Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 3/8/14

The new Marvel #1 issues keep pouring in! This week we’ve got Magneto, Moon Knight and the new relaunch of Wolverine and the X-Men. Personally, I have been super satisfied with the All-New Marvel NOW! campaign. It has produced some wonderful books – and some real stinkers. Fortunately, the releases this week are all mostly good.

I was very tempted to give Uncanny X-Men the gold star this week. I’ve ranted and raved before about how much I’m loving Cyclops these days, and the new issue is all about Cyclops! But then I got to thinking…we’re 18 issues into Uncanny X-Men, but has Brian Michael Bendis even gotten around to starting this ‘Mutant Revolution’ of his? The Uncanny X-Men have mostly just swirled around themselves this whole time, accomplishing little. And that kind of bummed me out. Fortunately, a new issue of She-Hulk came along to warm my heart and win Comic Book of the Week!

I hope there are some Patsy Walker fans in the audience!

Not only is Charles Soule going to be writing about legal logic, but he’s a master of drunk logic as well!

Comic Reviews: Forever Evil #6, Green Lantern #29, Magneto #1, Moon Knight #1, New Warriors #2, She-Hulk #2, Uncanny X-Men #18 and Wolverine and the X-Men #1.

Forever Evil #6

Forever Evil #6
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: David Finch

There are two types of Geoff Johns comics, and Forever Evil #6 has solidified that idea for me. The first kind involves a loving embrace of characters and plot, melding both into compelling stories starring all of our favorite characters. His Teen Titans was like that, as was his Aquaman comic, and some of his early Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps comics. They are what made me all in love with the GLC. The second kind is all about Johns having a few neat ideas and then stringing those ideas together with the dialogue it takes to get us there. The second kind doesn’t really put much focus on the characters beyond the general, and rarely has much compelling depth. His Justice League series has been like that, especially at the beginning. And Forever Evil is like that.

The framework of Forever Evil is built around one single idea: the Crime Syndicate vs. the Injustice League, with a lot of little plot points and twists thrown in to keep that going. Fortunately for us, most of those ideas, and this story as a whole, have been generally entertaining.

Batman and the Injustice League break into the crashed Watchtower to rescue Nightwing, only to find out that he’s been strapped into the Murder Machine. Batman, Luthor and Catwoman break off to help Nightwing while the others search the facility for the Syndicate. Unfortunately, the bad guys find out they’ve been infiltrated, and activate the security measures – the Murder Machine is revealed to be a bomb connected directly to Nightwing’s heart. The only way to defuse the bomb is to stop Nightwing’s heart, which, of course, Batman is unwilling to do – but not Lex Luthor! Luthor kills Nightwing and Batman attacks him, but Luthor tells Batman to stop punching him because there’s still a chance!

Meanwhile, Black Manta kills the Outsider and they free the prisoner in the hood – only to get ambushed by the Syndicate. A big fight ensues and Captain Cold manages to freeze and then shatter one of Johnny Quick’s legs. Then the prisoner reveals himself to be Alexander Luthor with the power of a reverse Shazam, and he says he’s going to kill everybody and become the greatest hero this world has ever scene!

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

Can you see what I mean? I can see Johns thinking to himself, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if Batman and Lex Luthor had to work together?’ or ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if the new Alexander Luthor was a reverse Shazam, and then we turn that into a big last-page surprise?’ Or ‘When Johnny Quick met Captain Cold, wouldn’t it be badass if Cold froze off his leg?’. Forever Evil is all stuff like that strung together with just the barest amount of dialogue needed to get us to the next ‘cool scene’. There’s no focus on what it’s really like for Batman and Luthor to work together. There’s no emphasis put on what it means for the Injustice League to be together or what it means for any of those individual characters to be on that team. They all just join up because that’s the lineup Johns picked in his head. For this story, it’s just enough that they are together and that it seems cool.

And to an extent, it is cool. Johns has always been full of great ideas, and he’s using a lot of them in Forever Evil. It is cool that Batman and Lex Luthor try to work together to save Nightwing, only for Luthor to make a play like the one he does in this issue – and for the record, there’s no way Nightwing is actually dead. Luthor has a plan. And it’s cool that all these villains have teamed up to save the world. So Forever Evil is an entertaining comic to read, I just wish some of these moments had a little more depth and emotional resonance.

