Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 11/22/14
This was a weird week for comics, and I mean that in the best way possible. It was another big week, stretching my wallet to its limit, but I actually found myself passing on a few of my usual reviews. Both Avengers and New Avengers came out this week, continuing Jonathan Hickman’s massive Multiverse story, but I found that both issues, while good, were far too dense to properly discuss. I would have confused myself. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the new issue of Harley Quinn was just too simple and weird to devote too much time. So I skipped it too!
But I do have some quality reviews for you henchies! Spider-Verse continues, and I’m still enjoying it – though check out my review this week of Spider-Woman #1 at Word of the Nerd for the storyline’s first major misstep.
Comic Book of the Week goes to Lumberjanes for a fantastic finale! But the big disappointment is Wonder Woman #1, which pretty much does everything I feared it would now that Azzarello and Chiang are gone. Adding to the weirdness this week is the new issue of Uncanny X-Men, which robs me of my hero, Cyclops.
Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #10, Batman Eternal #33, Batman and Robin #36, Lumberjanes #8, Uncanny X-Men #28 and Wonder Woman #36.
Amazing Spider-Man #10
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Olivier Coipel
I’ve been getting a big kick out of Spider-Verse so far, and this new issue isn’t any different. Slott is clearly enjoying himself, and so am I, as the various Spider-Men and Women banter off one another. Peter Parker and his allies are just such good people that I can’t wait for them to kick butt and win the day!
Turns out there are two teams of Spider-Men, one with Peter Parker and one led by Otto Octavius, from when he was the Superior Spider-Man. The two teams come together in this issue to discuss joining forces, but it turns out that Silk (and to a lesser extent, Kaine) is like a homing beacon for the Inheritors, and the big one, Daemos, shows up to attack. The spiders fight back, losing a few in the process, but eventually Kaine and Otto kill him – except they soon discover that the Inheritors can clone themselves, and another Daemos shows up with his sisters, leading to an even bigger fight.
From there, the issue becomes an advertisement for the tie-ins. Everybody jumps into different portals, and we get little scenes and editorial notes specifically directing us to read Scarlet Spiders, Spider-Woman and Spider-Man 2099. It’s lame as hell. But Slott does his best to make it work for the story. In the end, everybody retreats to the safe dimension, including Otto, who declares that he is now in charge.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
So yeah, for several pages there, this issue turned into Spin-Off Central. Seemingly as awkwardly as possible, the various characters spout off reasons why they need to break away from the main series to go off to their various tie-ins. It really dragged me kicking and screaming out of the story, but fortunately, the rest of the issue was pretty fun.
Spider-Verse is moving at a very nice pace. Slott keeps the characters bouncing off one another, and he’s got more than a few interesting mysteries building in the background. I definitely want to know why Kaine is so important as ‘The Other’, likewise what it means to be ‘The Bride’ or ‘The Scion’. He’s building some interesting spider mythology here, and I am eating it up. It’s also nice to see the Superior Spider-Man back in the saddle, and Miles Morales is a fun addition to the cast. Really, it’s just fun to see all these spider characters interact. That’s all I want from Spider-Verse.
Batman Eternal #33
Writers: Kyle Higgins, James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder
Artist: Jason Fabok
I think the writers are just stalling for time at this point. While this issue has the focus that I love so much, it also doesn’t accomplish a whole heck of a lot. This might be the lightest issue of Batman Eternal yet.
Batman and Julia Pennyworth spread out and start destroying as many caches as they can before Hush can use the weaponry inside to blow up more civilians. Hush and Jason Bard are onto them, and Bard sends out a super-armored SWAT officer to fight Batman, but the guy gets his butt whooped. So Hush goes himself and ambushes Julia at one of the caches.
Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.
First question: where was everybody else? Batman and Julia are in a race against time and Hush to destroy 17 caches spread across the city – so why not call in Red Robin, Red Hood, Batgirl, Bluebird and the rest? They were helping out only a few issues ago, but have now seemingly disappeared. Are they no longer allowed to help for some reason? This is a pretty big emergency.
Second question: why doesn’t Julia get to wear a mask? She gets a black catsuit, sure, but her face is completely uncovered when she goes out into the city alongside Batman. Don’t they have any spare masks to throw on her to help protect her identity?
But those are minor gripes. This was a fine issue, dedicated to building the camaraderie between Batman and Julia Pennyworth. Snyder and Company have really gone out of their way in the past year or so to expand Batman’s supporting cast, and considering how invested I am in Batman’s supporting cast, I realized that I should start caring more that Julia Pennyworth is part of the team. She can be cool, I suppose, but Batman Eternal remains a crummy book overall, so it’s not the best place to get to know her. Still, she’s fairly competent in this issue, and Jason Fabok draws the hell out of everything, so this issue has that going for it.
