Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 7/19/14

I have a feeling that the closer we get to the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, the more prevalent the GotG cameos will be in Marvel comics. We’ve got at least two this week – that I read – and both are painfully obvious. It’s like Marvel is working overtime to erase all of the goodwill built up by all those amazing movie trailers.

I am going to be seeing Guardians of the Galaxy on opening night. But you better believe I’m not about to pay for one of their comics.

Fortunately, we’ve got a pretty good pile of books this week. New issues of Uncanny X-Men and She-Hulk were pretty darn great. If you’re a supporter of Cyclops, like me, things are going to get pretty awesome pretty fast. We also kick off the return of Robin at DC Comics, but for some reason, I’m pretty much subdued as far as that goes. And we’ve still got comics like Original Sin and Batwoman to stink up the joint. But we rebound with another (inter)stellar issue of Silver Surfer, which wins Comic Book of the Week for an adorable trip to Cape Cod.

But if I’m being completely honest, and more than a little shocked, Batman Eternal wins moment of the week for this hilarious bit. Batwing and the Spectre have just entered the haunted, overrun Arkham Asylum.

That is the smartest thing Batman Eternal has written so far.

Comic Reviews: Batman Eternal #15, Batwoman #33, Original Sin #6, Robin Rises: Omega #1, She-Hulk #6, Silver Surfer #4, and Uncanny X-Men #23.

You can also eventually check out my larger review of Ms. Marvel #6 over at Word of the Nerd.


Batman Eternal #15

Batman Eternal #15
Writers: Ray Fawkes, Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV
Artist: Dustin Nguyen

Life is not fair. I so want Harper Row to become the new Robin. She’s fantastic in this series, and her interaction with Tim Drake just points towards how perfect she would be as the new Robin! But nope. As you’ll see later in this list, DC has other plans for the Boy Wonder. It’s a damn shame.

Batwing and Spectre head into Arkham Asylum, where some mystical force has turned the place into a messed up haunted house full of nightmare fuel. They just keep going deeper until they’re attacked by a legion of the undead. They grab Batwing and pull him through the floor to the catacombs below, where he encounters Joker’s Daughter. Jim Corrigan, meanwhile, is captured by some guy calling himself Mister Bygone.

Elsewhere, Red Robin and Harper Row arrive in Japan, and despite him telling her to stay in the Batplane, she pulls on a blue mask and joins him anyway. And Batgirl and Red Hood find Batwoman on their case in Brazil.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

I think that horrible GCPD storyline was like a thorn in my paw, and I couldn’t enjoy Batman Eternal while that was in place. I find myself not hating this series as much now that Commissioner McCrookedCop has been taken care of.  This issue focuses on the Spectre and Batwing, my second least favorite storyline, but it’s not half bad.I much prefer the awesome Red Robin/Harper Row scene, but Arkham Asylum is sufficiently spooky in this issue, and that’s pretty cool. Batwing is still a weird character to wrap my head around, but he and Spectre make an OK team, and I’m not completely disinterested in their storyline anymore.


Batwoman #33

Batwoman #33
Writer: Marc Andreyko
Artists: Jeremy Haun and Scott Kolins

I am, however, completely disinterested in Batwoman‘s storyline these days. Yawn. Andreyko hasn’t been too bad since he took over, but Batwoman has lost a lot of its charm.

Kate has a bad dream where she becomes a vampire and attacks Maggie and her daughter. She talks to her shrink about it, realizing that she has some issues with Maggie’s custody battle. So Kate phones up Maggie’s ex-husband with a proposition for him. Meanwhile, Nocturna meets and seduces a new man, only for him to take the bullet when Killshot tries to assassinate her. Batwoman is nearby and she gets into a fight with both Killshot and Night-Thief, Nocturna’s step-son/partner. Nocturna also joins the fight in the end.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

There are way too many costumed nobodies in this comic. Killshot and Night-Thief might as well be the same exact person for all they matter or standout. On top of them, there’s a vampire queen, who would actually be a pretty cool villain all on her own. But Batwoman doesn’t really have anything to do with any of them. She’s just there, in their way, while these other costumed characters go about their own business of new husbands and assassinations. It’s a weird disconnect, and it robs the superhero bits of this story of any importance.

