Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 2/2/13

We’ve got a very good week of comics here, not a stinker in the bunch. Aquaman continues the Throne of Atlantis storyline while Green Lantern Corps ends the Third Army storyline. So big happenings there. We get our second dose of Superior Spider-Man and it’s not too bad. Heck, I even liked the latest issue of Avengers even though I’ve been lukewarm on the series so far. Same with Batman Incorporated. This is just a good week all around.

And coming in with the Comic Book of the Week win is Green Lantern Corps Annual #1, which hits us with a bombastic finale to the Third Army! Good show Green Lantern team! Though this is also a good week for solid Robin action. And we all know I love that.

Please don’t kill Alfred

Comic Reviews: Aquaman #16, Avengers #4, Batman Incorporated #7, Green Lantern Corps Annual #1, Hawkeye #7, Red Lanterns #16, Superior Spider-Man #2 and Talon #4. 

Aquaman #16

Aquaman #16
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Paul Pelletier

Throne of Atlantis is good, no doubt about it. The story is exciting, the stakes are high, the characters are strong and there are enough twists to keep me on the edge of my seat. The Trench are brought into the story in this issue with another stellar splash page. The two artists on this story are doing phenomenal work. Even Pelletier is holding his own. That Trench splashpage is chilling. This whole story is just good, good comics.

Aquaman and Batman awaken on the ocean floor after Orm sentenced them to death. Batman is safely in some kind of pod thingy so that he doesn’t drown. The two heroes quickly realize that they’re at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, and Aquaman takes Batman down into the Trench to save Superman and Wonder Woman from those vicious, blood-thirsting aquatic monsters! Meanwhile, Cyborg gets the lung upgrade that will let him breath underwater, and he and Mera teleport down to help save the Justice League. While they do that, Cyborg is able to unlock a video showing the perpetrator behind the attack on Atlantis…and it’s not Orm!

It’s Vulko! Turns out he was the one who confiscated the scepter from Aquaman after the battle with Black Manta. And now Vulko is using the scepter to lead an army of the Trench against the Atlanteans for turning against him and Arthur.

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good!

I didn’t see the Vulko reveal coming, but I suppose it’s obvious in hindsight. There weren’t very many other characters in the story. I only wish we knew more about Vulko or had a better emotional investment in him. But the story still works, and his Trench army provides a fun new twist to the battle between the superheroes at Atlantis. I didn’t mention it during the recap, but there are a few awesome scenes of the Justice League recruits battling the Atlantean soldiers. Hawkman, especially, comes off as pretty hardcore and awesome. The regular Justice League scenes are good too. I like the friendship between Batman and Aquaman. And I can’t wait to see the big finale!

Avengers #4

Avengers #4
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Adam Kubert

Well son of a gun, I actually rather liked this issue. I didn’t think it was the greatest Avengers issue in the history of ever, or that this series is the most epic the Avengers have ever been. But it was a solid, straight forward issue with some fun moments; even if Hickman seems to think he’s writing the most amazing Avengers epic in the history of the world. He’s got all the trappings and all the set dressing of a massive, monumental series, but the actual story is as generic Avengers as one can get. Everywhere I look on the Internet, everyone says that Hickman writes these bigger picture stories, that all of this is just part of a large puzzle that he has yet to put together. Good for him. But for me, reading issue-by-issue, this is a dumb way to write a comic.

With Ex Nihilo defeated on Mars, the Avengers and SHIELD get to work dealing with the bio-pods that he launched at Earth, which have grown into vicious jungles. Hyperion discovers a sixth site in the Savage Land, and so a squad of Avengers go down to investigate. But they are not alone. AIM has sent a contingent of scientists to test some of the pods. They use an intern as a test subject, and he morphs into an alien tentacle monster. The Avengers defeat the monster and save the AIM scientists, then arrest them anyway. Though in secret, other AIM scientists have found a seventh jungle site in Norway.

Meanwhile, we learn the origin of Hyperion, how he is the last survivor from another dimension. His homeworld was destroyed when it collided with another dimension, so it looks like Hickman is tying Hyperion’s origin into the threat he’s building over in New Avengers. Hyperion is also kind of excited when one of the pods hatches in the Savage Land and a bunch of little alien/human children come out.

