Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews 9/6/14
Guys. Girls. Deep breaths. I just got my birthday present. And I am over the moon! For anybody who read my List of Six this week, today is my birthday – at least if you’re reading this on Sept. 6. And what was the number one thing on my List of what I wanted for my birthday? A new Multiple Man comic book. Unfortunately, that didn’t come true. But what did this week give me instead?
A brand new Madrox cameo! Sort of!
Behold Matt Rocks, a duplicate that Jamie sent to Los Angeles to become a big, rich, powerful attorney to the stars. He makes a guest appearance in this week’s new issue of She-Hulk, and it is just all manner of exciting. I think this is the first time any sort of Madrox has appeared in a comic since last year. In fact, the final issue of X-Factor was released this very same week – the week of my birthday – last year. You can read my review! How cool is this? One year to the day from Madrox’s last appearance and he shows up in She-Hulk, one of my favorite comics. This is the coolest comic book birthday present a guy could ask for (or at least one of them)!
No need to guess what wins Comic Book of the Week, because I am incredibly biased. Fortunately, She-Hulk #8 is a great comic even without the Madrox cameo.
And we need some good comics in a week that includes the finale of Original Sin and a pretty weak issue of Uncanny X-Men. This is also the first week of Death of Wolverine, my review of which you can read over at Word of the Nerd.
Comic Reviews: Batman Eternal #22, Lumberjanes #5, Moon Knight #7, Original Sin #8, She-Hulk #8, Uncanny X-Men #25.
Seriously you guys, Madrox!
Batman Eternal #22
Writers: Kyle Higgins, Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV
Artist: Jorge Lucas
And so we trudge on, giving DC Comics and Scott Snyder the benefit of the doubt by continuing to read Batman Eternal. Though if I want to be fair, I should probably stop. My mediocre scores are probably dragging this comic down on all those comic review aggregate sites! Poor Batman Eternal.
Julia Pennyworth discovers the Batcave and contacts Batman, telling him that Alfred has been rushed to the hospital. Batman would love to go check on him, but the Architect is attacking The Beacon Tower, which is currently under construction. Batman races to the scene and saves all the workers, with help from Julia manning the Bat-Computer, like Alfred usually does. But while Batman is busy with the Architect, he realizes that the only person who would know to attack Alfred would be Hush – who, meanwhile, kills the guy who was in charge of the Beacon Tower’s reconstruction.
Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.
Why are there two issues in a row with a ‘big reveal’ of Hush? Last issue, it was a big reveal when we turn the page to see Alfred getting stabbed with fear toxin by Hush. In this issue, it’s a big reveal when we see Hush kill the reconstruction guy. It’s literally the same big reveal two issues in a row. We get it, Hush is in your comic now. But since when are comic readers excited about Hush?
This was a surprisingly low key issue, focused on just the one storyline – which itself was based on absolutely nothing we’ve seen in Batman Eternal so far. Was I supposed to remember the Beacon Tower from somewhere? Was I supposed to care about that guy Hush killed? Because I don’t. And the Architect made little impression, though I never read his debut storyline back in the day. Still, it was a little fun seeing Batman quickly adjust to working with Julia, and the quality of the story is usually better when an issue focusing on one narrative instead of jumping all over the place.
But Batman Eternal remains mostly a slog. It’s a big mess of a comic, with so many twists and plots and characters that it has lost itself in its ambition. The comic remains professionally made, but the story has no heart.
Writers: Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
Artist: Brooke Allen
Want to know what is full of heart? Lumberjanes! This comic has spirit, yes it do! And it has joy. And cheer. And giggles. And everything someone could want in order to have a ton of fun reading comics. Just when you think Lumberjanes couldn’t get any more adorable…pow, zoom, living raccoon! This hyperactive series is still as delightful as when it started and definitely deserves your attention. If you love fun, you’ll love Lumberjanes. Probably.
When the nervous Assistant Scout Master Jen is put in charge of the camp, she cancels the Raccoon Rodeo and forces everyone to stay on the premises making friendship bracelets. She doesn’t want to risk anything crazy happening – but then Molly discovers a pack of velociraptors in the outhouse! The campers panic as the raptors start attacking, but the Lumberjanes roll up their sleeves and find ways to defeat the diabolical dinosaurs!
Ripley tackles one head on to save Jen, and uses her friendship bracelets to fashion a set of reigns to ride it. April lures another raptor into a friendship bracelet net. And Molly reveals that her coonskin cap is actually a living Raccoon named Bubbles, who runs off to get her some weapons! Seriously.
In the end, the last of the raptors is defeated by a bear from the woods, who then reveals herself to be some kind of old forest lady (who has the power to turn into a bear). She accuses Jo of not being real, before trying to take a special jewel from the headmaster’s cabin – which is when Roxie, the headmaster, returns to confront the bear lady!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
The revelation that Molly’s hat is a real raccoon is probably the most adorable moment in the series so far, if not the entire year, and that’s saying a lot. Just when I think Lumberjanes couldn’t get more adorable, it comes along and blows my mind with cuteness.
