Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 5/24/14
I don’t know about you guys and gals, but I’m still too broken up about the Edgar Wright/Ant-Man news! He was supposed to be the Chosen One! Talk about a bad way to start Memorial Day weekend. Fortunately, I wrote these reviews before I heard the news, so let’s get right to them, shall we?!
The biggest deal this week was the finale of Forever Evil…but the delays definitely hurt the book. I feel it kind of limped across the finish line, overfilling the issue with ‘cool moments’ to try and compensate. Fortunately, the Justice League follow-up was much better. On the Marvel side of things, we’ve got the second issue of Original Sin! Or what I like to call, issue #1.5. Yeah.
Much more fortunately, I snagged a copy of Lumberjanes #2 in time to review it, so that’s exciting! And Comic of the Week goes to Uncanny X-Men #21, especially for its awesome handling of Magneto and Blob!
Comic Reviews: All-New X-Factor #8, Amazing Spider-Man #2, Batman Eternal #7, Forever Evil #7, Justice League #30, Lumberjanes #2, Original Sin #2, Sinestro #2, Uncanny X-Men #21.
All-New X-Factor #8
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Carmine Di Giandomenico
Just because I don’t care all that much for All-New X-Factor doesn’t mean I don’t think Peter David is a good writer anymore. The man is a legend in this industry, and rightfully so. This issue delivers a pretty devastating conclusion to the story started last issue, and I find myself legitimately interested and curious about this new character, Georgia. She hasn’t been in any team promotional materials, but maybe PAD is planning to add her to X-Factor.
Turns out that Georgia is a mutant with the power to absorb the moisture out of things, which is what she did to Doug. In their efforts to get her to reverse it, Georgia learns that her bigot father lied to her and claimed that everybody in the world gets powers when they reach a certain age, and that only he and the other humans in the compound didn’t have them. Georgia feels pretty betrayed, but she saves Doug and X-Factor try to tell her about being a mutant. But Warlock and Danger can’t help but point out that joining an X-team usually results in death, which scares Georgia. She flees the team to find her father, who is having a meeting with the newly arrived Harrison Snow. Her dad wants her to go with Snow and X-Factor because he no longer believes Georgia is his daughter, since she’s a mutant…but Snow might be manipulating him.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
The scenes where Georgia’s dad essentially disowns her are pretty devastating. I could really feel Georgia’s pain, as well as her father’s. I’m fairly certain Harrison Snow made him do this, but the guy is just bigoted enough that maybe its legit. Either way, David wrote a very compelling little story about a new mutant struggling with the way her family views her powers. I am legitimately interested in seeing Georgia recruited by X-Factor, so I hope she sticks around.
X-Factor, meanwhile, are settling into the roles they will likely play in this series. Warlock and Danger are funny without being intentionally funny. Polaris is a little unhinged, and has a great scene where she disarms a bunch of cops. And Cypher, Gambit and Quicksilver are kind of the voices of reason. I still don’t think PAD has the team dynamic down as strongly in this series as he did in the last one, but they’re mildly entertaining so far.
Amazing Spider-Man #2
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Humberto Ramos
I think Dan Slott has a few too many plates spinning at the start of this Amazing Spider-Man relaunch. I know there was a lot going on in Superior Spider-Man, and part of the fun is in seeing Peter recover from life under Doc Ock, but as you will see, this issue is a little too overstuffed. New readers are going to have a hard time keeping track of it all.
To deal with Anna Maria, Peter settles on the truth. He straight up just tells her that he was possessed by Doctor Octopus and that she was dating Otto, not the real Peter Parker. Anna Maria deals with this news by baking cookies and then going for a walk. Peter gets called to check in with the Avengers, who want to run a few more tests on him just to be sure he’s really back. Peter then meets with Anna Maria again at Parker Industries to try and figure a few details out about their living arrangements, but he has to split when Electro starts attacking downtown. Spider-Man and Electro duke it out until Electro escapes thanks to some bad luck on Peter’s part – bad luck caused by the Black Cat hiding in the crowd.
Later, Peter catches up with Johnny Storm, and we’re twice advised to go read Fantastic Four by editorial boxes in the corner. Ugh. In the end, Peter decides that Parker Industries can’t just coast on Doc Ock’s inventions, especially since Peter doesn’t know anything about them. Their new priority will be to capture and de-power Electro, then Peter’s going to use his knowhow of super-villains to build a new prison.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
Oof. This issue was all over the place, and not in a good way. There are so many editorial boxes referring to other issues and comics that I thought this was Teen Titans for a second! Why the unnecessary Johnny Storm cameo? It was cute, sure, but this comic didn’t need the baggage of Johnny’s recent de-powering in Fantastic Four. It was considerate of Slott to mention the F4 storyline, but all it does is weigh down what should be a light scene between two friends. The last thing Amazing Spider-Man #2 needs is more subplots.