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good.

It’s nice of Hickman to give us an origin to Hyperion since he made the character such a big part of this issue. If wish he’d done the same with Captain Universe last issue. But even still, who cares about Hyperion? He’s a weak Superman clone and he barely does much in this issue anyway. He most certainly does not possess an interesting or captivating personality, or any reason whatsoever for me to care about him. But that’s the bigger picture that I guess Hickman is building towards. Like maybe somewhere down the line, Hyperion will prove his worth, or something. I don’t know. All I do know at this point is that we’ve got a fairly uninteresting character, who has very little background or emotional connection with the reader, going on an adventure in the Savage Land. Why should I care? The AIM scientists in this issue are far more interesting and are better fleshed out than the Avengers. And that’s saying something.

Batman Inc #7

Batman Incorporated #7
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham

And here is another surprise, I actually liked this issue of Batman Incorporated as well! I’ve been down on this series for a few issues now because Grant Morrison has created a big, muddled mess of a tale. It’s his typical style, but all of the flair and excitement is gone. The book has just been trudging forward. But with this issue, it’s a very clear story with very clearly defined problems and characters. It was far easier to understand what was happening, and that made for a better comic. Beyond that, Damian actually has some pretty awesome moments as he embraces the role of Robin. In the end, this is all probably going to be revealed as Morrison’s love letter to Robin, and I can definitely get behind something like that.

Batman was thrown out of a window at the end of the last issue, and now he’s snatched out of the air by one of Talia al Ghul’s ninja man-bats. The Robins show up, but they’re too late as they watch Batman get taken away. Nightwing, Wingman and Red Robin split up. Nightwing stays with Commissioner Gordon, comforting Squire after the death of Knight. They’re later attacked by a school bus full of Leviathan-controlled psychotic children. Red Robin follows the signal in Batman’s belt, only to walk into a bomb trap laid by Talia. He barely escapes with his life. Red Hood retreats to one of the Batman Incorporated bases, only to be ambushed by Hood, who reveals himself to be a traitor.

Meanwhile, Damian and Alfred start to piece everything together at the Batcave. Damian reveals that the Talia’s masked henchman is a new version of Damian, grown to adulthood by Talia. Damian also decides that Batman being taken prisoner by Talia is exactly why Batman needs a Robin, so he suits up and goes out to rescue his father. Talia is holding him at the Wayne Enterprises building.

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good.

I love Robin. But more importantly, I love the Robin character, the idea that Batman has this colorful kid sidekick to help him out. A lot of people give Robin crap, but I love him. However, I’ve never particularly cared for Damian Wayne as Robin. I’m a big Tim Drake fan, and he was a great Robin. But then Morrison came along and created Damian, shoving the character into the role of Robin and giving Tim the shaft. That rubbed me the wrong way and I’m still trying to get over it. Issues like this one help. Damian has never seemed like Robin to me. He’s Damian first, Robin second. That’s his character. But this was a great issue for Damian and for Robin, and now I’m definitely looking forward to seeing Robin save the day. Morrison will always be a great comic book writer, but sometimes he adds too much weird stuff for his own good.

GLC Annual #1

Green Lantern Corps Annual #1
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Chriscross

Here it is! The big finale to the Third Army! And it’s an awesome issue, even if the Third Army never amounted to anything. Considering the Guardians have been slowly going evil for several years now, this final battle seems very low key. The Third Army was ever only a means to an end, a threat that indiscriminately killed by the hundreds, but never anybody we cared about. The Guardians just needed foot soldiers, so here they were. Still, most of this issue is about Guy Gardener and the Green Lantern Corps taking the fight to the Guardians, and there are a lot of cool moments to be had!

