Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 11/21/15
This is the week. There are a lot of good comics out this week, and I wish I’d found the time to get to even more of them, but this week is special because of the return of two of my favorite comics: Ms. Marvel and The Mighty Thor! These are some of the best in the industry right now, and their returns are most welcome!
But surprisingly, Comic Book of the Week goes to Astonishing Ant-Man #2! Another one of Marvel’s gems, the new issue of Ant-Man delivers a wonderfully entertaining issue that edges out the two more hotly anticipated comics because of the return of a recent favorite character of mine!
Let’s welcome back Miss Thing!
And as a special bonus later today, tune in to the Geekamole Youtube channel this afternoon as I join frequent Henchman commenter Maus Merryjest for his weekly pop culture podcast! We talk about Teen Titans, Iceman and much more! If you’ve ever wanted to listen to me talk about comics instead of reading them, now is your chance.
Doubly also, we’ve got some big Gamer Girl & Vixen news coming soon! And if you helped out my Kickstarter last summer, then your comics should be arriving very soon!
Comic Reviews: Astonishing Ant-Man #2, Huck #1, Mighty Thor #1, Ms. Marvel #1, Spider-Woman #1, Titans Hunt #2 and Vader Down #1.
Astonishing Ant-Man #2
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Ramon Rosanos
I was a little worried about the first issue of the returned Ant-Man, because Spencer spent a lot of time on exposition and trying to get everybody caught up to his surprisingly complex little story. Fortunately, this second issue gets us back to that great Ant-Man feeling, with a resolution to a cliffhanger I seriously wanted answered: whatever happened to Darla Deering?!
I don’t know about you, but FF by Matt Fraction and the Family Allred was one of my favorite comics a few years ago. It put Scott Lang back on the map and had one heck of an adorable hook in Miss Thing. I’m glad to say that Astonishing Ant-Man #2 settles their story once and for all!
Ant-Man takes a job interview to do security at a concert, only to find out that the star is his ex-girlfriend, Darla Deering! The two were an item when they were both in the substitute Fantastic Four, but when Cassie came back to life, Scott left Darla without even a break-up phone call! She’s royally pissed and turns into Miss Thing so they can duke it out — only for them to be interrupted by a new version of the Magician, who wants revenge because Darla’s agent wouldn’t hire him for the opening act. Darla and Scott work together to distract the Magician and take him out. Then they find somewhere private to talk out their break-up and how this was for the best. Scott feels better in the end.
But then we (not Scott) find out that the whole thing was staged by Darla’s agent for the pilot of her new reality TV show! Darla feels a bit sad about deceiving Scott, but her agent is overjoyed at the success. They even hired the Magician through the Hench app.
Meanwhile, Grizzly and Machinesmith interview with Cross Industries for a new job. And then Captain America shows up to ask Scott for his help.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
I loved this issue, and I’m so glad that Spencer took the time to address Darla Deering. If you didn’t read Fraction’s FF, it was a fun, adorable comic with a lot of great characters. And it ended with a lot of big moments for Scott, with Darla as his love interest. But then they disappeared when that series was over, making one tiny reappearance as a couple in a random issue of Avengers World, when Doctor Doom brought Cassie Lang back to life. Spencer tackles all of that and then some, giving us the ‘end’ of their relationship and the new closure found in this issue. It was quite touching.
Then when he delivered the twist that the fight and the ‘closure’ were staged for Darla’s TV show, that was almost as good! How wickedly twisted, especially since Darla seemed legitimately upset that it was happening. It was a touching, funny and delightfully complex resolution to one of my favorite recent comic book romances.
Astonishing Ant-Man #2 was Spencer and Rosanos getting everything back on track. We’re all caught up again, and Ant-Man’s adventures are as entertaining as ever. They’ve got a great sad sack superhero story going here, with just enough positive character development and humor to make a truly well rounded story.
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
I hadn’t even heard of Huck until a recent interview with writer Mark Miller on CBR. He said he was inspired by the grim ending of Man of Steel to create a purely good and heroic superhero in the modern world. That sounded good to me, so here we are!
Huck works in a small town service station, and he uses his super strength and durability to do one good deed in town a day. Sometimes he picks up everybody’s trash, sometimes he’ll help a neighbor pull an ornery tree stump out of their field, and sometimes he’ll save a fisherman in trouble. The townsfolk are quite fond of Huck and do their best to keep his secret.
But when Huck uses his power to defeat Boko Haram and save all those kidnapped school girls, a few of his neighbors decide to cash in and reveal his heroism to the media!
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
I’ll definitely be picking up future issues of Huck. This was a pretty fun issue. It’s a little light on content, with Millar really only introducing the idea behind his main character, but that’s fine. We get a good sense of who Huck is and what he does. We get a solid idea about his town and his neighbors. And I suppose that’s enough to get us started on the story. I didn’t personally find any really strong hooks in the first issue. It’s pretty straight forward and fairly simple. I found it a little silly that Huck could just travel to Africa and beat up Boko Haram, but I’m sure that’s exactly what Millar was going for. Wouldn’t we all like to just fly over there and save those girls with super powers? The art is fantastic and definitely tells the story well. I guess we’ll just have to see where Huck goes from here.
The Mighty Thor #1
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman
Jason Aaron’s Thor has been one of my favorite comics at Marvel over the past few years, and definitely my all-time favorite take on the character. Granted, I never read much of any Thor prior to Aaron, but still, it’s a darn good comic. So you better believe I’m back for more, with Jane Foster out in the open and fully embracing her role as the God of Thunder!
Malekith and his evil cabal are building up to something evil, and it involves slaughtering light elves of Alfheim and dropping their corpses into orbit around the Earth. But the act causes a Roxxon weather space station to fall out of the sky and crash to Earth, and Jane Foster has to stop her chemotherapy treatment to turn into Thor to save the day. Every time she does this, the change ‘heals’ the chemotherapy chemicals out of her system, but leaves the cancer.
Once the day is saved, Jane turns back into herself and travels to Asgard to try and get the lay of the land. Odin has put the whole place on lockdown, he’s locked Freyja in a cell, and he has become a hermit in his own castle as he watches over everyone. The Council of Realms is too terrified of Odin to act properly against Malekith, especially as the dark elf council members continue to deny that anything is happening. Politics, eh?
Jane decides she needs to go directly to Alfheim to stop this, but the moment she turns into Thor, the Serpent and his cronies arrive to arrest her! And speaking of Malekith and his evil cabal, they have a new member wanting to join: Loki!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This was a solid, entertaining set up issue getting us all up to speed with the new status quo of things. Aaron apparently has a lot of ground to cover, but he does it well, with Dauterman on hand to provide his world class visuals. Seriously, if Dauterman isn’t already a superstar comic book artist, I don’t know what the world is waiting for. This might be the most gorgeous book on the stands.
Aaron had too much ground to cover to really get the story moving. He’s got a bit of a lumbering beast here, but the momentum definitely starts picking up in this issue. I’m excited to see all of these moving parts come together, and I know he’s more than capable of making that happen. Where he really shines, though, is in getting into Jane Foster as a character. She was obviously missing for that whole period when lady Thor’s identity was a mystery, so I’m glad to see him diving right in to Foster. He must have done a lot of research into living with cancer and chemotherapy, and designing the character around those harsh realities. Her story seems like it’s going to be amazing.
There is a lot of skill and hard work going into this new volume of The Mighty Thor, and I’m excited to see where Aaron takes us after this issue of heavy plot lifting. Plus, the promise of a Beta Ray Bill appearance has my heart all a flutter.
Ms. Marvel #1
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artists: Takeshi Myazawa and Adrian Alphona
Thank you, Secret Wars, for not ruining Ms. Marvel too much. I might not be happy with her being on the Avengers (It’s too soon!), but thankfully this return issue is just as great as the last volume. Kamala Khan is back, and hopefully for good this time.
Kamala Khan has been spending so much time with the Avengers lately that she’s lost track of things in her regular, Jersey City life. For example, a new, sinister development company has come to town and has started buying up the old, traditional shops and replacing them with gentrified hipster stuff, like a sushi bar! What’s worse, they’ve co-opted Ms. Marvel’s image to use in their billboards and advertising. When she goes to confront them, Ms. Marvel and a local shopkeeper are chased away by robotic drones!
But even worse than that, Kamala missed out on the fact that Bruno has a girlfriend! When we last saw the two of them, they were confessing their love to one another while the world came to an end around them. At the time, Kamala said she wasn’t ready to have a boyfriend, not with her superhero duties. Well it seems, in the 8 months since, Bruno has tried to move on. Kamala is in a very bad mood about it, but Bruno explains how he and Michaela Miller met cute and how he’s so happy with her. It’s really quite adorable, and Kamala can’t help but concede that he’s right.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
This was another delightful issue of Ms. Marvel, exploring her superhero life and her personal life in equal measure, and both thoroughly satisfying and entertaining. Wilson makes great use of this ‘8 months later’ thing in the fallout of Secret Wars, bringing small but interesting changes to Kamala’s world. Not only has Bruno found a girlfriend (and their meet cute story is just perfect), but Zoe is now a closer friend, and this whole gentrification thing is a fascinating problem to tackle.
Whereas some writers have struggled to handle this time jump, Wilson hits the ground running. Ms. Marvel feels like the same comic it was — with stellar help from both previous artists — but it’s also clearly got new stories to tell. A new villain is going to emerge, and it’s not just some weird bad guy like the Inventor. This new development company is built into the very bedrock of Jersey City, a locale that does such a great job defining Kamala and her life. And the personal drama with Bruno has gone in a direction I definitely did not see coming. I never particularly liked the subplot about him pining over Kamala, so his new relationship with ‘Mike’ is just dandy. I hope Kamala can get some equally strong romance storylines.
Ms. Marvel is back and it’s as good as ever. Wilson has such a grasp of this character and her world that this series is going to remain a treat for the foreseeable future!
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Javier Rodriguez
I loved the first volume of Hopeless and Rodriguez’s Spider-Woman, so I’m definitely on board for even more. The idea to make her pregnant is a bit out of left field, but this first issue definitely has a lot of fun with the concept.
