Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 8/23/14

The week is finally here! Grant Morrison’s long-gestating project, Multiversity, has finally hit the stands! I think it was first announced back when I was in college. Feels like forever. It was one of those project that I never thought would see the light of day. But Grant Morrison lives to mess with our heads, and he definitely carries the slack.

And he’s not alone! This was a week of above average comics! Storm, Ms. Marvel, New Avengers; I was a glutton for good comics this week. But despite those quality issues – and Multiversity does indeed live up to expectations – I’m going to personally give Comic Book of the Week to Batman and Robin #34. It wasn’t the best comic of the week, but it spoke to me personally, and this is how I roll.

Moment of the week, though, goes to New Avengers. The world is coming to an end, and Reed Richards flies out to Latveria in the middle of the night to spend his last hour alive with his daughter, who has been staying with Doctor Doom. But only Reed knows the world is about to end. Every else is in the dark. All they know is that Reed woke everybody up in the middle of the night. It’s great.

I love Doom and Valeria

Though now that I think about it, why didn’t Doom ever get involved in the incursion storyline in New Avengers? Remember when that was teased all the way back at the beginning? That would have been awesome.

Comic Reviews: Batman Eternal #20, Batman and Robin #34, Ms. Marvel #7, Multiversity #1, New Avengers #23 and Storm #2.

You can also check out my review of All-New Ghost Rider #6 at Word of the Nerd.

And I was going to review Batwoman #34 this week, but something happens in that comic that deserves a much closer examination. Come back on Sunday for a deeper exploration of just why DC Comics has screwed us all over again. They say revenge is a dish best served cold, after all…

Batman Eternal #20

Batman Eternal #20
Writers: Tim Seeley, Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV
Artist: Emanuel Simeoni

Huh, looks like we’ve come to another endpoint in Batman Eternal, once again confusing me as to how this whole project is supposed to work. Are we just going to be dealing with small little stories along the way that maybe tie into something bigger? Who knows!

In Brazil, Batgirl chases the Pupper Master into the jungle, but he is killed by an assassin’s blade. Fortunately, Red Hood found more than enough evidence in his base to exonerate Commissioner Gordon. In the bowels of Gotham, Batman, Croc and Bard defeat the Ten-Eyed Man and save the little girl. Bard tries to arrest Croc, but the scaly one escapes into the sewers. In prison, Jim Gordon fights his way through the thugs who have taken over, but they turn the tables on him, and Gordon is almost killed. He’s saved by a last minute reveal that his crazy, old roommate was actually Rex “The Lion” Calabrese, an old-time gangster who used to run Gotham before Falcone and the Penguin. Gordon and Batman both talked about Calabrese earlier in the series, so this reveal doesn’t come too far out of left field. The Lion aids Gordon and the day is saved.

Elsewhere, Stephanie Brown finally has a costume and assumes the mantle of Spoiler!

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

I think we’re all glad that Spoiler is back. Hopefully that will turn into something interesting. Maybe DC will even give Spoiler her own comic! Though I think the new take on Batgirl is going to fill the exact same role. Still, I’m excited to see where she goes from here.

I’m a little disappointed at how the Jim Gordon storyline has ended – if it’s really, truly over. I still think the Trial of Commissioner Gordon could have made a great year-long story, but Batman Eternal botched the crime he was charged with (too ridiculous), and then they solve it by sending Batgirl, Red Hood and Batwoman to Brazil to catch some weird Pupper Master knock-off? Everything about this storyline was too extreme when it could have made a great, street-level, courtroom adventure.

And what point did Batwoman serve in Brazil? Talk about shoe-horning a character into the adventure.

Overall, the issue was entertaining, and that gives it a higher grade than just being mediocre. I still don’t think the stories are all that great, and the writing isn’t anything special, but it’s a relatively entertaining Batman comic. I liked Batman teaming up with Killer Croc. I liked the reveal of Rex Calabrese. But Batman Eternal still isn’t living up to its potential, not by a long shot.

Batman and Robin #34

Batman and Robin #34
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason

I may be dreading how this whole ‘Robin Rising’ thing is going to turn out, but there’s no denying that Tomasi knows how to write the Bat-family. Hot damn, this issue positively dripping with awesome, fan-friendly scenes as Batman says his goodbyes to his most trusted allies. I may have taken some time off this book, but I’m glad i’m back! It might just be my favorite Bat-book right now!

