Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 8/8/15
For some odd reason, this was another light week for comics for me. But this time, rather than focusing on DC Comics, it’s Marvel with the two books out that I actually read. Weird. But hey, less work for me to do to review! That’s got to count for something.
Along with the latest issue of Bloodshot Reborn from Valiant Comics, Marvel drops the fun-two punch of Darth Vader and Ms. Marvel, the latter of which easily snags Comic Book of the Week. The fun, touching story of Kamala Khan teaming up with her namesake easily defeats the Dark Lord of the Sith.
Over at Word of the Nerd, I read and reviewed the third issue of Giant-Size Little Marvel: AvX, and it was a blast! Skottie Young is just having a lot of fun with his tie-in, which is probably the most appropriate way to reference Avengers vs. X-Men from now on.
Comic Reviews: Bloodshot Reborn #5, Darth Vader #8 and Ms. Marvel #17.
Bloodshot Reborn #5
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artists: Raul Allen and Patricia Martin
I think I’m definitely going to stick with Bloodshot Reborn for the time being. It’s not a great comic, but the character is slowly growing on me, and I still want to expand beyond the Big 2. But nothing has really hooked me yet.
Bloodshot has a psychotic episode where Bloodsquirt, his cartoony sidekick hallucination, takes him on an adventure to kill other cartoony versions of Valiant’s other superheroes. Bloodshot is scared and reluctant to go through with all this killing, but Bloodsquirt is blood-thirsty. Bloodshot is finally able to push past his hallucinations when they try to get him to kill Magic, the young woman he rescued from her crazed boyfriend in the last issue.
When the madness clears, Bloodshot asks Magic to read his personnel file. He’s been unable to do it himself since he got his hands on the file, but he’s ready to find out if he really was a good person at one point.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
I’m not a big fan of hallucination stories, but Lemire makes this one work pretty well. Some of the themes explored are a little heavy-handed, but he solidly underlines the major issues facing Bloodshot in this series. He also has fun using the Bloodsquirt character, but artist Raul Allen isn’t really up to the task of creating Bloodsquirt’s cartoony psycho-land. Bloodshot is supposed to be on some kind of insane journey of the soul, with Bloodsquirt as his guide, but Allen can’t pull it off. A visit to the Bloodcave, complete with pet dog Bloodhound, don’t land as strongly as they could due to the more realistic art. He’s fine otherwise, but ‘fine’ isn’t what’s called for in this issue.
But like I said, this is another solid issue that really helps underline who Bloodshot is as a character and what’s motivating him. And I like the personal growth at the end, where he casts aside the hallucinations and embraces both Magic, another human being, and his own past. I kind of hope this is the last we see of Bloodsquirt and the other hallucinations, at least for a little while. Allen may not have been able to carry all the heavy lifting, but Lemire’s story and characters pull us through.
Darth Vader #8
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larroca
When this series first launched, I wasn’t quite sure that Darth Vader could maintain an ongoing series. He’s not exactly a very open and personable fella. But Gillen and his creative team are proving me wrong. This series is a blast.
Aphra and her team of bounty hunters pull off a successful heist on the Imperial ship, getting away with a ton of credits — but not all the credits, since some were lost into the vacuum of space. The bounty hunters take their share and leave, and then it’s revealed that Aphra and Black Krrsantan were working together, and he secretly scooped up all of the credits that were thought ‘lost’. Now Vader and Aphra have this big treasury and the loyalty of a squad of bounty hunters.
Meanwhile, Grand General Tagge meets with his various agents, assigning a variety of missions. One of them is sent after Luke Skywalker, which pisses Vader off, but then Vader is assigned to find out who robbed the Imperial ship. Vader is also assigned a new liaison, one who is far sharper and smarter than the last one.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
That heist was pretty fun. Well-planned and with a host of fun characters, Larroca really leads the charge in pulling off a great little action scene. I have a soft spot in my heart for Bossk, so seeing him get up to no good is a hoot. And Black Krrsantan is my new favorite expanded universe character, so knowing that he’s probably going to continue on as a major supporting character in this book is just awesome. It’s like Darth Vader has mirror villains of the main heroes. Aphra is his Han, Krrsantan is his Chewie, and he’s got those two murderous droids too. It’s neat!
Aside from the solid heist, which takes up most of the issue, the rest was just as good. We all think of Vader as a guy in charge, but watching Tagge do his best to put Vader in his place is fascinating. Vader wants Luke for his own personal reasons, but Tagge just dismisses Vader’s desires and assigns someone else for the task. It’s a neat power play that helps flesh out the cast. And Vader’s new liaison is a sharp fella. It’ll be cool to see someone match wits with Darth Vader on a new level.
Ms. Marvel #17
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Adrian Alphona
I’m sorry that Kamala Khan has to go through the end of the world, but at least she’s using it as a learning experience, and is coming through like a true hero. It says a lot about G. Willow Wilson’s skill as a writer, especially with this character, that she makes something as insane as the Secret Wars crossover really work for the character.
Kamala geeks out when she meets her idol, Captain Marvel, who stopped by to offer a few words of encouragement to her potential protege in the face of the End of the World. But while she’s there, Kamala ropes Carol into helping her rescue her brother from Kamran and the evil Inhumans! The two heroes take off across Jersey City, stopping a few scuffles and dealing with the emotions surrounding the destruction of everything. Carol has a couple of good pep talks for Kamala, and they get through it together.
When they arrive at the wharf, they’re attacked by Kaboom, who gets quickly trounced by the far more experienced Captain Marvel. Then they reach the warehouse where the bad guys are keeping Aamir, but the room is filled with Terrigen Mist! Kamala finds her brother glowing and floating off the floor!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
I’ve been waiting all this time to see Kamala interact with Captain Marvel, and while it’s not as amazing as I’d hoped, it still makes for a great comic. The whole ‘incursion/Secret Wars’ thing is an awkward elephant in the room, but Wilson uses it for some really powerful moments between the two women. Carol is a veteran hero, she’s faced this sort of thing plenty of times in the past. But Kamala has never before had to deal with the end of the world, let alone be on the front lines (to an extent). Carol easily falls into the mentor role, helping to support her young new friend, and their scenes together are really great.
The pair are also really great action-wise. Kamala has come into her powers, and it shows, thanks to Alphona also getting a handle on them. Kamala stretches and grows like it’s second nature now, and there’s even a cute little scene where Carol comments on her ease, and Kamala agrees that she’s gotten better. This issue is littered with little moments where Kamala effortlessly shows that she’s a great hero, whether she’s convincing some ne’er do wells to lend a hand instead of looting, or teaming up with Captain Marvel to beat up a bad guy, Kamala Khan remains the best new superhero in years.
Bring on the new #1 issue!
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!