Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 1/24/15

Time to ease off the massive reviews, finally! We’ve just got a few comics this week – or at least the few comics I was in the mood to buy and read – and they’re all Batman and Spider-Man comics! How cool is that? Those two are arguably my two favorite mainstream superheroes, so this is kind of a big deal.

Comic Book of the Week goes to Amazing Spider-Man #13 for another entertaining chapter of Spider-Verse, though it’s not necessarily a spectacular standout. This is still just a Big Event I enjoy reading.

I’ve missed you, Superior Spider-Man!

We’ve also got the Spider-Verse tie-in that is Scarlet Spiders, as well as new issues of Batman Eternal and Batman and Robin. In fact, I didn’t hate this week’s Batman Eternal for once! I would say this is a solidly cool week.

Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #13, Batman and Robin #38, Batman Eternal #42 and Scarlet Spiders #3.

Amazing Spider-Man #13

Amazing Spider-Man #13
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli

This is where things start to get complicated. There are a lot of moving pieces in Spider-Verse, and a lot of strange backstory to cover. So forgive this synopsis for trying to cram it all into a few paragraphs.

At the end of the last issue, the Spider-Men escaped to a barren, post-nuclear world, and found that world’s Uncle Ben hiding out in a fallout shelter. He was that world’s Spider-Totem after he went to the science experiment with Peter on that fateful day — only for his heroic career to go all wrong when his version of the Green Goblin (the Emerald Elf) murdered his Peter and May. After that, Ben threw in the towel, and when his Ezekiel gave him a place to hide from Morlun, Ben took him up on it. Now he’s the last person alive in this toxic, nuclear wasteland. After the backstory, the Spiders read the scrolls that Spider-Woman found and figure out that the Inheritors need the blood of The Scion, The Other and The Bride in order to destroy all spider-totems forever (the totems being prophesized to destroy the Inheritors in 1,000 years).

Elsewhere, Silk and Spider-Gwen sneak off to rescue Jessica Drew from the Loomworld, the Inheritor’s homeworld. And after the events of Scarlet Spiders #3, Kaine also travels to Loomworld to kick some butt. So The Scion, The Other and the Bride are all in Loomworld, and the Inheritors go out hunting for them. In a pretty gnarly fight, Kaine gives in to the power of The Other and becomes a giant spider monster. He kills Solus…but then it seems Kaine is killed by Morlun.

In order to save everybody, Peter Parker rallies the troops to get everybody to Loomworld — but Uncle Ben doesn’t want to go, he doesn’t want to fail again. Peter tries to talk to him, but it does no good. So Otto, the Superior Spider-Man, steps up and gives Ben the hard truth about giving all you’ve got and rising back up even when you fall. This convinces Ben to go, so everybody’s ready to go kick some Inheritor butt!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I’m still definitely enjoying Spider-Verse, no matter how much of it is based on constantly crossing over into it’s tie-ins. Slott has always done a great job writing Spider-Man, and he did an even better job writing the Superior Spider-Man. Watching Doc Ock give this impassioned speech to get Uncle Ben into the game was a pretty great scene. Of course, Slott did fail in trying to pull any heartstrings with Uncle Ben’s mere presence. When Uncle Ben says he doesn’t want to go, Peter insists that it’s important that Ben goes, on a morale level. But honestly? They just met this Spider-Totem. He’s no different from any other, so I didn’t particularly care about him the same way Peter Parker did.

Also at this point, most of the extra spiders are still just background characters. There is a whole lot of just standing around in Spider-Verse, with a lot of action happening in the tie-ins. But the fight between Kaine and the Inheritors is pretty awesome (and I hope he’s not really dead). The Inheritors themselves remain largely unknown, their backstories made up by vague prophecies and the like, but they are sufficiently evil, and the Spider-Men are sufficiently awesome, so the final fight should be damn good.

Batman and Robin #38

Batman and Robin #38
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason

Damian is back in the Robin saddle, and Tomasi and Gleason take a low key approach to this new issue. We get a brief look at Damian and his new powers, a brief look at Batman’s reaction, and then some slate cleaning.

Damian is back from the dead, and he has super-powers now, including flight and invulnerability. When he goes out on patrol with Batman, he’s reckless, cheerfully jumping into gunfire. This pisses Batman off and he grounds Damian from going on patrol until he learns some control. But Damian is having nightmares, so he puts on his costume and flies across the world to the laboratory where he was grown and he destroys it. Then he swims all the way down to Atlantis and confronts Aquaman, demanding the return of all the failed clones. Aquaman gladly gives them back, and Damian frees them to live on a deserted island.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

It’s still a little jarring to simply have Damian back at Batman’s side, but I’m just going to have to get used to it. There’s little to no mention of how big a status quo change this is, everybody pretty much gets right back to business and life, as if Damian hadn’t been dead. That’s fine. I suppose the series shouldn’t dwell on it, but it’s still just a little weird. The scenes of Damian struggling with his identity are good, and they serve to really get into his headspace in this moment in time. The destruction of the lab and the rescue of his freaky clone brothers both serve as putting things to rest, I imagine, freeing Damian of any other hang-ups that might exist. Now, I assume, Batman and Robin is free to really embrace his return

Batman Eternal #42

Batman Eternal #42
Writers: Kyle Higgins, James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder
Artists: Jed Dougherty, Goran Sudzuka and Roger Robinson

To say I’m disappointed that this is Bluebird’s first official mission would be an understatement. I was hoping she’d be a major player in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman. That series is a gem. Batman Eternal is a mess. Still, the awesomeness of Harper Row helps keep this issue from being too bad.

Harper Row suits up as Bluebird and breaks into the factory to save everybody from the Mad Hatter. She gets distracted when she sees her brother, Cullen, among the mind-controlled zombies, and the Hatter captures her. But Bluebird turns the tables on the Hatter by complimenting him on being such an awesome tech wizard. Bluebird then grabs his hat and undoes all the mind control. Batman shows up randomly and knocks out the Hatter, then grunts and leaves when he sees Bluebird, leaving it up to Red Robin to welcome her into the fold.

Also, the mercenary who captured Spoiler last issue did so for her mother, who wants to reconnect with Steph. But by the next morning, Catwoman breaks in and kidnaps Steph. I’m not entirely sure why the merc couldn’t have been hired by Catwoman, which was my original assumption.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

There was a legitimately cool moment towards the end, when Bluebird grabs Mad Hatter’s hat and declares, “It looks better on me.” And it did! And watching her psyche out Hatter with her own tech geek roots was pretty cool. As was seeing her put Red Robin in his place by insisting that she decided to be Bluebird, nobody pushed her or forced her towards the role. This is what she wants, and she’s going to be awesome at it (even if she’d make a better Robin).

It really does

The general storytelling in Batman Eternal still isn’t very good, at least as far as I’m concerned, and I wish Bluebird had been given a cooler first assignment, but this was an acceptable issue. Though Batman was kind of an asshole to everyone. Why even have him show up for a single page just to be grumpy and barely acknowledge Harper?

Scarlet Spiders #3

Scarlet Spiders #3
Writer: Mike Costa
Artist: Paco Diaz

The final chapter of Scarlet Spiders is full of action, but it mostly comes through as a whimper. The Spider-Verse tie-in accomplishes everything it needs to accomplish and sets the stage for the rest of Spider-Verse, but as a stand alone adventure, it’s pretty light.

Kaine and Ben Reilly battle Jennix, but every time the bad guy is killed, he just transfers to another clone. Black Widow eventually joins the fight too, and everybody really just kind of banters and battles. Eventually, Ben Reilly decides that he must sacrifice himself to destroy the facility, so he grabs a big weapon, lures Jennix away from the others and blows the whole thing up! Afterwards, Kaine is so pissed off that he abandons Black Widow and jumps through a portal to Loomworld.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

Costa does an OK job setting up this Ben Reilly as his own unique character (a Spider-Man who never lost), and he guides the man through his sacrifice very well. But this is still just an issue where these three characters do little more than pound on a generic, uninteresting super-villain for awhile before that sacrifice. There is a little development for Black Widow and Kaine, but both characters are so removed from their comfort zones that they’re nearly unrecognizable, Black Widow especially. I’ll admit that I never followed her career in the Ultimates, but this simply isn’t the Ultimate Spider-Woman I knew. It’s just a lady in a badass Black Widow costume.

The art is pretty great, at least. Diaz’s pencils are clear and detailed, capturing the action with superb skill as it flies around the room. The characters look stark and bold, even Jennix.

Being a Scarlet Spider fan in general, I guess I just wish this story had a little bit more meat on its bones, with maybe some kind of exploration of this special niche of Spider-Totem, instead of just being an action/adventure comic.

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 January 24, 2015, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin, Spider-Man and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Amazing Spider-Man was OK. SpOck being the one to deliver the big speech that motivated Uncle Ben was kinda stupid. Frankly, it was dickish on Slott’s part. Peter’s been motivated by Uncle Ben all his life. This was his chance to return the favour. It was a moment everyone wanted to see. And then – nope! The guy who killed Peter does it instead!

    Scarlet Spiders was good. Ben’s sacrifice was pretty obvious, as soon as the solicit for the issue hit three months ago.

    • Hmmm, good point about SpOck and Peter. I guess I was just blinded by more Superior Spider-Man. And still a little weirded out by the fact that, in the middle of this radioactive wasteland, here’s Uncle Ben just hanging out in a fallout shelter, cooling his heels.

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