Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 6/6/15

Good news, everyone! The Gamer Girl & Vixen Kickstarter hit it’s goal yesterday! I’m going to get to make my comic! Woohoo! And you’re all still welcome to head on over and pre-order your copies of Gamer Girl & Vixen! Big thanks, of course, to you Henchies you already have. You peeps are the best!

Meanwhile, I’ve got a mega stack of other comics to review this week! After last week’s super dinky pile of comics, and considering DC is finally done with Convergence, I decided to just go nuts today and review a heck ton of comics! I’m really surprised with myself…and may have overdone it a little bit. We’ve got Action Comics, Bizarro, and Green Lantern, as well as a whole bunch of Marvel comics to boot! If you like reading Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews, then today you get your fill!

Comic Book of the Week goes to that wonderful, that delightful, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl! There’s just nothing funnier!

There’s a man that probably hates his job

Over at Word of the Nerd, you can check out my review of Secret Wars #3. That series is humming along nicely. I’m reading a few of the tie-ins, but none of them are in this review stack, unfortunately. There were just too many worthy regular comics to read.

Comic Reviews: Action Comics #41, All-New X-Men #41, Bizarro #1, Darth Vader #6, Green Lantern #41, Princess Leia #4, Spider-Woman #8, Star Wars #6 and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6.

Action Comics #41

Action Comics #41
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Aaron Kuder

I really liked what I read of Greg Pak’s Action Comics before the Doomsday crossover. Pak set a really fun tone and wrote a likable, relatable Superman. So I’m more than willing to give Big Blue another try with DC’s new push.

Superman’s secret identity has been exposed to the world, and for reasons that aren’t quite clear, Clark Kent finds himself wounded and powerless in the Alaskan wilderness. I think the Superman comic is going to set up this issue’s opening, but Superman #41 didn’t come out this week, soooo…I dunno. Doesn’t matter, though, since Pak handles things just fine. He quickly and easily gets us up to speed, and the strength of his Clark Kent more than makes up for the oddness of his setting.

Clark finds a nearby town and buys some supplies, including a new, nondescript T-shirt. He’s carrying around a wad of cash, and uses it to also buy a nearby motorcycle. But when the thugs selling the bike recognize him as a weakened Superman, they try to strong-arm him to get that whole wad of cash. But even with dampened powers, Clark holds his own and defends himself. He then goes back into the shop to buy a Superman T-shirt, hops on his new bike and drives across the country back home to Metropolis.

But a lot has changed in the city since’s Superman’s secret was exposed. The police seem to hate Clark, but the neighbors on his old city block are very supportive, and Clark spends some time reconnecting with them — including a cute firefighter lady. Then when Superman is called away to fight a monster on the city docks, the asshole cops send a SWAT team in to tear down Clark’s city block.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This is a Superman I could get behind. He’s personable, he’s friendly, and he’s a hero no matter what. Pak just has a really good handle on his main character, keeping Clark Kent as Clark Kent, even in this new dynamic. And I like the new dynamic. I don’t think there have ever been stories in normal continuity where Superman’s secret identity was exposed. I really like big twists like this for the storytelling opportunities, and I think Pak has some great stories to tell. Kuder on art is a huge help as well. His Superman is just as grounded as Pak’s writing, and just as heroic. This is a great creative team to handle Superman.

Superman said a swear!

I only wish this title wasn’t so dependent on the Superman series, apparently. There were numerous notes telling me to read Superman, even issues of Superman that won’t come out for several weeks. What’s up with that? Seems like it’d be more trouble than it’s worth. But Superman is such a simple character, and Pak is such a good writer, that these weren’t too big of a deal. I can easily buy into the idea that Superman is randomly powerless and walking across the Alaskan wilderness. Seems like something Superman would get up to.

All-New X-Men #41

All-New X-Men #41
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mahmud Asrar

Uncanny X-Men #600 will be the end of Bendis’ time with the X-Men, and based on All-New x-Men #41, he seems to be in a rush to get there. The last issue of this series was a headline-making story about Young Iceman coming out as gay, with the introduction of the Utopians. This issue doesn’t even touch on the former, while quickly wrapping up the latter.