Seriously, that guy needs to get on a major Bat-title pronto. This is the dark, gritty art that some readers love. He’s like a better David Finch, and his talents are wasted on Batman Eternal.
Speaking of wasted, Hush’s plan just gets worse and worse every issue. Even Jason Bard is openly having doubts right in front of Hush and his ridiculous, ever changing clusterfudge.
Batman and Robin #36
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Strap in, boys and girls, the action is only going to heat up from here! Tomasi, Gleason and Batman have turned the dial up to 11, and this issue is just a straight-up Apokolip-tian ass-kicking!
A very angry Batman fights his way across Apokolips, getting closer and closer to Kalibak and his super cannon. Kalibak used it to blow up a moon at the end of last issue, and this time he starts calibrating the weapon to blow up a planet with several billion souls on board. Batman is pretty much as badass as humanly possible in his fight across the hell planet, thanks to the art of Patrick Gleason. Along the way, Batman meets up with his Robins and Cyborg, and he agrees to work with them this time. The team then lay siege to Kalibak’s fortress and totally kick his butt and find Damian’s coffin – which is about when Darkseid shows up!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Normally I don’t care for issues that are just full-on fight sequences, but Gleason’s art once again raises this whole thing to new heights. He draws giant, fiery siege engines and monstrous villains like nobody’s business, and watching Batman and the Robins tear through them all is just wonderful. This is Batman pushed to his absolute limit, holding nothing back as he tears all of Apokolips a new one! How can you not get excited for that? That Tomasi then sprinkles in some great moments of Batman teaming up with his Robins is delicious icing on an already amazing cake.
This is fun comics, pure and simple. Fun, action-packed and full of personality and character!
Writers: Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
Artist: Brooke Allen
A lot has happened since I last checked in with Lumberjanes, all of it great. This is a delightfully fun comic, and I think I’m going to grab the trade paperback when it comes out, just so I can own it and share it with my grandkids some day. So let’s hope I have grandkids some day!
So to catch everybody up: all of the mysterious and dangerous happenings at Lumberjane camp are the result of a power struggle between Greek Gods. Zeus is about to step down as King, and his children, Apollo and Artemis, are squabbling over who gets to take over and get their father’s power. Apollo is posing as the leader of the boys camp, and he’s been the one sending the monsters after our heroes. Artemis is posing as Diane from the girls camp, and she has convinced the Lumberjanes to help her uncover the secret location of where the power transfer will take place at the upcoming lunar eclipse.
But after Artemis betrays them and turns Jo into stone, the girls trick both her and Apollo into going to the wrong location. The transfer of power is actually going to take place at the Lumberjanes camp, and the girls set up an ambush during the lunar eclipse. When Zeus begins to transfer his power, the girls throw Ripley into the fray, and she inherits the power of Zeus. Ripley then uses this ultimate power to give Bubbles the Raccoon a new hat and to erase the power from existence. So neither of the jerkily god kids get to become ruler of the universe! And also Jo is saved by the power of love and friendship.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
The ease with with Lumberjanes composes itself is a delight. The creative team on this comic make it look effortless. Their characters are fully fleshed out and adorable. The dialogue snaps, crackles and pops, to use the parlance. And the whole thing is just so darn funny and cute! Lumberjanes is an all-ages comic done right, done well, and done with the sort of skill that makes you wish for a better world. There were times that the Greek God stuff got a little too complex, but that’s a pittance of a concern when the comic itself is so much fun! All of the girls get a chance to shine, the good guys win in a fun and creative way, and the bad guys aren’t even really that bad.
Lumberjanes is just a delightful comic. It can be enjoyed by younglings and grown-ups alike, and has positive messages and fun oozing out of every pore. I really can’t wait to see what this creative team brings us next! And personally? My favorite Lumberjane is Mal!
Uncanny X-Men #28
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Kris Anka
God dammit, Brian Michael Bendis, you were doing so well! For years now you have expertly captured the ongoing story of Scott Summers and his efforts to lead a mutant revolution without becoming a full-on super-villain. I believed in Cyclops. I believed in his purpose. And I believed in you.
But apparently all of that’s over now. Cyclops finally goes too far.
