Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 5/16/15

If you haven’t seen the news yet, the Gamer Girl & Vixen Kickstarter has officially launched! This is my first self-published comic and my first Kickstarter, so you better believe I’m going to be on pins and needles for the next month! Click on over and check out the Kickstarter, my comic reviews will wait.

Back? Alright, on with the reviews! This was a pretty great week for me, seeing as how we got new issues of both Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel, and both were really good. We also got new issues of Thor, Darth Vader and Silk, three more of my favorite comics. But only one can win Comic Book of the Week, and that would be Captain Marvel #15 as writer Kelly Sue DeConnick signs off ahead of Secret Wars. It’s a very touching, enjoyable issue.

Those faces!

Of course, it’s just my luck that Carol finally returns to Earth just in time to go on hiatus for Secret Wars. But I’m pretty sure the issue where she finally meets Kamala Khan is coming up! Somebody remind me to track that down.

Over at Word of the Nerd, you can read my continuing coverage of Secret Wars. It’s still pretty good so far. And much like Convergence at DC Comics, I really don’t think I’m going to be touching many of the tie-in comics. So honestly, I’m not sure what I’m going to even review for the next few months…so maybe indie comic bonanza!

Comic Reviews: Captain Marvel #15, Darth Vader #5, Ms. Marvel #15, Silk #4 and Thor #8.

Hey, speaking of indie comics, did you hear that I’m running a Kickstarter?

Captain Marvel #15

Captain Marvel #15
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: David Lopez

Captain Marvel is one of the books that I hope is coming back after Secret Wars. This second series hasn’t been as good as DeConnick’s first, but it’s still an enjoyable comic. In her final issue before the Big Event, DeDonnick finally brings Carol back to Earth for a very moving goodbye.

With her space mission finally over (Thank God!), Carol returns to Earth to see all of her friends again — except that she arrived a week too late. Her friend and mentor, Tracy, has died of cancer. As Carol mourns, her closest superhero friends gather to share what Tracy left behind for Carol, including a note explaining the various items. First up is a dragon cane that Carol once bought Tracy after she’d broken her foot and Carol wanted to take her for a walk. It’s a sweet memory between the two.

The other item is an address book, and the letter tells the story of how Tracy’s girlfriend/wife used that address book in order to score their first date, and how the two of them always kept it close throughout their relationship. Then a few years ago, her wife had a heart attack and died, and Carol was there to comfort Tracy — especially after Tracy broke her foot by kicking a wall in anguish, and how Carol then took her for a walk to spread her wife’s ashes at the beach. It’s a neat callback.

Now, Carol is joined by her friends to spread Tracy’s ashes at the same beach…except that the urn is empty! They find another note inside, and it’s a prank by Tracy. She had her body donated to science and tricked Carol into going to the beach so that she and her friends could have a fun day at the beach instead of mourning. Good times.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This was a sad, touching issue with so much heart that I really, really wish DeConnick had kept Carol on Earth. I must sound like a broken record at this point, but sending Captain Marvel out into space was an incredibly poor decision. DeConnick has excelled since the very beginning in creating real, emotional relationships between Carol and her supporting cast. But for whatever reason, that skill never translated to the cosmic characters. None of the friends or allies Carol met in space share even a fraction of the warmth that Carol shared with Tracy or Jessica Drew or any of the other Earth-bound characters. And this issue suffers just a little bit for that, because we’ve barely seen Tracy over the past year.

This is wit that counts!

This would have been an amazing issue had it come at the end of stories that actually involved Tracy. But it’s been a very, very long time since we checked in with the character for any quality amount of time. I think we saw Tracy lying in a hospital bed in the Christmas issue. It’s been so long that I don’t even remember how/why Carol and Tracy are friends. How did they meet? I feel like I knew the answer at some point, but DeConnick and Marvel abandoned that friendship so that Carol could fight random space pirates. The trade-off was not worth it.

I would have much rather spent the last year getting to know Tracy’s warmth and her sense of humor. DeConnick makes her out to be a pretty great character. Then maybe that twist ending would have meant more than just a clever joke. DeConnick has the skill to tear our hearts asunder, and this issue came close, but Captain Marvel has been so far removed from the characters in this issue that nothing carries as much emotional weight as it could.

