Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 7/12/14

Do any of you lovely readers know the best way to treat a sprained muscle? I pulled something in my calf and I’ve been limping around all week because I’m an idiot. And I don’t trust doctors, what with their voodoo and medical degrees. So anyone with a magical, non-voodoo cure is welcome here!

Fortunately, I don’t need my leg to read comics! We’ve got a somewhat light week this week, mostly because a lot of books I’ve already given up on were out this week, like Nightcrawler, Fantastic Four and Justice League United. Fortunately, we’ve got All-New X-Men, Captain Marvel and Batman Eternal to keep us company.

Not to mention the first issues of the New Suicide Squad and Grayson, which wins Comic Book of the Week for actually being pretty good (and because I couldn’t get my hands on the new Lumberjanes). Despite all the setbacks he’s faced, Dick Grayson at least keeps getting good, solid writers behind him in the New 52.

I guess now we know why Nightwing was blonde at Batsgiving

Comic Reviews: All-New X-Men #29, Batman Eternal #14, Captain Marvel #5, Grayson #1 and New Suicide Squad #1.

You can also check out my review of Spider-Man 2099 #1 at Word of the Nerd!

All-New X-Men #29

All-New X-Men #29
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Stuart Immonen

First off, that is a hilarious cover image. Angel on a random motorcycle? Awesome. And good news, that scene actually appears in this issue! So at least All-New X-Men has that going for it. In reality, though, this issue is actually about the final battle between the X-Men and the future Brotherhood!

With the help of X-23, Young Jean Grey is able to turn the tide against Baby Xavier and free not only the other X-Men, but the Future Brotherhood as well, all of whom were mind-controlled puppets. Baby Xavier tries to flee, but he doesn’t get far. Most of the X-Men and Brotherhood want to kill him, but Cyclops nixes that idea and both Xavier and Raze are turned over to the authorities, while the rest of the Brotherhood are sent back to their own time. In the end, Young Angel and X-23 ride off on a motorcycle together.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

This was a fine ending, but more action heavy than I normally care for, especially in a Bendis comic. It’s basically just one big fight scene as the good guys overcome the bad guys and we all go home. There’s a little moral dilemma, over whether or not they should kill Baby Xavier and Raze, but it’s very temporary. No feathers are all that ruffled. Basically the issue is Jean Grey thinking hard enough to triumph over Baby Xavier. And that’s that. I still don’t particularly care about these villains, but it’s nice to know that Future Molly Hayes was being controlled like a puppet. I knew she wouldn’t turn evil!

Batman Eternal #14

Batman Eternal #14
Writers: James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder
Artist: Jason Fabok

Amazing what a little focus can do. The past few issues of Batman Eternal have been largely entertaining thanks to Tynion taking the reigns and telling a (relatively) straight forward story swirling around Commissioner Gordon and Jason Bard’s quest to take down Forbes and Falcone. Putting that McCrookedcop insanity behind us is a good thing in my book.

After recording the phone call between Falcone and Forbes last issue, Detective Bard takes it to the Mayor’s office, having put together the final piece that connects the two. He threatens the Mayor with a criminal investigation until the Mayor gives up Falcone’s hiding place. But the Penguin has been tipped off as well, and he arrives first. Penguin is a vicious madman as he kills all of Falcone’s guards and then goes for the big man himself – only for Bard, Vicki Vale and the GCPD to show up and arrest both of them. And Forbes was arrested that morning.

Elsewhere, Batman catches Gordon before he takes James Jr.’s escape route, and the two talk about how Gordon feels like it’s his time to step down, regardless of what happens to him. He suggests Batman team up with Bard from now on. But when Batman goes to meet Bard later, Batman reveals that he figured out it was Bard who tipped off the Penguin, leading to the deaths of all those guards. Maybe Bard and Batman aren’t going to work out after all.

Oh, and the Joker’s Daughter is still taking over Arkham Asylum, and Red Robin finds out that Harper Row stowed away on his Batplane to Japan.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

I’m torn. On the one hand, the Commissioner Forbes storyline has been ridiculous since issue #1. He was overly corrupt from the very first words out of his mouth, and it broke my suspension of disbelief to see him taken seriously as Police Commissioner, let alone a human being. Seeing that story come to an end is great. But at the same time, it happened a bit too quickly. Likewise, the arrest of Falcone. This is only issue #14 of 52, and already Forbes is out and Falcone is behind bars? So everything we’ve read so far has just been smoke and mirrors for whatever is going to be the real storyline? I’m a little disappointed. I thought Carmine Falcone returning to take control of Gotham City’s criminal underworld would have made for a fine, year-long Batman story. But apparently not! Any grandiosity Falcone had is now long gone. He’s just another crook put through the Gotham wringer now.

