Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 10/11/14

What a week to be a fan of comics! Not only is the New York Comic-Con going on this weekend, but the long-awaited debut of the new Batgirl hit the stands, and it easily slides into Comic Book of the Week. The comic is as good as I’d hoped it would be and more. If the creative team keeps this up, Ms. Marvel might have a little competition for my favorite comic!

It doesn’t help that poor Kamala Khan is rushed off to guest-star in this week’s Amazing Spider-Man. Crossovers and team-ups like this are so painfully forced, especially in this day and age, but writer Christos Gage gives it the old college try. He also manages to slip in a little fan ‘shipping for the fun of it!

But seriously, Batgirl definitely kicks butt!

She’s also an expert at threats!

Over at Word of the Nerd, you can check out my review of Axis #1. The big new crossover kicked off this week with an issue that felt more like the end than the beginning, at least in terms of spectacle – and that wasn’t a good thing.

Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #7, Avengers #36, Batman #35, Batman Eternal #27, Batgirl #35 and Captain Marvel #8. 

Amazing Spider-Man #7

Amazing Spider-Man #7
Writer: Dan Slott and Christos Gage
Artist: Guiseppe Camuncoli

We all knew this day would come: our beloved Kamala Khan would have to crossover into the rest of the Marvel Universe. It wasn’t too painful when Wolverine showed up in her own comic, but now Kamala is making the field trip into another book, under the pen of another writer, and it’s…I dunno…it’s just not the same.

An old Captain Marvel villain – Dr. Minerva – shows up in New York to kidnap a terrigenisis coccoon, prompting both Spidey and the new Ms. Marvel to team-up to kick her butt! There’s a lot of dialogue and Embiggening action, and a scene where Anna Maria tries to convince Peter to use some of Doc Ock’s tactics. But mostly it’s the super-villain fight.

In a Spider-Verse back-up feature, a Captain Britain Spider-Man finds out about the danger to the Multiverse’s spiders and is tasked with putting a stop to it.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

Turns out, the mere presence of Ms. Marvel is not enough to be awesome. Gage, who scripted the comic, does his best to capture the voice and energy of the new, youthful character, buuuuut she’s not quite as perfect as she is in her own solo series. Having all new heroes team up with Spider-Man is so classic it’s practically a cliche, and I understand why Marvel would want to keep it up. And Gage really tries his best, honestly! I bet he’s a huge fan of Ms. Marvel. But considering how personal and how nuanced Kamala is in her own book, written by G. Willow Wilson, it’s not so surprising that Slott can’t quite hit that magic awesomeness that makes her so special.

I don’t blame him though. Plus, he and Slott finally get to address fandom’s demand that Spider-Man and Captain Marvel become a couple!

That definitely counts for something! That was easily the best part of the book, and was pure Kamala. I’m glad to know she and I have that in common!

The rest of the issue was only alright at best. Slott pushes all of the interesting developments in Peter’s life to the side – Cindy Moon, Anna Maria & Parker Industries – so that they can focus on an all-together boring story involving some old Ms. Marvel villain and one of those Inhuman eggs. Considering Spider-Verse is right around the corner, I wish Marvel had given Slott time to wrap up or at least explore some of his own plots instead of this Ms. Marvel team-up.

The Captain Britain back-up feature is neat. Slott is a master of Marvel continuity, so if he’s going to do a story about Spider-Men across the Multiverse, it makes sense that the Captain Britain Corps would have a say in the matter (I also like how he has them address the incursions from Jonathan Hickman’s comics). Hopefully this British Spider-Man isn’t just going to be cannon fodder in the crossover because he seems like a pretty cool guy.

Avengers #36

Avengers #36
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Stefano Caselli

We’re still in the future of the Avengers, and while I’ve been absolutely thrilled with Hickman’s New Avengers, he doesn’t give the regular Avengers comic as much oomph. I think it’s the choice of characters.

