Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 10/5/13

Villains Month is over and not a moment too soon, as far as I’m concerned. The sales were apparently amazing for DC Comics, but the comics themselves were mostly garbage, from what I read. They were all over the place with their stories, and when it came to quality writing and art. I can honestly say I didn’t need to read any of those Villains Month issues. None of them really added much of anything to the ongoing story or the villains themselves…though there were a few nice issues.

And it seems I may owe DC an apology about Bizarro…maybe.

Fortunately for us, Forever Evil is back, and it continues to be entertaining. The New 52 as a whole is still a weird fit for a project like this, but I enjoyed the issue. I also enjoyed the continuing chapters of Battle of the Atom and Superior Foes of Spider-Man, which claims Comic Book of the Week. But the second issue of Mighty Avengers really seemed to grind my gears! Find out why in the review below!

Yes, yes he did

Comic Reviews: All-New X-Men #17, Forever Evil #2, Green Lantern #24, MIghty Avengers #2 and Superior Foes of Spider-Man #4.

All-New X-Men #17

All-New X-Men #17
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Stuart Immonen

Battle of the Atom slows down a little bit with the next chapter, and I’m OK with that. The last issue was a fantastic mid-series climax, and now it’s time to set up the rest of the story. We get to know a lot more about the Future X-Men, along with a proper introduction of the second team of Future X-Men and why there was a future schism in the first place. So this is really a plot moving issue bolstered by the awesomeness of time-traveling Iceman.

In the future, Allison Blaire is elected as the first mutant president of the United States – but she is struck down in the middle of her acceptance speech, in front of a crowd of hundreds of pro-mutant supporters. Allison ran for president on Beast’s urgings, and he takes her assassination very hard – which may explain the two separate teams of Future X-Men. At the meeting between the second team and Magik, Beast and Iceman, the three time-traveling heroes convince these other X-Men to come back with them, and so they all go back in time to team up with Cyclops and his Uncanny X-Men.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I’m glad I’m not the only one who wants to find out why Future Iceman is both a wizard and a hulk. Bendis is clearly having a ton of fun with the various time-traveling Icemen. And I’m having fun reading. The twists keep twisting, and the turns keep turning, and Battle of the Atom continues to be a very awesome Event Comic. Though I hope Bendis has more planned than just two groups of Future X-Men battling one another. I hope there are some more twists planned before the end. And hopefully some more deeply important character moments.

Also, I’m glad Madrox got a cameo in the future now that X-Factor is over, but did it have to be such a deadly one?

Forever Evil #2

Forever Evil #2
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: David Finch

I kinda, sorta maybe owe DC comics an apology, begrudgingly. I hated their Bizarro #1 issue during Villains Month because it didn’t involve Bizarro at all, despite him appearing on the cover. It was just a set up explaining how Lex Luthor went about starting his Bizarro project (or test subject B-Zero, if you will). As its own comic, it was terrible. But reading that issue made Forever Evil #2 even better, because this issue picks up where Bizarro #1 left off, and I feel this issue was better served by knowing where subject B-Zero came from.

With the Crime Syndicate enjoying their take over of the world (and squabbling among themselves), Lex Luthor starts to mount his resistance. He awakens Bizarro from his test tube and gives him a Superman costume – which Bizarro puts on inside out. Then Lex puts on his green and purple armor, seemingly for the first time in the New 52 universe. Meanwhile, the Teen Titans rise up to take on the Crime Syndicate, but they run afoul of Johnny Quick and Atomica. Johnny makes short work of Kid Flash and sends all of the Titans spiraling through time. And in the end, Batman and Catwoman appear to have survived the Crime Syndicate’s attack, and they bring Cyborg’s human body to S.T.A.R. Labs for repairs.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

A weird dynamic of the New 52 reboot came into play with this issue, and I’m not sure how to describe it. The best I can do is compare it to the Ultimate Universe over at Marvel Comics. When that first started, it was a lot of fun to see the new ‘Ultimatized’ versions of classic characters introduced into the comics. It felt special and it felt important. But the Ultimate Universe as a whole felt new. That’s one of the problems with the New 52: it feels old. Everything is just so similar to the pre-reboot universe that things like the first appearance of New 52 Bizarro or the first appearance of Lex’s classic power suit don’t really matter. We have seen Bizarro, the power suit and the Crime Syndicate a million times before this, but they are still being written as if they should be new and fascinating – and in the context of the New 52, they should be!

