Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 11/9/13

Welcome back to another round of reviews, Henchboys and Henchgirls! We’ve got a pretty standard week of books, though personal favorite Captain Marvel makes a big return after months of being buried in crossovers and tie-ins. Of course, now the comic goes on hiatus for four months, because, as always, we can’t have nice things.

But at least Forever Evil, Green Lantern and Mighty Avengers are all pretty entertaining, and we’ve got the debut of Amazing X-Men #1! No doubt Nightcrawler fans are bursting at the seams to see him come back from the dead. Personally, I’m just wondering why this story needed a whole new superfluous X-Men book.

Comic Book of the Week goes to the pretty great Captain Marvel #17. Don’t stay gone for too long, Carol!

Everybody loves a good butt joke

Comic Reviews: Amazing X-Men #1, Captain Marvel #17, Forever Evil #3, Green Lantern #25 and Mighty Avengers #3.

Amazing X-Men #1

Amazing X-Men #1
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Ed McGuinness

You know what adjective we haven’t seen in a comic book title in awhile? ‘Amazing’. What with Spider-Man off being ‘Superior’, Marvel was clearly burdened by the fact that none of their comics are ‘Amazing’! Have no fear though, folks, because Marvel have solved that crisis by launching Amazing X-Men – because Marvel will not be happy until the number of comics in the X-Men franchise matches the bloated number of comics in the Avengers franchise! It’s like Avengers vs. X-Men all over again, only this time the battle is in our wallets (and possibly our very souls).  

Simply put, this comic should not exist by any stretch of the imagination. Amazing X-Men is a clone of Wolverine and the X-Men. It stars the same characters, has the same writer, and features the same sense of humor. There is absolutely no reason in the entire world why this story – the return of Nightcrawler – couldn’t have been told in the pages of Wolverine and the X-Men. It would have fit perfectly. But here I am, having bought Amazing X-Men #1, so let’s just get to reviewing it, shall we?

So Nightcrawler is in Heaven, which we’re shown unequivocally. He’s dressed in a white robe and everyone is talking about paradise. But Nightcrawler isn’t ready to embrace paradise. He spends his time sitting on the very edge of the world, looking out into the ether, because he kind of wants to return to life. Just then, a band of demon pirates show up to kidnap a bunch of angels. Nightcrawler fights them off with his usual swashbuckling wit, then finds out that his demonic father, Azazel, is the pirate captain (for some unexplained reason)! Azazel mocks Nightcrawler for thinking he can stop the pirate demons, since Nightcrawler is dead.

Back on Earth, new teacher Angelica Jones arrives at the Jean Grey School, and as always, the school is a hustle and bustle of activity! Teachers and students are coming and going all the which ways, with funny or floundering dialogue, depending on how much you like Jason Aaron’s schtick. Eventually, Beast arrives to move the plot forward, and he and Angelica track a group of Bamfs to a secret lair hidden in the walls. Inside, the Bamfs have constructed a portal of some kind. So the X-Men gear up (including both Firestar and Northstar) to investigate the portal. Suddenly, Azazel’s red Bamfs burst out and grab some of the X-Men, pulling them into the portal. Wolverine and Northstar are transported to Heaven, where we find out that Azazel has taken over in a giant pirate ship (because of course). He also teases Wolverine with the prospect of the “blue elf”. Wolverine is flabbergasted.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

Amazing X-Men #1 is fun, no doubt about it. Jason Aaron is clearly having a blast playing around in the wacky school setting he created. I’ve been a big fan of Wolverine and the X-Men, and Amazing X-Men is a good example of what Aaron can do when he focuses on the characters and setting rather than let silly plots like a horror circus get in the way. This issue is pure, unadulterated X-Men fun. But it is just so overwhelmingly superfluous!

Aaron isn’t doing anything new that would warrant a whole new series. His Firestar is as basic as they come, filling a role that any young, female superhero could fill, if one was even needed. His X-Men are the same X-Men we can read about in half a dozen other titles (though I am a big fan of Iceman’s huge presence in the X-books these days). Even his Nightcrawler isn’t anything special. It’s Nightcrawler as we expect him to be, doing Nightcrawler things like sword-fighting and teleporting. Is there a reason why he needs to come back now? What sort of presence is Nightcrawler going to have when he returns to the land of the living? Does Marvel have something more interesting planned for him than just ‘another teacher at the Jean Grey School’? The reason Nightcrawler was killed off in the first place was because he’d become expendable.

By all means, bring Nightcrawler back if you want, but I would like to see a reason behind it. And really, Azazel? I thought we’d all agreed to never mention him again. And why randomly turn him into a pirate? What’s the point of that? Just to be silly?

