Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 7/20/13

Comic-Con International and Henchman-4-Hire have two things in common today: we’re both hard at work! Unfortunately, we’re not working together, at least not yet. Maybe someday I’ll have a booth at the comic book/pop culture Mecca of the world, but not yet. I’m still just a lonely nobody blogger plucking away at my keyboard here in Central New York.  At least the comics were good this week.

I don’t know what it is, but comics have been on a roll for a few weeks now. I’m mostly reading some pretty awesome books anyway, but this week was especially good. What great, glorious world do I live in where Batwoman, FF, Thor: God of Thunder and Wonder Woman all come out in the same week? They’re some of my favorite comics! And this week, Wonder Woman is the clear winner of Comic Book of the Week. It’s spectacular. If you love the New Gods, I hope you’re reading Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman has got this team leader thing down cold!

Comic Reviews: Batman and Catwoman #22, Batwoman #22, FF #9, Justice League of America #6, Thor: God of Thunder #10, and Wonder Woman #22.

Batman and Catwoman #22

Batman and Catwoman #22
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason

I can’t believe it took me so long to realize that all of these issues have been about the five stages of grief. Batman was in denial with Tim Drake, he was angry with Jason Todd, and he was bargaining with Batgirl. Now he’s kind of depressed with Catwoman, but Bats is definitely getting over it, with the help of a pretty adorable scene or two. This issue is the best one yet, and is a really fun Batman story. And thankfully, he and Catwoman don’t have sex on a rooftop.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Carrie Kelley has become a thorn in Bruce Wayne’s side, with her insistence on being both cheerful and in his life. She gives him two thumbs drives, one a movie she made about Titus, and the other Damian’s interview with her for acting lessons, and in exchange she makes Bruce promise to have Damian call her. So Bruce splices together a bunch of Damian’s radio recordings to send her a message to perpetuate the lie that he’s still alive and traveling. Because Bruce is a little insane.

Meanwhile, Catwoman leaves enough clues to attract Batman to her on the rooftops, then reveals to him that she’s a member of the JLA. Then have tasked her with rescuing a dignitary from torture, and she recruits Batman to help out. They fight their way into the bad guys’ base, and discover that the dignitary is a 5-year-old girl, the daughter of a Chinese defector who the Chinese government was forcing to make super-villains. Batman and Catwoman team up to defeat the villains, then once the girl is safe, Batman picks her up and takes her swinging across the city, because he’s a big ol’softie.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I liked this issue. It was cute, and it was good, quality Batman. The banter between Batman and Catwoman was pretty fun too. Their relationship is kind of up in the air in the New 52, but here it was just fun. Batman isn’t one for flirting, but Catwoman can easily support the two of them. He’s gruffly entertaining in his own right. Then Batman saving the little girl, and taking her for a ride, was just fantastic. Batman isn’t in this business to frighten children, and Tomasi gives us a moment that elevates the whole issue. And considering I’ve been growing bored with this story, I’m happy for anything that makes this comic fun to read again.

Batwoman #22

Batwoman #22
Writers: J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman
Artist: Trevor McCarthy

The big battle between Batman and Batwoman will soon be upon us, but first, our lady of the dark knight needs to do a little prep-work. Makes sense to me, though it makes for a substandard issue of Batwoman. Of course, a substandard issue of Batwoman is still a good comic, and this issue at least gets its point across in a fun way.

Batwoman and Flamebird track down Bane on some deserted Arctic island, and get him to spill the beans on how he defeated Batman. Then Batwoman and Maggie Sawyer interview a couple of Arkham’s biggest loonies to get a different perspective on how to fight Batman, all in preparation for Batwoman’s big attack. Meanwhile, Jake and his Murder of Crows team put Flamebird through her paces to make sure she’s ready to rescue Kate from the DEO.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

Maybe it’s just me, but not enough really happened in this issue to win me over. The fight with Bane in the beginning was cool, though it was over quickly and didn’t amount to much at all. Batwoman and Flamebird go out of their way to hunt down someone as dangerous as Bane, catch him with ease, then all they do is find out that they need to tire Batman out to catch him? Seems like a lot of work for little reward, which is the same result with the Arkham loonies. Maggie interviews four of them, and I only recognize two (Black Mask and Professor Pyg). Who are The Mortician and Fright? None of them had much to say about taking down Batman, I don’t think. I probably missed it their true purpose, though. I can be dim like that.

The rest of the issue was just an extended introduction to the Murder of Crows, and while they seem cool, they also seem like cannon fodder. And they kind of come out of nowhere. All this time, Kate’s dad has had an old team of goofy but deadly war buddies hanging around? Their extended scene was just underlining the fact that Flamebird is awesome, which I already knew, thank you very much. This issue was just a lot of set up for what will hopefully be an amazing story. Sometimes set up issues can be fun, and sometimes they can just be workmanlike, like this issue. Also, it’s silly, but I was slightly annoyed that Batwoman just completely ignored the use of Bane over in Talon. But whatever. Such is the state of DC Comics these days.

