Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 10/18/14

Nothing like a dentist appointment to derail your comics reading plans! I had to get a filling on Thursday, and while I’m a grown up and can handle that sort of thing like a champ, it still cut into all the comic book reading and reviewing I wanted to do this week. I still think I’ve got a pretty solid stack of books!

I’ve decided to subject myself to Axis week in and week out. I don’t know why I keep going back to these Big Event comics. They’re never any good anymore. I reviewed the first issue for Word of the Nerd last week (the link is below), and I think I’ll keep it to the bench-sized column from now on. Beyond that, we actually have some good comics this week! My favorite, Ms. Marvel, delivers a fun new chapter. And Cyclops gets some strong moments in both Uncanny X-Men and Axis.

But Comic Book of the Week has to go to Batman and Robin #35, because there is very little in the world of comics that gets me more excited than Robin(s) being awesome!

You said it, Titus!

This week at Word of the Nerd, I reviewed the final chapter of Death of Wolverine. It was disappointing, to say the least. Also? He died in probably the creepiest way possible.

Comic Reviews: Axis #2, Batman Eternal #28, Batman and Robin #35, Ms. Marvel #9, Uncanny X-Men #27.

Axis #2

Axis #2
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Adam Kubert

I didn’t much care for the first issue of Axis because it was a big mess of action. Remender just sort of threw us all into the Biggest Fight Ever and expected us to keep up. I think I managed that much at least, but the approach was still jarring. This time, though, now that I know what I’m getting into, I kind of liked the issue a bit more. It’s still rather jarring, and doesn’t feature much emotional depth, but as big superhero slugfests go, it’s kind of cool.

Over the past few months, Red Skull used his telepathic powers to mentally control Tony Stark into building two Iron Man Sentinels, programmed with everything they would need to take down the world’s superheroes. Now Red Onslaught has unleashed these mechanical beasts on the united heroes, and they’re more than a match for the Avengers and the X-Men. The Sentinels use Pym Particles to shrink the heroes down to size and contain them. Iron Man leads the charge to try and fight back, but everything the heroes throw at Red Onslaught is futile and almost everyone gets captured.

In the end, only Iron Man is left, and Red Onslaught mocks him for his failures – until Magneto shows up with his new army of villains!

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: villains being heroic is one of my favorite comic book tropes. So seeing Magneto show up at the end with an army of villains to fight Red Onslaught is kind of awesome! I’d really like to see that fight…except that we all know the point of Axis is to have Red Skull invert good guys and bad guys, so I guess I’ll just have to be happy with that (and I will. Again, it’s one of my favorite tropes!)

Beyond that bit of coolness, the issue was a fine massive fight scene. It’s almost entirely narrated by Iron Man, and there’s some solid dialogue between him and Magneto, as the latter keeps razzing Stark for helping to build those Sentinels. Everyone is genuinely heroic, and Havok gives Cyclops a nice speech (even if Remender seems to be in the Anti-Cyclops camp). There’s still very little depth to any of the characters involved, but for a big fight scene of hero vs. villain, it’s entertaining enough. Red Onslaught is definitely evil enough.

Batman Eternal #28

Batman Eternal #28
Writers: Tim Seeley, James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder
Artist: Meghan Hetrick

When Batman Eternal focuses on only one or two stories, when it actually seems to have some focus, it’s not half bad. The overall landscape is still a mess, and very little of any of this has to do with Batman, but I can give credit where credit is due when the creative team produces an OK issue.

Except for this mishandling of Batgirl. Keep her out of books like this! She’s got a new, wonderful home in her solo title!

In the main story, the Ferryman plans to beat Catwoman to death, so he put her on a stage in a night club and sold tickets to all the crooks in town. Ibanescu is in attendance, and he brought his niece Jade to force her to watch. But then Killer Croc busts in to rescue Jade, and creates enough of a distraction for Catwoman to escape! But tragedy strikes when Ibanescu tries to shoot her, only to hit and kill Jade instead.

Batman arrives too late to do anything, and Catwoman angrily storms away from him. She tracks down her father in Blackgate and agrees to become a mob boss.

In the backup story, Batgirl is dangling Jason Bard over the side of a large building, and Red Hood shows up to talk her out of it. He grabs the rope and tells Barbara that this isn’t her – it’s him! Red Hood lets go of the rope to drop Bard to his death, but Batgirl grabs it and saves him at the last second. Then when they’re saying their goodbyes, Batgirl hints that she and Red Hood might have something together, but he blows her off and reminds them both that he’s not Dick Grayson.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

First of all, ick! Batgirl and Red Hood? And he’s the one who turns her down? Come on! How did that become a thing? Because they hung out in Brazil for awhile? It’s a little jarring. One of those two characters is part of an intensely awesome revival, and one of them is Red Hood, who somehow still manages to have his own book by the sheer grace of the comic book gods. Don’t waste Batgirl by tying her to the Red Hood. She’s got much better things to do.