Jessica is pregnant and is finding it hard to sit on the sidelines while her protege, Porcupine, handles all of the crime-fighting. But she’s got a lot of friends and loved ones who keep insisting she take a break until the baby is born, so Jess goes on a month-long maternity leave with fun and adorable results. Eventually she decides to take Carol Danvers’ offer of intergalactic hospital care and visits a space maternity ward — but the place is suddenly attacked by Skrulls!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
The same joy and fun of the previous volume is back in spades with the new Spider-Woman #1! Hopeless and Rodriguez are clearly enjoying themselves as they tackle a new and potentially fascinating direction for their main character, and the issue is filled with fun, accessible scenes and moments. Whether she’s hosing Tony Stark for daring to ask if she knows who the father is, to struggling with so much downtime during her superhero hiatus, Jessica Drew is as entertaining as ever. And I hope we get to see more of her friendship with Carol Danvers.
The only thing I’m worried about is Hopeless’ successful and enjoyable rehabilitation of the Porcupine. It’s great…but what am I supposed to do when I write for Marvel comics and want to turn my favorite obscure villains, like the Spot, into superhero badasses? Hopefully has stolen my eventual thunder!
Titans Hunt #2
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Stephen Segovia
I renew my objection that this series be about some mythical force trying to reunite the original Teen Titans team in spite of New 52 continuity. There are too many hoops to jump through, and it has claimed the second issue of Titans Hunt.
In an effort to figure out what’s going on, Dick Grayson pays a visit to the Batcave, where Alfred advices him to bait Aqualad into finding Dick instead of the other way around. It works, and Dick lures Garth to a beach to talk, but Garth only wants to fight. Their battle is then interrupted by Donna Troy.
Elsehwere, Roy Harper, Mal Duncan and Gnarrk are all hunted by a spectre or visions.
Comic Rating: 4/10 – Pretty Bad.
For some reason, Abnett has decided that since the word ‘Hunt’ is in the title, this comic needs to opine about hunting. Whole pages of this comic are devoted to some weak, flowery prose about ‘the hunt’ on some mythical level. It’s eye-rollingly dull, especially since it doesn’t really have anything to do with anything. The prose claims that these wayward Titans are hunting for something, but we don’t really see it. Roy Harper drives drunk and gets into a fight with the cops who pull him over. Mal Duncan is enjoying life as a Hollywood musician. Gnarrk is as weirdly random as he’s ever been.
For a second issue, Abnett keeps the majority of his cast separated. Dick and Garth get together again, but for a fight scene that accomplishes nothing of value. The best scenes in the comic are between Dick Grayson and Alfred, but one doesn’t need to read a Titans comic for quality Dick/Alfred stuff. Give us some meaningful Titans interactions! That’s what we’ve tuned in to read!
The story is plodding and going nowhere fast, and the art is pretty crummy on Titans Hunt. Abnett really needs to pick up the pace and lay off the artful prose.
(Also, hopefully he’ll provide an explanation for the New 52 Donna Troy, because I think most of us dropped Wonder Woman when Azzarello left.)
Vader Down #1
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mike Deodato
Marvel and Star Wars have been a rockin’ and a rollin’ for months now, and I’m pretty pleased with everything they’ve put out (though I haven’t read it all). Now comes the time for their big crossover, and while it doesn’t live up to the awesomeness of some of the other stories, it’s still a strong start.
Darth Vader heads to the planet Vrogas Vas to find Luke Skywalker, but he quickly discovers an entire Rebel fleet running drills when he arrives. Vader starts tearing them apart with his TIE Fighter, until Luke senses the Sith Lord and crashes into him to take Vader down. Both Vader and Luke then crash on the planet below. The nearby Rebel base mobilizes all of their troops to hunt down Vader, and word gets back to Rebel Command, and they send troops — including Han, Leia and the gang. But Vader isn’t the least bit worried, no matter how many people they send after him.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
The big problem with the first issue of Vader Down is that Darth Vader is presented as unstoppable. He mows through entire squadrons of X-Wing Fighters, and when confronted with more than 100 Rebel troops, he simply draws his lightsaber and prepares to cut through every single one of them — and there’s no doubt that he can do it. So I ask, what’s the point of a story like ‘Vader Down’ if being down is merely an annoyance to this Darth Vader? He doesn’t look like he’s going to be in any trouble whatsoever. And even though a showdown with Luke Skywalker looks imminent, we kind of know it’s not going to make much difference. Empire Strikes Back, anyone?
But this is still an entertaining comic, well written and well drawn by the creative team. Darth Vader has been the star of Marvel’s Star Wars comics, and he’s truly a larger than life menace to the galaxy. I hope Aaron hobbles him in some way going forward, because even Darth Vader has flaws, right?
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!
Posted on November 21, 2015, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Star Wars and tagged Ant-Man, Astonishing Ant-Man, Darth Vader, Dick Grayson, Huck, Image Comics, Jane Foster, Kamala Khan, Lady Thor, Mark Millar, Mighty Thor, Ms. Marvel, Scott Lang, Teen Titans, Thor, Titans Hunt, Vader Down. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.