Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 12/20/14

Happy Holidays, Henchies! We’re deep in the heart of Hannukah right now, and next week is Christmas! Whatever you celebrate, I hope you have a good one. I’ll be going home to see my family, and we’ll have a good time, like we do. We’ll talk comics, movies, cartoons; maybe I’ll get some new TV show recommendations! Oh, and presents! If I get any good presents, I’ll let you henchies know.

This week was pretty full of interesting comics – both good and bad! Marvel delivered the one-two punch of both Captain and Ms. Marvel, the former capturing Comic Book of the Week for the first time in awhile, thanks to a detour away from stupid outer space. In bad comics, DC continues their assassination of Wonder Woman, and Batman Eternal is as bad as it’s ever been. But Robin is back, so that should count for something. Too bad it’s not the Robin I wanted.

He makes this look good

Oh Harper Row, you had such potential. But I will never give up hope!

Comic Reviews: Batman Eternal #37, Batman and Robin #37, Captain Marvel #10, Ms. Marvel #10, Scarlet Spiders #2 and Wonder Woman #37.

Batman Eternal #37

Batman Eternal #37
Writers: Tim Seely, James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder
Artist: Andrea Mutti

Just when I thought Batman Eternal couldn’t get any worse…

The new issue of Batman Eternal is further proof that the creative team didn’t really map anything out to begin with. Several storylines are done, I guess, so Batman Eternal #37 just throw a bunch of new storylines at us all willy nilly like. We check in with some old characters who have changed completely since their last appearance in Batman Eternal, and then we get some new additions to the cast who are just terrible. This comic is the worst.

Catwoman is now the head of a big criminal empire, based out of the luxurious Egyptian nightclub, where she fights off an assassination attempt from a rival gang. Batwing is being haunted by some ghosts, who spook his roommate. And Batman is trying to track down the note-worthy Arkham inmates who escaped. He runs into Croc for a bit, but doesn’t get any good information. Little does he know that the villains – Scarecrow, Clayface, Joker’s Daughter, Poison Ivy and Mr. Freeze – are laying low in an abandoned restaurant. They bicker and sound off so that they all get proper introductions as they decide what to do next. Catwoman is spying on them, and later contacts Batman to let him know where they’re hiding.

Also, Jason Bard tries to approach Harvey Bullock and Maggie Sawyer, promising that he’s a changed man, but they aren’t buying it. They remain the worst cops in Gotham.

Comic Rating: 1/10 – Terrible.

Let’s start with the overall flow of Batman Eternal. Last time we saw Catwoman and Killer Croc, they had their own storyline going where they were fighting some mobsters, and it ended with their little friend Jade being shot and killed. Then both characters dropped out of the book. We pick back up with them in issue #37, and Catwoman is already the head of all the crime families, and Killer Croc is idly hanging out around the docks, having lost all of the sewer folk he was protecting at the start of Batman Eternal. So…what the heck? Characters can just pop in and out of the story whenever, and their entire storylines can be dropped or jumped ahead as the story sees fit? Croc has been this book’s MVP, but he’s little more than a tired cameo here.

Batwing is another example. He went through a harrowing experience only a few issues ago…but he was immediately dropped from the book right after. Now he’s back messing around with ghosts for no particular reason! Ghosts! Luke Fox seems completely unfazed by what he went through. And he wasn’t around when his father became a major character in this comic. Now I guess he matters again.

And oh jeez, the classic villains. I don’t think they’ve ever been more pathetic. They’re all randomly hiding in a abandoned restaurant, and they literally sound off with a few lines each to establish their personalities.

Why is Joker’s Daughter still a thing?

Wow. How the mighty have fallen. Then Poison Ivy tries to sleep with Bane in order to consolidate power, because that’s totally something she does. And Bane is just an arrogant oaf, robbed of all depth he had prior to the reboot. Mr. Freeze is just weird. And the less said about Joker’s Daughter the better. This is a dumb, dumb group of characters and none of them have any real impact on the story. None of them have anything to do with Batman Eternal‘s ongoing story. The writers just plop them into the comic and make asses out of all of them. They’ve been reduced to filler.

Batman Eternal is a mediocre 6-issue Batman story stretched out for a whole year because the gimmick was more important than the actual story.

Batman and Robin #37

Batman and Robin #37
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason

I read an interview the other day with Tomasi and Gleason where they said the main reason they brought Damian back to life was because both they and the fans really wanted to have Damian back – and that’s a dumb reason. Granted, when you’ve got Jason Todd as a major character in the Bat-books, there’s absolutely no reason why Damian should stay dead, or for Batman to ever give up trying to bring him back. It makes sense in character. But there were so many better options for what to do with Robin.