The battle against the Guardians begins! As the various heroes start to come together, the Guardians call all of their Green Lanterns back to Oa, claiming they will give them an inoculation to protect them from the Third Army. Most Green Lanterns don’t know that the Guardians are evil now and created the Third Army, so they fall for the trap. But Guy Gardner sneaks back to Oa, hooks up with Kilowog and a few of the other hero Lanterns and together they launch an attack to free their comrades! They are eventually aided by the Manhunter robots, sent by Atrocitus and the Red Lanterns, as well as new White Lantern Kyle Rayner and his New Guardians. The battle is too big for the Guardians, and they lose their control over the First Lantern. The issue ends with the First Lantern declaring war on everybody.

Meanwhile, Simon Baz and B’dg head into the land of the dead to rescue Hal Jordan, while John Stewart and Fatality succeed in bringing Mogo back to life!

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good!

This was a big, bombastic Green Lantern story, and I’ve come to love those. Guy Gardner has definitely been the most exciting GL in the past few years, having long since traded in his jerkass persona for one of a no-holds-barred GL badass! He takes the fight straight to the Guardians, and there’s one moment where the good guys get a message out to all the free GLs to come in with rings blazing that sent a shiver down my spine. And, of course, they used the new White Lantern Kyle to great effect. Not to mention it was great to see Mogo resurrected. Killing Mogo was the stupidest thing the GL writers have done in the past few years. If I had to complain about anything, it would be how little the other characters did besides Guy. Kyle shows up with all of the New Guardians, but we only ever see them for that one panel. We never see Saint Walker, Larfleeze or any of the others involved in the fight. And Simon Baz goes off on an entirely different adventure and doesn’t take part in the final battle at all. That was a missed opportunity. Still, great issue and great finale, even if it just leads into the next big story.

Hawkeye #7

Hawkeye #7
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artists: Steve Lieber and Jesse Hamm

Superstar artist David Aja takes a break with this issue, but the fill-ins do a fine job copying his style. There are some panels that are a little too cartoony for my tastes, but overall the issue is very well done. The Hawkeye series is focused on one part of superhero comics that I love: realism. It’s the idea that all of these big, colorful superheroes are just normal, ordinary people. I love seeing Clint Barton chat with his tenants and Kate Bishop. I love seeing him do mundane things like put an entertainment center together or carry boxes. It might sound boring, but finding the humanity in your characters is far more important than watching them punch the latest super-villain. It’s why I loved The Ultimate so much.

Hurricane Sandy is hitting New York, and Clint Barton is helping one of his tenants get his old father to safety out in Brooklyn. The house gets flooded, and the tenant loses all of the mementos of his dead mother in the basement, but he and his father come together with renewed love. Elsewhere, Kate Bishop attends an engagement party in New Jersey, only for the whole neighborhood to lose power. So she sets out into town to get supplies and gets ambushed by some looters in the local convenience store. They get the better of Kate and steal her bow, but they’re stopped by a group of townfolk, bolstering Kate’s love for the people of New Jersey.

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good.

This issue may have been a little stronger if we cared more about the tenant. All we know about him is that he calls Clint ‘Hawkguy’. Plus I guess it’s a bit of a stretch to think Hawkeye’s big contribution to helping people during Hurricane Sandy came down to just one guy in one house. I would think the Avengers would be out there helping a lot more people. Still, it’s a very quaint story dealing with Clint and Kate as real people first, superheroes second. Even when Kate goes out with her bow and arrow, she’s still Kate first and foremost. This was definitely a nice comic continuing Fraction’s awesome series.

Red Lanterns #16

Red Lanterns #16
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Andres Guinaldo

I think Red Lanterns might get cut from my pull list. This simply isn’t the series I thought it would be, and it doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. This is a comic book about an army of violent, blood-thirsting rage monsters. But all they do is spend their time bickering with one another or going on long, boring monologues about nothing. Each of the remaining Red Lanterns is pathetic. And while that might make for a compelling protagonist in a different series, that is not a word I want associated with these rage monsters! Rankorr, especially, is the biggest wuss in comics. And you’ll see why in this issue.