So it’s a damn, damn shame that we have to wait all the way until the fall to read Uncanny X-Men #600! Argh!

SHIELD recruits the Young X-Men to investigate the Utopians, and a fight breaks out between the teens and the random assortment of mutants still living on Utopia. Jean Grey has a psychic sitdown with Karma to get a better understanding of what these C and D-List mutants have had to deal with the past few years, leading to a truce.

Afterwards, Jean makes a deal with the Utopians, offering to let them take over the new Xavier School, while telling SHIELD to back the heck off. In the end, Jean wonders what the X-Men could be doing differently to help mutants.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

Bendis is not known for his rushed storylines, but after introducing the Utopians in the last issue, he quickly and effortlessly sweeps them under the rug. Did he have bigger plans in place that were waylaid by Marvel editorial? I have no idea. But Bendis settles the story in rapid fashion, while finding something to do with the new Xavier School he created in Uncanny X-Men. Heck, he didn’t even need the Young X-Men for this storyline. Anybody could have settled the Utopians’ beef, though I suppose Jean and her friends were perfectly poised to help out.

This was a well-written issue of a quality Bendis series, but it’s over so quickly and so effortlessly that I think I have a little bit of comic book whiplash.

Bizarro #1

Bizarro #1
Writer: Heath Corson
Artists: Gustavo Duarte and Bill Sienkiewicz

Bizarro was one of the comics I was most looking forward to with DC’s new imprint — but I’m sad to say that it’s a bit of a letdown. It looks like it has all the makings of a fun new comic, with nifty art, a comedic vibe and an awesome lead character. But I dunno…the humor in Bizarro #1 doesn’t do anything for me. I applaud DC for going down this road, for trying out a wacky comedy book and doing so with gusto, but it’s just not for me.

Also, I don’t think the Bizarro in this comic has anything to do with the New 52 Bizarro, in case anyone is wondering.

In order to get the big guy out of the city, Jimmy Olsen takes Bizarro on a roadtrip to Smallville. Jimmy is the haggard straight man to Bizarro’s wackiness. Also Bizarro randomly has a pet chupacabra named ‘Colin’. They crash their car along the way, and when they reach a diner in town, they’re pointed towards King Tut’s Slightly Used Car Oasis for repairs. Regis “King Tut” Tuttle is your standard sleazy, tiny, used car salesman with a silly gimmick and a hot daughter, and Jimmy and Bizarro have some wacky fun getting him to agree to fix their car. But that night, Tuttle prays to the ancient Egyptian gods for the power to change the world, and they show up and give him a powerful mind-control staff.

Except then it’s revealed that the gods were just random aliens in disguise who were just messing with Tuttle for laughs…but still gave him a powerful mind-control stuff. I dunno.

Anyway, Tuttle uses the staff to convince his daughter not to quit the dealership, and then he controls every human in Smallville to come to his lot to buy cars. Only Bizarro remains unaffected.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

I dunno, I just didn’t find this issue funny. It’s a well-made effort, and everyone is at the top of their game, to be sure, but it just didn’t strike any chords with me. Corson seems to be going more for the ‘wacky’ than the ‘wacky with a point’. Bizarro has a random pet chupacabra because that’s funny on paper. The Egyptian gods turn out to be pranking aliens because that’s funny on paper. The humor just isn’t well constructed, is what I’m saying. Or maybe it is, and other readers are laughing their heads off. Please do! If you loved Bizarro, I’m glad.

And messy cheeseburgers

But humor is so very, very subjective, and Bizarro might not be for me. I love the character, but I don’t think he’s being used to his full potential — comedic or otherwise — on a random roadtrip with Jimmy Olsen and facing off against a silly used car salesman.

At least the art is top notch. If you’re going to do an all-humor Bizarro book, Duarte is a darn good choice.

Darth Vader #6

Darth Vader #6
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larroca

Comics like Darth Vader #6 are why it’s going to be so much fun watching Marvel and their writers play around in the Star Wars universe! A rather momentous scene takes place in this issue, and Gillen and Larroca knock it out of the park!

