Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 5/9/15
Oy, I’m sick. I don’t know if it’s Spring Fever or Just a Fever or what, but I’ve come down with that cough and uggish feeling that’s going around. It’s definitely not dance fever, that’s for darn sure. Fortunately, I had a big stack of my favorite comics to keep me company this week.
We got new issues of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Ant-Man and Amazing Spider-Man, as well as the only Convergence title I’m reading: The Question. Not surprisingly, seeing Greg Rucka and Cully Hamner reunite for a Renee Montoya comic wins Comic Book of the Week. I need this comic in my life on a full-time basis.
If nothing else, Convergence at least allowed Rucka to return to one of his best characters, so I guess I’m grateful for that. The rest of the series blows, from what I’m reading around the web.
Speaking of the web, you can check out my review of Secret Wars #1 over at Word of the Nerd this week. I’d planned to add it to this article as well, but that sickness hit me like a ton of bricks. Sometimes the world just doesn’t want you to write about comic books.
Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #18, Ant-Man #5, Convergence: The Question #2, Spider-Woman #7 and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5.
Amazing Spider-Man #18
Writers: Dan Slott and Christos Gage
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Secret Wars is going to change everything, one presumes. So this story arc in Amazing Spider-Man has kind of been stalling for time. Or maybe it’s Slott wrapping up some loose ends. Either way, it’s a slightly disappointing issue.
Spider-Man rescues Sajani from the Ghost, but the dastardly villain has rigged all of Parker Industries to blow! Spidey does his best to try and stop the Ghost, but there’s no saving the building. Fortunately, Anna Maria and Clayton gear themselves up with tech from Spidey’s lab and come save his bacon, capturing Ghost in the process. Everybody flees the building in time for the Parker Industries facility to collapse!
Also, in a back up feature, Black Cat is as super evil as ever.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
I’ve been enjoying this storyline so far, but this final issue is a real bummer. Not only is Parker Industries destroyed, but the issue is also just kind of common. Spidey fights a bad guy, he gets a helping hand, and then everything comes to a disappointing conclusion. There weren’t any real standout moments or breath-taking visual. It’s just a simple story where Slott destroys one of the great new things he introduced to Spider-Man comics. At least Anna Maria remains amazing.
Also, the Black Cat back-up does little but underline how far removed she’s become from the Black Cat we all know and love. Turning her into a psychotic supervillain mob boss is still a terrible idea.
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Ramon Rosanas
Poor Marvel. They had big plans to make an Ant-Man movie, then realized that Ant-Man doesn’t have any good supervillains! But rather than grab one from a different hero, they decided to settle on Darren Cross, somebody who was a main player in Scott Lang’s origin as the second Ant-Man. Do comic book fans really care that much about Scott Lang’s specific origin to include Darren Cross in the movie? I can’t imagine they do.
But whatever the case, here comes Nick Spencer likely forced into resurrecting Darren Cross for his Ant-Man comic. It’s definitely not the most interesting story. But fortunately, the comic is still more than entertaining enough to carry this weird supervillain requirement.
Ant-Man does battle with the revived Darren Cross, smashing and shrinking their way through the building and outside onto the pavement. Just when Ant-Man seems to have the villain beat, Cross’ son shows up and saves his father’s bacon. They make their getaway while Scott goes to check on his daughter. Dr. Sondheim was able to give Cassie a replacement heart, but her body is rejecting the transplant. So Scott shrinks down and enters his daughter’s blood stream to fight her white blood cells until her body accepts the new heart. I’m not sure biology works that way…
Later, at the hospital, Dr. Sondheim covers for Scott when his ex-wife shows up. She says Scott got Cassie to the hospital when she suffered a medical emergency, and completely leaves out the stuff about the super-villains and the hostage heart transplant. But even though the doctor covered for him, Scott knows that this only happened to Cassie because of him. So with a heavy heart, he decides he needs to stay out of her life.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I don’t know what it was, but this finale felt a little more low key than the previous issues. Maybe it’s just the squiggly fact that Cassie lost her heart and got it replaced by a random one. That sort of thing just rubs me in a weird way. She lived, sure, but Ant-Man basically lost. The bad guys got what they wanted, they stole a part of Cassie’s body, and then got off. It was disheartening (pun always intended), and kind of brought down the whole issue. But it was still a fun issue. Ant-Man shows off how his powers work in a fight scene, and Scott is making some pretty big decisions. The comic is definitely still enjoyable, but certain parts of this big conclusion just rubbed me wrong is all.
Convergence: The Question #2
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Cully Hamner
Oh Convergence, I want to hate you, but when you deliver comics like this one, I can’t help but thank you for what you’ve done for all of us. Through the magic of the world, Greg Rucka was allowed to come back and grace us all with two perfect issues to wrap up all of his Renee Montoya stories from before the New 52. It’s comics like this that help me believe in miracles.
The Question, Batwoman and Huntress head out into Gotham City to try and find Two-Face, who has decided he’ll track down his alternate reality duplicate to get that Harvey to kill him. Batwoman and Huntress try to convince Renee that this is a bad idea, but Renee is determined to save Harvey from both himself and his alternate self. (Also, Batwoman is a little jealous because she thinks that Huntress and Question are lovers, then gets embarrassed when Huntress points out that they’re only roommates).
Two-Face manages to track down the alternate Harvey in a courthouse, and this Harvey hasn’t been scarred and isn’t Two-Face. He has a family. Question eventually finds the two of them arguing legal semantics about assisted suicide, and her sudden arrival causes alternate Harvey to accidentally shoot her. Batwoman rushes in and begins CPR while Two-Face is stunned that Renee would try so hard to save him. Huntress explains that she’s trying to save Harvey because she can’t save her own father, who’s dying of cancer.
Renee wakes up in the middle of the CPR and uses it to give her ex-girlfriend Batwoman a big kiss. Her suit is made of kevlar, so she’s fine. Renee then rushes to the hospital to say a final goodbye to her father, who finally comes around and tells Renee that he loves her, even though he once cast her out for being gay. Renee says her goodbyes and is comforted by her friends, and when she comes out of the hospital room, she finds that Two-Face has left her his double-sided coin, a sign that he’s going to try and be a better person.
Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.
Question #2 was an amazing, sweet, perfect little comic that showed me something I didn’t know I was missing. Rucka largely ignored Convergence (thankfully), focusing instead on Renee Montoya and her internal struggles, and it was fantastic. Renee is a powerful character in this issue, whether she’s fighting for what she believes in against her friends, stealing a kiss from a lost love or having a heartfelt goodbye with her father. Rucka picked up multiple story threads that he’d been forced to abandon with the arrival of the New 52, and even though it’s been a few years, he made them work spectacularly. The death bed scene between Renee and her father was quite moving, and more than earned this comic a perfect score.
Beyond that, nearly everything else was perfect in this comic. I loved the way the three main women interacted, showing us all how amazing a Question/Huntress/Batwoman comic would be. Here are three unique and amazing female superheroes, none of whom are dressed like a bikini model, but all of whom have their own thoughts, emotions and motivations. My favorite scene was where Batwoman scowled at Huntress for sleeping with her ex, only for Huntress to turn it around and point out that they were only roommates. That’s the sort of character-based drama that I adore in my superhero comics. It’s so personal and human.
And the scene where Renee found the two Harveys arguing legal semantics about alternate reality ‘suicide’ was hilarious.
I need this to become an ongoing comic. Written by Rucka, drawn by the amazing, Hamner; this would easily become my new favorite comic at DC. But it’s not often that we get to have nice things. So I’m just going to be immeasurably happy that the world came together to give us and Rucka this two-issue send-off. It’s everything I could have hoped for as a finale for Renee’s time as the Question.
