Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 2/23/13

It’s weeks like this that make me regret ever starting this Hench-Sized review column! Oy vey! Somehow, the Marvel and DC scheduling system is perfectly tailored to my reading habits so that the books I actually buy and read all come out on the same darn week! Last week I only had four comics in the Hench-Sized reviews. This week there’s more than a dozen! And it doesn’t help that I’m broke…

But enough whining, let’s get to some comics! This has proven to be an absolutely stellar week of books! I enjoyed all of the comics I bought this week, with more than a few of them rising to perfect scores. And you want to talk gender equality? How about the fact that the two best comics this week both star female leads. It’s an absolute shame that more people aren’t buying Captain Marvel. That book is absolutely amazing! But it’s surpassed just a little by Batwoman, which wins Comic Book of the Week for its fantastic climactic issue and surprise romantic ending!

Though Captain Marvel’s sheer adorableness was hard to beat.

Comic Reviews: Avengers #6, Batwoman #17, Captain Marvel #10, Green Lantern #17, Green Lantern: New Guardians #17, Indestructible Hulk #4, Justice League #17, Justice League of America #1, Nightwing #17, Nova #1, Red Hood and the Outlaws #17, Superior Spider-Man #4, Thor: God of Thunder #5, Vibe #1, Wonder Woman #17.

Avengers #6

Avengers #6
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Adam Kubert

While I’m not yet ready to take back my criticism of the way Hickman started this series, I will at least say he’s putting out a stronger comic now. He’s still using a strange, non-linear style to tell his story, and I’m not exactly a fan of such a thing, but it’s working. At least on an issue-by-issue basis. Following the origins of Hyperion and Smasher, we now get the origin of Captain Universe, even though we could have used it a few issues ago when she Dues Ex Machinaed her victory of Ex Nihilo. It’s a good origin and it definitely propels the ongoing story forward.

The cosmic entity sits down for a meditation session with Shang-Chi, and with his help, we learn that the host is one Tamara Devoux, a woman who was once in a bad car accident that may have cost her daughter’s life. The accident put Tamara in a coma for 10 years until she was chosen as a host by Captain Universe, because Captain Universe says the Earth is the axis of the multiverse, so it’s on Earth that it needed to become sentient. And Captain Universe picked Tamara because she is broken and dying…just like Captain Universe. When Shang-Chi tries to bring this to Tony Stark’s attention, we discover that Captain Universe can communicate with the humanoid created by Ex Nihilo. We learn his name is Nightmask and that the White Event is coming.

Meanwhile, the Superior Spider-Man is in the house and he’s rude to Cannonball, Sunspot and Iron Man, though it is quite comical.

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good.

I wish I had known all of this about Captain Universe when she defeated Ex Nihilo. It would have made her victory much more meaningful. Instead, Hickman waited several issues to feed us her backstory, at a time when we don’t really need it anymore. Oh well. His choice, not mine. It’s a good backstory, and the idea that Captain Universe is dying is definitely an interesting one. Especially how it will apparently tie into Hickman’s greater narrative. Though I can’t say I’m all that interested in the White Event. If you don’t know, the White Event comes from an alternate reality called the New Universe. It was an attempt by Marvel in the 1980s to create a whole new group of superheroes living in a separate world. It was not successful. Nor was their attempt to bring it back a few years ago. So why Hickman thinks it’ll make for a good story now is beyond me. But I’m fairly confident he’ll make it good.

Also, the scenes with Octo-Spidey were legitimately funny, especially the Iron Man scene. It’s kind of clear that Hickman is just writing ‘jerk Spider-Man’ as opposed to Otto Octavius, but he can be forgiven. Octo-Spidey was thrust upon him and he’s definitely making the most of it.

Overall, however, I just don’t think I’m a fan of Hickman’s jumbled storytelling. For all his talk about putting together a bigger, better team of Avengers, he has done very little to actually build the team dynamic and character interactions. But maybe that’s the point. He’s kind of just relying on the idea of the Avengers rather than actually focusing on the team or the characters. I guess that might work. We’ll see. I’m just not yet convinced of Hickman’s greatness on Avengers.

