock in Peter’s body might not be how the story ends. So I’m not geek-freaking out about this change. It might make for an interesting story. Though the #700 shocker might be that Peter really does die…which would just be stupid. In this day and age, with comic book deaths the way they are, there’s no way in Hell that Marvel is going to permanently kill Peter Parker. So even if Slott does kill him, it’s not going to stick, and it’s just going to make everything more ridiculous.

Though this definitely sheds some new light on who might be the new Superior Spider-Man. Will it be Doc Ock in Peter’s body? Maybe…but I think that’s stupid. As a storyline, sure, the two switching bodies would be cool. But as the basis for a whole new series? That’s just taking things too far. Peter will be Spider-Man again soon enough, and trying to make this a bigger deal by giving it a new reluanch is just a waste of resources. But as Slott has been saying, we just need to keep reading to see where this goes. And I know I will definitely keep reading…though Superior Spider-Man is looking less and less interesting.

Batwoman #14

Batwoman #14
Writers: J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman
Artist: J.H. Williams III

I don’t think there would be much argument if I told you Batwoman was the very best comic book on the stands today. It’s definitely the best drawn. This comic is a masterpiece of artistic achievement. Williams is doing things with comic book art that have never been done before, and I doubt they’ll ever be replicated. The characters, the scenes, the very layout of the pages; it’s all brilliant. And if it wasn’t for the previous story, with its insanely complicated time jumps, Batwoman would be the best New 52 comic, hands down.

Since issue #1, Batwoman has been searching for some missing children. She found out that the criminal organization known as ‘Medusa’ took them. But she recently discovered that ‘Medusa’ is actually the literal Greek myth monster Medusa. So she has teamed up with Wonder Woman in order to find the gorgon. In this issue, they confront Pegasus, one of Medua’s sons. Rather than a winged horse, Pegasus is just a winged guy, living in the southwest. But he’s been beaten and bloodied by one of his brothers, simply because he refused to join Medusa’s evil mission.

In exchange for Wonder Woman putting him out of his misery, he tells the two superheroines that Medusa has been in Gotham City this whole time. So they rush back, but it’s too late. Medusa and her minions are waging war on Gotham City, with the Bat family and GCPD detectives Maggie Sawyer and Harvey Bullock caught in the middle of the war. Medusa’s army is destroying the city. And she turns Killer Croc into the mythical Hydra! But don’t worry, Gotham, Batwoman and Wonder Woman have arrived!

Comic rating: 4/5: Good!

Oh man, the previous issue, Batwoman #13, was greatness. It was amazing, as awesome as a team up between Batwoman and Wonder Woman should be! But sadly, this issue falls a little short. There’s not as much good stuff happening. Just a few pages agonizing over Pegasus’ wounds and a lot of chaos in Gotham. There’s no meaningful interaction between the two heroes. This is just an effort in moving the story along – but it’s still a pretty great comic. And the art, like I said, is the stuff of legend. I can only hope Williams is saving his best for the big conflict next issue.

Captain America #1

Captain American #1
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: John Romita Jr.

Everybody loved Ed Brubaker’s Captain America run. He combined politics, espionage and good old-fashioned American superheroics, with a truly heroic and noble protagonist. But all good things come to an end, and Rick Remender is taking over in Marvel NOW! And just like Iron Man and Thor, I decided to give it a look. Unfortunately, I’m not very impressed. It’s better than Iron Man, but I can’t say this new Captain America was particularly good.

In a brief flashback, we learn that Captain America’s dad was a drunk and a wife-beater, but that his mother instilled in him the will to always stand up for yourself. In the present day, Captain America stops an eco-terrorist called the Green Skull from crashing a plane into the heart of Manhattan and setting off some kind of super plant bomb. He crashes the plane into the bay, but still his girlfriend Sharon Carter complains that he’s late for their get together. They have a mission, and since it’s Steve Rogers’ birthday, she got him a little present. She’s also asked Steve to marry her, but he’s thinking it over.