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Javier Rodriguez
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I get this weird feeling while reading Spider-Woman that I’m not sure if I’m really reading about Spider-Woman or if Hopeless has simply recreated Jessica Drew into what he wants. I don’t have enough familiarity with Spider-Woman to know her personality down pat, so I don’t know if the characterization in this comic is spot on or if Hopeless is taking some liberties. I’d like to think this is the real Jessica Drew, but at the same time, if it’s not, I don’t care. In this comic, she’s delightful.
While undercover as the Porcupine, Spider-Woman uncovers the mystery of all the kidnapped family members of supervillains: turns out they’re living nice, idyllic lives in upstate New York (represent!). It seems that they weren’t all kidnapped by some dastardly supervillain, they’re in some kind of self-created witness protection program. Spider-Woman ditches her costume and poses as a new member to get the tour, while Ben Urich and the Porcupine track her cell phone to find the place. But the two men are quickly snatched up by the leader of this little community: Lady Earthmover! And she’s figured out who Spider-Woman really is!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
The big twist is actually pretty neat, and I’m glad that Hopeless doesn’t just smack us over the head with it. We slowly pick up the clues as we read along, and like I said, it’s pretty neat. The twist should definitely add some drama to the conclusion of the story. Beyond that, this issue was just delightful as it followed Jessica through her on-the-fly undercover operation. Hopeless does a great job getting into her head and letting her personality shine as she tries to fulfill the mission. I like that she’s worried about a dress she bought on the fly to go undercover, or that she’s thinking through what she needs to do to get to the bottom of everything. Hopeless fills Jessica with more than enough personality to make her adventures especially exciting, and Rodriguez on art keeps everything looking so darn good. He’s got a talent for drawing middle America.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Erica Henderson
After wrapping up his first story arc ahead of Secret Wars, North apparently decided to use issue #5 as a one-off event to have a lot of fun with the very concept of Squirrel Girl. This is one of those classic stories where a bunch of people gather around and tell exactly three stories about the main character. I’d considering writing it off and not even bothering to review it, but the issue is once again so wonderful and hilarious that I couldn’t bring myself to skip it.
Nancy and a bunch of other people are being held hostage inside the head of the Statue of Liberty while Squirrel Girl and the Avengers battle a super villain and his robot dinosaurs outside. Nancy tries to convince everyone that Squirrel Girl is awesome and is totally going to save them, while the other hostages start telling stories that they think they know about Squirrel Girl.
One old lady tells about the time Squirrel Girl and Captain America teamed up in the 1950s to stop the villainous Bass Lass. Then there’s the guy who confuses Squirrel Girl with Spider-Man and takes her through Spidey’s greatest hits from the 80s and 90s, including a Squirrel Girl/Scarlet Spider pastiche that my brother is going to love. Then another person has a story of how Squirrel Girl is from the future and is constantly spouting her origin while helping SHIELD fight 1 million Doombots, and who calls upon all of the Squirrel Girls from throughout the time stream to help her (including our first ever look at Squirrel Girl 2099!).
Nancy tells them that they’re all nuts, just in time for the real Squirrel Girl to come in and save them all. Afterwards, all the hostages are amazed that Nancy and Squirrel Girl are friends, and that Squirrel Girl really does make nut puns.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Seriously, behold the All-American Red Squirrel!
With that, North solidifies himself as one of my new favorite writers on the comic scene. Whatever he does after Squirrel Girl, I will be there. This comic is amazing. I thought the cliched set-up was going to be a problem, but North and Henderson have way too much fun with the various stories. Seeing the Spider-versions of Squirrel Girl was a hoot, seeing them ramp up the excitement and adventure with the Squirrel Girls of alternate timelines was amazing. And the comedy throughout was still gut-bustingly hilarious.
With an issue to burn before Secret Wars, there were worse ways North and Henderson could have spent our time. Instead, they deliver yet another delightfully hilarious issue of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. This is the funniest comic book on the stands by a wide, wide margin.
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 May 9, 2015, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man and tagged Amazing Spider-Man, Ant-Man, Batwoman, Convergence, Convergence: The Question, Huntress, Renee Montoya, Scott Lang, Spider-Woman, Squirrel Girl, The Question, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.