Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 1/18/14

Holy cow, you guys, the Blob is back! The Blob! Not the Age of Apocalypse Blob, or skinny Blob, or powerless Blob, but the real, regular, normal, 616 Blob is back in all his glory in this week’s issue of Uncanny X-Men! With no explanation whatsoever, Brian Michael Bendis just brings back one of my all-time favorite comic book super-villains! And he’s great! Oh man, I hope Bendis has some fun plans for the character!

But the return of the Blob does not win Uncanny X-Men Comic Book of the Week on its own. No sir. Uncanny X-Men wins that title for an absolutely amazing Magneto story, which catapults him to maybe the most badass mutant on the planet these days. If his upcoming solo series is anywhere near as good as this issue, then we’re all in for a treat.

Fortunately, we’ve also got good issues of Thor: God of Thunder, Superior Spider-Man and some other titles this week. I even picked up Skyman #1 by Dark Horse!

But man, I’m so excited for the Blob!

I love the Hawaiian shirt, the sunglasses and the goatee; I love’em!

Comic Reviews: Amazing X-Men #3, Green Lantern Corps #27, Skyman #1, Superior Spider-Man #25, Superman/Wonder Woman #4, Thor: God of Thunder #17 and Uncanny X-Men #16. 

Amazing X-Men #3

Amazing X-Men #3
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Ed McGuinness

While I’ve been enjoying Aaron’s Amazing X-Men so far, I still don’t think he put much thought into using Azazel. This whole ‘pirates in the Afterlife’ thing really takes a nosedive in this issue when Aaron has Azazel give a straight-up speech about being pirates in the Afterlife. It’s one thing to make it seem like they’re pirates, but now it feels like Azazel is living out some kind of pirate fetish, considering how closely he follows all the old pirate cliches. It just makes the whole story a little more awkward now that we know how seriously the bad guys are playing pretend.

Beast and Azazel do battle aboard the latter’s pirate ship, trading quips and swords and whatnot, until Azazel thinks he’s won. Elsewhere, Storm is being held prisoner aboard another pirate ship, but Nightcrawler shows up, sets her free, and together they battle more pirates. Eventually, the two ships meet, and Nightcrawler comes face-to-face with a pretty feral, battle-hardened Beast.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

This issue was fine, I suppose, but there’s not much going on. Aaron’s characterizations are fine, and his Nightcrawler is pretty cool, but maybe that’s just because we haven’t seen Nightcrawler in so long. So really, his death was just a breather, and now the character can come back free of all baggage, and just be his charming, swashbuckling self. Nightcrawler’s flirtation with Storm is a real treat. But everything else is rather dull and lifeless. Aaron spends way too much time on Beast arguing and fighting with Azazel. Aaron’s Beast lacks all of the charm and wit of his Nightcrawler, so it’s not nearly as fun to read. And like I said before, this pirate thing has gone too far.

GLC #27

Green Lantern Corps #27
Writers: Van Jensen and Robert Venditti
Artist: Bernard Chang

Green Lantern Corps is definitely the book I should be reading instead of Green Lantern. But I really, really don’t care about Jon Stewart. It’s disappointing. Whereas Venditti’s Green Lantern is a mess, with an already corrupt Hal Jordan and a hideously boring story about Durlans, Jensen’s Green Lantern Corps is actually exploring the characters in the Corps and dealing with the ramifications of having to rebuild. This comic is also stuck with this stupid Durlan storyline, but I really get the sense that Jensen wants to tell some exciting stories about the GLC. If only DC would let him!