Batwoman #17

Batwoman #17
Writers: J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Black
Artist: J.H. Williams III

Batwoman is one of the best comics on the shelves today, and this climactic issue reminds us why. The storytelling, the characters and especially the art come together to tell a rousing tale, giving me (almost) everything I wanted for the big finale of this storyline. Batwoman and her Gotham allies face off against Medusa and her mythological horde in an all-out brawl, with a lot of great moments for (almost) every character. I’m especially pleased with Bette Kane’s return. She’s been one of my favorite characters in this series. But then I’m a sucker for sidekicks. The only complaint I have is that there is not enough between Batwoman and Wonder Woman, who were supposed to be the focus of this tale.

The final battle against Medusa is upon us, with Ceto, the mother of all monsters, rising in Gotham Harbor! Batwoman, Wonder Woman and their allies battle Medusa’s monsters, with losses on both sides. Abbot the werewolf is turned to stone, but Bette Kane proves that she can still kickass in her new persona of Hawkfire. I love the new costume. In the end, Batwoman saves the day after the heroines destroy Bloody Mary, and use her glass body to reflect Medusa’s gorgon gaze back on herself, turning Medusa to stone. Ceto calms down right away, having simply been used by Medusa, and Wonder Woman agrees to take care of her.

Batwoman tells Chase and the DEO to get bent, then takes all the rescued children back to Maggie Sawyer. Kate reveals her identity to Maggie and asks her to marry her. Elsewhere, Director Bones reveals that he has Kate’s sister Alice, who is no longer dead.

Comic Rating: 5/5: Great!

That wedding proposal is just adorable. The splash page is gorgeous and the emotions are clear on the page. I cannot wait to see where this goes for Kate and Maggie. The rest of the issue was fantastic as well. Medusa is defeated. Ceto has a rather unique defeat. And nobody liked Abbot anyway. Bette Kane was a special standout. The very idea of giving Batwoman a sidekick was risky to begin with, especially one who was already an established character beforehand. But I love what Williams and Black have done with her. This new Hawkfire identity is phenomenal. I really hope she sticks around and rejoins Batwoman. The only complaint I have with this story is that not enough happened between Batwoman and Wonder Woman. The first few issues of their team up were a lot of fun. But they didn’t do much at all together in this final battle. That was a shame. I was hoping for some real bonding between the two heroines.

And the art, oh my god, the art. If you’ve never read a Batwoman comic with J.H. Williams III’s art then you do not know what you are missing. When he’s firing on all cylinders, like this issue, then nothing can possibly compare to Batwoman. It is the best drawn comic book ever.

Captain Marvel #10

Captain Marvel #10
Writers: Kelly Sue DeConnick and Christopher Sebela
Artist: Filipe Andrade

Oh how I wish more people were buying this comic. I read an article online the other day that said Captain Marvel was likely on the chopping block due to low sales. What a horrible shame. You will find no greater down-to-Earth, relatable, feel good comic at Marvel than Captain Marvel. And with artist Filipe Andrade brought onto the book, its’ even better than before. I don’t usually like this kind of stylistic art, but it’s absolutely gorgeous and works so well for this series. It’s a wonderful blend of superhero and adorable without getting really kiddie. And the writing is great. The dialogue sparkles and pops. I wish I knew whether DeConnick or Sebela was responsible for the scripting.

Last issue, Carol Danvers was told that she has a brain lesion and can’t fly. She’s in denial, because she loves flying. So she goes about her day intent on being the best Captain Marvel she can, despite what the doctor said. She argues with that photographer guy, she saves a subway car full of people, she spends time with a little fangirl, she tells Captain America that he’s wrong about her condition, and she ambushed by Deathbird, an old foe and member of the Shi’ar race of aliens. Deathbird has noticed that Captain Marvel is weak, and goads her into flying too high. Captain Marvel blacks out due to the severe headache and starts to plummet back to Earth!

Comic Rating: 5/5: Great!

I dare you to find something more adorable than the scene of Captain Marvel hanging out with her little fangirl, Kit. Though I suppose you’d come close with the jokes about Captain Marvel’s cat, Chewie. The art and the dialogue come together so wonderfully in this series. Plus it’s just a blast to see Captain Marvel in full costume just strolling down the sidewalk with her little fangirl, shooting the breeze and just being an awesome person. I love comics where we get to see the superhero’s daily life, where they act and talk like normal, ordinary people, and Captain Marvel absolutely nails that idea. Please don’t cancel this comic!