But they’re not, and it robs the story of any potential magic from these moments. Still, Forever Evil is off to a very good start. The Crime Syndicate come off as true villains, with a lot of personality and complexity of their own (For example, Owlman and Superwoman are having an affair behind Ultraman’s back, and she is pregnant). So they succeed as villains. And Lex Luthor’s attempts to build a resistance force within the villain community is just plain cool. Lex Luthor activating Bizarro in order to take on the Crime Syndicate and save the world is an awesome moment, hands down. I’m definitely looking forward to where this is all going.

Green Lantern #24

Green Lantern #24
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Billy Tan

The Green Lantern franchise is apparently nothing without massive, status quo-rumbling crossovers. Personally, I would have preferred to see the new creative teams take their comics in separate directions. I wanted to see what they had to offer, and wanted the various GL books to get down to their own individual stories. But the franchise is what it is, so here we have the first part of Lights Out.

Relic arrives on Oa to shut down the Power Battery, and there doesn’t seem to be much Hal Jordan and the GLC can do about it. Kyle and Carol arrive in time to warn Hal and the others that Relic is coming, but he arrives before they have a chance to mount a defense. Hal and Relic exchange words for a moment before the fighting breaks out, with Relic easily besting the ‘lightsmiths’, as he calls them. Relic’s machines deplete and then destroy the Power Battery, which Salaak says is going to destroy the planet Oa down to its very core.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I actually kind of like Relic. I wasn’t too sure about him when he was first announced. The Green Lanterns had just come off the First Lantern, and the new creative teams were taking over, so I was none too interested in yet another big crossover starring some new random villain. But this issue goes a long way to making Relic interesting, but it’s not the random destruction. I never reviewed the issue of New Guardians that came before this one, where Relic obliterated the Blue Lantern Corps, destroying their Power Battery and leaving only Saint Walker alive. But it most definitely annoyed me. I loved the Blue Lantern Corps, so to sacrifice them like this just to make Relic seem more powerful – along with, apparently, destroying Oa – just rubs me the wrong way. It does not make Relic more interesting, it just makes him more of a puppet for the writer to do whatever he/they want.

No, it was in the dialogue Relic had with Hal Jordan that made him interesting. I liked the scene of Relic meeting with the much tinier Hal and actually trying to discuss what was happening. But then the fight broke out, and it looks like Venditti has cart blanche to destroy a bunch of important GL franchise stuff in order to make Relic more of a threat. And that sort of obviousness does not interest me in the least.

Mighty Avengers #2

Mighty Avengers #2
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Greg Land

I really liked the first issue of Mighty Avengers, so I was definitely on board for #2. Unfortunately, the issue is almost entirely action, so that robs it of the great character moments we saw in the first issue. Also, this thing is just so heavily tied to Infinity, while simultaneously being left in Infinity‘s dust, that it’s hard to really get a handle on everything happening. Plus the random inclusion of the Blue Marvel just muddies the whole thing up. I hope there are a lot of Blue Marvel fans out there who are really happy for his inclusion, because otherwise he is the totally wrong choice for anything.

So Luke Cage and his impromptu team continue to battle Midnight and her army on the streets of New York City. Midnight and her people are pretty darn powerful and overwhelming, but when random civilians get involved and start chanting, “Avengers Assemble!” it gives Luke Cage a second wind to punch Midnight right in her face! Meanwhile, the Blue Marvel apparently lives in a secret base at the bottom of the ocean, and he has regular meetings with the Watcher. He detects the battle in New York and flies off to join them – just as the Black Maw uses his control over Dr. Strange to summon Shuma-Gorath to the middle of Time Square.

Yes, you heard me: Shuma-Gorath.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

Really? This is where you’re going to include the return of Shuma-Gorath!? The scene is incredible, especially under the pencil of Greg Land (who I know some people don’t like). Shuma’s big, green tentacles burst up through the streets of New York City like the Lovecraftian monster he is; it’s awesome. But I can’t even begin to express how disappointed I am with his sudden, inexplicable inclusion in Mighty Avengers #2. It’s madness.

For those who don’t know, Shuma-Gorath is this insane, dark being who Dr. Strange has kept in check for decades. Most importantly, Shuma is a character who keeps appearing in the Marvel vs. Capcom fighting games for no good reason, but it’s given him a bit of a cult status. So I would think that his return to this plane would be a big, freakin’ deal – so why the hell would Marvel plop him into the scene in the middle of Infinity!? Johnathan Hickman’s Infinity has NOTHING to do with Shuma-Gorath! So why would they waste such a potentially powerful and fan favorite character on just a tie-in to the main Big Event comic?

