Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 9/20/14

I don’t know what happened this week, henchies, but I’ve got a pretty light pile. It helps that I’m not reading Futures End, but more on that later. I had a pretty busy week. I’ve got some projects in the pipeline that I’ll tell you guys and gals about someday. But nothing stops me from reading comics! Nothing!

This week was…alright. Solid week. No real complaints from me. Actually, this seemed to be the week for alternate versions of characters. Both Multiversity and Edge of Spider-Verse told alternate reality stories, and the new Avengers event is set 8 months into a possible future. So neat! Way to create an unintentional theme, comic books!

Comic Book of the Week goes to…um…tough call. I think I’ll give it to Multiversity #2 for a pretty darn fun alternate reality comic. Though, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, Batman Eternal was close to winning!

Not always, I don’t

If Batman Eternal transitioned into Spoiler: The Comic, I would be so happy.

Over at Word of the Nerd, I took a gander at another Deadpool comic. Regular readers might know how much I dislike Deadpool’s sense of humor these days, but the cameo revival of no less than Brute Force brought me back!

Never heard of Brute Force? You should pay a visit to Linkara.

Comic Reviews: Avengers #35, Batman Eternal #24, Edge of Spider-Verse #2, Multiversity #2 and Uncanny X-Men #26.

Avengers #35

Avengers #35
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artists: Jim Cheung, Paco Medina, Nick Bradshaw and Justin Weaver

I suppose by now, most of you may have noticed that I’m not reviewing a single Futures End comic. I did one for Teen Titans this week, because reviewing Teen Titans is my thing, but I haven’t touched any other issues for my Hench-Sized Reviews – and that’s because I don’t care. Everything I’ve seen out of this September Gimmick has been pretty boring, with few exceptions. I have no interest in Futures End.

That being said, I am not opposed to time jump stories in general. In fact, let’s check out Avengers #35, which claims to jump ahead eight months into the future of the Avengers franchise!

At the end of the last issue, Captain America declared war on the Illuminati, and now, eight months later, a whole heck of a lot has changed! Avengers #35 is spent catching up with various members of Hickman’s Avengers as they prepare for the next big struggle. For example, Cannonball and Smasher are living in domestic bliss in Shi’ar space, and they have a baby together! Sunspot and Manifold teleport in to collect them for the coming trouble. Hyperion and the Unworthy Thor are hanging out in the Savage Land doing science with those zebra children Hickman created. And Starbrand and Nightmask are out in space mopping up leftover Builders.

Down on Earth, SHIELD has taken over the Avengers and turned them into a paramilitary unit. Among their number are Captain Marvel and Hawkeye, and they’re all hunting down the members of the Illuminati, who have gone into hiding. In this issue, Illuminati-member Amadeus Cho breaks into the former Avengers Tower to download some info, and he’s pursued and captured by the paramilitary Avengers. They are led by the Invisible Woman, who wants to find her husband!

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

This was a pretty cool issue, in terms of showing an alternate possible future – if that is, indeed, the case. The story is called ‘Time Runs Out’, and Marvel has been hinting that something huge is going to happen to the Marvel Universe next Spring. Lots of people on the Internet seem to think it’s going to be a reboot (I’m not one of them). Whatever it is, Hickman is pretty good at teasing the concept.

This issue was a little too drastic to be the real future of the Marvel Universe, but who knows? Maybe this is exactly what’s going to happen. As a ‘possible future’ story, it’s a solid set-up, with interesting takes on all the various characters. Not to mention the quality line-up of different artists. But the fun of seeing all these changes only takes us so far. This issue is entirely set-up, and while it’s interesting set-up, and I kind of like where it’s going, we’ve still got a long way to go. And personally, I’d rather Hickman deal with this storyline in the present, rather than pull this ‘alternate possible future’ stuff. The Avengers vs. Illuminati storyline he was building was pretty damn awesome.

Batman Eternal #24

Batman Eternal #24
Writers: Ray Fawkes, Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV
Artist: Andy Clarke

That Stephanie Brown issue we’ve all been waiting for is finally here! She’s been teased for months, especially in the pages of Batman Eternal, and it’s high time she got an issue all to herself. Mostly to herself, I guess, because there’s a scene featuring Batman in this issue that makes absolutely no sense. Even when Batman Eternal has a clear focus, it can’t help but glance around wildly at shiny things.