Why even kill Damian if you didn’t want him dead? And doesn’t this kind of negate death for everyone in the Bat-Family now? How can Batman not give 110% in the future anytime one of his people dies? For that matter, why is nobody questioning Batman’s dedication to bringing Dick Grayson ‘back to life’? Batman is willing to go to Apokolips and fight Darkseid to bring Damian back, but he won’t do anything to bring Dick back? And yes, I know Dick is still alive, but the rest of the Bat-Family doesn’t.

I guess I’m still just bitter about Harper Row not becoming the new Robin. And I’ll probably remain bitter for some time. Harumph!

The Dark Knight goes toe-to-toe with Darkseid in a no-holds-barred brawl to end them all! With his own son’s life on the line, Batman kicks some Darkseid butt…and Darkseid kicks some Batman butt. But in the end, Batman pulls out the win by blocking Darkseid’s Omega Beam with the Chaos Shard. Then, with his suit on the verge of exploding, Batman grabs Damian’s casket and everybody teleports back to the Batcave. Batman then stabs the overpowered Chaos Shard into Damian’s body, bringing him back to life – only for Batman to pass out from the strain.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I will say this for Damian’s resurrection: it’s probably the most extremely awesome one in comic book history! Batman invades Apokolips, goes one-on-one with Darkseid himself, and then races through an interdimensional portal with a magic artifact that’s burning up his body, only to stab it into Damian’s dead heart at the last minute, bringing the young Robin back! As with the rest of this story arc, Batman’s adventures were pushed to the extreme, to great benefit. This was just an awesome action comic, with everything dialed up to 11, both in writing and art. Gleason draws a chilling Apokolips, and his fight with Batman is gruesomely great.

Even though I think DC could have gone in a dozen better directions with Robin, Tomasi and Gleason told one hell of a tale in making this happen.

Captain Marvel #10

Captain Marvel #10
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artists: David Lopez, Marcio Takara and Laura Braga

The cover of Captain Marvel #10 celebrates it as the 100th solo issue of Carol Danvers adventures! Woohoo! Congratulations! DeConnick celebrates with a nifty story about Carol’s supporting cast…but seems to ignore Carol herself! This was a painful issue to read, but still a damn good comic!

Painful because it illustrates exactly what this comic has been missing.

Lila Cheney delivers some letters from home to Carol from Kit, Spider-Woman, Rhodey and Wendy, and they all talk about this adventure they had back on Earth defeating Grace Valentine and her army of mind-controlled rats. So this issue is actually about Carol’s Earth-based cast having an awesome adventure, while Carol herself is still stuck in outer space just reading letters! It’s a weird way to celebrate 100 issues, and only makes me wish DeConnick would put Carol back on Earth already! They’re having much more fun down there!

Grace Valentine uses the rats to break out of prison, and then sends every rat in New York to the Statue of Liberty, where Carol is living – only with her out in space, Kit and her mom are staying there instead. The brave Miss Kit uses all of her wits and awesomeness to save her friends from the rats, then Spider-Woman and Kit’s mom team up to defeat the rat leader (with a great flashback about Carol helping Spider-Woman overcome her fear of rats).

The story then switches to Rhodey, who tells us how he tracked down Valentine and managed to overcome a bomb by ‘pulling a Carol’ and flying into space to get it away from innocent victims.

After reading the letters, Carol gets a bit homesick and asks Lila to teleport her home. They arrive just in time for Christmas!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

Like I said, this was such a fun comic! Captain Marvel has a great supporting cast (even if I’m still not sure why Rhodey and Carol are a couple. Does anybody know where/when that happened?). So I very much enjoyed this silly and delightful story about fighting off an army of mind-controlled rats. From Kit turning into a total Captain Marvel-inspired badass to the touching/funny scenes that Spider-Woman shared with Kit’s mom and Flashback Carol, Captain Marvel #10 was filled to the brim with the heartfelt, personal and down-to-Earth storytelling that this comic used to excel at.

In the end, as great as this issue was, it’s also just a bitter reminder of how good this comic used to be. None of the heart and humanity of those Earth characters has been recreated in Carol’s space adventures. No matter how much DeConnick may love the character Tic, she’s not worth even a fraction of Kit. She’s not even worth Kit’s mom.

