Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 4/27/13

Wanna know a surefire way to eat up an afternoon and sap your will to read and review comics? Have a root canal. Ouch. My tooth is still sore a day later. I do not recommend sitting through one of those if you can help it. Of course, I also highly recommend eating as much candy and junk food as you want. So I guess it’s a double-edged sword. Or that I’m full of bad advice. Either way, the latter half of my week was a little busy, so today’s reviews will be a little shorter than normal, as in I skipped a few books I normally would have reviewed. But I also took this time to try out Young Avengers again, because if you guys and gals have any recommendations you’d like me to try out, and I more than willing to listen.

That doesn’t mean I’ll necessarily enjoy the comic the same way that you do – as you’ll see in my Young Avengers review – but I’m still more than willing to give any comic book a try. Though I will always love my favorites. This week, FF #6 wins Comic Book of the Week for its usual mix of hilarity and awesomeness. Though I think Guardians of the Galaxy wins joke of the week.

Marvel really, really hope Rocket Raccoon will work

I’m still not liking Guardians of the Galaxy very much, but it was legitimately a little bit funny this week.

Comic Reviews: Batman Incorporated #10, FF #6, Guardians of the Galaxy #2, New Avengers #5, Talon #7, Uncanny Avengers #7, Uncanny X-Men #5 and Young Avengers #4.

Batman Inc #10

Batman Incorporated #10
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artists: Chris Burnham, Andrei Bressan and Jason Masters.

Now that the rush of dead Robin has passed, the little excitement this book had garnished has also passed. Batman Incorporated is back to being Grant Morrison’s long, drawn out story. We’ve been circling this same adventure for months now. Feels like forever. I definitely found this issue entertaining, but overall, I’m ready for Grant to put an end to this story.

All of the pieces are moving into place for the big showdown between Batman and Talia. He’s gathering allies and weapons, including Azrael. Batman even pays a visit to Kirk Langstrom. Talia visits her father, but he just mocks her and predicts Batman will win. She also has an encounter with her henchman, the Heretic, where she reveals that she has him on a short leash. Meanwhile, Batman’s allies are busy too. Nightwing and Red Robin find out about the big showdown, while Knight and Ranger locate Jason Todd, who is being held prisoner by a group of potential allies…though we don’t find out who they are just yet. In the end, Batman injects himself with Man-Bat serum, straps himself into a warrior exoskeleton built by Lucius Fox, and goes after Talia with the fury of some kind of Robo-Bat-Beast!

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good.

There are a lot of pieces in play in this story, and most of them are entertaining, but overall, they don’t feel like they’re going anywhere. What the heck is Morrison’s end game? At the very least, this was a fun issue. Nightwing, Red Robin and Knight are very cool, though I’m definitely disappointed that Morrison didn’t reveal Jason’s kidnappers this issue. That kind of cut away for no good reason. The scene with Ras al Ghul didn’t feel like it went anywhere, nor did the scene between Talia and Heretic. Talia doesn’t have anything more to do in this comic, I’m afraid, so she’s left just standing around killing time before Batman shows up. Fortunately, the Batman stuff is awesome. Mech-suit and Man-Bat formula? Hells yeah!

FF #6

Writer: Matt Fraction
Artists: Joe Quinones and Laura Allred

Oh no! What happened to Mike Allred? The art in FF is one of its biggest draws, but now there’s a fill-in artist? This would normally be cause for alarm, but no worry, Quinones is more than up to the task of filling in for Allred. And Laura Allred is still around to provide colors. And the story is fantastic. Fraction continues some of the larger story, but once again, it’s the small things that absolutely rule.

While the FF start to figure out that Medusa and Bently are missing, Darla comes under attack from the Yancy Street Gang. They managed to hack her smartphone and sell some embarrassing pictures of her trying on different masks. Then when she has a show in the city, they hack the ticket sales so that they buy all the seats, then put on Thing masks and stat pelting her with fruit and vegetables. Poor Darla. Ant-Man gets the better of them, however, because he used Darla’s show as bait and then shrank down to tag along after the leaders of the Yancy Street Gangs, gathering information on their real names and lives. Then Scott sold that information to rival hacktivists and anyone else the Yancy Street Gang have annoyed, so that smooths things over with Darla.