Sunspot and the Zebra People from the Savage Land have been able to open a portal to the far reaches of the Multiverse, where they believe they will find the source of the incursions to put a stop to them. Thor, Hyperion, Ex Nihilo, Abyss, Starbrand and Nightmask all agree to go through the portal, even though it’s probably a suicide mission.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

This was a fine issue, for what it was. All of the more interesting plots Hickman has created with this time jump don’t even show up in this issue. Instead, a band of completely throwaway Avengers (all of whom, with the exception of Thor, Hickman essentially created for this comic) depart on a suicide mission. The meat of the comic comes from each of them having a chat with Sunspot, of all people, about whether or not they’re prepared to go. Sunspot! It was neat of Hickman to put him and Cannonball on his Avengers in the first place, but not even in Hickman’s comics has Sunspot progressed to his level of character importance. He’s Sunspot, for crying out loud. So that little bit was weird, but still well-written. Beyond that, this comic was pretty light, and while entertaining, it does little to up the ante of this time-jump event.

Batman #35

Batman #35
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo

How many super suits can one man have, honestly?! This issue is all about Batman fighting the Justice League using a massive suit of bat-themed armor, equipped with all manner of neato gadgets and weapons to take them down. Then there was that bat-themed armor he used when the Court of Owls invaded the Batcave a few years ago. And what about the Hellbat armor that he is currently using to invade Apokolips in Batman and Robin? That was specifically built with the help of the Justice League! I’m just sayin’, Batman has a lot of armors, and we’ve seen way too many of them in the New 52. At what point does he just become Iron Man? And why can’t anybody come up with a way for Batman to fight bad guys without armor? He’s been doing it for 75 years!

One by one, members of the Justice League attack Bruce/Batman on the streets of Gotham. He jumps into his giant armor and takes them out, one-by-one, until Superman shows up to kick his butt. In the end, it’s revealed that they are all being controlled by the Joker.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

This issue was basically just one big fight scene as Snyder narrates the individual ways he thought up to take down the Justice League. This is classic Batman. In fact, we’ve already seen it once or twice in the New 52 already, so this issue is nothing new. Batman is clever. We get it. The reveal that the Joker is behind the attacks is kind of wild, and I’m glad I wasn’t spoiled. But I wasn’t very impressed with the last time Snyder wrote the Joker, so I’m not giggling with giddy glee to see him back. Obviously this is a bigger use of the character, but Batman #35 is just a quick teaser of an issue, and in that it succeeds.

Also, this issue is way out of sync with the rest of the current Batman comics. Alfred is already out of his coma and I think Wayne Manor has already become the new Arkham Asylum. So there’s that.

Batman Eternal #27

Batman Eternal #27
Writers: Tim Seeley, James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder
Artist: Javier Garron

Part of me was kind of hoping that Batman Eternal would go back to normal after last issue drove right over the edge into Horribletown. It doesn’t. The art has been cleaned up, but everything else is still a mess. I don’t think anybody behind this comic has actually bothered to track Batman’s movements throughout this book. He’s all over the place, and this time he’s joined by Catwoman for no particular reason.

Remember Jade, the little orphan who is friends with Killer Croc? Well Child Services has turned her over to his uncle, the mobster Ibanescu. For reasons that are never ever explained, Ibanescu’s mansion is filled with zoo animals. Yep, giraffes, hippos, monkeys, the whole works. Apparently Ibanescu is having gang problems with some guy called the Ferryman, and, of course, neither of these guys has ever appeared in this comic before. Elsewhere, Batman and Catwoman team up to take out some of Ibanescu’s men, who are fighting another gang called The Whispers. Batman tries to interrogate them about Hush, but they don’t know anything. And Catwoman gets mad at Batman for accusing her of using the gang war to her financial advantage.

Elsewhere, Killer Croc is hunting Ibanescu to rescue Jade. And Spoiler uses a trending Batman hashtag to follow his movements and leave him a note informing him about the hashtag. Also, she pins the note to the sleeve of international assassin The Flamingo, who was in town to kill her, only for Stephanie to use the hashtag to find Batman so that he could be tricked into stopping the Flamingo.

Also, Batgirl is threatening Jason Bard. And Ibanescu uses Jade to lead the deadly Ferryman to Catwoman’s apartment.

Comic Rating: 3/10 – Bad.