Batman patches things up with Batgirl, Red Robin and Red Hood, apologizing for how he acted earlier and promising full disclosure of all secrets from this day forward. He doesn’t want another ‘Death of the Family’ happening. The three heroes accept his apology, and Bruce explains to them all about Apokolips, the possible resurrection of Damian, and his plans to make that happen. The heroes are ready to go with him to Apokolips, but Bruce tells them that he won’t risk their lives, and instead just asks them to keep watching Gotham while he goes on this likely suicide mission.

After the three of them leave, Dick Grayson steps out of the shadows (one secret that Bruce is still keeping from everybody else), and also offers to go with Bruce to Apokolips. Instead, Bruce makes Dick promise to once again become Batman should things go wrong, and Bruce gets Dick’s help to distract the Justice League while he sneaks onto the Watchtower to steal that fancy Hellbat armor. Lex Luthor is on Monitor Duty and figures out what Bruce is doing, but instead of trying to stop him, Luthor offers his condolences about Damian and helps improve the suit before Bruce takes a Mother Box to Apokolips.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This is how you make me happy as a comic book fan. This review is completely biased, and I fully admit to that. If you’re going to be writing an issue about Batman and his Robins, I’m there. I’m drinking it up like a French connoisseur. I loved how Batman and his peeps put Death of the Family to rest. And I especially loved when Dick Grayson stepped out of the shadows to share an even more personal moment with Bruce. That Bruce straight up asked him to take over as Batman should something happen is like fanboy gravy for me! Loved it! Tomasi writes them all so well.

Same with Lex Luthor. If Geoff Johns ever feels the need to step away from his Justice League comic, Tomasi is waiting in the wings to take over. While Johns takes his time putting this version of the League together, Tomasi gets to play with them fully formed, and he’s having a blast. He writes a deviously intelligent and heroic Lex Luthor, and an absolutely hilarious Captain Marvel. If Johns ever feels the need to explain why this League lineup is a good idea, he should just point to these issues of Batman and Robin.

Ms. Marvel #7

Ms. Marvel #7
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Jake Wyatt

Let the adorableness continue! Ms. Marvel seems to be making the most of it’s Wolverine guest appearance, which I am very glad to see. I had been hoping that Kamala Khan might get to stay in her little corner of the MU for awhile, but the bigger world is already crowding in, for good or ill.

Ms. Marvel and Wolverine are in the sewer searching for a teenage girl who went missing from the Jean Grey School. They’ve been ambushed by the Inventor, who has sent a giant alligator after them! The two heroes combine their powers to take down the big beastie, and it’s a pretty gnarly fight.  After it’s done, Kamala says she doesn’t want to have to hurt people or animals, but Wolverine tells her that somebody is always going to get hurt. They continue to work together to escape the sewers, while Wolverine continues to deliver words of wisdom. The pair break through one final trap laid by the Inventor, and discover that he’s hooking up the kidnapped teenagers to his machines to use them as a power source.

The pair rescue the Jean Grey student that Wolverine had been tracking, and he leaves to take her to the hospital. Kamala says she can handle the rest of this. Kamala also reveals that she got her powers from a strange green mist, which Wolverine recognizes as the Terrigen Bomb. He passes word along to Captain America, who tells Medusa about the new Inhuman. Medusa decides to send Lockjaw to check her out.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

You stay away from this comic, Inhuman! Keep your hands off Kamala! She’s too good for you! She’s better than you! Boo! Hiss!

Sorry, I don’t know what came over me…oh wait, yes I do! Inhuman is a terrible comic! Downright awful! The only good thing to come out of that stupid Terrigen Bomb garbage has been Ms. Marvel! She may owe her origin to that stupid story, but they better not get their stink all over her amazing comic! Hell, this very issue disproves Inhuman‘s reason for even existing. Captain America tells Medusa about Ms. Marvel, and the Queen immediately suggests she’ll go out, grab Kamala and force her to come back to Attilan for training and whatnot. Cap quickly puts the brakes on that idea, pointing out that the girl seems to be doing just fine on her own.

Huh, fancy that, all of these new people with super-powers are capable of taking care of themselves, JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER PERSON WHO HAS EVER RANDOMLY DEVELOPED SUPER-POWERS IN THE MARVEL UNIVERSE!

Sorry again, I’ll stop. The idea of Ms. Marvel hanging out with Lockjaw actually sounds kind of fun. But dammit, Inhuman better not come along and ruin Ms. Marvel. It would literally be Marvel’s worst book coming along and pooping all over its best book. The only way that makes sense is if Marvel is insanely desperate to–no, I need to stop. Sorry again.

This issue was a lot of fun, like expected. At times I felt it was almost a little too hokey, with Wolverine imparting all manner of life lessons, and being almost too cute for his own good, but I suppose those also worked. I get the feeling that the Wolverine cameo was kind of forced, but Wilson does her best with it, keeping the focus mostly on Kamala and her neato super-powers. Have I mentioned how much I love the fact that she refers to her powers as ’embiggening’? That’s just fantastic. The art by Jake Wyatt, likewise, is stellar. It’s more cartoony than we’re used to, but considering the entire issue is spent in costume, teaming up with Wolverine, the cartoony nature works quite well.

Ms. Marvel #7 is another great issue in this amazing series. I just hope Medusa keeps her stupid face as far away from this comic as possible.

Multiversity #1

Multiversity #1
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Ivan Reis

It’s with a heavy heart that I must inform you readers that I am not a very smart man. I like to think I am, and I graduated college, so that’s got to count for something. But Grant Morrison stuff goes right over my head. I usually love what he writes, and Multiversity is a very good comic, but there are probably a million different layers and meanings that I’m missing.

So please, bear with me.

Earth 7 is under attack from the Gentry, a squad of evil, extra-dimensional beings birthed from the darkest recesses of Grant Morrison’s twisted mind. Nix Uotan, the last Monitor, and his chimpanezee sidekick, Mr. Stubbs, travel to Earth 7 to investigate, and they save the last surviving superhero, the Thunderer, taking his place to hold off the Gentry. The Thunderer uses their ship to fly to the House of Heroes, a watchtower at the center of the Multiverse. From there, the programming inside the House summons heroes from all the different universes, including President Superman from Earth 23, Dino-Cop, Captain Carrot, Aquawoman, the Red Racer and more.

Once they figure out what they need to do, the heroes jump in the ship and try to fly to Earth 7, but get waylaid on Earth 8 instead, which is the Marvel Universe (or the Major Universe, as per copyright stuff). The heroes almost get into a fight with the Retaliators (the Avengers), but discover that supervillain Lord Havok has some kind of cosmic egg, and from that egg hatches Nix Uotan and Mr. Stubbs, who suffered at the hands of the Gentry for eons and are now evil.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This is a very entertaining, very fulfilling comic book. Multiversity is packed to the gills with characters, adventures, and most of all, weirdness. That’s par for the course for Grant Morrison, and he’s just a very good writer, no ifs, ands or buts about it. The guy writes compelling superhero comics. All of the characters feel larger than life, especially President Superman. Even Captain Carrot is pretty damn cool. So I’m already invested in these madcap heroes trying to save the Multiverse. The art by Reis keeps up every step of the way, providing a colorful and exciting visual roller coaster. He easily switches from the dark evil of the Gentry to the colorful goofballishness of Captain Carrot.

Not me, good sir bunny!

Beyond that, Multiversity plays around with the very fabric of reality in ways that only Grant Morrison can achieve. When the characters all meet one another, it’s revealed that each of their ‘real life’ adventures is represented as a comic book in some other reality. Which means, theoretically, that we are part of the Multiverse, and by reading this as a comic book, we’re witnessing real events that are taking place in some other reality. Morrison even has some omnipresent ‘voice’ speak directly to the reader, as if we’re part of the story. It’s pretty freaky, but also pretty darn cool.

Multiversity is off to a neat start. Morrison is juggling his usual collection of weird ideas, and they mostly work, if you can understand them to any degree. I think I’m doing OK. At it’s heart, though, Multiversity is a story where a bunch of awesome good guys go up against the ultimate bad guys, and that always makes for great comics.

New Avengers #23

New Avengers #23
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Kev Walker

What’s with the rapid pace of New Avengers? There have been three issues released in just as many weeks. I know we’re building to some big Avengers crossovers soon, did Marvel want to make sure New Avengers had fallen in line with the status quo? Makes sense, considering the epicocity of the current storyline. And I do mean epic.

With 8 hours until the next incursion, the members of the Illuminati have decided that they can’t be responsible for killing another world, so they’re just going to accept their fates and die. They don’t warn the rest of the planet. They just take the time to say their goodbyes privately. Bruce Banner has a beer with his subconscious. Tony Stark pours a bunch of shot glasses and refuses to drink them. Hank McCoy tells his younger, time-traveling self about the incursions, only to get yelled at for being insane. Mr. Fantastic visits with his children, including his daughter Val, who is living in Latveria at the moment. And Black Panther tracks down Storm for a roll in the hay (does this mean she just cheated on Wolverine? Or are they not that serious?).

