Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 11/23/13

The biggest draw of this week’s comics would have to be X-Men and Uncanny X-Men. Both are fresh of Battle of the Atom, and both get right down to business of telling entertaining X-Men stories. And the fact that both issues focus on lesser tiered X-Men is just a hoot. Let Wolverine have his solo titles, I want to read about Karima Sharpandar and Benjamin Deeds!

Not that the rest of this week’s comics are anything to scoff at. Avengers started to wrap up Infinity, while Wonder Woman is still in the early stages of her next story arc. One of the biggest issues this week is Batwoman, where new writer Marc Andreyko takes over from the bombastic team of J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman. Unfortunately, Andreyko’s Zero Year tie-in leaves a lot to be desired. But like I said, both X-books are strong. Comic Book of the Week goes to Uncanny X-Men for an issue focusing on new recruit Benjamin Deeds, and his oddly The Graduate-esque team up with Emma Frost.

Comic Reviews: Avengers #23, Batwoman #25, Uncanny X-Men #14, Wonder Woman #25, and X-Men #7.

Avengers #23

Avengers #23
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Leinil Francis Yu

Infinity is almost over, and I have no idea what the point was after all this time. The Builders were a dangerous foe right up until they weren’t. And Thanos will probably be taken care of just as easily. Neither story had anything to do with one another, and equally had little to do with leading into Inhumanity. I guess, in the end, this was all just a big, fun frolic where the Avengers and some space characters defeat some bad guys.

The Avengers and their space allies begin their assault on planet Earth to drive Thanos away. First, they have to take out The Peak, the orbiting satellite headquarters of SWORD. They call on the Guardians of the Galaxy to sneak in, but they can’t get the job done from inside, and the Peak’s weaponry is keeping a frontal assault at bay. Captain America sends in Shang-Chi and Black Widow, but they are stopped by Black Dwarf. So to back them up, Gladiator, Super Skrull, Annihilus and Ronan the Accuser teleport in and kill Black Death. Meanwhile, Cap and the Avengers head towards Earth.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I’m not made of stone, people. The idea of Gladiator, Super Skrull, Annihilus and Ronan the Accuser stepping up as the ultimate cavalry is just plain fun. Black Dwarf remains as stupid as ever, and seizing the Peak doesn’t seem all that important in the grand scheme of things, but that was just a fun scene. The rest of the comic remains the usual mix of entertaining but pointless, much like all of Infinity. The story is only skin deep, but it’s solidly told. I find myself enjoying Infinity more here in the end now that most of the excess stuff is gone, and it’s just a fight where the good guys mop up the bad guys.

Batwoman #25

Batwoman #25
Writer: Marc Andreyko
Artists: Trevor McCarthy, Andrea Mutti, Pat Olliffe and Jim Fern

The first issue of Marc Andreyko’s Batwoman is out and it’s kind of a big let down. There was a lot of bad blood going into this issue, and while Andreyko probably tried his very best, Batwoman #25 can’t live up to what came before, and isn’t very promising for what’s going to come next. But it’s here, and it’s a Zero Year tie-in, so let’s take a gander.

After attending the funeral of her Uncle Phillip, and then the after party at Wayne Manor (including run-ins with Bruce Wayne and Bette Kane), Kate heads home with her dad just as the big storm is about to hit. Meanwhile, Officer Maggie Sawyer of the Metropolis PD heads to Gotham City with her unit to assist in the black out. Speaking of black outs, Kate Kane takes it upon herself to put on camouflage makeup and a hoodie to go out into the dark city and fight crime for no apparent reason. She randomly comes across a trio of burglars breaking into a high rise and the young boy trapped inside. Kate kicks some butt, saves the kid and gets away with a bullet graze in the arm – though it just so happens to be Officer Sawyer and her team who find them all after the fight. Kate’s dad picks her up at the police station and scolds her a little bit for sneaking out in the middle of a storm and a blackout.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

It’s probably not Andreyko’s fault that Batwoman #25 is a tie-in to Zero Year. DC lost the creative team that made this such a popular and successful comic in the first place, they needed to scramble to make it up to fans. And as far as major companies are concerned, tie-ins sell better, so maybe Batwoman #25 will have that going for it. For me, this issue was just kind of bogus. The best Androyko and DC could come up with was to have Kate Kane put on a ‘mask’ and fight crime? They couldn’t come up with any other way to show off her character and personality in her pre-Batwoman days? And then a forced meeting between Kate and Maggie, really? There’s nothing creative about this tie-in, or particularly revealing about the main characters. It’s a cheap, lifeless tie-in – and having four different artists, all of whom do sub-par jobs, is just another sign that this tie-in was rushed into production when DC found themselves in an unfortunate situation (which was mostly their fault).