The mission involves an old abandoned subway train that is suddenly operational again. Steve goes undercover on a ride – though Sharon seems to have no problem shouting his name on the platform. Steve goes alone for a ride, and sure enough, it’s a trap. Some monsters show up and stab him with a knockout chemical. Steve wakes up as a prisoner of Arnim Zola, who is taking his blood for the Super Soldier Serum inside. But Cap breaks free of his restraints and fights off Zola’s monsters to get to freedom. When he escaped, Steve saved a baby that Zola was growing in a test tube. Though Zola also has a little girl who has already grown into a young child. He refers to them as his son and daughter, though Zola doesn’t know that Cap and his son are now lost in the wilderness of Dimension Z!

Comic rating: 3/5: Alright.

Well that escalated quickly. The opening sequence on the plane was really good, very action-packed and exciting. Remender gives Cap this stilted, focused narration. They’re all short, action sentences. It works well to start, but then gets really old really fast. And oddly, the big action scene in the beginning suddenly leads to everybody acting very aloof about the fact that Captain America just crashed a terrorist plane into the harbor. That’s kind of a big deal. At least the Cap/Sharon stuff is nice. And the marriage proposal is a pretty cool twist! Though I kind of wish we’d seen the actual proposal instead of hearing about it second-hand…unless I missed it in a prior issue.

The rest of the issue was more weird than anything else. Monsters, an elaborate ambush by Arnim Zola, and then kind of a generic fight scene as Cap predictably just wills his way to fight through his foes and escape to safety. There’s nothing particularly exciting about the action or the foes. And this whole Dimension Z nonsense just doesn’t excite me. Nor does the idea of Captain America and a baby in the wilderness. So yeah, basically just a lot of generic Captain America action. Perhaps if I liked Captain America more, I’d enjoy the comic more, but this wasn’t anything special.

Captain Marvel #7

Captain Marvel #7
Writers: Kelly Sue DeConnick & Christopher Sebela
Artist: Dexter Soy

Now this is what I’m talking about! This is the kind of adventure that I want to see in this new Captain Marvel comic! A fun main character, great superhero cameos, and an otherwise exciting and straightforward story. Instead, we had that weird time-traveling opening story that bounced Carol all over the place, never giving her a chance to settle down and interact with people who might actually remain in her supporting cast. Thankfully, Captain Marvel #7 gets a chance to do all that. I hope we see more of this creativity and camaraderie in future issues.

Captain Marvel is deep underwater exploring a graveyard of old ships and planes, some of which have gone missing only recently. It’s like a new Bermuda Triangle. She’s down there at the behest of Monica Rambeau, a fellow Avenger, and also someone who used to call herself ‘Captain Marvel’. The two women banter about that fact when Carol comes back to the surface – after fighting off some sharks, of course. The playful banter between the two women is fun. They eventually bump into a photographer who has come to get their help fixing the levees, but first they rope him into heading back down with Carol to take photographs of the sunken ships and planes. Once they go back down, a hole opens up in the ocean floor and the photog gets sucked down. Carol saves him and flies him to the surface – but then a giant, mechanical robot climbs up out of the hole!

Comic rating: 5/5: Great.

This was an incredibly fun issue, and it’s everything I’d hoped Captain Marvel would be when it was first announced. I even liked Dexter Soy’s art, and I wasn’t too fond of it at the start. Carol is a real blast. She’s funny, witty and all around superheroic. Monica Rambeau (of Nextwave fame) is fun too. And she provides a really good example of how best to create a supporting cast in this comic. In my opinion, Carol should spend all her time hanging out with other superheroes. Most books like this would give her an entirely normal supporting cast. but Carol Danvers is the kind of person whose friends are all fellow superheroes. Jessica Drew showed up at the hospital last issue, and Cap and Spidey were in the first issue, and then Monica in this issue. They’d be like superhero team-ups, but in a more social, conversational way instead of just always fighting villains. I think it would be a neat exploration of the superhero community.

On top of all of that, the story was just fun. It’s easy to understand and not bogged down in time travel complications. Captain Marvel is investigating a mystery at the bottom of the ocean, and then there’s a giant, awesome-looking mechanical robot. That’s a total win!

New Guardians #14

Green Lantern: New Guardians #14
Writer: Tony Bedard
Andrei Bressan

I don’t know how it happened, but the New 52 has taken all the fun out of the various multi-colored Lantern corps. They used to be my absolute favorite part of the DC Universe, with fun characters, exciting adventures and just a generally nifty premise behind them. Now they’ve all mostly been gutted, some of them wiped from the galaxy, and otherwise stranded with dull stories and sometimes worse art. I was excited for this series when it first debuted. But somehow a team up of all the main Ring bearers was just never all that exciting. And this current story arc, of Kyle Raynor trying to master all the different colors, hasn’t been very interesting whatsoever.

