Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 12/8/18
Have you seen the trailer yet for Captain Marvel? What about Avengers: Endgame? Or the new Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer? Is that not out yet? This week was crazy with Marvel movie trailers! Almost like it’s Christmas!
We’ve got some solid Marvel comics this week, too! Like Uncanny X-Men and West Coast Avengers! But DC wins Comic Book of the Week with the second issue of Grant Morrison’s The Green Lantern!
Meanwhile, take a second to go watch those trailers again. They’re pretty great! Then come back here and read the rest of my reviews.
Comic Reviews: Batman #60, The Green Lantern #2, Uncanny X-Men #4, and West Coast Avengers #5.
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Mikel Janin and Jorge Fornes
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Low blow, Commission. Way to be a jerk.
Batman is on a rampage to get to the bottom of this Bane mystery. He goes around the city beating up low level criminals who have suspiciously been let out of Arkham Asylum recently, like Maxie Zeus, Kite-Man and Firefly. All of them say Bane was a weak little kitten in his cell, so Batman beats them up more. Commissioner Gordon is in his office hearing about all of these beatings, becoming more and more convinced that Batman is unhinged. So he borrows a subordinate’s autographed Gotham Knights baseball bat — which the guy calls “my retirement policy” — and uses it to smash the Bat-Signal. Like I said, low blow. You couldn’t find something else to smash the Bat-Signal with? What about all of the other times its been smashed without using your subordinate officer’s prized possession?
Meanwhile, Alfred is watching over the Penguin in the Batcave, with the two of them discussing the poem “The Phoenix and the Turtle”, which I think is that long, insufferable poem I didn’t like two issues ago. Penguin used to think it was about love, but now he knows it’s about the death of love and reason. Then a mysterious figure shows up to attack him, someone who isn’t Bane. When Batman finally returns home after his busy night and finds Alfred knocked out, it’s revealed that the mysterious figure is…the Batman from Flashpoint, Thomas Wayne!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I still don’t care for that big poem sequence two issues ago, but now that it’s led to a proper little discussion between Alfred and the Penguin, I’m OK. Anytime characters can act like human beings and not just punch each other, I’m down with that! And I’m sure Alfred and the Penguin might have a lot in common…though it’s also possible that Oswald Cobblepot could recognize the voice of Bruce Wayne’s butler. So dangerous move. But I can easily overlook that fact for that nice little scene between the two of them.
Also, it’s revealed through dialogue that Penny was indeed a penguin. So theory confirmed! Sadly, I stole that theory from the Internet, so I can’t claim credit.
The Batman and Gordon scenes move things along nicely, though I am annoyed with Gordon, as I said above. The moment would hold more weight if smashing the Bat-Signal wasn’t a routine thing for the department. Writers are just going to have to come up with a new way for Gordon to show his displeasure with Batman.
The Batman scenes are especially fun because of Fornes’ art, which seeks to recreate the feel of Batman: Year One.
That is some cool looking art. I’m a big fan of Year One, and Fornes does a very fine job recreating that style. It adds a level of humanity and groundedness to the issue, which I very much appreciate. I’d be thrilled if we got to see more of this style of art. It’s such a fun and unique look!
I’m torn about the Thomas Wayne reveal in the end. I don’t really care about the character, and the idea that they’ve pulled him out of Flashpoint to become a reoccurring antagonist to Batman just bores me. But whatever, let’s see it through.
TL;DR: Some great art really elevates an already exciting issue that moves the story along nicely.
The Green Lantern #2
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Liam Sharp
Colorist: Steve Oliff
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Now this is more like it!
The Blackstars free classic Green Lantern villain Evil Star from his prison in the Southern Supervoid, home of Green Lantern Rot Lop Fan, the one who operates via sound. The leader of the Blackstars then takes Evil Star’s Starband and sucks the life out of him like a vampire, leaving him an old man. The Starband is then improved upon and mass-produced to turn the Blackstars into powerful soldiers, with Commander Mu offering their services to Dhorian slavers — all part of his plan to keep collecting special “Components” for his greater plan.