On Ryutt, Atrocitus has reactivated an old army of Manhunters, and he takes control of them by killing the alpha manhunter. He sends most of them to Oa to join Green Lantern Corps Annual #1, and takes the rest to Maltus, the original homeworld of the Guardians of the Universe. Deep underground, Atrocitus finds an ancient Guardian tomb, where he’s greeted by the ghost of Krona – because apparently he didn’t spend enough time at the start of the series monologuing over Krona’s corpse. On Earth, Rankorr kills the man who killed his grandfather, rejecting Bleez’s idea to torture him over time so that he suffers. This causes Rankorr to subconsciously create a construct of his grandfather to tell him how disappointed he is in Rankorr. I’d be disappointed too if that was my grandson. Bleez tells Rankorr the construct was his guilty conscience lashing out, but she can help him become so much more. She offers herself to Rankorr as a lover and ally…but he turns her down and flies away, causing Bleez to declare herself his enemy.

Comic Rating: 3/5: Alright.

See? Pathetic! All of them are so gorram pathetic! Atrocitus doesn’t join the battle on Oa, instead he goes off to have a chat with Krona AGAIN! Rankorr gets all weepy after getting revenge for his grandfather so that even his Power Ring tells him he’s pathetic. Then when Bleez offers herself to him, he stammers around like a fool before flying off. What the hell!? Rankorr is the human Red Lantern! He should be killin’ dudes and nailin’ Bleez and basically being the badass warrior we all want him to be! Are we not supposed to want him to be a Red Lantern? Are we supposed to hope he escapes it somehow? Bleez has a line where she says Rankorr is “Too much of a Red Lantern to be human, and too human to be a Red Lantern” and that line just infuriates me, as if humans can’t be proper Red Lanterns. Bah!

Superior Spider-Man #2

Superior Spider-Man #2
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Ryan Stegman

It looks like Peter Parker is going to be a major presence in this series after all. I’m glad for that. I had little interest in seeing Doctor Octopus trying to be Peter Parker for the long haul, so I’m glad to see that Slott is already building towards the eventual return to the status quo. I’m more than happy to join him for that ride. And thankfully, he also quickly addresses the creepy relationship between Otto Parker and Mary Jane, settling that matter quite cleanly and safely in this issue. I don’t know what I was worried about. Slott has got this.

Both the media and Mayor J. Jonah Jameson are fans of Spider-Man these days, so Otto decides to focus his efforts on being a superior Peter Parker – with Peter’s ghost along for the ride. The issue is spent with Otto going on date after date with Mary Jane, trying to get into her pants. And Peter’s ghost is constantly making exasperated commentary. But Mary Jane wants to take things slow, and all Otto ever really gets is a kiss on the cheek, much to his frustration. Even when he takes her web-swinging through the city, the night is cut short because Carlie Cooper is staying at Mary Jane’s place. The issue ends when Octo-Spidey saves Mary Jane from an attack on her nightclub by the Vulture’s henchmen. Mary Jane is ready to give him a big kiss, but Otto turns her down and breaks up with her, much to Peter’s delight and amazement. Later, when MJ is telling Carlie about Peter’s odd behavior, Carlie starts to remember her encounter with the dying Doc Ock…

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good.

Hopefully Slott shakes things up soon, because the idea of Peter constantly complaining about Otto while in ghost form is going to get old fast. Hopefully Slott will change things so that Peter can actually do something. Otto remains an interesting protagonist, approaching his dates with Mary Jane like a science experiment. His material is fresh and new, which is always a plus to a comic book series. And we’re only two issues in and already Carlie Cooper is starting to suspect something. Good for her. It’s about time she had something to do besides just being a Relationship Sue. So not a whole lot happens in this issue, but it was fun nonetheless. And Slott easily navigates and wraps up the inherent creepiness that came from the whole Otto/Peter’s body/Mary Jane thing.

Talon #4

Talon #4
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Guillem March

Talon is a very good book and I hope it sticks around for a long time. The hero is new and interesting, and there is a lot to explore in his world. I still think the narrative is moving far too quickly for its own good. We’re only five issues into the series and already Talon is hooking back up with his ex-girlfriend. I think everything from Sebastian Clark to Casey and her squad of fighters should have been saved for later in the series. But maybe Tynion doesn’t think the series will do well, and he’s getting the good stuff out of the way before the possible cancellation down the line. It’s a harsh reality in today’s comic book market. There’s no guarantee this series will last for any length of time. But I really hope it does.