The personal life stuff for Kate Kane is far more interesting, but it lacks the spark of earlier outings. I don’t know why. I used to love this stuff. But Kate is also disconnected from Maggie Sawyer’s custody battle, which is mostly happening off screen. So instead, we’ve got Kate telling half-truths to a therapist, or talking on the phone with Maggie’s ex, who we’ve never seen before. And is there any reason why Kate had to make that phone call wearing only a robe, dripping in water?

The perfect outfit for calling ex-husbands

Kate looks pretty misshapen. The art was just terrible in this issue. I don’t usually complain about art, but it was horrific, especially when it came to characters. Check out these images of Kate by Kolins.

Kate want pizza! Kate love puppy!

Wowzers. I know Kolins can do much better, so clearly this is just a rush job he slapped together so that Batwoman would get out on time. This comic used to feature the absolute best art in the entire business. Is this DC’s way of punishing Batwoman? I sure hope not. The character and comic can be good again, but Batwoman has definitely fallen from its once high perch.


Original Sin #6

Original Sin #6
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mike Deodato

Welp, here we go again. There are still two issues of Original Sin after this one, and I have no idea what the heck Marvel and Jason Aaron could possibly have planned. Though I assume the final issue is just going to be rapid-fire advertisements for upcoming comics. I think I’d be more interested in reading that than I am in reading Original Sin itself.

Old Nick Fury explains that he has gathered this particular group of heroes because one of them will have to take his place as Protector of the Earth when he dies. None of them are particularly keen on the idea, especially since, as Dr. Strange points out, superheroes do that kind of work every day. But Fury insists that he was particularly awesome at it, so there. Rather than anyone stepping up to the plate, Black Panther points out that Nick Fury hasn’t answered their question about who killed the Watcher, leading to a big fight between the heroes and the LMDs. Then the Avengers show up on the space station, leading to even more fighting, only this time, Old Nick Fury has put on a power suit so he can join in.

Also, Dr. Midas still hasn’t been dealt with, so there’s that.

Comic Rating: 3/10 – Bad.

This is a dumb comic. First of all, Nick Fury acts like it’s a big secret who will take his place, but Marvel already spoiled that reveal, as Bleeding Cool has pointed out. So I guess that’s blown, Nick. But does this mean that the entire point of Original Sin has been to justify that upcoming comic’s premise? Because I’m sure there would be easier ways than a full-on, 8-issue mini-series that kills Nick Fury.

And again, I feel I must point out that Dr. Strange is absolutely right! I don’t care how important Nick Fury thinks he is, there’s nothing about this Protector of the Earth gig that’s all that special. It’s exactly what every superhero has ever done. And Aaron doesn’t sell the idea by having Fury insist he does it harder and better than anyone has ever imagined. What happens when Bucky’s new series gets cancelled after a few issues? Will the Protector of Earth role just fade away? Never to be heard from again? Probably.

The best days of the Big Event comic are behind us. If you thought Original Sin was its own story, possibly about the assassination of the Watcher, or everybody’s darkest secrets coming to light, boy were you wrong. This entire 8-issue mini-series is set dressing for a lot of minor changes across the Marvel Universe, like the reveal that Angela is the sister of Thor and Loki, or that Tony Stark had something to do with the Hulk’s origin. Original Sin itself, with its dark, murky art, isn’t much of a story, it isn’t much of a murder mystery, and it isn’t much of anything, really.

But at least Marvel got in that Rocket Raccoon guest appearance, eh? EH?!!!


Robin Rises: Omega #1

Robin Rises: Omega #1
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Andy Kubert

As many readers know, I am a huge Robin fan. So I am going to be paying particularly close attention to this ongoing Robin Rises storyline, because I’m very excited about Batman having a Robin once again. But I don’t want Damian to come back from the dead. I’ve never particularly seen Damian as Robin. He’s Damian, first and foremost. And while that’s fine for the character, I prefer it when Robin is Robin first and foremost. So this is kind of a touchy subject for me. It’ll be great having a Robin again, but based on this issue, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be a Robin I want to read about.

It also doesn’t help that this storyline is going to feature Apokolips for some reason.

After a few pages recapping Damian’s life story, we catch up to a scene currently in progress: R’as al Ghul has stolen both Damian’s and Talia’s coffins, and Batman has tracked him to the Himilayas to get them back (with the help of Frankenstein, of all people). But before everybody can fight over the coffins, Glorious Godfrey, the New God, teleports onto the scene from Apokolips with a whole army of Parademons. He wants something called a Chaos Shard, which R’as says is hidden in Damian’s coffin. Rather than just opening the coffin and giving him the shard, everybody gets into a big fight, with Batman teaming up with R’as and his assassins to fight Godfrey and his army.