FF #9

FF #9
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Joe Quinones

The FF kids at a pool party? Sign me up! Is there any more obvious use of the FF kids than a pool party? Maybe a birthday party at a mini-golf course or a roller rink. Just looking at the cover of this issue made me giddy. These are some of the most adorable characters in comics, and I fully support Matt Fraction putting them in any adorable situation he wants. That the rest of the issue also has some pretty good story is just icing on the cake.

Rich billionaire Charles Cotta invites the FF to a pool party on top of his skyscraper penthouse. While the kids play in the pool, Cotta invites the heroes inside, and he reveals to them that he’s a time traveling alien who was once Julius Caesar. He tells them that the Fantastic Four helped him in the past, so now he wants to help them in the present. (If anybody is reading Fraction’s Fantastic Four series and can confirm this, please let us know in the comments). Cotta offers the heroes his time machine so that they go go into the time stream continuum to save the Fantastic Four.

Meanwhile, the kids get a little too rambunctious in the pool and get yelled at. And Bentley makes a video about the fish kids.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Much like Batwoman, this issue was a lot of set up, and it was a lot of fun. This new guy, Cotta, is mostly a means to an end, but his scenes were cool, like when the old John Storm (who is referred to by Bentley as “that smelly hobo that Mr. Lang adopted) recognizes him. The issue was full of fun moments, especially as far as Bentley’s video was concerned. It was a clever way to introduce the readers to the Uhari, since I can’t say I know all of the FF kids very well. But those I do know continue to be amazing. The scene of the frightened Leech and Artie running to Darla for comfort was too cute. I love those two with Darla. Also, Fraction has added the Inhuman Luna to the cast of kids, a choice that is just perfect.

JLA #6

Justice League of America #6
Writers: Geoff Johns and Jeff Lemire
Artist: Doug Mahnke

The second part of Trinity War isn’t as good as the first, but they’re very close. I think Johns, and now Lemire, are doing well enough with all of the individual characters, and he makes a lot of interesting choices with this issue. What starts out as a giant brawl between the teams, as one might expect, turns into everyone just standing around talking about what happened. It’s both weird and cool at the same time. On the one hand, these are superheroes, and don’t they usually settle everything with fisticuffs? On the other hand, they’re modern day superheroes, so standing around and talking is pretty fun too. They’re not neanderthals, after all.

The fallout from Superman killing Doctor Light involves a lot of fighting and a lot of panicking. Then it involves Superman getting angry and putting a stop to the whole mess by voluntarily surrendering. Everyone packs it in to JLA HQ to both talk about what happened to Superman and bicker quietly among themselves about the existence of the JLA in the first place. Superman is riddled with guilt, and Batman chats with him about it. Wonder Woman shows up and tells Batman about an encounter she and Superman had with Pandora in the previous chapter. Wonder Woman then goes off to find Pandora and her box, first by interrogating Hephaestus – who reveals that he didn’t make Pandora’s Box – and then by reaching out to the Justice League Dark for help. Meanwhile, the Question, who is a master of disguise, sneaks into JLA HQ to talk to Superman.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

Let me ask this first, do they really call themselves ‘Justice League Dark’? I thought that was just the name of the comic, not the actual name they use for their team. It’s such a weird, awkward name. Regardless, they’re introduced nicely into the story, and I liked the whole issue, for the most part. I liked the various heroes standing around chatting. Their characters were spot-on, for the most part, and I fully believe that they would try to sort out their problems by talking about them. Most of the conversations were very good. Though Amanda Waller continues to annoy me. I hate that DC turned her skinny. When she was overweight, she was imposing, and a force to be recognized and reckoned with. In the New 52, she’s just a well-dressed pencil pusher with delusions of grandeur. I know I’m not reading every single comic that DC puts out, but their Waller is really just coasting on the goodwill she built up before the reboot, and she’s quickly running out.

Also, I already kind of hate the New 52 Question, just by the fact that DC turned him into an immortal mythological figure instead of the much more human and relatable Vic Sage or Renee Montoya. So seeing the Question show up in the end does not excite me in the least.

Thor #10

Thor: God of Thunder #10
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Esad Ribic

It feels like forever since I read the last issue of Thor, and as a result, the energy and momentum of this story has waned a little. Thor: God of Thunder is still good, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t feel as bombastic and amazing as it once did. It’s probably just me. Otherwise, it’s still a solid book with a lot of fun moments. I look forward to the conclusion, and to see what Aaron does next – though I do believe the next story is a tie-in to the upcoming movie.