Green Lantern #29

Green Lantern #29
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Billy Tan

I keep walking a very thin line over whether or not to drop this title. I don’t think I’ve liked anything Venditti has done so far with the Green Lantern Corps, but I can’t say it’s been poorly written. His Hal Jordan is fine, I think, but Venditti doesn’t seem to really grasp the big picture of what the Green Lantern Corps is and why they are such a unique and fun concept. He makes some good moves in this issue, but that’s not much.

After saying a final goodbye to his brother and his family, Hal Jordan leaves Sector 2814 and returns to Mogo to start rebuilding the Corps. He appoints Salak, Kilowog and newbie Lantern Two-Six to be his governing council as they prepare for war against the Durlans. The first step is to trace their anti-light technology, stolen from Relic, to a weapons manufacturer in Sector 487. Hal leads the strike force, and they stop the weapon production, but find out the planet is colluding with the enemies because they don’t like the Green Lanterns anymore.

Meanwhile, Walker seeks council with Mogo.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Alright.

I’m definitely enjoying Saint Walker’s subplot in this series, and that’s almost the entire reason I picked up this issue – but his scene is small, and kind of just repeats what he’s said before. I’m hoping Venditti does something really interesting with his story. As for the rest of the issue, I liked how Venditti addressed the fact that Hal Jordan is a terrible leader. He’s a hot-shot fighter pilot who likes to buck authority, and this attitude is really harmful to the Corps as a whole if he’s going to be in charge. So Hal putting together a council with Salaak and Kilowog and (I assume) Venditti’s pet character makes perfect sense, and is actually kind of cool. But the rest of the issue is just more generic action as Hal and a few random GLs storm a weapons manufacturer.

Magneto #1

Magneto #1
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Gabriel Hernandez Walta

I have been in love with Magneto’s journey ever since he joined the X-Men in the Utopia days. And when he sided with Cyclops at the end of Avengers vs. X-Men, I was thrilled. Brian Michael Bendis has been writing a great Magneto, and I especially loved that issue of Uncanny X-Men that focused on Magneto investigating Madripoor. So I was definitely excited for Cullen Bunn’s Magneto solo series in the hopes that he could continue this character’s fascinating journey. He kind of does…but not in the direction I would have liked. At least Bunn sets the stage for what could be a good, solid Magneto comic.

Magneto has broken off from the Uncanny X-Men, and isn’t even in Madripoor anymore. Instead, he’s in the Midwest, hunting and killing people who have been mean to mutants. He doesn’t reveal any larger motive or goal beyond just punishing people who have hurt mutants. Suffice to say, I’m not sure where this change in motivation came from. But one such mission leads Magneto to a police department in some small town, where they’re holding a man who killed three mutants and then turned himself in. When Magneto fights his way through the cops and confronts this man, however, it’s revealed that the man was transformed against his will into an Omega Sentinel.

Magneto defeats the Omega Sentinel and gets a lead on who is behind its creation.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I’m of two minds on this comic. On the one hand, it’s very well written and well drawn, and tells a really solid story about Magneto’s new mission in life. Bunn has a nice handle on Magneto’s current mindset, and sending the once world-leader on a personal vendetta to kill mutant-haters sounds like a neat take on Magneto. But Bendis and Gillen and others had set Magneto up to be so much more in recent years. This Magneto doesn’t seem at all like the one who appeared in Uncanny X-Men, who seemed more than willing to join the X-Men and do some good. That was a compelling and interesting Magneto, one who attempted to single-handedly tear down the mutant criminal empire that Mystique was building in Madripoor. That Magneto had depth and complexity to his every thought and action, and seemed on the verge of reinventing himself into a new, more important version. This Magneto is just a badass anti-hero who’s gonna fight some Omega Sentinels.

But again, a comic about a badass anti-hero Magneto does sound pretty entertaining. I just hope Bunn has a lot more in mind for the main character’s motivations and actions.

Moon Knight #1

Moon Knight #1
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Declan Shavely

I’ve never cared all that much for Moon Knight. He’s barely a blip on my comic reading radar, quite frankly. But the All-New Marvel NOW! has kind of been on a role so far when it comes to these off-kilter series, so I decided to give this issue a try. The name ‘Warren Ellis’ alone deserves a look.