It’s a pretty cool fight, during which R’as and Talia’s coffin are lost. And at one point, Batman has his hands on the Chaos Shard, and he realizes that it can be used to bring Damian back to life. But Godfrey grabs the Shard and escapes back to Apokolips when the Justice League show up to save Batman. The JL are a little hesitant about the idea of racing off to Apokolips, but Batman tells them he doesn’t care what they think. He’s going to Apokolips and he’s bringing Robin back alive!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I may not care to bring Damian back to life, but if that’s what DC is going to do, I’ll just suck it up and deal. That being said, I’m also a little hesitant to embrace the way Tomasi plans to make it happen. I realize that bringing a character back from the dead is always tricky, but for a family that is specifically built around a magical Pit to bring people back from the dead, why does Tomasi feel the need to involve Godfrey, Apokolips and something called a Chaos Shard? That’s a little too out there for my tastes.

Like Spider-Man, I prefer my Batman and Robin in a grounded setting. They are street-level characters, and they work best at the street level. I realize that Batman is never going to stay at the street level, but when it comes to something as fundamental as uniting Batman and Robin, I don’t think some wild, interdimensional adventure is the way to go. That’s a personal opinion and shouldn’t count against Tomasi. It’s his story, he’ll tell it how he wants – though I think it’s a bad idea to tie Robin’s rebirth on this Chaos Shard macguffin. It comes from the first story arc in the Batman/Superman team-up comic, which I didn’t read. Sometimes continuity can be stifling.

As for the comic itself, I very much enjoyed it. The whole thing is just one big fight scene, but Kubert is a pro beyond pros, and he handles the fight with exciting skill. The action is never dull, and the characters are never lost in the mess of monsters and ninjas. Kubert’s Justice League is especially colorful, and their arrival is pretty darn exciting. This was a really cool fight scene, which I don’t say very often. And all of the characters are spot on, especially Batman’s burning motivation to save Robin.

I may not like the manner in which Tomasi plans to bring Robin back, but I can’t argue with the skill he uses to tell the story.


She-Hulk #6

She-Hulk #6
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Ron Wimberly

She-Hulk by Charles Soule is still in my list of Marvel comics that are leading the current comics revolution. It’s fun, it’s unique, and it’s kind of quirky. I love all those things about the comic. The first four issues were a neat exploration of Jen’s new law office, while this issue and the last one finally got a little serious, dipping into Soule’s bigger story ideas.

Jen is investigating the Blue File, which is an old lawsuit from North Dakota involving her, Wyatt Wingfoot, Tigra, Monica Rambeau, Nightwatch, the Shocker and Vibro. Jen stumbled upon the file in her records some time ago, but she doesn’t have any memory of the case, and neither does anybody else. Also, it turns out there might be something mystical at work here. When Hellcat asked Tigra about it last issue, Tigra went into some kind of trace that led to her nearly killing Hellcat! And when Jen’s paralegal, Angie, went to North Dakota to look into the actual paperwork, she got shot! In this issue, Jen is visited by Dr. Kevin Trench, who used to operate as the superhero Nightwatch in the 90s. They have a pleasant conversation, during which he tells her that he received a warning to stay away from her, so naturally he’s sought her out to find out what’s going on. During his visit, Jen’s building is attacked by demons shouting her name, and the two heroes team up to defeat them.

Meanwhile, Angie’s monkey somehow brings her back to life, and she discovers that the records building is burning to the ground. She races back to New York to tell Jennifer what she’s learned: a guy named George Saywitz is suing everybody in the Blue File for wrongful death after some kind of reality-warping incident caused a whole town to disappear, leaving him as the only survivor. But Jen tells Angie that after all the trouble the Blue File has caused, she’s decided to just drop the matter and let sleeping dogs lie. Being a responsible paralegal, Angie accepts this and goes back to work – though something might be wrong with Jen.

Anyway, in the end, Dr. Trench phones up and says he’s told a few friends about She-Hulk’s law firm, and a bunch of new clients arrive in the lobby.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

First of all, the art is monstrously terrible. I know a lot of people didn’t like Javier Pulido on the first four issues, but I was a fan, and I thought his style fit the title nicely. Well he’s on break, apparently, and in Ron Wimberly, Marvel found an even more insane artist. Characters look like squiggly monsters. Action is all over the place. The art is just plain off-putting.