Darth Vader faces off against the soldiers of Cylo V, holding his own, while the Emperor remains unimpressed. Afterwards, Palpatine tells Cylo to keep training them, he may have a use for them one day. Then when they’re alone, Palpatine puts Vader in his place, reminding him that the Sith are about strength, and as long as Vader is stronger than all of them, it doesn’t matter if Palpatine considered replacing him.

Later, Boba Fett reports in about his encounter with Luke Skywalker (as seen in this week’s Star Wars #6). Fett delivers the name ‘Skywalker’ to Vader, which obviously stirs some memories in the Dark Lord. His anger is so great that he starts breaking the plastisteel window on his spaceship. He goes to confront the Emperor, who is still in a bad mood, so Vader keeps this new information to himself. Darth Vader now knows that he has a son.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

Vader learning the identity of Luke Skywalker is a huge moment in the Star Wars canon, and Gillen and Larroca handle it perfectly! Vader’s dark, unmoving visage staring out into space, the way his fist tightens, and how the Force, wielded so dangerously, nearly shatters the world around him.

Sounds familiar

It’s a badass moment in a series that has become known for badass moments. But this one isn’t action-packed, this is the emotion we know we can get from the Star Wars universe. That scene alone makes this issue worth of the price of admission. Though everything else, especially with this Cylo V guy, was a little uninteresting in comparison. I don’t particularly care about his random assortment of warriors, but at least Gillen used that storyline to give us some quality time between Vader and the Emperor. Their’s is a relationship well worth exploring.

Green Lantern #41

Green Lantern #41
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Billy Tan

I gave up on Green Lantern comics awhile ago, so I don’t really have any idea what’s been happening recently. I just didn’t like the direction Venditti was taking the line. I first got into Green Lantern through the revived Green Lantern Corps series, and I loved the focus on the whole organization. But after Venditti and company came on, the GL books were stuck in an endless progression of Big Events, and they never took time to really focus on the Corps.

But this is a week for giving DC another chance!

Hal Jordan has since gone renegade from the Green Lantern Corps, with long, scruffy hair, a trenchcoat-based costume and a Power Glove instead of a Power Ring (but it works the same way). He sneaks into an underground gambling den in deep space to rescue a kidnapped prince, and they have to fight their way out through an unruly mob. Jordan takes one of the prince’s kidnappers into custody, they hop in Jordan’s spaceship, and they blast off to Sector Zero to turn the bad guy over to the GLC.

But when they arrive, Jordan is shocked to discover that the Green Lantern Corps is no more!

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

I don’t know if I can put my finger on it, but I’ve just never liked Venditti’s take on Hal Jordan and the Green Lanterns. Venditti’s Hal has always come off to me as a generic space hero in a generic space setting, and this issue is no different. Even though Venditti using Hal’s green energy powers well, there’s just nothing all that interesting about Hal or his adventures. He goes to a random space gambling den, fights some space bad guys and rescues a space prince. Whoop dee doo! Venditti doesn’t really do anything to explain Hal’s new renegade status for new readers, and nothing he does as a renegade is any different from what he’d do as a regular Green Lantern. Despite a potentially interesting new premise, Green Lantern remains uninspiring.

Princess Leia #4

Princess Leia #4
Writer: Mark Waid
Artists: Terry and Rachel Dodson

I can no longer decide which of Marvel’s three Star Wars comics is the best one. They’re all so good! Princess Leia remains a treat, but unfortunately, the Dodsons’ art takes something of a nose dive in this issue. They’re usually so good, but I guess they’ve hit their limit.

Leia and her allies discover the mole in their midst: the young musician Tace, who has been in communication with her sister, but didn’t know she was relaying vital information to the Empire. Leia decides to try and use this communication to lure the Empire into a trap, but Tace can’t hold it together on their next call, and the Empire sees right through Leia’s trap. They order Tace’s sister detained, so Leia jumps on the line and offers herself in exchange for the sister. Leia and the commander meet on a nearby planet for the prisoner exchange — though, obviously, Leia has something up her sleeve.