Moon Knight is back in New York, and he’s dressing in a pretty dapper suit these days. He latches on to a police investigation into a series of slashings, and deduces that the attacker is living in the sewers. So he climbs down and confronts the man, discovering that the villain is an ex-SHIELD agent who suffered horrific injuries when an IED blew part of him up. Now he’s cutting people up and attaching their body parts to himself to turn him into the ultimate agent. Moon Knight defeats him with ease and wit. Sometime later, Marc Spector visits with a shrink who tells him that he doesn’t really have multiple personalities. Instead, the God Khonshu has possessed him, and the various personalities are actually his brain’s way of trying to make sense of Khonshu’s four forms.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I’m very sorry to say that Moon Knight by Warren Ellis is probably going to go over my head. I am not well-versed when it comes to literature, and something like this issue, with its symbolism and themes and fanciness is probably just going to miss me by a mile. I don’t like it, but what am I supposed to do? Not like the world has perfected the Smart Ray yet. Still, I can read the comic and enjoy the comic, and get a sense for what Ellis is going for here. He’s got some neat ideas for the character, and his take on Moon Knight as a dapper crime fighting detective dressed in all white is pretty neat. In fact, the art is the best part of the issue. Shavely and the rest of the art team draw Moon Knight in a stark white suit and mask, making him practically pop off the page. It’s brilliant!

Forget shadows, forget trying to make the all-white character fit into the real world. This is a genius move that draws the attention in every single panel. That is a good sign that the new Moon Knight might be able to make a dent in the comic reading world. I would definitely say the series is off to a good start, I only wish I could grasp it a little more clearly.

New Warriors #2

New Warriors #2
Writer: Chris Yost
Artist: Marcus To

I am nothing if not willing to give a comic a try, even when I don’t particularly care for it. Chris Yost’s New Warriors is falling into that category, and we’re only two issues into the series. But he makes some odd missteps here, and the overall concept is more than a little flawed, quite frankly. With comics like Hawkeye, Moon Knight, She-Hulk and more coming out of Marvel these days, I just don’t think I’m going to have much interest in by-the-numbers team books like New Warriors.

Justice and Speedball fight off their Evolutionaries, then head to Avengers Tower to get a quick info dump from the super-villain database on the convoluted backstory of the Evolutionaries. While in New York, they are attracted to Sun Girl’s battle with the baddies in the sewers, and they are joined by a new Inhuman, Mark. Meanwhile, Kaine and Aracely make friends with Namora, who was also attacked by Evolutionaries. And Nova is being held prisoner by the High Evolutionary, who tells him that the Celestials are returning to Earth to judge humanity.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

One of you lovely commenters pointed out last time that the Evolutionaries had appeared before in an X-Men comic, and that was good enough for me. Frankly, I don’t think their history matters all that much for them to be bad guys here – but Yost cares. The info dump on the Evolutionaries was almost painful to read. Their history and concept is so convoluted that I  didn’t learn anything from Yost’s backstory purge. The Evolutionaries are now even more confusing than they were in the first issue, and that is not a good thing.

Beyond that, New Warriors just isn’t coming together well enough for me. There doesn’t seem to be anything here that needs the ‘New Warriors’ specifically, and that isn’t a good way to start. Yost writes a few throwaway lines about the Fantastic Four being off in space (ho-hum) and the Avengers being off doing their ‘Avengers World’ thing, but that isn’t good enough to explain why these specific superheroes are going to come together to reform the New Warriors in light of the High Evolutionary’s threat. Why this team? Why these characters? Why do they matter in a world with so many different Avengers squads? Yost doesn’t really have an answer for that, at least not yet. He just seems to want to gather a bunch of random superheroes together and call them the ‘New Warriors’ almost purely for nostalgic reasons. It’s the same problem I have with All-New X-Factor.

If you’re going to recreate a superhero team for a new comic, please come up with stories that actually have something to do with that team. From a company producing nearly a dozen different Avengers titles, and character-prominent books like Hawkeye and Moon Knight, they can’t just sit back and produce generic superhero mush.

She-Hulk #2

She-Hulk #2
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Javier Pulido

I loved the first issue of the new She-Hulk series, and this second issue seems to keep the ball rolling smoothly. Soule definitely has a unique vision for this series, and he seems to have the pluck and skill to see it through. We are all the better for that.

She-Hulk’s first day with her own practice isn’t going very well. She doesn’t have any clients, her only case is a lawsuit against her (and a few other costumes), and the new paralegal she just hired is some weird lady who takes her pet monkey everywhere. So Shulkie calls on Patsy Walker (Hellcat) to go out drinking and unwind, but things get a little out of hand when a drunken Hellcat wants to go out to play superhero and the two ladies raid an AIM warehouse. Hellcat gets in a little over her head, but Shulkie bails her out and hires her on as a private investigator for her new law firm.