Cluemaster meets with his shadowy boss to discuss their master plan: all of Cluemaster’s men have started subtly turning Gotham City’s infrastructure against its citizens. They’re messing with traffic lights to create more gridlock, turning off the power grid in low-income neighborhoods, and putting extra toxins in the sewer system. It’s going to be a mess!

Spoiler is eavesdropping on the conversation from the rafters, and listens in as the shadowy boss tells Cluemaster to hurry up and kill his daughter already. So Cluemaster sets a trap for Stephanie later, leading to a high-speed motorcycle chase through the streets of Gotham. Cluemaster does his best to kill Steph (even though he also seems to want to turn her into his sidekick), but she leads him outside the Gotham City limits. Cluemaster gets arrested by the local state police, who aren’t nearly as corrupt as the GCPD.

As for that Batman, scene, well…apropos of nothing, Batman is fighting some weird ghost monster in an art museum. He defeats it pretty handily with some Nth metal, and that’s pretty much it. One of the ghost’s victims is an administrator from Arkham Asylum, clueing Batman into the fact that something weird is still going on at the asylum. Other than that, there’s absolutely no reason for Batman to be fighting a weird ghost monster in an art gallery.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

Weird Batman scene aside, this issue was pretty good. Stephanie Brown is as likable as she’s always been, and watching her outwit her father was actually pretty cool. That twist with the state police was very clever, making Steph probably the most clever person yet to appear in this series. She needs to get a lot more attention. Her scenes were a ton of fun, and I like her new/old costume.

That being said, even though Batman Eternal manages to mostly focus on one story, the larger series is still wildly unfocused. Only now are we learning about Cluemaster’s infrastructure plan? And why was his boss kept in the shadows? Is DC really that desperate to pull yet another big twist villain on us? First it was Falcone, then they ‘revealed’ Hush twice in two issues, and now there’s somebody else? I can almost guarantee the reveal isn’t going to be worth the hassle.

Edge of Spider-Verse #2

Edge of Spider-Verse #2
Writer: Jason Latour
Artist: Robbi Rodriguez

I would like to consider myself a pretty big proponent of female characters in comics. I doubt you’ll find too many writers as excited as I am for the wave of titles we’re getting like Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel and the upcoming Batgirl of Burnside. So I was definitely excited to pick up this Edge of Spider-Verse tie-in to see the new Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman, who has already taken fandom by storm.

Seriously, she’s already got dedicated cosplayers at Comic-Cons!

In the upcoming Spider-Verse event, all of the various alternate reality Spider-Men are going to be teaming up to defeat an evil new menace. To prepare us readers, Edge of Spider-Verse is dedicating a few issues to introduce us to some newbie Spideys, like Gwen here.

In this reality, Gwen Stacy is a teen-age Spider-Woman who has more than enough trouble balancing her dad, her rock band and the police. She got bit by the same radioactive spider and used her new powers to go into show business, but then her geeky friend Peter Parker died when he invented the Lizard formula to get powers like hers. Peter died tying to emulate Gwen, putting the responsibility of his dead on her shoulders. Not only that, but the NYPD are out to arrest her for Peter’s murder, and her father, Police Captain George Stacy, is leading the charge.

In this issue, Gwen is struggling with all the guilt from Peter dying, so much so that she keeps flaking out on her band, The Mary Janes (headlined by the redhead herself). They have a big gig coming up, but Gwen is late due to Spider-Woman business. Her father is in the audience to see her perform, and he’s ambushed by the Rhino. The Kingpin hired the Rhino to kill Capt. Stacy to do Spider-Woman a favor, but Spidey is there to save her dad and beat up the Rhino!

