Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 10/3/15

Oof! It’s another light week of comics for some reason. It’s a Fifth Wednesday, which means a lot of companies don’t really put out much to begin with. But Marvel is still mired in Secret Wars to make things even worse!

I picked up two Annuals from DC Comics, but they’re both mildly entertaining efforts that don’t really have anything to do with the ongoing stories. Fortunately, the light week gave me a chance to jump back into Kaijumax, which wins Comic Book of the Week for its fascinatingly twisted look into monster prison!

Contraband is something special

I’ll try not to hold it against Oni Press that they didn’t want either of my comic submissions.

Comic Reviews: Batman Annual #4,  The Cavalry #1, Grayson Annual #2, and Kaijumax #6.

Batman Annual #4

Batman Annual #4
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Roge Antonio

So apparently the great experiment that was Arkham Manor has come to an end. This annual issue, tossed out on a Fifth Wednesday, serves to tie off that storyline with a nice, simple bow and give Wayne Manor back to Bruce Wayne. I’d say it was fun while it lasted, but I lost interest in Arkham Manor fairly quickly.

When a private company bought the rights to make Robo-Batman, Wayne Manor was part of the deal, and the company has decided to simply give it back to Bruce Wayne. But three of its former tenants, Riddler, Mr. Freeze and Clayface, are still angry at Bruce for funding Batman Incorporated, so they stage an ambush when Bruce moves back in. Now it’s up to Alfred and the amnesiac Bruce Wayne to defeat the bad guys and save the day.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

Like I said above, the Annual issues I read from DC this week weren’t a big deal. This issue doesn’t really add much to the ongoing Batman series. It serves just to mop up the Arkham Manor storyline and sweep it conveniently under a rug. The Manor is going to return to its former glory and nobody will probably ever mention it again. I’m perfectly fine with that.

This was a perfectly serviceable issue. It explores Bruce Wayne’s psyche a bit now that he’s lost his Batman memories, and it puts him in a pretty stressful situation to see how he reacts. We also get to see Alfred being a total boss, and we see a bit more of the Bruce/Julie Madison relationship. I’m definitely in favor of that one, it’s a fun development. The villains are, likewise, perfectly fine. I definitely prefer this scheming, mastermind Riddler over the classic one that recently appeared in the pages of Secret Six. But the villains don’t particularly matter, they’re just a couple of classic rogues used to give this story some heft.

The art by Antonio isn’t particularly good. It’s sloppy and messy, but, again, it’s serviceable. This Annual was definitely tossed off to fill the fifth Wednesday in a month. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that, and it does serve a purpose in wrapping up Arkham Manor, but this is an otherwise throwaway issue.

Cavalry #1

The Cavalry #1
Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Luke Ross

I’ve flipped through a couple of these special SHIELD one-shots so far. They’re fine, I suppose, but they’re nothing to really write home about. Then I saw a Facebook post from Melinda May actress Ming-Na Wen the other day where she was really excited to pick up a comic about her character. So here I am, reading the Melinda May one-shot.

Melinda is a trainer for SHIELD, and she takes a squad of cadets out to a secret training island for some hands-on experience. One of the cadets is going to be used as a hostage, and the others have to work their way through the jungle, defeat May and rescue their teammate. Unfortunately, the team is attacked by strange robot wolves, and May instead uses these dogs as the training exercise. Once it’s all over, the cadets continue to share amazing stories about Melinda “The Cavalry” May with their fellow recruits.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

This was an OK comic about Melinda May, I suppose. It plays on her reputation among the cadets, which is a major part of her character. And she comes off as perfectly competent and badass. Twisting the robot wolf attack into a training session on the fly is a solid story for May. And the art does a fine job of keeping the action going and creating unique and distinguishable characters. Ross wasn’t forcing the art to look like the actors. But in the end, this was an oddly low key story. The robot wolves come out of nowhere and their mystery isn’t solved in the end. There are just suddenly a bunch of robot wolves at this SHIELD training center and May beats them up. It’s a solid little story, but surely Marvel could have come up with something more exciting.

Grayson Annual #2

Grayson Annual #2
Writer: Tim Seeley and Tom King
Artist: Alvaro Martinez

Just like the Batman Annual, this Grayson Annual isn’t that big of a deal. It’s a simple, pleasant story that explores a corner of the character’s life that the regular series probably doesn’t have time for. But the art isn’t up to the series’ usual standards, and the story doesn’t exactly break new ground. This is just a perfectly acceptable, somewhat enjoyable story of Dick Grayson teaming up with Superman.

Though the issue is obsessed with having the characters recap how their various status quos are quite different these days.

Once upon a team, Batman and Robin teamed up with Superman to take down the villain Blockbuster in Gotham City. Now, Dick Grayson and Superman must team up again to take out Blockbuster and a whole gang of bad guys who are using Blockbuster’s blood to turn them into super-powered punks. Meanwhile, Dick Grayson reveals to Superman that he’s both alive and working as a spy for Spyral, and Superman gets to reveal that he’s lost some of his powers, wears a T-shirt as a costume and rides a lot of motorcycles. The two heroes save the day and commiserate over the fact that they’re both “just guys”.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

Just like the Batman Annual, this was a perfectly fine and enjoyable comic. It doesn’t do anything to really advance the ongoing Grayson story, instead showing off a little side adventure as Dick and Clark hang out and catch up. Their friendship has always been fun, and while this comic doesn’t really deal too much with the history between them, they at least get along swimmingly. Here are two superheroes who are friends and who can work together easily to stop some bad guys. The art, again, is a slight step down from the usual quality, but that’s to be expected in an Annual issue.

I will drink up any flashback to the original Batman and Robin

Though one could make a drinking game about all the different moments where the characters just stand around spouting exposition about what they’ve been up to and how their normal status quos have changed. Oy vey!

Kaijumax #6

Kaijumax #6
Writer and Artist: Zander Cannon

I’m back covering Kaijumax from Oni Press after missing the last issue! This is a fun comic, with a really deep cast of characters, and its only getting more fascinating.

Lots of ongoing drama to sift through. Whoofy’s hallucinations have led him to murder his father, Ape-Whale, and now the gang turns to him for leadership. But Whoofy is still a scared little kid, and his hallucinations start pushing him to tear the gang apart. Gupta is still getting Uranium from Electrogor, but after he was attacked by Zonn a few issues ago, the uranium isn’t up to snuff and Electrogor has been feeling pretty sick. So Gupta makes it up to him by stabbing Zonn in the neck – only for Zonn’s girlfriend, Dr. Zhang, to shrink down to normal human size, enter the wound and tie off the damaged blood vessels herself. She’s kind of insane. Gupta, meanwhile, is kidnapped by space aliens after his alien mob boss’ son was killed last issue on his watch.

After all the trouble, Electrogor has had enough. So he and a buddy use his uranium to create a nuclear explosion to take down the fences! Electrogor is on the run!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

There are a ton of moving pieces in Kaijumax, and that’s what makes it so good. Cannon is telling multiple stories here, and it really helps to flesh out the world he’s simultaneously building. He’s got everything from slang to history to weird relationships to play around with, and all of it slathered in Japanese monster references. This issue added a lot of new and fascinating developments, from the shanking of Zonn, which came out of nowhere, to Electrogor making a big escape. Apparently this was the finale for ‘Season 1’ of the series, and Cannon definitely has a lot of storylines pay off in major ways. I hope we don’t have to wait too long for Season 2, because Kaijumax is starting to get really good.

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 October 3, 2015, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin, Superman and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Henchie, have you heard? As of issue thirteen, Scott Lobdell is back to writing the Titans.

    DC must really hate the them. Sounds like the best time to bail.

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