Kyle is trying to master all of the colors in order to free Ganthet from the now evil Guardians of the Universe. He masters Compassion with the help of Indigo-1, then finds Arkillo, the last remaining Yellow Lantern, hiding out on his home planet. Kyle manages to help Arkillo break through some of the mental barriers he has at using his ring, and in turn, Arkillo pushes Kyle so far that he unlocks the Fear power within him. Arkillo then decides to join Kyle and Carol Ferris, the Star Sapphire, on their quest. Meanwhile, we’re reminded that the Zamarons, leaders of the Star Sapphire Corps, are in league with the Guardians.

Comic rating: 3/5: Alright.

Somehow, the idea of Kyle Raynor meeting with all the various VIP Lanterns and learning their powers is just boring. Perhaps because it’s too easy. Kyle spends a little time with each one and he learns their power almost immediately. There is little time or effort involved. Kyle himself doesn’t get much personality, since he spends all his time just jumping from one Lantern color to the next. And Arkillo and Indigo-1 don’t do anything very interesting either. Only Carol Ferris has any real excitement in her plot, as she is pulled into the Zamaron’s trickery. All in all, this series has just gotten very dull, and I wish that wasn’t the case at all.

Hawkeye #4

Hawkeye #4
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Javier Pulido

There are few comic book creative teams as enjoyable as Matt Fraction and David Aja. So it’s too bad that this issue needed a fill-in artist. Fraction and Aja’s Iron Fist series a few years ago was amazing, full of character-based depth and very creative, exciting art. Their Hawkeye series, so far, has been just as good. Clever, catchy adventures full of charm and personality; they’re a real treat. So I’m sad to report that an issue without Aja definitely loses some of its magic. The story is still pretty good though.

Clint Barton gets a visit from SHIELD, letting him know that the only existing tape of “Operation Eucritta” has been stolen. The tape apparently shows Hawkeye assassinating a terrorist leader under orders of SHIELD and the U.S. Government. And an Avenger on tape making a political killing would cause a lot of trouble. So Clint heads to Madripoor to interrupt an auction, only has a little trouble once he arrives. His wallet gets stolen and he’s kidnapped by Madame Masque, who steals the credit card SHIELD gave him to bid in the auction. Clint gets tied up and locked in a room, while Masque wins the auction and the tape – only to reveal at the end that Clint’s sidekick, Kate Bishop, followed him to Madripoor and was posing as Madame Masque! So Kate has the tape.

Comic rating: 4/5: Good.

Like I said, without Aja, the series loses a very vital component. If you’ve never seen his art before, it’s just so much fun. It’s very realistic, and Pulido tries to mimic it as best he can, but it just doesn’t work as well. It’s a quirky realism, filled with charm and personality. Without Aja, the book suffers. But at least the story is still entertaining. Hawkeye having fun on the streets of Madripoor, followed by a super-villain auction; the comic is a blast. Though I couldn’t tell you why SHIELD never simply destroyed the tape when it was in their custody. And as soon as Clint told Kate she couldn’t come with him to Madripoor, you knew she was going to anyway. So the surprise at the end isn’t very surprising, especially when the art is in no way capable of portraying Kate Bishop is any recognizable way. Not that Kate has a memorable face in the first place. But the face on the page could be any white-skinned, dark-haired female. We’re kind of just left assuming it’s Kate, since she’s the only female character in the series. Let’s hope Aja doesn’t stay gone for long.

Indestructible Hulk #1

Indestructible Hulk #1
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist Leinil Yu

Of all the new relaunches in Marvel NOW!, I think the one I wast most looking forward to was Indestructible Hulk. Not that I’ve ever been a big Hulk fan (similar to my disinterest in Iron Man, Thor or Captain America), but I kind of want to be. After such a spectacular portrayal in this summer’s The Avengers movie, the Hulk is riding high on awesomeness these days. As is writer Mark Waid, who’s Daredevil relaunch last year is the talk of the town, earning him various accolades. So Waid on Hulk sounded like an awesome idea!