Darth Vader #5

Darth Vader #5
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larroca

The Dark Lord of the Sith continues his badass mission, and we get a peek at a post-Jedi world in Darth Vader #5. It’s definitely an interesting comic, but the action settles down a bit from previous issues.

Darth Vader and his team arrive at the Empire’s secret training grounds for Vader replacements. The facility is housed on the backs of several giant space monsters, so that’s pretty cool (though Vader finds them to be abominations). Vader heads down into one of the facilities, fighting his way through until he finds two warriors armed with lightsabers. But they’re not Jedi, they’re just highly skilled and part cyborg. The fight is broken up by the man who has been meeting with the Emperor, and Triple-Zero killed last issue. It seems that every time he dies, he’s uploaded into a new cyborg body on standby.

This guy, Cylo-V, introduces Vader to half a dozen different cyborg warriors, all of whom were built to be potential replacements for the Dark Lord of the Sith. Vader is ready to kill them all, until the Emperor himself shows up and wants to see Cylo’s warriors in action.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

Cylo-V and his band of cyborgs are a pretty interesting group. It makes sense that someone out there in the galaxy would try to create something new to fill the void left by the Jedi, and Vader is the perfect guy to send against them. He is all that remains of that old religion after all. But the action takes a step back this issue to introduce the whole concept, and we don’t really get a chance to meet any of these new characters before they face off against Vader. The fight would be better if the opponents had a little more characterization. But at least Vader’s support team is still pretty amazing.

Those droids probably bring back many horrible memories for Vader

Triple-Zero hits just the right level of pandering and awesomeness that he wins. And Aphra gets a moment where she tells Vader, “May the Force be with you,” that’s just great. She then whispers to herself that she loves this job, and I love this comic!

Ms. Marvel #15

Ms. Marvel #15
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa

The current Ms. Marvel storyline has been one of my absolute favorites from this still young series, but unfortunately, it doesn’t quite stick the landing. This is still a very good issue, and Kamala remains one of my favorite new characters in comics, but there’s just something I don’t like when conventional superheroics intrude on the much more interesting personal story of Kamala Khan.

Also, there’s a Star Trek reference that was just too, too much, even for me.

Kamala stands before the evil Inhuman known as Lineage, who wants her to join his insurrection on New Attilan. But considering how roughly Kamran brought her here, she’s not about to give in. It’s foolish, really, for these people to even try to convince Kamala to join them. Considering how they’ve been treating her, and how they’re clearly evil, they’re idiots to think she’d join. Kamala goes on the run to try and escape, while simultaneously texting Bruno to come save her — and Bruno being a clever guy, he manages to track her phone to New Attilan and then hire a water taxi to take him all the way out there. It’s crazy, but he does it.

Kamala fights her way through the bad guys and even defeats Kamran. She feels a little hurt that her first crush turned out so badly, but Kamran is such a massive tool now that she doesn’t feel too bad about kicking his butt. There’s also a nice bit of subtlety in that Kamala at first thinks it’s her fault that her crush turned out so badly, but by the end of the issue, she knows this is all on that jerkwad Kamran.

Bruno shows up just in time to help Kamala get off of New Attilan, and that water taxi fishes them out of the drink to take them home. Kamala feels good that she has a friend there to help her through this difficult time.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

When Kamala defeats Kamran and leaves him in the dust, he shouts, “KHAAAAAAAN!!” as she gets away. That made me chuckle, but in an eye-rolling kind of way. Nice try, Wilson.

Like I said, I’m a tad bit disappointed at how this story turned out. Wilson did such an amazing job establishing Kamran as Kamala’s first major crush and as such a nice guy. But here we are only two issues later and he’s a total evil sleazeball! And Kamala is racing through a massive castle in an attempt to escape henchmen and super villains. The human parts of this story were so great. We saw Kamala deal with her first crush, we saw her get annoyed at an evil Inhuman ruining it for everybody else. We saw the pain on Bruno’s face when Kamala rode off with another guy. All of that was gold. But then the superheroics swooped in and turned that guy into a super villain and sent Bruno on a rather implausible race from his Jersey City high school to New Attilan.