You mean to tell me that in the midst of everything going on in Infinity, a handful of Marvel heroes were also battling Shuma freakin’ Gorath in Times Square!? Not to mention that the use of Dr. Strange and the Black Maw in this issue doesn’t at all coincide with their uses in Infinity.

So I think Mighty Avengers has bit off more than they can chew with this stunt. It’s a disappointing use of a potentially amazing monster. Heck, Shuma-Gorath could start in his own Big Event if Marvel wanted. But nope! They just plop him into this comic for no particular or interesting reason.

Speaking of which, wow, the Blue Marvel is terrible. I never read whatever mini-series he first appeared in, but he reeks of the same idiocy that gave birth to the Sentry. He might as well be the Sentry. Some all-powerful protector character who only ever existed in some random, unpopular mini-series is suddenly shunted into the Marvel Universe as a whole, which frankly doesn’t have room for him and his concept. So this Blue Marvel guy has been hanging out at the bottom of the ocean in some hi-tech base monitoring threats, but only comes out for this one? And apparently he’s so amazing that the Watcher pays him frequent visits just to hang out? But he calls himself ‘Blue Marvel’!? That’s the stupidest name possible! Nothing about this character fits with the Marvel Universe.

We were all very happy when the Sentry was killed, Marvel. Don’t just turn around and repeat the same damn mistakes.

Superior Foes #4

Superior Foes of Spider-Man #4
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Steve Lieber

Superior Foes of Spider-Man continues to be an awesome experience. The characters are great, the art is pitch perfect and Boomerang is such a fun protagonist. I have no idea where Spencer is taking this series, but this issue let’s us know that Superior Foes is going to be anything but predictable.

After being tipped off by Boomerang, Luke Cage and Iron Fist crash the Sinister Six’s planning meeting and beat up all four of them, putting an end to their plan to raid the Owl’s HQ for the Head of Silvermane. Boomerang meets with the Chameleon in prison, who is insistent that Boomerang see their plan through. Boomerang tells him that this is all part of his plan, and he later breaks the four out of a police van, their loyalties now absolute to his leadership. So much so, that Shocker pulls Boomerang aside to let him know that he saw Boomerang talking with the Chameleon. Boomerang quickly comes up with an excuse, saying that he paid Chameleon to impersonate the Punisher in order to get respect from his team, and the Shocker buys it.

But then the issue ends with Boomerang dumping his car into the river, with Shocker tied up in the trunk. Also, Boomerang asked out a cute but tough bartender.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

As great as this issue was, I’m a little disappointed in the ending. I accept and appreciate that Boomerang is a son of a bitch at heart, and the ending was definitely shocking (see what I did there?). I’m just disappointed at the team is coming apart and turning on each other so quickly. It’s only issue #4, and already they kicked Boomerang out of the Sinister Six, and now he’s betraying Shocker and dumping him into the drink. This is perfectly in-character behavior, but I would have liked to see the Sinister Six working together before they started coming apart. But maybe that’s just me. It doesn’t make me like the series any less.

And Superior Foes continues to be awesome. Spencer has turned Boomerang into the perfect lead for a series like this. He’s a smarmy, somewhat charming bastard who lives by different rules than superheroes. He’s unpredictable and entertaining, and that’s what everyone needs to lead their comic. The rest of the team are cool, and they get a few nice scenes to shine, but I would definitely like for Spencer to spend an issue or two focusing on the other members of the Six. Giving each one of them their own narrated issue would go a long way to really building up this team book into something truly special.

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 October 5, 2013, in Avengers, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. ANXM was good. Some cool stuff.

    Mighty Avengers was good. Land’s art looks like he actually drew some of it for once, and that stuff actually looks good. The writing took a hit, as it moved away from characterization, aside from Blue Marvel.

    Superior Foes was great. Loads of fun.

    • I find that Greg Land is only really terrible when he’s drawing female faces, and we all know why. When he’s drawing men and when he’s drawing anything other than the human form, I think he’s really good. That shot of Shuma-Gorath attacking Times Square was amazing.

      • Faces in general usually cause him problems. He traces male faces almost as often as he traces female faces. But yeah, I’m hoping Ewing keeps the number of unmasked women to a minimum until Land leaves. Give him as few opportunities for his standard porn tracing bullshit as possible.

      • For some reason, I always think he does better when tracing male faces. His Luke Cage looked fantastic in the first issue.

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: