Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 7/5/14
Happy Day after Independence Day! Did everybody watch the movie, Independence Day, like I do every year? Or should do every year…I need some Fourth of July traditions. I need to be more patriotic. And there’s nothing more patriotic than reading comics! Especially Captain America comics…which I didn’t do this week. Man, I’m bad at this.
Anyway, I mostly read Marvel comics this week, because DC didn’t have much of anything to tickle my fancy. We’ve still got new Batman Eternal, because I’m still subjecting myself to that series. But we’ve also got new issues of X-Factor, Magneto, Moon Knight, Original Sin and the first issue of Legendary Star-Lord. If you’re wondering why they added the word ‘Legendary’, well, it’s kind of obvious once you read the comic, but not for the reason Marvel probably wants.
Thor: God of Thunder #24 wins Comic Book of the Week for another one of those quieter, talking heads issues that Jason Aaron does so well with this series. I tell ya, Thor has never felt so grand and yet so personable.
Needs more Beta Ray Bill.
Comic Reviews: All-New X-Factor #10, Batman Eternal #13, Legendary Star-Lord #1, Magneto #6, Moon Knight #5, Original Sin #5 and Thor: God of Thunder #24.
All-New X-Factor #10
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Carmine Di Giandomenico
At this point, I’m kind of just reading All-New X-Factor out of habit. I still think Peter David is just doing a serviceable job on this series. He’s got his characters, he’s got a general direction, and he’s pretty much just cruising along with a generally jovial superhero comic. I suppose that’s fine, but these days, I want more from my comics.
Georgia’s father is the super-villain Memento Mori, and he takes her to his super-villain lair, which is a lab inside the world’s biggest mall, which he also owns. He’s another super-villain businessman, and he’s always been on the lookout for his long lost daughter so that she can join his criminal empire. Meanwhile, X-Factor regroups and starts tracking Georgia and Mori to the mall. They arrive in time to help Georgia make her grand escape. She doesn’t want to join her father, so she tries to flee from mall security. X-Factor grabs Georgia and teleports her to safety – but Harrison Snow is controlling the teleporter, and he just found out that Gambit slept with his wife, so Gambit gets left behind to face Mori alone.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
I didn’t like All-New X-Factor in the beginning because I was let down by what the comic was and what I thought it could be. Random superheroes on a random team doing random things? Boring! Unfortunately, the title hasn’t really moved beyond that basic set-up, and that’s disappointing. I’ve warmed up to it a bit, because PAD is a fine writer, but there’s just nothing very exciting about All-New X-Factor. I’ll admit that the story of Georgia might be cool, but now she’s mixed up with a weird super-villain dad, and another generic fight between our heroes and some bad guys. Though PAD does seem to be building towards something where all the super-villains our heroes face are some kind of corporate leader. That’s probably going to mean something later on.
This issue is just X-Factor fighting some mall security guards for the fate of a girl that they don’t really have any authority over. Memento Mori could perhaps be an interesting super-villain, but there isn’t much to him at the moment. He’s just a bad guy who does bad things because that’s what they do. PAD still can’t seem to really tap into anything deeper or more interesting about any of his characters. They’re all just kind of there, doing their thing.
Batman Eternal #13
Writers: James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder
Artists: Mikel Janin and Guillermo Ortega
I think this Tynion fella might have a good head on his shoulders. He’s brought some focus to Batman Eternal, with the help of Janin on art, and it’s not half bad for the second issue in a row. Again, it helps that something is being done to really kick Commissioner McCrookedcop in his stupid face! That’s going a long way to making me feel better about this comic.
In Blackgate Prison, James Jr. meets with his dad and goes on and on about how his father has now seen the light and realized how crappy a place Gotham really is. James Jr. offers Commissioner Gordon a chance to escape, so we’ll see if Gordon takes it or not. Elsewhere, one of Stephanie Brown’s friends receives a package from the Cluemaster that turns out to be a bomb, and she blows up while on the phone with Stephanie. And Red Robin tracks the nanobot swarm to a scientist in Japan, who used to be one of Batman’s mentors. And Harper Row is tracking Red Robin.
But the real story this issue is Jason Bard’s plan to stick it to Commissioner McCrookedcop, and it’s great! Bard tells Forbes that he has a lead on Batman’s munitions depot, playing up Forbes’ desire to arrest Batman. With the Dark Knight’s cooperation, Bard leads a team of SWAT officers (with Vicki Vale along as well) to an old warehouse, and they all witness Batman enter the building. Once inside, however, we see that it’s actually a Falcone munitions depot filled with thugs. But since all the SWAT guys saw Batman enter, Bard is able to spin the story that these thugs are known associates of the Batman, and he has them all arrested for weapons possession. Later, at the precinct, Forbes tries to tell Bard to let them all go, but Vicki Vale is still there, ready to quote the interim commissioner telling his cops to let gun-runners go. Forbes backs down, but in a later phone call, Falcone tells Forbes to handle it – a phone call that Bard and Vale listen in on.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
I’ve got to hand it to the writers of Batman Eternal, they thought up a really good plan for Jason Bard. Granted, the plan is about solving a problem they themselves created, buuut I can at least acknowledge the clever thinking that went into this issue. It’s rewarding. But perhaps I’m just playing into the writers’ whims. We’re only 13 issues in, and already they set up the problem with McCrookedcop and started solving it. Is this really how quickly they’re going to resolve this story? One has to wonder if these guys have any sort of long term plan for this series, or if they’re just making it up as they go along and hoping it all works out in the end. Big picture, this series still isn’t very interesting. Little picture, this issue was somewhat enjoyable. And further team up between Red Robin and Harper Row is definitely how the creative team can win me over.