Jon Stewart and a squadron of classic GLs, including Vath Sarn, Princess Iolande and a cool snake Lantern named Oliversity, investigate the sector house in 0422, which recently came under attack by the Khund Empire. With Fatality’s help, they’re able to watch the battle that the two sector Lanterns, Procanon and Kho, had against the Khunds. But before they can go save them, Durlan Hal Jordan’s announcement from Green Lantern #27 comes through, revealing the secret of the emotional reservoir to the universe. All of the various sector houses come under attack, so Jon leads his squad to the nearest one to help the local GL. They also get the chance to take on the Khunds to rescue Procanon and Kho, but there are still a lot more Khunds between them and home.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

There’s just something about the writing in this series that isn’t clicking with me. The issue is good, and I like what Jensen is doing with the Corps and its various members here, but there’s no real depth to what’s happening. There’s no heart. Some of the characters, like Vath, have distinct personalities, but not really. Jon Stewart definitely doesn’t, but I could be biased. Still, I like what I’m seeing as a whole. I like that at least one GL book is focusing on more than just the human Lanterns. Unfortunately, this stupid Durlan War storyline rears its ugly head, and everybody’s got to deal with that for a few pages. But we do get a pretty cool battle/rescue on the Khund warship. That was entertaining, at least.

Skyman #1

Skyman #1
Writer: Joshua Hale Fialkov
Artist: Manuel Garcia

In my effort to read more than just the Big Two publishers, I picked up a copy of Skyman #1 from Dark Horse Comics. I’ve still got your suggestions written down, and I’m going to try to get caught up with those series before I review any new issues. This being the first issue of Skyman helps. I don’t know anything about the character or his history. So let’s see what all the fuss is about, eh?

The Skyman Program is a government-operated superhero, one that has been around for decades, with several different men under the mask. Well the most recent Skyman went nuts, blew up a building, and then got into a bar fight while spewing racist comments to anyone in ear shot. The video of the fight was posted on Youtube, and now the whole country knows that Skyman is a racist asshole who does secret black ops missions for the government. In order to find a new Skyman, the government turns to General Abernathy, whose black, and who doesn’t like the group of all-white recruits that have been chosen. Instead, Abernathy turns to Sgt. Eric Reid, an Air Force officer who lost the use of his legs after his plane went down in the Middle East.

Government operatives kidnap Reid from his home and wife one night, and he wakes up with the Skyman belt already around his waist. The belt’s powers give Eric back the use of his legs, and the rest of the suit gives him super strength, the ability to fly and probably a few more powers. Eric is teamed up with Lt. Sharp, his handler, and the guy who would have become the new Skyman if Abernathy hadn’t wanted a black guy. Sharp is none too happy playing handler while someone else gets to be Skyman. Eric tries out the suit, then hits the showers. Sharp shows up and accuses him of getting his men killed in that plane crash. The two fight it out in the shower until they arrive at that moment of mutual respect that men get after they fight one another – at least in fiction.

Except Sharp is still an asshole, and when Eric dives out of a plane to make his dramatic debut alongside President Obama, Sharp uses his remote control to disable the Skyman suit. He lets Eric freefall for awhile until finally re-engaging the suit, and allowing Eric to land beside the President for the TV cameras.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

This was a fine start, and I can see some potential in this comic. I like Eric’s giddy excitement when he starts flying around as Skyman. It’s a palpable excitement. And I like the idea that Eric is going to be in the dark about the Skyman Program’s sinister agenda, and that maybe he’ll have to take on his benefactors some day. But other than that, there’s not too much to recommend about this comic. Eric is a fine, friendly character. I’m sure he’ll make a great superhero. But there’s nothing overly catchy about Skyman himself. He’s got the basic super-powers, and a pretty basic costume. There’s nothing special about Skyman the superhero. That might be a problem. I also don’t like that Lt. Sharp is still an asshole even after that fight in the shower. I thought that was supposed to indicate they would work together. But nope, he’s an asshole, and a predictable asshole at that.

I also didn’t care for Garcia’s art. It’s sloppy, muddled and just very amateurish. I would think Dark Horse could bring on better artists. But the art wasn’t a deal breaker. This is a fine start to a comic, and as apparently part of Dark Horse’s new superhero line, they could do a lot worse. I just wish they’d done something a little more unique or exciting.

Spider-Man #25

Superior Spider-Man #25
Writers: Dan Slott and Christos Gage
Artist: Humberto Ramos

Have you heard the news? Peter Parker is coming back, and his return is telegraphed in this issue. We’ll get to it in a moment, but first I’d like to say what a shame it will be to lose Superior Spider-Man. I may have been hesitant in the very beginning, but I quickly got on board with just how much fun this series has been. Slott’s Octavius, rejuvenated by the body of Peter Parker, has been an absolute blast! Any comic fans who never gave this series a try are fools, plain and simple. Superior Spider-Man has been an absolute treat, and I’ll be sad to see it go.

Though I’ve no doubt that Slott has some greatness planned for Peter’s return – even if it’s going to involve a movie tie-in with Electro. Groan.

Superior Venom takes out a few more of Roderick Kingsley’s hired goons, but the Avengers show up and wage war against Spidey! He’s able to hold his own against all of them, including Thor, but there are others at work behind-the-scenes. Iron Man teams up with Cardiac and Flash Thompson to launch a sneak attack on Venom, which reveals to Otto that the symbiote was slowly taking control of his mind without his noticing. Otto finally starts fighting to free himself – and he gets a helping hand from Ghost Peter, who makes his return in this issue! Together, they cast off the symbiote, without Otto becoming wise to Peter’s presence. Venom returns to Flash, who has it under control, and Otto tries to pretend like the symbiote had been influencing his evil decisions for months!

But none of the Avengers particularly buy that story, and Tony Stark takes a look at the tests they ran earlier when he wasn’t around – only to find out that the results were erased by Spider-Man! Meanwhile, Carlie Cooper is turned into a new goblin named Monster, and together, she and Menace go out and fight some more of Kingsley’s goons. The War of the Goblins is ready to begin!

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I don’t know about you, but I really liked the way everybody treated the Venom symbiote, especially Mary Jane. The idea that everyone is afraid for Spider-Man felt kind of old school, and I just liked it. The rest of the issue is great too. I’ve always liked Ramos’ art, and he draws a really wild Venom. Superior Venom just looks awesome, and holding his own against the Avengers was fun to read – even if they came off as secondary, considering Tony Stark had to save the day, then had to prove they were all idiots for getting snookered by Octavius.

I’m getting more and more excited for Goblin Nation with each passing issue, though for some reason, nobody can come up with any new good ideas for Goblins. Carlie Cooper is named ‘Monster’? That’s almost as bad as ‘Menace’. Still, Goblin Nation is going to rock! While this issue lacked a lot of the strong character work that’s been a hallmark of this series, especially when Otto is out of costume, Slott and Ramos still put together a great superhero fight. And the return of Peter Parker will be most welcome indeed.

Superman/Wonder Woman #4

Superman/Wonder Woman #4
Writer: Charles Soule
Artists: Tony Daniel and Paulo Siqueira

Meh. Whatever high hopes DC had for this series just aren’t working for me. The relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman rings as false as ever, and now, only four issues in, everybody is still more concerned with just talking about the relationship than letting the readers actually experience it. But all of that happens in the second half of the issue, an issue that is oddly split into two separate stories for some reason, stories told out of chronological order. Instead, the main focus of Superman/Wonder Woman has become the introduction of General Zod into the New 52, and Soule doesn’t do anything new or interesting with him.

After a hook-up in London, during which they briefly talk about why Superman chooses to be Clark Kent sometimes, Clark and Diana go their separate ways for the day. Superman says he needs to check in with his blog partner Cat about why their blog is the one that broke the story about Superman and Wonder Woman’s relationship…but that meeting is relegated to a back-up story in the second half of this issue. First (though chronologically second), Superman heads to the Fortress of Solitude to have a chat with Zod about Doomsday. Zod is then able to trick Superman into turning on his Phantom Zone Projector, before betraying the Man of Steel and unlocking all of the cells in Superman’s intergalactic zoo (they weren’t cells, like Superman thought, they were merely Kryptonian shipping containers). Zod then uses the Projector to free Faora from the Phantom Zone.