Meanwhile, Hal Jordan and Trilla-Tu play good cop/bad cop with the spider pirate from last issue, but she won’t talk. So Jordan uses his knowledge of the spider people to know that sharing food is an act of bonding, and he gives the pirate some lunch, and she opens up about Mu searching for these Components, though she doesn’t have specific details. Hal has also been assigned to the Evil Star case (while new volcano-head Lantern Volk has been assigned to the missing planets case), and Hal visits the aged Evil Star at a hospital world after he was picked up. Evil Star mumbles something about Dhorian salvers and a “living shadow”, and he’s got those puncture marks on his neck…Hal heads back to Earth to regroup…but planet Earth is missing!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
After the wild mess of the first issue, the second of Grant Morrison’s Green Lantern comic settles into the awesome police procedural I was hoping it would be. There’s a real push to treat the Green Lanterns like regular beat cops, and I really love that aesthetic. It’s what got me into enjoying Green Lantern comics in the first place. Of course, Morrison mixes in his usual creativity, like creating a new Green Lantern who seems to have a constantly erupting volcano for a head, or coming up with a ton of backstory for the spider pirate, as well as Hal’s clever use of his knowledge of said backstory. There’s also a hilarious bit where the Blackstar agents question Evil Star’s super-villain name.
That’s funny stuff. And it’s also great character-focused stuff. You get a real sense of the police workings of the Green Lantern Corps, and Hal Jordan in particular. The mystery of the Blackstars is growing nicely, though I can’t say I’m particularly on board quite yet. But it definitely works as something to oppose Hal and the Corps.
I’m fully on board with Morrison diving into the ‘boots on the ground’ feel of the Green Lantern Corps that he presents here, and I hope this issue is more indicative of what he has in store for us.
TL;DR: The second issue is more focused than the first, and that focus is on the police procedural aspect of the Green Lantern Corps, which is what I was hoping to see in Morrison’s book. Count me in!
Uncanny X-Men #4
Writers: Matthew Rosenberg, Kelly Thompson and Ed Brisson
Artist: Pere Perez
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
I think I’m just going to vacillate between this comic being pretty OK and being pretty enjoyable. This one is only pretty OK.
The Horsemen of Salvation blow up the X-Mansion and think they’ve killed the X-Men, so they leave. But Armor and the telepaths keep everyone safe and hidden. The Horsemen return to their HQ and are greeted by the guy behind all of this, X-Man, who has turned into some messiah-figure who plans to bring world peace through force. He sends out a psychic message to the entire world letting them know what’s up. Then he sends Magneto and Angel to stop all wars, and Blob and Omega Red to start cleaning up ecological problems.
The X-Men split into two teams to take on the Horsemen, and the X-Students are once again pissed off that they’re being left behind on clean-up duty. Jean tells them to love it or lump it. Then the two X-Teams go off and basically just rumble with the bad guys/help the civilians as best they can.
The X-Students, meanwhile, decide to talk to Legion, whom the older X-Men kept locked up because he’s Legion and he’s crazy. Legion says he knows where X-Man is and has a plan to stop him, and the X-Students vote to help him (with Pixie and Rockslide voting against). Then Glob tracks down Jamie Madrox to get him to help out.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
So I guess it’s not a surprise that X-Man is the antagonist here? He shows up at the very start of the book, no big fanfare or reveal dramatics. Just X-Man there, and he’s the bad guy, and he’s unlike any other time we’ve ever seen X-Man. Maybe they’ll explain why he’s changed so much, maybe not. We’ll see.
The characterizations remain strong for the X-Men, and the art remains good, and the action still happens, so this isn’t a bad comic, by any means. But after last issue finally kicked things off, and was enjoyable for that, this issue immediately settles back into business as usual. The X-Men split off into squads and go tussle with the villains. Nothing about X-Man’s plan is wholly new or unique or interesting, to be honest. And the writers keep saying that the Avengers and other super teams are “stretched thin” dealing with the various problems that have arisen, but we still don’t see it, so it serves as nothing more than a weak excuse for why this random gaggle of X-Men are the only ones dealing with this Earth-shattering problem.
