Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 12/14/13

I hate Inhumanity already. I know, I know, I’m getting way ahead of myself. The event has barely even started, and it’s being written by one of my favorite comic book writers, Matt Fraction. But the evil that Inhumanity commits against Uncanny X-Men this week is nigh unforgivable! You’ll see what I mean when we get to it.

The rest of the comic book haul was pretty good this week. I especially enjoyed Mighty Avengers and Wolverine and the X-Men, both good books with some strong characterizations. I also gave a few looks at Batman, Superman/Wonder Woman and even Green Lantern Corps! But the hands down winner of Comic Book of the Week goes to Superior Foes of Spider-Man for turning in the funniest issue yet!

Comic Reviews: Batman #26, Green Lantern Corps #26, Mighty Avengers #4, Superior Foes of Spider-Man #6, Superman/Wonder Woman #3, Uncanny X-Men #15 and Wolverine and the X-Men #39.

Batman #26

Batman #26
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo

There is no denying that Snyder’s run on Batman will go down as a classic. The guy has some great ideas, and he writes a very solid, very entertaining Batman. But for whatever reason, and maybe it’s just me, I’m not connecting with this comic as much as other people. I can recognize it as one of the finest outlets for Batman stories in a long time, but I’ve never really seen them as anything more than really good Batman stories.

Lucius Fox isn’t really working for Dr. Death, and he and Bruce team up to escape the sinister physician with the hideous bone growths. At the hospital later, Gordon approaches a recovering Bruce to try to get his help, but Bruce tells Gordon where he can stick it. Then he recounts a story from his childhood, where Gordon and his then-partner picked him up for truancy and drove him to the police station. Every couple of blocks, they’d stop and check in on a business or two. Gordon explained to the boy that it was just police watching the neighborhood, but when Gordon’s partner returned from a clothing store sporting a pair of fancy new trenchcoats for himself and Gordon, Bruce learned first hand just how corrupt the cops in Gotham were – even Gordon.

Bruce then suits up as Batman to go look into some of the other scientists on Dr. Death’s list. He arrives too late, they’ve already been poisoned. But then some cops show up and open fire on the Caped Crusader.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I am not the least bit interested in this Dr. Death guy, even if Snyder found the character in the early Batman comics from the start of the 20th century. Though I will grant that Capullo’s rendering of him and his victims is fairly chilling, even if I spend all my time wondering how these guys can talk with teeth like that. But everything with Batman fighting or investigating Dr. Death is just kind of bland. The standout scene in the issue was the confrontation between Bruce and Gordon, and the flashback to Bruce’s childhood. It’s a powerful moment, but then we all know where it’s going to end up.

GL Corps #26

Green Lantern Corps #26
Writer: Van Jensen
Artist: Bernard Chang

I guess I should be reading Green Lantern Corps more often. I’ve been avoiding the title because I simply don’t care about Jon Stewart, but it seems this might be the book where we get traditional GL stories, instead of the Hal Jordan show over in Green Lantern. In this comic, someone stands up to Hal’s insane new laws and policies – unfortunately, that person is Jon Stewart.

Jon Stewart and the other Lantern members of this cast settle in on Oa in the wake of all the big happenings over in Green Lantern. Speaking of big happenings, like Hal Jordan essentially declaring war on every other ring-user, Jon Stewart takes him to task for all his foolish new rules and ideas, and even punches Hal when the new Corps Leader suggests Jon will have to turn against his Star Sapphire girlfriend in the name of Hal’s new law. But they patch things up, and Jon gets to work building a new home city for the GLs. Mogo is able to terraform his surface into rough buildings for everybody to use. It’s really kind of neat.

Meanwhile, some of the extra Lanterns from this title head to one of their home planets for a gladiator match, but leave angry. And it seems there are some shape-shifting Durlans starting to gain power to take down the GLC.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I just think Jon Stewart is boring. Sorry, Jon Stewart lovers, but I think he’s the least interesting of the human GLs. Fortunately, a comic like GLC actually features some alien Green Lanterns. Why not make them the stars of the book? Why do we need a human GL as an anchor? Not that I particularly cared for the alien diversion part of this comic, where they travel to that gladiatorial arena for some generic aliening. But I love the Corps as a whole, I love the camaraderie of the Corps, and that’s always better expressed through the alien GLs. The Earth GLs have too many complications. This was an entertaining enough read, and I especially liked the part where Jon sucker punched Hal for being the monster he’s becoming. I’m glad someone did.

Mighty Avengers #4

Mighty Avengers #4
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Greg Land

I have to give this comic credit, it’s touching on everything I like about modern superhero comics. The characters are people first, with the book focusing on the lot of them hanging out, chatting, and talking like normal people about their superhero business. It also actually addresses the fact that Luke is calling his team ‘Avengers’ even though Tony and Cap have this big ‘Avengers World’ thing going on. I like that they actually address the matter in conversation. It’s just neat.

Luke Cage and his Mighty Avengers set up shop in the old Gem Theater, and most of the issue is everybody hanging out talking about what the team is going to be like, and what Luke’s plans for it are. He wants them to be an on-call superhero team, where people in need can call-in and ask for help, but without being charged, like he did with the Heroes-4-Hire. The Falcon stops by for a visit and volunteers to join, while Spider Hero makes a secret call to an old magician he knows. It seems some bad things are coming. When he swings by the theater, Luke hooks Spider Hero up with Clint Barton’s old Ronin costume, so that he doesn’t have to walk around looking like a day-glo Spider-Man. The new Ronin then leads the team off to investigate the ruined city of Attilan, which remains half-sunk in the Hudson River, and which has more than a few different groups and people interested in it.

In the end, the Superior Spider-Man shows up with all of his spider henchmen and demands that Luke Cage turn over leadership of the Mighty Avengers to him!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I loved the scene of everyone hanging out in the theater shooting the breeze, talking superhero stuff like it was a normal, everyday topic of conversation. I loved them talking about Spider Hero’s jacket, and how the Ronin costume was in a box of Clint Barton’s stuff up in the attic. Everything just felt so normal. And I know people don’t like Greg Land’s art, but I thought it was great for this issue. It expressive and shiny, and just looks really professional. The photo-realism absolutely works for the series in a way that traditional superhero art wouldn’t. Mighty Avengers is shaping up to be a really fun take on the idea of an Avengers team, I just wish I cared about any of the characters. With the exception of Spider-Man, I couldn’t give two hoots about any of them, and that really lowers my interest. But that’s a personal thing. I may or may not get over it eventually.

Superior Foes #6

Superior Foes of Spider-Man #6
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Steve Lieber

I can’t believe we’re only at six issues. This series seems like it’s been around for a lot longer, but if the cover says ‘6’, I’ll believe six. And to commemorate the sixth issue of a Sinister Six comic, Spencer and Lieber apparently went above and beyond with their work. This is the best, funniest issue of Superior Foes so far.

After a nice date at the ballpark with that girl he met at the bar, Boomerang gives us the back story on the painting of Dr. Doom’s face, and then sort of explains his plan, all about how he used the Chameleon and used the Sinister Six to get him into the Owl’s basement to steal the painting. He wants all the money for himself. Then he gets a visit from Mach VI, who believes that Boomerang helped break the Sinister Six out of police custody, though Fred is able to spin a few yarns to try and cover for himself. After Mach VI leaves, Chameleon shows up and his goons knock out Fred.

Meanwhile, the Six (or three, actually), are being held prisoner by the Owl, who plans to kill them all if they don’t give up Boomerang’s location. But Beetle is full of bluster, goading Owl on while she secretly gets a message out via text. Before Owl can kill them, an explosion rocks the building and Tombstone arrives to save them. Turns out Beetle is her daughter, though he’s pretty surprised to learn that.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This issue was superb! It’s laugh-out-loud funny, with a lot of great scenes, like when Mach VI can’t fit his wings through Fred’s window so he can’t make the dramatic exit he wanted. Or Fred and the bartender bonding over their mutual hatred for some hotshot new baseball pitcher. Or Speed Demon making pop culture references to back-up Beetle when she’s talking trash to the Owl. This issue had some of the best dialogue in the series so far. This is exactly the kind of scenes and characterization I was hoping to see in a series like this.

