Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 6/3/17
Happy Wonder Woman Weekend, everybody? Have you seen the movie yet? I did the other night and I quite enjoyed it! Wonder Woman was solid superheroics and a lot of heart. It wasn’t a genre game-changer, but it was easily as good as some Marvel movies. I might actually be legitimately interested in seeing her in Justice League now.
And might as well make the Wonder Woman Annual issue the Comic Book of the Week! It was a Fifth Wednesday this week, so there were not a lot of new comics. I also scoped out new issues of Hulk and Generation X, but the Wonder Woman Annual was delightful.
Meanwhile, Secret Empire also continues onward, and I’m still enjoying it. It’s a little scattershot at the moment, with a whole bunch of simultaneous plot lines, but I’m still happy with it on a general, entertained level. Though Secret Empire feels more like an alternate reality or What If issue than an actual, in-continuity storyline.
Comic Reviews: Generation X #2, Hulk #6 and Wonder Woman Annual #1.
Generation X #2
Writer: Christina Strain
Artist: Amilcar Pinna
Now that they’ve gotten some unnecessary action out of the way, I hope the creative team behind Generation X settles down and delivers on their premise.
The Purifiers attack the new X-School and the various students rush to help — except for the students in this series, because they’ve been ordered to the library to protect the various humans who were in the area when the shooting began. Quentin Quire uses his mental powers to stop all the Purifiers and make them start hitting themselves for fun, but Jubilee yells at him for using the bad guys like puppets. So Quentin releases the bad guys so that the conventional fighting can continue. Huh.
One of the Purifiers manages to make it into the library, where the students have just finished fending off a verbal assault from some bigoted jock stereotype (and Hindsight discovers something curious about the school janitor). The students hold their own well enough and take out the last Purifier.
Afterwards, Jubilee gathers the students to explain the new status quo: not every mutant at the school will be trained in combat and X-Manery. Some, like this current group, are just going to learn real life application of their mutant powers. Some of the students are OK with this, and some are not, and Quentin is still a jackass.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
Eh, I dunno, you guys, this comic just isn’t clicking for me. I like the premise, but these first two issues have spent too much time focusing elsewhere. I like the idea that the X-School is going to have an underpowered class of students who aren’t being trained to be costumed superheroes. That’s a great idea for an X-Men comic! And I think Jubilee is the perfect choice as the mentor/teacher. But these past two issues instead spent all their time letting Quentin Quire wipe his butt with the comic, along with a purely superfluous Purifier appearance.
I said it in my review of the first issue, but I felt the sudden attack by the Purifiers was a bad idea. This is a comic trying to keep things grounded and realistic. So a bunch of religiously maniacal psychopaths blasting giant guns is a bad idea to throw in. It raises the stakes way too high, in that apparently gunmen can shoot up the X-School whenever they want. How do they tell quieter stories when that is a constant threat? And on the flip side, when the Purifiers are taken out so easily, isn’t that undermining the very real danger of armed maniacs attacking a school? It’s just a weird choice of opening adversary considering the tone that Generation X seems to be going for.
On top of that, Quentin Quire threatens to run away with the series. He’s a type A++ personality, and while Strain clearly has his voice well in hand, his voice is kind of overpowering. The guy is an asshole, he’s always been an asshole, and honestly, it’s wearing a lot thin at this point. Every single new X-Men comic seems to think they need to put Quentin Quire front and center, as if that’s a bold choice. And every new comic just regresses Quentin back to where he was before. Wasn’t he supposed to have gone through a lot of personal growth back during Jason Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men comic? Didn’t he officially graduate from X-School in that series?
Apparently we’re just going to ignore that, because Strain comes up with a credibility-stretching reason why Quentin is going to be in this class. I fear he’s just going to step all over the smaller, quieter characters like Bling or Nature Girl or Morph. I would much rather read about them instead of another comic that loves the sound of Quentin Quire’s voice.
Also, why the hell would you tell Quentin to not use his telepathic powers to completely and effortlessly stop the insane gunmen?
I realize he’s being a dick about it, but he just stopped INSANE GUNMEN from OPENING FIRE on dozens of innocent civilians and students. I mean, they go right back to regular fighting these guys after he lets them go.
How is that safer? How is that the best way to handle the Purifiers? How is punching them a more noble way to stop their attempted slaughter? And why do they have to be noble about stopping INSANE GUNMEN FROM SHOOTING INNOCENT PEOPLE? If Quentin can just shut them down with a single thought, just do that!
I dunno. That just bugged me, is all.
Also, the art is still really, really wonky. Some people might like it, but it’s wearing out its welcome for me.
TL;DR: A solid, interesting premise to this new X-Comic is overshadowed by all the side material shoved in on top of it.
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Nico Leon
The first story of the new Hulk series draws to a close, and I’m still quite excited. This issue wasn’t as good as my own personal anticipation hoped it would be, but it was still a solid conclusion.
Maise Brewn’s evil shadow monster thing has got Jennifer Walters trapped on the roof of her creepy apartment complex. Maise is through playing nice and she and her neighbors just want to close off the building from the world so they can live in peace. Obviously, with cops dead and more, that can’t happen. The monster pushes all of Jen’s buttons until she bursts into her new She-Hulk form, a vicious, hunched and feral monster that starts fighting back against the monster. She’s smart enough to figure out a little strategy, and eventually stops the monster from carrying out Maise’s suicide-by-monster effort.
Afterwards, Jen attends a hospital wing dedication to her cousin, Bruce Banner. The writer finds Jen again hoping to talk, but Jen still don’t wanna talk about any of it.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
I’m not knocking any points off the comic for this, but the new She-Hulk is not what I anticipated. But that’s OK. The way Tamaki has been building up to this transformation, I was picturing some kind of painful, musclebound beast that really played up the PTSD-theme. Instead, we get some wily, feral Hulk that fights with a vicious streak. Honestly, it didn’t even really look like any Hulk or She-Hulk. Considering all the other manner of monsters out in the Marvel Universe, this new one just didn’t strike me as much of a Hulk at all.
And Jen seemed to recover from the transformation pretty easily. She seemed right as rain at the dedication epilogue. This comic really sold itself on the new, unstable and mentally and emotionally taxing She-Hulk transformation, and I just feel like the actual transformation came off a little too comic booky. Jen pretty much just transformed, beat up the monster and went on her way. And while that made for a perfectly fine and enjoyable comic, with stellar art, I was just hoping for a bit more depth and thematic overtones.
I wish the actual transformation had lived up with the hype Tamaki herself had built at with the start of the series.
TL;DR: The new Hulk‘s first story arc ends in a solid, entertaining execution, introducing us to the new, feral She-Hulk. It’s also hopefully setting up the continued build of this excellent, psychological thriller.
Wonder Woman Annual #1
Writers: Greg Rucka, Vita Avala, Michael Moreci, Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing
Artists: Nicola Scott, Claire Roe, Stephanie Hans and David LaFuente
To my great comic book shame, I fell behind on Greg Rucka’s excellent Wonder Woman Rebirth comic and stopped reviewing it. I then got caught up several different times, and am pleased to say the comic remained pretty great. A solid, enjoyable comic all around. And it’s almost over. Rucka will leave the title very soon.
So I think this Annual issue, on this relatively quiet comic book week, is a perfect place to review everything! This Annual is a series of short Wonder Woman stories, each one rather fun and special.
In his segment, Rucka tells the story of the first meeting between Batman and Superman and his new version of Wonder Woman. Both heroes see the news about Wonder Woman’s arrival and they head out to California to try and spy on her. Wonder Woman spots them first, introduces herself, has everybody grab the lasso so that they all understand one another, and then she flies off, promising to get back in touch later. Superman is quite cheerful, and Batman is quite grumpy about the whole thing.
The rest of the stories, by Avala, Moreci, Kelly and Lanzing, are quaint little tales about Wonder Woman that show off her honesty, her faith in justice and her humanity in the face of monsters. She defends King Shark when he’s on trial in Markovia. She reluctantly battles a cursed man in Japan. And she is the only hope for The Last Kaiju. All are really good, fun little stories.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
So yeah, this is basically just a big book of quaint little Wonder Woman stories. They’re all fun and uplifting, with great writing and art. They show off her unique brand of superheroics, putting compassion alongside fisticuffs. It’s not about catching bank robbers for Wonder Woman. It’s about helping people big and small and getting to the truth of things. Each story shows that off nicely. I don’t think I have a favorite. I liked them all pretty much equally. King Shark needing legal help was a nice touch. The kaiju twist was a fun one. And the first meeting with Batman and Superman is sweet, if a little treacly.
In other words, this is a perfect capstone to Greg Rucka’s Wonder Woman Rebirth. Overall, the series has been great. Wonder Woman is presented as a strong central character, unique among superheroes. The stories have been gripping and interesting, and Rucka has put all of the supporting cast to great use. I really enjoyed the re-strengthened relationship between Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor, and I loved what Rucka did with the Cheetah.
My only concern is the very idea that Wonder Woman needed yet another origin story. Grant Morrison’s Wonder Woman Earth One only came out a short time ago with a new origin story. And the New 52 Wonder Woman had its own origin story, and was particularly amazing. Brian Azzarello’s Wonder Woman was one of the best, most consistent comics in the entire New 52. But all of that has been wiped away with Rucka’s new take. Will this be the definitive Wonder Woman origin story for all time? Who knows! It was all still a good read, just like this Annual issue.
TL;DR: Capping off Greg Rucka’s new Wonder Woman, this Annual issue is a lovely showcase of the character across a fun variety of short stories. Each one has a special creativity that really emphasizes Wonder Woman as a unique character, with strong art.
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!