We’ve got Anna Maria, Parker Industries, the Avengers, Black Cat, Electro; and that’s just in this issue. Heck, I didn’t even mention in the synopsis how Spider-Man punches Captain freakin’ America in the face over the fact that Cap knew that Flash Thompson was Venom. Was that really necessary? I realize that’s probably a big deal for Spidey to find out, but who needs a cheap punch and a random reference to Venom? Slott just kept piling on the subplots.
All of it is written well, mind you, and Ramos’ pencils continue to be nothing short of perfect. But considering this is supposed to be a big welcome back party for Peter Parker, I would have preferred this issue be a little neater. Slott had no choice but to include Electro in the comic (and probably Black Cat too) because of the movie, but he’s just got too much stuff going on, and most of it is just clutter.
Batman Eternal #7
Writers: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV and Tim Seeley
Artist: Emanuel Simeoni
Only 7 issues in and already I’m reconsidering my idea of reviewing every single issue of Batman Eternal. I’d like to stick with it for the sheer novelty of it, but man, this comic is just…uninteresting. There’s no sense of structure to the series so far, and maybe that’s just the nature of a beast this large. But it feels like the writing team is just flying by the seat of their pants with each issue instead of crafting a larger, interconnected tapestry.
The explosion from the end of last issue occurred near one of Professor Pyg’s warehouses, and Batman soon gets caught up trying to save people and fight Pyg’s Dollotrons. We later learn that Dr. Phosphorous was working for the Penguin…and we also learn that Falcone had his own bomb set to go off in the same spot…I think? Either way, Batman is busy while Falcone attacks the Iceberg Lounge, sinking it into Gotham Harbor. Penguin barely escapes with his life. Later, Commissioner McCrookedcop literally lets Pyg go, after Batman tied him up, as a message to everyone that the GCPD doesn’t work with capes. In front of dozens of his own police officers, firefighters and other people, Forbes literally just cuts Pyg free and lets him wander off. It’s insane.
Comic Rating: 5/10 Alright.
OK, this stuff with Forbes is really just pissing me off at this point. Is the entire GCPD made up of gutless cowards? Will they really just stand by and watch as Forbes cuts Professor Pyg free and lets him wander off to kill more people?! Is this driving anyone else as mad as me? It’s insane. Not only is Forbes as 2-dimensionally evil as possible, but how does it make any sense that everybody on the force, from Maggie Sawyer and Harvey Bullock down to John Q. Patrolman, is willing to just go along with his evil madness? How can they live with themselves?!
Beyond that, the issue is just another jumbled mess of action with hints of a larger tapestry, but I fear the mess is winning out over the tapestry. There was a moment during the issue – when Penguin talks to Catwoman about how his war with Falcone is one for the very soul of Gotham – where I thought the writers were making a bigger point, but then it ends with Penguin’s club blowing up and sinking into the harbor. Penguin has a cool perspective on all of this, but it’s like the writers decided to ignore everything he was saying in favor of more explosions and chaos.
In a weekly series like this, I don’t want the writers to desperately fight for my attention span with explosions and ‘kewl’ moments every issue. I want them to take their time and build a truly powerful, memorable Batman story. But I’m pretty sure Batman Eternal is just going to be about the former.
Forever Evil #7
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: David Finch
Delays are a part of comics, unfortunately. There’s no getting around it. Art takes time, and considering the skill and quality of the art in comics these days, there are going to have to be delays or fill-ins. It happens. But man, it really sucks when it happens to a flagship series like this, and on the final issue no less. The rest of DC has left Forever Evil in the dust. So this finale really feels like a limp to the finish line. Maybe if it had come out on time, it would be more impactful, but most of the events in this issue feel like Johns just checking them off a list to get them over with.
A million different things happen in this issue, let’s see if I can get through them all. Lex Luthor reveals that he only stopped Nightwing’s heart, then brings him back to life with an adrenaline shot. Batman, Nightwing, Catwoman and Cyborg then head downstairs to find the imprisoned Firestorm and free the various Justice Leagues – while Nightwing fights off Owlman. Outside, Luthor and his Injustice League battle evil Alexander Luthor and the rest of the Crime Syndicate. It’s revealed that Alex Luthor (now an evil Shazam) is the father of Superwoman’s baby, and this was all a ruse to get her baby daddy to a safe dimension. Alexander Luthor kills Bizarro, and then Lex Luthor defeats him by using the fact that they have the same voice to shout the magic word “MAZAHS” to call down the dark lightning and turn Alexander back into a normal man. Luthor also defeats Ultraman by de-powering him with sunlight, then leaves him alive to wallow in his own misery. Though Luthor does step on and squash Atomica for starting this whole mess.
