Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 11/28/15

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Or, at least, close enough! Due to that big American holiday, my reviews might be a little light this week. There are a ton of comics coming out these days that I enjoy, and I just couldn’t get too many helpings this week! But we’ve got the first issue of Dark Knight III, which is grabbing all the headlines. And we’ve got the always welcome return of Saga!

Comic Book of the Week goes to the first issue of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, a cute new comic from Marvel that resurrects an old franchise and gives it a 2015 spin.

The start of a beautiful relationship

Comic Reviews: All-New Wolverine #2, Dark Knight III #1, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1, Saga #31 and Silk #1.

Wolverine #2

All-New Wolverine #2
Writer: Tom Taylor
Arists: David Lopez and David Navarrot

I think Tom Taylor watches a lot of Orphan Black, because his All-New Wolverine definitely has an Orphan Black vibe. It’s got a strong female lead, a nice sense of humor and a bunch of violent clones of varying looks and personalities. Considering the fact that I really enjoy Orphan Black, I definitely like All-New Wolverine.

Wolverine is called into Alchemax genetics, the creators of the Laura clones we saw last issue. They want her help in tracking down the four clones, who they claim are responsible for blowing up an Alchemax lab. The clones all look like Laura, but they don’t have her healing factor or claws. Laura agrees, but when she returns to her apartment, she finds one of the clones visiting. The girl explains that everything isn’t as it seems, and she says that Laura, being a clone herself, should be helping them not hunting them. The girl leaves and rejoins her sisters, but Laura tracks them down. She tries to talk to them, but they’re soon ambushed by the Alchemax security guard and his team. There’s a big, nasty fight, and then Taskmaster shows up.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

The first issue was all action set-up, so this second issue takes a bit of a step back to start explaining what the heck is going on. It’s not as riveting, but that’s not a knock against the issue. Taylor has a lot to set up, and he does it well. The new clones are already interesting supporting characters, and Laura has found herself in the middle of a pretty interesting dilemma. Not quite sure what Taskmaster is randomly doing there in the end, but random cameos are kind of what he’s good for. Now we’ll get a third issue of the new Wolverine fighting a pretty solid Marvel villain.

I’m digging this couple

The new Wolverine has started off on a very Wolverine-esque adventures. She’s got bad guys, some solid supporting players, a good romance angle; I just hope Taylor and his art team can really start pushing this series to greatness. It’s a fine read so far, but it could use a bit more spark.

Dark Knight III #1

Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1
Writers: Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello
Artists: Andy Kubert and Frank Miller

I’d considered not even reviewing this series, but it’s pretty noteworthy, so here we are. I have very little history with the original Dark Knight books and writer Frank Miller. I was too young in the 80s to be there when Dark Knight Returns came out, and I wasn’t yet into comics as deeply as I am now when Dark Knight Strikes Again came out. In fact, I haven’t even read Strikes Again because the Internet says it’s terrible. Likewise, All-Star Batman and Robin.

So I have no expectations of anything reading Dark Knight III.

Batman returns to the streets of Gotham, raining hell down upon criminals and cops alike. The media is up in arms, as is Police Commissioner Yindel. But when Yindel finally confronts the Dark Knight and unmasks him, she discovers that its Carrie Kelley in the costume. A crying Carrie says that Bruce Wayne is dead.

Meanwhile, Superman’s daughter visits the Fortress of Solitude and sees a “Help Us” message from the Bottled City of Kandor. She takes the city to the Atom in the hopes that he can grow them back to regular size.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

I liked this comic well enough. It didn’t blow me away or have me at the edge of my seat or anything. I recognized the characters and some of the context. It was fine. It’s a nice start to a good Batman story. I didn’t particularly get any ‘Dark Knight’ vibes from reading the book. Miller’s classic art, of course, is nowhere to be found now. And word has it that Azzarello wrote most of this. But it’s a fine, solid start to a Batman comic. And the idea of bringing the bottled City of Kandor to the Atom sounds like a perfectly fine catalyst for adventure. I think I’ll keep reading, if only to see where we go from here. But I’m getting a big ‘Before Watchmen’ vibe from this whole project.

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1
Writers: Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare
Artist: Natacha Bustos

Lunella is a young girl who is too smart for her ordinary private school, and she gets picked on by both students and teachers for being light years ahead of her classroom subjects. They call her ‘Moon Girl’ because she wars a T-shirt with an accurate depiction of the moon on the front. But Lunella is working on an invention that she thinks will change the world, and she uses it to track down a mysterious orb in New York.

Meanwhile, back in pre-history, Moon Boy and Devil Dinosaur find the same mysterious orb in the hands of some evil tribesmen, and some wackadoo magic sends the orb flying through a portal into the present day. The tribesmen follow through the portal, but Moon Boy is fatally wounded. He says his goodbyes to Devil Dinosaur and sends his friend through the portal as well.

In the present, Lunella has brought the orb to gym class, which is when a bunch of monkey tribesmen and a giant, red Tyrannosaurus Rex come through. The tribesmen take the orb and flee, while Devil Dinosaur picks up Lunella in his teeth and chases after them.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I liked this issue. It’s a nice, simple, character-driven introduction with a lot of heart. Reeder and Montclare do an amazing job creating Lunella LaFayette and bringing her to life. She’s presented so completely and so effortlessly that you just know she’s going to be someone fun to read about. And they fit her nicely into the Marvel Universe, being a super smart girl who maybe, so far, just isn’t ‘gifted’ enough to be accepted into those elite super schools like the Future Foundation. She’s doing her best, darn it, and it really shows.

We’ve all been there!