At least Nightwatch looks awesome

Fortunately, the story is too damn good to let the art drag it down too far. Soule does a fantastic job mixing the seriousness of the Blue File with the usual light-hearted, jokey nature of the She-Hulk comic. The demon invasion is a little weird, and the art really makes the fight especially weird, but Jen has some great interactions with Nightwatch, Angie, her landlord and everyone else who crosses her path. Jen is a really enjoyable character, and Soule has created a wonderful supporting cast.

Plus, c’mon, it’s Nightwatch! Who doesn’t love a random cameo from a seemingly forgotten 90s superhero?


Silver Surfer #4

Silver Surfer #4
Writer: Dan Slott
Artists: Mike and Laura Allred

Deep breaths, folks. The Guardians of the Galaxy make a random, pointless guest appearance at the start of this issue. It’s abominable. I felt dirty reading the scene. Fortunately, Marvel isn’t relying on just their forced comic appearances to sell the movie. And also fortunately, the rest of the comic is pretty awesome.

The Silver Surfer takes Dawn Greenwood back to Earth – though first they’re stopped by the Guardians of the Galaxy out near Jupiter. The Guardians pretend they’re just safeguarding the Earth, while secretly they’re checking to see if the Surfer is leading Galactus to Earth. It’s a horrible, horrible cameo. Anyway, the Surfer takes Dawn back to her home in Anchor Bay, and she invites him in to have dinner with her family. There’s something weird and monstrous going on in the background, but Surfer can’t seem to put his finger on it. After dinner, the Surfer takes a nap, then wakes up in the middle of the night and decides he’s overstayed his welcome, so he hops on his board to leave – but when he reaches the atmosphere, he discovers that the barrier that Galactus put in place all those years ago to keep him on Earth is back!

Also, Dr. Strange and the Hulk are headed for Anchor Bay as well.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

Seriously, what the hell was up with that Guardians of the Galaxy cameo?! It accomplished nothing and doesn’t make any damn sense! The Solar System is a huge damn place. How were they able to spot the freaking Silver Surfer flying in? They couldn’t have been waiting for him, since how would they know he was coming? And based on every GotG comic I’ve read in the past month, I don’t think they’ve parked themselves out near Jupiter watching every visitor come or go. Their dialogue was more annoying than funny. And why didn’t they ask the Surfer what he was doing on Aug. 1? Why didn’t they just COME RIGHT OUT AND TELL HIM TO GO SEE THEIR MOVIE, PREMIERING ON AUG. 1 IN THEATERS NATIONWIDE?

Fuck the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Pardon my language. At least the rest of the comic was awesome. The Surfer and Dawn Greenwood continue to have adorable chemistry, and watching the Silver Surfer interact with her very human family was a blast. They’re all curious about Dawn’s adventure in space, and not the least bit awed by the Silver Surfer himself. Superheroes and cosmic beings are just a part of everyday life, and maybe a few people out in Cape Cod can’t be bothered to care about every fancy somebody.

The Surfer has a nice dinner, Dawn’s family is a nice group of people, and the Allreds have a lot of fun drawing all sorts of weird, mysterious goings-on in the background. The couches seem to have teeth. There’s a tentacle monster in the water. And Surfer’s bisque has a phantom hand growing out of it. Evil is definitely afoot in Silver Surfer, and it’s a hoot.


Uncanny X-Men #23

Uncanny X-Men #23
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Kris Anka

My bias is going to shine through pretty strongly whenever I write about Uncanny X-Men. I’m one of Cyclops’ biggest fans these days, and any time Bendis sinks his teeth into Scott Summers’ current troubles, I am hooked. I love the soap opera drama going on in the X-verse, and this issue is thick with it.

She-Hulk is the lawyer in charge of the Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier, so she heads to the Jean Grey School for a reading of the will – but she tells the X-Men that everyone named in the will needs to be present, and that includes Scott Summers. Scott, meanwhile, is taking care of his team. There’s Dazzler, who is freaking out over everything that has been done to her, especially since Mystique has gone into hiding and she can’t get her revenge. There’s Tempus, who still won’t come clean about what happened to her in Tabula Rasa, and who gets fed up with Cyclops when he tries to talk to her about it. And there’s Hijack, who Cyclops welcomes back to the team after a heart-to-heart.