Green Lantern #17

Green Lantern #17
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Doug Mahnke

Oh, Third Army, we barely knew ye. Not even a month later and we’ve already moved on to the Wrath of the First Lantern. I guess Geoff Johns is leaving because he’s run out of big GL crossovers to run back-to-back. This is Johns’ last story before leaving the title that not only made him famous, but made Green Lantern famous as well. There would not have been a terrible Ryan Reynolds movie in 2011 if not for Geoff Johns. So how does this new story stack up? Well, I suppose it’s a little interesting. I think we’re going to learn some of the secret history of the Guardians of the Universe. That should be fun. And at least Simon Baz is still front and center.

Several billion years ago, the renegade Guardian Krona used his incredible power to view the beginning of the universe, despite protests from Ganthet. While he was doing that, an astronaut named Volthoom suddenly appears, having traveled across time and space to find them. Volthoom says he comes in peace. Flash forward to the present day, and Volthoom is the First Lantern, a strange being who seems possessed of all the powers of the emotional light spectrum. He has imprisoned the Guardians and returned all of the various Lanterns back to their homes. Volthoom speaks at length with his prisoners, revealing that he is the one who introduced them to the emotional light spectrum, only for them to imprison him and cut themselves off from all emotions. Volthoom tries to use his power to reach back through time and change this, but he discovers that he is too weak, thanks to the Guardians. So it looks like he’ll have to prey upon the various Lantern Corps and their emotions to get his full power back.

Meanwhile, Simon Baz used the Book of the Black, and he’s transported to the First Lantern’s old prison. He gets into a scrape with Black Hand, even though neither one knows much about the other. Simon eventually uses his ring to break the other Guardians out of the cell they were trapped in, and for his trouble, Black Hand sends Simon to the land of the dead. There Simon finds Sinestro and Hal Jordan.

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good.

I’m definitely intrigued by what we’ve learned so far about the secret history of the Guardians. So I think there’s a lot Volthoom can teach us. Bit of trivia for you folks: The evil Green Lantern on Earth 3 got his power ring from a monk named Volthoom. So if you think that’s a weird name, don’t blame Johns. He simply plucked it from an older story to reuse. Clever guy, that Geoff Johns. Anyway, I think the First Lantern will prove to be a formidable threat for a big finale to Johns’ run, and I definitely look forward to seeing where this goes. Plus, the more Simon Baz the better. I wish Johns had stayed on Green Lantern, if only to see more Baz.

New Guardians #17

Green Lantern: New Guardians #17
Writer: Tony Bedard
Artist: Aaron Kuder

The First Lantern pays a visit to Kyle Raynor and it’s…very disappointing. It seems that the Wrath of the First Lantern, for the most part, is going to be spent with the villain using his powers to make our heroes relive key moments in their lives so that he can feast on the emotional trauma. He did it to Guy Gardner in Green Lantern Corps, and now he’s doing it to Kyle Raynor. This might actually mean something if the reboot didn’t jumble up everyone’s backstory. So peering back into Kyle’s past just doesn’t feel all that interesting.

There’s no explanation of how the First Lantern went from his appearance in Green Lantern #17 to here, so we’ll just have to go with it. He takes Kyle back through his life and uses his power to show alternate possibilities of what might have happened had he made different choices. For example, a big moment in Kyle’s life was when a super-villain killed his girlfriend Alex. Well the First Lantern shows Kyle what life would have been like had Alex lived. He also shows Kyle what his life would have been like if he’d been raised by his father. And then one where Kyle helped the Sinestro Corps destroy the Earth.

Due to his mastery of the emotional light spectrum, Kyle is able to (sort of) see through these facades and challenge the First Lantern. So the villain offers to let Kyle choose one of these alternate realities to live in. Kyle chooses the one where Alex lived, even though in that world, he quit being a GL. The First Lantern reveals he was just messing with Kyle and then flies away.

Comic Rating: 3/5: Alright.

This issue is a whole lotta meh. Maybe if Kyle Raynor is your favorite superhero ever you might enjoy this issue, but I didn’t care for it. It’s a pointless battle of wills between Kyle and the First Lantern, and Kyle loses at every turn. In the Alex reality, Kyle is beside himself with joy that Alex is still alive. Even though he has all of his memories and says out loud that he’s pretty sure it’s just a fake created by the First Lantern, he still acts like he really thinks Alex is alive and well. He’s a dingus. Then when the villain makes him the evil offer to choose which reality he wants to live in, Kyle goes ahead and chooses the easier, sweeter Alex life. You’re the hero, Kyle! You’re not supposed to take the devil up on his evil offer! You’re not Peter Parker!

