Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 4/18/15
With DC Comics still mired in the murk of Convergence, I get the chance to go outside my wheelhouse this week! Alongside a couple of outstanding Marvel titles, we’ve got the latest issue of Lumberjanes, a series I have been ignoring for too darn long, as well as the first issue of Bloodshot Reborn from Valiant Comics. Valiant has been doing their best to make waves, recently, and I say more power to them.
Though Comic Book of the Week goes to Ms. Marvel #14 for continuing what may be my favorite storyline of the fledgling series so far!
Secret Wars is going to be a real slog at Marvel if we don’t get our monthly Ms. Marvel fix!
Over at Word of the Nerd, you can check out my review of Uncanny X-Men #33. Normally I’d be all over that comic in this column, but Bendis takes a break from his ongoing Cyclops strolling for a filler issue. So no harm done.
Also, only two more weeks until Avengers: Age of Ultron! The anticipation grows stronger with every passing day.
Comic Reviews: Bloodshot Reborn #1, Lumberjanes #13, Ms. Marvel #14 and Thor #7.
Bloodshot Reborn #1
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Mico Suayan
Bloodshot is, arguably, Valiant’s most well known character, so it makes sense that they would make him a large focus of their latest efforts to be awesome. Bloodshot is a Wolverine-type character. He was turned into an unkillable killing machine by an evil government organization, complete with implanted memories and healing factor. He was also one of the stars of The Valiant mini-series, which helped kick off Valiant’s efforts.
Except that mini-series ended with Bloodshot losing his powers, his iconic appearance and reverting back to a normal human. If that’s not a solid premise to kick off a ‘Reborn’ series, I don’t know what is!
Ever since he lost his powers, Bloodshot has been living off the grid. He works as a handyman at some out-of-the-way motel in exchange for room and board. He’s haunted by all of the people he killed as a government puppet, as well as the fear that the nanites that gave him his powers will return, and he’ll be forced to go back to being Bloodshot. He’s also hallucinating. There’s a silly, cartoon version of Bloodshot that taunts him in his dreams. And he’s also having visions of the superhero Geomancer, the woman who took away his powers. In The Valiant, Geomancer was being targeted by an evil monster, and Bloodshot was her protector. The two shared a bit of romance before she eventually died in Bloodshot’s arms, so her death has hit him hard.
Then one day, Bloodshot hears on the news about a mass shooting — and the gunman is an old man who looks like a new Bloodshot! The old man has the white skin and the red circle on his chest. So Bloodshot decides that it’s up to him to get to the bottom of this and stop that old man before he kills again.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
Right off the bat, let me just say that my biggest interest when it comes to comics are the characters. If I don’t care for a certain character, I’m just not as invested in their story. Such is the case with Bloodshot. I’ve got no real connection to the character. If this was a Multiple Man comic, I’d probably give it a 10/10. But this is Bloodshot, and I’m reading his comic to give it a try to see if I like it, to expand my comic reading horizons. Does Bloodshot Reborn #1 work as a first issue? Yeah, definitely. Does it get me interested for future issues? Maybe.
Bloodshot Reborn #1 is mostly just exposition, which makes sense, considering the major changes the character has recently been through, and how those changes will inform this comic going forward. Bloodshot spends the whole issue lying around this motel grumbling to himself and his hallucinations. It’s a solid introduction to the character, but it doesn’t really go anywhere, at least not yet. The motel setting also doesn’t seem to go anywhere. He quits by the end of the first issue, so what was the point of making the motel owner and her troubled grandson into curious characters?
Still, Lemire does a fine enough job setting up this new Bloodshot as someone to watch. He’s an interesting enough guy, and the mission he gives himself at the end of the issue could be promising. Suayan is also solid on art. It’s definitely a well-made comic, but I could have used a little more going on.
Writers: Noelle Stevenson and Shannon Watters
Artist: Brooke Allen
Hooray! I’m reviewing Lumberjanes again! I took a break during the second storyline because of timing, then because I don’t like to do reviews randomly in the middle of ongoing storylines. The last storyline was really fun, though I didn’t care for the art. Lumberjanes #13 is a flashback issue showing us how all the girls arrived at camp and met each other for the first time, so it’s pretty awesome.
Jo is the first to arrive, the daughter of two very rich, very intelligent gay men. They’re the type of parents who want to push their daughter to achieve the best, but she just wants one more summer where she can be a kid. Then there’s Ripley, who comes from a family of nearly a dozen wild, screaming siblings. Ripley’s brother sticks gum in her hair, and she takes her stuffed unicorn with her to camp when she arrives, getting placed in Roanoke cabin. April arrives next, her usual chipper self. She meets a standoffish Ripley in the cabin, and coaxes the girl out of her bed with snacks. April and Ripley then rush off to take care of the gum in her hair, giving Ripley the shorter, blue-infused hair we’ve come to love.
