Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 5/10/14

It is with a heavy heart that I announce that I am throwing in the towel of doing full, giant-sized reviews of All-New X-Factor. I got hit with a lot of work at the end of this week, including those reviews of Teen Titans and Ultimate Spider-Man, and I took a long hard look at All-New X-Factor and decided that I just didn’t care enough anymore. I started the long-form reviews for X-Factor because it was my favorite comic starring my favorite character, but it has since become a shadow of its former self.

So from now on, let’s welcome All-New X-Factor to our Hench-Sized Reviews! I hope it finds the place a nice fit.

Beyond that new issue, this week brought an avalanche of good comics, some of which I had to simply skip right over due to time constraints. I really want to get back to reviewing Black Widow, and She-Hulk was really good again, but this week I had to focus on the first chapters of Original Sin and Futures End, the new Big Event comics from Marvel and DC.

Neither one is all that great, quite frankly.

Comic Book of the Week goes to Magneto #3, though I have a feeling that some of the comics still on my pile waiting to be read might be a little better. Still, out of the stack I managed to get done in time for reviews, Magneto was pretty cool.

Plus he’s got that starring role coming up in X-Men: Days of Future Past. So I want to be on his good side.

Comic Reviews: All-New X-Factor #7, Aquaman and the Others #2, Batman Eternal #5, Futures End #1, Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #2, Magneto #3 and Original Sin #1.

All-New X-Factor #7

All-New X-Factor #7
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Carmine Di Giandomenico

Without Multiple Man as a guiding light, X-Factor just isn’t as good as it once was, and I admit that that might be entirely subjective. Multiple Man is my most favorite comic book character of all time, so sue me. I will admit to liking this comic a bit more since I panned the debut, but All-New X-Factor is still just a mediocre book, at best.

A teenager named Georgia makes a live stream video complaining about how her home life sucks. When her father catches her, he pulls her away and has his manservant shoot the computer. Georgia’s father happens to be Scott Dakei, a stand-in for ultra-conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch. X-Factor discovers the interrupted live stream, and because Dakei is a huge anti-mutant bigot, they decide to pop by his house to rescue his daughter from his clutches. After tricking their way past some guards, X-Factor find the girl, but she doesn’t want to leave. Sure her dad is a little gun crazy, but she loves him, this is her home, and her videos are just the typical rantings of any teenager. Doug is convinced that Georgia just doesn’t know how bad she has it, but when he goes to grab her and take her with them, her powers kick in and Doug is reduced to a mummy-looking corpse.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

All I can really muster for All-New X-Factor seven issues in is a big, ole ‘meh’. There have been times where PAD’s dialogue really clicks like the old days, and the characters really have some urgency behind them. But the comic remains a generic gathering of superheroes doing vaguely superheroic things. There is really no greater themes, no big plots, at least none that we’ve yet seen. PAD is just writing a bunch of minor X-characters hanging out doing…stuff. This new plot can really only be categorized as ‘more stuff’. It’s disheartening and deadening, and I just can’t muster much care for All-New X-Factor. There are much better comics out there.

Aquaman and the Others #2

Aquaman and the Others #2
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Lan Medina

Though Aquaman and the Others isn’t one of them. This comic suffers a bit of the same dullness as X-Factor. It’s a bunch of super-powered people hanging out and going on adventures together. The Others still feel kind of new, but they don’t feel as vibrant as they once did when they were first introduced. And Aquaman being a member is really more of a fluke than a fixture.

Sky, the newest Other, saves everyone as they fall from the blown up plane. She has the power to traverse limbo, where dead souls reside, but it freaks out some of her teammates for various reasons. They argue and bicker among themselves – like how the Operative doesn’t believe Sky and the Prisoner actually talk to ghosts – before Aquaman gets them a ship. While in limbo, Sky spoke with Kahina the Seer, one of the dead Others, who tells her that some bad guys have kidnapped her sister, who has visions about Futures End. So the Others head off to rescue Kahina’s sister…only for the bad guys to find them first and bring the Others right to them. The bad guys want to use Kahina’s sister to recover the Atlantean Artifacts, which they claim were stolen by the Others. And they threaten the sister’s life to get them back.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

A lot of my same concerns with X-Factor apply to Aquaman and the Others. It’s just a bunch of super-people hanging out and then dealing with super-people stuff. Jurgens does his best to spice up their dialogue, and at times it’s kind of entertaining, but lackluster art from Lan Medina,  and a generally boring direction for the series, keep it from truly accomplishing something special. I still think the characters have merit, and they can be cool in an ornery sort of way, but Jurgens is treating them like any other super team instead of finding a unique voice for the Others. That’s a problem. And like I said, Aquaman just doesn’t feel like he fits with this group very well.