Also, there’s a guy named Matthew, who lost his wife in a Skrull attack in South Carolina last year. Nowadays, he’s pretty despondent. When his sister-in-law bumps into him, he tries to get away, but she’s so persistent that it somehow triggers his mutant power to cause some kind of localized explosion – at least I think that’s what happens.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This issue was juicy with internal X-drama, and I loved it! I loved the X-Men trying to support Dazzler in her pain and her anger. I loved Cyclops trying and failing to bond with Tempus, and then succeeding in bonding with Hijack. Both conversations were gold. I loved the X-Men’s response to She-Hulk showing up at their school with the will, as well as the discussion they have over whether or not Charles Xavier is ‘dead’ enough to actually read the will. That was a fun bit of comic bookery. And I love the drama that’s going to unfold when Cyclops has to return to the Jean Grey School for the reading – not that he hasn’t already been there plenty of times.

The art by Anka felt a little barren and lifeless, but Bendis’ drama is exactly what I want from this series. I don’t care that my review is very subjective. People like comics for a lot of different reasons. I love reading Uncanny X-Men because Cyclops’ story is possibly my favorite in the Marvel Universe right now, and this issue is rich with the excellent drama. I can’t wait for the next issue!


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 19, 2014, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Original Sin is awful. It’s just a bad story. Never mind spoilers and set-up and all that, it’s simply a poorly-told story. The most telling moment, to me, was Black Panther repeatedly demanding Nick Fury answer the damned question of who killed the Watcher, because I think the audience feels the same way: “Just answer the damned question already!” Get on with it! But, of course, nope! Gotta drag that out even longer! In favour of shit no one actually gives a damn about. And of course, we don’t even get any real explanation for why that specific group of characters was picked by Fury. Emma Frost? Really, Nick? You think Emma frigging Frost is going to be the protector of the world? Come on. It’s ridiculous. Jason Aaron felt like using Emma, so he used Emma, and never even bothered to make even the slightest bit of effort to justify her presence. Or Ant-Man’s, or Strange’s, or Gamora’s, or anyone’s. Even Bendis’ events were a whole lot better than this utter garbage. They were simply underwhelming, rather than flat-out awful.

    She-Hulk was a lot of fun. The art wasn’t quite as unpleasant as last issue, though I’m still glad to have Wimberly leave. But there was lots of fun stuff.

    Silver Surfer was hilarious. Slott and Allred are killing it.

    UXM was great. Tons of great drama, and a couple fun moments. Anka nailed the scene of Dazzler in the bathroom.

    And Ms. Marvel was amazing. Kamala’s so adorable. So damned adorable it hurts.

    • Yeah, heh, Emma Frost, jeez. She makes no sense in this comic, and hasn’t done anything to even really require her presence. Horrible, horrible choice there. And we all know why Ant-Man and Dr. Strange made the cut.

      Kamala is amazing. I’m loving that series. Now that Hawkeye’s coming to an end, and is infinitely delayed, Ms. Marvel is quickly rising to the top as the best comic out there.

  2. Huh. I guess now we know how far down we diverge on the road of weird ass art, because I actually loved Wimberly’s art. I guess I just get a bit uncomfortable with people saying art is terrible when it’s actually technically competent, just highly stylized. It’s not bad in the sense that Rob Liefeld doesn’t understand anatomy AT ALL, it’s just fucking weird because the artist wants it to look like that. Same as Ian Bertram, who everyone was shitting on the same way.
    Of course, I was reading Sandman when I was 12, so I have a pretty much unlimited tolerance for bizarre artwork. I think I’d still be on board right up until everything was drawn as stick figures in human blood, and even then I might need to give it some thought.

    • Hmmm, perhaps I should come up with a better word than ‘terrible’ then to describe art I don’t like. As you said, it was perfectly competent artwork, just not my cup of tea.

  3. Comics are a visual medium. I don’t care how good the story is, the new art in She Hulk is the worst I have ever encountered in 45 years of buying comics outside of amateur zines. I’m not buying another issue until he’s gone. If the art is so bad it makes it physically impossible to stomach reading the story then the comic is a fail. Full stop no debate. If the story is good then let the writer pen SheHulk Diaries 2. I normally don’t like trashing creative artists but in this case it’s destroyed a title I was enjoying until the artist change.

    • Same thing happened to X-Factor a few years ago when they brought Larry Stroman back. His art was OK in the 90s, but man, it had deteriorated something terrible. The issues were almost unreadable!

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