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

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! The long national nightmare of Secret Wars is over, and the All-New, All-Different Marvel is upon us! Though, that isn’t exactly accurate. Secret Wars is not yet over, and will actually continue all the way into December. And it’s not a nightmare, I’m actually enjoying it. But the All-New, All-Different Marvel is definitely here in force this week! No longer do we have to rely on tie-ins or Star Wars comics to get our Marvel fix! We’ve got brand new first issues of Amazing Spider-Man, Invincible Iron Man and Doctor Strange, who, I guess, doesn’t deserve an adjective.

Comic Book of the Week goes to the first issue of the new Amazing Spider-Man, which only barely inches past the new Invincible Iron Man. Possibly because it includes the greatest cameo by the Prowler in a decade! Among other goodies.

It gets really good, people

Though this week isn’t all wine and roses. DC has launched their sequel to the henchly-reviled Batman Eternal! And like a pig to the slaughter, I picked that up too…

Comic Reviews: Action Comics #45, Amazing Spider-Man #1, Batman and Robin Eternal #1, Doctor Strange #1 and Invincible Iron Man #1.

Action Comics #45

Action Comics #45
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Scott Kolins

It’s not all awesome new Marvel comics this week! We’ve also got the next ongoing chapter of Greg Pak’s Action Comics. I’m still a fan, and we can’t exactly ignore Superman, right?

Clark Kent is on the hunt for Wrath, the black shadow villain he fought off last issue. He’s conducting his investigation from a remote log cabin, laying low so that nobody distracts him by recognizing Clark Kent as Superman. And he takes his secrecy seriously. When Hiro, the new Toyman, tracks him down to help, Clark blows up his log cabin and tells Hiro to leave. Clark has tracked Wrath to a research facility called Lyfegene. In order to get inside, Clark has gotten a job at a nearby laundry service under the assumed identity of Archie Clayton. Nobody suspects the laundry guy.

After weeks of casing the joint, Clark stages a break-in at the big, secret research room at Lyfegene. Inside, he finds a bunch of innocent people being experimented on by scientists. He kicks the scientists’ butts and discovers that all of the people were infected by Wrath’s black ink – and his firefighter free Lee is one of the prisoners too! But when Superman gets too close, he gets infected!

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

This was another solid chapter of Pak’s Superman saga, one I am definitely still enjoying. He takes a few odd steps here, like the random appearance by Toyman, and the idea that Superman would blow up his log cabin just because an ally paid him a visit, but the rest of the issue makes up for it. I love the idea that Clark Kent went undercover for weeks to figure out where Wrath was hiding. I love the meticulousness of the whole enterprise. Though it does kind of go all to pot when Superman just decides to start smashing.

Kolins is a nice fill-in for regular artist Aaron Kuder. Their styles are similar, and Kolins does a solid job with the monstrosity of the black ink, and with the normalness of this current Superman. This is a solid creative team telling a solid Superman story, though this problem with the shadow ink monsters is starting to get a little long in the tooth.

Amazing Spider-Man #1

Amazing Spider-Man #1
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli

You’e going to have to forgive me for the big synopsis. This first issue is jam-packed with new and exciting Spider-Man stories, and I want to try and cover everything Slott is swinging for the fences with this relaunch, and I love every single part of it. You’re also going to have to forgive me for getting all fanboy about Hobie Brown being a major character in this new series. I love the Prowler more than anybody has any right.

Parker Industries has gone global! Peter Parker’s cutting edge technological company has offices on both coasts, as well as in Europe and China! The issue opens with Spider-Man and Mockingbird, his SHIELD liaison, using the awesome new Spider-Mobile to catch some Zodiac thugs in Shanghai. It seems Zodiac has been trying to steal the specs to Peter’s latest Webware invention. The heroes kick butt and Spidey shows off all of the awesome new technology he’s built for himself now that his resources are pretty limitless. Along with the new Spider-Mobile, he’s got upgraded web-shooters, a variety of new webbing applications, and much more! He’s also apparently got a hot Chinese girlfriend who helped him design the Spider-Mobile.

