Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 12/19/15

Happy Star Wars Weekend, everybody! Have you seen the movie yet? Maybe twice? I got my full review up last night, and while I wasn’t as excited as I expected, it was still an entertaining movie. I probably should have read some Star Wars comics this week, but I was too busy celebrating some of my favorites! Batgirl, Harley Quinn, Ms. Marvel and more dropped this week, making it an excellent week for comics and geekery in general, honestly.

Comic Book of the Week goes to Mighty Thor #2. Everything I read this week was good, but Mighty Thor is something special.

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Speaking of comics, check out the Facebook page for my own comic, Gamer Girl & Vixen! We’re on the verge of passing 200 likes, and if you’re interested, you might enjoy it!

Comic Reviews: Batgirl #46, Harley Quinn #23, Mighty Thor #2, Ms. Marvel #2, Silk #2 and We Are Robin #7.

Batgirl #46

Batgirl #46
Writers: Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher
Artist: Babs Tarr

Now that the wedding is out of the way, it’s time for Batgirl to get back to regular storytelling. Stewart, Fletcher and Tarr seem to have a solid idea to build up to, though as the cover implies, we get an odd Spoiler guest appearance. I’m not going to complain too much, though, because a Spoiler/Batgirl story would be pretty great.

Barbara Gordon is investigating the rise of gang activity in Burnside, and she believes the gangs are being controlled by the housing market in order to drive out low rent tenants. While out on patrol, she meets a mysterious man named Lewis, who seems to be connected to the gangs, and he informs Batgirl that Spoiler has gotten in over her head with some of them. So Batgirl tracks Spoiler and they team up to defend her from a vicious gang assault. Batgirl then stashes Stephanie into a safe house until all this blows over.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

Just as I’d hoped, the team-up between Batgirl and Spoiler is pretty great. Spoiler needs some more attention. DC went to the trouble of re-introducing her in Batman Eternal, but it seems she’s been cast into the winds without anywhere solid to land. A Spoiler comic would be fun, but at the very least, doesn’t she deserve some build-up? Some grounding? I think a Spoiler/Bluebird comic would be grand. But Spoiler teaming up with Batgirl is fun too.

This issue is a solid start to the next storyline. Gangs are always a problem, and combining them with a housing crisis in Burnside sounds like a neat way to mix fisticuffs and politics, which sounds very Burnsideian. I look forward to where they’re going with this. Tarr’s art is as amazing as ever, giving this title so much personality. And I didn’t mention it in my synopsis, but there’s a fun moment where Babs finally relents to letting Frankie join her crime-fighting. There are a lot of great character moments in Batgirl.

Harley Quinn #23

Harley Quinn #23
Writers: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Chad Hardin

It’s been a few issues since I checked in with Harley Quinn, but it was one of the first comics I read this week, so I decided to get back into the groove. This is still a fun comic, and deserves the popularity its attained.

The evil Zena Bendemova has returned and she’s taken Sy Borgman prisoner! She calls and threatens Harley, demanding a showdown at a bowling alley. Harley explains that she needs an hour to get there, considering cross town traffic that time of the day. Harley uses her time to change into a bowling-themed costume and she heads to the alley with her gang — only to discover that within that hour, Sy and Zena reignited their history and fell back in love. Problem solved!

With time on her hands, Harley and her gang break into the prison where Mason Macabre is being held. She rescues him from a severe beating in the showers, but the guards on duty find out and call in help from the local cops. Mason is too injured to transport, so Harley is forced to leave him. But she threatens the warden and demands that he have Mason transferred to a better, safer prison. When she returns home, however, Harley finds out that Mason has been transferred to Arkham Asylum!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I actually really liked the way the Sy Borgman story wrapped up. It’s been building for a few issues now, and I’m totally OK with the joke that he and Zena fell back in love while Harley was taking so long to get there. It’s funny. It implies that Harley isn’t always the protagonist of every single story. It’s exactly the sort of swerve this comic thrives upon. Nothing is ever what it might seem in Harley Quinn.

Especially this!

The rest of the issue is good too, with Harley and her team breaking into prison. At this point, the Gang of Harleys are all kind of interchangeable, both to us readers and to Harley herself, but I suppose they give her someone to talk to in a scene. I’m not really invested in the Harley/Mason romance, but that could be on me. I think it’s progressing nicely. Though the relationship doesn’t have nearly as much spark as the Harley/Ivy relationship that Palmiotti and Conner have written.