Of course, the new series does mean we get Ed McGuinness on art, and I couldn’t be happier about that. He’s simply one of the best comic book artists around, and he works amazingly well on the Jean Grey School. Everyone looks so lively and colorful. He’s a dream artist for any comic, so at least we get to enjoy his work as we read along.

Captain Marvel #17

Captain Marvel #17
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Filipe Andrade

It has been far too long since I reviewed an issue of Captain Marvel. That’s because she’s been tied down in crossovers and tie-ins for months! First was The Enemy Within, which I didn’t realize was a crossover with Avengers Assemble until it was far too late and I was way behind (though I am trying to catch up). Then she had a few tie-in issues to Infinity that didn’t matter all that much, so I skipped those. Well now she’s finally back to her own stuff and produces a big issue that reminds us all why Captain Marvel is such a fun series to begin with.

Also, to catch you up to speed, Carol had her memories wiped at the end of The Enemy Within, when she cured the brain lesion. She remembers who she is and everything, but doesn’t remember any of her friends or past adventures. This is an incredibly stupid move, in my opinion, since the joy of the Captain Marvel series has been her interactions with her friends. Why Marvel and DeConnick thought wiping her mind would make Carol more entertaining is beyond me. She’s lost a lot of the adorable humanity that made her such a pleasure to read.

Following her recent heroics, Captain Marvel is going to be presented the key to the city, and all of her friends and supporting players rally around her in various ways. Adorable, underage CM fan Kit gets a few great scenes, and reveals that she’s going to be in charge of reeducating Carol in the awesomeness of Captain Marvel history. Carol kisses her photographer friend Frank, so that’s probably going to be something. And Mayor J. Jonah Jameson gives Carol the head of the Statue of Liberty to use as an apartment, because that’s just kind of awesome. Meanwhile, freelance writer and app-designer Grace Valentine gets royally pissed off when a story about Captain Marvel bumps her out of New York Beat magazine. Grace’s anger just grows and grows until she attacks the key to the city ceremony with a fleet of drones aimed at Captain Marvel. But the crowd of CM fans pull an “I’m Spartacus” and confuse the drones, giving Carol enough time to smash them all to bits!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I really liked this issue for the same reasons I like Captain Marvel in general: It’s adorable, it’s friendly and cheerful,and Carol is an outstanding hero. Though I will admit that I was lukewarm to most of it, possibly because it’s been so long since I’ve read a solid, stand alone issue of this series. Plus that memory wipe thing really takes away from the heart of this series, though it does lead to that adorable scene where Kit reveals she’ll be giving Carol ‘Captain Marvel Lessons’. That scene was worth the price of admission alone. The story was simple but fun, the characters were as strong as ever, and I still love Andrade’s art. Captain Marvel looks to be in a good place going forward, and for that, I’m happy.

Though now we have to wait until March for the series to get a new #1, but at least DeConnick and Carol are sticking around. Plus we’ve got that new Ms. Marvel to look forward to!

Forever Evil #3

Forever Evil #3
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: David Finch

Yep, it looks like Forever Evil is about Lex Luthor putting together his own team of villains to save the world. Sign me up! Super-villains being heroic is one of my favorite comic book tropes. I love villains who are smart enough and sane enough to step up when the situation calls for it, and saving the world from destruction at the hands of the Crime Syndicate is a pretty bad situation. Forever Evil #3 features the coming together of Lex’s team, and I am very, very excited to see what happens next.

Batman explains to the scientists at STAR Labs that when the Crime Syndicate first appeared, Deathstorm somehow sucked all of the various heroes into the Firestorm Matrix, trapping them inside. So that’s what happened to the various Justice Leagues. But then Batman finds out what happened to Dick Grayson, and he’s ready to get down to the business of sidekick-rescuing. Elsewhere, picking up on the events of Justice League and Rogues Rebellion, Black Adam gets beaten and thrown into the ocean by Ultraman, and the Rogues flee Deathstorm and Power Ring. Captain Cold loses his ice powers, but manages to get transported to Metropolis, where he runs into Lex Luthor and Bizarro. Also nearby, Black Manta rises out of the ocean, dragging Black Adam with him. Together, Luthor says this little team might be able to save the world.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I’m surprised to say that I didn’t even consider what Batman’s reaction to Nightwing’s reveal would be, but I like it! I want to see Batman fighting tooth and nail through the Crime Syndicate to rescue Nightwing, but then I’m a big fan of the Batman/Robin partnership. That should make for an awesome subplot. Meanwhile, the coming together of villains is also neat. It amounts to little more than all of them being in the same place at the same time (and why take away Captain Cold’s powers? That was weird…), but it still works. I also like that Bizarro is being built up into something of a threat, so I hope he gets some time to shine. Forever Evil may be moving along slowly, but I’m definitely enjoying it so far. Keep it up, DC!

Green Lantern #25

Green Lantern #25
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Billy Tan

I think Venditti has bitten off more than he can chew. On the one hand, he seems to have this big plan in mind for rebuilding/refocusing the Green Lantern Corps under Hal Jordan’s leadership. He’s already moved them to Mogo and introduced the concept for the depleting Emotional Well. But on the other hand, he really wants to tell simple stories about Hal Jordan beating up bad guys. So whereas I would love to read a comic about Hal and his pals reforging a new version of the GLC, Venditti would rather focus on Hal getting into a scuffle with the new villainous Star Sapphire he created. By all means, it’s nice to read Green Lantern when it’s not trying to save the universe every issue. But man, I really want to see Venditti build up the new Corps! That story has soooo much potential.

Especially with his apparent plans to turn them into a new Gestapo. Read on to find out…

The Green Lanterns are on Mogo now, but they don’t have any buildings or even chairs, so they break out the campfires and get to chatting. A few of the veteran Lanterns have decided to give up their rings now that they know there’s an Emotional Well that threatens to run dry every time they use their rings. They still want to be a part of the Corps, only now they’ll patrol their sectors without rings. Hal then decides that the best way to keep the Emotional Well from running out will be to police the other Lantern Corps directly. On the spot, Hal invents a new law: unauthorized use of the emotional spectrum. Who gets to decide what constitutes ‘unauthorized use’? Hal does. And seemingly only Hal. Even when some of the other GLs point out that they should go after regular criminals, Hal insists they need to focus on the other Lantern Corps. This attitude pisses off Carol Ferris, since she’s standing right there, and she points out that this new law is going to lead to only Green Lanterns being considering ‘authorized users’.

Carol storms off, and the other GLs suggest that Hal should make an example of somebody to convince the rest of the Corps to go along with his new plan. So Hal and Kilowog fly off to capture Nol-Anj, the new Star Sapphire criminal that Venditti created at the start of his run. They do battle on some backwater crime planet, easily dispatching her henchmen, since they’re only using guns. But then Nol-Anj uses her Star Sapphire power to entrap even more henchmen to face off against the GLs – even though they’re all still wielding guns against a pair of Power Rings.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

Am I the only one bothered by the idea that Hal Jordan’s first action as leader of the Green Lantern Corps is to start making new laws based on his own whim and then demanding everyone else follow him?  What authority does Hal Jordan have to police the other Lantern Corps? Fortunately, Carol was there to speak out against him, so maybe this is part of Vinditti’s plan. But it’s really bothering me that Hal has appointed himself law-maker.

I’m also a little disappointed in this new Emotional Well status quo. I think it’s a neat and clever idea, but it’s apparently going to mean that the Green Lanterns use their rings less and less. Do we really want that from a comic? Are we not going to see big, elaborate green constructs anymore? I’m sure Vinditti has a plan in place, and no doubt this development could lead to some good drama, but mostly I’m seeing it as chains holding Green Lantern back – at least until he needs to enforce his new laws, of course.

And like I said before, I would just rather see Venditti focus on rebuilding the Corps than have Hal and Kilowog go off to fight some random, miniscule bad guy. There’s nothing very special about this Nol-Anj lady yet.

Might Avengers #3

Mighty Avengers #3
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Greg Land

Soon we’ll find out if Al Ewing’s Mighty Avengers can stand on its own two feet. This issue wraps up the Infinity tie-in, even though it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with Infinity anymore. The team comes together, Luke Cage gives a big speech about Avengering, and ostensibly, this team is supposed to stay together for the foreseeable future – though I’m not yet sure how they’ll justify their existence in the face of both Avengers World and Uncanny Avengers. But I guess, in terms of continuity, Luke Cage has earned the right to form his own Avengers squad.

The battle against Shuma-Gorath begins – or at least a physical approximation of the real Gorath, trying to claw his way into the physical plane. Either way, he’s big, covered in tentacles and threatening to take over New York City! First, Blue Marvel shows up, and uses his powers to fix Monica Rambeau and give her a power upgrade. Then the new Power Man and White Tiger show up, and they are the key to defeating Shuma-Gorath. Power Man has some kind of connection with chi energy, and he focuses on all of the chi-energy across Manhattan, then infuses it into the White Tiger God that empowers White Tiger. The giant tiger manifestation then chomps down on Shuma-Gorath, weakening him enough for Monica to turn into light and invade his brain, blowing him up from the inside. Once it’s over, the Avengers pat themselves on the back and Luke Cage gives a big speech about how everybody is an Avenger!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

The greatest strength Mighty Avengers has going for it is a sense of fun. This is a big, bright accessible comic about superheroes being superheroes. The cast is pretty random, but they all get a moment to shine in this issue, and Ewing shows he has the strength to make them interesting people – though I still think the use of Blue Marvel is pretty ridiculous. The guy just doesn’t fit in the Marvel Universe no matter how much Marvel wants a Superman-esque hero. Everyone else is pretty great, especially the Doc Ock Spider-Man, which Ewing nails. Though things do get a little hokey when Luke Cage gives a big speech at the end about the Avenger in all of us, and when Power Man uses the phrase ‘Mighty Avengers’ as if that’s their actual name.