The art is also good, though I did want to point out that Lieber is pretty terrible at drawing high-tech armor. All of the people in this comic look great, but when it comes to armor on the Beetle or Mach VI, they look awkwardly silly. Mach VI, especially, looks pretty bad. His helmet is basically an oblong circle with a visor squiggled on the front. But then maybe that’s the point, maybe he’s supposed to look like a dork.

Superman/Wonder Woman #3

Superman/Wonder Woman #3
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Tony S. Daniel.

Credit where credit is due, this issue wasn’t as disappointing as the first two. I still don’t think this relationship is anything more than a forced publicity stunt that’s never going to catch on, but the actual events of this issue were fun enough to read. It probably helps that Batman had a big guest appearance.

After that juicing up he received from Apollo in the last issue, Superman flies up to the moon to try and burn off his extra energy. Batman patches in to his communicator from the Watchtower and helps to talk Superman down, as well as give some advice about how Superman needs to start viewing Wonder Woman as an equal. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman is trying to buy Clark the perfect Christmas present even though she doesn’t really understand the importance of the gift.

Zod is still out in the desert, and he rumbles with the Justice League of America for a bit before Wonder Woman and Superman arrive to stop him. While tied up in Wonder Woman’s lasso, Zod begins to speak English and apologizes for fighting. He connects with Superman, who then takes Zod to his Fortress of Solitude to rest. Once there, Wonder Woman gives Superman his present: free time. She’s arranged for the other members of the Justice League to watch the world for awhile so that she and Superman can spend some time together. They even get to kiss! But Superman’s super-hearing picks up the fact that the world now knows they’re dating.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

What can I say? I enjoyed some of the scenes. I liked Batman talking Clark down and giving relationship advice. I liked the idea that Wonder Woman is stressing about Christmas shopping – though I thought her gift was pretty stupid. Aren’t the other members of the Justice League already watching the Earth all the time? And also, do we really still care about the world finding out that they’re dating? That was old back when Geoff Johns tried to make it an issue in Justice League. Anyway, I’m really digging New 52 Martian Manhunter, though the JLA bores me. And I liked Zod and how cool he seemed. Sadly, we all know he’s just going to end up being completely evil, so that’s boring. But for now, he seemed like a nice guy. Also, what’s up with Faora? Zod asks for her in the comic, but where did she come from? Why is Zod linked to Faora now instead of Ursa and Non?  Minor gripe, but what’s up with that?

Still, not even a helpful appearance by Batman can save this comic. The central relationship is just so bland and uninteresting. And if DC can’t even get that right (which they haven’t, and probably never will), then what’s the point of reading this comic? Stick to Brian Azzarello’s Wonder Woman.

Uncanny X-Men #15

Uncanny X-Men #15
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Kris Anka

If this is what we can expect from Inhumanity tie-ins, then count me out. Ugh. How very, very disappointing. Bendis starts off the issue with a nice, character-based story of the women on the team bonding and shopping. It’s pretty great. But halfway through the book, all of the fun storytelling is interrupted by an awkward, pointless Inhumanity tie-in, with an ending that doesn’t really do anything to resolve either part of the book. It’s like Bendis’ comic got hijacked.

The ladies of the Uncanny X-Men decide to go shopping, since none of them really packed any clothes before they joined the team, plus they just want to go out and do something normal. They chatter among themselves while they’re out, and Jean gets into an argument with Celeste over the latter’s misplaced anger at Jean. The night out is interrupted, however, by the Terrigen Mist that’s blanketing the planet after Infinity. The ladies find one of the cocoons in the streets, and it soon hatches, revealing a newly Inhumaned guy named Geldhoff. He doesn’t seem to really have any idea that he’s changed, and when the various telepaths try to probe his mind, he freaks out and his powers activate, blasting everyone away from him. Then some AIM scientists show up and take him away.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

Either Bendis really loves the name ‘Geldhoff’, or he forgot that Dan Slott already created a 616 version of Bendis’ Ultimate Geldhoff character a few years ago. Either way, Bendis got to create his own new Inhuman, but then randomly decided to end the issue with AIM showing up and just taking him away. Why? What does that add to the series? The scene where the X-women tried to help Geldhoff was at least semi-interesting, for what it was, but rather than build that into anything, Bendis just disappears him off the street. I kind of hope the Uncanny X-Men go after AIM to get him back, but what would be the point? AIM doesn’t have anything to do with this book, and surely the X-Men have got better things to do than chase after Geldhoff.