Water taxi driver is the real hero

This is still an entertaining issue, and Kamala comes to some important realizations about the nature of crushes and her feelings. But I would have preferred that Wilson kept this story’s feet on the ground. Kamala could have come to those realizations without Kamran taking a 180 into Creepsville and this Lineage guy showing up. It boggles the mind why anyone involved thought it would be a good idea to kidnap Kamala, throw her in a cell and then demand she join them. Do they have zero self-awareness?

The crush storyline was just far more interesting than the evil Inhumans storyline.

Also, it just kind of bothered me that in the great world of the Inhumans, there are at least two of them who are perfectly content to dress up in suits and act as standard henchmen.

Black Bolt would be disappointed

Is there no dignity left in being an Inhuman?

Silk #4

Silk #4
Writer: Robbie Thompson
Artist: Annapaola Martello

Does Silk #4 mark the beginning of Marvel’s new policy on the Fantastic Four? That they don’t get to have their own comic anymore, but are free to show up in other comics? Though their guest appearance here is kind of random and actually comes as a detriment to the series.

With her powers a little bit on the fritz, Silk visits the Fantastic Four on Spider-Man’s suggestion to get them checked out. Reed Richards puts her through some tests and determines that she’s physically fine, so her problem might be anxiety. He recommends a psychiatrist. On her way out, Johnny Storm asks Cindy on a date and she readily accepts (much to Peter’s chagrin).

But Cindy doesn’t accept Reed’s diagnosis and spends the rest of the issue convincing herself that she’s fine. She goes about her regular day by spending some time at the FACT Channel researching the Black Cat — only for the wise J. Jonah Jameson to recognize when a young person is trying to avoid something by coming into work on a Saturday. He tells her to get out of there and enjoy her youth. So Cindy goes dancing with her friends, who agree that she doesn’t seem anxious. Then on the date with Johnny, they decide that an awkward sit-down dinner isn’t for them, so they go out in costume to punch bad guys. The date goes well.

Meanwhile, the Black Cat has put a bunch of her henchmen into armor to go after Silk.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

I love it when superheroes take some time to be real people, but Silk #4 is a fine example of it being done wrong. Thompson spends a lot of time with Cindy interacting with regular people, but the cuts are so quick, and the time is so superfluous, that he doesn’t really accomplish much of anything. From Spidey and the FF to her friends to Johnny Storm, each scene feels so light and quick that I never got invested. I’d love to see Cindy spend more time with her friends (especially since we haven’t seen them since issue #1), but there’s no real reason for her to randomly go dancing or spend time with them. There’s no real sense of why they’re friends, just that Cindy has some colorful people to tell her that she doesn’t seem anxious.

Likewise, her date with Johnny Storm is a bit of a cliche. Are you telling me that Johnny Storm can’t entertain a woman over dinner? This is Johnny Storm! He can handle a dinner date. There was no reason for them to agree to that old superhero chestnut that dates are better spent in costume doing superhero things.

Johnny Storm has better game than this

And Silk just doesn’t seem to connect with him in any meaningful way. She kisses him on the cheek when she leaves and that’s that, as if thanking him for the random cameo. Why not make Johnny a reoccurring romantic interest? He’s not busy with anything else.

Though major kudos to Thompson for writing my favorite kind of J. Jonah Jameson.

J. Jonah Jameson is the man

Normally I like issues that focus on the superhero as a real person, out of costume. But Thompson didn’t really offer up anything to sink my teeth into. Silk #4 is just some light, fluffy filler.

Thor #8

Thor #8
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I fell for both Lady Thor red herrings so badly that I may have forgotten that red herrings are a thing. I was convinced that Freyja was the new Thor when she first debuted, and then just last issue, I was convinced that it was Agent Roz. Oh what a fool I’ve been.

So who is the new Thor? Read on!