Hulk #4

Indestructible Hulk #4
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Leinil Yu

I’m definitely still enjoying Mark Waid’s Indestructible Hulk, though we’re four issues in and it hasn’t really gone anywhere yet. Each issue has featured some Hulk smashing scenes, but Waid’s Hulk isn’t particularly talkative (unless you count ‘with his fists’). So those scenes are just smashing, though it’s often very awesome smashing. I’m a bit more interested in the Bruce Banner side of things, and in that regard, we’re only taking baby steps. I’m excited to see what Bruce Banner has in store for his new outlook on life, but sadly, this issue still just takes another baby step.

Bruce Banner is now living in one of those Nuke Towns, like from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Cyrstal Skull. He wakes up and meets his research team, ready to begin the work that will finally win him a Nobel Prize. But before they can begin, Banner is called away by Maria Hill, who wants to send the Hulk after the undersea villain Attuma. It seems Attuma has gathered to him an army of soldiers and monsters from Lumeria, so they send Hulk underwater aboard a Chinese submarine version of the Hellicarrier. Hulk is launched at the soldiers and tears them apart, until one of Attuma’s monsters starts dragging him down deep into the ocean, where even the Hulk might drown.

Comic Rating: 3/5: Alright.

I was really excited to see Bruce Banner interact with his new science team and really start building the cast. But instead, he’s whisked away to another random super-villain attack where Hulk does a lot of smashing. Even Banner comments on how inopportune Maria Hill is in taking him away. The smashing isn’t all that interesting, especially since it’s all underwater and the art can get a little confusing. Plus, Attuma is hardly an A-list villain. I don’t want to say this series is dragging its feet, but I could have used a bit more oomph in this issue.

Justice League #17

Justice League #17
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Ivan Reis and Paul Pelletier

Finally, at long last, the Justice League series feels like it matters. So it’s too bad that the team has been cut in half without Flash or Green Lantern. Where the heck did they go? I was very disappointed in both the first issue of this rebooted series and the first story arc. But overtime, Geoff Johns has managed to start making the team feel like real people. He isn’t all the way there, and the Justice League don’t feel as strongly as he probably thinks they do, but the character work is much better in this issue than it was in the beginning. So at least there’s that.

The final battle with Atlantis is upon us and Vulko orders the Trench to attack the Atlantean soldiers. The Justice League join the fray with Aquaman leading the charge. It’s time for him to step up and take responsibility for his people! Batman rallies the other heroes and Aquaman takes on his brother Orm, defeating him in single combat. Aquman declares himself king and orders the Atlanteans to join the heroes in fighting off the Trench. Then once he gets his hands on the scepter, Aquaman orders the Trench to leave, saving Boston.

In the end, Orm is locked up in a surface world prison, the battle convinces Amanda Waller to form her own Justice League of America, Batman decides its time to expand the regular Justice League and Aquaman leaves Mera to go be King of Atlantis.

Comic Rating: 5/5: Great.

I loved this issue, and I loved the entire Throne of Atlantis storyline. Along with the strong character work I mentioned above, this story had it all. The villains were fantastic and complex. The twists, while somewhat predictable, were still a lot of fun. And the heroes of the DC Universe were used to great effect. Johns has made me a lifelong fan of this Element Woman person with just one line of dialogue. So when Batman says they need to expand the League at the end, I’m legitimately excited. Not that we’ve never before seen new members of the Justice League before. But I’m going to touch on that a little more in the review of Justice League of America #1. For now, this issue was great. Aquaman kicked total ass. The battle against the Atlantean army and then the Trench was awesome. This was big, exciting comics, and I hope they can maintain this level of awesomeness for the Justice League.

JLA #1

Justice League of American #1
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: David Finch

I’m not quite sure if I’ve ever said this before, but I don’t think the DC Universe that is actually being published lines up with the DC Universe that exists in the heads of the creators, especially Geoff Johns. I think that guys like Johns are picturing this big, interconnected universe with all of the heroes and teams in their place, in perfect relation to one another. When in reality, we’re getting a bunch of random comics starring random characters that rarely have anything to do with one another, and definitely don’t line up in any meaningful way.

I also think the writers are speeding through all these big events in their superheroes’ lives way too fast. The Justice League International is already gone and now we’ve already jumped into the Justice League of America. What are they going to be doing 5 years from now? Justice League Antarctica?

