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Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 7/11/15

Someday I’ll go to San Diego for Comic-Con. I don’t necessarily want to go. I imagine the crowds are horrendous and unbearable. But I’d still like to go, in theory, and that’s important too. But at least I have some good comics to read while I’m stuck in New York.

It’s a Marvel-less week this week, with Secret Wars dominating too much of their time and energy. Fortunately, DC is more than happy to pick up the slack, with quality new issues of Gotham Academy, Starfire and Justice League of America.

Comic Book of the Week goes to Batman #42, the second consecutive issue of the new series to earn the award! Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are just killing it with their new Robo-Batman.

Commissioner Gordon may never be the same again

I’m chomping at the bit for the crossover with We Are Robin!

Over at Word of the Nerd, my latest dive into Secret Wars tie-ins left me rather disappointed. Civil War #1 is a waste of a comic, spinning its wheels with backstory and exposition as it tries to set up a ‘What If…’ scenario. Skip it.

Comic Reviews: Batman #42, Bloodshot Reborn #4, Gotham Academy #8, Justice League of America #2 and Starfire #2.


Batman #42

Batman #42
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo

I am 100% on board with Jim Gordon as Robo-Batman. I know I’m supposed to be a curmudgeon when it comes to changes in comic books, but lately, I’ve been in favor of big changes, as long as they’re well-written and legitimately interesting. And there’s no denying that Scott Snyder is an amazing Batman writer. If this is an idea he wants to pursue, by all means, let’s give the man room. He’s doing a bang-up job so far.

Gordon’s job as the Batman continues to deepen. He’s practicing with throwing stars, he’s given a $15 million Bat-Truck, and he’s wearing nicotine patches. Commissioner Maggie Sawyer is a little leery about this new Batman, but Jim’s tech team is fully behind him. In fact, one of them might be Julia Pennyworth undercover, and she gives Jim a pep talk about what it means to be Batman. For Bruce, he didn’t care what people thought of him or of Batman. He just was Batman, and that was that. Julia tells Jim that he needs to get out of his head and stop worrying what people think about the new Batman.

Robo-Batman is called to the Narrows when a super-villain starts causing trouble. A local gang lord, leader of the Gotham Triads, suddenly has the power to control bricks and concrete, and he uses these powers to give Batman a whooping — until Jim stops him by dropping the Bat-Truck on his head. Turns out, somebody has been giving super-powers to local crime-lords, but the source also kills them afterwards. Jim’s going to have to get to the bottom of this.

Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne is alive and well and working at a children’s center with Julie Madison. He’s grown a beard and seems perfectly content lifting boxes and such. Duke Thomas is there, and the two are buddy-buddy. Bruce is later approached by Jim Gordon, who immediately reveals that he’s the new Batman, and that he and Bruce need to talk!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This is fun comics. It’s pure Batman, for the most part, with plenty of twist to really drive the story. How does Jim Gordon deal with being a superhero? How does his Batman do things differently than regular Batman? How do the people around him feel about him being Batman? Snyder starts touching on a lot of these questions, and all of them are fascinating. He and Capullo are building a new Batman from the ground up and it’s a lot of fun. In fact, I hope they find the time to delve even deeper into what we’re seeing here. I’d love to see how this is effecting Jim’s day-to-day life and relationships.

Classic

The superhero fight is pretty cool. I like that Snyder saved an original villain to put up against Gordon, with some minor villains to keep up the punching. That should keep the issues exciting and action-packed, and you’ve got to have that when you’re playing with a Robo-Batman. Capullo has plenty of action to draw, and he’s still one of the best in the business.

Also, I have no clue what’s happening with Bruce Wayne. If he’s going to be so openly and publicly alive, shouldn’t someone answer why he’s given up being Batman?


Bloodshot Reborn #4

Bloodshot Reborn #4
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Mico Suayan

I unfortunately skipped the third issue of Bloodshot Reborn a few weeks ago because I was busy that week. But now I’m back, and I’m not ready to give up on this little series just yet!

Bloodshot is still on the hunt for people who have become possessed by the nanites he abandoned. He’s killed two of them so far, recollecting the nanites, and now he’s using them to find the other five. He tracks down one to a seedy apartment and has to fight off the crazed, drug-addled maniac in the man’s apartment. But just before the maniac kills Bloodshot, his girlfriend shoots him in the head. Bloodshot takes pity on the girl and the two of them flee into the night.

They find a motel to lay low at, and the girl says her name is ‘Magic’. Bloodshot’s narration reveals that letting Magic tag along would wide up being the worst mistake he’d ever made.

Meanwhile, the FBI are still tracking him.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

The more I read, the more I’m getting invested in Bloodshot’s adventure. That’s got to count for something. And now that he’s added an actual human being to his crusade, that’s even more entertaining. I’m already interested to see how Bloodshot interacts with this girl, Magic. The Bloodsquirt and Geomancer hallucinations he has are fine, but I prefer real human interaction over crazy fever dreams. I want real, human drama, and Lemire finally delivers. I’m legitimately excited to see where Bloodshot and Magic go from here. Lemire did a great job putting them together in a dangerous, hectic situation, and it helps to flesh out Bloodshot’s character that he’d be willing to take Magic with him.

Hopefully she and Bloodsquirt get along

The art is also really good. I think Suayan has gotten better as the issues have gone along. The art is gritty and harsh, but very human. The battle with the maniac was full of energy and danger. The art fits the series well and is becoming a true strength.