The day is saved and Lex Luthor is a new man. He meets the young Ted Kord, who is ready to sell his company to Luthor, who was trying to buy it from his father in the first issue – but Luthor declines. He doesn’t want to take the business away from the Kord family after all. Luthor also uses Nightwing’s real identity to determine that Batman is really Bruce Wayne. And he saves Superman’s life by plucking out that shard of Kryptonite that Atomica lodged in his brain. Meanwhile, the Justice Leagues are picking up the piece, though Element Woman and Vibe are strangely missing. Superman decides that there is only one being powerful enough to have destroyed Earth 3: Darkseid! But he’s wrong. We the reader see that Earth 3 was actually destroyed by the Anti-Monitor!
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
A lot of seemingly major events happened in this issue…but most of them were already spoiled by other issues, or just DC press. We already knew Ted Kord was going to show up – though I kind of like his reboot. We already knew Luthor was going to join the Justice League, and we knew that Nightwing was going to live. We knew that the Crime Syndicate were going to be defeated and that the world was going to pick up the pieces. The delay sapped this issue of all its urgency, and it was just so jam-packed with stuff that a lot of it just didn’t matter anymore. Mazahs kills Bizarro? Alright, that’s too bad, but we don’t have any time to mourn, there’s more stuff happening.
The problem with Forever Evil, with Geoff Johns and with DC in particular these days is that they only care about ‘cool moments’. They basically ask themselves ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if…?’ and then make comics around that. Wouldn’t it be cool if the new Alexander Luthor was a Reverse Shazam? Wouldn’t it be cool if Lex Luthor was on the Justice League? Things like that. Very little of the storytelling in Forever Evil came from the characters. It was all just one big, ‘cool’ moment after another, and that extends throughout the entire company.
Don’t get me wrong, some of these moments are indeed cool, and could lead to good stories, but it kind of sucks all the life out of the comic and the character when it’s all style and no substance.
Speaking of these individual moments: I like the idea of Luthor joining the Justice League, but I found it kind of dumb that the magic word ‘MAZAHS’ is voice-activated and not person-activated. Has that always been the case with SHAZAM, that just someone who sounds like Billy Batson can call down the lightning? The death of Bizarro was dumb and boring. He was turning into an interesting character, but his death means nothing. I liked the new Ted Kord. And I’m fairly certain this thing with Dick Grayson isn’t going to last very long. He’ll be back to being Nightwing in no time…hopefully to coincide with an appearance in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Though the thing that riled me most was the disappearance of Element Woman! What the heck, Johns? She was turning out to be pretty darn cool before all this nonsense with Trinity of Sin started last Summer. Why did you get rid of her? I want more Element Woman!
Justice League #30
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Ivan Reis and Doug Mahnke
Whereas the final issue of Forever Evil was just a jumbled mess of plot points, twists and action beats, the first issue of Justice League in the aftermath of that event is much more enjoyable. In this issue, Johns is able to focus on the fallout from a personable level, and it’s simply a better comic. Forever Evil was all comic book action and spectacle, while Justice League #30 tells the meaningful story.
The world is celebrating Lex Luthor as its savior, while the Justice League just want to find him and bring him to justice. They eventually find Lex on a new satellite Watchtower he built in orbit for all of them to use. Lex volunteers to wear Wonder Woman’s lasso, and explains to everyone that he rather liked the feeling of saving the world from the Crime Syndicate and he’d like to do it again as a member of the Justice League. The evil that destroyed Earth 3 is still out there, and Lex believes that only he and the Justice League can stop it. But Superman will have none of it and he tells Luthor to get lost. Some time later, Luthor shows up at Wayne Manor asking to see Batman.
Meanwhile, after Power Ring was killed in Forever Evil, his ring has located its new host: Jessica Cruz of Oregon!
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
Justice League #30 just feels like such a different comic from Forever Evil #7. Johns actually focuses on the characters involved here, especially Luthor, and it’s a much better comic. The personality and character of Lex Luthor are going to drive these stories and make his membership in the Justice League believable, and I’m more than willing to believe in Lex Luthor. I am no stick in the mud. If Johnas has an idea to make this work, I’m more than willing to read along and see what happens. I kind of like the idea of a benevolent Lex Luthor on the Justice League. I’m a big fan of villains becoming heroes, especially under the right circumstances. I’m also eager to see it effect Captain Cold.