So Amanda Waller has put together a new team of superheroes to work for America, and she wants Steve Trevor, former liaison to the Justice League, to be their supervisor. The issue is spent profiling the characters as Waller tries to convince Trevor to join up. There’s Hawkman, who seems insane and brutal. There’s Katana, who just seems brutal. There’s Vibe, who seems like a regular guy. Stargirl is a teen celebrity superhero. Martian Manhunter is a powerful badass. Green Lantern Simon Baz is not a convicted criminal.

Steve Trevor convinces Catwoman to join using some leverage that I think has been happening in her solo series. I was lost. Trevor also has a brief meeting with the Martian Manhunter, who is really, really badass and imposing in the DCnU. And in the end, it’s revealed that Trevor had Green Arrow going undercover to investigate the Secret Society, but now Arrow has come back with a potentially fatal wound!

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good.

It’s an interesting team, and this issue does a nice job of introducing everyone. But like I said, I think Johns has a stronger vision of the DC Universe in his head than what is actually being portrayed by the comics. I was confused on several occasions when they introduced several characters because Johns either relied on information from their solo comics (which I don’t read) or was just making stuff up for PR purposes. I have no idea what the DCnU status quo of Hawkman is, but whatever it might be, this issue makes it even more confusing.

Not to mention that the very creation of this team is based on the perceived 5-year existence of the Justice League, five years that we know very, very little about. For example, Steve Trevor’s relationship with Wonder Woman happened in those five years. We’ve never seen it, we’ve only ever been told that it happened. It’s definitely not a part of her solo series. So a large chunk of Waller convincing Trevor to join her team involves talking about this past relationship, how it’s supposed to be such a character-defining thing for him. The conversation is weakened by our lack of insight into the context, whereas I’m sure Johns knows exactly how Trevor’s relationship with Wonder Woman played out. Not to mention five whole years worth of Justice League adventures that make Waller think she needs her own team.

It happened in Justice League #17 as well. At the end of the issue, Batman says that they need to do something they’ve never done before, which is expand their ranks. He says it like it’s a big deal, but we’re not even two years into the reboot. The idea that the Justice League in this DCnU has only even been this small group of characters is still a new and barely touched upon idea. We as readers are still very familiar with the pre-reboot Justice League, which had dozens of members and got new ones all the time. This new rebooted status quo simply hasn’t been around long enough for any of these big ideas to matter as much to the readers as it clearly does to the characters and to Geoff Johns.

But all of that aside, this was a pretty good issue. It introduced everyone and laid out the concept, including a potential threat. The art was also solid, though nothing as good as what the normal Justice League series gets. I think I actually will like a series about Steve Trevor trying to whip this ragtag team of superheroes into a true fighting force…if the series is even going to be about that at all.

Nightwing #17

Nightwing #17
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Juan Jose Ryp

I said it in my review of Batman #17, but I think Nightwing came out the worst after Death of the Family. Higgins sacrificed everything he’d been building in the series to date in order to make the Joker’s plan seem especially evil. And now that the Joker is gone, Nightwing is left with nothing. Maybe that’s good for character drama, but I really, really liked what Higgins was doing with Haley’s Circus and their cast of characters. It was far more interesting than anything that happened during Death of the Family. Sadly, this issue is spent drowning in the sadness of all that destruction.

Dick Grayson feels pretty darn guilty about everything that happened, especially since Joker taunted him with the idea that Nightwing trusts in people, and people always let you down. In the aftermath of the Joker’s attack, he helps Commissioner Gordon clean up Raya’s body, and he sees to everybody from Haley’s Circus, who are thankfully going to make a full recovery. However, once they’re healed, they all swear that they’re quitting the circus and moving on. Dick buries the dead and repeatedly tells everyone that he’s OK. When he catches a group of thieves breaking into the wreckage of the Circus, he kicks their butts, but Robin has to keep him from going too far.

Robin and Nightwing have a nice heart-to-heart that seems to calm Dick down. But elsewhere, at least one of the thieves got away and is trying to sell some of the stuff he found to a guy called The Dealer. The thief is trying to sell the old trapeze costumes of the Flying Graysons!

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good.

This was a fine issue with some nice exploration of Dick Grayson’s character. I also like how it was Damian who helped him out of his funk, since Dick and Damian used to be Batman and Robin when everyone though Bruce was dead. And I loved their Dynamic Duo. So it’s cool to see them together again. The rest, like I said, is mostly depressing. I hate seeing Haley’s Circus falling apart. I hate that Raya and Jimmy were killed. Even Dick’s scenes with Sonia and Barbara Gordon are depressingly sad. It’s just a real shame.

