Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 4/9/16

Welcome to another installment of Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews! We’re right on the verge of a great comic book movie season, and we’re right in the middle of some great comic books overall. I am very pleased with the industry these days, and I love comics like Batgirl, Spider-Man and Invincible Iron Man.

Comic Book of the Week goes to Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #2 for tapping into the sheer, silly nostalgia inside of me. Green Ranger is the best Ranger.

It’s like a dream come true

Speaking of good comics, don’t forget to check out my own series, Gamer Girl & Vixen! Order your copy and support us on Kickstarter!

Comic Reviews: Batgirl #50, Black Panther #1, Invincible Iron Man #8, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #2, and Spider-Man #3.

Batgirl #50

Batgirl #50
Writers: Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher
Artists: Babs Tarr, Roger Robinson, John Timms, Eleonora Carlini and James Harvey

No matter how much fun Rebirth may or may not be, one thing is for certain: It’s going to suck to lose Batgirl. The creative team is moving on to a new series with Image, and I’m going to try to check it out. But I’m going to miss the Batgirl of Burnside! I’m definitely grabbing up all the tpbs! And I’ll probably check out the new creative team’s work.

Batgirl teams up with Black Canary, Operator, Spoiler and Bluebird to take on the Fugue and his bad guy team, made up of villains from the Burnside era. He plans to use his mind control technology to get all the citizens of Burnside gathered on a bridge and then blow up a part of the neighborhood, to make it look like Barbara Gordon’s new energy technology is behind it. Our heroes take out all of the villains’ plans in badass face-offs, but they’re unable to prevent the explosion. The public starts to turn against Barbara Gordon!

Batgirl tracks down Fugue to a bank robbery and faces off against her foe. He’s been erasing her mind due to the bio-implant in the back of her skull, so she disables it, even though it also cuts off her ability to walk. Batgirl still manages to turn the tables on Fugue and uses his own technology against him, erasing his mind of all her secrets. He’s busted!

In the aftermath, Fugue is rightfully blamed for the explosion, not Babs’ new company, which is finding tremendous success. And Frankie reveals to her friend that, when they got the new building up and running, she installed a secret Batgirl Cave in the basement!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

Yep, this was a pretty stellar finale to this team’s great run. It’s a big, bombastic ending, using so many characters, bringing back so many villains; a good time is had by all. The writing remains as strong as ever, with Batgirl as heroic as we want her to be. Her team is awesome and diverse, and the villains each have their own special bit of entertainment. Everyone gets a moment to shine, making for a richer, more engaging comic. Batgirl’s big heroic act at the end, giving her up ability to walk in order to defeat the villain, is just as solid.

Enough to kick your butt, Twinkletoes!

The art is good too. Babs Tarr has been phenomenal on this series, and I look forward to her continued work in comics. DC also found some great fill-in artists to help with some of the scenes, and the book flows regardless of who is behind the pencils. This is the big, climactic action issue that we could possibly want from a Bat comic, and I, for one, consider this whole Batgirl relaunch a huge success. I can’t wait to reread the whole thing.

Black Panther #1

Black Panther #1
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artist: Brian Stelfreeze

With his big movie debut right around the corner, and his own solo film in the pipeline, here comes the next big Black Panther relaunch. Like all big Marvel launches these days, I’m definitely on board to check it out…but this first issue suffers from event fatigue.

Wakanda is in shambles after a series of chaotic events, and King T’Challa is struggling to keep it together. His people have lost faith in him, his sister remains encased in amber since Thanos invaded, there’s a new mind-control villain attacking the working class, and two members of his elite guard have turned traitor to protest the unfair justice in Wakanda. The Black Panther has a lot on his shoulders, even for a king.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

Somewhere buried in this first issue is a great Black Panther comic. But Coates, on his first comic book writing gig, loses himself to recent continuity. Wakanda has been through a lot in recent years as part of writer Jonathan Hickman’s various Avengers and Fantastic Four stories, and Coates does himself no favors by focusing on those events rather than moving forward. I’m all for keeping stories current, but considering the high profile push this new series is getting, considering the arrival of a writer like Coates, he really should have taken a more blank slate approach. And if his hands were tied, then Marvel should have untied them.