Gotham Academy #8

Gotham Academy #8
Writers: Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher
Artist: Karl Kerschel

It’s been awhile since I covered Gotham Academy, and that’s on me. The shipping has been sporadic thanks to Convergence and an annual issue, and I just didn’t feel like bothering. But now I’m back and definitely on board!

Olive Silverlock’s mother has died, and she and her friends attend the funeral. This issue focuses on Kyle, who is Olive’s ex-boyfriend and Maps’ older brother. Kyle still has feelings for Olive, but she doesn’t want anything to do with him anymore. Kyle starts spying on her new boyfriend, Tristan, and discovers that he’s a Man-Bat! Kyle and Maps try to get more information on Tristan, but end up having to take him to see a doctor when they find him injured. Later, Olive still rejects Kyle in favor of Tristan.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

The high quality of writing and art is alive and well in Gotham Academy, it’s just the focus that suffers. Kyle has been such an uninteresting character that I think this might be the first review where I actually mention him by name. His disappointment at breaking up with Olive (or whatever happened between them) is so completely boring. Olive is an awesome character, and she is miles ahead of Kyle, who comes off as just a generic, nice-guy high school student. He doesn’t possess even a fraction of the personality that his younger sister does, and I don’t really care at all that Kyle is jealous of Olive’s new boyfriend. Tristan is a Man-Bat! Kyle plays tennis and dresses like it. There’s no comparison. There are far, far more interesting things going on at Gotham Academy than Kyle’s sad sack love life. Let’s hope we get back to them soon.


Justice League of America #2

Justice League of America #2
Writer and Artist: Bryan Hitch

I dug the first issue of Bryan Hitch’s new Justice League series, and now I’m back for more. These over-sized issues are a great showcase of this creator’s very impressive talent. Let’s hope he keeps it up!

The Kryptonian god Roa has arrived on Earth, and Superman immediately begins sucking up to him. Acting as his representative, Superman starts introducing Rao to world leaders, and Rao’s disciples start visiting hospitals to heal the sick and dying. Rao seems to be a guy who just wants to use his power to make Earth a better place. He followed Superman here after the destruction of Krypton, which Rao had nothing to do with.

But Batman is skeptical, and he and Cyborg return to the Batcave to start investigating both Rao and the Infinity Corporation.  Aquaman also gets a visit from one of Rao’s disciples, but he’s quite skeptical of anything to do with gods and religion. And Wonder Woman discovers that Mount Olympus has been destroyed!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

How cool would it be if Rao was actually on the level? That’s what I kept thinking to myself as I read every page of this comic. The issue just goes on and on about the good that Rao is doing, how he seems like a perfectly cool guy, and how he could help the planet Earth. But that’s not how comic books work. That’s not how fiction works.

But that’s how Aquaman rolls

I mean, he’s totally evil, right? He’s got some hidden agenda, and it’s going to be revealed that he’s a bad guy, and then the Justice League going to have to rally together to defeat him. But man, I really wish this comic could be different. I really wish Hitch had a better idea in mind. This ‘benevolent god is actually evil’ schtick has been done to death. And if this story is as predictable as I imagine, then this issue is worse than I graded it. This issue is just one big, long fluff piece for Rao. There are a couple of doubters on the sidelines, but page after page is all set up for the awesomeness of Rao. I could have used a bit more conflict.

Because if he really is evil, and if he really does have an evil agenda, then all of this fluff was just a waste of space, and that would be annoying. As it is, this issue is mostly just a couple of well-written vignettes as the various members of the League deal with Rao. Aquaman, once again, had the best scene. Hitch seems to be going out of his way to make Aquaman the coolest member of the team.

Fortunately, Hitch’s art is as amazing as ever. He’s exactly the sort of guy you want drawing a story of this scope. So at the very least, Justice League of America #2 is great to look at.


Starfire #2

Starfire #2
Writers: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Emanuela Lupacchino

I’m happy to report that the second issue of Starfire is just as much fun as the first, so DC might have a solid new series on their hands. Everything is still kind of in Introduction Mode, everything still a little surface level, but hopefully that’s going to change real soon.

Hurricane Betty hits Palm Beach hard, and Starfire does what she can to help fly people to safety. She runs into Sheriff Stella out in the storm because Stella is racing to the Coast Guard Station, because her fool-hardy brother has taken a boat out to try and save a couple boaters a mile off the coast. Sol uses the eye of the hurricane to make the rescue, but the boat is destroyed. Fortunately, Stella has sent Starfire out into the water, and she rescues Sol and the boaters.

Since her new trailer was destroyed in the hurricane, Stella gives Stafire a free room she has above her garage. Also, a giant monster comes out of the ground during the hurricane and runs off to hunt down Starfire.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Like I said, this issue is still mostly just surface level stuff. The comic is written well, and the art is amazing, but Conner and Palmiotti have yet to find the hook. So far, it’s just a friendly, slightly naive Starfire doing basic hero stuff for a bunch of random new supporting characters. Her ocean rescue was fun, but there was no real tension, because we knew she was going to make it. And her personality, while spot-on, doesn’t have much to rally behind. I kept thinking to myself that this issue could just as easily have been about Supergirl. Conner and Palmiotti are going to need to find something unique about Starfire to really brand this comic and keep us reading. She’s a nice enough girl, but nice only gets you so far.

Also, Sheriff Stella remains weirdly OK with just dropping everything to help this strange alien woman.


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!

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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 11, 2015, in Batman, Comics, DC, Reviews, Superman and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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