Gorr’s Godbomb is nearing completion, and he’s just defeated all three Thors. He’s trapped their hammers in a cell made out of other gods, he’s tossed two of them out into the cosmos, and he’s dragging Young Thor with him towards the bomb, the final component needed to set it off. Gorr’s wife stops by to praise him, but she makes the mistake of calling Gorr ‘her god’, so he kills her. Gorr’s son also stops by to praise him, but Gorr waves him off, and the boy sees his dead mother. The boy then betrays his father and helps Thor the Avenger out of a pit. Thor rallies the other gods, breaks the Mjolnirs out of their cell and all of the Thors get back to the business of trying to stop Gorr. Thor the Avenger even doubles on on Mjolnirs to try and stop the Godbomb, but it’s of no use. The bomb goes off.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

Thor using both Mjolnirs to pound on the Godbomb was fantastic. Thor doesn’t know what to do, so Old Thor throws him his Mjolnir and says, “You’re a Thor, you hit it with hammers”. That came very close to being moment of the week. Aaron is still doing a great job making Thor entertaining, and he’s clearly still having fun writing the three Thors and their supporting cast. Gorr remains a little too…otherworldly to really connect, but again, that’s mostly to do with the stalled moment. This story demands to be read in one sitting, so that all of the pulse-pounding action never lets up.

Wonder Woman #22

Wonder Woman #22
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Cliff Chiang

I wish DC would just give all of their New Gods characters to Brian Azzarello and let him introduce them. After what he does with Highfather and New Genesis in this issue, as well as his continued use of Orion, I don’t even want to read any other writer’s take on the characters. But Chronos has shown up in JLA, Darkseid and his minions have been around, and Big Barda and Mister Miracle appeared somewhere. But I don’t care, and neither should you. Azzarello is writing the definitive New Gods for the New 52, and I am beyond thrilled. With this issue, Orion is definitively my favorite DC character these days. Orion! I am beyond perplexed. I blame the lack of a solid Robin.

Following last issue’s battle with the First Born, Wonder Woman and her merry band lick their wounds on New Genesis – though nobody wants them to be there. Highfather is upset that his son, Orion, has brought outsiders to New Genesis, and Wonder Woman simply doesn’t think it’s a good idea to be there. After she recovers from her injuries, Wonder Woman gets a tour from Highfather, and he’s definitely more authoritarian than the pre-reboot Highfather, though not in a bad guy way. Wonder Woman also has a heart-to-heart with Orion about how neither of them are perfect, but they can at least try to be better.

Highfather allows the group to return home, though at the last minute, he demands that Orion give him baby Zeke. Wonder Woman protests, but she and the others are led back to a Boom Tube at gunpoint while Orion takes the child. At the last moment, however, Orion jumps on his flying scooter and flies after them, disobeying his father’s orders – which, I think, Highfather kind of expected. The orders may have just been a test.

Back in London, the First Born has launched an attack on London, causing heavy damage. People are fleeing for their lives. Wonder Woman and her team find the First Born in one of the royal churches, and he tosses down Lennox’s head while mocking them. In the end, War shows up just in time to join the gang for battle against the First Born’s jackalwarriors.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

I loved this comic! This is one of the best issues of Wonder Woman yet, because it lives up to my comic book motto: ‘People first, superheroes second’. These are real people that Azzarello is writing. They have feelings, they talk to one another like real people, and they are fallible, even Wonder Woman. They make decisions based on who they are as people, and what their relationships are to other characters, not just because that’s what the plot and story demand. And considering all of these things involve characters I have come to love, that’s even better. Orion is a fantastically flawed hero, fighting against his inner monster to do the right thing, with Wonder Woman providing a powerfully good influence on him. Contrast that to Orion’s strained relationship with his father, and you’ve got some fantastic drama on your hands.

Likewise, this was one of the best issues for Wonder Woman herself. Too often, I have felt that Wonder Woman is merely along for the ride in her own comic. Azzarello’s story is clearly about the drama of the Greek Gods. But in this issue, Wonder Woman felt like a real person, and the figurehead of the series. She’s the diplomat with Highfather and she’s the friend with Orion, and both scenes were just very well written. Wonder Woman’s little team is stronger for what happens in this issue. And the promise of more action next issue is made richer by the teamwork and camaraderie in this one.

Now if only the Wonder Woman in Justice League were as cool as this one.

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!

About Sean Ian Mills

Hello, this is Sean, the Henchman-4-Hire! By day I am a mild-mannered newspaper reporter in Central New York, and by the rest of the day I'm a pretty big geek when it comes to video games, comic books, movies, cartoons and more.

Posted on July 20, 2013, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. FF was a lot of fun.

    Thor was really good.

    • Also, yes, Cotta is in fact a time traveling energy being who became Julius Caesar and was helped by the Fantastic Four. They helped him to “die” in order to preserve history.

      It was a weird, weird story. Really good, though.

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