Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 2/20/16

What a phenomenal week for comics! I’m not just talking about DC’s new Rebirth announcement, which looks fine. I’m talking about the specific comics I read this week, almost all of which were good to great! If you told me 5 years ago that I would love comics about Thor, Harley Quinn and Luke Cage, I would have told you you were silly! But here we are!

Comic Book of the Week goes to the first issue of Power Man and Iron Fist. This was a rock solid start for the revived series, one that will hopefully help define the characters ahead of their upcoming TV shows. Honestly, after only one issue, I would watch this show.

Kids today

It’s even got Jessica Jones in a supporting role! Though considering her Netflix success, where’s our new Jessica Jones comic?

Comic Reviews: Harley Quinn #25, Mighty Thor #4, Power Man and Iron First #1, Silver Surfer #2 and Spider-Woman #4.

Harley Quinn #25

Harley Quinn #25
Writers: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Chad Hardin

This is the big one! Harley vs. the Joker! And DC clearly pulled out all the stops, with Hardin putting in his series’ best work to date!

Harley travels to Gotham to bust her beau, Mason, out of Arkham Asylum. Poison Ivy shows up to to provide some gear, and to tell Harley that she’s worried. But Harley assures Ivy that everything will be fine. She sneaks into the asylum in disguise, but the guards catch on almost immediately and Harley has to use Ivy’s plant gas to get past. She rescues Mason, but the Joker calls to her from his cell, taunting and seducing her in equal measure. So Harley lets herself into Joker’s cell and gives him the ass-whopping that he’s long deserved, but she can’t bring herself to kill him, since that’s exactly what he wants.

Harley and Mason make their escape and join up with Ivy, Tony, Mason’s mom and, uh, Batman. It’s a little weird to see him casually hanging out with Ivy and Tony, but Batman explains that he’s trying to uncover the corruption in the NYC mayor’s office, and he’s going to work with Mason in the Witness Protection Program to do it. So Mason and his mother leave with Batman, while Harley and Tony head home.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

It was a little weird seeing Batman casually paling around with the likes of Big Tony and Poison Ivy, but I’m just going to roll with it. I love it when Batman can work with his enemies, and the idea that Poison Ivy ‘owes him one’ is always a blast. I liked their team-up in Arkham Knight. Also, as always, Poison Ivy’s appearance here was just great. I wish Conner and Palmiotti were working on that Poison Ivy mini-series. DC putting them on an ongoing Harley & Ivy series would probably be too good to exist in this world.

The world cries out for a Harley and Ivy series 2016

But enough about Poison Ivy, we’re here for Harley vs. the Joker! The encounter was pretty great, and I very much enjoy the direction its gone. To anyone out there complaining that Harley should always be subservient to the Joker, I say to you, ‘Good day, sir!’. It may have been neat back in the 90s, but in 2016, Harley can absolutely recognize domestic violence and put her abuser in his place. That crap doesn’t and shouldn’t fly anymore, and Conner and Palmiotti underlined that fact with this issue. It was a great moment for Harley and for the series.

And like I said, Hardin was on point for the whole issue. I can see why there were a few fill-in artists in the last few issues, to give Hardin all the time and energy he needed to blow this one away. This is almost Amanda Conner-level art. With great art, great Harley and Ivy moments, and a great Harley vs. Joker fight, this is a landmark issue of this popular series.

Mighty Thor #4

Mighty Thor #4
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman

Everything is heating up in The Mighty Thor, and we’re only four issues in! Jason Aaron puts the pedal to the metal with this one, and it’s only going to get more exciting from here!

Still no sign of Beta Ray Bill, though. I bet he’d really spice things up.

Thor stands in Alfheim, ready to repel the armies of Malekith — but the Queen of the Light Elves instead requests a one-on-one meeting with Malekith to discuss terms. She’s not ready to put up with any of his crap, but she wants peace. Unfortunately, Malekith has planned for this, and he springs an ambush on the Queen with the help of the Enchantress. Soon, the Queen announces that she has accepted Malekith’s hand in marriage to unite the Light and Dark elves. The war is over!

Thor suspects something sinister, but she can’t stick around, because Freyja is current on trial before Odin for treason and treachery. Odin has become more obstinate and angry than ever before, and he refuses to stand down and let Asgard grow and change. There are citizens rioting in the streets of the Realm Eternal, but neither Odin or Freyja will stand down.