Mal and Molly arrive next and hit it off immediately, and soon the gang is all together at Roanoke cabin. They sit down with Jen for orientation, but then a raccoon steals Ripley’s stuffed unicorn. The girls chase after the little fella, getting into all sorts of hijinks in the woods, before Molly catches him and makes friends (and gets her signature hat!). With that, the gang is together and the Summer is ready to begin!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This was a pretty stellar issue. It doesn’t get too deep or cover anything out of the ordinary, it’s just a look at the various main characters, some of their families, and how they all quickly became best friends. After 13 issues, all of the main characters are still very cool, so seeing them all meet for the first time is a lot of fun. The biggest surprise is Ripley, who started off withdrawn on the first day of camp, only to quickly and powerfully come out of her shell due to the power of friendship. That was fun. This whole issue was just plain fun.
And major kudos to the creative team for really pushing the diversity of the whole lot of them. Jo has two dads, Ripley comes from an interracial family, Mal tricked her mom into signing the permission slip and took a taxi to the camp; Stevenson and Watters are practicing what they preach, and I couldn’t be more pleased.
Ms. Marvel #14
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa
If I may take a moment, I just wanted to say that I’m a little disappointed that Ms. Marvel is going to be a member of the All-New, All-Different Avengers following Secret Wars. We don’t have any information about the series just yet, but she’s front and center on the covers we’ve seen, and for good reason: she’s Marvel’s best, coolest new character in a long time. But I just don’t think she’s ready to join the Avengers.
A key part of Kamala Khan’s character is that she’s a superhero fangirl, to the extent that she writes Avengers fan-fiction for fun. It’s an awesome character trait. But putting her on the Avengers already robs her of that underground status. We, as readers, know that she’s super popular and amazing, but nobody in the Marvel Universe is supposed to know that yet. Part of Kamala’s charm is being a small fish in a big ocean.
But I’m not one to fight city hall. So at least I can sit back and love the heck out of Ms. Marvel #14. This might be my favorite storyline so far!
After revealing himself to be a fellow Inhuman last issue, the dashingly handsome Kamran visits Kamala at night with the classic ‘tossing a rock at her bedroom window’. He convinces Kamala to sneak out with him, and the two wind up sitting on a water tower enjoying the beauty of the city around them. They talk about their Inhuman powers — Kamran has Gambit’s powers — and are about to share a kiss when the cops show up and tell them to skedaddle for trespassing.
The next morning, Kamala and her brother are waiting for a bus downtown. She’s on her way to school, and he’s on his way to a job interview. Bruno shows up to say ‘hi’, but before he can get a word in edgewise, Kamran pulls up to the curb in his sweet car. He offers them all a ride, but of course, only Kamala accepts. When she’s gone, Bruno starts asking Aamir about the strange guy, and Aamir sighs and explains to Bruno why his parents will never let him date Kamala, that he and Kamala will never be a thing. It’s a great, heart-breaking scene.
In the car, Kamala quickly realizes that Kamran isn’t taking her to school, that he wants her to skip and have some fun instead — the kind of fun that involves embracing their evil Inhuman destiny! She demands that he pull over and let her out, and when he does, he quickly uses his powers to knock her out. Kamala wakes up in a strange facility a short time later, and after breaking out and fighting some guards, she comes face-to-face with her enemies: Kamran, Kaboom and their evil leader, Lineage.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
I’m a little disappointed that Kamran turned out to be a bad guy so quickly, and that it creates a few annoying plot holes. The early scenes between Kamala and Kamran were great, as was the entirety of the last issue. Seeing her go gaga over a cute boy was a lot of fun, in no small part because Wilson has an expert grasp on what makes the teenaged Kamala tick. She and artist Miyazawa perfectly capture the giddy joy of young puppy love, with the adorable addition of super-powers. It was great for humanizing the already wonderfully realized Kamala Khan.
But then they had to go and blow it and make him a bad guy almost immediately. Couldn’t they have stretched that out a little more? Turn Kamran into a regular supporting character and really break Kamala’s heart sometime down the line? It’s not too hard to get over a crush when the guy turns on a dime into a total sleaze ball.
Not to mention the odd plot holes this creates. If Kamran is already teamed up with Kaboom, why wasn’t he part of her attack last issue? What was even the appoint of her attack? Did they set it all up to reveal Kamran’s powers to Kamala in a subtle, friendly way? Did he know in advance that Kamala was an Inhuman? How? Unless this Lineage guy has been spying on New Attilan. And if the plan all along has been to hoodwink Kamala into joining them, did Kamran really not realize that he already had Kamala wrapped around his little finger? Why blow it by suddenly turning into a douchenozzle? Surely he had a sense of her morals by that point, right? And how she’d react to his true agenda?
So all of that was a little disappointing, but Wilson still handled it well. At least these villains are a little meatier than the Inventor.
Speaking of meatiness, Wilson absolutely blew me away with the brief scene between Bruno and Aarmir. She’s been doing a great job building all of the supporting characters, and it’s scenes like this one where she can really sink her teeth into the steak she’s been sizzling. Here are two well-defined characters who don’t necessarily interact all that much, but have one very important, Kamala-shaped thing in common.