The issue ends with She-Hulk getting her first client: the son of Doctor Doom wants her help in seeking asylum in the United States!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Soule’s new She-Hulk series is strong on character, on wit, on personality, and now it’s also strong on action. As much as I would love the idea of a strictly law firm focus, it’s cool that Soule is going to add some superheroics to his series. She-Hulk is still She-Hulk, so I like that she’s going to occasionally step into costume and punch bad guys – that Soule sets it up as Shulkie and a gal pal going out for a night on the town is just great. She-Hulk isn’t the kind of superhero who patrols the dark alleys of New York City. Soule is doing a great job of setting up her new world, and Pulido is definitely going to be a major player as this series goes on. And I really hope it goes on for a long while.

Uncanny X-Men #18

Uncanny X-Men #18
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Marco Rudy

I do not hesitate when I say that Cyclops is the most fascinating and complex character at Marvel these days. His journey since the Schism, and even before that, has been one long, glorious story about a hero forced to reevaluate his ideals and defend them against the world. And I have loved Bendis’ work on the character following Avengers vs. X-Men. So when I say that this new issue of Uncanny X-Men is one long look at Cyclops, his current mindset, and the goals of his ‘revolution’, believe me when I also tell you that I loved every single page.

Even if the art is really, really weird.

Bendis takes a step back from all current stories to flash back to Cyclops’ side of certain recent events, most importantly Kitty Pryde and the original X-Men joining his team. Kitty was still very mad at Cyclops over his killing of Xavier, so when Magik brought the two of them together, Kitty immediately phased her hand into Cyclops’ head and threatened to kill his brain. But Cyclops is able to talk Kitty down by explaining that he didn’t kill Xavier, it was the Phoenix Force, and if he believed he was at all responsible,  he’d kill himself. As much as everybody hates Cyclops right now, he tells Kitty that nobody hates him more than himself. He knows he will have to answer for what he did, but he’ll be damned if he’s going to let that happen before he does everything he can to make sure all the new mutants in the world get a fair shake. The Avengers and SHIELD aren’t doing anything to help mutants, it’s up to Cyclops and his people.

Kitty backs off, and Cyclops offers to do whatever he can to help her, which means bringing the original X-Men to join his team. As such, Cyclops has a very brief scene with Jean Grey, where he tells her that she doesn’t know everything that happens between the two of them, and she replies that what she does know – specifically the wedding – she can’t believe. He also has a sit-down with young Cyclops, who wants to know what happened to Xavier, but we cut away before that scene fully plays out.

In the present day, Tempus wants to talk Cyclops into letting Hijack come back, but before she gets the chance, Cyclops realizes that the young X-Men are gone. They’re off in outer space having a crossover with the Guardians of the Galaxy, but for the Uncanny X-Men, it means Cyclops failed to protect those kids, and he has no real idea how he could possibly help them now. All of this frustration builds over into one of those classic moments where Cyclops screams and fills the whole page with red.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Finally, at long last, we get a definition behind Cyclops’ ‘revolution’. I’ve never quite understood why he’s been calling it that, and why he’s been waging this little war. But he finally explains himself, and I definitely approve of the definition. Cyclops is definitely not the kind of man who would sit in prison, being sneered at by everybody else, when there was work to be done. Since when do superheroes allow themselves to sit in prison? AvX: Consequences, the story where Cyclops broke out, was the absolute best thing to come out of Avengers vs. X-Men, and it started Cyclops on this amazing journey. So I’m glad to see Bendis finally lay out Cyclops’ side of the story. That’s why I loved this issue so much. Cyclops remains the most exciting character at Marvel.

On the other hand, explaining the revolution is great, but 18 issues in, I don’t think Bendis has done a single thing to forward or showcase that revolution. Uncanny X-Men has been about gathering the new students, training the new students, a trip to Limbo and Battle of the Atom. Cyclops and his team haven’t done anything for the mutant cause since the series began. Bendis needs to hurry up and actually tell some important stories with this team now that he has so successfully put them together. What exactly are they doing for the mutant race?

Wolverine and the X-Men #1

Wolverine and the X-Men #1
Writer: Jason Latour
Artist: Mahmud Asrar

Right off the bat, you can tell there’s something missing from Latour’s Wolverine and the X-Men, and that is Jason Aaron. Aaron brought a certain whimsy to this series that became its stock and trade, and while Latour clearly tries to recapture that same magic, I just don’t think he succeeds. It’s very clear that Latour wants to keep the ball rolling from Aaron, but he probably would have been better served trying something new.

