Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 12/26/15
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to one and all! This was a pretty big week for comics, but it was also a pretty big week for Christmas. If you’re reading this on Saturday morning, I’m likely still with my family, celebrating. Such are the benefits of having both Christmas and the day after off from work.
So my list of reviews is a bit shorter this week due to the time crunch. Still, I read some really good comics this week, including new issues of Saga and Robin War, as well as the next chapter of Dark Knight III: The Master Race.
Comic Book of the Week goes to the first issue of Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat! It’s a fun, colorful and very savvy new comic, though it does skew a little too closely to some of Marvel’s other offerings, like Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Still, Squirrel Girl doesn’t have moments like this.
No, that’s not how Hellcat is draw throughout the entire comic. That’s just for funnsies!
Comic Reviews: Dark Knight III #2, Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat #1, Robin: Son of Batman #7 and Saga #32.
Dark Knight III #2
Writers: Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello
Artists: Andy Kubert and Eduardo Risso
Dark Knight III will hopefully be coming out at a nice pace. I’d hate for a book like this to suffer Secret Wars-level delays. That sort of thing can be a real killer.
Carrie Kelley is in prison for her rampage as Batman, but she refuses to talk about what happened or why she says Bruce Wayne is dead — until Commissioner Yindel convinces her to open up. Carrie tells the story of how Bruce got beaten down by a bad guy, and slowly faded away in a hospital bed. But she might not be entirely honest. Later, during transport, Carrie uses the badass tank of a Batmobile to break out and escape custody. She rejoins Bruce in the Batcave.
Meanwhile, the Atom goes through with the plan to regrow the citizens of the Bottled City of Kandor, but he’s been duped. A mad cult has taken over and murdered all the good Kandorians, and now they’re all normal-sized and super-powered. They proceed to step on and crush the shrinking Atom.
Also meanwhile, Wonder Woman and her daughter, Supergirl, don’t see eye-to-eye.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
I’m not entirely sure what this comic is going for. Does it have a message? Does it have a purpose? Miller’s iconic art style is gone, so this isn’t an art-based book. Instead, Kubert delivers his standard fare, as if he were drawing any old comic. And the story so far doesn’t really have anything to say about Batman. Honestly, this is the sort of comic I might expect if Dark Knight was an ongoing series. Carrie Kelley is getting up to some mischief, and a new, episodic villain has arrived on the scene. These Kandorians might be powerful, but this isn’t the first time we’ve seen the regrown citizens of Kandor turn out to be villains. There was a major Superman story about that very thing only a few years ago.
I’m just not very impressed so far. The bad guys are as routine as they come, and if Bruce Wayne is alive, Carrie Kelley’s rampage is just weird in hindsight. Hopefully Azzarello and Miller have a reason for her to do what she did. Hopefully it’s a compelling reason. And hopefully this is a compelling comic. But the benefit of the doubt only goes so far, even for a big project like this one.
Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat #1
Writer: Kate Leth
Artist: Brittney L. Williams
This new comic is right up my alley. I’ve been in love with the recent trend of cheerful, colorful comics with female leads, like Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Batgirl, Lumberjanes and more. So even though I have zero interest in Hellcat as a character, I was definitely on board for this new series! And it’s good, though it does hew rather close to those other comics.
While out patrolling the city looking for trouble, a very kitten-like Hellcat encounters Ian Soo, a new telekinestic supervillain who calls himself Telekinian. Hellcat just saw him use his powers to rob from an armored car, so she beats him up! But then they get to talking about the musical Wicked and actually hit it off as friends. Turns out, Ian is an Inhuman with a pretty simple power, but he got fired recently, and his roommate/partner moved out, so he just needed some money. Hellcat wants to get him some help, and after Ian helps rescue some theater tickets out of a storm drain, she’s determined that he’s a good guy after all.
But Patsy’s not having a good day either. She’s fired from working for She-Hulk (though they’re still friends), she’s being kicked out of the storage room in She-Hulk’s building where she was crashing, and she finds out that her old frenemy Hedy, from her romance comic days, has obtained the rights to her old comics and is selling them for nostalgia value — without informing Patsy herself. So Patsy talks to She-Hulk about a legal response, and in the meanwhile, she moves in with Ian, and comes up with an idea for a business where she finds jobs for ordinary super-powered joes who are just looking for work.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
So yeah, Hellcat is kind of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Lite. The humor is similar, the main character is similar, the art style is similar; Leth, Williams and Marvel are clearly trying to find success with the same style. And for the most part, it works. I really enjoyed this issue. It’s not as laugh-out-loud funny or clever as Ryan North and Erica Henderson’s Squirrel Girl, but it’s still got a lot of heart and humor.
