Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 3/28/15
I’m happy to report my busy week has come to an end! I was covering a murder trial in my day job as a mild-mannered newspaper reporter, and the guy ended up being found guilty. He had it coming, trust me. But all that day job stuff cut into my blogging and comic book reading, so unfortunately it’s going to be a somewhat light week. It helps that Marvel Comics didn’t really put out anything too crazy this week.
Though Marvel did put out Uncanny X-Men #32, which wins Comic Book of the Week for finally kicking off Cyclops’ final journey!
DC Comics filled up the rest of my week, with new issues of Batman Eternal, Batman and Robin and Gotham Academy. It seems I really read a lot of Bat-books. That’s largely unintentional, they’re just the best that DC has to offer. That’s not a bad thing, right?
Oh, and you can check out my review of Darth Vader #3 over at Word of the Nerd. Good times in Dark Lord of the Sithing!
Comic Reviews: Batman Eternal #51, Batman and Robin #40, Gotham Academy #6 and Uncanny X-Men #32.
Batman Eternal #51
Writers: James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder
Artist: Alvaro Martinez
As I’ve already bragged this week, I totally called the Big Bad for Batman Eternal! Turning the final page and seeing that villain show up almost earned this comic a whole bump up the number grade! But I’m not that lenient, not to Batman Eternal, not this late in the game. Still, the focus from the upcoming finale has helped make this a more readable experience.
Cluemaster has Batman at his mercy, and he spends the whole issue monologuing. He explains that he realized he was on the D-List, whereas Batman is really only concerned with supervillains on the A-List. So Cluemaster put all of this together knowing that Batman would overlook guys like him as the culprit and drive himself crazy trying to figure out which A-List bad guy was behind all the troubles in Batman Eternal. Batman eventually breaks free of Cluemaster’s chains to fight back, but he’s too tired and gets beaten once again. Cluemaster then insists he’s just going to shoot Batman in the head, but sure enough, he monologues just a bit longer, and the real villain shows up: Thomas Wayne Jr!
Meanwhile, the Bat-Family continues to help people throughout the city. Spoiler visits Bluebird to try and get Harper to leave town with her, but Harper tells Steph that she has a job to do. And Gordon and Harvey Bullock head off to bring some order to Gotham City, leaving Bard to man up and be the commissioner he was always meant to be.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
Batman Eternal is still not a good series. The grade I’m giving it now is based purely on the readability of this single issue. And the tight focus of the finale, along with the skill of Tynion and Martinez, make this an acceptably readable issue. Granted, most of the issue is just Cluemaster monologuing, or Commissioner Gordon monologuing, but it’s an OK read. I actually kind of like Cluemaster’s idea, that he’s such a nobody he figured he could get away with a plan this big because Batman would only be looking at the somebodies. It’s a marginally clever idea and maybe could have held up in the long run if Batman Eternal weren’t a terrible comic.
The pacing is probably what makes this issue work so well. The comic never slows down, and when it jumps to other scenes, they keep everything moving. Everybody is focused on this one problem, and that’s a huge help. It’s laughable that Cluemaster would spend so much time monologuing, and that his attempt to shoot Batman at the end failed in the same way it always fails when the villain points a gun at the hero’s head. And it was laughable that Commissioner Gordon would depend on Jason Bard for anything. But those are just the Batman Eternal punches we’ve got to roll with at this point.
At least the scene between Harper and Stephanie was good. Those two definitely need to be used together a lot more in the future.
Batman and Robin #40
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason
So…uh…this issue kind of comes as a surprise?
I guess you’ll have to read the issue to find out, but man, this swerve kind of comes out of nowhere. Still, this was definitely another thing I called in advance! So I’m two-for-two this week.
With Damian’s new super-powers, he joins the Justice League in fighting a super-powered robot bad guy off the coast of Japan. Damian manages to both control his powers and work well with the Justice League, defeating the villain by stabbing a metal tower into his mouth and shocking him with Shazam’s lightning. Afterwards, Damian is pumped at his victory, and it’s all he can talk about when he and Batman head home for dinner. But unknown to Damian, the fight was a set-up by the JL to give him something to really cut loose against. Cyborg was in control of the robot the entire time.
The next morning, Damian’s powers are suddenly gone, and nobody is sure why. But they don’t waste time dwelling on it, and Batman and Robin head out on patrol like the good old days.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
So…Damian’s powers are just gone? After two issues? I knew they weren’t going to last, but I didn’t expect them to just disappear in an instant like this. Are they going to come back? Are they going to be a reoccurring problem? I don’t know, but the ending of this issue is pretty final. It’s a happy-go-lucky shot of Batman and Robin swinging through the city like the good old days, the sort of scene that is clearly meant to indicate an ending. And if this is all that’s going to be written about the super-powers, then what was the point? Were they just a gimmick to make Damian’s return temporarily more interesting? If that’s the case, I kind of hate Damian’s return even more now…
But at least I called it on the powers being temporary!
As for the issue itself, it was pretty exciting. Watching Robin team up with the Justice League was just fantastic, especially with Gleason’s art. That fight scene is pretty amazing. And the scenes with Damian, Bruce and Alfred having dinner like a real family are good too. I love scenes like that, especially with the Bat-Family.
This issue is just a really great finale in light of the upcoming Convergence. It highlights not just Batman and Robin as separate people, but what they represent together. And if you aren’t already pre-disposed to dislike Damian (like me), then this is a really good look into his character. He can be an alright kid sometimes, and Tomasi and Gleason know exactly how to show that off.
Gotham Academy #6
Writers: Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher
Artist: Karl Kerschel
I’m actually kind of surprised that we’re only at issue #6, and that this is only the end of the first story arc. Gotham Academy feels like it’s been around a lot longer. It feels like a fuller, bigger series than six simple issues would suggest. That’s a pretty great feeling.
Batman and Killer Croc face off in the North Hall, with most of the kids fleeing for safety. But Olive Silverlock is all manner of pissed off at Batman, so she uses her fire powers to ignite all of Colton’s fireworks, causing a huge inferno. Croc and Olive flee through the tunnels to a river, where he can get away safely. Croc tells Olive that he and her mother were friends in Arkham Asylum. After she returns to campus, Olive is confronted by Batman, who tries to lecture her about cooperating with Croc. But Olive is still mad at Bats for locking up her mother and ruining Olive’s life — but he slips away before she can really unload on him.
Later, Olive and Pom give their book report on Millie Jane Cobblepot’s Diary, but because of all they’ve learned about the diary’s secrets, they give a report that’s unlike any the teacher has ever heard before, so she gives them a C+. The girls are grumbling about their grade at lunch when Colton shows up to reveal he got an A on his assignment. Then while looking at that ‘A’, Maps realizes that the mysterious symbol they’ve been seeing all around campus is two letter ‘A’s crossed together, and two ‘A’s stands for Arkham Asylum! Maps suggests the lot of them form a detectives club!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
A lot of truths are revealed in this issue, and a lot of other mysteries are kind of wiggled around. We now better understand Olive’s powers and what happened to her over the summer, and how it effected her relationship with her mother (and Batman). We get a pretty great fight scene between Batman and Killer Croc, making me wish Kerschel could draw regular superheroes sometime. And most importantly, we get some great scenes between all of our favorite Gotham Academy students. This detective club sounds like a pretty stellar reason to keep everybody together going forward! This series has been a ton of fun, and it’s only going to get better from here as Cloonan and company continue to explore this nifty corner of the Bat-verse.
Uncanny X-Men #32
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Chris Bachalo
What was Cyclops’ Mutant Revolution? The answer probably won’t shock you, but at least we finally get an answer in Uncanny X-Men #32! Bendis is gearing up for his X-Men finale with a focus on Cyclops, and I couldn’t be more excited.
Everything Cyclops has been building towards for years now starts with this issue!
Cyclops has given up his Uncanny X-Men Revolution and retreated to his base alone. He’s visited by his brother, Havok, who recently left the Avengers and is also looking for a little direction. The two men chat about what’s happened and what they’ll do next. Cyclops is ready to face justice for whatever role he had in Xavier’s death, but he’s not exactly thrilled at the idea. So Havok asks Cyclops about the nature of his supposed revolution and what it was all supposed to be about — and in flashback, we see that Emma asked him the very same question when Cyclops declared he was closing down his school.
Cyclops explains that the Revolution was their last chance as a species, because threats were the only thing mutants had left. They fought for humans, and they were still hated. They fought alongside humans, and their children were killed in the streets. They retreated to an island and the humans destroyed it. They retreated to another island and the Avengers stormed the beaches. Cyclops turned to threats because nothing else worked, because he knew he had to do something to kickstart the dream all over again. But the problem with threats is that you need to be ready to carry them out, because your targets believe you will, and that makes them real.
In the flashback, Emma reveals that she already knew the answer, because her powers are working again and she can read Cyclops’ thoughts. She tells Scott that she still loves him, that she respects him more than anyone else in the world, because when the two of them are good, they’re damn good. But seeing Cyclops like this and sharing his thoughts is brutal, so she turns diamond and leaves the room, reminding him about the danger of threats.
Back in the present, Scott and Alex put their heads together to come up with something Cyclops can do that isn’t turning himself into the authorities. Cyclops wants to honor Xavier’s memory, and he wants to honor Logan’s memory. Alex says he has a pretty good idea.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
After waiting all this time to find out what Cyclops has really been up to, I have to say that it was definitely worth it. I love his explanation for the revolution, and it definitely fits his mindset after AvX and the kind of man he’s been forced to become. I also completely buy his desire to turn himself in — though I’m even more grateful that Havok showed up to steer him in a different direction. Here’s hoping I like the direction they choose, and I’m fairly confident that I will.
I have no idea what’s been going on with Havok, so I don’t know if he was in character or not this issue, but I don’t really care. He’s a friendly face, and someone who isn’t overly burdened with an opinion about Cyclops, so he makes for a nice foil. He’s just there to help Cyclops work through his feelings right now, and since I am 100% invested in those feelings, I really enjoyed this issue. Some other people might not, but I’m not ashamed of my pro-Cyclops bias.
I was saddened by the Cyclops/Emma scene. I thought they were a nice couple, but this was definitely the end for them. I was also saddened by the scenes where Cyclops had to tell his students that he was closing down the school and turning them over to the Jean Grey School. That was heart-breaking. Those cadets never got that much attention, but their devotion to Cyclops is pretty great. And now they’re likely to fade into obscurity, the fate of all X-students eventually. No wonder they’re so upset.
The time has finally come to wrap up this amazing, ongoing Cyclops Saga, and Bendis kicks off the first issue of this climax with his usual skill. Now we understand what Cyclops has been up to, and he could literally go anywhere from here.
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 March 28, 2015, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin, Star Wars, X-Men and tagged Batman and Robin, Batman Eternal, Cyclops, Damian Wayne, Gotham Academy, Havok, Uncanny X-Men. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.
UXM was great. Just a great character-focused issue, with a lot of really compelling interactions.
Darn tootin’! I hope the rest of this story is the same. I want to see Bendis really nail the landing on this one.
Well, the next issue is Kitty and Illyana fighting monsters. There’s no way that issue won’t be awesome.
So now Gotham Academy is turning into Scooby Doo? Or, I should say, Killer Crocadoo!
I would be totally down with Killer Crocadoo!