After the Hulk helped out in the finale of Avengers vs. X-Men, he’s gone into hiding. SHIELD Director Maria Hill is searching for him in the midwest, while also mounting an attack on super-villain the Mad Thinker. When she takes a break in a small cafe, Bruce Banner approaches her. Bruce has done some thinking and he’s decided that the Hulk is incurable. He’s one of the smartest people on the planet, but he’s wasted his life trying to find a cure. Now he’s decided to just live with the Hulk and devote his immense intelligence to making the world a better place. Bruce wants SHIELD’s help. If they give him resources, then he’ll make the inventions, and SHIELD can use the Hulk as a weapon.

As a show of good faith, the Hulk helps SHIELD take down the Mad Thinker, and Maria Hill agrees to Bruce’s deal.

Comic rating: 4/5: Good!

I liked this issue. Not the best Marvel NOW! series I’ve read so far, but it was definitely good. And knowing Mark Waid, it’s got a lot of potential. Though I’ve never been a particular fan of Yu, his style is at least very distinctive. So I’m definitely still very excited by the comic. When it comes to the Hulk, I have very particular tastes, which had kept me from reading the series for the past several years. For me, the real star is Bruce Banner, not the Hulk. I prefer the drama over the action. So I didn’t like all those stories with the multiple Hulks (Red, She, Red She, Son of, Other Son of, Daughter of, etc.), and I didn’t like Jason Aaron’s story where Banner was the evil monster and Hulk was trying to cure himself of Banner. Those weren’t for me. But this new, back to basics approach, is definitely right up my alley. This was definitely a good start to what will hopefully be a great series!

Justice League #14

Justice League #14
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Tony Daniel

I wasn’t all that impressed with the opening Darkseid story in the New 52 Justice League. I felt it was light on pretty much everything, especially characterization. I want to read a Justice League that actually feels like a team, where the characters are part of a family. Basically, I want Justice League to capture the same magic of Gail Simone’s Secret Six. Now that was a team book to be proud of, where the characters all had their own individual personalities, but fit together in spectacular fashion. Will Geoff Johns’ Justice League ever achieve that level of awesomeness? Or will his characters simply remain dialogue-dispensers?

It’s the second half of the new Cheetah arc, and Johns definitely succeeds in making the Cheetah come off as badass. She’s bitten Superman, turning him into a kind of werecheetah himself. Some villagers show up and use a special horn to subdue Supes, then explain that the Cheetah is their goddess spirit, but Barbara Minerva, a lifelong criminal, has corrupted that goddess. They want to kill Minerva to free their goddess. The Justice League work together to capture Cheetah – by taking her out of her jungle habitat, and into Aquaman’s piranha-filled river habitat. Cheetah gets locked up, but once she’s alone, she reveals that somebody planned for her to get locked up, and that Black Manta is coming too. Legion of Doom, perhaps?

Once the matter with the Cheetah is settled, Superman takes Wonder Woman home to visit the Kent farm and Smallville, and gives her a lesson in the simple things in life. He also gives her a lesson in making out. Though neither of them seem to know that Batman is spying on their little kissing scene.

Comic rating: 4/5: Good!

As much as I didn’t like the battle with Darkseid, the rest of Justice League has been pretty good. Johns is doing a much better job on characterization, though it’s still not as good as it could be. Everybody still feels like they’re just around to fill their role in the story and dispense dialogue. Cyborg’s inclusion and promotion to founding member of the Justice League just seems to be an excuse to give the heroes access to whatever magical doohickey they need at any given time. Cyborg is able to replicate the sound of the tribe’s horn to subdue Superman, as well as provide a universal translator. I think the others just keep Cyborg around for his usefulness as an appliance.

I loved the Aquaman scene. Johns’ personal crusade to make Aquaman awesome is still going strong. And I’m warming up to the Superman/Wonder Woman relationship. I’d like to see where Johns can go with it. I only wish it had any sort of impact outside of this title. The Wonder Woman from her solo comic doesn’t seem the type to date Superman. But then I’ve got several misgivings over the seemingly different takes on Wonder Woman. Still, this was an entertaining comic. Johns is getting better and writing this team, and I only hope he just keeps improving.