Most excitingly, Hellcat is full of plot and character. They’ve got so many fun ideas going on, all of them swirling around Patsy as a character. Whether she’s struggling to make ends meet, making friends with a new ‘super-villain’, working with She-Hulk and coming up with this neat new business idea, Patsy Walker’s weird little life is at the heart of this series. That’s very promising. There’s a lot going on, and I’m glad that fighting super-villains isn’t going to be the main point of this series. Hopefully Leth and Williams can find their own niche with this series. They’re off to a very good start already.
Also, Williams’ art is great. It’s perfect for today’s Internet and cat-loving sort of person, like me. There’s a very awesome Bee and Puppycat vibe to this series, and I love that.
Robin: Son of Batman #7
Writer: Patrick Gleason and Ray Fawkes
Artist: Scott McDaniels
Robin War takes a pretty interesting swerve at the end of this issue, kicking things up a notch. But the twist also kind of turns most of the story into chaff. Still, that twist more than makes up for any bad bits.
Robin, Red Robin and Red Hood lead the escape of the We Are Robins, taking them into battle against three Elite Talons. Damian eventually figures out a way to defeat them, only to disappear after the fight is over. Riko recognizes the Talons from her encounter in Gotham Academy, so she convinces Red Robin and Red Hood to go there (after they dismiss all the unnamed Robin teens). The group travels through the secret Gotham Academy tunnels until they find a lab where the Court of Owls is hatching more Elite Talons, and with the sudden arrival of Robo-Batman, they blow it all up.
Meanwhile, Dick Grayson fights his way into Owl headquarters and is eventually brought before their leader, Lincoln March. Lincoln tells Dick that they no longer actually want him as their Gray Son, because there’s been a new volunteer: Damian! And Damian and a squad of Talons confront the escaping Robins.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
Dick Grayson vs. Damian Wayne? Hell’s yeah! Obviously, Damian is probably playing at something here. He mysteriously turns up working for the Court of Owls? Yeah, I doubt that’s legit. Still, it sets up a pretty awesome battle between the first Robin and the current Robin, which should be a total blast in the climax. Though it also has the added side effect of making everything with Red Robin, Red Hood and the We Are Robin gang feel like filler. They defeat some random Talon producing lab, bond a little bit, and that’s about it. Those scenes were fine, but the Dick/Damian stuff is especially cool. Also, as much as I liked McDaniels’ old stuff in the 90s, his current art is just way too sloppy and wild. He’s worse than Bachalo, and he really brings down this issue.
Writer: Brian K. Vaughn
Artist: Fiona Staples
I love Saga, but this series is also something of a slow burn. I think when all is said and done, it’s going to be best read in collected editions. That’s how I read Y: The Last Man, and it was amazing. But hey, each individual issue of Saga is fun too.
Ever since they lost their daughter, Marko and Alana have been working together like a crack team of space heroes to track her movements across the galaxy. They break into a government records building to find a document that details where Hazel and her grandmother were taken (a prison on Landfall), and that scroll is the first real confirmation they have that Hazel is really still alive. But they’re caught by some security guards, and they have to enact a death-defying escape plan that involves jumping out of a window and landing on their tree rocketship as it flies by.
After some great victory sex, they set course for their old friend, Prince Robot IV, to get his help to sneak onto Landfall. Since we last saw him, Robot has been demoted to a Knight Errant, and he’s still hanging out with Ghus and Friendo. Also, his son has grown up too!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I’m glad we got to see Alana and Marko again. I was worried that the current volume would be all about Hazel and her grandmother in prison, and that Marko and Alana wouldn’t pop up until the very end. But this issue is a great look at the two of them, working together splendidly and at their very best and most exciting. Hazel’s ever-present narration points out just how well the two were getting along during this period of their lives, and it shows. This is Marko and Alana as we’ve always wanted to see them, as the young, badass lovers they’ve always been, but without the responsibilities of a crumbling marriage or a young daughter. This is an exciting issue. Vaughn and Staples are magical in issues like Saga #34.
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 December 26, 2015, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin and tagged Carrie Kelley, Damian Wayne, Dark Knight III: The Master Race, Dick Grayson, Hellcat, Image Comics, Patsy Walker, Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat, Robin War, Robin: Son of Batman, Saga. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.
Hellcat is great. It’s a cute, fun, positive comic, and I love Patsy’s idea of a temp agency for supers.