Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 8/22/15

What a lovely day! This week, we released the first two issues of Gamer Girl & Vixen into the wild! If you backed my Kickstarter, you’ve been sent your digital copies! People are reading and loving our little comic, and I’m on Cloud 9! Hopefully I’ll be able to share some good reviews coming up.

If you missed the Kickstarter and would still like to read the comic, stay tuned! We’re working to either get it up on Comixology or sell it ourselves!

As for regular comics, we’ve got a pretty OK pile this week. None of my favorites came out, but we’ve still got some good options from DC, Marvel and beyond. Comic Book of the Week goes to Star Wars #8 for the phenomenal introduction of Stuart Immonen on art.

Lightsabers will never be not cool

Over at Word of the Nerd, I picked up the first issue of the House of M tie-in to Secret Wars, and I’m pretty sure I’ve lost all reason to care about these tie-ins anymore. This feels like it’s going on forever. The issue itself was pretty standard nothingness. Competently made, but utterly worth less than nothing. Oh well.

Comic Reviews: Black Canary #3, Power Up #2, Robin: Son of Batman #3, Secret Six #5, Silk #6 and Star Wars #8.

Black Canary #3

Black Canary #3
Writer: Brenden Fletcher
Artist: Annie Wu

I finally tracked down and read the Black Canary prologue that appeared during Convergence, and I’m annoyed that it didn’t answer any of my questions or solve my concerns. In this new issue, we find out that the character Ditto, the pre-teen guitar wunderkind, is the center of Dinah’s entire world. I was hoping that the prologue would explain where Ditto came from, but it doesn’t, and I’m starting to get frustrated.

This comic could be one of the absolute best at DC Comics, but I just can’t get over this one glaring plot hole that’s crawling under my skin!

Why the heck is a mute 12-year-old orphan a member of this band?! How does that happen?! If she’s going to be the main focal point of your entire comic book, couldn’t you at least explain how she came to be in your comic book? Black Canary wanting to protect a little girl from monsters is one thing, that’s easy to understand; but how does that little girl become a member of a rough & tumble rock & roll band?!


Anyway, so Dinah’s ex-husband and his mysterious agency are still after Ditto, so they attack the band’s tour bus while it’s en route to their next gig. Dinah kicks all manner of butt on top of the moving bus, then via motorcycle on the highway, eventually confronting her husband directly. But the guy explains that his people are trying to rescue Ditto and the band from the shadow monsters, who are right that very minute inside the bus about to grab Ditto!

Dinah and her husband get back on the bus, stop the shadow monsters, and everybody makes it to the concert on time. Later, Dinah and her husband sit down to talk, and he explains that Ditto used to belong to the government, and they used her genes to douse their agents with super-powers — including Dinah! Her sonic scream comes from government experimentation on Ditto!

Maeve, the angry former band member, overhears this claim and kidnaps Ditto!

Comic Rating; 7/10 – Good.

This is a very good comic! This could even be a great comic! The writing is sharp, and Wu’s art is pretty amazing. That bus-top battle to open the issue, which is intercut with scenes from the concert, is spectacular. Wu shows a few minor signs of rushing, but still, the art is killer. Black Canary has a great look.

Why don’t real rock bands fight evildoers?

But man, I just can’t get past the huge plot holes. Fletcher has a great idea, about a superhero-led rock band that has to fight bad guys from time-to-time. But the latter is starting to crowd out the former, to the point of absurdity. What possible sense does it make for this band to continue doing shows when they’ve got government agencies and supernatural shadow monsters attacking them at every turn?!

And again, to beat this horse until it’s dead, how does Ditto even work?! How did she come to join this band? Why were any of them OK with an orphaned 12-year-old joining their rock band? How long have they known her? How did they meet her? Does Child Protective Services have any say in what’s going on here? Does she not have proper legal guardians? And once it became clear that freakin’ shadow monsters were after her, WHY DID THEY KEEP GOING TO CONCERTS?! How is Dinah, who is revealed in this issue to be a former government operative, more concerned about keeping the band together than she is about protecting or saving Ditto? Why does she think it’s OK to try and do both? It’s not like her decision to endanger Ditto in order to stick to their record deal is portrayed as a negative. It’s not like anybody is calling her on this bad decision.

Black Canary has a lot of style, there’s no denying that fact. But its substance has more holes than Dinah’s leggings after a night on stage!

Power Up #2

Power Up #2
Writer: Kate Leth
Artist: Matt Cummings

I definitely want to give Power Up a chance. I like Kate Leth, and I like the modern trends in comics that make a story like this happen. But Power Up just hasn’t hooked me yet. It’s got all the makings of a solid comic, but Leth needs a firmer foundation to play around on.