These first three issues make for a fun little comic as a random band of heroes come together to save the city from disaster. Now we’ll see where they go from here and whether or not anybody cares about this group of Avengers in the midst of all the other groups of Avengers. Personally, I don’t…at least not yet.

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 November 9, 2013, in Avengers, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Carol has lost some of her memories? Noooooo. I guess that might explain why she’s going into space. And i guess that’s the final nail in the coffin of my Carol/Peter pairing hopes, since Peter is dead (in spirit) and now Carol doesn’t remember him any more anyway. I guess you can’t kill a relationship any better than that.

  2. AXM was OK. Not great, not bad, just OK. Aaron’s got Nightcrawler’s voice down. The slapstick was toned down a bit compared to WatXM. But it still didn’t really impress me. And Azazel should never have been brought back. There is one way and one way only to make Azazel less awful a character, and that’s to reveal that he’s actually a demon, and that The Draco storyline was all a lie he made up in order to mess with people’s heads as part of some demon bet.

    Captain Marvel was a really nice, touching conclusion to this volume. The “I Am Captain Marvel!” scene was cheesy, but a nice tribute to the Carol Corps. Also, in terms of the memory loss, one bit of speculation I’ve seen is that DeConnick has been telling Carol’s history. The first arc showed her roots and her origin. From there, we started getting some nice superheroics, including fights with Deathbird, a classic Ms. Marvel foe. Then we get her memory loss, calling back to when Rogue stole her memory. The Infinity tie-ins had her go Binary, calling back to that period of her existence. If this pattern sticks, she’ll probably have to deal with a drinking problem soon.

    Mighty Avengers was very good, aside from Land. I remember there were concerns about how Ewing would handle Monica being overpowered. I like that his way of handling it is was apparently to make her more powerful. Also, the tiger god is hardcore. Also, I care way more about this team of Avengers than the main team of Avengers, or the New Avengers. And I’ll probably care about it more than Avengers World, which I already hate purely based on the name. I hate that term. Hate it so frigging much.

    • If that’s really the case with Captain Marvel, that’s pretty brilliant, and I’ll take back everything negative I said about the memory loss – well, almost everything.

      I would be in favor of that Draco fix, but it would require referencing The Draco, which I was pretty sure we all agreed never to do again. I don’t know what–scratch that, I’m sure we all know that Jason Aaron thinks he can make the character cool. But he can’t. He just can’t.

      • At least Carol is still the same person. That’s important. She’s rebuilding her relationships with her friends. She even made a move on Frank, even if it was only because she thought they had something before she lost her memories. And Kit giving her Captain Marvel lessons is one of the sweetest things ever. I want Kit to get her own book now. I’ve seen a few people saying they’ll be disappointed if she never becomes a superhero.

      • That scene where Kit reveals she’ll be giving Carol Captain Marvel lessons is beyond adorable.

  3. Green Lantern is always the first book I read of new releases, but they are doing everything they can to make me not like where things are going. Maybe this is going to be an arc about the dangers of having absolute control, or how the road the hell is paved with good intentions. Whatever it is, they had better hurry up before I get completely turned off to this new direction.

    You’re right about AXM. Even if they’re going to turn this into “Nightcrawler and a bunch of other X-men that aren’t in 3 books already” there isn’t a need for this to be a title on its own. It would work better as a mini-series to bring him back, until someone has a solid plan about what to do with him as a solid first-tier character.

    It’s too bad they can’t pick up the pace on Forever Evil. The books aren’t captivating enough to keep the anticipation going for so long between releases. Marvel’s recent system for getting a big event out there has really soured me on waiting a month between plot points. At least with Infinity, there’s something going on almost every week, or at worst every two weeks if you’re following the two primary Avengers tie-ins.

    • I totally agree about Forever Evil’s pacing. Marvel has it down pat. They did the same thing with Age of Ultron and Battle of the Atom. Reading Forever Evil, I kept thinking to myself, “Wow, we’re only three issues in” It’s going to be 2014 before we see the end of Forever Evil. That is not good.

  4. truculentustigris

    Reblogged this on callowcrows.

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