Ms. Marvel #10

Ms. Marvel #10
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Adrian Alphona

Ms. Marvel hits the penultimate issue of its big Inventor storyline, and it remains a solid, enjoyable comic. I’m slightly dismayed that so much time has been spent with Kamala in costume in this story, but maybe Wilson and her team are just balancing out the character-heavy first story arc. Whatever the case may be, Ms. Marvel is still my comic book of the year!

Ms. Marvel manages to rescue the teenagers being held captive by the Inventor, but they tell her that they don’t want to be saved! The Inventor has convinced them that the world thinks teenagers are useless, so he would like to make them useful by turning them into living batteries. Ms. Marvel tries to talk them out of it, but it’s only after the Inventor shows up in another one of his giant robots, beats up the teenaged Ms. Marvel and kidnaps Lockjaw that the teens realize he’s a bad guy and decide to help. They tell Ms. Marvel how to sneak into his secret lab, and once Kamala has cleared the way, they rush in to join her in confronting the villain.

Except the Inventor is prepared for them! He has yet another giant robot, ready to fight them, plus hundreds of more kidnapped teenagers already being held in stasis!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Alphona’s art really does sell this comic. He’s got a myriad of characters to draw in this issue, and each one is unique and impressive – especially Lockjaw. Seriously, this guy draws the funnest Lockjaw ever.

Bring on the movie version!

His Ms. Marvel is no slouch either, and Kamala’s heroism is on full display here. She gives a great speech to try and convince the kidnapped teens that their lives have meaning, and then she uses their help to sneak in and confront the bad guy. She’s still a sloppy superhero, and that’s what’s so enjoyable about her series. This is still a learning process for Kamala Khan, making this comic deeply personal, and therefore a great read. Though I don’t think the Inventor is going to be a supervillain that lasts the ages…

Scarlet Spiders #2

Scarlet Spiders #2
Writer: Mike Costa
Artist: Paco Diaz

I think I can safely declare that the tie-ins to Spider-Verse just aren’t very good. Spider-Woman #1 was a travesty. I haven’t read Spider-Man 2099. And this Scarlet Spiders series, while starring some great characters, just doesn’t have much to say or do.

Kaine and Reilly’s plan to sneak into Jennix’s building doesn’t go as planned, so they stop being sneaky and just start kicking butt as they get deeper into the cloning facility. Spider-Woman (or Black Widow, I think) tries to help by tapping into the security system, and the boys find the main clone storage facility. All they need to do is destroy all the clones so that the Inheritors can’t simply download into a new body when they die. While looking around for a way to do just that, Kaine finds the room where they keep all the failed clones – and since he himself is a failed clone, he gets royally pissed off and trashes the place! And that’s when Jennix shows up to fight them!

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

Costa’s narration remains as wordy as ever, but that’s probably a crutch, considering his story doesn’t actually have much to say. None of the characters are all that deep, none of them have much impact on anything, and nothing much is being accomplished. Maybe by the end of this mini-series, the Scarlet Spiders will strike a powerful blow against the Inheritors, but it’s a blow that only really exists to make this tie-in happen. There was never any indication that Morlun had clone bodies in his prior appearances (was there?), so why introduce that concept? And why put the clones in a big scientific facility? Morlun always felt more spiritual than scientific.

Basically, there’s little reason for this comic to exist other than to make a few more bucks on this whole Spider-Verse thing. This comic doesn’t have very much to say about its main characters, and its tie-in potential is minimal at best.

Wonder Woman #37

Wonder Woman #37
Writer: Meredith Finch
Artist: David Finch

I don’t think I’ll be reading anymore Wonder Woman after this. The comic has taken a serious turn away from the glory and the greatness of Azzarello’s noble run. Diana is no longer the proud, mighty warrior she once was. Now she’s a whiny, unfocused super model fulfilling DC’s agenda.

Wonder Woman continues to be stressed out about her life, and this time she takes it out on Clark instead of Aquaman. Meanwhile, an old crone Amazon is plotting against her behind the scenes. She sacrifices her own daughter to a monster in order to brew a new evil champion, but we’ll get back to this champion later.

The crone is also a member of some kind of Amazon council, who are pissed off that Wonder Woman seems to be more concerned with the outside world than with Themyscira. They hold a hearing against Wonder Woman, but it’s interrupted by an attack of giant falcons, who have been attacking regularly for a week now. Wonder Woman leads the charge (in a new, more revealing suit of armor), and when the day is saved, her sisters inform her that the falcons belonged to Ares, and are only coming to the island because Wonder Woman is the new God of War. She had no idea they even existed, which is yet another sign that Diana has no idea what she’s doing. It also doesn’t help that Cyborg calls her away on Justice League business in the middle of her sisters doubting her.

Oh, and that evil champion? It’s Donna Troy!

Comic Rating: 3/10 – Bad.

What can I say? It’s just not the same. Azzarello’s Wonder Woman was measured and powerful. The story moved gracefully, and Wonder Woman herself was graceful. The Finches are not. This comic stumbles from one scene to the next, rapidly cutting back and forth over a myriad of storylines, none of which seem to connect just yet. Rather than have Wonder Woman focus on all of her duties, the Finches have her whine about her responsibilities to her Justice League friends. I would rather see Wonder Woman tackle these problems head on, handling them like the pro she is. Wonder Woman can handle being the God of War. She can handle being Queen of the Amazons. She should kick butt in all these roles! But she doesn’t. She’s overwhelmed, whiny and everybody hates her. And David Finch is drawing her like a pouty-faced super model. No thank you.

And the late arrival of Donna Troy isn’t going to save anything.

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 December 20, 2014, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Gah! There is not one writer on Batman Eternal I don’t normally think is awesome. At least earlier I could kinda blame the shittiness of it on Ray Fawkes and definitely some of it on John Layman. But Tim Seeley and Scott Snyder are writing some of my favorite comics right now! Fuckity.
    Oh well. At least the covers are pretty.
    I wasn’t a fan of Batman and Robin this week, despite Pat Gleason being awesome as usual. I was kinda hoping Darkseid would act more like Darkseid and less like whoever that moron in the first Justice League arc was supposed to be. But no dice. New 52 Darkseid solves his problems by punching things, just like everybody else.
    I read the first issue of the new WW just to see if it was quite as terrible as I had expected. It exceeded all expectations. You couldn’t pay me to read another issue of that comic while the Finches are on it.
    So yeah, not a great DC week. Multiversity, Batman, and Catwoman were all pretty good, but it’s slim pickings. Still, being able to say I enjoyed a Catwoman comic is a kind of a big relief.

    • How is Catwoman? Are they covering how she becomes a crime boss? Like a Batman Eternal tie-in?

      • Not so much. They kinda just take the premise that she’s a crime boss and run with it. It’s an interesting comic. The art is pretty cool and the writing is a zillion times better than either of the previous writers. It’s clearly taking its cues more from Ed Brubaker’s run on the book than any of the New 52 stuff.

      • That’s a plus. While I’ve never read Brubaker’s run myself, I’ve heard only good things. I should read more Catwoman, perhaps.

  2. Captain Marvel was awesome. I loved seeing the supporting cast KSD built up in the previous volume. Kit was both adorable and badass, Jessica was hilarious, Rhodey was cool, and Wendy was cute all through it. And I really hope Grace Valentine becomes a recurring villain. She’s got style. I think Jessica’s section was the best. The art was so fun and cute, and the writing was hilarious. Jessica wanting Carol to energy-blast a rat was great. And it was such a cute rat! As a side note, Carol and Rhodey hooked-up off-panel, in between volumes. I think they actually work as a couple. Both former Air Force, both badass superheroes. There’s a good chemistry. I should also defend KSD by mentioning that it wasn’t her decision to put Carol in space. She had to be talked into it by editorial.

    Ms. Marvel was great. Some cool superheroics. The Inventor stole Kamala’s dog! What a dick!

    Scarlet Spiders was cool. Kaine’s a badass.

    • She was talked into it by editorial? Perfect! I’d hate to blame her for the dumb idea. As much as I loved the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, I can’t wait until their influence is off the comics.

  3. I’m hoping that after the upcoming Black vortex crossover that Carol will go back to earth on permitly but somehow I don’t think it’s going to happen. Don’t get me wrong I still like the book I just wish she stayed earth instead of be in space with the Guardians of the Galaxy.

  4. Suffering Sappho, Meredith Finch needs to be taken off that book. And her teen-porn drawing husband kicked to the curb. I’m tempted to say that this run at only two issues is rivaling some of the worst runs Wonder Woman has had in the past.

    • Oh yeah, this is pretty darn bad. Another review site pointed this out, but Wonder Woman’s battle armor is even more revealing than her normal costume. Her armor has an exposed mid-riff! We didn’t see that garbage when Cliff Chiang was drawing the book!

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