Talon battles the Butcher outside the bank long enough for his new allies to complete the heist and escape. Though ‘battles’ is being a little generous. The Butcher mops the floor with Talon, who manages to escapes through the sewers. But the Butcher stuck a tracer on Talon, inadvertently leading the villain back to Casey’s secret hideout! Butcher shows up to rain havoc, killing one of Casey’s crew and forcing everyone else to wipe their files and flee to safety. Talon again buys them more time by tricking Butcher into a sewer tunnel beneath the Hudson River, which he causes to pour down onto the Butcher, expecting the cold temperatures to freeze him up. Talon barely escapes, then reunites with Casey and her daughter. He now plans on moving them with him to Gotham City to continue the battle against the Court of Owls.

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good!

We only met Casey and her team last issue and already one of them is dead and most of them are in the wind. This is what I mean by this story moving too quickly. I think Talon’s battle with the Butcher is perfect for an opening story arc, but everything else is moving far too quickly. We barely know Calvin Rose as a character and already he’s got a mysterious benefactor who knows all the secrets of the Court of Owls, he’s already gotten back together with his ex-girlfriend, and supporting characters we barely know are already dead. An issue and a half to get to know a character is not enough time for his murder at the hands of the villain to have any kind of emotional impact. But oh well. This is still an exciting comic and I am enjoying Talon immensely.

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 February 2, 2013, in Avengers, Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin, Spider-Man and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I liked that Superior Spider-man, but i had the same feeling about Peter, like i hope he isn’t as prevalent in the series with his unheard commentary on everything as he was this issue. I’m assuming/hoping he was only in it as much as he was because he was quite bothered by Ock trying to get into MJ’s pants. Looks like you got your wish though in that there will be no relationship creepiness there, and i like it too because there seemed to be a finality to it which i hope carries on when Peter some day gets his body back. He can date other people (we know who). I was also pleased to see my ideas of Carly Cooper’s role as the only one who kinda knows the truth is not being wasted. I’m interested to see what she will do in the future as she grows more and more sure that Ock/Peter was telling her the truth in ASM 700.

    • I hope Peter stays in the series, but I hope he can contribute more than just a lot of whining. And I wouldn’t mind seeing Otto try and seduce a new love interest. That would be fun.

  2. Avengers was good. Hickman needs to keep doing issues like this, with a heavy character focus. Hickman’s great at doing big, high-concept, epic stories that keep the characters as the focus. The first three issues lost the characters. This one did a better job. It’s still off to a rocky start, but I’m hoping he just needs a little time to get into it.

    Hawkeye was as great as it usually is. And this issue raised money for Sandy relief, so people who bought it get the benefit of feeling like they’re helping out.

    Superior Spider-Man was good. I’m glad Spider-Ock and MJ won’t be getting together. That was a wise decision, and allows me to enjoy the series for what it is. And it’s good. Carlie actually seemed to suspect something even earlier in the issue. Notice the brief interaction she has with him when he drops MJ off.

    • I really want to read all of Hickman’s Fantastic Four now that it’s finished. Maybe the tpbs won’t be too expensive if I look around. I didn’t like his era-spanning SHIELD series though. Not at all.

  3. Your Red Lantern joke was great. Of course humans make perfect Red Lanterns. Humans go into a blinding rage just driving into work every morning. So what if Red Lanterns is the greatest meta-comic of our time?! It is intentionally designed to piss off its readers. Everything this comic has done has made us angry. WE ARE THE RED LANTERNS! Like how the reader is supposed to be the Walking Dead, etc. I think that’s the only explanation I have for all this horribleness. Actually now I want to go back and read when Guy put on the Red Lantern Ring. That was awesome.

    • I really, really don’t think that’s the metaness of Red Lanterns. I’m fairly certain Milligan is writing it straight. He just wants his characters to be more nuanced. But you make a very good point: Guy Gardener was an awesome Red Lantern! That’s what I expected from this series! A whole team of characters who were as awesome and as pissed off as Guy Gardener when he became a Red Lantern!

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