Beyond that bit of crumminess, I actually kind of liked the main plot. Now I know why the writers suddenly turned Jade into such a big deal (even if it was manipulative). But I don’t really care about Jade, I care about Killer Croc and Catwoman, and the idea of Croc inadvertently coming to her rescue, then the two of them wrecking a mob meeting, is pretty rad. Killer Croc has been a really solid character in Batman Eternal, and in this issue, Hetrick draws him like a dinosaur come to life! He’s brutal in all the right ways. I hope Hetrick sticks around. DC needs to give her some more work, pronto!

Also, I’d like to point out that Batman has very little impact on Batman Eternal.

Batman and Robin #35

Batman and Robin #35
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason

I stand by my claim that my reviews are incredibly biased and subjective. If you want objective comic reviews, there are plenty of sites on the web. This is my blog, and in my blog, I love me some Robin! So the current storyline in Batman and Robin is exactly the sort of thing that’s going to light my fire! Tim Drake fans, pay heed!

Batman invades Apokolips and fights his way straight to the capital city, where he confronts Glorious Godfrey and uses the Hellbat armor to kick his butt! Unbeknownst to him, though, Kalibak uses the Chaos Shard to create a giant cannon, which he fires and blows up a nearby planet!

Meanwhile, Red Robin, Red Hood and Batgirl team up with Alfred to find a way to Apokolips (they weren’t about to sit this one out!). They decide to hijack Cyborg, since he has an operational Boom Tube, and they lure him to the Batcave with the claim that they need some IT support. Once he’s in, they knock him out and fire up his Boom Tube – though Cyborg does wake up in time to join them. Before they go, Alfred gives them all modified Robin armor to wear in memory of Damian!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This was a thrilling issue! I was so close to giving it a perfect score based on fan-joy alone! Red Robin and the rest of the Bat-Family standing strong in support of both Batman and Robin was just wonderful! I love how they trick Cyborg down to the Batcave. I’ve always loved how Batman’s world is just so far removed from the Justice League, and how even his sidekicks can school the big heroes like Cyborg. That was wicked fun. And when Alfred produced the Robin badges to put on their new Robin-themed armor? It’s like Tomasi is reading my mind!

Batman’s side of the fight wasn’t as big of a deal, and I’m OK with that. Batman is having his fun in his solo series. Batman and Robin can focus on the Bat-Family, the Robins (and honorary Robins) in particular. And Gleason is drawing the hell out of this comic, Apokolips pun intended! The alien world looks about as close to Hell as one could get, and the heroes look just as brave and heroic diving into it! I don’t know who the new Robin is going to be, or what DC is going to do with Damian, but I am loving this story!

Ms. Marvel #9

Ms. Marvel #9
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Adrian Alphona

Welp, we all knew it was going to happen eventually: Inhuman treads upon Ms. Marvel. The arrival of Lockjaw was a surefire sign that it was going to happen, but Wilson used him so well! Couldn’t that be enough? Nope, not only does Kamala meet Medusa in this issue and find out her secret origin, but she’s also brought all the way to New Attilan.

So it’s a damn good thing that Kamala tells them all to shove it!

Well, not in so many words…

Kamala’s powers aren’t working properly after healing so many injuries last issue, so she can’t transform and protect her identity when she takes on the Inventor’s giant robot that attacked her school. She does her best to stay out of sight as she wallops the beast with Embiggened Fists of Rage! Kamala is exhausted afterwards, but Lockjaw went and got help: Medusa! Lockjaw then teleports everyone, including Bruno, back to the infirmary at New Attilan.

Once Kamala recovers, Medusa tells her all about the Inhumans and how she’s one of them. But rather than stick around and live on New Attilan, Kamala has Lockjaw teleport her home so she can show her parents that she didn’t die in the attack on her school. She puts them at ease, then sneaks out again to spy on the Inventor’s safehouse, the one she raided a few issues ago. When she spots some of the Inventor’s goons trying to move one of the runaway teens, she intervenes and fights to stop them, teaming up with Lockjaw to destroy the robots sent to fight her. But when the dust settles, the runaway teens all reveal to Kamala that they’re volunteers. They didn’t want to be rescued.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

I’ve heard around the comic book grapevine that Inhuman has gotten better. Good for it, I’m glad. But I couldn’t stomach more than 2 issues, and I barely handled those. I just don’t like the idea of the Inhumans suddenly horning their way into a bigger deal just ’cause Marvel wants to make a movie. The only good thing that will ever come out of this focus on the Inhumans is Kamala.

