Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 5/4/13

May the Fourth be with you, everyone! And not only that, but it’s Free Comic Book Day! And I saw Iron Man 3 yesterday afternoon! What a fantastically nerdy weekend! Sometimes I have to pinch myself to truly appreciate how geeky the world has become. Just think about it: the Iron Man threequel is expected to break box office records. The world loves superhero movies! Back when I was growing up, to even hope for quality superhero movies was a fool’s dream. Now the movies are awesome, and the comics are awesome. These are good days.

This week’s load of comics is a mix of good issues. Not a stinker in the bunch. There are some duds, like the latest issue of Age of Ultron, but that whole series has been a dud so far. I’m much more excited by comics like Hawkeye, Aquaman and All-New X-Men, which I’ve awarded Comic Book of the Week this week. Not for any particular reason, it’s just that out of all the very good comics this week, I decided I liked X-Men the best.

Plus I’m a sucker for adorable hugs. Though maybe I should have given the award to the new issue of Superior Spider-Man, which makes a pretty momentous change – except that the change isn’t nearly the big deal that some fans are making it out to be. It’s more ho-hum, as far as I’m concerned.

Comic Reviews: Age of Ultron #7, All-New X-Men #11, Aquaman #19, Hawkeye #10, Indestructible Hulk #7, and Superior Spider-Man #9.

Age of Ultron #7

Age of Ultron #7
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Brandon Peterson and Carlos Pacheco

Recently, friend-of-the-site Xavier asked for my opinion on the upcoming Marvel event Infinity. And ever since, I’ve been trying to think of the best way to answer that question…but I can’t do it, because I have absolutely no opinion on Infinity whatsoever. I think it’s some kind of attempt to mix Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers stories with Thanos, who is getting a big push due to his involvement in upcoming Marvel movies. But Marvel doesn’t seem to be making much of an attempt to hype or advertise Infinity, and I think that’s the same problem I’m facing with Age of Ultron. After the massive, media-friendly Avengers vs. X-Men last year, Marvel seem to be taking it easy when it comes to their Big Event comics. Age of Ultron barely exists. Infinity feels like it barely exists. Whereas the fallout from Avengers vs. X-Men continues to define the Marvel Universe.

As such, Age of Ultron is just a quaint, almost pointless, little stroll through some of Bendis’ big, weird ideas.

After killing Hank Pym in the past, Wolverine and the Invisible Woman return to their present to find a very changed world. Ultron is no longer in control, but it’s still a very different world from the regular Marvel Universe. For one thing, the Kree/Skrull War was fought on Earth, and now all of Earth’s superheroes are paranoid of Skrulls. Wolverine and Sue head to New York, where they are confronted by this world’s Defenders, who are the characters on the cover. Rather than explain themselves, they get into a big fight and are eventually knocked out and defeated. The Defenders aren’t sure what to do with them, which is when this world’s Tony Stark arrives, and he appears to be some kind of evil, technological dictator with a whole army of Iron Men robots at his command.

Comic Rating: 3/5: Alright.

This issue has nothing going for it. This is basically just a romp in a relatively uninteresting alternate reality. Those things are a dime a dozen at Marvel Comics, and there’s nothing about this alternate reality that’s all that compelling. Sue and Wolverine barely react to having murdered Hank Pym. And none of the other characters we’ve been following in Age of Ultron so far make an appearance. I complained about this last issue, but it bears repeating: Wolverine and the Invisible Woman did not exist in this series until Bendis randomly picked them to appear in the previous issue. And now the entire story rests on their shoulders, because the characters we did spend time with – Spider-Man, Red Hulk, Moon Knight, Black Widow – are simply gone. It’s such a weird storytelling choice. Age of Ultron isn’t bad, it’s just dull.

All-New X-Men #11

All-New X-Men #11
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Stuart Immonen

Hey guys, did you know that Angel defected to join Cyclops’ team? Well you should, because there have been two issues of Uncanny X-Men published since the last issue of All-New X-Men, and both of those issues pretty blatantly revealed Warren as the defector. So this week’s issue of All-New X-Men is a weird lesson in shipping schedules, because most of this issue is about the shock/twist of Angel switching sides. It’s an important moment, and if you’re only reading All-New X-Men, then I suppose this issue is for you, but it’s still weird to jump around in time like this.