So Thor crashes into the castle (with Loki in tow) and smacks Odin in the face with Mjolnir! The fight is on!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

Holy hammers! This is about as exciting as comics get! Aaron has dug deep into the mythology of Marvel’s Thor and the 10 realms and he’s found a wide variety of different stories to tell, all of them exciting. He’s got light elves and dark elves and frost giants and more, twisting them all together in a political tale worthy of Game of Thrones. And the fact that he does it with all these classic Thor characters, like Malekith and Enchantress, makes it even better! Aaron is using all of these characters to their fullest potential. Even Sif and the Warriors Three don’t get left out, as they incite the anti-Odin riot.

Needs more Beta Ray Bill. Just sayin’.

And I cannot say enough about the excitement of Thor attacking Odin, and the ensuing brawl we’ll see next issue. Aaron does a great job of building up Odin as a villain, rooting him in stubbornness that makes perfect sense of the character. So to see Thor take on Odin, to see all of this build to the ultimate head, should be thrilling. Aaron has been great on his entire Thor and Mighty Thor run, but now he’s really beginning to outdo himself.

Though if I may be allowed one tiny nitpick, I almost feel like all of this is too big for Thor. Like, I love the character, don’t get me wrong, but I dunno…it does seem a little off that Jane Foster, a human filling in as Thor, gets to play such a huge part in Asgardian society. But at the same time, I don’t think it would be at all better if the Odinson was in control, and it was he who was attacking Odin. That would probably be even worse. So perhaps an outsider is the best choice.

Whatever the case may be, Mighty Thor is thrilling comics, and I can’t wait to read the next issue.

Power Man and Iron Fist #1

Power Man and Iron Fist #1
Writer: David Walker
Artist: Sanford Greene

I find myself in an odd predicament these days. Once upon a time, when I was first starting out as a comic book nerd, my windows to this world were Spider-Man and the X-Men. Those were the comics and characters I love. But now, I’m not reading any of the current X-Men comics, and Spidey is a side pleasure at best. It’s the characters I never cared about or read who are now some of the best books in the industry.

And here comes the new Power Man and Iron Fist by David Walker, and a first issue that just blows me away with how strong, purposeful and perfect it is.

Luke Cage and Danny Rand get together to welcome home their old Heroes for Hire secretary, Jennie Royce, who has just been released from prison after serving time for murder. Over lunch, Jennie asks the pair if they’d retrieve her grandmother’s old necklace, which was lost by her ex-boyfriend, the Crime-Buster, the man she killed. Danny jumps at the chance to help their old friend, but Luke is far more hesitant. Still, they pay a visit to Tombstone, who has the necklace, and who claims that not only is it mystical, but he also won it fair and square in a card game. Tombstone’s goons start a fight, but Luke and Danny take care of them easily and retrieve the necklace. They give it back to Jennie and return home, where Danny is excited about getting the team back together, but Luke wants nothing of the sort.

And, of course, Jennie was lying to both of them. She’s in league with Black Mariah, an old Power Man villain, and they’re going to use the mystical necklace to take down Tombstone’s criminal empire.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This is an absolutely perfect introduction to a Power Man and Iron Fist series in 2016. I couldn’t ask for anything more. Walker has a wonderful handle on the two characters, and I’ve never liked them more. Danny is the excitable, talkative type, while Luke is the steady, serious one; and it’s a great duo. Walker sends them on a very down-to-Earth, relatable adventure that ties nicely in with their shared past. And it’s all very personable. This comic is a shining example of my ‘people first, superheroes second’ code of comics. Luke and Danny are real people here, as are their supporting players and villains, and I love it.

Poor Tombstone

The art is also fantastic. I usually prefer more detailed comic book art, but I’ve been opening myself up to new styles lately. Greene brings a perfect mix of detail and style, creating a very grounded New York for our heroes, without shying away from the superheroics. Danny puts on his Iron Fist costume at one point to fight Tombstone, and it all looks perfectly normal (also, I love the modern track suit Iron Fist look).

Power Man and Iron Fist #1 is a wonderful start to the new series, delivering everything a non-fan like me could possibly want from this revived series. Honestly, we could be looking at the next Hawkeye.