Uncanny X-Men #14

Uncanny X-Men #14
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Chris Bachalo

All of the X-books seem to have a new lease on life after Battle of the Atom. No more big crossovers to worry about means more focused, entertaining comics. Bendis spends his first issue of Uncanny X-Men putting the spotlight on one character in particular: Benjamin Deeds. Not sure who that is? I think that’s part of the point. Benjamin has been one of the most low profile characters in the series, so spending an issue highlighting his character strengths and potential sounds good to me.

Benjamin can’t seem to cut it in one of Cyclops’ grueling training sessions, and he seems the most likely to flunk out of the X-Men. Benjamin isn’t a typical shapeshifter, he’s more like a chameleon, who changes to look like anyone in close proximity. Not a very offensive power. Benjamin gets a one-on-one session with Emma Frost, who figures out that there’s an additional aspect to his powers: Benjamin emits a kind of feel good aura, so that when he shifts to look like you, he also makes you feel good about it. Emma takes him to Atlantic City for a training montage, and Benjamin gains in skill and confidence. His final task is to infiltrate a SHIELD base using his powers to get past all the guards and employees without them worrying too much about him. Benjamin succeeds with flying colors – and delivers a note letting SHIELD know that Cyclops knows about their Sentinels. In the end, Cyclops is pleased with Benjamin’s progress, and Emma suggests the codename ‘Morph’.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I think ‘Morph’ will be an excellent codename. I really liked this issue because Benjamin, and the other new recruits, could definitely use some time in the spotlight. Cyclops and Magneto are not the only characters in this book, and I would love to see Bendis focus more on the rest of the cast. He went to the trouble of creating all these new mutants, I can’t wait to see him really flesh them out and put them to good use. This issue was fun. Benjamin seems to be a really relatable kind of guy, and his scenes with Emma are very entertaining. I like seeing her used as a teacher. Benjamin’s final task, sneaking into the SHIELD base, is pretty darn cool. And I hope the rest of the cast – especially Goldballs – all get issues like this one.

Also, Benjamin is gay. Deal with it.

Wonder Woman #25

Wonder Woman #25
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Goran Sudzuka

Wonder Woman doesn’t seem to be building to anything yet, so the latest issue is just another calm, plot-moving tale. I’m not opposed to this kind of thing, and tend to prefer it over generic punching, but nothing much happens in an issue like Wonder Woman #25. There are no great character scenes, no plot twists and nothing really to hang our hat on. But I’m sure we can assume Azzarello is building towards something good.

There are a lot of plots this issue, so let’s get to them all. Firstly, Milan is still being held prisoner by Cassandra, dangling in an open air cell from the bottom of her airship in Russia. Apollo is torturing the First Born. And Hermes is still spying on/watching over Zeke, Hero, Zola and Wonder Woman – though Orion doesn’t understand the circumstances, and he and Hermes almost get into a fight. Mostly, though, the issue is about Strife and her attempts to woo each of the members of Wonder Woman’s clique (though clearly she has ulterior motives). She has Hephaestus make her a deadly hairpin to kill Diana, then back at Diana’s apartment, she hands out presents. She gives Hera back her peacock cloak from when she was a god, and she tries to give Wonder Woman the helmet of Ares, but Diana doesn’t want it. Then Siracca arrives, the wind goddess we met several issues ago. She’s seen Milan, and she comes to rally the group to go rescue him. Everyone takes off except Strife and Zola, and when Zola asks where everybody went, Strife tells her that everyone is exactly where she wants them to be.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

It was nice to see Siracca again. I had forgotten all about her, so I’m glad Azzarello hasn’t. He continues to handle this large cast well, giving everyone a little special something to do as things move along at this relatively slow pace. I don’t particularly care all that much about Strife, so I wasn’t really interested in her leading the issue, but it was all generally entertaining. It was also fun to see Orion again. I’m a big fan. But yeah, kind of a dull issue of Wonder Woman, but any issue of Wonder Woman is still a quality comic.