In the end, just as the plot with Medua thickens, the entire Future Foundation building is transported into the Negative Zone!

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good!

We may not have found out what happened to Medusa and Bentley, but I don’t mind. Everything else is too much fun. Scott saving Darla from the Yance Street Gang is a blast, and downright adorable if Fraction is moving the two of them into relationship territory. I fully support that move. I think they’d make a cute couple and a strong central focus for the series. The rest of the comic is just as good. There’s a scene where one of the Moloids comes out as female, and it’s great. And the issue also gives us a giant map of the Future Foundation building, like the classic Baxter Building pictures of old! It’s brilliant!

Guardians of the Galaxy #2

Guardians of the Galaxy #2
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Steve McNiven and Sara Pichelli

Like I said before, I’m willing to give any comic book a try, and since Marvel is pushing Guardians of the Galaxy, I figured I’d give it another few issues. I doubt we’ll ever know why Marvel decided to follow up the huge success of The Avengers movie with one about the Guardians of the Galaxy. It seems like such a foreign concept to me to try to sell to mass audiences. But the Marvel movie-making machine has yet to let me down, so I say more power to them and their kooky ideas!

The Badoon attack London, and the Guardians of the Galaxy respond in kind. With the right combination of banter and explosions, they manage to destroy all of the ships and emerge relatively unscathed. Meanwhile, we see a flashback to several weeks ago, when Star-Lord’s father met with the leaders of half a dozen different alien races, both good and bad, to discuss the Earth. He’s worried about all of the superheroes on Earth and how they might treat the galaxy whenever humans develop inter-space travel. Not to mention all the times Galactus, Thanos, the Phoenix Force and others have visited Earth to odd result. The king wants to deal with the Earth now while they still have a chance, but the Asgardian All-Mother forbids it. So the king hints that the Badoon should attack.

In the end, once the Guardians have defeated the Badoon, the Spratax security forces show up to arrest the Guardians. They are in violation of the king’s edict that no one should visit the Earth, after all.

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good.

I gave this issue a higher rating than I did the last one, but only because I think it was a little better written. The jokes were funnier, I’ll give it that. The overall story and the characters have yet to really grab me. This still feels like the Guardians squeezed through a PR machine, a comic that exists solely to help build hype for the upcoming movie. Until Bendis can somehow get rid of that feeling, and turn the Guardians into real characters with real relationships and interesting stories, I just don’t think this new Guardians of the Galaxy is for me. There’s potential, but I just don’t like it yet. Still, it’s an entertaining comic.

New Avengers #5

New Avengers #5
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Steve Epting

I skipped Hickman’s regular Avengers this week, but don’t worry, we didn’t miss much. Something about a new version of Alpha Flight struggling against one of Hickman’s big, crazy jungle spore thingys. I’ll pick back up with that comic next time. But I definitely didn’t want to skip the latest issue of New Avengers, which has quickly proven to be the better of the two Hickman comics. Unfortunately, this issue is just used for getting out some necessary (maybe) exposition, so it’s a bit of a let down.

On the other Earth, the Illuminati manage to defeat Terrax by having Blackbolt shout at him. Then they take him back to their own Earth, leaving Galactus to destroy the one they were on, saving their own Earth from the Incursion. Now it’s time to interrogate Black Swan to get more information about the Incursions. She tells them her origin story, which is fairly complex and filled with more of Hickman’s big ideas that only he really understands. Suffice to say, she knows a lot about the Incursions, such as the fact that the next one is going to be starting any minute now. The Illuminati rush to their computers and find out that it’s going to occur over Latveria.

Comic Rating: 3/5: Alright.

The best part about this issue was the final page. The idea that Doctor Doom is going to be thrown into this mess fills me with wicked glee. Doom would be perfect to join this lot. But the rest of the issue wasn’t all that entertaining. Much like Avengers, Hickman has fully embraced these big, strange, far out ideas he has about the making of the universe and everything else. And I’m sure they’re awesome ideas in his head, but I don’t think he is being all that clear about these ideas for the rest of us. Black Swan tells her story to the Illuminati, but I don’t care about any of it, and I barely understand how it ties into the Incursions or anything else that’s happening. She seems to be a fascinating enough character, but her backstory is just more incomprehensible Hickman stuff, and that makes for a pointless comic. I much prefer this title when it focuses on the Illuminati, and adding Doom to that mix should prove to be amazing.

Talon #7

Talon #7
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Guillem March

Wow, Talon is off the chain! I’ve been complaining all along about how this book is moving at an unheard of pace, and it only gets worse with this issue! Talon has no status quo. Every issue brings new, comic-altering changes, and it’s just so weird to read! I’m used to comics sticking with some kind of status quo for at least a few stories. The big twists and changes that we’ve seen in only the first eight issues of Talon are usually spread out over dozens of issues in other comics. I’m having a hard time believing it…and a hard time really connecting with the story as much as I could be.

Talon is in the clutches of the Court of Owls, but with the help of the young Talon he met last issue, he breaks free and wipes the Court hard drive. The Court leader escapes, but Talon latches onto his escape pod and rides it back into the city. Meanwhile, Sebastian finds Casey and takes her hostage. He comes clean about his membership in the Court. He was the one who recruited Calvin to be a Talon in the first place, and was obsessed with tracking him down when Calvin went rogue. Sebastian sold out his own father and became Grandmaster of the Court of Owls. And indeed, he’s been using Calvin these past few months to conduct business for himself, rather than against the Court. Casey is able to hoodwink Sebastian and make her escape.

Calvin rushes back home to try and save Casey, but he’s interrupted by Batman! Wow, that confrontation came up way sooner than I expected. Calvin tells Batman to let him go so that he can save his loved ones, but Batman doesn’t care and throws some cuffs on Calvin – which our hero promptly escapes from and gets back home. He’s ambushed by Sebastian and his partner Bane, who promptly breaks Calvin’s neck. Seriously!?

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good!

Is Calvin really dead? That’s a total bummer. The teaser for the next issue reads Talon: R.I.P.? So it might be true. That probably means he’s going to be brought back to life as a traditional Talon, and that just sounds bogus. I don’t want to read about Calvin Rose as some kind of immortal zombie. That’s just icky. Especially since we haven’t even reached 10 issues of him as a normal, flesh and blood person. Talon is a fun comic. The lead character is a cool guy. But this series is just out of control. In short order, Calvin met Sebastian, who revealed all of the secrets of the Court. He reunited with his lost girlfriend, and quickly gained and lost a whole supporting cast of fellow heroes, and now he finds out his mentor is a bad guy, and he’s murdered. All of this stuff is happening too quickly! But as I’ve said before, that’s probably because Talon is always in danger of being cancelled. Still, it was an entertaining issue, just with a depressing cliffhanger.

Uncanny Avengers #7

Uncanny Avengers #7
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Daniel Acuna

Based on this issue, Uncanny Avengers is doing exactly what I want my comic books to do. The last issue may have been a somewhat incomprehensible trip through time, but the bulk of this issue is about the Uncanny Avengers sitting down and interacting with one another like real people. That’s what I want in my comics, especially my team books. They’re not yet at the level of, say, the Secret Six, but it’s a very good start. So finally, at long last, I think Uncanny Avengers is in a good position going forward…but there are definitely still problems.

High up in a cosmic space station, Genocide, the teenage son of Apocalypse, prepares to declare himself before the Celestials  as the ‘Heir of Apocalypse’. But he’s interrupted by the fully grown Apocalypse Twins, who use Thor’s ancient ax, Jarnbjorn, to murder the Celestial. Damn, that’s a pretty big deal. Down on Earth, the Avengers are getting used to living and working together. They argue about whether or not Rogue should sit out the next few months as a PR save after killing Grim Reaper two issues ago. Simon and Wanda share a moment, and almost a kiss. Havok and Wasp also share a moment, and almost a roll in the hay. But then Captain America and Sunfire report from the SWORD space station; it seems the Celestials are coming for war, and they smash through the SWORD station without a second thought. Pieces of the station start falling towards Brazil, and Thor responds to help save the day.

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good.

I think the biggest problem facing Uncanny Avengers is that it exists on the same publishing schedule as Avengers, New Avengers, All-New X-Men, Uncanny X-Men and Wolverine and the X-Men. There are so many other books about the Avengers and the X-Men, some of them much better books, that the whole concept behind Uncanny Avengers gets buried and overshadowed. If this was the only comic dealing with the Avengers or the human/mutant race war, this would be a much stronger book. As it stands, I still think Uncanny Avengers is the red-headed step child of the Marvel output.