After the day is saved, and after a press conference where he announces the start of his new charity, the Uncle Ben Foundation, Peter flies to San Francisco to attend the wedding of Max Modell, his old friend and mentor from Horizon. Peter and Max have patched things up after Superior Spider-Man, and Peter has put Max in charge of his West Coast operations, which he’s renamed Horizon University in Max’s honor. Also at the wedding are Sajani Jaffrey, who is running Peter’s European operations with Anna Maria Marconi; and Hobie Brown, the Prowler, who Peter has hired to pose as Spider-Man in the states while he’s off doing international business. I love that bit.

The wedding is attacked by more Zodiac goons, and Hobie suits up to fight them off. But he doesn’t have a Spider-Sense and loses the fight. Zodiac wants Peter’s executive Webware device, so Peter hands it over so that nobody else will be hurt. Then he and Hobie rush off to track the bad guys!

When Sajani returns to her office in Europe, she tells Anna Maria that they need to push up their nanotechnology work to try and get out from Peter’s shadow. Anna is on board. Also, the Living Brain robot that Anna has been using since the last volume? It’s apparently hiding the mind of Doctor Octopus!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

Slott and company just go nuts with changes to Spider-Man, and I love it! I may be a purist when it comes to Robin (as you’ll see below), but I can’t wait to see everything Slott has cooked up with Spider-Man! He’s never disappointed me when it comes to the web-slinger. Superior Spider-Man was the best Spider-Man story I’ve read in ages, and I trust Slott completely to blow our minds all over again! International business! Fancy, James Bond spider-gadgets! Team-ups with SHIELD and Mockingbird! Corporate espionage! Hooking up with badass car scientists! Prowler! Freakin’ Prowler, baby! He’s one of my all-time favorite characters, and to see Hobie back in action with such a prestigious role, I’m beside myself with excitement!

Of course, I felt the same way when Slott reintroduced Phil Urich, and then Slott went and made him a villain. Man…if Slott brought Prowler back just to kill him or something, then I don’t know if my poor little heart can take it.

The Simpsons cornered the tartar sauce joke years ago

But personal stakes aside, I loved everything in this issue. I love just how far Slott has pushed Spidey. I love how deeply Peter is still trying to hold on to his roots and his responsibilities. I love the subplots about Sajani and Doc Ock and the Spider-Mobile. I love how this still feels like Spider-Man.

Look, we all know these changes aren’t going to last forever. The status quo will be restored at some point. Otto Octavius didn’t stay Spider-Man for long. But I’m going to enjoy this ride for long as it lasts. I trust and enjoy Slott completely with the character. This is going to be an exciting new direction!

Batman and Robin Eternal #1

Batman and Robin Eternal #1
Writers: James Tynion IV
Artist: Tony Daniel

I didn’t really want to be here. As longtime readers know, I detested Batman Eternal. It was a terrible comic! I had zero interest in reading its sequel! But then DC announced that the sequel would focus on the Robins, my one weakness! So here I am, diving into Batman and Robin Eternal #1. Maybe I’ll review every week, maybe I won’t. All I know is that this first issue ain’t half bad.

Dick Grayson is back in Gotham City working for Spyral, and he calls on help from the Red Hood and Red Robin to catch a bad guy. They banter and enjoy the quality time together before Dick has to move on to a new Spyral mission at Gotham State University’s new Tower of Enlightenment. Dick goes undercover at the grand opening, and he tells his handler a bit about one of his earliest missions as Robin, the first time he and Batman encountered the Scarecrow. It was Dick’s first super-villain, and they ended up tracking Scarecrow all around the world before catching him. But suddenly, Dick is ambushed by a bunch of mind controlled children! And then his handler turns on him! They’re all working for someone called ‘Mother’, and one of Mother’s operatives is called The Orphan.