Nightwing #14

Nightwing #14
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Artist: Andres Guinaldo

I’ve been enjoying Nightwing since the New 52 reboot, and in fact, it’s given me new respect and appreciation for Dick Grayson. Despite being a huge Robin fan, I’d never much cared for Dick’s first Nightwing series. I dunno why. I’m just a big Tim Drake fan, and wasn’t very interested in Dick Grayson’s attempts to distance himself from Batman and Robin. Still, this series has been fun, and at times great. This issue continues the ongoing story at a solid, entertaining pace.

Nightwing is hunting for Lady Shiva, a master assassin who he first fought years ago, in his first outing as Robin. She’s back in town, and Nightwing successfully deduces that her target is Sonia Branch, his current love interest. Nightwing arrives just in time to intercept Shiva. The two duel over the rooftops, and Nightwing is able to save Sonia’s life. He’s defeated by Shiva though, who escapes and promises that she may have need of him in the future. In the end, we learn that the Penguin hired Shiva not to kill Sonia, but just disrupt the meeting she was attending so that he could launder more money.

There are also brief updates to Dick’s rebuilding of Amusement Mile and former love interest (and betrayer) Raya, who is visited by the Joker in prison. Dun dun dun.

Comic rating: 4/5: Good. 

Guest writer and artist handle this comic, but I couldn’t tell. The art is still clear and detailed, and the writing is still top notch. Dick Grayson is a fun protagonist. All the badass fighting skills of Batman, but with a friendlier personality. I suppose there isn’t anything too spectacular in the issue. No clever one-liners or jokes, but it’s a fine comic. It’s entertaining, the fight is cool, and it builds a fun little relationship between Nightwing and Lady Shiva. That’s always fun for future comics.

Red Hood #14

Red Hood and the Outlaws #14
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Pascal Alixe

This may come as something of a shock, but I actually enjoy Reed Hood and the Outlaws. Abysmal first issue aside, it’s actually done pretty well for itself. And considering how much I dislike Scott Lobdell’s work on Teen Titans, that I enjoy Red Hood is truly a surprise. There are some parts I dislike. Arsenal still doesn’t really click for me, same with Starfire, but Lobdell has a great handle on Jason Todd as a noble anti-hero, and the general feel and flow of the comic is fun. And the stories have actually been fun to read. So all in all, good comic.

The Outlaws have just finished freeing Starfire’s home planet, and they’re on their way back to Earth. They’re interrupted by Superman, who wants to chat with fellow alien Starfire. The Outlaws try to flee, then they try to fight; both of which are impossible against Superman. When they finally sit down to chat, Superman tells them all about a story over in his own comic involving the villain Helspont. But the Outlaws have little to offer, and Superman leaves. Once he’s gone, they decide to take their civilian stowaway Isabel back home to Gotham City. She and Jason get hot and heavy in her apartment, and then later Isabel is poisoned by the Joker, who somehow mocks Jason from the nightly news…not sure how that worked. The cops bust in on Jason holding the overdosing woman’s body.

Comic rating: 4/5: Good!

This is purely a transition issue, but it’s a fun transition issue. The fight with Superman is a little stupid, since we all know it’s not going to work, but the chat with Superman is more fun. And I loved the brief exchange where Arsenal tells Superman to pass along a message to Green Arrow. Legitimately funny. The heroes in this series have a nice rapport. If only Lobdell could give the Teen Titans a similarly nice rapport. The end was annoying, because I hate when the Joker is omnipotent, but I’m kind of looking forward to Jason Todd vs. the Joker, if we get to see it.

X-Force #34

Uncanny X-Force #34
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Phil Noto

The battle between X-Force and the new Brotherhood comes to a head in this issue, but after taking so long to get here, it kind of goes out with a whimper. Not to say it isn’t action-packed, because it is, but I stopped caring a long time ago. The bad guys lose. The good guys win. Everybody goes home and nobody probably ever mentions this again.

The battle is all over the place with so many characters. Psylocke immediately recovers from her self-induced amnesia, then takes out Omega White and the Shadow King. Eva stabs Nightcrawler, who later saves Mystique and teleports her away. Deadpool kills the skinless man, then saves Wolverine, who in turn kills Daken (hooray!) after a bloody, emotional battle. Then Sabretooth steps out and reveals he planned all of this just so that Wolverine would kill Daken, which he expects to haunt Wolverine for the rest of his days. Evan is around too, but honestly, he doesn’t do anything but get mad a lot and cause a few explosions. Then everybody goes home carrying all sorts of mental scars.

Comic rating: 3/5: Alright!

This story went on forever. I don’t even really remember how it started. And considering how important Evan was supposed to be to the story, he didn’t do much in the end. Everybody else around him took care of the bad guys. Evan just got angry a lot, even with the Apocalypse armor on. And the emotional connection between Evan, Wolverine and Daken never hit. Mostly because Daken sucks. He’s dead now, hopefully. And his death definitely comes with absolutely no fanfare. Good riddance, Daken. Nobody will miss you.

Wolverine and the X-Men #21

Wolverine and the X-Men #21
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Nick Bradshaw

When your greatest strength is the wacky mutant school you’ve created, why spend so much time away from it? For the second issue in a row, Aaron takes us away from the highly entertaining Jean Grey School, and plops us into a circus. But not just any circus, one where the X-Men are all brainwashed into performing. And it’s not as entertaining as Aaron clearly thinks it is. Especially since we never saw how they got into this situation. But this is another case of me simply not liking the kinds of things that Jason Aaron likes. He’s clearly in love with his Hellfire Kids, but I hate them. And he’s clearly in love with his new circus story, but I’m definitely not.

So like I said, all of the X-Men have been taken captive. They don’t remember who they are, but they’re performing at this big, colorful circus. The kids at the school decide to ditch since their teachers are missing, and they just so happen to show up at the same circus. Meanwhile, Frankenstein’s Monster is the leader of the circus (for some reason), and he’s using it as a cover to suck the souls out of people who attend (for some reason). Yet on top of that, he’s also looking for the last living descendant of the Frankenstein family, who just so happens to be a member of the Hellfire Kids!

Comic rating: 3/5: Alright!

As much as I love Wolverine and the X-Men, this issue just focuses on things I don’t really care about. Aaron is clearly in love with both this circus and his tragic Frankenstien monster, neither of which appeal to me. He takes several pages introducing every single member of the X-Men in their new circus get up, and only the Beast is all that interesting. He also takes a whole page to have the Monster monologue his generic hatred of the Frankenstein family, which is a tedious monologue. The only vaguely interesting part of this comic is that the Frankenstein kid actually seems to hate Kade Kilgore as much as I do. So maybe, at long last, one of these Hellfire Kids will get interesting. Otherwise, at least the issue is very bright and colorful.

Wonder Woman #14

Wonder Woman #14
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artists: Tony Akins, Dan Green & Rick Burchett

I have definitely been enjoying the rebooted Wonder Woman since the start of the New 52. It’s been one of the most consistent books on the stand, with a clear focus, a powerful story and a fun cast of characters. And Wonder Woman herself has been a very strong heroine. I don’t think the series has reached the heights of greatness, but it’s been solid and very entertaining. It’s Wonder Woman as the superhero in a family drama about the Greek Gods. Seeing the new takes on the classic Gods has been a treat, and watching Wonder Woman slice, dice and talk her way through the twists, turns and political motivations has been a pleasure. Though 14 issues in, I don’t think we’re any closer to the end. Plus, it’s always kind of bugged me a little that this Wonder Woman is almost nothing like the Wonder Woman we see in Justice League. I just think that’s a little off-putting in the sense of the larger DC Universe.

Wonder Woman is searching for her friend Zola’s daughter, who was kidnapped by the god Hermes. Diana is especially upset because she thought Hermes was on her side, but he betrayed Diana to kidnap the newborn baby. Oh, and by the way, the baby is the daughter of the Greek God Zeus, who is currently missing. But then almost everybody in this comic is a child of Zeus. Meanwhile, Apollo has taken up Zeus’ throne, and he’s throwing a party with a few of his godly relatives to suss out who is on his side. Someone who definitely isn’t on his side is a large, scar-covered behemoth who has just awoken from the ice. He says he’s the first born of Zeus and Hera, so he’s bad news. Also, Orion from the New Gods is somehow involved. But most of the issue is devoted to Wonder Woman facing off against Siracca, the child goddess of wind. Both Diana and Siracca are daughters of Zeus, so they make peace and Siracca agrees to help find the baby.