Nova #1

Nova #1
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: Ed McGuinness

Forget everything you know about Ritchie Ryder. He’s dead. He’s gone. And Marvel has no intention of bringing him back. Even though the two characters who died alongside him, Star-Lord and Thanos, have come back just fine, Marvel are just going to ignore Ritchie Ryder. Which sucks, because I really liked him as Nova. His series was great and his role in Annihilation was amazing. But for whatever reason, Marvel has simply decided to ignore anything Ryder ever did and instead recreate Nova wholesale as the young Sam Alexander. He showed up in Avengers vs. X-Men and is co-starring in the new Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon. And now he finally gets his own comic.

Sam Alexander is a 15-year-old skater living in Carefree, Arizona. He’s got a nice little family, and his dad is the janitor of Sam’s high school. His old man is kind of a burn out, so Sam often finds himself trying to help him out on the job. Sam’s dad is also constantly telling stories of when he used to be a member of the Nova Corps. But not just any member, he was one of the ‘Black Novas’, the special ops division of the Corps. Hence the black helmet. But he gave it up to start a family. Sam is at the age where he doesn’t believe a word his dad says, taking it all for silly stories that he uses to entertain his children. Until one night when his dad disappears. Sam assumes the old drunk has run out on his family, so he goes off in search of him – only to crash his skateboard and wind up in the hospital. But who should pay him a visit but Rocket Raccoon and Gamora, who say they need to talk to him about his dad. Perhaps the old man’s stories are true after all.

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good!

I liked this issue, I really did. Loeb tells a delightful tale of a kid forced to be mature for his age to keep his family together. You can tell that Sam feels he has the weight of he world on his shoulders, but he still feels like a kid. Some of his life is a little obvious – like the school bully or the cute girl with the pink hair and piercings who Sam doesn’t realize is head-over-heels in love with him – but it’s held together nicely. And the art by McGuinness is fantastic. But that shouldn’t be a surprise. The guy’s a pro. And the cartoony quality is perfect for a series like this. The stories that Sam’s dad tells about his time with the Nova Corps also look very cool. So this series is definitely off to a good start – if you don’t mind ignoring everything you thought you knew about Nova or the Guardians of the Galaxy. Because it’s simply not true that Gamora and Rocket Raccoon were members of the Guardians 17 years ago, or that there was another human member of the Corps 17 years ago. If you can put the past behind you and embrace this new Nova, it should be good.

Red Hood #17

Red Hood and the Outlaws #17
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artists: Ardian Syaf, Robson Rocha and Ken Lashley

I honestly think this issue contains the first real scene between Bruce Wayne and Jason Todd since he came back from the dead. At least the first scene that wasn’t directly involved in the original story of his return. And I’m counting the pre-reboot stuff. When Red Hood became an anti-hero, Batman simply never messed with him. It was like nobody wanted to write the scene. Fortunately, Lobdell tackles it here, and it’s fulfilling. Though he drops the ball in a few other places.

Jason Todd is ready to leave Wayne Manor and put all of this Joker nonsense behind him, but he does want to say a few goodbyes first. He tries to say goodbye to Damian, but the kid just blows him off. So instead, Damian and Arsenal get into a sparring match, then throw the football around as a way to work out Damian’s issues. Jason has scenes with Starfire, Alfred and Nightwing, all of which are pretty good. We also get confirmation that Nightwing and Starfire had some kind of previous relationship, one that’s left Starfire feeling rather cold towards Dick, but we don’t learn what happened between them. I’m dying to find out.

Jason has a very cool scene with Batman, during which the Dark Knight says he doesn’t agree with Jason’s methods, but he can’t argue with Jason’s results. And when Jason tries to ask about how Joker teased him with his secret origin, Batman says that nobody made Jason except Jason. It’s reassuring. But sadness is still to come. When Jason goes to leave and puts his Red Hood helmet back on, he’s taunted by a Joker hologram! Joker booby-trapped the helmet, and it burns Jason’s face off!

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good.

Despite the unfortunate art problem of have three mediocre artists for one comic, this is still pretty good. Jason Todd gets a lot of meaningful scenes with almost all the members of the Bat-family, including Batman. Some of these are scenes I’ve been waiting for since he came back from the dead. And since the reboot, it would be nice to know what the heck went down between Nightwing and Starfire. But Lobdell wusses out and instead has Dick act like a total tool. Real shame. Still, the Jason scenes are pretty strong. And it’s actually disappointing when Lobdell decides to scar his handsome young face at the very end. Also, here’s hoping Lobdell never gets his hands on Damian ever again.

