Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 8/1/15
Greetings from nearly the Boston Comic-Con! Since these reviews are being posted on Saturday morning, I’m most likely sitting at my desk at work, plugging away and counting down the minutes until I can slip away. Then I’ll be off to the lovely Boston area to hang out with friends and revel in my comic book geekness! Then on Sunday, I’ll be at the Con, passing out flyers for Gamer Girl & Vixen and hopefully having a blast!
But until then, comics! Unfortunately, since it’s a ‘fifth week’, we’ve got a pretty short stack. Nothing from Marvel, a little dip over at Valiant and then two separate Batgirl books!
Batgirl #42 wins Comic Book of the Week for an awesome team up between father and daughter.
And over at Word of the Nerd, I took a look at the latest issue of Star Wars, which is a fun little peek into the life of Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine. If you’re a Star Wars fan, it’s a darn good read!
Comic Reviews: Batgirl #42, Batgirl Annual #3 and Ninjak #5.
Writers: Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher
Artist: Babs Tarr
I do so love me some Batgirl. The title that may have changed everything is still going strong, and now that her dad is operating as Batman, Gotham City Vigilantism has taken on a whole new coat of paint.
Batgirl and the new Batman face off after their confrontation last issue, and Gordon powers off his suit so that they can speak in private. Gordon has always supported the vigilantes, and he doesn’t want to have to arrest any of Batman’s old allies, like his bosses want. So he asks Batgirl to lay low for awhile so that he doesn’t have to go after her.
But with Livewire on the loose, she’s not about to do that, and Babs teams up with her usual support team to build a device that should contain the villain. They track Livewire to a power plant across town, where Batman is already doing battle — and losing. Batgirl busts in, teams up with Batman, and together they defeat Livewire.
Then later, Babs gets a visit from her friend, Alysia, who announces that she’s getting married!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Watching Batgirl and her dad team-up to fight crime is a real treat. I only wish her dad knew the truth, that might make it even cooler. But even with Tarr’s excellent pencils, it’s still hard to picture Commissioner Gordon in the bat suit. Even when he steps out of the robot armor and is down to his sleeker Batman costume, I still just can’t picture old Commissioner Gordon behind that mask. So that takes me out of the story a little, but not by much. I just have to remind myself that this is a father and daughter working together, and it clicks.
Batgirl #42 is another great issue of this fun, uplifting comic. Batgirl’s superheroics are a ton of fun, using her smarts, her skills and her good nature to see a bad guy properly defeated. She’s great with her friends, she’s great with Batman; she’s just all around great. This is fun comics and I love it. And Tarr’s art is just so perfect for this title. Upbeat, energetic and dazzlingly colorful, Batgirl deserves to be a gold standard for how DC Comics should be from now on. This is the sort of comic that reminds me why I love superheroes so much!
Batgirl Annual #3
Writers: Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher
Artist: Bengal, David LaFuente, Ming Doyle, and Mingjue Helen Chen
Two doses of Batgirl in one week is a lot to take in! Fortunately, this Annual issue is just as much fun as the regular issue, though this one goes on a bit too long for my tastes.
An evil spy organization named Gladius is trying to attack Gotham City, and its up to Batgirl and her allies to figure out their plans and put a stop to them. First, Batgirl teams up with Helena Bertinelli and an in-disguise Dick Grayson to shut down Gladius’ headquarters. Then Batgirl teams up with Spoiler to capture one of Gladius’ top operatives. Then Batgirl and Batwoman team up to defeat their evil leader. Then Batgirl gets a little help from Olive and Maps to find the bad guys’ secret blueprints hidden at Gotham Academy.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
Built on the back of a pretty solid story, the real fun of this Annual is seeing Batgirl team up with the various other heroes in the Bat-franchise. Some of the team-ups are really good, some of them fall a little flat, and the one with Gotham Academy is really kind of forced (but still kinda cool). Overall, this is a fun little read. It’s a pretty straight forward case-of-the-week, and Batgirl handles herself quite well. The other heroes are all spot-on, but overall, the whole thing just kind of dragged. I realize that Annuals are longer than normal, but I would have been happier with a much shorter story. At least the art mostly holds up for the whole thing .
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artists: Clay Mann and Butch Guice
Seeing as how pickings are incredibly slim this week, I decided to pop back into Ninjak to see how they wrap up their first storyline. The comic has been fine so far, but I just can’t get into it for a variety of reasons. This issue doesn’t win me over.
Ninjak has been caught by Kannon and Ruko, his identity exposed. He dons his costume and prepares to fight — only for Kannon to reveal his mighty strength and punch Ninjak through a wall! For a moment, it looks like we’re going to have an epic battle…but then Ninjak defeats Kannon with a quick trick by trapping him at the bottom of a swimming pool. The fight is over before the halfway mark.
The rest of the issue flashes forward a month or two, and is spent with Ninjak explaining that he’s taken over Kannon’s role in Weaponeer and plans on pursuing the rest of the Shadow Seven. He’s also shipped Kannon off to his handlers for interrogation.
And that’s pretty much it for the main story. The back-up feature touches upon the brief affair Ninjak had with his first handler at the start of his career, and how she was killed by someone he’d failed to assassinate earlier. Since their relationship was against the rules, and since she’s dead, Ninjak blames it all on her in order to keep his job as a spy.
Also, I’m not sure if I’ve touched upon these at all in my reviews, but the main story features flashbacks to Ninjak’s childhood. They’ve mostly been about how he had an asshole of a butler, but this one is about his parents randomly popping in for a visit. The wily youngster Ninjak tells a little white lie to get his parents to reveal the location of their ‘safe room’, which he later breaks into and discovers that they’re probably spies, since they have a bunch of guns, clothing and wigs in the room. Classic The Americans.
Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.
For a moment there, I thought Ninjak was going to get awesome. Ninjak and Kannon square off to fight, with Roku on the sidelines. Kannon reveals an incredible level of strength, achieved through being a pure badass. The tension was mounting, the awesomeness was rising to the top…and then the fight’s over. Just POOF, done! Ninjak tricks Kannon into a boring trap, Roku slinks away into the shadows at the start of the fight, and then we jump forward a month later. Talk about sucking all of the fun out of the room! How was this fight not the MAIN THING that Kindt has been building towards? Especially after the Secret Origins of Roku and Kannon last issue? This fight was supposed to be EPIC!
But nope! Apparently it was far, far more important to cut to Ninjak idly talking to himself about how he wants to go after other bad guys. That’s all the jump-forward in time amounts to, really. Ninjak just confirms what he told us in the first issue: that there are more bad guys, and he’s gonna go get’em. Well if your hunt for any of those other bad guys ends as abruptly and disappointingly as your hunt for Kannon, then count me out!
Also, I don’t know where any of these flashbacks are going, but they don’t add anything at all to the story or the character. Whether its the flashbacks to his childhood that take place in the middle of the main story, or the flashback back-up features of his early spy adventures, it’s all just useless nonsense that does nothing to inform Ninjak’s current character or life.
Matt Kindt and his art team clearly know how to make a good comic, but they can’t seem to figure out how all the pieces go together for Ninjak. The fight scene in this issue could have and should have defined this series, but instead, Kindt’s decision to cut it short defines Ninjak in more disappointing ways.
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!