I’m also willing to concede that I might just be in Curmudgeon Mode this week.

Batman Eternal #5

Batman Eternal #5
Writers: Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV
Artist: Andy Clarke

I think I am going to dedicate myself to reading and reviewing every single issue of Batman Eternal. This may be a year-long project, but what’s the point of popping in and out here and there? If DC is going to commit to the whole year, then I will too! Someone must review it all, and that someone will be me! It helps that Tim Drake, my favorite DC character, makes his first appearance in this book.

I only wish the New 52 Tim wasn’t such as asshole to Batman.

Red Robin is in Gotham investigating the kids who were made sick during Pyg’s attack…only to discover that the kids were getting sick before they were attacked. Batman stops in to check on his progress, but Red Robin is a total dick to Batman and basically tells him to buzz off. Of course, Batman is withholding some information from him, so Tim feels justified. Tim discovers that the sickness in the kids is an advanced nanobite swarm, and it’s localized around an apartment complex in the Narrows – the same complex where Harper Row and her brother Cullen live. Tim is there looking over one of the victims when the nanobite swarm detects his intrusion and attacks!

The fight causes Tim to crash through the floor into Harper’s apartment, where she and Cullen have brought reporters Vicki Vale and Joey Day. They are investigating the gang war and were about to get beaten up by some thugs when Harper saved them, but now they’re all threatened by this swarm. Red Robin manages to turn the swarm off, but when he does, the nanobots decide to take refuge inside Cullen’s body this time! Tim promises Harper that he will find a way to save Cullen.

In the end, Vicki gets to break the story of the gang war on the front page of the Gotham Gazette.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

Seriously, why does Tim have to be such an asshole? I get that he was upset after Death of the Family, and then Damian and Dick Grayson are supposed to be dead now, but that means Tim is the last Robin that Batman can really trust. Doesn’t Tim get that? Pre-reboot Tim would be more than willing to be there to support Batman. That was his intended purpose. But New 52 Tim is much more independent and it bugs me. But that’s just a personal gripe. Maybe one of the reasons he’s appearing in Batman Eternal is to patch up his relationship with Batman. I can dream.

The rest of the issue was fine, and I always like more from Harper Row, even if she’s not going to be the new Robin. A Tim/Harper subplot over the course of the series would be absolutely delightful. They bring with them this weird, sci-fi nanobot subplot, which is more out there than the gang war from the previous issues. Personally, a nanobot swarm is not as interesting as Carmine Falcone, but there are probably going to be a lot of juggling balls in the air over the course of this series.

Futures End #1

Futures End #1
Writers: Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen
Artist: Patrick Zircher

I was incorrect above. Futures End isn’t a new Big Event comic, it’s a new weekly comic to run alongside Batman Eternal. But it has the makings of a Big Event…though it doesn’t help that DC’s last Big Event, Forever Evil, isn’t even over yet. Haven’t we all completely moved on from Forever Evil?

Thirty-five years into the future, the world has been taken over by an evil cyborg army led by Brother Eye, which has enslaved most of the world’s population, including the superheroes. Batman Beyond, Terry McGinnis, goes back in time to prevent this future from happening, but he doesn’t go back far enough and winds up five years into the future. His on-board Alfred AI informs him that Brother Eye, created by Bruce Wayne and Mister Terrific, is already in motion. In fact, out in deep space, Brother Eye’s forces kill Stormwatch. And back on Earth, some mysterious force kills Green Arrow before Firestorm can arrive in time to save him.

Comic Rating: 4/10 – Pretty Bad.

