Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 1/16/16
Hey there, hi there, ho there, comic book fans! We’re back with another batch of reviews, and this was another stellar week for comics! Both Marvel and DC are firing on all cylinders these days, and I couldn’t be happier!
New issues of The Mighty Thor and All-New Wolverine are real treats, and the conclusion of Robin War is pretty great. They nail the landing and leave a lot of excitement for stories to come.
But the real jewel this week was the teaser issue of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers from BOOM! Studios! I don’t normally care for licensed comics, but this one could be special. It definitely wins Comic Book of the Week.
This week also saw the release of the final issue of Secret Wars, which I’m not going to review, because it hasn’t been a regular feature here in Hench-Sized land. But I just wanted to say that the finale is great! I think it might be my favorite finale to any of Marvel’s Big Events. Secret Wars comes together so nicely, and with so much fun, that I wish beyond all wishes that this series had come out on schedule. It would have been even greater!
Anyway, on with the real reviews.
Comic Reviews: All-New Wolverine #4, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #0, Mighty Thor #3, Robin War #2 and Starfire #8.
All-New Wolverine #4
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artists: David Lopez and David Navarrot
I nit-picked a little of the last issue for bringing in Doctor Strange (who just happens to have a movie coming out later this year), but Taylor actually does a pretty stellar job with the guest appearance. It’s not as crazy as Jason Aaron’s Doctor Strange, but it’s a solid showing.
Wolverine has taken her degenerating clones to Doctor Strange for help, to try and figure out why they’re dying. Strange pulls Wolverine aside for a moment to better understand what’s going on, and to share some memories of Logan. While they’re busy, Bellona gets annoyed at a magical cabinet that keeps winking at her, so she shoots it — only to unleash a giant monster! Wolverine borrows Doctor Strange’s ax, and together they kill the creature before it can cause too much damage on the city streets.
But Zelda passes out during the fight, and Strange teleports them all to a local hospital to scan her brain. He determines that the clones have nanobots in their heads, which could be what’s behind the dying. He then teleports Wolverine to Hank Pym’s lab, where she plans to steal an Ant-Man suit to shrink down to nanobot size.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I really liked Doctor Strange’s appearance. He was well-written and steady, while engaging in a few exciting magical thingies. I also really liked the scene between him and Wolverine, where they finally address just what Laura is doing. Granted, Doctor Strange is hardly someone who has a lot of history with the original Wolverine, but I hope Taylor has plans to really delve into Laura’s motivations and the history of the mantle. Wolverine was such a huge figure in the Marvel Universe, it should be a bigger deal that Laura is trying to carry on his legacy so directly.
This is a fun series. Taylor and his art team are great with the action, even when it involves a big, Lovecraftian horror, and they’re even better with the normal, friendly stuff. I’ve kind of forgotten the clones’ names, but their personalities shine through, and they help keep this plot going. And Wolverine herself remains the star of the series. There’s a lot to enjoy here.
Though, as always, I do hope that Taylor plans to delve deeper into Laura’s life and motivations. Right now, we’re kind of just tagging along on a random adventure. I want to see more of her personal life.
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #0
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Hendry Prasetya
I was a huge fan of the Power Rangers when I was growing up. They were a staple of our after school TV time. And, of course, the Green Ranger was my favorite. How could he not be? Come on! However, I’ve never been a big fan of adaptation comic books. BOOM! is clearly hinging on nostalgia to promote this book, but that doesn’t mean Higgins can’t write a good story.
Shortly after the Green Ranger becomes a good guy, Tommy is having a little trouble fitting in with the other Rangers at school. He still feels like an outsider, and he’s still has villain Rita Repulsa in his head like PTSD. When she sends a new monster down to attack Angel Grove, Tommy has trouble controlling his Dragonzord, and he’s not sure why. Jason, the Red Ranger, gets mad that Tommy isn’t following orders, but Tommy shoots back that he can’t be expected to know all of Jason’s specific plays since he just joined the team. Zordon admonishes the two to work together.
Meanwhile, Rita and Scorpina are hatching another plan.