I just don’t know anymore. Where is any of this coming from?! Why is Batman suddenly teaming up with Catwoman? What happened to Martial Law and the whole Bat-family coming together to have his back? Who is this Ibanescu idiot and why does he have a mansion full of zoo animals? Who is the Ferryman? How is their rivalry in any way important to what’s going on? Why is Jade all of a sudden a major player? Why is the Flamingo suddenly in this comic? Why is the Spoiler suddenly tracking Batman, and why does she use Twitter to do it? I highly doubt Batman is that predictable. And then there’s Catwoman vs. the Ferryman. And Catwoman mad at Batman.

Batman Eternal is a mess. The stories could and do change with the flip of the page, with zero connection to anything that has come before. The art is hit or miss, since the artist changes with almost every issue. And while I would agree that perhaps every issue has the same story tone, the stories themselves are too insane to connect in a larger work. There is no through line, no anchor for the audience to hold onto. Every new issue just sort of throws up whatever it wants, even though the same writers keep working on it. I just don’t understand what could have gone wrong.

Batgirl #1

Batgirl #35
Writers: Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher
Artists: Babs Tarr and Cameron Stewart

It’s finally here! The new and improved Batgirl has hit the stands and is in my hands! I have been eagerly awaiting this new direction since it was first announced over the summer. Light, friendly books starring female protagonists have been some of my favorite comics this year, and I love the promise that this new series brings to DC as a whole.

Goodbye House Style, hello new and interesting comics!

So does the new Batgirl live up to the hype and excitement? You’re damn right it does!

Barbara Gordon moves into her new apartment in Burnside with her friend Frankie, and she gets pretty wasted at the house-warming party that night. Also at the party, several electronics go missing, including Barbara’s laptop with all her homework on it. Using her photographic memory, tips from her friends and Hooq (the DCU’s Tindr) Babs tracks down the thief, and finds out that he’s selling all the data to a man named Riot Black, who runs a rumor website that exposes people’s secrets. Batgirl breaks into Riot Black’s latest rave at his club and beats him up, then tricks him into downloading a computer worm that erases all of the data he stole.

Meanwhile, Black Canary shows up at Babs’ door looking for help because a freak fire burned down her apartment and all of her stuff. Over time, Babes realizes that when her laptop was stolen, it triggered some of her safety precautions, and likely set off the incendiary equipment in her van, which she was secretly storing in Black Canary’s garage. Looks like Batgirl may have accidentally set that fire!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

The new Batgirl lived up to everything I was hoping it would. It’s brighter and far more cheerful than DC’s usual output, a clear indication that they’re willing to actually have fun with their comics again (even if not their movies). And the very personality of the comic is off the scale, both in terms of written characterization and world, and the way Tarr and Stewart draw the hell out of it. This is a comic where every page has something to show for itself.

This comic screams ‘cool’ from the very first panel. The creative team has expertly mapped out Babs’ new life, her apartment, the various stresses in her day, and they’ve given her a very enjoyable new supporting cast and world. Life in the Burnside neighborhood comes alive, with interesting people and locations, all of which are geared into the 21st century. Normally so many references to modern day social networks can get annoying, but Stewart and Fletcher handle it well. It helps when the villain is the one speaking in hashtags.

I hated him instantly

That villain is definitely cool. It’s like the creative team figured out all of the most asshole-ish tendencies in today’s modern world and distilled them into one being, then added a bit about a computer brain to push him over the edge into super-villainy. Then Batgirl was able to defeat him with a trick selfie, and that is just damn clever.

Barbara herself comes off as perfectly modern. She’s wickedly intelligent, but not above making simple mistakes or being human. She’s got her struggles, but she’s also got a real sense of heroism, like when she skips out of a coffee run to stop a thief. The team here really went above and beyond crafting this comic.

The art, especially, is reason to cheer. I just love it. Everybody looks so wonderfully human, with just a touch of pixie magic for added flavor.

I want Babs Tarr drawing everything!

We all knew the new Batgirl costume looked amazing, but everything looks amazing in this issue. This is art with a clear direction. This is art, this is a whole comic, that speaks for itself.

Captain Marvel #8

Captain Marvel #8
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Marcio Takara

I am a man who loves cats. I am a man who loves cats in comics. So in all likelihood, that cover should have been a dream come true! But it’s not. Instead, I’m left with an empty hole in my heart where the Captain Marvel comic once sat.