At least the first half of the book was pretty fun. It’s all dialogue-driven, and Bendis is a master of dialogue. I love comics where the superheroes act like real people, and the desire to go shopping brings out the best in Emma Frost. This may be a team of rebels hunkering down in an abandoned Weapon X facility, but they still want fresh clothes and amenities. But alas, just when it was getting good, when we might have built to some really strong character moments, in comes Inhumanity to ruin the fun.

Wolverine and the X-Men #39

Wolverine and the X-Men #39
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Pepe Larraz

For some reason, so close to his final bow on Wolverine and the X-Men, Jason Aaron decided to turn this issue into a tour of the faculties and students of the Jean Grey School. He uses his new student/spies to take a trip around the campus, while also giving mini-biographies on all the main students and their various secrets. A lot of that was neat to read, but it still seemed like a primer for new readers. What was up with that?

At least this issue contained some great scenes of the Wolverine/Cyclops rivalry. I can’t wait to see where Marvel is going with them.

Wolverine and Cyclops both show up at the same SHIELD bunker investigating the Sentinels, and they agree to put aside their differences to help each other stay alive when they get attacked by the giant robots. Both mutants also learn that neither of their powers work properly anymore (for different reasons). At the Jean Grey School, Tri-Joey is absolutely loving the place, especially the homework, while Squidface is determined that they stick to their mission of investigating the school and blowing it up for SHIELD. When the two sneak into the teachers’ lounge to gain control of the facility, all of the students are there waiting for them.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

It’s really neat to see Aaron still having fun with the Jean Grey School this deep into the comic’s run. There’s a funny little joke where the students are all in love with homework, because homework at the Jean Grey School involves things like jet-pack training. It’s adorable. But rather than dwell on the awesomeness of the school and its students, Aaron uses Squidface as a grumpy gus, bringing all the excitement down so we can get back to the comic book tale about spies and secret missions. Fortunately, it looks like Squidface and Tri-Joey will be dealt with quickly so Aaron can give the series a proper goodbye.

And I especially enjoyed the Wolverine/Cyclops scenes. I have loved their schism with a passion, and I tend to enjoy any scene in the x-books these days that focuses on that rivalry. I liked how the two put aside their differences to survive and fell into the old groove of fighting Sentinels together. That was a hoot. And I can’t wait to read the next part, even if nothing is probably going to get resolved between them. I’m also glad that Aaron doesn’t turn either one of them into the villain. Both Wolverine and Cyclops have good and bad things going for 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 December 14, 2013, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man, Superman, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Mighty Avengers was hilarious. Ewing killed it. Once Land and his awful, awful tracing bullshit, and those Lovecraftian horrors he tries to pass off as smiles, is off this book, it’s going to be an absolute must-buy series. Because Ewing’s writing is fantastic. Hilarious, plenty of nods to the past (the Gem Theatre, and DW Griffith is back! Yay!). I like a lot of the characters, myself. Luke is cool, Falcon’s cool, White Tiger’s great (I miss Academy), Monica’s awesome, Spider-Ock’s always fun, Blue Marvel’s neat, She-Hulk’s coming in soon and she’s always great. It’s a great cast of characters. If only we weren’t saddled with Greg Land, who is a pox on the industry. His art looks good the first three times you see it, and then you start to notice how much of it is recycled. It’s photo-realistic because he’s just tracing photos, and that’s bullshit, and he needs to not get work any more ever again because he is just the absolute worst.

    Superior Foes was hilarious. This book just gets crazier every issue, and I love it.

    UXM was great, I thought. The first half was really funny, and the second half was pretty tense. I also like that it actually raised the question of what the rise of the Inhumans will mean for mutants. It’s something that should be explored, but I doubt it will be. Bendis might touch on it again every now and then, but I’m not sure.

    WatXM was lame. Laaame. Same crap as usual.

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