Odinson, Freyja and their army of female superheroes join Thor in her battle against the Destroyer. They all get little scenes and quips, but it’s Freyja who really brings the heat. Odin watches from his throne room, and he reluctantly tells his brother to call off the attack when he sees the ferocity and conviction in his wife’s attack. She has made him the villain in all of this, and Odin begrudgingly recognizes how far he’s gone.

The various heroes all pat the new Thor on the back as they leave, until only she and the Odinson remain. The old Thor faces her and reveals that he believes her to be Agent Roz, and he wishes she would just be honest with him. That’s all he wants. But then Roz shows up in her flying car and starts chewing out the new Thor for ruining her secret spy mission against Dario Agger by showing up and being all hammer-smashy. The Odinson is aghast that he could get it so wrong, and the new Thor flies away while he takes Roz out for drinks.

Back at her HQ near the moon, Thor finally has a chance to relax. She puts the hammer away and powers down, revealing her to be Jane Foster! She’s still dying of cancer, and turning into Thor is making it worse, but she cannot refuse the call to be heroic, to make sure that Earth is defended while Odinson is unable to life Mjolnir.

Also, obviously, Malekith and Agger resurrect Laufey, but we knew that was coming.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Of course it was Jane Foster! Jeez! It’s so obvious now! She’s the perfect choice! She’s a classic Thor character, so she’s got the chutzpah and the legacy. Plus the fact that she’s been dying of cancer was the perfect swerve to keep us from guessing. And of course it couldn’t have been Agent Roz! As much as she would have made a cool Thor, she’s a brand new character who, honestly, probably wouldn’t be found worthy to lift Mjolnir. Not just any good person can lift that hammer. You’ve got to be worthy, and honestly, Roz probably isn’t worthy. She’s a good person, she’s a cool character (as this issue can attest), but she’s probably not worthy.

Thor is never right

This was a fun issue, though it’s once again more about how people are reacting to the new Thor than her actually starring in the comic. She’s still in the fight, but Aaron spends his time bouncing around the various guest stars in this issue, until Freyja is the one to stop Odin’s plan. That’s fine. Dauterman is still amazing at his job, and the fight scene is incredible. But story wise, this issue is just a showcase of characters. At least the scenes at the end, with Thor, Odinson and Roz are really great, character-building stuff.

Hopefully, now that the mystery of the new Thor’s identity has been solved, Aaron can really delve into making her the star of the comic. I want Jane Foster to own her heroics, to own her decisions and to own being Thor. I’m ready to see it happen!

After Secret Wars, of course. Hurry that up already!

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 May 16, 2015, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man, Star Wars and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Captain Marvel was so damned good. Sad and sweet and touching and even funny. KSD did an amazing job with this issue. The moment of Carol breaking down was so strong.

    Ms. Marvel was great, as always. I loved the references. And the story as a whole was really fun.

    Silk was great. I love that even Sue kinda liked seeing Peter get punched. Actually, Thompson handled the Fantastic Four really well here. Put him as my #3 choice to write a relaunched Fantastic Four series. Anyway, great issue, and I loved seeing Silk’s friends again.

    Thor was good. I dislike the red herring twist. It felt annoying. Worse, it ends up feeling somewhat out of nowhere. Jane was never a part of Aaron’s Thor run. She showed up halfway through God of Thunder to reveal she’s dying, and then disappeared until near the end when Thor asked her to be humanity’s ambassador to Asgardia. That’s it. She needed to have much more of a presence in the book for the reveal to have carried real weight. Hell, Jane was only ever a real supporting character in the ’60s and part of the ’70s. Other than that, she was mostly just an occasional special guest star, as a “look who’s shown up!” thing. So this did not feel like it was set up well.

    Secret Wars was basically an exposition dump. It’s world-building, which is required given it’s a new world, and it’s an interesting world. My concern, based on the rest of Hickman’s Avengers run, is that world-building and exposition will end up being the bulk of the series, with little in the way of emotional context and character exploration.

    • That’s a pretty good point about Jane Foster. I wonder if Marvel wanted Jane as the new Thor due to her higher profile in the movies.

      And I did like the Star Wars reference in Ms. Marvel. Wilson really packed them into this issue!

  2. “Is there no dignity left in being an Inhuman?”

    Has there ever been? =P

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