Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 3/5/16

I don’t know about you, but this was a pretty busy week for me. Work work work work work work work. I tells ya! I was able to get in a full-sized review of the first issue of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, which was pretty fun. But this week’s Henchie Bits are a little on the light side What can I say, I was morphed out.

But hey, any week with new issues of Batgirl and Iron Man is a good enough week for me! We’ve also got the first issue of Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s Black Widow. I hope to stick with the title this time.

Comic Book of the Week goes to the second issue of Spider-Man. I do have a soft spot for Miles Morales, and this issue surprised me in a few interesting ways.

Too soon, Bendis

If only Donald Glover was still young enough to be cast as Spider-Man.

Comic Reviews: Batgirl #49, Black Widow #1, Invincible Iron Man #7 and Spider-Man #2. 

Batgirl #49

Batgirl #49
Writers: Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher
Artists: Babs Tarr, Horacio Domingues, Roger Robinson, Ming Doyle and James Harvey

This is just my own personal taste, but I’ve never been a fan of dream or drug trip scenes. I don’t know what it is, it’s just not for me. And Batgirl #49 takes us deep into Batgirl’s mind.

The supervillain Fugue erased Batgirl’s mind last issue, so Frankie has attached herself to Babs’ computer implant to try and save her. But Fugue has also planted booby traps in Babs’ brain, and Frankie is having a tough time of it. So she decides to get help from the remote A.I. brain scan that turned into the evil Oracle at the start of the run. Frankie has fixed it so that it’s not as evil anymore, and she and the digital Barbara take on Fugue in the mindscape.

We learn that Fugue was never Barbara’s old middle school friend Greg. He was a common thief who Batgirl captured a few years ago, and he became obsessed with defeating her brilliant mind. He developed the mind-erasing technology and has been toying with her for weeks, learning all of her secrets and inserting himself into her life as Greg. The guy is pretty damn creepy.

Frankie and the A.I. eventually get the upper hand, and Frankie saves Babs’ brain by merging what remains of Barbara’s brain with the A.I. Batgirl wakes up, ready to take the real fight to Fugue!

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

For a zany mind trip, this was still a good issue. The cadre of artists were really great, mixing it up in Babs’ mind to add to the unique feeling of the issue. I love me some Babs Tarr work, but this was a neat style choice, and they found some great talent. The story is good too. Greg always did seem weird, so this reveal makes perfect sense, and it adds some menace to Fugue as a villain. I’m looking forward to the showdown. And Frankie and the A.I. made a pretty good team. This was a solid issue and made for great set up for the eventual showdown with Fugue. This series has been good to great since it was refocused, and this issue is a good way to set things up for a grand finale.

Black Widow #1

Black Widow #1
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Chris Samnee

I was always disappointed in myself for giving up on the previous Black Widow series. It was good, but somehow I let it slip through my fingers. Well now I’m back for Mark Waid and Chris Samnee! I’m not going to make the same mistake twice! Or double mistakes, since I’m only now trying to catch up on their legendary Daredevil run.

Black Widow has stolen something from a SHIELD helicarrier, and Maria Hill declares her an enemy of the agency. Widow fights her way through the carrier, jumps out a window, steals a jetpack from the agents in pursuit and then battles one persistent agent across the city and out into the countryside, before eventually knocking him out cold. Hopefully what she stole is worth all this trouble.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

This was a very quick issue. Black Widow doesn’t even have any dialogue until the final page. This is a stunt by a creative team that’s very comfortable with one another, and very confident in Samnee’s abilities as an artist — as they should be. The issue looks great, and the action is very cool. So I would definitely say this first issue makes an impact. But considering we’ve now got to wait an entire month until the next issue, I think this stunt was a little too light. I don’t need a quick reminder that Black Widow is a badass, and there weren’t any particularly exciting or memorable action sequences, to be honest. It’s not like she drove a car into a helicopter, or anything.

Although this is admittedly awesome

This first issue definitely makes a statement, and it does its job of kicking off this new series, but I fear it was just too slight of an issue. Waid and Samnee don’t fail to entice, setting up a mystery about what Widow stole, and giving her plenty of action moments. But the issue was over way too quickly for my tastes.

Iron Man #7

Invincible Iron Man #7
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato

I’m still not sure what Bendis is going for by bringing Mary Jane Watson into Invincible Iron Man. If it’s to kick off a Tony Stark/Mary Jane romance…why? Obviously that would piss off fans, but would Bendis really so specifically try to piss off fans? I dunno. I like Mary Jane, and I like Bendis on Iron Man, so maybe he’s just trying to add some character to the supporting cast.

Tony Stark meets Mary Jane Watson for her first day of work and takes her through what it’s going to be like to try and manage Tony Stark. They get along swimmingly, though Mary Jane isn’t going to be a pushover. Then Tony realizes that he hasn’t heard from Rhodey in awhile, so he suits up to head to Japan to find out what happened. Rhodey has been kidnapped by a very powerful young woman who can control metal, and she pulls the War Machine armor off his body and onto herself. She says she’s going to kill him, then kill Stark when he shows up.