I’m digging that mask tech, is that new?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad comic. The parts that focus on T’Challa’s perspective show the inkling of a solid protagonist, someone struggling with duty and humanity. And the two members of his elite guard seem like compelling characters themselves, and could easily present some proper conflict. But as someone who was only vaguely aware of what Hickman and Marvel have done to Wakanda lately, there was way too much time spent touching on those tragedies and how they’ve shaken things up.

For example, Prince Namor appears on the very first page with zero context. He’s part of a memory and delivers a line, but unless you knew the recent history between Namor and T’Challa, his appearance is so strange. I get that he had a big hand to play in these recent events, but he doesn’t have anything to do with the rest of the issue. Another example: the last page cliffhanger is all about T’Challa trying to rescue his sister after she was trapped in a big block of amber during Thanos’ invasion — which was when? Two or three years ago? Who cares? Who even remembers that Thanos invaded Wakanda? Or that T’Challa has a sister?  How is that your big first issue cliffhanger ending?

At least these characters seem cool

Given the high profile nature of this relaunch, Coates and Marvel should have taken a different path. They should have focused on moving forward with new stories rather than mire the first issue in the past. The art is great, and Coates does a fine job writing T’Challa, but the disjointed narrative keeps the issue from being worthy of the hype.

Iron Man #8

Invincible Iron Man #8
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato

The art gets a bit better as action takes over in the new issue of Invincible Iron Man. Bendis puts his characters to the forefront as the action and mystery build, and that’s why he’s one of my favorite comic book writers. It definitely helps that he’s so comfortable with this month’s guest star.

Iron Man and Spider-Man team up to find War Machine in China. He’s being held prisoner by a mysterious woman who took control of his armor and who controls an army of robo-ninjas. Rhodey does his best to fight back, but he seems doomed — until Iron Man and Spidey show up in the nick of time! Except that our two heroes also fall prey to the woman’s strange ability to control metal, and she steals both the Iron Man armor and Spider-Man’s web-shooters. Then she blows everybody the heck up!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

The story is well under way now, and Bendis keeps everything rolling along nicely. Rhodey gets a chance to shine, while Tony and Peter basically fulfill every possible need Bendis might have for a comic. This is basically just a bunch of snappy banter. He lives for that stuff. And since I’m a fan, I enjoyed it as well. The villain isn’t very compelling just yet, mostly just menacing, but also really just another adversary for these guys to defeat. I’m semi confident that she’s not going to succeed in killing Iron Man, Spider-Man and War Machine. But it’s an entertaining comic, nonetheless. And I was happier with Deodato’s art this time around. Adding action to the mix makes him a little clearer and more enjoyable.

Power Rangers #2

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #2
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Hendry Prasetya

This is what I want from a Power Rangers comic! After a stumble of a first issue, the second issue from BOOM!’s new book is almost picture perfect. This is a comic that takes a step back and looks at the Power Rangers as real people with real lives and real equipment. This is my kind of Power Rangers.

Billy and Trini are on board the docked Dragonzord, trying to determine what caused it to go haywire. Billy takes a moment to feel bad about himself compared to the awesome Tommy, but Trini assures Billy that his intelligence is just as important to the team as anyone’s fighting ability.

Tommy, meanwhile, has been ambushed in his home by Scorpina. He manages to teleport her outside to safety, where he can morph and they can do proper battle! Zordon informs the other Rangers, and Jason, Kimberly and Zach are eventually able to catch up and chase off Scorpina. But Tommy, who still has Rita’s voice in his head, thinks the others are patronizing him and his inability to win the fight.

Everyone regroups at the Command Center, where Billy and Trini explain that the Dragonzord seems to have stopped responding to Tommy as a pilot. That, coupled with the earlier fight, drives Tommy to very nearly lose his cool, but first he passes out.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

It was the little things that made this issue, and they added up to a lot. First, there was the simple fact that Billy and Trini were hanging out inside a Zord looking through the computer systems. They didn’t have to morph, it wasn’t a big fight; they treated the Zord like a real piece of equipment, and that was awesome. Then there was the fact that, during Tommy’s fight with Scorpina, not all of the other Rangers showed up at the same time. It seems like a silly thing, but think back to the show: these people teleported everywhere together. The show would have had them all show up at once in a big blaze of color.

Instead, Jason and Kimberly are able to get there first to help out, then Zach shows up a little bit later, worried that he might be too late. Billy and Trini don’t even make it to the fight. It’s almost as if they’re real people with real lives, and they can’t just superhero up at a moment’s notice. I love it!

A punching!

Beyond little moments like that, there were also some great scenes between characters where they talk like real people about real things. They act like real friends. The Billy and Trini scene was pretty great, considering how little they appeared in the previous issue. There was also a nice scene between Jason and Kimberly, a pair of characters who never spent much time together. And we got an awesome fight between the Green Ranger and Scorpina, which was pretty rad.

This issue encapsulates pretty much everything I want from this Power Rangers comic. I hope they can continue this style and really dig into these characters.

Spider-Man #3

Spider-Man #3
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Sara Pichelli

Have no fear, dear readers, because we just found out what happened to Goldballs. If you were like me, and worried about this minor character in the wake of the post-Bendis X-Men shake-up, then your fears have been laid to rest. Kind of. Does it still count if Bendis himself is the one keeping Goldballs around?

Miles’ grades are falling, so his grandmother has arrived to set him straight, and she believes in very tough love! She takes away his cell phone and makes a stink of the whole house. She doesn’t approve of her daughter marrying a criminal, and she’s not afraid to point that out to Jefferson’s face. She means well, but Grandma Morales is as tough and as strict as they come.

Which is a problem when Miles has so many superhero friends. Lana Baumgartner stops by for a visit, but grandma chases her away, convinced that her grandson is involved with drug-dealing women. Ms. Marvel also stops by and sneaks into Miles’ room, but she skeddadles when grandma nearly catches the superhero in Miles’ room. Finally, when Miles returns to school, his class is introduced to a new student: Goldballs! Ganke is a fan.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

After a quick, superheroic start, Bendis takes the third issue to settle into Miles Morales’ life and supporting cast, of which I’m a fan. Miles’ has always had an interesting supporting cast, and now it’s even bigger and more interesting. I’m excited to see a friendship develop between Miles and Kamala Khan (even though she has yet to tell him her name). That will go a long way to giving their Avengers membership some strength. And I’ve always been a big fan of Lana Baumgartner. I thought she was a great supporting character for Ultimate Peter Parker, and I was very disappointed in how his death derailed whatever Bendis was building between them. Having her show back up in Miles’ life should be fun. And, of course, I’m glad to see Goldballs still around. Favorite new X-Man!

Super powers make being a teenager that much more fun

The real lightning bolt in this issue is Grandma Morales, of course. She’s a larger-than-life figure from the very moment she appears, and I’m excited to see how she will shake up the series. Miles is still a teenager, and that should impact his superhero life on a lot of levels. He has so many more rules and restrictions to life, and Bendis seems ready to tackle them all. It’s the same sort of thing that makes Ms. Marvel such a compelling comic, and makes Teen Titans such a travesty.

There is a lot more to Miles Morales than just being Spider-Man, and this issue finally starts digging its heels into every fascinating facet of the character.

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 April 9, 2016, in Comics, Reviews, Spider-Man and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Black Panther was great. Fantastic stuff. I like the unrest in Wakanda, and I’m hoping it leads to democratic reforms. I am not a fan of monarchies. And I loved the Midnight Angels. Those two women are fantastic characters. It’s cool getting a same-sex romance right off the bat. But even beyond that, it’s two women, sworn to defend the king and the laws of Wakanda, choosing to defy that king and those laws to instead fight against corruption and injustice, and to make their country a better place. That is a compelling story. That is far more compelling than a king fighting to keep hold of his inherited throne.

    Iron Man was pretty OK. Spider-Man was amusingly annoying. But I feel pretty meh on this series.

    Spider-Man was really good. Some great work from Bendis (and the art team, of course). Ms. Marvel’s cameo was a lot of fun. And Goldballs! Goldballs! Yay Goldballs!

    And Vision remains a deeply unsettling book.

    And New Avengers was one of the most gloriously ridiculous comics I have ever read. American Kaiju! An Avenger mecha! It’s gleefully insane and I love it.

    • I agree on the Midnight Angels in Black Panther. I think that could really make for a great story. I hope Coates focuses on stuff like that then on looking backwards. And making Wakanda a democracy would be a very interesting idea! That would definitely shake things up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: