Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 1/12/13

This week’s reviews include possibly the worst comic I have reviewed to date. It’s deplorable, it’s terrible and it makes me fear for the quality of a new DC series soon to arrive. If Green Lantern: New Guardians Annual #1 is any indication of the quality of writer Keith Giffen’s upcoming Threshold series then count me out. I could not believe how terrible this Annual issue was. It lacks any redeeming qualities. It is the antithesis of entertainment.

So it’s a good thing Jason Aaron comes along to deliver the next issue of Thor: God of Thunder, which picks up another Comic Book of the Week win!

Typical Thor

But then, considering the character that Aaron brings back in this week’s Wolverine and the X-Men, I’m tempted to take away all of his previous awards. How could you do this to us, Aaron? What sick game are you playing at?

Comic Reviews: Green Lantern: New Guardians Annual #1, Thor: God of Thunder #4, Wolverine and the X-Men #23.

New Guardians Annual

Green Lantern: New Guardians Annual #1
Writer: Keith Giffen
Artists: Scott Kolins and Andrei Bressan

I think I’m going to have to rethink buying Keith Giffen’s upcoming Threshold series, at least if it’s anything like this pilot issue. Rather than start Threshold on its own, DC decided to hijack New Guardians for an Annual issue to let Giffen introduce his new characters and concepts. Consider me deeply, deeply unimpressed. This is a bloated, boring and thoroughly clunky comic that has very little to do with the current New Guardians story. And if this is what Giffen thinks passes as space adventure these days, count me out. He violates all the worst offenses about space comics. All of his new characters and concepts are uninteresting and miserable. And I am definitely grateful that he’s not writing any of the Green Lantern series.

And I hope he doesn’t mess up Larfleeze in Threshold.

To combat the Third Army, Carol Ferris, Arkillo and Saint Walker have decided to travel to one of the galaxy’s forbidden zones to recruit Lady Styx, a long time Green Lantern foe. To do this, they seek help from Jediah Caul, a rogue Green Lantern who is under deep cover, and who immediately complains about the lot of them breaking his cover. This begs the question of how they knew to contact him in the first place, a question that is never answered. Caul is going to be the star of the new Threshold series, and he is absolutely terrible. He’s every ‘badass’ cliche you could hope for, from being a ‘rogue’ GL to having scruffy, shoulder-length white hair. Anyway, he hooks them up with some smugglers to get into the forbidden zone, which is actually just a planet that comes off as a big alien mall. This is another big problem I had with the issue. Everything alien in this comic is treated exactly like the planet Earth. All of the smugglers appear to be human, and anyone who isn’t human is still dressed like a human. They all talk like humans, act like humans and use human technology, whether it’s watching reality TV shows or using the alien equivalent of smart phones and iPads. The only thing alien about this world are the overused, made-up curse words. Nearly every character is called a “d’ast scut” at least once this issue.

So once the Lanterns are brought into the sector, they’re immediately betrayed by the smugglers. Star Sapphire is knocked out and sold to the most popular reality TV show, where an open bounty is placed on her head and everybody in the sector tries to claim it, especially the more powerful, professional bounty hunters. And all of it is filmed for your viewing pleasure. Arkillo and Saint Walker are able to defeat the smugglers that betray them, then they demand Caul help them save Star Sapphire and get them off the planet. They succeed. But not before Lady Styx makes a one-page appearance in the shadows to turn down Carol’s request to help. So their mission was a total loss anyway. And then while they’re making their escape, Arkillo suddenly punches Caul and leaves him behind, all so Caul can get captured and thrown into the TV show. That’s probably going to be the plot for Threshold.

Comic rating: 1/5: Terrible!

What a truly horrible comic book. I actually had to stop part way through and take a break because I just couldn’t bring myself to read any more pages. And that’s all it was, reading upon reading upon reading, with very little action. Characters just talking and talking and talking, and always with that stupid, inane fake cursing. It doesn’t sound cool or alien, it sounds ridiculous, and it makes your comic harder to read. It makes all of the characters sound exactly alike. There is so much wrong with this comic, and probably will be so much wrong with Threshold. The world Giffen creates is just an ugly, meaningless mirror of our own. All of the aliens either look human or act and dress like humans. When the reality TV show cuts through the mall, everyone just stands around like gawking fools recording it on their smart phones. Not to mention the very existence of the reality TV show itself. Giffen doesn’t do anything with the concept, it’s just there.

Jediah Caul is a stupid character. Giffen clearly wants him to come off as the coolest badass in the entire universe, but he utterly falls. Caul is just a walking pile of badass space hero cliches. He’s rude, tough-as-nails, and cares only for himself. For a guy who is supposed to be deep undercover, he does absolutely nothing to disguise his Green Lantern ring. He’s also ‘too cool’ to be suckered in by the Guardian’s new evil attitudes, having already broken it off with them. And he’s ‘too cool’ to be nice to his visitors. It’s not surprising when Arkillo suddenly punches him and nobody cares about leaving him behind. And we’re supposed to root for this guy in Threshold? Not a chance.

I’m grateful that Giffen isn’t writing any Lantern series because he does absolutely nothing with the concept. I’ve always felt that the Green Lanterns were something special in the universe, that to have one around was a big deal, especially in the case of the new Lanterns. But nobody cares that our heroes are around. They treat Star Sapphires like they’re just any other person hanging about. And the heroes themselves don’t really get anything special to do. Only Arkillo seems to have his own personality, but it’s utterly neutered. Arkillo is the only Fear Lantern left in the universe. He is all that remains of the twisted and wicked Sinestro Corps, but Giffen is trying for such a light tone that Arkillo is worthless. He makes threats and he still has a giant mouth full of teeth, but he might as well be sucking on a pacifier he’s so pathetic.

That’s another problem, the art. I’m usually a fan of Kolins, but he and his co-artist are just as bad on this comic. Their art is bright and cartoony, robbing this series of any of the seriousness it’s trying to create. I know Giffen is trying to be funny in some parts, but the jokes are terrible and whatever commentary he’s trying to make on culture falls completely flat. And like I said, his Arkillo tries to be threatening, but fails on every occasion. Absolutely nothing about the character is scary anymore, and the art isn’t helping.

Everything about this issue is a failure. Do not waste your $5, and I now have serious doubts about even trying Threshold.

Thor #4

Thor: God of Thunder #4
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Esad Ribic

Thor: God of Thunder continues its winning streak with another stellar issue. The overall quality takes a slight dip, but that’s only compared to the past three amazing issues. Aaron takes an issue to explore all three of the different Thors, and the result takes the focus away from any one in particular, which was a strength of the series so far. Still, Aaron’s got to kick his story into high gear, and that’s definitely the case with this issue. Though that also means bringing antagonist Gorr the God Butcher out of the shadows again. And the Voldemort look just isn’t as menacing when put up against all this badass viking imagery.

In the future, old Thor has been defeated by Gorr’s dark minions, and he’s ready to die – except the minions have other plans. They carry Thor back to his throne and just leave him there, angry. In the past, young Thor is chained up in Gorr’s cave as the villain taunts him about torture, pain and how awesome he is. In the present, Thor finds a lost god in the same cave hiding from Gorr. This little dude, all green and alien-looking, was left alive to watch as Gorr slaughtered his pantheon, and now he’s hiding. Thor presses him for information, but all the godling knows is the word ‘Chronux’. So Thor takes the godling back to that big library in Omnipotence City to get some answers, only it’s under siege by Gorr’s minions. Thor fights them off, saves the librarian and learns that Chronux is a planet, where upon lives the pantheon of time gods. Gorr is there right now stepping into some kind of time pool. Thor races off to Chronux…only to end up in the future with old Thor.

Comic rating: 4/5: Good!

Another very good installment of Jason Aaron’s Thor. This guy is doing a fantastic job, and I am glad I decided to pick it up. The tone remains epic and powerful, though like I said, this issue suffers a bit by jumping around to all the different Thors. It robs a little bit of emphasis from all of them. Present Thor gets the most action and some awesome moments, though old Thor does hold his own in his first big segment of the series. I didn’t think there would be any time crossovers, but I guess I’m curious to see what happens. Young Thor doesn’t get to do much but scream in pain. Gorr remains villainous, though he’s far more menacing hidden in shadow. I wish Aaron and left him like that for longer. Oh well. Still an amazing series.

Wolverine and the X-Men #23

Wolverine and the X-Men #23
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Nick Bradshaw

Then we come to Aaron’s other series, which has really gone down hill since its first year. Once upon a time, this was the X-series to read. It was fun, funny, charming and full of life and character. But the past three issues have been dullsville. The book is great when Aaron actually focuses on the X-Men. It sputters and dies when he focuses on his pet projects, like the Hellfire Kids or this stupid Frankenstein Circus. Thankfully the story wraps up with this issue, but only the Hellfire Kid Max and maybe Idie get any real substantial character growth.

It’s chaos at the circus as the X-Men are finally free from the magical tampering. So everybody’s just fighting zombie clowns, and Aaron throws in a few gags here and there, I suppose. Most of the time it’s just characters remarking on how weird it is to fight zombie clowns. Or Kitty perplexed as to why she was a cowboy in her circus guise. It’s not funny for you to make a joke about something you did to her, Aaron. Nor is it funny the second or third time you make the same joke. Anyway, Max Frankenstein decides to not help Idie when she’s attacked by the Monster, and instead he just flees. Wolverine pops in to save her though, cutting the Monster up until he and the witch teleport out of there – after Idie sets the witch on fire, of course. In the end, everyone goes home. Max has decided to no longer lie to anyone, so he destroyed the priest robot that has been talking to Idie, and he now wants to be called Dr. Frankenstein. Idie, meanwhile, is just getting more hardcore.

Oh, and Aaron commits the greatest of comic book sins. On the last page, he brings back the worst character from the absolute worst X-Men story of all time: Azazel. Freakin’ Azazel.

Comic rating: 3/5: Alright.

It’s a fine issue, I guess. It’s colorful and somewhat humorous. But the focus on the circus and on the lame characters robs Wolverine and the X-Men of the charm it used to have. I dreaded having to read this issue, whereas previously this was one of the best comics. I have always hated Idie and that’s not about to change anytime soon. And I hate all of the Hellfire Kids, so I couldn’t care less about character growth for one of them. The X-Men in this issue are just there to save the day, defeating the bad guys without any real flair. The bad guys lose, the good guys win. Some of them are maybe affected.

And then Azazel. God damn Azazel. I get what Aaron is going for here. He surely knows how much everybody hates The Draco, an X-Men story from a few years ago by vilified former X-writer Chuck Austen. It established that Nightcrawler wasn’t just a weird-looking mutant, but actually a real demon and the son of a Satan-stand-in named Azazel. And it was this ludicrous, insane story that everybody hated and nobody wants brought up again. Except, apparently, Jason Aaron. He probably thinks he’s being funny. But he’s not. It’s just sad.

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 January 12, 2013, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Thor was awesome. I actually liked the way it jumped around time – letting us see all three Thors was a good decision, I think, especially given the arc finishes next issue. I thought all three got good focus throughout the arc, and throughout this issue.

    WatXM, on the other hand, I loathed. I despise that book. At no point has it been consistently good. Its focus on fun means characterization is one-dimensional, the humour is too self-aware, all winks at the audience and “look how silly this slapstick stuff is,” when slapstick humour only really works when played completely straight and serious. This arc may have been the single worst of the entire awful series, since it also had the Frankenstein Monster acting completely out-of-character. He hasn’t been looking for revenge since 197-frigging-5, when he decided to live with a Victoria Frankenstein. And even at the height of his quest for revenge, he never would’ve put at risk complete innocents who had nothing to do with the Frankenstein family. This is not the same Monster who’s appeared previously. It’s a completely different character. It has to be. It is simply impossible to reconcile this with his previous characterization throughout the past 40 years. Wolverine mentions telling Elsa about the Monster. You know what Elsa calls the Monster? Adam. Because that’s the name he went by while he was her father’s ally, and when he was teaching her the tricks of her father’s trade. Jason Aaron is a fantastic writer on everything but this book. This series is garbage, just an awfully-written, shallow pile of crap. And the only reason to bring Azazel back is to retcon The Draco as all being a prank played by some demon as part of a bet. So bringing Azazel back is a terrible idea. And considering how unbelievably bad this series has been all along, I have no faith at all in Aaron’s ability to suddenly make Azazel a cool, compelling character.

    • I doubt Aaron’s going to retcon the Draco. He seems like the kind of guy who would instead like to revel in the hatred of the Draco just because it would be controversial to do so.

  2. That’s a shame about New Guardians! I was really loving this series until issue #0, when the quality took a turn for the worse. Kyle’s journey is supposed to be epic. The fact that Tony Bedard probably was thrown off by the “Third Army” doesn’t cut this book slack. The Third Army storyline could work really nicely with GLNG.

    • It definitely could work well. I dunno, I don’t think New Guardians has lived up to any of its potential. The new Lantern Corps were an amazing addition to the GL mythos. But this book feels like it’s just kind of coasting along, trying desperately to find something for all the characters to do but not having a real steady idea. In my opinion, they shouldn’t have had this book. The various Corps and their characters should have gone out into the ether and then popped up from time to time in the regular Green Lantern books. Characters like Saint Walker, Larfleeze and Arkillo lose their mystique and charm when they’re main characters. Kyle Rayner’s journey has been anything but epic.

      Don’t worry, though. The Annual really had little to do with the regular New Guardians comic. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next issue picked up and completely ignored everything that happened here.

      • I’m sure a lot of people didn’t feel this way, but I was starting to like the team of Kyle, Walker, Arkillo, Glommy, and Bleez. Without Munk and Fatality, this could have been a very well developed team (not that Munk/Fatality were bad character, but they didn’t contribute anything and made the team too hard to keep track of). Completely passing an issue is something I don’t do a lot because I like to have a complete story, but from what I’ve heard, I’m not missing anything by passing up on this (like I passed up on Teen Titans #0).

      • You’re not missing anything, trust me. The only addition it has to the regular story is that they drop Kyle Rayner off on the Star Sapphire homeworld so that he can learn the power of love from them. It’s a quick little scene in the beginning and they never follow up on it. So I assume that’s going to come up in the next issue.

        I like the team, I just wish they had something more interesting to do.

  1. Pingback: Larfleeze to Get His Own Series By Writer I Don’t Want Writing Larfleeze « Henchman-4-Hire

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