But when the 8 hours are up, nothing happens. The world doesn’t end! The Illuminati get back together to try and figure out why nothing happened, but they have no explanation for why the world didn’t end…until Black Bolt notices that Namor isn’t with them. What was Namor doing during those 8 hours? He was unfreezing Thanos and his Black Order, and recruiting Terrax, Black Swan and Maximus the Mad into his new Cabal, and together, the Cabal stopped the incursion by destroying the other world, and they’re going to keep on doing just that.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Bad. Ass. There’s no other way to describe turning the page and discovering Namor’s plan. I didn’t see it coming, and I couldn’t be more gleeful! The past few issues of New Avengers have been so good that I’m thinking of diving full speed back into Hickman’s Avengers. I gave it up after Infinity, but it looks like he has since turned the dial up to 11 – and we’re building to a big crossover soon! I think I’ll definitely have to give it a look see.

This issue was a bit slow until Namor’s big reveal at the end came along. Considering all of these heroes are confident that they’re about to die and the world is going to end, I suppose I might have expected something bigger. But nope, they all meet the end like champions, mostly. I especially enjoyed the scene between Reed, Sue and Doctor Doom. I made it my Moment of the Week, after all. And watching Beast get his arrogance shoved back in his face is always a treat (Cyclops was right!). But otherwise, it was just a quiet, dirge of an issue – before Namor steals the freakin’ show, man! Woohoo!

Storm #2

Storm #2
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Victor Ibanez

I definitely liked the first issue of Storm by Greg Pak. He’s got a solid handle on the character, and while she isn’t about to become a breakout sensation like Ms. Marvel, there’s a steady confidence at work in Storm. It’s a great fit for the character, though I fear it might not really grab many readers.

The issue opens with Storm and Wolverine out at a pub, enjoying a meal together. I personally don’t care for them as a couple, but whatever. Storm shares that she’s decided to stop holding back, both with her powers and her life, and Wolvie encourages her to be herself. After he leaves, Storm decides to go for a walk, and spots a Missing Persons poster stapled to a utility pole. On a whim, Storm decides to investigate. She talks to people who knew the missing girl and finds her cell phone, then has Hank track the phone to find the girl’s last known location – which is underground in the sewers.

Storm heads down, gets into a fight with Morlock leader Callisto, and discovers that the missing girl, and a few other missing people, are all voluntarily living down in the sewer, with help from Callisto. Their lives on the surface are pretty crappy, so they started a little community in the sewers. Storm apologizes for getting into a fight and promises to help make their home a little more livable. She makes peace with Callisto and leaves, tracking down Wolverine for a nice, leisurely stroll.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

It doesn’t seem like Pak is trying to set the world on fire with his Storm. That’s both a good and bad thing. He’s writing a great Storm. The character is confident and awesome. She’s a heroine through and through. But that kind of means she doesn’t have anywhere to go. What lessons does Storm have to learn? What growth does she have to experience? Is Pak just going to keep writing done-in-one adventures with Storm? I’m not complaining, I’m just hoping he has more planned for the series. I’ve never been much of a Storm fan, but this is an enjoyable comic, so I’ll probably keep reading. Ibanez seems game to draw whatever, and draw it well. So let’s see you boys pick up the pace!

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 August 23, 2014, in Avengers, Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. ANGH was great. I love Robbie’s relationship with Gabe.

    Ms. Marvel was awesome. So adorable. So much fun. And if anyone can find a way to help people without hurting other people, it’s her. I’m rooting for her to figure it out.

    New Avengers was good, I suppose.

    Storm was pretty good. Could’ve been better. A fairly nice done-in-one. I suspect he’s starting off slow, showcasing a few different sides of the character, before diving into something big.

    • I can dig that approach to Storm. I think he’s doing a fine job building her up. Part of me thinks Storm is too comfortable. She’s got everything he could want or need thanks to the Jean Grey School. Pak needs to find a way to really push her character without resorting to cliches.

  2. Ooh… Multiversity. Grant Morrison said there will be only one straight white man there, I’m hoping to see gay Superman/Batman or at least one-sided love. If that’s really happened, that’s like dream came true. Sometimes it’s really hard hard to not ship them after reading Superman/Batman team up.

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