Dick makes his escape, only to be ambushed by Cassandra Cain, who kicks his butt and hands him a thumb drive with the bat symbol on it. Dick heads to the Batcave to look into Mother, but there are no files. So he loads up the thumb drive and gets a long list of names, including the names of all the Robins. A hologram of Batman appears and says that Mother is his greatest secret and his greatest shame. And we see a flashback to Cairo, where Batman apparently shoots two young parents in an alley in order to kidnap their son, recreating his own origin story for Mother.

Meanwhile, after losing Dick Grayson, the Orphan arrives at Harper Row’s apartment to kill her!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I want to say this right off the top: there may come a time during this series where my fanboyisms overpower my love of a good story. Robin is sacred to me, and there’s a very good chance that this creative team has come up with some retcon to Robin’s history that’s going to annoy me. I hope it doesn’t happen, but I’m going to try to suck it up and deal.

That being said, this was a good beginning to Batman and Robin Eternal. I didn’t like Batman Eternal from the first issue, spotting nothing but plotholes. But this one is leaner and more grounded. Some new villain has arrived who has history with both Batman and potentially the origin of Robin, and that’s a solid villain for a big event series. This issue has solid teamwork between the ‘brothers’, has a fun couple of cameos from Harper Row, and starts the mystery of the new Cassandra Cain. It’s got a lot going for it, and Tynion does a fine job setting up the ongoing mysteries.

Horizontal is weird

If they can keep up this level of fun and respect for the Robin legacy, I could definitely enjoy this comic. If the characters stay this strong and interesting, I could definitely enjoy this comic. But if this is all about tearing down the House of Robin and salting the ashes, it’s probably gonna suck.

Doctor Strange #1

Doctor Strange #1
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Chris Bachalo

Someone has a big movie coming up in a few years! So it makes total sense that Marvel would put out a new Doctor Strange. And it makes even more sense that they’d put Jason Aaron at the helm. That guy has been on fire lately at Marvel!

Doctor Strange battles a roaming herd of soul-eaters who have taken up residence inside a little boy’s soul. He defeats their champion, makes out with their hot alien leader, and learns that they’re running from some great disaster. Once the job is done and the boy is saved, he heads to a meeting of other mages at The Bar With No Doors. He meets with Doctor Voodoo, Shaman and Scarlet Witch, and they share notes about rumblings of this coming great disaster. During the meeting, Stephen gets his feathers ruffled by Monako, the Prince of Magic, who bellows like a crazy old man about the price one must pay for magic. When he returns home, Strange is greeted by a young woman trying to work up the courage to knock on his door. She’s got a monster growing out of her head, something not even Strange has seen before, and it’s got him even more worried about the coming disaster.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This is a very charming comic.  I love the little touches that Aaron infused in his debut Doctor Strange issue. When the family of the little boy asks how they can repay the Doctor for his help, Strange tells them to surprise their depressed neighbor on his birthday. When Strange saves an old man from an invisible, interdimensional parasite, we see in the background that the old man suddenly stands up straighter and can walk without a cane. It’s little details like that that really sold me on this comic.

That is quality characterization

I’ve never been a big Doctor Strange fan, but not for any particular reason. He just wasn’t my guy. But I love Jason Aaron, and I want to try as many of these new Marvel comics as I can, so here we are! And this is a fun introduction to the new series. Strange is stripped of all recent baggage and he’s presented as a heroic, helpful, grounded, but also flawed good guy, who’s dealing with some pretty insane problems. That’s where Bachalo’s art definitely helps, though it also suffers from Bachalo’s usual madcapness. Sometimes you can make out what’s happening, sometimes you can’t. Such is Bachalo.

This is a very entertaining new start for Doctor Strange. This issue is uncomplex, it’s charming and the hero is unique and potentially very exciting. Consider me on board!

Invincible Iron Man #1

Invincible Iron Man #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez

As expected, Marvel is leading with their best feet forward on this new relaunch. Along with Spider-Man, their most popular character, and Doctor Strange, whose got a new movie coming out next year, we’ve also got the brand new Invincible Iron Man! I was definitely excited for this comic because it reunites the team behind the very excellent adventures of Miles Morales.

Simply put, Bendis is one of my all-time favorite comic book writers. Seeing him tackle Marvel’s most cinematic character should be a real treat. And this will also hopefully be the top of the line title that Marquez has been waiting for.

Once again, Tony Stark is starting fresh. He’s built a new suit of Iron Man armor. He’s put his old baggage behind him. He goes on a date with an attractive bio-chemist. He’s charming and lovable. And one of his classic villains, Madame Masque, is up to no good. Stark gets called out of his date when he’s informed that Masque has stolen something from Castle Doom in Latveria. Donning his new armor, Stark heads out to investigate, only to run into an unmasked, handsome Doctor Doom!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This first issue is so slick, I hope Bendis is teaching classes somewhere on how to be this perfect. You’ve got Tony Stark at his charming, smarmy best. He’s got the quips, he’s got the know-how, he’s got the workshop. The new armor looks like any old suit of armor, but Marquez makes it look great. There’s the beautiful new love interest, who’s as smart as she is cool. There’s a classic villain getting up to no good. There’s a surprise appearance by Doctor Doom to add some new mystery to everything. This issue is text book, with both Bendis and Marquez at the tops of their games. I love it.

Also, ‘Friday’ from Age of Ultron is now a thing in the comics

Though one has to wonder if that shocking reveal at the end would have had more impact had Secret Wars wrapped up on time. Hopefully Marvel hasn’t spoiled too much of the end of Secret Wars by revealing that Doctor Doom survives and gets to look normal.

Still, if Marvel was looking to make a solid new jumping on point for Iron Man comics, they’ve cranked out a pretty great Invincible Iron Man #1.

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 10, 2015, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin, Spider-Man, Superman and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Spider-Man was OK. This first issue is better than the series has been for the past year. We’ll see if Slott can actually keep the quality above blah. But I still wish he’d just leave the book already. Let someone else write it. On the plus side, Prowler gets some use, and Mockingbird is always nice, even if Slott didn’t actually do jack shit with her here.

    As for the teasers for the other Spider-titles: The Web Warriors preview leaves out Anya. Because of course it does. She just formed the frigging team, so why would she be in a teaser for the book? I get the impression Costa doesn’t give a shit about Anya and only has her in the book because he’s obligated to keep her there, since Slott put her there. The Spider-Woman preview was great – Jessica and Carol are bros, and I’m always happy to see White Tiger and the Walrus. Silk has Stacey Lee on art, so it can never be bad.

    Dr. Strange was also OK. I’ve decided that I cannot stand Chris Bachalo’s art. This is the perfect book for him, and I still wish he wasn’t drawing it. I did like the cameos from Voodoo, Shaman and Wanda. Wanda was really into that fruity drink, it seemed.

    Iron Man was another OK one. It amuses me that the woman found a cure for the mutant gene by accident. Madame Masque is a fun villain. I’m not sold on that ending, though.

  2. I enjoyed the first issue of spidey. It was pretty good. I also liked Mockingbird’s appearance, i hope that becomes a thing, and we see more of her. I know she’s a poor man’s Spider-woman, or Captain Marvel, in terms of that whole dynamic they share. But if i can’t have either of those other girls in the comic then Mockingbird is a good third choice. I’m talkin fighting partner, not love interest though. Hoby was alright, but i just can’t get it out of my head the whole ‘black sidekick’ thing, like Falcon was forever, and Rhodey too. Anyway, it will be interesting how they reverse all this if they ever bring Peter back to New York all poor again, since his company is mega huge now. It’ll probably be eaten up by Alchemax.

    • That Alchemax idea sounds like a pretty solid back door. But there’s always a way to make things normal again, no matter the stakes! And good point on Mockingbird. At least she’s being used somewhere interesting.

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