Meanwhile, a girl named Riri in college is building her own armor.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

The banter between Tony and Mary Jane is pretty good, though I’ve heard better from Bendis. There’s a lot that needs to be unpacked in this scene. We get a brief mention of Pepper Potts, which seems to be a sore point for Tony. And they also talk about Peter Parker, which seems to be a sore spot for Mary Jane. This issue is a solid introduction to what we might expect from Tony and MJ. But Bendis is going to have to do a lot of leg work to sell me on the two of them as a romantic pair. What can I say? You don’t sleep with your friend’s ex-wife.

And someone tell MJ on the cover that midriff baring shirts went out of style a long time ago

The rest of the issue was fine. The mystery attack on War Machine could be pretty cool. Rhodey is an entertaining guy, and I hope Bendis puts him to good use. The villains could be good too, we’ll see. But the biggest drag on this issue was the art. I know Deodato is a big artist, but his style is too dark and sketchy for my tastes, too ill-defined. Especially when we’re coming off the amazing pencils of David Marquez. That guy was perfect for this series, with his detailed style working perfectly with the futuristic technology. Deodato is too dark and gloomy to capture the technology at play very well.

I trust Bendis to take Invincible Iron Man to some very interesting and entertaining places. And he’s already got a good start on that.

Spider-Man #2

Spider-Man #2
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Sara Pichelli

With the glut of Spider-books these days, it’s going to take a lot for Miles Morales to stand out. What does he bring to the table now that he’s part of the regular Marvel Universe? What’s so great about him? Well, there’s a lot great about Miles. And I hope Bendis and Pichelli can capture that greatness in the new setting, even if a couple things are a little off-kilter.

Peter Parker tries to have a heart-to-heart with Miles about what it means to be Spider-Man, but Blackheart returns and Miles has to kick his demon butt all over again. When Miles wins, Peter and the Avengers stick up for him, and Miles swings home, excited about the win, but grossed out about fighting a demon.

While debriefing with Ganke, the pair watch a Youtube video where a young, hyper woman shows off a picture from the fight and reveals that Miles is a Spider-Man of color, and she’s super excited for the diversity. But Miles is put off by the fact that the race issue is even being raised. Why can’t he just be Spider-Man? Why does he have to be the black Spider-Man?

When Miles gets home to see his parents that weekend, he quickly discovers that his hard-as-nails grandmother is in town to straighten out her wayward grandson!

Also, the Black Cat gets wind of this new Spider-Man.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This issue was a nice mix of what can work for a Miles Morales comic, while taking the series in a few directions I didn’t anticipate. The stuff with Ganke and Miles’ family is great, and I’m really excited to meet Miles’ grandmother (on his mother’s side). That addition should make his home life even more entertaining, which is a major plus to helping Miles stand out. How many superheroes do you know who have to deal with their parents and an angry grandmother?

I’m not at all interested in seeing the Black Cat show up. I’m a big fan of the character, but I just don’t like her as a villain, and I’m not sure that Bendis will do a better job with her than Robbie Thompson is doing with Black Cat in the pages of Silk. Is the Cat going to make it her job to hassle all the supplemental Spider-People?

Second thoughts are only reasonable

I’m also excited to see where this racial storyline goes. I definitely didn’t expect Bendis to go down that route, but I’m interesting to see what he has in mind. I like the idea of TV pundits and youthful Youtube stars actually debating the intricacies of the superhero world. I like that kind of peek into the more normal corners of the MU (even if I’m not the generation that loves wacky Youtube stars). I’m confident that Bendis isn’t going to make Miles’ racial identity an ax to grind, but will instead find some worthy issues to discuss. At least I hope so.

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 March 5, 2016, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Black Widow was great. I am totally OK with an issue-long action sequence, especially when Samnee does such a fantastic job making it flow.

    Iron Man was OK. I’m starting to find Bendis’ dialogue to be exhausting. It’s too much, and it’s everyone doing it. Also, I hate Deodato’s art. I actively hate it now. His characters feel plastic and phone. They’re not people, they’re toys being posed. As far as a Tony/MJ romance goes, I don’t think that’s the way Bendis plans on going. Tony has a love interest – that hot scientist. I think Bendis brought in MJ because he likes MJ and she’s not being used. So he figured he’d make her Tony’s friend/handler.

    Spider-Man was OK. As I mentioned above, I’m getting burned out on Bendis’ dialogue. And this issue just seemed weirdly disjointed.

    • I think you might be on to something with Bendis’ dialogue. I’ve always been a fan, but there was definitely a ton of it in Iron Man. And I hope you’re right about MJ. I like that scientist character, and I think she’s a fun romantic interest.

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