Mighty Thor #2

Mighty Thor #2
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman

This comic is something special. I have loved every issue that Aaron has produced since he picked up Thor, and I hope he sticks around for a long, long time. His stories are epic, his characters are rich, and he’s been teamed with some of the best artists imaginable!

As Thor battles the Serpent and his Thunder Guard on the Rainbow Bridge, Loki is taken by his father, Laufey the Frost Giant, to undergo a test to see if he’s fit to join Malekith’s evil council. Thor’s fight ends when Heimdall steps up to prevent her from getting her head chopped off, and he teleports her to the War of the Elves on Alfheim. And Loki’s test is to fight a group of Laufey’s best frost giant warriors, but Loki uses his words and his trickery to get them to kill themselves. He brags to his father about how he defeated the giant’s finest warriors just by talking.

This still annoys Laufey, but he brings Loki along when he joins Malekith on Alfheim. They send Loki into the battle to confront Thor, who’s doing her best to hold the front lines. Loki approaches her and tells Thor he’s just there to talk.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Welp, it seems we’ve discovered the one thing that superstar artist Russell Dauterman can’t draw: a studly 5 o’clock shadow. Unless he’s purposefully giving Loki the scraggliest looking chin dusting possible.

It looks like somebody glued pubes on his face.

Weird beard aside, the rest of Loki looks great. I like his modern redesign. I like everything about Aaron and Dauterman’s Mighty Thor. The drama is fascinating, the characters are well-defined and well-used, and the story just keeps getting more and more epic — though I’m a little surprised that Malekith is still the big bad. Wasn’t Thor: The Dark World released several years ago? That aside, the villains are doing a hell of a job in this series, and the odds are staked so completely against Thor that I can’t wait to see what new twists and turns Aaron is going to throw at our hero. I only hope this series just keeps getting bigger and better and, dare I say, Beta Ray Billier.

Ms. Marvel #2

Ms. Marvel #2
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa

If Secret Wars accomplished anything, it definitely feels like a lot of my favorite series are refocused and rejuvenated. Ms. Marvel used the 8-month time jump to put a lot of new and fascinating wrinkles in the life of Kamala Khan, and Wilson continues to execute them expertly.

Ms. Marvel investigates the head offices of Hope Yards, the new development company that is taking over her neighborhood. She’s once again chased out by security drones, but not before discovering a mysterious purple goo in a mini-fridge. With Bruno testing out the goo in science class, Kamala has more than a few personal life crises to deal with. Her mother orders her to stop going out as Ms. Marvel when it becomes clear that the townsfolk have turned against her (because they all think Ms. Marvel is in league with Hope Yards). And her brother has met a girl, but tradition dictates that he have another girl present as a chaperone during the courting process.

But courting gets cut short when Kamala discovers that the mysterious purple goo is some kind of mind control soda, and Hope is already using it to infect her friends and neighbors! So Kamala suits up to take them on, but gets overwhelmed and kidnapped to their warehouse. There she discovers that Dr. Faustus and Hydra are behind Hope Yards, and they’ve now got Bruno under their control!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

There are just so many evil things out there in a superhero world. What was Jersey City like before Ms. Marvel arrived on the scene? Best not to think about it, because here we’ve got another solid chapter in the Kamala Khan Saga! She’s got trouble with her mom, trouble with her brother, trouble with Bruno and his new girlfriend, trouble with school; all the great stuff that makes this series such a standout. Khan is a human being first, superhero second, which is my favorite kind of superhero.

A superhero after my own heart

And the threat gets knocked up a notch or two with this issue, revealing legendary villain Dr. Faustus as the bad guy! I never particularly cared for The Inventor, so I can’t wait to see Kamala tangle with a real villain for once. The stakes are definitely raised here. And Miyazawa is a fine fill-in artist for series regular Adrian Alphona. Miyazawa keeps things light and fun, while maintaining both Kamala’s humanity and her sometimes cartoonish expressions.

Silk #2

Silk #2
Writer: Robbie Thompson
Artist: Tana Ford

As much as I like Silk — the character and the comic — I’m mostly excited to see her face off against the Goblin King. Phil Urich is one of my all-time favorites, and I hope Thompson has some good ideas for the character — though I mostly fear that Phil’s just going to be a straight-up evil bastard from now on.