Legendary Star-Lord #1
Writer: Sam Humphries
Artist: Paco Medina
As much as I’m looking forward to the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, I’m not reading the comic, nor do I have much interest in the new Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon comics that Marvel started this week. You can check out my full review of Rocket Raccoon #1 by clicking here, but mostly, it’s the same as my opinion on Legendary Star-Lord #1: these comics just can’t shake their manufactured feel.
Star-Lord is caught by the alien Badoon sneaking into a space orphanage to steal a legendary emerald. They also wanted the gemerald and take it from him, locking Star-Lord up in their ship’s jail cell. While he’s locked up, Quill phones up Kitty Pryde on his space communicator for a quick chat, because they’re pals or love interests or something. But the Badoon catch him talking to someone, and using the Badoon’s stupidity against them, Quill makes his escape and steals back the gemerald. Quill then returns to the orphanage with a bag of money, claiming he sold the gemerald and is giving them the cash, because he’s just that nice a guy. But as he’s flying away, he tells us that the money was just his emergency stash, and he still has the gemerald – but then he’s stopped by a long-lost sister, who claims he’s under arrest.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
I loved the post-Annihilation Guardians of the Galaxy comic. That was a fantastic series, and Rocket Raccoon earned every bit of his current popularity. But there is a huge disconnect between that series and the new status quo of the Guardian, in Marvel’s efforts to hype up the movie. This new crew feels so manufactured. These aren’t natural characters, they’re cliches and tropes assuming familiar forms in an effort to hype us up.
But any character who has a moment like this is a bad character.
You should never have your character just state that ‘he rules’. That’s just stupid. Especially since we can just see Quill being awesome and arrive at that conclusion ourselves. But since he says it ‘out loud’, he’s an asshole. And that’s what this comic is all about: Peter Quill saying out loud how much he rules. He can easily outsmart the Badoon. He gets to flirt with Kitty Pryde even though he’s in jail. He gives a bunch of money to an orphanage. This isn’t a love letter to Peter Quill, it’s a marketing pamphlet. Humphries, who I have to imagine is following Marvel’s explicit instructions, writes Star-Lord as the most agreeable, ‘please love me’ type of character imaginable. But remember, folks, we loved Han Solo because he was a scoundrel, not a boy scout.
But it’s not a bad comic, by any means. If you like Star-Lord, then yeah, he comes off as likable and heroic. And the art is phenomenal. It’s clean, clear, detailed, action-packed and gorgeous to look at. Marvel is clearly trying really hard to get us to like Star-Lord – and it shows, for good or ill.
Also, the red duster/white T-shirt look from the live action movie does not translate well to comics. He looks stupid.
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Javier Fernandez
I think I might be giving up on Magneto. Maybe I’ll keep reading for the heck of it, and maybe it’s upcoming tie-in to Axis will make for a more exciting comic. But I’m a little let down by Bunn’s direction with the character. Brian Michael Bendis is writing an exciting, multi-faceted Magneto over in Uncanny X-Men. Bunn is just writing a crazed super-villain.
Magneto spends the issue hunting down and killing the Marauders after his new female sidekick/partner turned him onto them in the last issue. Magneto makes short work of the lot of them, even though he knows they’re all just clones. In the end, we see that Magneto has found the next Marauder clone batch, and now plans to re-program them into his new mutant team.
Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.
The Marauders? Really? Those were the best villains still available that Magneto could tussle with? Those guys should be honored that Magneto remembers their names. They are the bottom of the barrel when it comes to mutant characters. And their whole clone storyline is ridiculously stupid. It’s the weak explanation some writer came up with years ago to explain why the Marauders could be killed off for one story, but still be around for the next. They’re such worthless characters that they’re perfect for cannon fodder wherever they’re needed.
But the Marauders aren’t the worst part of the issue, it’s Magneto himself. He’s devolved into just a generic, evil, cruel-minded super-villain. He’s no longer the complex character he’s been over the past few years, and especially over in Uncanny X-Men. He’s a crazy man determined to build up an army of subservient soldiers so he can continue to kill people he perceives as anti-mutant. And a madly evil Magneto is not as entertaining as a conflicted, complex man balancing between good and evil.
Moon Knight #5
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Declan Shalvey
There’s something wonderously pure about Warren Ellis’ Moon Knight that comes through in this issue. How pure? I only need one sentence for the synopsis, and it’s still an excellent comic.