Cyclops takes Matthew Malloy to Devils Tower in Wyoming to talk things out and explain to him what it means to be a mutant (he sends Magik out to get breakfast, but she never does). Cyclops reveals to Matthew that the plan for his revolution is to force humanity to accept mutants through fear and violence. I have to say, I kind of hate this issue for that. Cyclops’ plan is as villainous as they come, especially since he wants to use Matthew to strike that fear into humanity. But Matthew starts panicking and his powers tear Devils Tower apart. But Cyclops sticks around, determined to talk Matthew through this – until Magneto shows up and tells Cyclops that he’s gone too far.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
Biased reviews are a double-edged sword. I’ve been giving Uncanny X-Men high praise for months now because Bendis has been writing a truly excited and awesome Cyclops, straddling the line between hero and villain in his quest for mutant acceptance. But all of a sudden, out of nowhere, Cyclops declares to Matthew Malloy that he no longer believes in Xavier’s dream of mutant and human coexistence, that instead he wants to force humans to accept mutants like the would-be Magneto that his critics have always claimed him to be. I thought that Cyclops really wanted to help Matthew Malloy. I thought they would literally sit down to breakfast and have a great chat about how Matthew can help mutant kind. Instead, Cyclops goes on and on about how he wants to use Matthew for his revolution.
It’s revolting! This is not the Cyclops I believe in!
The rest of the issue is pretty cool. I like Cyclops’ insistence that he can get through to Matthew Malloy, that just because the guy has an incredible power doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be helped. There’s a brief scene where Beast considers his options, and all of them involve disposing of Malloy somehow. Only Cyclops stands up for a mutant’s rights, and I like that – even if it’s presented as evil, for some reason. Still, it’s another strong chapter in this ongoing saga, though I think I’ve lost track of how long we’ve actually been in this storyline. It never seems to end.
Wonder Woman #36
Writer: Meredith Finch
Artist: David Finch
And just like that, it’s over.
DC promised that the new Finch-led Wonder Woman would tie more closely into the rest of the DC Universe, and that is definitely true. The Justice League play a prominent role in this issue, as do Aquaman and Swamp Thing, of all people Zola, Orion, Hera, and pretty much everyone else from the previous story are gone. This is a new and different Wonder Woman, and for that, I probably won’t bother reading this series anymore.
Some new evil force is trying to control water around the world, and his acts cause villages in Thailand and Ecuador to be wiped from the Earth. The Justice League respond to investigate and they find Swamp Thing in Thailand, also investigating. But Wonder Woman assumes he’s the one behind the attacks, and she picks a fight with the swampy protector. Fortunately for her, he’s gracious enough not to kill her.
Afterwards, Aquaman tries to talk to Diana to figure out why she’s so angry, and she opens up about all the stress in her life: the Amazons are mad at her because she’s allowing the male Amazons to live on Paradise Island, she’s the new God of War, Superman just got through a big Doomsday storyline, and basically it’s all more than Diana can handle right now. But she and Aquaman have a nice heart-to-heart, so maybe she’ll be OK.
In the end, she heads back to Paradise Island to try and talk to her sisters, only to discover that her mother, the clay statue, has melted!
Comic Rating: 4/10 – Pretty Bad.
So now Wonder Woman is an angry person who attacks first and asks questions later? She literally comes out of nowhere in attacking Swamp Thing with righteous abandon, blaming him for everything even though he’s freakin’ Swamp Thing! Does she not know Swamp Thing yet? Everybody knows Swamp Thing.
But the problems with this issue go beyond that strange encounter with Swamp Thing. They’re not major problems, really. I suppose someone could enjoy this issue just fine. But considering what we just had, it’s a huge step down from greatness. Wonder Woman just isn’t that good of a character in the greater New 52. She’s a brash warrior judged mostly by her associations with Superman and the rest of the Justice League. She’s not at all like the steady diplomat of Azzarello’s run. She’s not as worldly and wise. She seems young and impulsive. And it doesn’t help that the Finches fill this issue with the Justice League, emphasizing the fact that Wonder Woman in the New 52 is just that extra team member who stands off to the side.
Azzarello and Cliff Chiang were telling a story about their Wonder Woman. She was unique, and they were telling a story that actually mattered and had some real depth. The Finches just seem to be telling a random story about Wonder Woman the superhero, and that’s just not as interesting as what came before. Maybe they’ll impress us, maybe they have a lot in store, and maybe I’m just being a big curmudgeon. But I have been looking for ways to trim my pull list.
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 November 22, 2014, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin, Spider-Man, X-Men and tagged Amazing Spider-Man, Batman and Robin, Batman Eternal, Cyclops, Damian Wayne, Lumberjanes, Spider-Verse, Uncanny X-Men, Wonder Woman. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.