So Young Angel has decided to defect to the Uncanny X-Men, and it’s a pretty big deal to everyone gathered on the lawn of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. They bicker, they argue, and they almost come to blows, but then Jean Grey just lashes out with her powers to make Warren return to the school. Nobody thinks that’s cool on either side, so the Stepford Cuckoos fire back, invading Jean’s mind to teach her a lesson. Eventually the two teams part ways and the Uncanny X-Men take Warren with them. Later, Kitty and Jean have a heart-to-heart to settle the matter.

Meanwhile, Mystique and her Brotherhood sneak into/attack Tony Stark’s Resilient company and gain access to his bank accounts for some good old-fashioned thievery. They do it while posing as Wolverine and the Young X-Men again. So even later, Havok and the Uncanny Avengers show up at the Jean Grey School looking to arrest our heroes!

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good!

Since I’m loving this comic for its philosophical debating, I loved the time Bendis took to let his characters react to Young Warren switching sides. I loved the way everybody from All-New X-Men was freaking out, I loved the way Warren explained himself, I loved the way Cyclops’ team was cool about the whole thing, and I love what this does for both series going forward. These are two very good X-Men comics, and Bendis is really taking us for quite the ride. Bendis easily telegraphed Warren’s switch, so it’s not too shocking, and the mostly level-headed way he’s written the Uncanny X-Men makes the switch seem like a legitimate choice. This isn’t Warren turning evil and joining the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Though I keep rolling my eyes every time someone like Kitty Pryde writes off the Uncanny X-Men as psychopaths. You’re the reason nothing is going to get settled, Kitty!

So yeah, this is another spectacular issue of Bendis’ ongoing drama, as long as you’re as big a fan of everybody standing around shouting at each other as I am. I also like the mean streak that Bendis is giving to Jean Grey, and her hug with Kitty Pryde was pretty adorable. But one thing bugged me about Immonen’s art. While mostly his art is a dream come true for any comic book fan, I’m a little weirded out by how he draws Cyclops’ face mask. Immonen draws it as if the big red ‘X’ on Cyclops’ mask is cloth, whereas all this time I thought it was a visor.

If it’s cloth, how does he use his powers? Does he just blast through the cloth every time? But then if it’s a visor, how does he open it in order to shoot his optic blasts? There’s a real brain-scratcher for you.

Aquaman #19

Aquaman #19
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Paul Pelletier

I recently declared Aquaman to be my favorite DC comic these days, and while I stand by that statement, it still feels weird. I read so many DC comics, but I’ve realized I’m reading most of them out of habit instead of genuine pleasure. What’s wrong with me? Either way, Aquaman continues to be an entertaining book. Nothing too spectacular happens in this issue. Instead, Johns just pretty much moves his story along, setting us up for whatever exciting adventures come next.

In their efforts to save Ocean Master (who is facing criminal trial on the surface world), Murk and Tula meet with the mysterious and crafty Swatt, an Atlantean who can’t breath water and must wear a breathing mask. He’s also an expert on the surface world and collects a lot of artifacts. Swatt doesn’t necessarily agree to help them before Tula is pulled away to help Aquaman and some soldiers track the Scavenger, who is collecting Atlantean weaponry. When they track down one of his subs, they find that the Scavenger killed one of their scouts and left one alive, but with some kind of surgical scar on his abdomen.

Meanwhile, Mera escapes from the Ice King and flees to her old kingdom under the sea. I’m not sure where it is, but it’s a place filled with old sunken ships. She’s greeted by a regal looking man who claims she is his wife and wants to know where she’s been.

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good!

I skipped a scene in the synopsis about a giant, monstrous squid creature called Topo whom Aquaman communicates with at the start of the comic. It’s a very cool moment, showing us just how awe-inspiring Aquaman’s status can be, but nothing came of the meeting with Topo, so I’m not yet sure what it accomplishes. Hopefully Topo will show up again to kick some ass later. For now, like I said, this is just an entertaining scene-setting comic. Aquaman is cool, Mera has some awesome moments, and Murk continues to set himself up as a strong antagonist. This guy Swatt seems especially interesting. Aquaman continues to be a strong book.

