Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 1/26/19
This is one of those weeks where nothing I read comes out. Sometimes there are weeks where nearly a dozen of my favorite comics come out. And then there are weeks like this one, where barely a handful come out. It’s weird. But hey, less work and expense for me.
I picked up the new issue of Aquaman, which may be my last. And I picked up the first issue of Donny Cates’ new Guardians of the Galaxy out of pure Beta Ray Bill curiosity. I also went back and reviewed Champions #1, as requested. Comic Book of the Week goes to Guardians of the Galaxy #1! Good for it.
Meanwhile, Marvel resurrected Cyclops for real in an annual issue this week. Considering I was a pretty big proponent of my own Cyclops-related conspiracy theory, I might consider doing another rant about how they’ve neutered poor Cyclops again. I’ll think about it.
Quick note: I forgot to attach the cover images to my reviews, and now I’m at work so I can’t. I’ll fix that later.
Comic Reviews: Aquaman #44, Champions #1, Guardians of the Galaxy #1.
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Robson Rocha
Inker: Daniel Henriques
Colorist: Sunny Cho
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
I was pretty lukewarm about the new Aquaman direction last issue, and this new issue makes me want to drop the book entirely.
Arthur remains trapped in the Village of Unspoken Water, and he confronts Wee about her promise to restore his memories if he takes Caille to a far off island to see her mother Namma, who is probably causing all the recent troubles. Does that sentence not make any sense? Welcome to this comic. Wee speaks largely in riddles, as wizened old women on mysterious islands do, but she convinces Arthur to go through with the quest and meet her at sundown on the beach. Arthur tries to talk to Caille about this, but she kicks him out before he can even propose his offer — but she shows up anyway. Turns out, Wee and the others are all ancient sea gods with weird names, and they…try to bless this mission? I dunno. Cause then a couple of them grab Arthur and hold his head underwater, which shocks him to learn he can breathe underwater, considering he’s been afraid of water since his amnesia.
Comic Rating: 4/10 – Pretty Bad.
Oh man, this comic is impenetrable. There are three whole pages devoted to each individual villager standing in front of the fire and declaring themselves some kind of ancient sea god with an unpronounceable name. Like, one’s a god of the sea and bounty. Another is a god of the sea storm. It makes zero sense and doesn’t grow out of anything from last issue or anything in this issue. Likewise, Wee’s riddles and the arrival of those other guys holding Arthur underwater make for a continually impenetrable story. Who are any of these people and why do they matter? Maybe if DeConnick had spent more time in the Village of Unspoken Water and gave us context to who any of these people are and their connection to the village, this might matter. But no foundation has been laid, there’s no context to much of any of it.
Caille remains a completely silly character. She couldn’t be more “IMPORTANT NPC” if she tried. She exists just to be an attractive female character for Aquaman to talk at. There’s not even a hint that maybe he’ll fall in love with her, despite Mera back in Atlantis waiting for him — unless you count the generic idea that her being a mysterious, attractive woman automatically means Aquaman will fall in love with her.
I know we’re only two issues into this storyline, and perhaps I should be nicer and give it more time, but two issues is plenty of time to establish an actual, worthwhile story. This is an amnesiac Aquaman wandering around a generic village populated by generically mystical people without any real foundation or basis for why anything is so mystical or why it’s so uniquely mystical as to be worthy of a story.
TL;DR: The new Aquaman direction just gets more impenetrable and confusing.
Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Steven Cummings
Colorists: Marcio Menyz and Erick Arciniega
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Henchie Chisom Ibe recommended I check out the new Champions and I am always more than happy to take on such requests, especially on a light week like this one.
I need to note two things first: 1.) I haven’t read Champions since a few issues at the very very beginning, so I am not up to speed on any recent storylines or dramas or new characters. Fortunately, this issue does what it can to get us caught up. 2.) Major props to writer Jim Zub. I haven’t read much of his work, but I know he devotes his time to helping would-be creators like myself online, in places like Reddit. That’s a cool guy.
Ms. Marvel is now leader of the Champions, and she’s expanded the roster and set about coordinating bigger and more important missions. Today, they’ve split into three groups to tackle three crises: a squad in Japan helps rescue people from a collapsed building, a squad in Spain helps rescue some kidnapped women, and the core team battles a Zzzax at a power plant — though something weird happens to the core team. We don’t know exactly what, but it seems freaky.
Still, all three teams are successful and they regroup to celebrate at their flying base HQ. Except that a lot of the core team are acting kind of moody. Spider-Man locks himself in his room, after pissing off Sam Alexander (who is no longer Nova). And Braun (a Hulkish Amadeus Cho) also roughs up Sam. When Kamala goes to check on Miles, he angrily tells her to get lost! Once she’s gone, Miles is shocked to get a visit from Mephisto!
Also, there’s some drama still brewing after Viv Vision kissed Riri Williams in a previous issue. Viv flirts like a robot, and Riri is uncomfortable about the whole thing.
Also, I’m digging The Locust, a hero who I hadn’t met until now.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Pretty Good.
There’s some wonkiness with how distractingly moody Miles Morales is being in this issue, but this is otherwise a good start to the new series. It will never not bug me that Kamala Khan is an internationally important superhero, but I can roll with it, since Zub writes her well. Zub writes everybody well, with the notable exceptions I’ll get to in a minute. Even the minor characters get a little dialogue to shine. There might be some trouble down the line with such a large cast, but they’re fine in this issue. We get little name tags so help keep track of everybody, and they’re all used well. This issue does everything it needs to do to introduce the large cast and set up their status quo as international helpers. The missions aren’t exactly noteworthy, but the characters more than make up for that.
The one off note about the issue is just how angry and sullen Miles is following the mysterious events of their fight against the Zzzax. I get that Zub is likely building to something, and by all means, let’s get there, but Miles is extraordinarily out of character with his anger and it makes his part of the book just a touch obtrusive to get into. Maybe if there were more hints about what’s going on, or it was dealt with in some way, but otherwise he’s just a powder keg of anger rubbing everyone around him the wrong way. That’s probably the intended reaction, so by all means, let it happen, but it’s still iffy when reading this issue straight up. Everybody else is really good. The minor players seem really interesting. The Viv/Riri moment is especially cute.
I think I’ll stick with Champions for a few more issues to see if I really like it. Also, the issue name-dropped Cloud 9, and I want her to show up. Not that I was a big Initiative fan, but the idea that those characters are being used somewhere down the line is great.
TL;DR: Champions #1 starts off strong, introducing the big team and their new status quo. Solid opening issue.
Guardians of the Galaxy #1
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Geoff Shaw
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
There exists the possibility that Beta Ray Bill may become a Guardian of the Galaxy, hence why I am reading this issue.
Also, more seriously, I want to try more Donny Cates comics. He’s a very popular writer these days, and I really enjoyed his Thanos Wins storyline from last year, but I have no interest in his Venom comics. So here we are. I have not read an ongoing Guardians comic since the post-Annihilation days. I just haven’t liked the vibe.
Thanos is dead, beheaded in whatever the last big cosmic crossover comic was. Starfox gathers a bunch of famous cosmic heroes to Thanos’ old ship to host a reading of his will — in which Thanos declares he’s uploaded his consciousness into another person. Starfox wants the assembled group to start killing potential hosts, starting with the likeliest suspect: Gamora. And what of the regular Guardians of the Galaxy? They’re largely broken up. Drax is dead, Gamora is a villain, and only Peter and Groot remain; they don’t talk about Rocket. Star-Lord and Groot were supposed to attend the summit, but Groot didn’t pass along the invite. He’s kind of a jerk now, and he can talk in complete sentences.
The two of them were headed to Knowhere to get drunk, but Knowhere is not in its usual spot. Instead, it’s been seized by the Black Order to use in a raid on the assembled cosmic heroes. The Black Order force their way in, fight everybody and steal Thanos’ body (his head is still missing). The Black Order escape by punching a hole into time and space, which sucks everybody inside — until Stormbreaker launches out, attached to one of Cosmic Ghost Rider’s chains. The makeshift anchor crashes into Star-Lord’s ship and he and Groot pull out Beta Ray Bill, Cosmic Ghost Rider, Phyla-Vell and Moondragon, whom Peter declares as his new crew in order to protect them from the inquisitive Nova Corps.
Meanwhile, the Black Order return to their boss: Hela! She plans to resurrect Thanos, but needs his head, too.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This was a solid introductory issue that sets up all the main characters and lays out a pretty neat plot. The whole team is gathered by the end, there’s a solid reason why this motley crew is the new Guardians of the Galaxy, but Cates uses a lot of nifty cosmic characters/concepts to set everything up. He weaves in Knowhere, the Nova Corps, Hela, the Black Order and a ton of cosmic characters, like Silver Surfer and the Starjammers, just for kicks. And Cates writes them all well. All of the main characters get some solid dialogue and characterization to set them up as the new protagonists. It’s a good, enjoyable job all around. And yeah, I’m super pumped that Beta Ray Bill is a major player. Hopefully he gets to take part on War of the Realms later this year.
I don’t really have any complaints. I haven’t been reading any of the Infinity Wars or cosmic event stuff, but I was able to keep up with all of the new status quos and whatnot. It’s obvious that Cosmic Ghost Rider is Cates’ favorite, but why shouldn’t he be? If you create a novelty character and they wind up as a breakout fan favorite, why not milk him for all he’s worth? And the art is really good, too. Everybody looks great, there’s lots of detail, the colors are solid; it’s a well-drawn comic with solid comic book art. The issue didn’t blow my socks off, but everything works well.
TL;DR: First issue of the new relaunch goes off without a hitch, with solid characters, interesting plot and stellar 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!