It’s been two days since Amie got super-powers and battled a void demon, and she’s been hiding out at home watching Netflix with her new friend, the super-powered goldfish, Silas. When she finally decides to take a shower and head back into work, her bus is attacked by bomb gremlins! Fortunately, Kevin comes to her rescue, with his awesome Sailor Moon-esque super-powers. Then Amie, Kevin and Silas are joined by Sandy, who has strength and flight powers. Together, the four of them fight off more of the gremlins, while comparing notes on how they all got their powers from the same crazy light the other day.

Once the gremlins are gone and the wide-eyed public starts snapping pictures, they all pile into Sandy’s minivan to beat a hasty retreat.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

I think Leth has everything perfectly worked out in her head, but she hasn’t managed to really lay it all out in the actual comic yet. For example, I think Amie is supposed to have weak powers, and that it kind of bugs her. But Leth doesn’t really make that clear, I don’t think. She could definitely put a lot more emphasis on that fact. She does a pretty good job with her new characters, Kevin and Sandy. Both get solid introductions this issue, and the interplay between the new teammates is great. But Amie suddenly makes a comment that she might be older than the bearded Kevin, throwing everything I thought I knew about her out of the water. How old is she? What are her powers supposed to be? How does she really feel about them?

I feel like we know the side characters much, much better than our main character.

They’re just more interesting people

The art remains solid, though just like last issue, there are some parts that get a little too busy for their own good. And again, it has to do with Amie’s powers. There’s a scene where her hands glow and she uses her fish friend to fight a monster, but I wasn’t sure if the fish was part of her powers or what. I just don’t think I have a solid handle on what Amie is doing in this comic, but Leth is barreling ahead with this strange, void monster invasion storyline anyway.

Power Up is a light and fluffy comic, but it could use a little grounding to really be something special.

Robin: Son of Batman #3

Robin: Son of Batman #3
Writer and Artist: Patrick Gleason

Eh, I think I’m out. It pains me to say this about a Robin solo comic, especially one drawn by Patrick Gleason, but the character isn’t even recognizable. If you’re enjoying this Damian solo adventure, more power to you. This is definitely a very well-made comic. But my tastes in Boy Wonder comics skews more towards what they’re doing in We Are Robin.

Damian and Nobody are at each other’s throats, even as they finish up another of Damian’s weird, mystical tasks. The two youths come to blows, angry about any number of things, until they have to quickly work together to calm a hysterical Goliath. They both calm down after that and enjoy a quiet moment of contemplation together, looking out over the ocean.

When Nobody’s jet returns, she finds several missed messages from her father’s old partners, who don’t yet know he’s dead. She thinks she has to answer the call and take up her father’s legacy for good, but Damian convinces her that a family legacy does not need to define you. She agrees to stay with Damian and tells her father’s old partner that ‘he’ quits. But his old partner turns out to be Deathstroke, and he doesn’t like quitters.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

For one thing, I just don’t care about this take on Damian. I prefer reading about Robin in the context of his role as Batman’s partner in Gotham City — but I’m willing to make an exception if I like the Robin. I love some of Tim Drake’s adventures beyond Gotham. But I don’t care about Damian, I don’t care about Nobody, and the very existence of Goliath in this comic is still hugely weird. So I just don’t care about Damian and this brand new character, Nobody, getting into a fist fight while trying to steal(?) some vague crystal thing from some vague tribesmen somewhere. And I don’t care that Damian convinces Nobody to stick with him. We barely know the girl; it’s too soon for her motivations to be called into question, let alone get in a fistfight with Damian.

Gleason is doing a pretty stellar job making this comic, but it’s just not for me. It’s not what I want out of a Robin solo comic.

Secret Six #5

Secret Six #5
Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: Dale Eaglesham and Tom Derenick

The new Secret Six is the Hangover 2 of comics. It’s every movie sequel that thinks the same cast and a warmed over retread of the first movie will put butts in seats. I don’t doubt that Gail Simone is trying her best, but she just can’t make the same magic work this time around. At least not for me.

During a team cookout, Catman discovers that Big Shot’s wife works for Mockingbird and he confronts the big guy. A fight breaks out between the two men, but cooler heads eventually prevail, and Big Shot reveals the team’s secret origin:

Big Shot is revealed to be Ralph Dibney in disguise. He also tells the team that Mockingbird is the Riddler, and that once upon a time, all six of them were present on a luxury yacht where the Riddler was showing off a large diamond. But the diamond ended up getting stolen, Riddler got pissed, and he kidnapped Ralph’s wife Sue. Then he trapped them all in that box from the first issue.

With this knowledge in hand, the team piles in a van to go confront the Riddler, but Ralph betrays them and they all get captured.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

Simone tries her best, but she just can’t capture the same greatness as when the pre-reboot Secret Six first came together. Back then, she was playing with Lex Luthor, the Secret Society of Super-Villains and Infinite Crisis. This time, she comes up with some half-baked idea where everybody was randomly on Riddler’s yacht. She doesn’t even try that hard to explain how or why Porcelain, Strix, Black Alice or the Ventriloquist were on that yacht. And Riddler is a terrible Mockingbird. First of all, I’m fairly certain she’s writing a pre-reboot, wacky Riddler, whereas New 52 Riddler is the guy behind Zero Year in Gotham City. And second of all, pre-reboot Riddler just doesn’t have the gravitas needed to bring the Secret Six together.