Captain Marvel, Tic, Rocket Raccoon and Chewie team-up to repel the invading aliens and protect Chewie’s babies! It’s a hectic, frantic battle, which sees Tic covered in adorable kitten aliens, and Chewie revealing her alien mouth full of tentacles! They win in the end and Carol finds a veterinary planet on which to leave Chewie and her babies, but when she tries to take off, Tic and Chewie teleport onto her ship. They’re going with her!

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

How do you take away the awesomeness of a cat in comics? Make it a secret, sentient alien. I love cats, and I especially love cats in comics. I even put Chewie on that list! But turning her into a weird alien with weird alien traits kind of takes the fun out of the feline.

Also, making Chewie a Flerkin means Rocket Raccoon was right all along, and I just can’t stand for that!

I dunno. I’ve never been on board with DeConnick’s plan to send Carol into outer space. The reason her first Captain Marvel series was so good was because she tapped into the humanity of Captain Marvel, giving her a real and vibrant world to live in. But this new volume has been all about stripping that world away and casting Carol adrift in outer space. All of her friends and ‘family’ are gone. Kit is gone. And now even Chewie has been replaced by weirdness. Attaching Carol lamprey-like to the Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t help either. I just personally can’t stand the comic book version of Rocket Raccoon, and reading Carol make awkward, forced banter with him is an almost painful experience.

This issue was fine, but it still lacks the heart of DeConnick’s earlier stories. The aliens are nothing more than blobs, and the fun is supposed to come from Carol and her team working together to stop them. But I don’t think DeConnick has successfully created a cast to care about here. We need to spend more time with Tic, Chewie and Carol on a personal level instead of jumping from one insane space battle to the next. And please jettison Rocket Raccoon from this comic. Please!

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 October 11, 2014, in Avengers, Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I need to go get an issue of batgirl as soon as possible. It looks absolutely amazing. I’m glad that their are some really good things coming out of the big hitter companies. Its like the writers are actually passionate about these comics again

  2. Batgirl kinda solidifies it for me, that as much as there is wrong with comics, especially the big 2, we are actually making progress. It’s pretty cool.

  3. Amazing Spider-Man was great. Kamala’s awesome. I love her. She’s adorable. Though for the record, I totally do not ship Spider-Marvel. I think Peter dating another superhero would be a mistake. He needs someone normal. MJ was perfect for him. Anna Maria would be another excellent choice.

    Avengers was good. I appreciate when Hickman moves away from the plot a little bit to do some character work. Still, meh.

    Captain Marvel was a lot of fun, I thought. So many kitties! Plus, Carol kicking some ass.

    • I really want to like Captain Marvel, but it’s just not clicking for me. I don’t know whether to be disappointed in the comic or myself.

      • Blame it on the writer. If KSD did took the advantage of further developing Carol’s friendship with Peter Parker and Jessica Drew, imagine how much support she would get from the Spider-audience? KSD recently admitted that Peter x Carol was not her cup of tea. And the notion that Spider-Man can’t date a super heroine is limiting the story potential that has yet to be tapped.

      • I couldn’t agree more. Peter and Carol would be a really cute and fun couple, even if for a little bit!

  4. Imagine if Peter was dating Jennifer Walters in her human form? I think that between the She-Hulk and Jennifer’s human persona, the latter has been found to harbor strong feelings for Spider-Man dating back to Marvel Team-Up #107 where Jennifer expressed concern for Spider-Man as if she wanted to know everything about him. I feel that if Jennifer(human side) and Peter got to know each other, they would become fast friends. In addition, Peter would be one of the few people would accepts Jennifer’s dual persona, which would seal the deal of their relationship on a positive note. But if Jennifer did had a relationship with Peter Parker, it is likely that her human side would benefit from it more as those emotions for him rests on that side as opposed to The She-Hulk whose known for sleeping around with guys she likes. Some would wonder why the She-Hulk never went after Spider-Man as she has also shown to like Spider-Man as well? My theory is that her human persona blocks those potential emotions as it might want them to reside there. This would explain to why Jennifer human side and the She-Hulk side are really two different people with different interests and beliefs. Meaning that the She-Hulk might not care for Spider-Man as much as her human side does.

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