This issue, and the one before it, have been pretty darn close to perfect. They’ve been a wonderful glimpse into what makes this series so enjoyable, and how Wilson and her artists are crafting the best comic on the shelves. Ms. Marvel doesn’t need the Avengers.
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman
I accidentally skipped the last issue of Thor, which is a real shame, since I am loving this storyline as much as I’ve loved all of Aaron’s run. And Dauterman is just a phenomenal artist. Wow. He’s going to join the ranks of Olivier Coipel and Steve McNiven in terms of Marvel’s heavy hitters, I can tell. The art is just so crisp and clear, so full of detail and personality. I hope Dauterman’s career skyrockets after his run on Thor.
Several weeks ago, SHIELD agent Roz Solomon was supposed to be on vacation, but she used her private time to invade a Roxxon-owned toxic waste dump all secret agent-style. She gets a call from Agent Coulson in the middle of the rogue op, and he informs her all about the fact that Thor lost his hammer. Roz escapes Roxxon and travels to the moon to the fallen Mjolnir to try and talk to Thor, but finds the hammer alone on the moon. While staring at it intently, she realizes that her fight against Roxxon could use a weapon like that…
In the present day, the new Thor faces off against the Destroyer, sent to steal back Mjolnir by Odin and his brother, the Serpent. The fight is brutal and epic, and drawn spectacularly. Meanwhile, Dario Agger and Malekith make a deal to trade the skull of the old Frost Giant king, and they sign their deal by visiting Alfheim and slaughtering light elves. And Freyja recruits the Odinson to help out the new Thor. He uses his list of potential Lady Thor suspects to raise a quick army of badass women to join the fight!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Next issue, we’re going to find out the identity of the new female Thor, and if it’s not Roz Solomon, I’m going to be a little disappointed. Aaron sets her up as the obvious answer with this issue, but he could still swerve and pull some random choice out of thin air. It would make for a horrible tease, and I’d probably be able to live with it, but Roz is now my choice. She’s a solid, interesting person, and she would be great as the new Thor going forward.
Though if I may quibble just a little bit: this issue starts with Roz kicking so much ass in an action-packed fight against Roxxon goons. It’s an amazing sequence, and Dauterman makes it look unbelievable. But it kind of negates the fun of Roz being an ordinary, environmental safety agent, like she was when she was first introduced. When Aaron first brought her into Thor: God of Thunder, I loved that she wasn’t a Black Widow-style super agent. She was just a field agent from SHIELD’s environmental conservation unit, the sort of paper-pusher who wouldn’t normally show up in a superhero comic. I thought that was a great twist. But now Roz is an insanely amazing agent, who even spends her vacation time on thrilling spy missions. Couldn’t the new Thor be a little bit humble?
As for this issue, it’s nothing short of excellent. The fight between Thor and the Destroyer is as epic as they’ve always been, made even more so by Dauterman. There’s one panel in particular, of an injured Thor rising to face her enemy, that is just perfect.
The battle is furiously wonderful, and Aaron has a lot of exciting pieces moving around in the background. I love that Thor uses his list of potential Lady Thor suspects as a roster of heroes he can get as back-up. It’s a great twist.
Now, if I may take a moment, I wanted to address everybody who doesn’t like this new Thor for what she represents. I don’t normally tackle controversies, but I’ve read a few message boards since I last wrote about Thor, and I just wanted to say my piece. There are some fanboys out there complaining that Lady Thor doesn’t follow the established continuity of what happens when someone else picks up Mjolnir. That the wielder doesn’t become ‘Thor’, they just get the powers of Thor, whereas Marvel and Jason Aaron have been spouting that this Lady Thor has actually become ‘Thor’.
Never listen to Marvel’s PR. It’s usually bunk. Like when the editors behind Superior Spider-Man tried to convince us that Otto Octavius was going to be the permanent Spider-Man forever. Please.
The same thing is happening here. Aaron may say that Lady Thor has become Thor, but it’s just words. The actual comic paints a very different picture. Like every other hero who has ever picked up Mjolnir, Lady Thor has not become Thor, she’s only gotten his powers and armor. But whereas guys like Thunderstrike and Beta Ray Bill decided on their own names, Lady Thor hadn’t gotten that far before Thor Odinson stepped up and said she could use his name. He decided to treat it like a title and pass it on to this new hero. Kind of like how Steve Rogers passed the title of ‘Captain American’ onto Sam Wilson, Thor decided to turn his name into a title and pass it along to Lady Thor.
She absolutely fits with established Mjolnir/Thor mythos, she’s just got a few twists that are solely her own. And I am totally cool with that. The new Thor is pretty amazing, and if she does indeed turn out to be Roz Solomon, I’ll be over the moon.
Seriously, let it be Roz. Don’t punk us with some random pick from out of left field. Let it be Roz.
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 April 18, 2015, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews and tagged Bloodshot, Bloodshot Reborn, Kamala Khan, Lady Thor, Lumberjanes, Ms. Marvel, Thor, Valiant Comics. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.