Hawkeye #10

Hawkeye #10
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Francesco Francavilla

Based on this issue, it looks like Fraction is ready to finally hit Hawkeye with some serious business. His romantic life has come into focus, and now we finally have a villain unique to this series, one who is deadly serious and not just used for comedic effect. Fortunately for all of us, Fraction writes serious Hawkeye almost as well as he writes funny Hawkeye, so it’s another good issue. And the villain has a chance to be pretty cool.

In this issue, we see flashbacks to the origin story of the assassin who killed Grills last issue, intercut with his attempts to seduce Kate Bishop at a fancy party. The man is Russian, or close enough, and his name is Kazi. He grew up in a war zone and saw a lot of horror as a kid, growing up with a best friend/sibling. They were from a circus family, and after their family was killed and their circus burned, they joined a group of rebels and performed for them for entertainment – until his friend/sibling was killed. Then Kazi became a contract killer, and was eventually hired by the Russian tracksuit mobsters to kill Hawkeye. At the party, he seduces Kate, gets a kiss, and then follows her back to Clint Barton’s apartment.

Kate finds Clint inside, still reeling from the events of the past few issues. Clint’s doing some target practice, but he can’t hit the bullseye, so Kate steps up and hits it for him. But Clint snaps at her and Kate storms out. Then we go to the scene with Grills from the end of last issue, where he told Clint to write his lady love a letter, and it’s implied that Clint might actually have feelings for Kate! Of course, as we know from last issue, Clint steps away and Kazi kills Grills, but at least now we know the meaning of his line, “I came from Hell”, because of his rough life.

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good!

The twist at the end that Clint’s feelings are for Kate and not Spider-Woman is a pretty cool twist. Kate and Clint have been an absolutely fantastic team in this series, and the idea of the two of them hooking up has that classic will they/won’t they chemistry that has propelled so many great TV shows to superstardom. The relationship feels natural, it feels forbidden, and it feels like the kind of thing that Fraction can milk for as long as he needs to tell a great story. I’m definitely in favor of Clint and Kate hooking up. And the new villain, Kazi, seems pretty cool. He definitely fits the grounded style of this comic. I like the sad clown makeup, it works well for a contract killer. There were parts of the origin story that were hard to understand and follow, but I think I’ve got a pretty good hang on Kazi’s origin. Too bad he had to kill Grills, though. Grills was just starting to grow on me.

Hulk #7

Indestructible Hulk #7
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Walter Simonson

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not reading Mark Waid’s Daredevil series. Clearly, I am an idiot. But I’m hoping to catch up on tpbs. It’s been a long time since I bought a tpb, and I think Daredevil would be the perfect opportunity. Indestructible Hulk is my penance for not reading Daredevil, and I definitely have to say that I’m enjoying Waid’s Hulk. Not as much as I wish I was, though. I can’t put my finger on it, but something about Indestructible Hulk just doesn’t clink with me all the way. It’s a fun series, using both Banner and Hulk to great effect, but it’s also…I dunno, a little lightweight, maybe? A little silly at times? Whatever it is, I’m only liking Indestructible Hulk, not loving it.

Last issue, it appeared that Hulk picked up Thor’s enchanted hammer. Turns out Thor was just calling Mjolnir back to him, and Hulk happened to pick it up at the exact same time. So sorry, Hulk isn’t really worthy. Neat fake out, though. So Hulk and Thor continue to battle the frost giants, with Banner’s research team caught in the middle. One of them, Randall, gets captured, and a frost giant shapeshifts to look like him in order to infiltrate the group. Back home, Melinda and Maria Hill have to fight off a frost giant’s attempt to reach back through the portal, eventually severing the connection. It’s going to take awhile to get it back up. So Banner and his team make camp for the night, unaware that the frost giants plan to use their portal to sneak to Earth. In the end, during a chat with Patricia, she reveals her big secret: she’s terminally ill, and she signed up for this gig to commit Suicide By Hulk!

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good!

This is good, clean, Hulk fun. He’s big, green and smashy, with the issue providing both Hulk heroics and Banner character-building. What more could you ask for, honestly? Thor is delightful, Hulk is cool, and his science team are proving to be interesting characters in their own right. I especially enjoyed the interactions between Melinda and Maria Hill back at the SHIELD base. Indestructible Hulk is a solid, entertaining Hulk comic. Maybe if I were a bit more of a Hulk fan or something I would be enjoying the series even more. As it stands now, though, I’m still just really liking it.

Spider-Man #9

Superior Spider-Man #9
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Ryan Stegman

Anyone getting mad at the ending of Superior Spider-Man #9 is a fool. This is comic books, and all comic books (mostly) are cyclical. No matter what Dan Slott and Marvel may say, Peter Parker will be back. Most likely in time for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 on the big screen next year. I knew it at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #700, and I know it now. So everybody needs to just relax, sit back and enjoy this strange ride that Mr. Slott has in store for us.

Having last issue discovered Ghost Peter, Otto Octavius hooks himself into his science helmet for a battle for Peter Parker’s mind. The two face off on the mental plane, with Ghost Peter calling on the memories of his friends and loved ones to help him out, and Otto calling on all the memories of Spider-Man’s enemies. In the end, it comes down to the Amazing Spider-Man vs. the Superior Spider-Man – and Otto wins. He gets Ghost Peter to admit that he acted selfishly last issue to try and stop Otto from getting his hands on the science helmet, a selfishness that could have cost a young girl her life. Otto defeats Ghost Peter and erases all of Peter Parker’s memories. He’s free!

Comic Rating: 4/5: Good.

Like I said, this is not the end of Peter Parker. He’ll be back, some way, some how. So as a fan of Peter Parker, I am not at all bothered by Otto winning in the end. The story of the Superior Spider-Man is far from over. Give it another year, give it two, and Peter will be back. For now, I am more than ready to read the insane adventures of Otto Octavius. This issue was fine, though it’s pretty much a repeat of Amazing Spider-Man #700, and that’s my real problem with it. We’re only nine issues into Superior Spider-Man, and Ghost Peter has done nothing of note. Which means he was only put into the series as one last sliver of hope to Peter fans that he would be coming back soon. So this issue is just an exercise in crushing the last sliver of hope of Peter fans. I don’t enjoy when comic book writers purposefully try to piss off their fans and watch them squirm. Slott simply never should have added Ghost Peter to the book if he was going to get rid of him so quickly.

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 May 4, 2013, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man, X-Men and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. AU was cool. A fun issue. I would’ve liked a little more characterization. Hopefully, we’ll get some character focus next issue.

    ANXM was great, as always. Great debate. And I loved Angel’s parting line about being the only one who likes who Scott grows up to be.

    Hawkeye was cool. I’m always up for some Kate Bishop. Still bummed about Grills, though.

    Hulk was fun. I’m glad that Hulk wasn’t actually able to lift Mjolnir. But it made for a fun scene.

    Superior Spider-Man was neat. Interesting development.

    • I’m usually pretty chill about stuff that happens in comics, but even I was a little iffy about Hulk lifting Mjolnir. But then I’m kind of a stickler who thinks only Thor and Beta Ray Bill are worthy.

  2. Before my grand conspiracy theory, so far there has been an element left dangling as a potential plot point that even the characters mentioned: who crashed the old quinjet in the Savage Land? Wolverine is asked about it, and he doesn’t mention Cage or Moon Knight or Black Widow. They even show it again at the start of issue 5. Foreshadowing?

    I know I am reading too much into it, but I don’t think we’re finished seeing Nick Fury’s influence in Age of Ultron. Nick Fury has been a key to most of the major events in the series. A part of me wants to say that Old Nick Fury has been either working with or feeding tech and info to Young Nick Fury in order to prep him and the Marvel Universe for the various “Big Events” that Nick suddenly shows up in the middle of to save the day or turn the tide. Fury has always been the man with the plan. I wouldn’t be too surprised if his plans are meant to prevent or address potential major disasters in the timeline.

    If so, then it changes what seemed like a strange smart-ass comment of “build a new species of superhuman, and in about 22 years we go get the robot.” He said the Savage Land bunker was built after the Skrull invasion. I thought, at first, he meant from the event a couple years ago. However, YNF shows up in the past at the Savage Land bunker with his flying car, which is the way that they get back to New York to kill Hank. Wolverine says Fury is long gone when they return to the time machine. YNF leaves the Savage Land without his flying car…or did he? If he left without the car, then he already had a backup transportation mode ready. But what if he didn’t leave and instead used the time machine himself for the next stage of the plan?