Silver Surfer #2

Silver Surfer #2
Writer: Dan Slott
Artists: Mike and Laura Allred

Silver Surfer has always been a favorite character of mine, but I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun reading his ongoing series. He’s had his ups and downs over the years, but Dan Slott and the Family Allred are putting out a masterpiece of a comic. This is how you reestablish a character.

The Silver Surfer is growing restless on Earth, but Dawn Greenwood doesn’t want to leave before she meets her sister’s fiancé, and definitely not before the baby is born! She takes the Surfer on a walk around town to show him all the nifty things from her life — but soon the Surfer senses a new cosmic threat! A giant Zenn-Lanian craft has entered the atmosphere, and he needs help to stop it! So the Surfer and Dawn race off to New York to get allies, but a lot has changed since the Surfer was last on Earth: the Fantastic Four are no longer in the Baxter Building, and the Avengers are no longer in Avengers Mansion.

Instead, he goes to see Alicia Masters, and Dawn is flummoxed to learn that she is not the first Earthgirl to accompany Silver Surfer on his travels. Alicia promises to get in touch with other heroes while the Surfer flies off to face the invaders, who are indeed from his home planet! They send their herald, Ben Grimm, to fight him, but the Surfer easily defeats the brain-washed Thing. He confronts his people again, and their leader removes her helmet to reveal Shalla-bal, the Surfer’s former beloved!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This issue was just delightful! Every moment between Dawn Greenwood and Alicia Masters was brilliant, as Dawn came face-to-face with the fact that the Surfer has had other companions. I am, of course, reminded of the season 2 episode of Doctor Who where new companion Rose Tyler met old companion Sarah Jane Smith. We all know Slott’s Silver Surfer is based on Doctor Who, and he has a lot of fun with the new companion meeting an old companion and getting instantly jealous. Dawn Greenwood is a delight, and Slott really twists the screws this issue.

Dawn has the loveliest green eyes

The rest of the issue was great too, as the Silver Surfer faces an enemy from his past! I don’t know or particularly care about the current history/continuity of Zenn-La. Seriously, it doesn’t matter. As long as Slott finds a new and interesting thing to do with all that stuff, I’m all for it — and he’s off to a great start! The people of Zenn-La have come to literally transform the primitive Earth population into a perfect replication of Zenn-La, which is a process that Slott ties into Surfer’s history with a rather cool flashback. That Shalla-Bal is the villain, a righteous zealot who promotes Zenn-La above all others, is going to be great!

Wait until Dawn gets a load of her!

Spider-Woman #4

Spider-Woman #4
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Javier Rodriguez

The moment four issues in the making is finally here, and the new issue of Spider-Woman handles it charmingly. Though if I’m being entirely honest, this issue felt more like an epilogue.

With help from the Skrull prince, Spider-Woman makes it to one of the operating rooms, where they begin an emergency C-Section to have her baby. The Skrulls are trying to cut through the door, and Carol calls for moral support. Jessica has a healthy, beautiful baby boy, then she has the doctor patch her up quick so that she can go kick Skrull ass in a hospital gown. When she’s done, Carol and Alpha Flight arrive just in time to catch her before she faints. Jessica wakes up later with her new baby, and they share a nice moment with Carol.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

It’s a boy! I quite enjoyed how Hopeless and Rodriguez handled the birth of Spider-Woman’s son. It was a classy, touching moment, as were all the aftermath scenes of Jessica and Carol bonding over the baby. This issue had some really quality stuff. I’m a little surprised that Jessica’s pregnancy only lasted a single storyline, but then one probably shouldn’t engage in superheroics while pregnant. I’m definitely excited to see where this story goes.

But oddly, this issue felt a little short. Not sure why. If I had to guess, it would be the monthly comics format. This comic should be read in quick succession from the previous one, the story just continuing instead of jumping a month. But that rapid feeling does not detract from the enjoyable story.

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 February 20, 2016, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Thor was great. Jane really gets the badass part down.

    Power Man & Iron Fist was great. Lots of fun. I like the chemistry between Luke and Danny. I’m looking forward to seeing the story develop.

    Silver Surfer was fantastic as always. Poor Dawn, can’t help being jealous of Alicia. Silver Surfer really could’ve done a better job re-assuring her.

    Spider-Woman was great. Really sweet and touching, and then balanced out with some great action.

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