Even though that is written like a cliffhanger at the end of the comic, complete with a teaser for next issue, the second half of #4 picks up with a sort of flashback to Clark chatting with Cat about the story. Cat’s boyfriend Aaron is throwing them a party now that the story has pushed their blog traffic through the roof. Clark wants to find out where Cat got the story, but she refuses to tell him until he actually mingles at the party – which we don’t get to see, even if it would have been fun. We see various reactions from other people around the world about the secret getting out, including Steve Trevor, Batman and Lex Luthor, though none of it is very interesting. Wonder Woman meets with her Amazon friend and together they fight some bad guys to relieve stress, but still, it’s just them talking about Wonder Woman’s hang-ups in the relationship. She and Clark spend the issue apart.

Cat finally tells Clark that she got the info in a secretive flash drive that was mailed to her. Cat doesn’t care where it came from, only that it worked. Clark wants to investigate further.

Comic Rating: 4/10 – Pretty Bad.

Why Zod didn’t think Superman would help him rescue his girlfriend/wife from the Phantom Zone is beyond me. Instead, Zod blows his cover almost immediately after he put the cover in place. We all know Zod’s going to be evil, but couldn’t Soule and DC have come up with something more interesting for him? Couldn’t Zod have been manipulatively charming just a little bit longer? And again, I’m fairly certain Superman would have helped Zod free Faora, so the guy ruined his scheme for nothing.

Why even have Zod in this comic? DC has three separate Superman solo comics right now, but for some reason, they’ve decided to introduce the New 52 Zod in the pages of Superman/Wonder Woman? Even though he clearly has nothing to do with Wonder Woman whatsoever? What’s the point of that? Why not save Zod until some space opened up in Superman Unchained? What does General Zod bring to the relationship drama of Superman and Wonder Woman? Absolutely nothing. And speaking of ‘nothing’, there is absolutely no relationship drama in this comic. Superman and Wonder Woman spend the entire issue apart. And while Clark gets to go out to a party and investigate the leak, Wonder Woman is stuck hanging out with her one friend and once again just talking about her hang-ups in the relationship.


The question of whether or not the two of them are knocking boots is skipped over as well, even though in a comic like this, one would think sex could be mined for all manner of character growth or storytelling. But Soule does nothing of the sort.

Whatever Superman/Wonder Woman was supposed to be about, this is not it. Issue #4 is Superman vs. Zod, and a poorly written, uninteresting Zod at that. So unless Zod is your favorite, I couldn’t possibly recommend this comic.

Thor #17

Thor: God of Thunder #17
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Emanuela Lupacchino and Ron Garney

I haven’t been too happy with this Accursed storyline, what with the obvious tie-in to the Thor movie from last November. But Aaron goes out on a strong note, so at least I’m glad for that. Maybe he’ll manage to do something interesting with Malekith after all.

The final battle against Malekith begins, and Thor is quickly aided by the reunited League of Realms! Turns out, Thor killing Ud the Troll was only a trick on Malekith, and together the good guys start to kick some butt. Malekith does his best to try and defeat Thor, but the god of thunder won’t hear of it! Then just before he deals the finishing blow, the dark elf council reveal that they have come to a decision: they want Malekith as their king! The dark elves are just a screwed up people, and they only respect kings that they fear, and they fear no one more than Malekith. Thor is pretty pissed off, but what can he do? The dark elves are free to run their own government. Waziria even volunteers to finish Malekith’s sentence in the dungeon for reasons I don’t quite understand. I guess she thinks Malekith can do right by her people? I dunno.