Also, there are two back-up features. In one, Bulk and Skull decide to become heroes so that they, too, will be respected. And in another, the Rangers take on Goldar.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Short and sweet, this was a really good introduction to Higgins’ new Power Ranger series. We have to wait until March to get the full series, but this little intro was fun. I’m actually kind of excited for this project. I’ve always felt that the Power Rangers were worthy of a deeper exploration than what their surface-level TV show could provide. So already, with Higgins diving into the personal lives and feelings of Tommy and the others, this series if off to a good start.
Couple that strong characterization with some fantastic action. I read another review that compared the monster fight int his issue to Pacific Rim, and the comparison is apt. This isn’t a couple silly dudes in weird costumes stomping around a fake city. This is real kaiju/giant robot action, with serious stakes and details. I love it.
Take the Power Rangers of my youth and treat them as people first, superheroes second. If that’s what this series is going to be about, then sign me up. That’s literally my childhood day dreams come to life.
Mighty Thor #3
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman
Jason Aaron’s Thor just gets deeper and deeper into this new story, and every new issue is a lot of fun. And for the first time since he took over, Aaron finally brings us a one-on-one battle between Thor and Loki!
Loki does his best to convince Thor that he wants to turn over a new leaf, but Thor isn’t having it and knocks his head off! But that was only a Loki illusion. Loki then summons a variety of different illusions of different versions of himself, who all begin bickering about what it means to be a Loki and to battle Thor. Eventually, the female Loki steps up to fight Thor while the other Lokis bicker, but Thor wins in the end. Then she pins Loki to the ground with Mjolnir and offers to hear him out. But the talk is interrupted by Malekith’s bat-riders, who come carrying Roxxon bombs! Thor abandons Loki and flies into the sky to detonate the bombs, losing her hammer and her powers in the blast.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
It took me a moment before I realized that this issue was Aaron’s take, at long last, on the iconic rivalry of Thor and Loki. These two characters are classic archenemies, their feud as old as comic books themselves. But both characters have been through so many changes over the past few years that they’re nearly unrecognizable to their classic versions. But Aaron has brought them back for a memorable slobberknocker, using both characters to their fullest. Loki is all talk and tricks, while Thor is strength, lightning and a little bit of compassion.
Aaron really get onto his new Thor’s head in her showdown with Loki, and I liked that. I also liked that Loki sounded sincere, despite pulling out nearly every trick in the book. This was a solid showdown between two important characters. I kind of wish it had a little more depth, but this is the first time they’re meeting in Aaron’s run. Maybe he’ll build to something bigger down the line. But this was good, and the ongoing story is good, and this whole series is fantastic!
Robin War #2
Writers: Tom King
Artists: Khary Randolph, Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez, Carmine Di Giandomenico, Steve Pugh, Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens
I rather enjoyed Robin War overall. It wasn’t a foundation-shaking crossover event, nor was it the be-all, end-all Robin event of a lifetime. It was just a fun crossover combining all the various Robin-centric comics going on these days. As a Robin fan, you’d think I’d be overjoyed, but none of this really touched upon my ideal use of the character/mantle, so I was mostly just along for the ride.
My only complaint, overall, is that DC really screwed the pooch when it came to art. Is it really that hard to get one, solid, consistent artist to come in and draw a handful of issues that you know, far in advance, are on their way?
Red Robin, Red Hood and the We Are Robin gang face off against Damian and his Elite Talons, Damian having joined the Court of Owls in the last part of the series. The fight is brutal, and eventually it comes down to Damian vs. Duke Thomas, where Duke refuses to go down. As they duel, Duke susses out the truth about Damian: he’s only doing this because he thinks it’s what Batman would do.
You see, Duke knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman (and that Damian Wayne is Robin). Duke also knows that Bruce Wayne recently lost his memory, including his memories of Damian, in his efforts to stop the Joker. So Bruce sacrificed his family for the greater good. Duke realizes that Damian only turned himself over to the Court of Owls because he thought he had to make Bruce-level sacrifices. Duke convinces Damian that he’s a Robin through and through, and Damian switches back to the good guys. With him leading the charge, and the Robin Army returning to the fight, they team up with the police and defeat the Elite Talons.
Councilwoman Noctua’s plan is exposed, the Robin Laws are reversed and all is well in the world.