X-Men #7

X-Men #7
Writer: Brian Wood
Artists: Terry and Rachel Dodson

Like I said before with Uncanny X-Men, it’s time to get back to work for the X-franchise, and Brian Wood jumps right back into a story about the lady X-Men teaming up and kicking butt. Here he introduces a new villain, brings in a new X-Woman, and gets things rolling in a rather nice way. He even brought along the Dodsons, one of the best artistic teams in the industry.

Lady Deathstrike returns in the form of Ana Cortes, a young Columbian girl who has just inherited her father’s billion-dollar company. Lady Deathstrike is dead, but somehow Ana willingly downloads her consciousness into Ana’s body, giving Lady Deathstrike control. It’s complicated. Once she has power again, Lady Deathstrike attacks the Jean Grey School in an effort to seize the body of Karima Sharpandar, the Omega Sentinel. However, Karima’s mechanical side is dormant, and Monet has shown up at the school, looking for some rest and relaxation after X-Factor. The pair chase off Lady Deathstroke and her goons, then regroup with the rest of the team to go after them. Meanwhile, Lady Deathstrike decides to switch her attention from Karima to Arkea, while putting together her new Sisterhood. The first member is Typhoid Mary.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I thought the story was a lot of fun. The explanation for bringing Lady Deathstroke back to life is kind of convoluted and doesn’t make much sense, but does it have to? She’s back, she’s villainous, and that’s that. The arrival of Monet is handled very well, though I would have enjoyed at least a passing mention of X-Factor. They acknowledge that she died recently, and could use some R&R, but they never name-drop X-Factor itself. That was too bad. But I felt like Monet really fit in with everything this book is trying to accomplish, and I like pushing Karima into a bigger role. So this was a fun little entertaining issue without much drama. I especially like the random budding friendship between Karima and Monet. Comics like this rise and fall on real, meaningful relationships, and this could be a really good one. Though I felt the Dodsons did a half-assed job on art. This husband and wife team is usually stellar, and have drawn some of the prettiest comics I have ever read. But in X-Men #7, they were sketchy and a little sloppy. What was up with that?

Also, Bling is gay. Deal with it.

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 23, 2013, in Avengers, Comics, DC, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Avengers was whatever. Fighting. Yippee. Don’t care.

    UXM was great. Some nice focus on Benjamin, and his power went from neat to awesome. Emma also gets to have some nice moments here. And the reveal of Benjamin’s sexuality was well-handled. I hope Hickman takes a lesson from it. He’s said that one of the Avengers is LGBT, but that it’ll only be revealed if it’s relevant to the story. With Secret Warriors, Stonewall was apparently gay, but it never got mentioned. If Hickman pulls the same bullshit with Avengers, then I’m just going to be utterly disgusted with him. It’s not diversity when it’s a secret. Bendis, here, revealed Benjamin as gay in a moment that was small, and didn’t really contribute much to the story, but still got it out there.

    X-Men was awesome. Monet! And she’s already snarking with Jubilee! Brings me back to Generation X, which was a great book. It’s interesting seeing her acting nice. Being dead must have really done a number on her; it’s a really cool development. I’m glad to see Karima sticking around. The new Lady Deathstrike seems pretty neat. Bling! having a crush on Jubilee looks like it could be a lot of fun, though I feel a little sorry for Roxy that it’s not going to go anywhere. She’s a bit of a sweetheart. I’m very disappointed in Mercury, though. I’m hoping she’s disappointed in herself, too. I mean, she presumably already knew that Roxy was gay, and I would assume she’d never expressed any particular problem with it, if Roxy felt like she had a shot. I guess she panicked in the moment. I’d kinda suspected the fight might’ve been something along those lines, but I wasn’t sure Wood was going to go that way. As for the Dodsons, I thought they actually did a great job. Gorgeous art, as usual.

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