Superior Spider-Man #4

Superior Spider-Man #4
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Guiseppe Camuncoli

Finally, we’re past the opening chapters of Superior Spider-Man and it’s time to see Doc Ock for real. I was eager to see Slott get into normal business at hand stuff, but now that it’s here, I’m not as overly impressed as I thought I would be. Either he’s just not coming up with anything very interesting to do with Octo-Spidey, or the character is wearing out his welcome already. Still, it was an entertaining, solid issue. So at least there’s that.

Otto is doing pretty good as both Spider-Man and Peter Parker. He’s using an army of tiny spider-bots to make crime-fighting more efficient, and he’s even spending more time with Aunt May. However, the other scientists at Horizon are starting to get suspicious of Peter’s new arrogant attitude, especially when he invents a very controversial new robotic leg for Aunt May. An argument about his credentials then sends Otto back to Empire State University, because Peter never got his PhD and Otto can’t continue without a doctorate to his name – even if it’s not his name anymore.

Elsewhere, the sadistic villain known as Massacre breaks out of Ravencroft and kills Ashley Kafka. Remember her from the 90s? Slott brought her back to just kill her, apparently. So Massacre goes free, massacres some people and Spider-Man is on the case! Also, the Green Goblin returns in the final page cliffhanger.

Comic Rating: 3/5: Alright.

Finally seeing Doc Ock really get into being Spider-Man wasn’t as exciting as I thought. He’s still got a cool attitude, and he’s fun to read, but this wasn’t a particularly entertaining issue. There were a lot of nice surprises, like sending Otto back to college to get a degree, but the rest is pretty bland.  It’s also a bit too soon to have all the Horizon guys start figuring out that something is wrong with Peter. And Massacre is one of those new villains that just doesn’t particularly matter. Not to mention the fact that having him gun down an entire restaurant full of people is kind of dark for a Spider-Man comic. At least the Green Goblin promises to be an interesting villain.

Thor #5

Thor: God of Thunder #5
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Esad Ribic

Thor: God of Thunder is the best non-X-Men took in Marvel NOW! Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic hit the ground running when they took over the goldilocked hero, and they have not slowed down for a second. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, I have never cared all that much for Thor. But I know good comics when I see them, and this is damn good comics. Even Gorr is starting to overcome his drawbacks to take his place as a truly terrifying villain.

The battle between Gorr and Thor rages throughout eternity. Gorr travels back 14 billion years ago, to when the first gods were born into the world, and he steals the heart of an Elder God. In 893 A.D., Thor is still strung up in Gorr’s cave, having survived hours of torture. Thor’s viking followers come to save him, and with their help, Thor vanquishes Gorr and cuts off his arm. Gorr escaped, but he says the encounter taught him the lesson that he couldn’t fulfill all of his plans alone. In the present day, Thor and Gorr battle on the planet Chronux, until Gorr gets the better of his foe and holds him prisoner.

Gorr then uses the time gods’ portal to travel into the future. Thor breaks free and follows him, arriving in future Asgard, where he meets the elder Thor. He helps his future self repel Gorr’s army of black monsters, but the elder Thor has some bad news: Thor may have immediately followed Gorr into the time portal, but he arrived in the future 900 years after Gorr. The villain has already taken over and reshaped the future universe in his own image.

Comic Rating: 5/5: Great!

What more is there to say about this comic? It’s absolutely brilliant. Aaron is a master at work, weaving together all three timelines into a smooth, flowing tale and delivering a truly fearsome villain in Gorr. Every new issue brings new twists, and the revelation at the end of this one is very exciting. Are we going to see Thor and Old Thor take on a fully entrenched, universe-spanning Gorr? That sounds pretty awesome to me. And when Old Thor calls regular Thor a “beardless whelp”? Priceless.

Vibe #1

Vibe #1
Writers: Geoff Johns and Andrew Kreisberg
Artist: Pete Woods

Ever since I suspected Vibe of being the DC Comics character that was going to come out as gay, I’ve had a soft spot for the kid. He was a Z-list nobody back in the 80s, so I never read a comic with him in it, and I didn’t really know anything about him. I didn’t care to know. But someone at DC has decided to give him a big push in this rebooted universe, and I’m glad to be a part of it. It’s hard in comics to introduce a new hero and have them succeed, which is essentially what they’re trying here. I wish them all the best.