And she made a friend!

The first team had the power of rebellion behind them. This team just kind of came together because, and there are six of them because.

When Simone is focused on the characters themselves, like in the cookout, she does an alright job. Part of it still feels like warmed over attempts to capture the same camaraderie as the previous Secret Six, but she’s definitely trying to establish these characters. There’s some enjoyment to be had there. But everything to do with this ridiculous plot she’s cooked up just falls apart. Why does the Riddler feel the need to call himself Mockingbird? Why does his revenge against these six involve putting them in that box? Where are the riddles? Is this really all about a dumb gem that somebody stole? Why is Riddler suddenly in love with Sue Dibny? Where did that come from?

Somewhere in this comic is the same enjoyable Secret Six. But right now, it’s suffering the same fate as Horrible Bosses 2.

Silk #6

Silk #6
Writer: Robbie Thompson
Artist: Stacey Lee

The initial run of Silk is coming to a close, finally catching up to the start of Secret Wars. I think we’ve got another issue to go, but I’ll probably shrug through Cindy Moon struggling with the end of the world. Hopefully when she returns, she’ll be even stronger, but any sort of hiatus is going to suck.

Silk has been kidnapped by a mad scientist who works for the people who are hiding her parents. But he plans to betray his employers and sell bits and pieces of her on the black market. Silk breaks free and beats him up, then Black Cat shows up to get her revenge on the guy for betraying her. Black Cat accidentally kills the man, which angers Silk, because he was the only clue she had to her parents’ whereabouts.

Silk uses her anger to whoop some Black Cat butt, but the villainess still gets away. Spider-Man shows up to give Silk a hug, and she decides that maybe it would be a good idea to call that therapist.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

This was another fine issue of Silk, wrapping up her initial storyline in a solid, productive way. She has a few big moments, cements her rivalry with the Black Cat, and even gets a nice cameo from Spider-Man. We’re no closer to finding her parents, but maybe the creative team is waiting for her relaunch to really delve into that stuff. Fine by me. Silk has been a fun little comic so far. It’s nothing spectacular, but it’s still fun, especially if you really like the character. Though I can’t help but feel that this might be a stronger comic overall if Silk wasn’t tied so closely to Spider-Man. Maybe if Cindy Moon and her circumstances were original, and they really delved into what it might be like to be a new superhero in the MU.

Star Wars #8

Star Wars #8
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Stuart Immonen

The big change this issue is the introduction of artist Stuart Immonen, and man, does he impress right off the bat! Immonen draws a Star Destroyer on an early page that knocked my socks off! Marvel is really going all-out with the talent on this comic!

Sana Solo still has a gun pointed at Han and Leia on the gas planet’s surface, determined to take both of them into custody and sell Leia to the Imperials. Han — who insists that Sana is not his wife — tries to talk her out of it, while Leia is ready to wash her hands of the whole mess. But Sana blows up their shuttle, so they’ve got no choice but to go with her. Han whispers to Leia to follow his lead while he tries to sweet talk Sana into lowering her weapon, but Leia instead kicks Han into Sana, pulls out her own hidden gun and trains it on both of them. It’s pretty awesome. But her act of awesomeness is interrupted by the arrival of several TIE fighters through the atmosphere!

Meanwhile, after reading Ben Kenobi’s journal, Luke Skywalker realizes that he didn’t learn anything about how to be a Jedi. So he flies to a nearby pirate planet, finds the nearest hive of scum and villainy, and declares that he wants to hire someone to sneak him onto Coruscant. The pirates aren’t about to play along with such a noob, and they try to kill him. When Luke reveals he has a real lightsaber, one of the pirates snatches it out of his hand and takes off.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Welp, Stuart Immonen is amazing. He takes over for John Cassaday with this issue, and I can honestly say I almost completely forgot about that other legendary artist. Immonen just kills it on the very first page.

I want to ride!

His characters and his settings live and breath Star Wars, just like the writing. And while I do this think ‘ex-wife’ storyline is a little silly, there’s no denying it’s a great excuse to give Han and Leia some more drama. The moment where she chooses not to follow his lead, and instead take the lead herself, is a great moment. Jason Aaron could be writing the comic of his career with this run. Disney needs to hire him to pen a Star Wars movie!

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 August 22, 2015, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin, Spider-Man, Star Wars and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. House of M was OK. Fine writing. Ugly art.

    Silk was good. I really love Stacey Lee’s art. Silk beating the crap out of Black Cat was so viscerally satisfying, and that’s almost entirely on Lee, I think. She just does such wonderful work.

    Gamer Girl and Vixen was pretty good. Fun.

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