In the end, Thor remains pissed, but at least he has new friends. And Malekith and the Frost Giants have decided to form their own League of Realms, only with evil races this time.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Now that was an awesome twist ending! I did not see it coming, but it makes a sick kind of dark elf sense. The Nine Realms are not the streets of New York, with muggers who need to be beat up, and the simplicity of fighting crime. The Nine Realms are political, and this ending feeds wonderfully into the wider tapestry that Aaron is playing with. I love that Malekith gets what he wants because that’s what the people choose, and there’s nothing Thor can do about it because he’s not in charge of the dark elves. Though Waziria’s decision doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. I hope Aaron isn’t done with her.

And I hope he’s not done with any of the League of Realms! I’m so glad Thor murdering Ud last issue was just a trick, and that all three of those warriors remain. I want to see a lot of them, because Thor could use some new friends and supporting characters. This should not be the last we see of Screwbeard, Ud the Troll and Sir Ivory Honeyshot.

I liked the issue too. The fight was a lot of fun, with plenty of humor and banter thrown in for good measure. And Thor was sufficiently badass and heroic. The fill-in art by Lupacchino was phenomenal! It was colorful and bright, with great detail. Garney’s pencils suffered in the end, but Lupacchino made the issue. There were times I wasn’t really sold on this whole 5-part story, but the ending is very good.

Uncanny X-Men #16

Uncanny X-Men #16
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Chris Bachalo

Man, oh man, Magneto is awesome. He’s been awesome for a good long while now, and his role on the Uncanny X-Men has been the best, but with this issue, Bendis puts the focus on Magneto and pushes him to the forefront of awesomeness. Magneto is such a different person these days than when he was a tyrannical mutant terrorist, and Bendis plays that up perfectly in this issue.

Plus, like I said, be on the lookout for a fun cameo!

Magneto doesn’t seem to know what to do with himself anymore. His powers are coming back, but what sort of difference is he making? He attends a pro-mutant rally at that campus the Uncanny X-Men visited earlier, fantasizes about terrorizing the humans, and he has a clandestine chat with Agent Dazzler. She tells him to check out Madripoor. So Magneto heads down, under cover, and finds Mutant Growth Hormone on the street. He fights some guys in a bar to get a tip on the leader of this place, and that takes him to the former HYDRA HQ, where he’s greeted by the freakin’ Blob! The Blob, you guys! The Blob is back to being fat (without any explanation!), and he’s happy to see Magneto. Blob introduces Magneto to the people running the place: Sabretooth, Silver Samurai and Agent Dazzler, who reveals herself as Mystique in disguise.

Mystique thinks she’s built up a great place for mutants on Madripoor, a place where they can just be themselves and not worry about all the crap that came with living on Genosha or Utopia. But Magneto is still pretty pissed about the Mutant Growth Hormone, and this whole damn place, so he attacks, taking out the lot of them, even with his reduced powers. He hijacks a helicopter and flies away, bringing the whole building down on them.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

My synopsis cannot fully express how cool Magneto was in this issue. He’s such a subtle person these days, his goals and aspirations long changed from the days of old. And as he watches a pro-mutant rally, chats with who he thinks is Dazzler, and then infiltrates Madripoor as just a man in sunglasses and a hat, he’s such a fascinating guy. Who is Magneto now that his battle with Xavier is long over? What is he trying to prove? Who is he to his former allies and former dreams? This is fascinating subject matter, and Bendis nails it with this issue. Magneto’s reputation follows him everywhere, even when the people he’s dealing with don’t know who he is; the readers know, and that’s all that matters.

I’m definitely picking up his solo series now.

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 January 18, 2014, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man, Superman, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. AXM was OK. Beast’s voice was really good. Aaron has had a tendency, in WatXM, to have Beast just say whatever, and it doesn’t always sound right. The banter here sounds like Beast, though. However, Azazel is a pox on comics and never should’ve been brought back. It is impossible to tell a good story with Azazel, because he is an inherently stupid and awful concept.

    Superior Spider-Man was pretty good.

    Thor was good. Hell of a twist at the end.

    UXM was awesome. Bendis’ voice for Blob is way off, but other than that, it’s a great issue. Touches on a lot of plot points, does some great character work, and sets up Magneto’s new solo.

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