At least Penguin was kind of awesome in this issue. Psychotic, hands on and wearing Danny Devito pajamas, the Penguin was just straight up badass. Fabok really nailed his murderous insanity.

Love the PJs and the foaming at the mouth thing

So yeah, I was entertained by the Penguin hunting and nearly killing Falcone. And I was entertained by Jason Bard earning his keep and bringing this horrible storyline to a quick end. I even liked the twist that Bard tipped off the Penguin, and that maybe he isn’t just going to become Gordon Lite. That has potential. There are bits and pieces of Batman Eternal that have potential, and maybe the series will be much more stream-lined and focused from now on. One can only hope.

Captain Marvel #5

Captain Marvel #5
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: David Lopez

I cannot wait until Captain Marvel is out of space and back on Earth. This storyline has been a slog to get through, even if DeConnick and Lopez are doing gangbusters work. DeConnick still infuses the comic with personality and wit, but without the grounding of planet Earth, everything that should be good is mostly just flailing all over the place.

Captain Marvel figures out that the Spartax Empire is after Vibranium to rebuild their fleet, and they were using unsafe mining techniques on Torfa to get the stuff, which is why everybody on Torfa is sick. King Spartax is done playing nice and he simply takes control of Torfa, while the Matron surrenders and orders Captain Marvel to leave. There’s nothing more she can do. Carol sees it another way, and after she’s off-planet, she flies out into space ready to take on the invading Spartax fleet single-handedly!

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

This is a comic about property disputes on an alien planet we’ve never heard of before. It’s about senate meetings, resource management, politics and labor disputes. Sure, Captain Marvel is in the comic, but she feels secondary to the whole thing. For some reason, DeConnick is really, really into the dispute between King Spartax and the kind people of Torfa. Not even Carol’s new friends get much attention.

It’s just very frustrating. I want to read about Captain Marvel being awesome in stories that actually matter. Seeing her flail around trying to make an impact in some alien disagreement that has nothing to do with her is just dull. She doesn’t really connect with any of the characters in any meaningful way. She’s not about to settle down on this planet. DeConnick and Lopez are doing a fine job, but this story feels so meaningless. There is a lot of skill put into this comic, I will grant them that, but they’re not doing anything of note with that skill. It’s just Carol wandering through a strange, alien landscape and trying desperately hard to be of some use. At least the showdown in the end was pretty cool.

Grayson #1

Grayson #1
Writer: Tim Seeley and Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin

I’ve been big into Nightwing in the New 52, I think because DC has been so cruel to Tim Drake, and I need a Robin to love. Since the start of the reboot, Dick has been the victim of an unending string of changes and crossovers. First he and Haley’s Circus were going to travel the country, then he was going to rebuild the circus on Amusement Mile, then he moved to Chicago, etc., etc.  The changes continue with Grayson, where he is now a secret agent. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Dick Grayson is a secret agent for Spyral, though no explanation is given why they would hire him since the world knows he’s Nightwing. But anyway, Dick uses his awesomeness to sneak onto a train in Mongolia and kidnap a guy who had been given a super-powered organ transplant. Other forces are trying to get the same guy, but Dick and his partner, Helena Bertinelli, are able to get away with him. At one point, Dick has to fight Midnighter, of all people, but he still wins and gets the target back to Spyral, who take out the organ (I think).

Meanwhile, Spyral continues their quest to learn the secret identities of the superheroes. They already know that Batman is Bruce Wayne and that Cyborg is Victor Stone.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I really liked this issue. Dick Grayson is likable, friendly, and a total professional. He holds his own against Midnighter, and fits easily into the spy game. He’s as fun as he’s ever been, just in a new setting with new tasks. I might have liked a little more backstory as to why Spyral would hire him, but that’s not a deal breaker. I’m also mostly just annoyed at the endless supply of secretive agencies in the DCU. The list is exhaustive, and Spyral doesn’t seem to stand out in any way. There’s no explanation given for why they exist or what they do beyond generic spy missions.

What have they ever done besides spell their name with a ‘y’? That is not a good pun. At all. I don’t care if Grant Morrison came up with it.

But those are minor nitpicks. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy a comic about Dick Grayson using all of his skill and charm to be an awesome secret agent. The art is great, the characters seem like they’ll be a lot of fun, and Dick Grayson is as cool as ever. Maybe they’ll finally let him stick to one storyline for more than just a couple of months.