In order to rescue a kidnapped school girl, Moon Knight shows up at the apartment building where she’s being held and kicks bad guy ass up five stories. It’s awesome.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
You know how in badass action movies, there’s always a scene where the hero just blazes through an army of bad guys, kicking butts left and right? Yeah, that’s this comic. And remember how sometimes, a villain will show up, or something else will stop the hero and get in his way? Yeah, that’s not this comic. This is an issue where Moon Knight is a total badass from beginning to end, fighting off goon after goon with whatever he has on hand, until the girl is saved. And the climactic scene, where he talks down the thug who is trying to use the girl as a human shield, is just as awesome as when he’s using his moon baton to break knees, or when he’s dragging a baseball bat along the ground to fill his enemies’ hearts with fear.
Maybe under different circumstances, I would want more from a comic. But knowing this is Moon Knight, and knowing that Warren Ellis is leaving after only half a dozen issues, somehow it’s just even cooler. Ellis came in, popped off six awesome, moody, gorgeous comics, and then dropped the mic.
Original Sin #5
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mike Deodato
Behold, the most worthless comic imaginable! Deep in the heart of the mysteries of Original Sin, let’s waste a whole issue on a flashback that accomplishes nothing!
Old Nick Fury explains that, once upon a time, Howard Stark recruited him to be the protector of Earth, which involved stopping monsters and aliens from destroying the planet. Quite honestly, that sounds exactly like what he did as Director of SHIELD, but Aaron seems to think they’re two separate things. Fury kept this role a complete secret, despite, surely, having a hand in creating SHIELD and SWORD. At any rate, now he’s old, and the Watcher is dead, and he imagines that he’s next.
Comic Rating: 4/10 – Pretty Bad.
I don’t understand this comic. It doesn’t make any sense in the context of the Marvel Universe. It doesn’t make any sense in the context of Nick Fury or Original Sin either. So aside from already being the head of SHIELD and an all around badass warrior for the forces of good, Nick Fury was even more those things on the side and he kept that a secret from everybody? Why? For what purpose? Why not tell everybody? Why even keep it a secret from SHIELD? It’s not like he was doing anything all that special. He was stopping aliens, subterranean beasts and interdimensional monsters, the same things that any superhero spends their time doing. The same thing, I assume, SHIELD does. So why does this require Nick Fury to be on some one-man defense quest? Why was Howard Stark keeping it a secret in the 50s? The whole concept just doesn’t work. And since this issue is nothing but a descriptive flashback, this issue doesn’t work. Nick Fury’s big secret is that sometimes he did Nick Fury things that he didn’t tell anybody about. And we don’t know why he’s old. So yeah, Original Sin is still dumb.
Thor: God of Thunder remains a remarkable comic. Jason Aaron has tapped into the magic and majesty that makes Thor such a compelling character, and I’m happy to say that I’m still hooked.
In the wake of Broxton’s destruction, Dario Agger has somehow come through unscathed, and he holds a press conference about the evils of the Asgardians. Apparently nobody knows that he’s the minotaur and brought about Broxton’s destruction, and everybody’s more than willing to turn against Thor and his pals – which has bummed Thor out. Roz goes to see him to try and get his spirits up, and so Thor leads the Asgardians down to the town to help everybody clean up. When the townsfolk ask where they’re supposed to live without their homes, Thor brings his own palace down from Asgardia and gives to to Broxton to use as a boarding house.
Elsewhere, the Council of Realms has decided that Asgardia can no longer stay in Midgard, so they’re going to go out into the cosmos to find a new home. Jane Foster is chosen as the Council’s representative from Midgard. And Agger has a chat with Ulik the Troll about the rest of the Nine Realms.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
While it’s slightly annoying that Agger got off scott free after everything he did, the rest of the issue is just so grand. Thor is humbled, and it’s not often we see him like that. The ways he helps the people of Broxton are godly in their magnitude, again reminding us just how different Thor is from other superheroes. Of course he tears his own palace out of Asgardia and drops it down into Broxton for the people to live. He’s Thor. He can do things like that.
Roz is the real star of the issue, and I like her more and more – though she does suffer from just being ‘Thor’s girlfriend’. There’s a running gag throughout the issue where Roz doesn’t quite see herself as the girlfriend, despite everyone else pointing it out to her face. And it’s funny. But it also kind of robs her of her own agency, of which she has a lot. Roz is an ass-kicker in this issue, and she works to get things done while Thor sits around humbled. The problem with just being ‘Thor’s girlfriend’ is that those types of characters are prone to disappear as soon as a new writer comes on the book. Roz is Jason Aaron’s character, and he won’t be writing Thor forever. But at least we’ll have her for as long as we can.
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 July 5, 2014, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews and tagged All-New X-Factor, Batman Eternal, Guardians of the Galaxy, Legendary Star-Lord, Magneto, Moon Knight, Nick Fury, Original Sin, Thor, Thor: God of Thunder. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.