    Additionally, The time machine only moves the items on the deck, not the bunker itself. In the “1966” bunker there is a trophy case. In the case are the Ultimate Nullifier and what looks like the cosmic cube along with other artifacts of power.. Either the artist Paul Mounts wanted it to look interesting, or they’ve set up that Nick Fury has already been time travelling to acquire all these items. The first appearance of the cosmic cube in the comics isn’t until a couple months after Avengers 41/42 which is when they kill Hank. The Ultimate Nullifier appeared in the comics in 1965. In terms of continuity, that isn’t very long. How would Nick Fury have them, if they are the contemporary versions? Simple answer has to be that they are versions from the future that he has already brought to the past. YNF wouldn’t have been able to build the bunker in the 1960s and collect all the materials that appear to exist in the 1966 bunker without time travel and/or help from ONF.

    Nick Fury doesn’t do coincidences. The heroes who show up have their gear available for them. Nick Fury brings the only method of travel to the Savage Land in the past, allowing for events to unfold. Nick Fury has created a series of bases that are not recorded anywhere, therefore hidden from any records that Ultron or Vision could access. Nick Fury says to attack in 22 years. The last we see of Nick Fury in the future, he is still alive.

    Nick Fury already knows how it all ends.

    Then again, it’s just as likely to be Squirrel Girl who saves the world, base on how the story is playing out so far.

    • Wow, that’s a pretty well thought out theory, kudos. I’m not entirely sure what it’s all building towards, but rock on, man, that’s a lot of good thinking. I didn’t even notice the cube or the nullifier in the old base, and I assumed Luke crashed the Quinjet to explain how he got to the Savage Land. But maybe you’re on to something…Bendis did use Fury in a big ‘save the day’ role in Secret Invasion…though personally, I hated his Secret Warriors twist. I thought that was lame.

  3. Thanks for answering my question on “Infinity”, I think it will be a little more relevant than AoU if only because it seems other comics will be afected by it, but you are right in that they barely announce it, I just woke up one day and suddenly was told that there would be another event 2 seconds after AoU is over, and is AoU even an event? If it wasn’t for the tie ins or the fact that they announced that Spawn’s Angela will come to 616 because of it I wouldn’t have think that is anything more that an “elsewhere” book.

    On the rest of the comics I agree with you on everything, the only thing is that I’m not buying “Superior Spider-Man”, I picked the first 2 or 3 issues and while good it just wasn’t my stuff, paradoxically I’ve been reading and enjoying “Avenging Spider-Man” by David Yost, I think is probably because in “Avenging” there is no Ghost Peter and it shows more of Otto trying to be a better Spider-Man instead of just being Otto in Peter’s body pretending to be him.
    But now that Ghost Peter is gone from “Superior” and they’ll probably focus more on Otto I think I’ll pick it up again, next issue should be interesting.

    P.D: I REALLY recommend “Avenging Spider-Man”, I can’t emphasize that enough.
    P.D.D: MARVEL is totally not paying me to promote “Avenging”.

    • I intend to try out Avengers Spider-Man, but the last issue was one involving Sleepwalker and some kind of dream fight against Peter Parker. I didn’t want to read that. So I’m waiting for a more traditional team-up story instead of something focusing on Peter.

      And you make a great point about AoU. It is pretty much an Elsewhere. Having Angela join the MU is weird enough, but I don’t see how AoU serves as a good way to introduce her.

      • Actually the last issue wasn’t about Peter at all, he only appeared in like 5 or so panels, it was mostly Otto-centric, with him fighting his own doubts and inner demons in his subconscious after a parasite of another dimension get ahold of his body, with sleepwalker helping him both inside and out of the dream. Also it has Sleepwalker! You know when was the last time he appeared in a comic book? Ages, we need more Sleepwalker, I need more Sleepwalker.

        And you are right about Angela, how are they going to introduce a very mistical character like an angel into 616 after a very technological centric “event”, although it could make sense if a way to defeat Ultron is using a form of magic that his technology is vulnerable against, a magic vs technology fight if you will, but by putting alternate dimensions into the mix I have no idea what Bendis is trying to do.

        Also I’m confused, if they travel into the past and change the future shouldn’t that just make an alternate universe without changing the current one like with Age of Apocalypse or Days of the future past? Or something? I don’t know, time travel stories always confuse me.

      • I think Bendis is playing fast and loose with Marvel time travel/multiverse theory. Just don’t think about it too much.

        I don’t expect Marvel to try and make sense of Angela being there. I think she’s just going to be there and everybody’s going to shrug and let it happen.

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