After she saves his life, Captain Stacy tries to arrest Spider-Woman, so Gwen takes off her mask and explains that the costume is her ‘police badge’, and she’s using her powers to help people. Captain Stacy lets his daughter slip away before the rest of the cops show up.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

This was a fun, clever introduction to a very unique ‘Alternate Reality Spider-Man’. I can see why fandom likes this Gwen so much, even though her first and only comic came out just this week. She embodies all the great, heroic things about Spider-Man, while having her own unique life and look. That costume is also pretty awesome. Latour does a great job building a whole universe around her – like The Mary Janes – and giving Gwen her own reasons for power/responsibility. I am definitely going to keep my eye out for Spider-Woman when Spider-Verse gets rolling.

Multiversity #2

Multiversity #2
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Sprouse

Welp, I’m not exactly sure what to say about Multiversity #2. It has very little to do with the first issue of the series, and that’s clearly the point. Grant Morrison is going for super big here, folks. This is going to be a real tapestry of a comic when all is said and done. The most we can do is hold on and enjoy the ride.

Push everything we read about in the first issue to the back of your mind. It’s not important right now. Instead, we’re dealing with a whole new cast of characters, as the cover implies.

In this reality, it’s the early 20th century, and Doc Fate gathers a team of like-minded heroes to form a Justice Society to repel an invasion  from a parallel Earth. Fate’s team includes Al Pratt the Mighty Atom, the Blackhawk fighter pilots, Abin Sur the Green Lantern, and the Immortal Man, a sort of good guy version of Vandal Savage. Together, they are humanity’s last hope.

Speaking of Savage, he’s leading the invasion force from the other Earth, launching a five-year war that comes to dominate the world. Fate and his team put up a last stand in Fate’s secret Amazon headquarters, where he has built a portal to another dimension in order to find help. The heroes hold off Savage and his evil minions while Fate prepares his portal. The bad guys include Lady Shiva, Felix Faust and Count Sinestro (who is awesome!). After a few close calls, the heroes get the portal working.

Elsewhere in the jungle, the Immortal Man faces off against Vandal Savage and kills him with a secret weapon. But killing an immortal triggers some kind of ancient demigod statue to rise out of the Earth, heralding even more horrors ahead!

Also, there’s more stuff about cursed comic books and Nix Uotan, but both only get a passing reference.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I dig it. Morrison is a pretty special writer, and he channels this funky, retro Justice Society as well as he does any other comic he tackles. As long as you can get over the fact that Multiversity isn’t going to be a linear story, I think you might like this comic as much as I do. It’s quirky and definitely fun. In just a single oversized issue, he creates a whole cast of fascinating characters, giving them a unique, retro feel that just makes them all the more interesting. I even found myself caring about DC’s classic version of the Atom! Impossible!

So far, I think I still understand Multiversity. Granted, there are probably layers that I will never fully understand, but so far, I’m following along rather nicely. I really want to get this comic. I want to enjoy the ride and not get lost in Morrisonisms. But maybe that’s the trick this devil is pulling. Maybe it only looks like Morrison wrote a quirky, retro Justice Society story. Maybe I’m already lost in his web and I just don’t know it?

Damn you, Morrison!

Uncanny X-Men #26

Uncanny X-Men #26
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Kris Anka

And damn you Bendis!

This week was the week of Bendis transitional issues. Uncanny X-Men, Ultimate Spider-Man and All-New X-Men were all issues that needed to get from Point A to Point B instead of actually delivering any major events. It was disappointing to read them all, but it was still entertaining. Bendis is one of my favorite comic writers, and he still delivers on the solid character moments, even if we have to keep waiting for the big story moments.

At the Jean Grey School, Cyclops is angry over Xavier’s apparent hypocrisy concerning Matthew Malloy, but Storm tells him to drop the holier-than-thou attitude and get on the plane. They’ve got a last request to fulfill. Once they’re gone, the remaining X-Men, especially Firestar and Nightcrawler, start to sympathize with Cyclops as a man in pain. But Iceman is still too pissed off at Scott to listen to them, and he takes off in anger.

Elsewhere, the Uncanny cadets pass the time with a training session, fighting against an Avengers simulation in the Danger Room. But Triage stops the training to ask why they’re fighting the Avengers? Aren’t the Avengers good guys? Does that make the X-Men the bad guys? The Cuckoos try to explain that in the fight for mutants, the lines aren’t as simple as black and white, and that when the revolution comes, it’ll likely be Captain America kicking down their down. But the whole thing still doesn’t sit right with Triage.