Seriously, I love this comic! It’s just so much fun! Both in the writing and the artwork, the creative team has hit the sweet spot of engaging story and wonderful characters. I can’t think of a cooler, more personable or more relatable comic book character than Kamala Khan. She’s got that wonderful ‘Peter Parker’ geek vibe, but written for the times, and written from the perspective of a non-white, non-male person. Speaking as a white male person, it’s just so enriching to learn about a new culture like this.

It’s a very cromulent attack

Everything about Ms. Marvel is engaging and fun, from Kamala’s struggle with identity to her Simpsons references!

Uncanny X-Men #27

Uncanny X-Men #27
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Chris Bachalo

Speaking of biased reviews, I love me some Cyclops! He’s got a pretty solid role in Axis, which I like, but he’s got an even bigger role in Bendis’ ongoing story. Cyclops takes some steps this issue that seem a little more villainous than usual, but I stand by my faith and trust in both the character and the writer. Cyclops’ handling of this Matthew Malloy crisis sounds perfectly reasonable to me!

Rachel tries to reach out to Matthew Malloy with a psychic illusion showing Professor X, the Avengers and the X-Men all responding to his destruction. But Matthew quickly sees through her ruse and spots the SHIELD Helicarrier in the distance. Matthew uses his powers to bring the Helicarrier crashing down, telling the X-Men that he doesn’t blame them for attacking him, that they were lied to by Xavier just as much as he was. Matthew teleports all of the X-Men back home safely (though Wolverine is unaccounted for).

When Cyclops recovers, he has Magik teleport him directly to Matthew for a face-to-face chat. Cyclops tells Matthew to read his mind to know that he’s sincere. He tells Matthew that he believes Xavier was wrong in how he treated Matthew, that Matthew is actually a pretty spectacular mutant. Cyclops invites Matthew out to breakfast, and the new guy accepts.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I really want Bendis to sink his teeth into Matthew Malloy. For half a dozen issues now, the guy has just been this vaguely powerful force that just stands around. We know his backstory, but we don’t know much about him, at least not yet. I honestly just want to read an issue of Malloy and Cyclops sitting down to breakfast and talking about the fate of mutants. We know Bendis is a master of dialogue.

For all the scenes of Cyclops really stepping up to handle this situation, while everybody else keeps trying to trick Malloy or contain him, I really liked this issue. Cyclops is the only one who wants to talk to Malloy man-to-man, and it works perfectly. Matthew Malloy is a person, first and foremost. His powers may be off the charts, and maybe he has hurt a lot of people, but he’s a man nonetheless, and should be treated like that. That’s why Cyclops’ approach is right, and why Uncanny X-Men is such a great mutant comic.

Also, isn’t this the exact origin of Starbrand over in Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers? A random person suddenly displays the power to explode a wide radius of people? Just sayin’.

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 18, 2014, in Batman, Comics, Reviews, Robin, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Yeah, Death of Wolverine was a huge letdown for all the reasons you stated in your review. And it’s such a big thing too, Wolverine is a Marvel cornerstone. He’s in or been in several Avengers and X titles, as well as his own, and he’s been all over the big screen as well. If you’re gonna pull a Death of Superman/Captain America story like this with a major character, you really should make it a phenomenal story. This is especially true now since killing off major characters has just about been done to death (pardon the pun). At this point, the only thing that really interests me about the whole thing is how they plan on bringing him back, when they inevitably do, since his death was such a, um, difficult one to come back from.

    • I never pardon puns. Own up to them, embrace them! We’re a pun-friendly community here.

      And there are probably plenty of ways for Wolverine to come back. They can just say his healing factor magically returned while he was encased in metal, and he’s been alive in that metal ever since. He’d be suffering, but he’d be alive.

      • Yeah but he’s encased in adamantium isn’t he? Unless they changed things, i thought once adamantium cools, that’s it, you can’t get it to a super-heated liquid state anymore, and it’s pretty much invulnerable to any sort of damage. So, like I said, it will take some inventiveness to get him out. Healing factor or no. I remember one time, Magneto sucked the adamantium right out of Wolvie’s body, so maybe he could get him out of there, but Magneto was a lot stronger back in the day. Or maybe Shadowcat could phase shift him out, if she can even go through adamantium. I don’t know.

      • She can totally go through Adamantium! There are plenty of ways to get Wolvie out if he survives inside the Adamantium statue.

  2. Axis was actually pretty good, I thought. There’s a certain optimistic undertone to it that’s rare in Remender’s work. It doesn’t feel oppressively miserable.

    Ms. Marvel was as awesome as always.

    UXM was pretty good. I liked seeing Rachel get to do something. The next issue will obviously be the big one, though, as Scott and Matthew finally actually talk.

  3. Ms. Marvel was great; Axis on the other hand hasn’t been very good. I thankful didn’t read Uncanny x men but I guess how it ended, everyone was wrong expect for Cyclops.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: