Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 2/28/15
I hope everyone is having a good weekend out there in comic book blog land. Me personally, I’m perched on the edge of either potential triumph or devastating loss! But I can’t tell anyone about it yet. Maybe I can soon, but for now, you’re all going to be stuck here on the edge with me. Fortunately, we’ve got comics to read!
Like the ever-delightful Gotham Academy! Maps alone guarantees a Comic Book of the Week!
We’ve also got new issues of Darth Vader and SHIELD, in which Pavel Rasputin might become your new favorite Marvel sorcerer (though probably not). Amazing Spider-Man finally wraps up Spider-Verse, though not in the way I’d hoped. But at least [REDACTED] is still alive!
Oh! And swing on over to Word of the Nerd to check out my review of Spider-Gwen #1! I think it might be my favorite of the three Spider-lady comics that Marvel released in the past few months. Considering Ultimate Spider-Man is coming to an end, Spider-Gwen is going to be our best chance at playing around in a nifty alternate reality universe for awhile.
Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #15, Batman Eternal #47, Darth Vader #2, Gotham Academy #5 and SHIELD #3.
Amazing Spider-Man #15
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Spider-Verse is over and now comes the time to wrap everything up in a neat little bow so we can get back to business as usual. In today’s comics, an insane, multi-dimensional battle for the fate of all Spider-Men is kind of just another day of the week for Peter Parker, so this adventure is little more than an anecdote to the guy. But I still enjoyed the story.
Amazing Spider-Man #15 serves as an epilogue to Spider-Verse, and I wish it had a bit more character interaction or development. Instead, Slott tries to cram in more action and excitement. This would have been a great talking-heads issue.
Spider-Verse is over and the various Spider-Men start heading back to their various dimensions. Uncle Ben goes back with Mayday Parker to her home, where she finds out that her mother survived the attack by the Inheritors, but her father, Peter Parker, is dead. Mary Jane digs out one of Peter’s classic costumes and gives it to Mayday, who declares that she’s going to start calling herself Spider-Woman!
Back at the Web of Fate, Superior Spider-Man decides to start cutting the strands of the web, threatening the entire Multiverse. He knows that he’s destined to be defeated and replaced by the real Peter Parker, so he’d rather destroy destiny itself! But Peter and the various other 616 heroes team up and defeat Doc Ock, sending him back to his proper place in the Superior Spider-Man timeline (and without any memories of Spider-Verse). Then Peter, Silk and Jessica Drew all return to the 616.
The only one who can’t go home is Spider-UK. When they look at his dimension, it seems his home world was destroyed by an incursion (from Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers/New Avengers). So Spider-UK decides to stay in the Web of Fate to try and be a Multiversal Spider-Man. He’s joined by Spider-Girl Anya Corazon, who wants to help out, and Karn, who decides to take over as the Master Weaver. The three of them will become the Guardians of the Web of Fate!
Oh, and before the credits roll, we close in on The Other’s dead husk and Kaine’s fist punches out of it! He’s alive! Probably!
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
I was a little disappointed with the previous issue and how it rushed through the climactic battle, leaving little room for character development. I’d hoped that Slott had saved all of that development for this epilogue issue — and I suppose he does, but it’s almost all heaped upon Superior Spider-Man. As much as I loved that storyline a year ago, this is Doc Ock at his asshole worst. He comes off as a child throwing a tantrum in this issue, and Peter and his friends easily take him out and settle him down. It doesn’t add anything to Superior Spider-Man, it doesn’t add anything to Peter Parker and it doesn’t add anything to this issue. It’s as if Slott thought he needed to add some action just for the sake of it.
Slott does do a pretty good job saying goodbye to the more important Spider-Men. Mayday Parker gets a nice farewell, one that will hopefully make up for the horrors Slott inflicted on the character and her life. And everyone comforting Spider-UK is a nice, albeit short, scene. Anya Corazon is dismissed with little fanfare, but such is the character. This Guardians of the Web of Fate thing is being set up for Secret Wars, but I have little interest in that whole thing, so I just don’t particularly care that this little group of Spider-peeps is going to stay together — but I am glad that Kaine survived, in some form, at least.
I enjoyed Spider-Verse on the whole. It was a lot of fun. But Slott missed a chance with this issue to really underline the whole event and provide some great character development or some solid character interactions.
Batman Eternal #47
Writers: Tim Seeley, James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder
Artist: Juan Ferreyra
Dammit, Batman Eternal, what the heck? Why do you have to twist the knife like this? Just when I was about ready to glaze over in apathetic wonderment at your suckitude, you have to go and pull a stunt like Batman Eternal #47. Well, maybe I should at least be happy that you can still surprise me with how much I hate you.
Catwoman passes along to Julia the information that all of Batman’s classic villains have been given a lot of money and are doing crazy things with them. The Bat-Family split up and each tackle a villain. Batgirl goes after Joker’s Daughter, Red Robin has Clayface, Batwing has Scarecrow, Red Hood has Bane, and for some reason, everybody’s cool with having Bluebird go after Mr. Freeze. I guess this is the equivalent of tossing her out of the nest to see if she can fly?
While they’re all busy, and while Batman rushes back from chatting with R’as al Ghul, we watch Hush, still locked up in the middle of the Batcave, taunting Alfred and Julia. Then somehow, out of nowhere, Hush is able to shut down the power to the Batcave and his ally, the mysterious big bad, is able to break into the cave. He frees Hush, they tie up Alfred and they eject Julia out into the city. Then Hush gets on the Bat-computer and crashes Batman’s plan.
Meanwhile, Stephanie and Cullen team up to contact Vicki Vale.
Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.
God Dammit. I said from Day One that locking Hush up in the middle of the freakin’ Batcave was the dumbest idea in the history of dumb ideas! They just put him in the middle of the Batcave in a big glass jar with fully functional speakers, so that he could hear and see everything, and be allowed to constantly make snide comments to the people trying to work. Why? Why did Batman do that?!
This is issue is why. So the writers could make it seem like Hush was really clever that he got his partner into the Batcave, so that when they reached the right issue, Hush could just waltz out of his cell and muck up the Batcave. Dammit, Batman Eternal! Why are you so pathetic and predictable?! You’re not clever! This was not clever!
The rest of the issue was alright. Some of these villain showdowns are far more silly than menacing, but I like the general idea of the Bat-family splitting up and facing off against their own villain.
And the art is just fantastic this issue. Ferreyra has this stiff, almost painted style that has a lot of detail and emotion in it. He’s does good landscapes as well. There’s one really great double-page spread of Julia, in costume, jumping over the rooftops of Gotham, with the panels placed into the sides of the buildings. Just a fantastic look for this comic. So at least the art is nice.
Darth Vader #2
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larroca
I still have some doubts that Darth Vader can support an ongoing comic book series. He’s a great character, but is he a protagonist? Does he have enough outward emotional depth to carry a series on his own, or is he so internalized that he might as well be a robot? The second issue of Kieron Gillen’s series is fun, but doesn’t absolve my doubts.
Grand General Tagge, who you may remember from A New Hope, takes over as head of the Empire’s military and Vader’s direct boss. He assigns Vader an officer who will monitor Vader’s activity and report back to Tagge (which greatly displeases Vader, obviously). Together they go on a mission to infiltrate a pirate base, and while onboard the station, Vader plants false evidence that his new nanny is in cahoots with these pirates. So that takes care of that annoyance.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
Oddly, this was a very self-contained issue. We don’t bother to check in with Boba Fett or Black Krrsantan, or even the Emperor. It’s just Darth Vader getting saddled with an adjunct, who has zero character of his own, and then taking care of that adjunct in a matter of hours. If I were Tagge, I’d be immediately suspicious at how quickly and efficiently Vader did away with his nanny. Vader’s plan was good, and the story was told well, but it’s almost a non-issue.
Gillen definitely has a firm hand on the wheel, and his Vader is sufficiently badass and powerful, but the character might be a little too shallow at this point in his life to carry a series. If Gillen starts pushing the Empire politics angle, that might be fun to explore. But for now, stories about Darth Vader being smarter and better than all the Empire flunkies around him won’t go very far. Though I guess that depends on how much you love Darth Vader…
Gotham Academy #5
Writers: Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher
Artist: Karl Kerschl
Mysteries are revealed, secrets are uncovered, and our heroes almost go to a school dance in the latest issue of Gotham Academy! But most importantly, the team gets back together! If Batman is ever again looking for a new Robin, he could do a lot worse than Maps.
Picking up where the last issue left off, Olive Silverlock tries to get Killer Croc to open up about her mother in the secret tunnels under the girl’s dorm. But Croc is scared off when Maps shows up, and the two girls chase him through the tunnels, only to lose him near the North Hall. So Olive gathers up Maps, Pom and Colton to break into the North Hall. They use the school dance as cover and get inside to find Croc — only for Batman to show up too!
Meanwhile, we learn the truth about the mysterious Trisan: He’s a Man-Bat! And he’s been keeping an eye on Olive ever since her fire powers (or whatever they are) went crazy over the summer and burned up the North Hall. He managed to get her out in time. So I guess that solves the mystery of the North Hall and what happened to Olive over the summer.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I’m excited to see this little dungeon-crawling team actually becoming a thing. I’m not sure why. Maybe because it’s adorable. Especially when Maps keeps equating it to a D&D party.
Gotham Academy is still a delightful little series with an ever-expanding, ever-interesting cast of characters. The addition of Killer Croc helps connect these kids to the larger world of Gotham, and an encounter with Batman will definitely help settle a lot of mysteries raised over the course of these early issues.
But the real draw is the cast, plain and simple. Olive is a determined and fascinating lead, with a lot of mystery and curiosities about her. She’s someone who isn’t afraid of Killer Croc, and that’s always cool. Her supporting cast is equally great, from the always adorable Maps, the frenemy Pomeline and the mischievous Colton, rounding out the party. I really like this little collaboration they’ve got going. The high school drama could use a bit more attention, I think. A school dance, with all of these characters and their various dates, could make a great issue in and of itself, especially with all the drama in Olive’s student life.
Though I definitely didn’t see Tristan as a Man-Bat. Where the heck does that even come from?
Gotham Academy remains delightful, with a stellar cast of unique and interesting characters, and far more mysteries and adventure than were found at my grade school. Clearly I was missing out.
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Alan Davis
A better title for this comic might be Marvel Team-Up featuring Agent Coulson — and I’m totally OK with that! Rather than focus on the inner workings of SHIELD, the comic so far has been about Coulson and his TV pals teaming up with random Marvel superheroes for a case of the month. And to me, that sounds really awesome.
A group of mercenaries have broken into Doctor Strange’s home, and their leader has opened up an evil, magical book that turns the whole house into an insane, funhouse of magical evil. Agent Coulson recruits Spider-Man and Pavel Rasputin, a Z-list sorcerer, to head inside with him and sort this out. The trio face all manner of troubles, and Pavel tries to betray them at one point, but eventually the three work together to stop the bad guys and close the book.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
I had to Google this Pavel Rasputin guy, and I’m OK with doing that extra research for something this fun. I love the idea that Phil Coulson can just grab any hero or villain he wants for any issue, and this little makeshift team will hopefully triumph against the forces of evil. In one issue, Waid made this Z-lister actually kind of interesting. Coulson himself remains a little flat, but that’s OK too, because he can just be the straight man, the anchor that keeps the insanity from getting too much to handle.
SHIELD the comic is a lot different from Agents of SHIELD the TV show, and for that I’m grateful. Mark Waid and his rotating artists are having a lot of fun plumbing the depths of the Marvel Universe, and as an old school Marvel fan, that makes me excited for what’s to come.
And if Waid is reading this, please squeeze in a Multiple Man, Mimic or Stingray team-up down the line!
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 February 28, 2015, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man, Star Wars and tagged Amazing Spider-Man, Batman Eternal, Darth Vader, Gotham Academy, Phil Coulson, SHIELD, Spider-Girl, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Verse, Spider-Woman, Superior Spider-Man. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.