Quentin Quire has been appointed a teaching assistant for summer school, and he hates it, for the usual Quentin reasons. He has no control over the students, so when Rockslide and Hellion mess around and smash the place up, Quentin is the one who gets yelled at by Headmistress Storm – though Quentin just taunts her with the fact that everybody’s worried about him becoming the Phoenix. Elsewhere, Wolverine is fighting his way through some kind of automaton MMA ring, where Fantomex is hiding. He tries to convince Fantomex to come to the school, and even brought Evan along, but Fantomex has decided that he belongs in that ring, its his own little prison. Meanwhile, we get a flash forward to the future, where Phoenix Quire and Idie are battling a fully Apocalypse Evan.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

Oddly, one of the strangest things in the new Wolverine and the X-Men issue is the way it completely ignores the rest of the X-verse. Isn’t Wolverine off on some personal journey as a super-villain to find himself? Why is he still associated with the school? And Fantomex’s recent appearance in the new X-Force has absolutely nothing in common with his appearance in this issue. Did nobody talk to each other to figure out who would get Fantomex? Is he really such an in-demand character?

But that’s a minor nitpick. My real problem with this comic is just in the way it tries and fails to recapture the magic of Jason Aaron’s madcap series – which I know some of you didn’t like, but I generally enjoyed. Latour is using many of the same characters, especially Quentin Quire, but the Jean Grey School just isn’t as fun when everything that happens is just a weaker version of the last guy’s schtick. At least Latour is using more classic students, like Rockslide and Armor. That’s kind of neat.

Latour needs to find his own voice and his own style for this series. Focusing on a watered down Quentin Quire isn’t going to help.

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 March 8, 2014, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. The artwork in the She-Hulk panel you displayed is atrocious. When i first started reading it, i thought it was just some amateur cartoonist comedy strip, sorta like the batgirl/supergirl one. Then i realized it was from the actual comic. Not my cup of tea i guess.

  2. Can’t wait to start She-Hulk.

  3. Magneto was very good. Very cool.

    Moon Knight was really good. But it’s Warren Ellis, so of course it’s good. It’s a very interesting take on the character, and I like it. I don’t like the suit, though. I’ll be glad when he puts on a proper costume again.

    New Warriors was good. I’m looking forward to all this set-up being done, though, and the series really getting started.

    She-Hulk was awesome. I’m really looking forward to seeing more of the people in her building. And poor Patsy. But her smile when Jen offered her a job was adorable.

    UXM was great. Seeing Kitty and Scott was nice – they’re my two favourites, so I always like seeing them interact. And seeing Scott’s sense of guilt and responsibility for Xavier’s death was really nice. Some powerful stuff.

    WatXM was meh. It’s already a vast improvement over the shallow, trying-too-hard Aaron run. But I simply can’t have any faith in this series, as a result of how incredibly bad that Aaron run was. At least Rockslide and Hellion show up. Maybe Latour will actually remember that a school has more than a half-dozen students, and we’ll actually get to see some characters beyond Aaron’s shitty pet characters. Maybe Surge and Dust and Anole and all the other New X-Men will get to play some role. I doubt it – I’m sure they’ll be wallpaper at best – but maybe Latour will surprise me. He’s already given more depth to Rockslide than Aaron ever gave to anyone in his entire two-dimensional run. This issue was also blissfully devoid of Broo – he can just stay out in space, as far as I’m concerned. On the other hand, the Hellfire Brat still at the school made a cameo – Latour would be wise to never use any of those shits ever again.

    • I do like the pictures I’ve seen of the new Moon Knight costume, looks badass.

      I would like to see New Warriors do something like Al Ewing is doing in Mighty Avengers, where he actually went through the steps of what it’s like for a bunch of people to hang out and put a team together. I really like seeing that ‘behind-the-scenes’ stuff in superhero comics.

      I completely agree about Broo. Man, Aaron really did have some terrible new characters in his series. More Dust would be great too.

      • What makes Broo frustrating is that he could’ve been great. Christos age created the character during an arc of Astonishing X-Men, and he was fairly interesting. He was a Brood who didn’t want to hurt people. He had a bit of a snarky aspect. But the big thing was the loneliness and despair he felt when he was cut off from the Brood hive mind. There was a lot of stuff to explore. Instead, we got “nerd who thinks people are being nice to him when they’re insulting him, lolz!” Broo should’ve been great, but Aaron did a shit job on the series, and made Broo an obnoxious little turd.

      • Huh, that doesn’t sound like Broo from WatX at all!

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