Count me out. No thank you. Mark Waid was right when he took to Twitter and called Futures End “the New52est ‘New52’ comic E-V-E-R.” I think this comic is everything I hate in comics right now, especially at DC. It’s mindless, gritty, ugly fluff, starring Batman Beyond, who I just don’t like. It’s all about brutally killing as many characters as possible as gruesomely as possible. Did you see the Free Comic Book Day prologue? Frankenstein had Black Canary’s face sewn into his chest, and it was all drawn in grizzly detail. It was horrifying! The people out there are right when they say that DC Comics has no interest in appealing to children anymore. They just want to shove gritty, uncomfortable comics down our throats and hope we’re happy.

Iron Fist #2

Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #2
Writer and Artist: Kaare Andrews

I have never been an Iron Fist fan, but there is no denying that the Brubaker/Fraction series from a few years ago was pretty damn amazing. And I’ve also been a fan of Kaare Andrews, so I owe this new series a glance or two, at least. I’ve been pleased with what I’ve seen so far, but Iron Fist himself isn’t all that compelling, at least not when compared to Andrews’ overall sense of style.

In K’un Lun, the former Thunderer is leading a ceremony to honor the death of the latest dragon, while his young child has snuck down into the caverns to view the growing egg of the next dragon. The child is visited by his sister, who tells him the place is forbidden, and then they are both ambushed by their brother Davos, who’s still alive and evil. At the ceremony, a fleet of helicopters suddenly enters K’un Lun, led by a mysterious cloaked figure. The Thunderer goes to confront them, only to be surprised at who the figure turns out to be!

In New York, Danny leaves the woman he slept with with the monk who came to warn him about K’un Lun, while he takes a secret portal to K’un Lun hidden under the Rand Building. He fights off some brigands before he reaches the fabled city…only to find it in ruins

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Heh, I can’t help but feel that the people of K’un Lun brought this attack upon themselves. Who lets Davos live? Who gives him the time and opportunity to build up another army so that he can attack K’un Lun like he does? That part is a little predictable and silly, but the idea that K’un Lun has been destroyed, and only Iron Fist can save the day, is pretty cool. It feels like a massive and important story, and that final image is very haunting – even if Danny just so happens to have a magical cheating portal that can teleport him to K’un Lun right under his own building. But I guess Andrews needed some way to get around the rules of K’un Lun that were set in place decades ago.

The real standout of the new Iron Fist series is the art. Andrews has a beautifully dynamic style that keeps the action big, broad and beautiful. And he wields color the way Iron Fist wields his fists, from blood-drenched action scenes to the big, bombastic, and bright ceremony in the heart of K’un Lun. Andrews is crafting a gorgeous little Iron Fist story here, even if his Danny Rand is a bit of an asshole.

Magneto #3

Magneto #3
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Gabriel Hernandez Walta

Magneto might not be exactly how I liked him in Uncanny X-Men, but Bunn is still writing a nice, dark, personal Magneto comic. It’s not grim & gritty for the sake of being grim & gritty. It’s the story of a super-villain robbed of his former glory and now set out to just do what he thinks is right by himself and his people. It’s good stuff.

Magneto infiltrates the secret compound that is building the Omega Sentinels, and he finds a lady scientist who explains that they only want to live in peace and solitude away from mutants. The Sentinels are meant for protection, and one of them just happened to go ‘off the reservation’ and kill those mutants. They really just want to be left alone. Such claims remind Magneto of when he was in charges of Genosha, which was a colony of mutants that just wanted to be left in peace – until the Sentinels came anyway and slaughtered 16 million mutants. Magneto kills the woman and blows up the facility, including the Master Mold in the basement.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Magneto is a grim comic, and it’s a gritty comic, but it’s not the same kind of ‘grim & gritty’ that DC is churning out these days. These attitudes are being used to bolster and explore Magneto’s character and his personal mindset these days. He was once so powerful that he could have conquered the world, but now he’s little more than a fugitive, scurrying about in the shadows, and the transition has not been lost on the character. This is a Magneto stripped bare, doing what he thinks is right in a world that no longer belongs to him. It makes for a compelling read, coupled with just some really inventive uses of his powers. I didn’t mention this in the synopsis, but Magneto does something with a paperclip in this issue that will make your skin crawl.

Original Sin #1

Original Sin #1
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mike Deodato

Marvels’ next Big Event is upon us, and like the dutiful comic book reader I am, I think I’m going to follow along. None of these Big Events are connected anymore, they’re mostly just a done-in-one event that crosses over as many superheroes as possible. And that’s exactly what this first issue feels like.

A mysterious bad guy (or two) attacks and kills the Watcher in his moonbase, and gouges out his eyes. The Avengers find out and head to the moon to investigate, with Nick Fury taking point on the murder investigation. It somehow involves the Mindless Ones, who have been given rudimentary sentience afterwards, and one of them gets into a fight with the Thing and Spider-Man in New York. But the Mindless One shoots himself in the head with the Ultimate Nullifier before he can answer any questions. I thought firing the Ultimate Nullifier would be a little more devastating…but I guess not. Thing, Spidey and New York are no worse for wear.

Meanwhile, a mysterious employer has gathered several small squads of superheroes to investigate the murder himself. Black Panther, Emma Frost and Ant-Man head into the center of the Earth; Moon Knight, Gamora and Winter Soldier head into outer space ; and the Punisher and Doctor Strange investigate some mystical possibilities.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

The Watcher being murdered is a pretty big deal, though I have a feeling that the culprit isn’t going to live up to any sort of hype. It’s probably some nobody B or C-list villain who managed to win via the usual comic book hand-waving. So the murder doesn’t really matter, and considering we’ve known about it for months, it has zero impact on the comic. The strength of Original Sin #1 lies in the various character interactions, and I think that’s where it will lie for the whole series. Watching the Avengers respond to the murder scene and banter among themselves about how to handle this is pretty cool, and it feels like this superhero community really is a larger, semi-organized group. This is something that needs to be dealt with, so everybody kind of comes together to deal with it.

There are no real surprises in this issue, unless you count the randomness of the little teams Aaron put together. I don’t think their mysterious ‘boss’ is going to be all that surprising or interesting. Like the Watcher’s killers, he’s just a means to an end, and I think that ‘end’ in this case is just seeing a bunch of characters who don’t normally interact get to interact. Somebody probably thought it would be cool to team up the Punisher and Doctor Strange (and it is cool), so Original Sin is where they’re going to make that happen. Likewise, why would Black Panther, Emma Frost and Ant-Man ever stand in the same room? I can only hope the payoff is as much fun as the creators clearly thought these team-ups would be.

So far, Original Sin is just a murder mystery starring a bunch of random superheroes. As far as Big Events, go, I’ve seen worse. I hope this one isn’t as gimmicky as Fear Itself. Took me a moment to remember the name of that one…

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 May 10, 2014, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. sounds like future’s end should never have begun. dc’s versions of Apollo and midnighter are pathetic, I was surprised when I saw them in the 2 page spread advertising the book. then I just read what happened to them in the very first issue. dc continues its “wonderful” treatment of its few gay male heroes (or in this case, 2 they stole from another comic universe)

  2. ANXF was really good. A good, character-driven issue. Georgia’s pretty neat and interesting. I was a fan of PAD’s original X-Factor run in the early ’90s, so the lack of any particular character isn’t a deal-breaker for me. I’m reading it for PAD’s excellent character work, and I’m finding he’s doing a good job with it.

    Iron Fist was cool. Very interesting style.

    Magneto was cool. Lots of violence.

    Original Sin was good. A good start. But most of Marvel’s events start well. I have no doubt it’ll fall apart by issue 4.

    And Black Widow and She-Hulk were both great. Black Widow is dark and tense, and She-Hulk is light and fun, and they’re both great.

    • Oh man, a new icon! I almost didn’t recognize you!

      Marvel is just really knocking it out of the park these days. DC is this dark, grim, gritty, ugly world full of the same exact comic over and over again. Marvel is colorful, whimsical, and is filled with new and unique comics starring a wide range of characters. It’s a great time to be a comics fan.

      • Yeah, I finally updated on a couple other sites, and figured I’d update here, too. Because I really frigging love Pretty Deadly.

        And yeah, Marvel’s got a really good range of comics right now. Lots of great writing, some unique art, a mix of stories being told. And also an increased focus on diversity. Marvel’s just doing a great job these days.

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