Meanwhile, a few of Leia’s Alderaanian allies head to the planet Esperion to gather more refugees. But when they see that the local Alderaanians have inter-bred with the alien Esperions, Jora is too disgusted with the impurity to try and save them. This leads to some rather prickly negotiations.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

The story is still quite strong in Princess Leia. Watching our hero nobly sacrifice herself to save even one Alderaanian is a strong moment, especially since she clearly has more than a few tricks up her sleeve! I’m excited to watch her daring escape. And the scenes with Jora on Esperion add a nice wrinkle to Leia’s mission, one I’m sure she’ll take care of when she gets a chance. But the art takes this issue down a peg, I’m sorry to say. The Dodsons are largely amazing with the issue, but there are clear rush signs and blobbish characters throughout. It’s winceable.

Spider-Woman #8

Spider-Woman #8
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Javier Rodriguez

Spider-Woman finishes off its first real storyline in grand fashion in this issue, proving that superheroes don’t always have to beat up their bad guys to be heroes (though Jessica does beat up a bad guy).

Spider-Woman gets into a fight with Cat, the leader of Moon Hollow, who is operating her husband’s front-loader super-villain battle suit. Cat is pretty pissed, but the other townspeople jump onto her machine and start tearing it apart to keep her from killing Spider-Woman. Once Cat is defeated, Spider-Woman recognizes what this place really is (a safe community for abused supervillain family members) and tells them all that she didn’t come there to fight them, just to find them, and she’s done that. She tells the citizens of Moon Hollow that as long as they stop blackmailing their exes into committing crimes, she’ll keep their secret.

Afterwards, Jessica confronts Ben Urich about not writing the story and exposing Moon Hollow, and Ben agrees — besides, he’s got another case for the two of them!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

That final fight was pretty good, especially when the townspeople jumped in to help Spider-Woman. Hopeless set up a pretty good scene here, in that he couldn’t just end things like a typical superhero comic. None of the women of Moon Hollow were really doing anything wrong (other than that blackmail thing), so I rather liked seeing Spider-Woman stand up and promise that she’d let most everything slide. It was a neat ending to a neat story. And Rodriguez on art was just as good. He’s definitely a draw for Spider-Woman, that new costume just springs off the page.

Star Wars #6

Star Wars #6
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: John Cassaday

You may have heard the Internet buzzing a whole bunch about the twists in this issue, but I’m not convinced that they’re all that amazing. What am I talking about? You’ll just have to read on to find out!

Blinded by the flash bang, but still armed with a lightsaber, Luke Skywalker manages to hold his own against Boba Fett in Ben Kenobi’s old hovel. But it’s only with a timely intervention from R2-D2 that they’re able to escape with Kenobi’s journal. Meanwhile, Han and Leia head down to the secret smuggler’s cove that Han has hidden in the gas giant to escape the TIE fighters. But the mysterious tracker follows them down and reveals that she’s Sana Solo, Han’s wife, and she’d like some answers!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

People on the Internet are making a lot of hay out of this Sana Solo character, but I don’t buy it. Let’s first find out her history before we go saying Aaron and Marvel have totally warped the Star Wars canon. There are any number of ways she could be considered Han Solo’s ‘wife’. Malcolm Reynolds had a wife for awhile and that was far from ordinary. So we’ll wait and see how this plays out.

Vader already said that

But the Luke/Boba Fett fight was pretty awesome. One can’t help but wonder what plans Marvel has for the greatest bounty hunter in the galaxy. Will Fett cross paths will Luke again before their fateful battle in Return of the Jedi? We shall see! But for now, this was a gnarly throwdown, with both classic characters getting a chance to shine and be pretty awesome. Watching Luke’s journey into accepting his Jedi training is pretty cool, and I hope it remains the focus of Marvel’s Star Wars. Aaron has a good handle on the character and his journey, and I hope it remains this adventurous.

Squirrel Girl #6

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Erica Henderson

Oh comedy, why must you be so subjective? Why do I not particularly care for Bizarro but love Unbeatable Squirrel Girl? What is the precise code that taps my funny bone? What is Ryan North’s secret?! I don’t know, but he does it again with another hilarious issue of Squirrel Girl!