On the day Darkseid invaded Earth in the first Justice League story, young Francisco Ramon is caught in the event horizon of a boom tube. His older brother Armando is killed by a para-demon while trying to rescue ‘Cisco. This accident has caused Cisco’s body to fall slightly out of sync with reality, giving him vibrational powers that are connected to the energy that exists between dimensions. Five years later, Cisco is using these powers to help people, though not with a costume or a codename or anything. He’s just helping people. ARGUS already has eyes on him, and they drive up one day to recruit Cisco into the new JLA. They gain his trust by helping him kill the para-demon who killed his brother (or at least they claim it’s the same one). ARGUS also gives him the costume and codename.

In the end, Amanda Waller reveals that she has a whole prison of super-powered beings, with a spot for Vibe if he doesn’t follow orders. Waller also has Gyspsy locked up. In the old continuity, Gypsy and Vibe were teammates together on Justice League Detroit. Waller also has Darkseid’s daughter!

Comic Rarting: 4/5: Good.

Vibe looks to be off to a good start. The character seems cool, his powers are neat and the writers definitely seem to have a lot planned…though I’m pretty sure Vibe is getting an entirely new writer in only a few issues. So I don’t really know if all this stuff about Gypsy and Darkseid’s daughter is really going to be put to much use. Still, he seems like a cool character and he could be a compelling protagonist if handled correctly. Or maybe they’ll just be as generic as possible and Vibe will never stand out. It’s hard to say. But I’m willing to give him a chance.

Wonder Woman #17

Wonder Woman #17
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artists: Tony Akins and Amilcar Pinna

As big a deal as the Steve Trevor/Wonder Woman relationship seems to be in Justice League, it has not once been brought up in all 17 issues of Wonder Woman. Neither has her new relationship with Superman. So whatever it is that Geoff Johns is picturing for the DC Universe, I just don’t think Brian Azzarello cares. And I couldn’t be happier. Wonder Woman remains one of the top comics coming out of DC, with Azzarello’s unique world of gods and mortals being a real standout at the comic book shop.

Wonder Woman, Orion and Lennox know that Zola’s baby is being held by Demeter, so they need a god to help them get to her. They return home to learn that Hera and Zola have left the apartment, but finding them in the downtown bar is easy enough, thanks to Orion. Once there, Wonder Woman comes face-to-face with her former teacher, Ares, and the reunion is awkward at best. Everone argues for a bit over who can take them to Demeter until Ares volunteers to take only Diana – leading Orion to slap her on the ass for encouragement, for some reason. That kind of came out of nowhere. Anyway, Ares takes Wonder Woman to Demeter, where they are ambushed by Hermes

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good.

A lot happened in this issue, but it was mostly to move the story along. There were a lot of great character interactions as Wonder Woman’s entourage came up against a small group of gods in a bar. That’s just a fantastic sentence. Wonder Woman definitely has one of the best casts at DC Comics. Though I was a little confused when Orion slapped Wonder Woman on the butt. Where did that came from? He’s never been shown as someone who would act like that. And then it’s almost immediately ignored. Weird moment. Still, the characters were great, the story is moving along nicely, and the art was good, though not nearly as good as the regular artist.

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 23, 2013, in Avengers, Comics, DC, Marvel, Spider-Man and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Avengers was interesting. I definitely agree about the lack of focus on a team dynamic. It’s something missing from this book.

    Captain Marvel is awesome. I love this series so much. Carol’s perfect here. It’s nice to see Deathbird go after her again. And I love the people around Carol.

    Hulk is good, though I was hoping to see more of the assistants. I will say that China’s undersea Helicarrier looked really cool.

    Nova was – shockingly – good. There’s timeline issues you brought up, and some definite cliches. There was sometimes a sense of Loeb going through a checklist of things he has to include: Bully, check. Cute girl who likes him, check. Adorable younger sibling, check. Offering words of comfort to that sibling, check. But it was still a good book. Which is a bizarre thing to say about something written by Jeph Loeb.

    Spider-Man was good. Sending Spider-Ock to college is a fun twist, as long as it’s temporary. If Peter stays in college when he gets his body back, that would just be too big a step back in the status quo. Still, it’s fun for now.

    Thor is good. Solid title.

    • Loeb’s work has usually been terrible lately. But I think his job as head of television development has given him unique insight on this new Nova and what’s needed for this kind of origin. And you’re absolutely right about that checklist of things. Meh.

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