So I think it’s safe to say that Geoff Johns is going to keep my interest in Justice League even though I’m pretty much disliking most of the rest of DC Comics these days.
Writers: Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
Artist: Brooke Allen
I told you I was going to review more independent comics, and here I am! I wanted to review the first issue of Lumberjanes, but I couldn’t get a copy the week it came out, though I did get one later and pretty much enjoyed it. Here’s issue #2, so I figure this is as good a spot as any to pick up reviews.
Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley are Lumberjanes, which seems to be a Girl Scouts type of organization. They’re at summer camp, or just camping, and keep running into weird, supernatural craziness out in the woods – and the girls themselves are pretty crazy too. In this issue, they go canoeing down river, only to first run into some rapids, then a giant sea serpent with three eyes! The girls do battle with the serpent, chasing it away with a scrunchie to the eye, and then get separated from their camp counselor. They make it to shore, revive Mal, the punkish one, who passed out, and then start marching back to camp. Along the way, Ripley, the wacky one, pulls out a candy bar to munch on, only for it to be plucked out of her grasp by an eagle. Ripley chases the eagle up a tree, only to be spooked when the eagle reveals its third eye (three-eyed animals being an ongoing problem in the series).
On her way back down the tree, Ripley accidentally trips a lever and opens up a cave down in the ground. The girls all jump down the hole and discover an ancient something or other with old, imposing statues.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
I was attracted to Lumberjanes both because it was an all-girl cast written by female writers (and promoting diversity in comics is something I’m really into these days), and because it looked like a comic book version of Adventure Time. Both are correct. (Also the title’s delicious pun!). The wackiness, silliness and general sense of adventure of Adventure Time are all infused in the pages of Lumberjanes…almost too much. Stevenson, Ellis and Allen have all clearly been influenced by the offbeat humor and characters of that cartoon, but to an extent, it almost feels like their wackiness is manufactured to appeal to fans of Adventure Time. Maybe I’m criticizing a bit too closely, but there are times it feels like Lumberjanes is being wacky just for the sake of being wacky.
As if they’d use a word like ‘shenanigans’ un-ironically.
That being said, it’s still a very fun comic, and the characters are a blast. Most of their personalities are strong and make a real, lasting impression on the reader, and the sense of adventure and mystery is palpable. Personally, there are a bit too many main characters for my tastes, and it’s easy to get lost on names, even when the writers do a great job maintaining individual personalities. Part of the problem is that, in the first issue, they started the story right in the middle. Instead of spending time introducing each character as they arrived at camp, which would make sense, they instead just jumped right into hijinks in the woods with all of the characters already knowing and liking each other. It worked to get the action started right away, but it left me feeling a bit lost. I want to get to know the Lumberjanes, and it’s hard to do that when they’re freewheeling from one shenanigan to the next.
Original Sin #2
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mike Deodato
Welp, Original Sin is still going and they produced a second issue. That’s really all there is to say.
Not too much happens in this issue, actually. Black Panther and his subterranean team find a graveyard of dead Mole Man monsters, and the Panther thinks they were killed by the same thing that killed the Watcher. Likewise, Punisher and Doctor Strange find a dead monster on one of the mystical planes. On Earth, Cap and his team catch one of those newly intelligent Mindless Ones, and they use it to find the headquarters of the mysterious bad guy…who is revealed to be the Omen, a Z-List villain who has an eyeball for a head.
Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.
Simply put, Original Sin #2 should have been squeezed into Original Sin #1. The reveal of Omen should have been the last page of the first issue. Nothing happens in this issue that couldn’t have been squeezed elsewhere. It’s an obvious attempt to just stretch out this series for reasons that will probably become clear towards the end. It’s like Marvel gives their writers an issue count beforehand, then it’s up to Jason Aaron to fill the space. Remember when absolutely nothing happened in the entire first half of Age of Ultron?
Take the scene in the first issue where the Mindless One blew his brains out with the Ultimate Nullifier. In every prior appearance of that weapon, we’ve been told that it will wipe out existence if fired. So in the first issue of Original Sin, it’s fired…but nothing happens. Both Spider-Man and the Thing, who were standing nearby, were perfectly fine. So have we been lied to about the power of the Ultimate Nullifier all this time? Or did Aaron just want something really ‘kewl’ to happen in his first issue, so he fired the Ultimate Nullifier and then just adjusted its power to fit his story? I strongly believe it’s the latter, and if that’s the case, I fear that Original Sin will just be a string of ‘kewl’ moments instead of an actually engaging and enjoyable story.