When Squirrel Girl and Nancy go out on the town, they run into the villainous Hippo the Hippo, who’s trying to rob the bank from a few issues ago. Then Chipmunk Hunk and Koi Boi show up to fight him, and Squirrel Girl makes some new superhero friends — who both turn out to be classmates at ESU. Squirrel Girl convinces Hippo to get a job in demolition instead of robbing banks, and the day is saved.

The next day, Doreen and Nancy go to the zoo to see if Nancy can speak to any of the animals (since both Chipmunk Hunk and Koi Boi can talk to their respective animals). While at the zoo, the lions get out, by a mysterious, super-powered squirrel arrives to save the day and put the lions back in their pen. The super-powered squirrel, of course, is named ‘Girl Squirrel’.

Later that night, Girl Squirrel is seen sneaking into people’s homes while they sleep and whispering bad things in their ears. So in the morning, everybody in New York seems to be in a rotten mood!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Thank God Secret Wars isn’t derailing every Marvel book! Where would I be without Squirrel Girl? Probably thinking comedy doesn’t exist anymore. Thankfully, North and Henderson are still here to make me smile and giggle. Chumpunk Hunk? Koi Boi? Girl Squirrel?! I knew that’s what the squirrel was going to be called before they named her, and it was still hilarious! As was the idea that Doreen and Nancy would go to the zoo to see if she could talk to any type of animal. As was the fight with Hippo the Hippo and the way Doreen talked him down from robbing the bank! This wasn’t the funniest or wildest issue of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, but it had everything that makes this series so great.

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 June 6, 2015, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Star Wars, Superman, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I can’t get enough Squirrel Girl, this issue made me laugh so much. Right now SG and Ms. Marvel are the only Marvel titles I’m reading (also waiting for the last ish of Fraction’s Hawkeye). As a Marvel Comics newcomer what series would you suggest I pick up?

    • Let me think! If you’re digging Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel and Hawkeye, I would have to also recommend…Dan Slott’s Silver Surfer, Superior Foes of Spider-Man (though it’s been cancelled), and I hear great things about Mark Waid’s Daredevil. I haven’t been reading, but I’ve started going back and buying the old tpbs.

      If buying tpbs is not your game, I’d say you should just wait until Secret Wars is over, at which point Marvel is going to launch a ton of new #1 issues. That’ll happen in September, which is a long wait, but then Marvel is doing this to themselves. So you might try All-New Hawkeye, alongside Ms. Marvel and Squirrel Girl, to get you through the summer.

      • Ant-Man!!!!!!!! If you’re a fan of Superior Foes of Spider-Man, how can you not be getting Ant-man? It’s hilarious and touching and great!

        Also recommend Spider-Woman! (but not the first four issues… for all practical purposes, the series begins with Issue #5)

  2. ANXM was pretty OK. I feel like the arc could’ve use another issue, just to let the Utopians do more. Give them a little more characterization. Though I suppose the point of the Utopians was to set up the O5 trying to figure out what more they could do to make the world better for mutants.

    Spider-Woman was really good. The flashback made Cat a very sympathetic character, even while she was trying to murder Spider-Woman. She still felt like a victim, rather than a villain. I like that Spider-Woman agreed to keep the town a secret – I prefer heroes who help people, rather than heroes who punch people. When heroes can resolve their problems without hurting someone, that feels like a much, much better model to follow.

    Squirrel Girl is hilarious. It’s a ridiculous title, and it’s just wonderful. And this is the third time Squirrel Girl has defeated an enemy through kindness and befriending them. She talked down Kraven by convincing him to hunt Gigantos, she stopped Galactus by leading him to a nut planet and becoming bros with him, and now, she stopped Hippo by suggesting a job for him. Again, I love that sort of thing in superheroes. In a genre that’s based around punching problems into submission, I love the much more positive image of heroes resolving problems by talking them out and reaching an understanding.

    • I too am digging that vibe on Squirrel Girl. It’s a very cool, very unique way of making her a superhero, and obviously that was North’s plan all along.It’s amazing that amidst everything else this book is, he found time to add this fun little notion about how Squirrel Girl fights crime.

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