This issue was just amazing, maybe even the best issue yet. The girls fight and defeat a gang of evil velociraptors using friendship bracelets. The whole concept is gorgeous, and the execution is so joyous. Seriously, that raccoon/hat scene should be the stuff of legend.
But the comic wasn’t just madcap zaniness. I didn’t get around to mentioning it in the synopsis (because there was so much to write), but each of the raptors was controlled by a mysterious golden amulet, and those amulets look like they’re going to be a big problem in this series. So the raptor fight really just expanded the series’ mystical mythology. It was zaniness with a purpose, and that is great zaniness. And that’s what makes Lumberjanes so good: it has a purpose. A lot of comics these days are reaching for that zany, cartoony touch. Adventure Time made it popular, and a lot of people are trying to ape that style. Lumberjanes gets it right. Lumberjanes has more heart than 10 comics.
Moon Knight #7
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Greg Smallwood
Warren Ellis is out and Brian Wood is in! I loved Ellis’ bare bones approach to Moon Knight, and I’m happy to say that Wood doesn’t try and reinvent the wheel. This is the same Moon Knight, with the same look, roughly the same art and definitely the same style. How does it hold up?
An assassin is in New York, using advanced weaponry and camouflage to hunt General Aliman Lor, newly elected leader of the African nation of Akima. Naturally, Moon Knight gets involved and repeatedly thwarts the assassin’s attempts to shoot Lor. Even when the assassin explains that he used to be a soldier in Africa who watched Lor butcher innocents, Moon Knight takes him down, because that’s not how justice works in his city. Moon Knight then answers the assassin’s ringing phone and recognizes the voice on the other end.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
I liked the issue, but I wasn’t as blown away as I was with Ellis’ work – but I’m not entirely sure why that is. Was I possessed by the spirit of Ellis’ reputation? It’s hard to explain, but the sharpness of Ellis’ Moon Knight is gone. That comic was a blade with how deftly it cut to the heart of the character. Wood’s story is fine, and uses some of the same themes as Ellis. The art by Smallwood isn’t too different from Declan Shalvey (thanks in large part to returning colorist Jordie Bellaire), and it works to support the narrative. But the whole issue just seemed blunter than what Ellis and Shalvey delivered, as if that blade has been dulled, just a little bit.
Original Sin #8
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mike Deodato
Finally, it’s over. Original Sin was one of the worst Big Event comics in a long time. And much like the rest of the series, Aaron and Deodato make the exit just as painful to read as every other issue. They drag out their story as awkwardly as humanly possible.
Old Nick Fury battles with Midas, Orb and their Mindless Ones over control of the Watcher’s eyes – while endlessly monologuing to himself about making sure all of this matters. The various superheroes he gathered show up to help, but only so that they can get Fury to admit that, yes, he killed the Watcher. Fury then uses one of the eyes to destroy Midas before he can gain the Watcher’s power, and the other eye is absorbed into the Orb. In the end, the Watcher’s HQ blows up, and nobody will tell Captain America or the Avengers what exactly happened.
In the epilogue, everybody goes home, little the worse for wear. Bucky takes over as Protector of the Earth, and I’m pretty sure that Fury becomes a new version of the Watcher called the ‘Unseen’. He’s hooded, cloaked and chained up in the wreckage of the Watcher’s home.
Comic Rating: 2/10 – Very Bad.
This issue was just one big mess of Nick Fury whining about nothing in particular. I imagine we were supposed to care about Nick Fury’s whinings, but I just couldn’t bring myself to even try to understand them. I’m still not sure what he had against the Watcher or why he killed him. I don’t know what purpose Midas or Orb served in this comic, other than Aaron dusting off some obscure villains to play around with. And I don’t think any of those random superheroes served any greater purpose. They were just there. Aaron never bothered to do anything interesting with any of them. Why the heck was Emma Frost involved?!
Want to see a picture of the Unseen? Here you go.
Original Sin served no purpose. Everything about this series was an exercise in being excessive for no reason. Random characters, unconvincing exposition, and deaths that just don’t matter in the least. I think I know what Marvel was trying to accomplish with this series, but I just don’t care. I can only hope some of the tie-ins and spin-offs were worth it.
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Javier Pulido
I am not ashamed of being biased in my reviews. There are so many comic book reviewers on the web and in the blogs, mine is just a drop in the bucket. So when someone like Charles Soule, writing one of my favorite comics, drops in a random Multiple Man cameo? That’s the sort of thing that will keep me giddy all week!
Captain America is being sued by someone who claims Cap caused a wrongful death in 1940, so he hires She-Hulk to be his attorney in the case. If you didn’t know yet, Cap recently lost the Super Soldier Serum, and his body has rapidly aged into that of a 90-year-old man, but Cap is still as sharp as ever. The case is being tried in Los Angeles, but Jen doesn’t have a license to practice law in California, so she calls up Matt Murdock to ask if his west coast law firm would vouch for her – but Matt cryptically rejects her. So Jen turns to Matt Rocks, a Multiple Man duplicate with a big California law firm who is more than happy to give her a place to work the case. Jen stays up all night before the trial, making sure she has everything set to defend Captain America!