Comic rating: 4/5: Good.

The art isn’t as good this issue as it has been in this series, but that’s not a deal breaker. Otherwise, the story just continues along, telling yet another fun tale involving gods and Wonder Woman, while adding a few complicated sub-plots. Siracca seems like a fun character, and I hope she sticks around as a new member of Wonder Woman’s entourage. And Diana shows how good she is at diplomacy by simply talking the girl down. She’s an action hero with heart.

The subplots are fine. Apollo and the other gods continue to be entertaining, but little happens with them this issue. The big, frozen scarred man is just an exposition dump. Whereas Orion is the most interesting one. I’ve never cared about the New Gods. But using Orion as a subplot in this comic – which is all about various gods – is a great way to introduce them into the New 52. I’m rather eager to see him cross paths with Wonder Woman. And getting me interested in Orion is a major accomplishment!

The comics I review in my Hench-Sized reviews are just the usual comics I pick up from my local shop any given week, along with a few impulse buys I might try on a whim. So if there are any comics or series you’d like me to review each week, let me know 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 24, 2012, in Avengers, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. ASM was very good. Speculation on Superior Spider-Man seems to be that it’ll be the Spider-Man of 2099, Miguel O’Hara. I don’t think Octopus in Peter’s body will last all that long, considering there’s still two more issues before this series ends. If that was the way they were going to go – have Octopus as the new Spider-Man – it would make more sense to make that reveal in #700.

    Captain Marvel’s awesome. I don’t know how you can have any problem with Soy’s art in the first issues. The guy’s amazing. He gets to add extra pretty here with underwater scenes. And yeah, DeConnick writes an awesome Carol, and a great Monica. And seeing the two interact is a lot of fun.

    Captain America was good. Not that he’s a hard character to do right, really.

    Hawkeye’s always fun.

    Indestructible Hulk was good, but it bothers me that Waid’s just throwing out years of character development to go back to the old status quo of “Hulk is a mindless monster.”

    X-Force: Meh. I’m just tired of that series. This arc went on way too long. And Daken was always such an unlikable character, written in such an annoying manner, that any pathos we’re supposed to feel at Wolverine killing him is ruined by the sense of joy and relief at seeing the character killed.

    WatXM is another book I’m fed up with. The last issue was a great, character-focused story, and while it had its flaws, it was enjoyable. This one goes back to zany antics with no real characterization beyond quick, single-panel gags. I had enough of that by the second frigging issue of the series. It’s time for Aaron to cut the nonsense and focus on the characters rather than the antics.

    • I’ve been meaning to write something on Miguel O’Hara, but I didn’t think it was worth it. My guess for Superior Spider-Man was going to be Phil Urich, but the day I started writing that blog post was the day the conclusion of the Hobgoblin War came out, and that kind of nixed that idea. Miguel O’Hara was a red herring Tweet that Dan Slott made months ago. If Marvel really does bring Miguel O’Hara out of 2099 and makes him the Superior Spider-Man, I’ll eat my hat!

      As I said in my Hulk review, I wasn’t even reading the past few years, so I don’t mind them reestablishing Hulk’s status quo. This happens from time to time with all characters. Bring it on, I say.

  2. Are you absolutely sure Doc Ock was in Peter’s body all this time (through Alpha and Hobgoblin storyline at least)? I got the impression that it was rather recent, and maybe due to that little gold octobot that we’ve been seeing. But i don’t know, maybe i missed something important. You’re right, it was not at all surprising though. I enjoyed re-reading the comic a second time after the reveal at the end, and it puts everything peter says and thinks into a different, slightly more sinister light, knowing it’s actually Ock. I really like that.

    • It could be that little golden robot. But considering Doc Ock’s body has been laid up in that hospital since the Ends of the Earth storyline, I don’t see how he could have gotten to Peter until now. Unless…perhaps that would answer the question of why Doc Ock is only now revealing that he’s Peter Parker! Perhaps Doc Ock actually transferred his consciousness to that robot, and that’s why it’s been appearing over the past few issues. Then perhaps you’re right, and he only recently switched bodies, which is why they mentioned that Doc Ock has been silent for months, and only now is he speaking! You’re a genius!

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