We don’t get to see a lot of Lunella interacting with Devil Dinosaur yet, but I’m sure it will be fun. It’s a little random that she, out of everybody, gets wrapped up in this mysterious orb thing, but such is plot. We’ve got a potentially fun new character on our hands, and in my opinion, there aren’t enough dinosaurs in comics anyway. Only good things can come from teaming Lunella up with a T-Rex.

Saga #1

Saga #31
Writer: Brian K. Vaughn
Artist: Fiona Staples

Longtime readers of my blog will know that I used to do bigger, longer reviews of Saga. It’s a great comic, and I had a lot of fun. But the last volume kind of waned for me, and I kind of stopped doing the full reviews, and it didn’t seem at the time that anybody noticed or cared. But now we’re back, and I’ve gotten word from a few of you that you want me to continue reviewing Saga, so here we are!

Also, if you’d like me to go back to doing the full-sized reviews of Saga, let me know in the comments. I didn’t have time this week because of Thanksgiving, but if people want it, I can try!

All you really need to know to get caught up is that after a violent fight between Dengo the Crazy Janitor and the Last Revolution soldiers, Hazel has been stolen away from Marco and Alana, but she’s still with her grandmother and babysitter, at least.

Following the disastrous encounter with the rebel Last Revolution cell, Hazel, Klara, Izabel and rebel turncoat Lexis are taken prisoner by Landfall forces and are eventually locked up in some kind of prison facility. Years pass, and Hazel has started school inside the prison. She has a very nice teacher, who really connects with Hazel. So much so that Hazel decides to reveal that she’s a hybrid, and the shock causes the teacher to pass out and hit her head against a table. Ouch.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I thought this was an OK issue that nicely set up Hazel’s new living arrangements. It’s quite sad that she’s been away from her parents for so long, but we don’t see hide nor hair of those two in this issue, so that sadness is being kept at bay for now. Instead, this issue is all about a First-Grade Hazel interacting with a few different people inside the prison facility. Her teacher seems nice, but that ending is a downer. Hazel meets a new transgender character who will probably play a bigger role going forward. Really, this was all just a quiet, scene-setting issue with a strong focus on the new, older Hazel.

And, as always, Hazel is just a fun character to follow around.

Never change, little one

I’m definitely excited to see where Saga goes. One can never predict what Vaughn and Staples have in store for their cast of varied characters, but it’s usually always something amazing. For now, though, we slow things down to take a peek at a potentially very interesting part of Hazel’s young life.

Silk #1

Silk #1
Writer: Robbie Thompson
Artist: Stacey Lee

I was a fan of Silk’s first outing, so I’m definitely back to see how things are going. Business as usual seems to be the name of the game, with a few wrinkles to give the last volume’s stories a big push forward.

At the end of the last volume, Silk rescued her brother Albert. But he spent a little time with the Goblin Army gang recently, and his brain is beyond addled. He doesn’t remember much of anything, let alone where their parents are. Silk is getting him some medical help while she busts heads of Goblin Army members, trying to track down the Goblin King for answers.

Meanwhile, Silk is also working as a thief for the Black Cat, but actually she’s undercover with the Black Cat and is working for S.H.I.E.L.D. Silk spends a little time bonding with both Black Cat and her S.H.I.E.L.D. liaison, Mockingbird.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

Silk remains the same quality comic it was before with no real change. A few of the previous storylines have been pushed forward, like her job at the Fact Channel and her relationship with Black Cat. That’s fine. And when it comes to villains, the Goblin King and his henchmen should be fine. It’s always good to see Phil Urich again, despite how far he’s fallen. And the writing and art are top notch. Cindy Moon is still fun and quirky, with a nice sense of humor. And the art by Stacy Lee is Triple A all the way.

They look nothing like Link

I just can’t help but feel that Silk hasn’t really…developed yet. Like it’s still in its pupa stage and really needs to blossom into a butterfly. It’s fine, it really is. And it’s quite enjoyable. But it’s competing against so many other books right now. There are dozens of quality comics on the stands these days about spunky female heroes, including several other spunky female spider-heroes. Silk doesn’t really have anything that makes it stand out. It’s really trying, but it needs a stronger niche.

I’m also kind of bothered by J. Jonah Jameson’s role in this series.

Is there really no other news out there?

Jonah is obsessed with Silk, and it’s just weird. His obsession with Spider-Man was fine, because that was the point of his character in the Spider-Man books. But here in Silk, it’s like he’s just being used as a mouthpiece for the comic with no real logical pay-off. I’m reminded of the character of Menace back during Brand New Day. At the time, the writers used the Daily Bugle to trumpet the supposed terror and awesomeness of Menace. The writers, editors and publishers at the Bugle were obsessed with Menace. But where is Menace now? She’s not even a has-been. She’s a never-was. The Bugle’s editorial staff should have such egg on their faces.

And I can’t help but shake the feeling that Silk is the same way. She has yet to really do anything or mean anything that would capture Jolly Jonah’s attention this much. I’m not saying Silk is a bad character. It’s just the comic’s use of Jameson is really bugging me. And anything that draws comparisons to Menace is in trouble. Silk is much better than Menace.

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 November 28, 2015, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Wolverine was really good. This is a solid series so far. The clones are interesting, and I’m hoping we see more from them. I hope they’re not actually dead.

    Moon Girl was really good. Really cute. But it also did a fantastic job with Lunella, showing how hard it can be to be ahead of one’s class. The sense of isolation is done really well. She’s a great character.

    Silk was really good. I really enjoyed it. Thompson continues to do fine work with the character and her world, and Lee’s artwork remains fantastically expressive and kinetic.

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