And when she shows up in court the next morning, you won’t believe who her opponent is going to be: Matt Murdock! He’s representing the plaintiff!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
The Multiple Man cameo had so little reason for existing, but it was nonetheless glorious. I’m going to be jazzed up for days!
Beyond the cameo, this was still a very strong issue. Soule writes a very good Cap, especially now with his advanced age. There’s a special majesty around the character as he appears throughout the issue. And outside of Cap, the rest of the cast was just as well written. She-Hulk’s nervousness about the case, her anger towards the media, and her concerns about letting down Cap, make for great tension and drama. And it’s going to make for an even better next issue, when she goes toe-to-toe in the courtroom with Matt Murdock. That should be exciting.
And just for the heck of it, here’s more Matt Rocks!
I’ve liked Pulido on art since the beginning, and he just keeps growing on me more and more. His style might not be for everybody, but I think he’s doing a fine job. Even though the style is very weird, this still feels like a grounded, human comic. That can be chalked up to Soule’s writing. His internal knowledge of the legal world is a boon for this series.
Uncanny X-Men #25
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Chris Bachalo
Ever notice that when you’re really broke, all the best things to buy suddenly pop up on your radar? That’s exactly what happened to me the other week when I saw a brand new action figure of Cyclops in his badass Marvel NOW! black and red suit. And like a fool, I bought it immediately, promising myself I’d find the money somewhere.
All things considered, it’s a pretty awesome action figure, and Cyclops is a pretty awesome character these days. Now, as to the Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier…
For the past few issues, a man named Matthew Malloy has revealed himself to be a very powerful mutant with a dangerous, explosive power that obliterates everything around him. The power seems triggered by stress, and even when SHIELD goes to investigate, Matthew blows them away.
Turns out, Matthew is Xavier’s deep, dark secret.
In his hologram Will, Xavier explains how he discovered Matthew at the very start of the X-Men, when Matt was just 8-years-old. Xavier had never seen such a powerful mutant, and he decided to get into Matthew’s head and shut off access to his mutant powers, for the sake of mutant/human relations. He didn’t want humanity to know that such a dangerous mutant existed, and he didn’t want Magneto to get his hands on the kid. Xavier kept track of Matthew over the years, and when he was a teenager, Matthew saw through Xavier’s charade and they had a serious discussion about his powers and the state of mutants in the world. Once he knew the truth, Matthew asked for Xavier to put the blocks back in place and wipe his memories of the powers.
Throughout the reading, the various X-Men react to what they’re hearing, though it’s Cyclops who has the strongest reactions. At first, he’s angry at Xavier for shutting this mutant down instead of helping him, and everybody gets upset at Cyclops for getting upset at Xavier. Then everybody’s kind of chill once Xavier reveals that Matthew asked to be shut down later in life.
In the end, Xavier asks the X-Men to take their strongest psychic and go check on Matthew to make sure everything is OK – which, we know, is not, since his powers have broken out once again.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
Man, the X-Men really need to let go of a grudge. Every time one of the other X-Men addresses Cyclops, they just keep bringing up Xavier’s death. Move on, people, you’re only embarrassing yourselves with the wisecracks.
Beyond that, I’m torn about this issue. As much as I love the drama unfolding right now in the X-verse, and there is a lot to savor here, this issue was mostly just Xavier reciting exposition about this Matthew Malloy kid, and to him I say…is this really the best Bendis could come up with? Charles Xavier’s big, dark secret, the one so important that he had to save it for his Will, is that he once kept a powerful mutant under wraps? That’s it? That doesn’t even crack the top 5 of Xavier’s deep, dark secrets.
Remember the time he put together an untested, untrained interim X-Men team and got them all killed? Including Cyclops’ brother? And then wiped Cyclops’ mind of ever even knowing he had a brother to cover up his mistake? Or what about the time he enslaved the sentient Danger to serve as his Danger Room?
Xavier has done some terrible stuff in his life. When I first heard about this storyline, I was prepared for something new and devastating. But the concept of Matthew Malloy has been done so many times that it’s practically a cliche! Super-powerful/dangerous mutant who has remained hidden or unknown all this time? Please.
So far, this is a pretty paltry revelation for Charles Xavier’s Last Will and Testament. I only hope Bendis has some interesting plans for the new character, or maybe there’s an unknown addendum yet to be revealed. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
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 September 6, 2014, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Multiple Man, Reviews, X-Men and tagged Batman Eternal, Cyclops, Jamie Madrox, Lumberjanes, Matt Rocks, Moon Knight, Nick Fury, Original Sin, She-Hulk, The Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier, The Watcher, Uncanny X-Men. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.