And again, their dealing with it is still just X-Men business as usual. There are some slight moments where the Horsemen try and point out that their plan is about saving the Earth, which the X-Men should be for…but it falls flat because this is clearly super-villain stuff, even if they claim they’re doing it to help. And when it’s a mind-controlled Blob spouting the argument, it holds no water whatsoever. Maybe if the Horsemen were legit true-believers in what X-Man was preaching, but then there’s no way to involve Magneto and Angel.
(Quick aside…what went into Nate Grey designing the outfits for his Horsemen? Because Angel’s hair was short in the first issue…and it would have taken Magneto a long damn time to grow that beard. Did Nate grow it for him?)
The story of the X-Students remains somewhat worthwhile, so at least the series has that going for it. I like the idea that Jean Grey has no time for them, considering they really evolved into actual X-Men while she was gone, and she is naturally relying on the X-Men she knows. So to have Armor and the others be annoyed that they keep getting the short shrift is a solid subplot…even if it involves the teens wanting to side with Legion, who has clearly revealed himself to be insane. It comes off as the writers forcing it to happen to make sure the story keeps moving. Like, “Hey, this historically evil mutant that we don’t know just tricked us and attacked us, and now he sounds like a gibbering madman, but he’s saying plot-convenient things, so it would be really convenient to the plot if we ignored you experienced, adult X-Men in favor of Legion.”
So there’s definitely still some wonkiness with the comic.
TL;DR: Uncanny X-Men continues to barrel ahead with business as usual, which is fine, but nothing to warrant claims of a big, important relaunch.
West Coast Avengers #5
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Daniele Di Nicuolo
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
By all accounts, this should be a consistently fun book going forward.
The West Coast Avengers are invited by the “mayor” to investigate a haunted theme park — but it’s really a trap by Madame Masque (or someone more mysterious just using her as a fake out). Their powers are dampened, they’re trapped in a dome and they get separated into groups throughout the park…then everybody is knocked out by one force or another. After an explosion nearly decimates Kate’s group, she’s greeted by her mother (who is supposed to be dead, but keeps maybe coming back or cloned, caused by Masque).
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Alright, I know I might be alone in this, but the idea of Quentin Quire and Gwenpool both sleeping together or being cutesy romantic continues to make me retch. I know he has his fans, and I know he’s had some character development over the years, but he’s still a total douchecanoe. And after reading all of Gwenpool in a matter of weeks, I have a major soft spot for that gal! She deserves better!
End of rant.
I’ve got little to no meaningful complaints about West Coast Avengers. It’s a fun, energetic comic with a real focus on the characters. Certain storytelling choices still bug me — like this reality TV gimmick that adds nothing to the series — but those are easily overlooked in favor of the fun, inventive stories and the strong character focus. That’s what I want in comics. I want Kate to get weirded out that her two best friends are now dating each other, and that Ramone gets accidentally dragged into the latest trouble. I like that Bridgette the dragon can be called upon for team rides when necessary. I like that this issue pairs up unlikely characters, like Hawkeye and America.
I was very pleased with this issue. The setting is fun, most of the character pairings are enjoyable and the writer remains superb. West Coast Avengers is a fun comic, and even the little nitpicky stuff I don’t like doesn’t keep me from enjoying a quality comic book.
It just hasn’t yet punched through to something truly spectacular yet, at least not for me.
TL;DR: Some great character pairings make for an enjoyable issue as the series settles into its status quo.
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 December 8, 2018, in Avengers, Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Multiple Man, Reviews, X-Men and tagged Grant Morrison, Green Lantern, Hawkeye, Kate Bishop, The Green Lantern, Uncanny X-Men, West Coast Avengers. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.