Suicide Squad #1

New Suicide Squad #1
Writer: Sean Ryan
Artist: Jeremy Roberts

Back when the New 52 first came around, I thought Suicide Squad was going to be the spiritual successor of Secret Six. Boy was I wrong! I dropped the series like a bad habit and haven’t touched it since – until today, when I needed another comic to round out my reviews. So does Suicide Squad warrant a new #1?

Not in the least.

Vic Sage is introduced to the New 52 as the new leader of Task Force X, though Amanda Waller is still around to help advise him. Sage wants to shake up the team, and that involves switching Captain Boomerang for Deathstroke and Joker’s Daughter. Waller is upset with these changes and Sage’s attitude, and they spend the issue snipping back and forth about it. Meanwhile, the team, composed of Deathstroke, Joker’s Daughter, Harley Quinn, Black Manta and Deadshot, invade a building in Russia in order to kill some VIPs and gather some intel. But all of their plans go out the window when the Rocket Red Brigade shows up at the end.

Comic Rating: 4/10 – Pretty Bad.

For a comic called ‘Suicide Squad’, we sure spend very little time with the actual squad. The villains get a single scene to but heads and interact before they thrown into a generic action/mayhem scene, with the conversation between Sage and Waller taking up the bulk of the issue. That was disappointing. In a comic about super-villains working together on awesome black-ops missions, I want to read about the super-villains! It’s not like this Vic Sage is the Question or anything. He’s just a smarmy guy in a suit.

The lineup of the Squad has a lot of potential, I think, but Ryan didn’t focus on them at all. A comic like this lives and dies on whether or not the team is worth reading about. I know the Suicide Squad needs some behind-the-scenes suits, but I care about the villains and whether or not they get along. And why were they surprised that the Rocket Red Brigade showed up? They are kind of Russia’s premiere superhero force.

The art wasn’t all that great either. Roberts does an acceptable job, but there was no heart or soul in the work. It was like he was drawing characters for trading cards and then just putting them together to make a scene. And all of the action was just generic mayhem, with little to no creativity in the mission.

I hope the Teen Titans relaunch goes better than this.

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 July 12, 2014, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Grayson was surprisingly great. I love the idea of him literally using his gun as a batarang as opposed to, y’know, shooting somebody with it. That was awesome.
    Though I don’t understand the logic behind the series at all. Seeley said Spyral hired Grayson because they wanted to find the identities and weaknesses of all the superheroes in the world and Dick was presumed dead, so he was somehow the most logical choice to recruit. So I guess Spyral for some reason thinks Bruce is also convinced Dick is dead? How could that be when he was there when Dick supposedly died and saw him come back to life? And even if he wasn’t, why would Dick suddenly help this secret organization figure out the weaknesses of every superhero on the planet, including Batman? It makes no fucking sense and seems completely shoehorned in as a terrible editorial idea. But Seeley seems to be making the most of it.

    • You make a damn good point. Also, why don’t they just ask Dick Grayson for the identities of all the superheroes? Or torture the names out of him? Spyral clearly knows he’s Dick Grayson. They call him that by name. Surely they’d think Nightwing would know the other superheroes, right?

      • Bah, New 52 logic. I mean, this book also has him fighting Warren Ellis’s Batman pastiche for some reason, so I guess the Authority also exists in this universe.

      • I don’t think they were ever the Authority. I dunno. Midnighter and the whole gang have actually been members of Stormwatch since the start of the New 52…but I don’t think DC ever really made any effort to integrate them that well.

  2. ANXM was a good finale to the arc. Bendis redeemed Molly, which was nice – he apparently disagreed with including her as part of the Future Brotherhood in the first place, so it’s nice that he got the chance to fix that stupid, idiotic decision by Aaron and Lowe. Laura got to be badass, which was nice.

    Captain Marvel was great. That ending. Oh man. Oh man. next issue’s going to be so frigging epic.

    • That makes more sense about Molly Hayes, and is actually kind of funny. Bendis didn’t get what he wanted beforehand, so now he’s taken it upon himself to just fix it how he wants. Perfect.

      • Well, it’s more that Bendis disagreed with what Aaron and Lowe wanted, and now that they’re gone, he decided to fix their ridiculous mistake. Because it was a mistake. Turning Molly Hayes into a villain? Bullshit. Bad enough that Nico and Chase got shoved into Arena. What’s next, Karolina dumps Julie in favour of Victor?

      • The Runaways are nothing but gristle for the mills now! Gristle for the mills!

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