Silk is running herself ragged with all her duties. She’s got her day job at the Fact Channel. She’s got her work as Silk trying to get to the bottom of the Goblin Nation. And she’s got her duty working undercover in Black Cat’s operation. She’s not getting any sleep, and everything just keeps getting more complicated! And to make matters worse, Peter Parker shows up at the end, wondering why Silk has been committing so much crime lately.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

As much as I don’t like to criticize a good artist, Tana Ford seemed to be struggling with this issue. Granted, not everybody can be Stacey Lee, and I usually like Ford’s work. But this second issue is nearly crippled by rough art. If this version of Ford was the permanent artist, Silk would be in trouble. As for the writing, I like how Thompson focuses on Silk as a person, but he may have given himself too many plots to deal with. Silk is running herself ragged with superhero business, but I’d like to see more of Cindy Moon’s personal life. Or maybe focus on the fact that she doesn’t have one.

She’s got friends, and she could have a life, but we don’t get to see it. Heck, I’d like to see her interact on a more casual level with some of her costumed cohorts. Thompson introduces Killer Shrike this issue as a fellow villain working for Black Cat. It’d be weirdly fun to see Silk and Shrike strike up some kind of, I dunno, friendship, maybe? Thompson could easily parallel Cindy working at the FACT Channel with Silk working with the likes of Killer Shrike. It would write itself!

We Are Robin #7

We Are Robin #7
Writer: Lee Bermejo
Artist: Carmine Di Giandomenico

Robin War has been pretty fun so far. It’s not about to go down in history as one of the greatest Batman stories of all time, or even one of the greatest Robin stories of all time, but it’s sufficiently entertaining.

Dick Grayson and Jim Gordon team up to go snooping in Councilwoman Noctua’s apartment, where they find plans for the Cage. The two reminisce a bit about when Dick first started working for Batman, until Dick spots a few signs of the Court of Owls and realizes who is behind this all. Back at the Cage, Duke Thomas and Damian Wayne aren’t getting along, and then the Court of Owls decides to force a death match between Red Robin and Red Hood where everybody can watch. The two start fighting, but they’re obviously not going to kill each other. Instead, Jason throws Tim up into the cages, where he can reach the controls and open them all up. Everybody escapes to the roof, where they’re confronted by a bunch of murderous Talons.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I’m not quite sure what the Court of Owls was planning when they pitted Red Robin against Red Hood. Ostensibly, they were saying something along the lines of trying to find a successor to Dick Grayson. But honestly, they should have done that somewhere else, in private. Because the two heroes immediately use the moment to free everybody and ruin the Owls’ plans. Not a lot of great planning for the supposedly legendary Court of Owls.

Gaff aside, this issue was fine. We got some solid character work for Duke Thomas, who is having to come to grips with what kind of people actually become Robins. Damian Wayne is insane, and the rest of the Veteran Robins are far above and beyond anything Duke had thought about this position. It’s some solid character growth for him. Likewise, we had some great moments between Dick Grayson and Jim Gordon. I love that stuff, and Robin War is worth the price of admission for those character beats alone.

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 December 19, 2015, in Comics, Reviews, Robin, Spider-Man and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Thor was good. Lots of fun stuff. Loki is delightful. I’m still hoping Aaron has him as an anti-hero. He’s way more interesting as an anti-hero seeking to define himself than he was as a villain. Gillen and Ewing did such amazing work with the character and I want that fascinatingly compelling journey to continue. As far as Malekith being the villain despite Dark World having come out a couple years ago: Why, it’s almost as though Aaron is writing the story he wants to write, rather than just doing whatever would get a quick sales bump. Imagine that. I imagine Malekith is the villain because Aaron really likes Malekith. And why wouldn’t he? He’s delightfully twisted and evil. Aaron’s also talked about being a big fan of Simonson’s run – as is right because that is THE definitive Thor run that can never be surpassed – where Malekith was kind of a big deal. Which means we should probably expect Surtur to also be a big deal in this run.

    Ms. Marvel was so good. It’s a fantastic comic. Everything about this issue just works. Great moments for almost her entire supporting cast. Plenty of great humour balanced with great drama. Delightful art. The reveal at the end is really cool. I’m loving this so damn much.

    Silk was really good. A lot of interesting stuff going on. The tightrope she’s walking is neat. Also, I like Tana Ford’s line art. She’s very good, especially at the more mundane stuff. She’s got an expressive style I enjoy.

    And as an aside, Weirdworld and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl were awesome this week. Weirdworld has Mike Del Mundo drawing weird things so there was no way it wouldn’t be fantastic, and Humphries is telling a really interesting story. And Squirrel Girl is just so fun. It’s so, so much fun. I love it.

    • I definitely think Loki is playing all sides here against each other. Whether or not he joins Thor remains to be seen, but he’s definitely not straight up evil anymore. Aaron’s Loki seems way too clever for that.

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