In the end, when the Blackbird finally finds Matthew, they also find SHIELD, who want the X-Men’s help to contain him. And Beast manages to unlock Matthew’s mutant signature on Cerebro, discovering that Matthew Malloy is probably the most powerful mutant any of them have ever met.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

We are on the verge of something monumental! I can feel it! Something huge is going to happen, and it’s going to happen to Cyclops, and I can’t wait to read it! But I guess I have to. Curse you, transitional issue! All the drama, all the tension, all the great character moments you set up, are only going to pay off in a future issue! How can I be expected to wait? What am I supposed to do with myself to tide me over? Read other comics? Maybe…

If you’re loving the drama in Uncanny X-Men as much as I am, then this issue is awesome. Cyclops has been pushed to the end of his rope by everyone he used to consider friend. It doesn’t help that almost everyone is an asshole to him, but those are the cards he has been dealt. And I love that Bendis still isn’t making him the obvious villain. People like Firestar and Nightcrawler sympathize with him, even while guys like Iceman remain ridiculously perturbed. I love it all!

And that last scene with Beast really helped to put Matthew Malloy into perspective. Obviously, he’s not the first ‘most powerful mutant ever’, and he won’t be the last, but at least it raises the stakes pretty well for this individual story. I can’t wait to see what Cyclops and his former friends do with the situation at hand.

And while I liked the scene with Triage and the others questioning their training, I hope it doesn’t signify that the Uncanny cadets are going to fall apart. I love those guys!

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 September 20, 2014, in Avengers, Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. You should at least check out the Grayson issue of Future’s End. It was really well written.

    • I read it. Nice use of the event, but otherwise it didn’t really accomplish anything. And that was another series that only just started that definitely didn’t need this weird detour so soon.

  2. Avengers was OK. I still find it hard to care about that series. I hate Nick Bradshaw’s art, and I don’t know why Captain Marvel’s brilliant uniform had its colours changed to dull grey.

    Edge of Spider-Verse was good. Spider-Gwen’s really cool.

    UXM was great. Some really good character stuff, and I liked the scene with the students talking about the revolution. It’s some interesting stuff. One complaint: What the hell was Exodus doing there, helping SHIELD? Since when is Exodus willing to help humans? That felt out of nowhere.

    • Oh yeah, I’d forgotten all about Exodus. That really was random…

    • Exodus has hand random moments of less crazy over the years. At one point, he was running Genosha as a repentant pacifist intent on harboring peace between baseline humans and other species.

      He’s also been shown capable of being amicable with the X-Men.

      • The last I recall seeing him was in Christos Gage’s X-Men Legacy run, shortly after Schism, where he wanted to kill Scott Summers for letting the mutant race be divided or something. He was talked down by the end, so I know he can be reasonable.

        But working with SHIELD still seems wildly out of character for him.

      • Clearly Bendis just needed a psychic he could kill…

  3. Clarification about “Avengers”: It’s not depicting a possible future. This is the actual future of Marvel that we’ll be seeing in a few months. It’s been explained that while “Avengers” and “New Avengers” move ahead eight months, we’ll watch the rest of the Marvel Universe catch up to them in other titles.

    As for why the jump, I think it’s because of “AXIS.” Hickman probably would have liked to stick with things in the present, but he also needed to move his story out past “AXIS” where he wouldn’t have to worry about it affecting his plans.

    • That makes sense, the Axis part of it. I know they say this is what the Marvel Universe will look like next Spring, but some of these changes are a little too drastic to be believed. Hawkeye, Carol and Sue Storm all members of a paramilitary, SHIELD-led Avengers team? Strikes me as the sort of thing that will be undone by time travel or something…

      • That isn’t outside the realm of possibility, of course. But this is the culmination of what Hickman has been doing since he started writing “Avengers” and “New Avengers,” so it’s going to play all the way out, even if that leads into some kind of deboot.

        Personally, I’m hoping for a “Crisis”-style reboot to come out of this, but who knows.

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