Meanwhile, Dick Grayson faces off against Lincoln March in the Court of Owls headquarters. March reveals that they planted a bomb in Damian’s owl mask, and they’ll blow him up if Dick doesn’t agree to join them and become their Gray Son. Unaware that Damian and Duke are solving the problem, Dick agrees to join, and the issue ends with him being introduced to the worldwide Parliament of Owls!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This was a really good finish, getting to the hearts of both Damian and Duke in a really profound way. Granted, this ‘Damian joins the Owls’ plot only came up in the cliffhanger of the last issue, rather than being a main focus for the crossover, but this issue still works. And it’s cool to see Duke Thomas step up in such a way. That kid has a great future ahead of him (hopefully). So I was excited to see all the Robins come together, to see the very idea of it defined.
In fact, I think the best moment of the book is when, after standing up to Damian and convincing him to leave the Owls, Duke breaks down and reveals just how hard it was to stand and do what he just did. Very human moment.
The Court of Owls kind of came off as a joke in this series, but I love the idea of them being part of the spy world in Grayson. That series is amazing, and this new wrinkle should make for some great stuff. But the Court of Owls has reached the level of reoccurring villain, and have lost all the mystique they once possessed when they were first introduced.
All in all, this was a really solid finish, storywise. But like I said, the art is all over the place. It’s not bad, per se, but it’s clearly not these artists’ best work. It’s rushed, sloppy, and only some of it fits together. It’s just really disappointing that DC couldn’t handle the art better on this crossover. It wasn’t that big.
Writers: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti
Artists: Emanuela Lupacchino and Mirco Pierfederici
Starfire is still going, and it’s still pretty cute. Dick Grayson stops by for a guest appearance, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough with him, which is a sad shame.
After reconnecting, Starfire and Dick Grayson head to a cafe for food and drinks to catch up even more. They’re being tailed by a savvy group of spies who want the device that Starfire destroyed last issue. The group ambush our pair in a graveyard, but the heroes make short work of the stooges. Dick then says his goodbyes as he goes off to track them down on his own, promising to visit Starfire again soon. Once he’s gone, Kori reconnects with Sol for some kissing. Meanwhile, Atlee is preparing for their trip to her homeland inside the Earth.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
So yeah, Dick’s guest shot accomplished a whole lot of nothing, it looks like. The moments between the two were great, but Dick pushed aside any potential romance and went on his way, while Starfire returned to Sol unabated. I guess I would have liked to have seen more. This was, I think, the first time these two characters have interacted in the New 52, and both are starring in good to great comics. Couldn’t we have had a few more sparks or something really exciting beyond just lunch and beating up a couple of random goons?
Ah well. We don’t always get what we want. Connor and Palmiotti are still producing a fun, enjoyable comic. There are very few stakes, but I suppose that’s not so bad. Starfire herself is still a lot of fun. And the potential trip she’s going to take with Atlee and the sheriff should be a blast. I guess I just wish Starfire the comic would take a few more risks or do something really exciting.
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 January 16, 2016, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin, X-Men and tagged All-New Wolverine, Boom!, Damian Wayne, Dick Grayson, Doctor Strange, Duke Thomas, Green Ranger, Loki, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Mighty Thor, Power Rangers, Robin War, Starfire, Thor, Wolverine, X-23. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.
Wolverine was great. A lot of fun, but still with some good dramatic moments. Gabby is The Best.
Thor was also great. I feel like Aaron’s benefiting a lot here from what Gillen and Ewing did with Loki. Gillen made Loki into a here. Ewing’s Loki run ended with the character basically saying he’ll be whatever he wants to be at any given moment. These things have made the character totally unpredictable? Is Loki a villain again? I don’t know! I have no idea! He sure seems like a villain here, doesn’t he? A few years ago, of course he would’ve been a villain. But now? The character is so unpredictable that, no matter what Aaron does, readers are going to be looking for more layers, more plots. It helps the issue immensely, I think. Aaron does do some really fun stuff with Loki here, though.
Though as an aside, I do think it’d be really cool if Loki being gender-fluid shows up in Thor, too. Just have Loki show up as a woman. No explanation for it, just how she felt that day.
That’s a very good point about Loki! Once upon a time, he was super evil and that was that. But now he’s as tricksy as he wants to be! Now he’s completely unpredictable, his motivations and loyalties whatever the situation/story calls for. A true trickster! I like it!
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