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Dale Eaglesham
I say I’m not enjoying ‘most of the rest’ of DC Comics, because there are still books like Sinestro that are kind of fun. (And Wonder Woman, which also came out this week, but I skipped over it due to time and space. Wonder Woman was awesome as usual.) I may have given up on the Green Lantern side of things at DC, but I definitely think Sinestro and his Corps have a place in today’s comic book market. Theirs could be an interesting look at the universe.
Sinestro battles the Sinestro Corps for dominance and easily defeats Arkillo for leadership. He apologizes to Soranik for the way she was treated and enlists her help in reviving the Korugarians he saved last issue. Sinestro also takes a little time to chat with two new Corps members – the boringly named Rigen Kale and Dez Trevius – and convinces them to gather all of the dissenters in the Corps for a mission to a nearby prison planet. Sinestro wants to claim the planet as the New Korugar, and he has his Corps kill all of the prisoners who still live there – then he has Kale and Trevius slaughter all of the dissenters in the Corps. It’s just easier than trying to change their minds.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This was a very enjoyable comic, and a great look at how Sinestro operates. He remains mostly entertaining, even if Bunn can’t seem to inject him with the same sense of menace and gravitas that Geoff Johns always managed. Hopefully Bunn will grow into it. The art is fine, and really, this is a pretty solid comic starring a pretty great character. But I’m going to nitpick a little bit and complain that Sinestro doesn’t do enough to really embrace fear. In the same way that Red Lanterns has never embraced rage. Both teams just seem like different colored versions of the Green Lantern Corps, and that’s boring. Bunn spends a lot of time talking about fear in this issue, and how Sinestro and his Corps wield fear, but there’s absolutely no indication of what that actually means.
I’m not saying turn this into a horror comic, but at the very least there should be some understanding of how fear is more than just yellow constructs.
Uncanny X-Men #21
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Chris Bachalo
Uncanny X-Men is my favorite X-comic these days, and for good reason. Bendis is crafting a wonderful, character-based adventure that doesn’t shy away from dealing with the nitty and the gritty. It’s Cyclops vs. the Jean Grey School vs. SHIELD vs. the unknown bad guy, and it is awesome!
The evil, masked enemy has somehow taken control of Cyclops and Magik’s powers, causing them to freak out on the grounds of the Jean Grey School. The X-Men put them down, only for ‘Dazzler’ and Maria Hill to show up to insist that SHIELD will be taking them into custody. Beast manages to convince SHIELD to give him some time in his lab to figure out what’s wrong with the two Uncanny X-Men, only for the evil, masked enemy to strike by taking control of the Hellicarrier and causing it to fire on the school. The X-Men fight to save their school while Hank begins his work and figures out the secret identity of the evil, masked enemy.
Meanwhile, in Madripoor, the Blob isn’t the least bit stealthy when he sneaks into Dazzler’s room to try and find more MGH. Magneto follows him in and threatens Blob for the truth. Magneto lets the Blob live while he frees the real Dazzler, intent on helping her get her revenge!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
First of all, I’m excited that Bendis hasn’t dropped Magneto just because Cullen Bunn is out there writing a solo Magneto comic. Magneto’s presence on Madripoor, and his attitude, are completely different from what Bunn is doing with the character, but I don’t care! Both are telling great stories with the Master of Magnetism; though I am partial to Bendis’ take on the character. Bendis’ Magneto just seems wilier, and he’s doing something far more important and personal than the random quest Bunn has sent the character on. Being a HUGE fan of the Blob and X-history, I loved the confrontation between Magneto and the Blob and how Bendis used their history together to really inform their interaction. Plus Magneto being the one to rescue Dazzler is just awesome.
The rest of the issue is just as exciting. The confrontation outside the Jean Grey School is almost completely character-driven, which I love. The X-Men butt heads based on who they are and how they feel, not because the plot demands it. Likewise, fake Dazzler and SHIELD are basing their decisions on the same thing, and it feels natural and pointed. Plus we’re gearing up to finally meet the mysterious bad guy, so that’s a lot of fun.
I also like how the art team drew the Beast in this issue.
I love that we can’t be too sure if Hank McCoy is a good guy or a bad guy these days. Cyclops isn’t the only one shaded in gray!
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!
Posted on May 24, 2014, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man, X-Men and tagged All-New X-Factor, Amazing Spider-Man, Batman Eternal, Blob, Forever Evil, Justice League, Lex Luthor, Lumberjanes, Magneto, Original Sin, Sinestro, Sinestro Corps, Superior Spider-Man, Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.