But this was a good issue. I was finally able to make sense of everything that happened last issue, and the Apocalypse Twins promise to be strong villains. They killed a Celestial, for crying out loud. And the stuff at the Mansion was mostly great. I enjoyed Simon and Wanda’s scene, and the potential it has going forward. I also liked the idea of Wasp hitting on Havok. That’s a character pairing I never thought we’d see. Though the idea that Wanda has turned the X-Men into a popular teenage fashion line is a little weird. I think she might be the person creating all those ‘Cyclops was Right’ T-shirts. Anyway, I really enjoyed the personal feeling of all the characters interacting and chatting. The only hiccup from that was the odd characterization of Rogue. I’ll admit that I haven’t been the biggest Rogue follower over the years, but when did she turn into such an angry bitch? She’s been positioned as the bitter, anger-filled meanie on the team, and it’s just weird seeing Rogue act like that. Not to mention the fact that everybody keeps bringing up how she was once on the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Rogue joined the X-Men all the way back in 1983, the year I was born. So why the hell is that past membership still being held over her like this?

Although I suppose the media would love something like that. If a woman was politician and somebody found out she’d once starred in some kind of porno 30+ years ago when she was young and broke, it would be national news and she’d be forced to resign. So while it’s kind of weird to see that thrown back in Rogue’s face so much, it makes sense that the media wouldn’t let her live it down.

Uncanny X-Men #5

Uncanny X-Men #5
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Frazer Irving

After four issues, it looks like Uncanny X-Men is about to get down to its own business. It’s been very closely tied to All-New X-Men and a little bit of the Avengers since issue #1, but now it seems that Bendis is ready to move on. I like the sound of that. Uncanny X-Men and All-New X-Men are definitely sister titles, but it’s a good idea to let them stretch their legs on their own a bit. Not every issue has to deal with the conflict between the two X-Men. And hopefully this new story about Magik and Limbo will give us a chance to see Cyclops’ new team stand on their own two feet. The best way to build this group up into a legitimate team is to treat them like any other superhero team. So I’m definitely excited, even if I’ve never cared even tiniest bit for Magik in the past.

Just as we saw law issue, Magik is having some problems with her Limbo powers, so Scott goes to talk with her. Magik reveals that she was dragged into Limbo by Dormammu, who is making a play for the throne now that Magik’s powers are screwed up thanks to her connection with the Phoenix. But Dormammu brought out the Darkchylde, and she kicked his butt. Still, Magik’s powers are wonky, and it’s scaring her, so Cyclops suggests they go pay a visit to Dr. Strange – and hope that he isn’t going to hold a grudge about this whole Avengers vs. X-Men thing. Elsewhere, the rest of the cast are getting to know one another. Young Angel has a neat chat with Magneto, while Triage learns why it’s not a good idea to think dirty thoughts about the Stepford Cuckoos. And it looks like Eva might be developing a crush on Cyclops, much to Emma’s displeasure.

In the end, some evil force hijacks Magik’s powers and teleports the whole team to Limbo!

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good!

Like I said, I don’t particularly care about Magik. Never have, probably never will. She’s just not a character I ever really liked. So seeing the Uncanny X-Men transported to Limbo to deal with her problems does not entice me. However, seeing the Uncanny X-Men do anything on their own, with no connection to All-New X-Men, is delightful.  I hope they get a lot of adventures on their own. Beyond that, this issue features another dose of character-building goodness. The X-Men just get better, and I actually really enjoyed the chat between Magneto and Young Angel. It was fascinating.

Young Avengers #4

Young Avengers #4
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Jamie McKelvie

The main draw in comics, for me, are the characters. Some people follow certain writers, some follow artists, but I follow characters. If one of my favorite characters shows up in a comic, I’ll pick it up just to see what happens. But if  a new comic launches that doesn’t use one of my favorites, my interest in it is very low. I gave the first two issues of Young Avengers a chance because, with this blog, I’m more open to trying new comics. But I didn’t think it was for me, and I definitely didn’t care about any of the characters. I’m giving it another shot because you fans asked for it…but it’s still just not clicking for me. Though that’s not to say it’s a bad series.

Hulkling, Wiccan, Miss America and Kid Loki have been captured by Mother and her parent constructs. It seems she has the power to either control parents or resurrect dead parents and control them. Weird. Anyway, Noh-Varr and Kate Bishop save the day with a very awesome splash page that shows off each numbered step that Noh-varr takes to defeat the bad guys. The Young Avengers flee in Noh-Varr’s ship to Central Park, where they make a stand against their various parent constructs. While they do battle, Kid Loki thinks of a plan, and it requires Wiccan to loan his powers to Kid Loki for 10 minutes. Wiccan agrees, but the instant that Kid Loki gets that power, he teleports away, abandoning the Young Avengers to fight an army of mind-controlled parents!

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good!

This is a fun comic. The dialogue is good, the jokes are witty and the characters are entertaining. The idea that this evil villain is controlling their parents is a weirdly specific, but I’m willing to let that fly. The problem is – and this is only a problem for me – I don’t care about the characters. I can’t help it. I was never big into the original Young Avengers, so I just have no connection to Hulkling or Wiccan. Noh-Varr has always been a weird character, and I never read the Journey into Mystery stories that featured Kid Loki. I’m loving Kate Bishop in Hawkeye, but this doesn’t feel like the same character. This is a good comic, it’s well drawn and well written, but on a purely personal level, I just don’t think it’s for me. Though I may pick up the issue that stars Speed and Prodigy. I like the two of them.

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 April 27, 2013, in Avengers, Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. FF was characteristically great. A lot of fun. But with some good characterization and developments, too.

    GotG was good, I thought. The bashing of Captain Britain felt wildly out of place (especially since it can only hurt the odds of getting another Excalibur – come on, Marvel, we deserve Excalibur!). It was fun and interesting.

    NA is well-written, but remains too cynical for my taste.

    UA remains mediocre. Rogue continues to be presented as a petulant child. And Wasp jumping to Wanda’s defence by calling her a “real Avenger” flat-out angered me. Wanda’s a “real Avenger” who killed Hawkeye, Scott Lang and the Vision. A “real Avenger” who nearly eliminated the mutant race. A “real Avenger” who actively sought out a power she didn’t understand with the help of Doom, a madman who routinely attempts to conquer the world. Why is Rogue the only one in this book who expresses any problem with Wanda’s presence? Bah. I do like Wasp designing a fashion line, because that’s a good idea. As far as the Alex/Janet pairing goes, we’ll see, but honestly, Remender has never particularly impressed me with his romantic plots. Psylocke and Fantomex in UXF, Venom and Valkyrie in SA – he just cannot bring any chemistry to a couple.

    UXM was great. It humanized Illyana to a great degree. And is just a really cool, interesting concept.

    YA was amazing. The characters are all great. I never read the original Young Avengers, either, but Wiccan and Hulkling are one of the top comic book couples (and holy crap, Loki’s comments to Hulkling were crazy), Kate Bishop is always awesome, Gillen is writing an awesome Noh-Varr, Miss America is awesome, and Kid Loki is flat-out one of the best characters ever, and you are wrong for not having read Gillen’s JiM, because it was just an implausibly good series. And if YA is anything like JiM was, I’m going to cry a lot, because Gillen is master of the feels.

    • I think they consider Wanda a ‘real Avenger’ because she spent decades as a solid, trusthworthy member of the team. All the stuff you just said was stuff that happened to her just in the past 10 years or so, after her character was sacrificed for Bendis Drama. So clearly Janet is thinking back to the good times.

      And you’re right about Remender and romantic couples. I never liked Fantomex and Psylocke…but that was probably because I hate Fantomex and love Archangel, so I didn’t want to see Archangel’s girl fall for the douchebag. But I liked the idea of Valkyrie and Flash Thompson, that was neat…though, admittedly, I didn’t read much of them together.

      I completely agree on the Captain Britain comic. What was up with that? Just came off as Tony Stark being a little bitch. Captain Britain has saved the Multiverse on multiple occasions, not to mention the world. He could easily lend a hand with random space aliens.

  2. Every sequence involving the Moloids made me laugh this week in FF.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: