Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 5/14/16
If you’re reading this, then I am kickin’ back and having a great time at the Haverhill Public Library Comic-Con in Haverhill, Massachusetts! I’ve been to a lot of comic conventions over the years, but this is the very first time I’ll be presenting my own comic, Gamer Girl & Vixen! I’m very excited, and I hope it’s going well. I’ll do a write up on the event next week.
But for now, let’s enjoy some quality comics! Batman and Starfire both bow out of the New 52, Black Panther takes a crack at a second issue, and I dipped my toes into a few more non-superhero titles for once, with the return of Kaijumax.
The new issue of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers wins Comic Book of the Week, because it knows what I want, and it delivers without shame. Go, Green Ranger, Go Go!
Also, in case you didn’t know, the Green Ranger is way better than the White Ranger. That’s just a fact.
Comic Reviews: Batman #52, Black Panther #2, Kaijumax #1, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #3 and Starfire #12.
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Rather than end the New 52 Batman on Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s pleasant finale last issue, DC has decided to toss in one more Batman comic to hit that magical number. It’s fine.
Shortly after his parents were killed, Bruce Wayne kept a journal/list of all the things he could do to get over his grief. Alfred thought it would be good for character-building, but Bruce filled it with all the training and hardcore stuff he would need to accomplish to become Batman. Alfred eventually discovered the journal and added a sentimental message to Bruce’s list, but young Bruce found out, got mad and tore that page out.
Now in the present day, some two-bit costumed thief has stolen the safety deposit box where Bruce hid the journal. The thief thinks that billionaire Bruce Wayne has stashed something priceless in his super secret rich person safety deposit box. Batman chases the thief down to get it back, then decides to just let him open it. The thief is very disappointed that it’s just some ratty old journal, and Batman takes him into custody.
Back at the Batcave, Alfred recognizes the journal and is amazed that Bruce held onto it. Bruce shows Alfred that he eventually taped that sentimental page back into the journal, and all is well.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
If all DC wanted to do was stretch out the Batman series to the magic number 52 issues, they could have done worse. Maybe Snyder and Capullo charge a lot of money? Or maybe they specifically planned a 51-issue run? Who knows, but DC got exactly what they wanted: a short, sweet Batman story that celebrates the character’s history. There are callbacks to his training. There are a lot of nice moments between Bruce and Alfred. And we get to see Batman chase down and defeat some fancy new costumed crook. This is all classic Batman goodness, told simply and almost effortlessly. It’s nothing to write home about, but it’s still enjoyable in its own right.
Black Panther #2
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artist: Brian Stelfreeze
I hate to say this, but I just don’t think Black Panther is working for me. That is not a knock against the skill of the creators or the quality of the comic. I just think it’s flying over my head, and I’m just not connecting with it like I’m supposed to.
The Black Panther goes off alone to track down and stop the witch who is messing with his people. He spends the fight ruminating on the words his uncle spoke to him when he took the crown, and how a king draws power from his mystique. You can’t show your full might to your people, because then you become just a man with might. A king needs to be a bit mysterious. The witch escapes by hitting T’Challa with fear visions, but he breaks through and defeats her henchmen. He tells the nearby people that they are free, but those people seem just fine with living under the authority of the witch and her henchmen. Even when he does good, it still harms people.
Meanwhile, the Midnight Angels (the two former guards) use their super-suits to free a bunch of people from some slavers in northern Wakanda. They’re doing good, and one of them has a plan for even more.
Double meanwhile, a radicalized fighter visits an old university professor and they discuss their conflicting philosophies.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
This is a fine issue. The art is great, and Coates is really giving his all. But it’s losing me, and it’s losing me quickly. I’m having a hard time understanding or recognizing the new characters that pop up, or their new plots. I thought the radical and the college professor were father and son when I first read it, but apparently that’s not the case. I didn’t really understand what was happening with the witch and her henchmen when Black Panther defeated them. I get that Coates is trying to build this big political tapestry, but I think he’s being a little too vague in spots.
But at the same time, what right do I have to ask him to dumb it down?
Fortunately, his characters are pretty great, when I can understand what’s going on. The one thing that I had no problem reading was Black Panther himself. I understand why he does what he does, and his inner monologue is easy to follow and understand. Likewise, the Midnight Angels definitely seem pretty cool. I get that part.
Black Panther just isn’t settling for me. It’s still a fine comic, and I hope it goes far, but it might not be for me.
Writer and Artist: Zander Cannon
I liked Kaijumax the first time around, and so I’m happy to be back for more with Zander Cannon! He’s building an interesting world, and the first issue of Season 2 shows off even more.
After a daring prison escape last issue, Electrogor is on the run with Green Humongo. They crash with an old friend of Humongo’s, a kaiju parolee who is trying to go straight and hold down a 9-to-5 job. He doesn’t want them there, but Humongo convinces him to let them stay for the day while he’s at work. We follow the new monster to work and get a good look at how crappy a day-in-the-life is for a kaiju trying to go straight. He’s treated like garbage at work, the authorities are always hassling him, and he doesn’t even get respect from other monsters. By the time he gets home and Eletrogor and Humongo haven’t left, he just tells them it’s fine and goes to bed.
Meanwhile, Chisato the giant mecha woman is doing great in her new job with Team G.R.E.A.T., the kaiju hunters. And former prison guard Jin is drowning his sorrows in a monster casino.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Despite veering almost completely off course from the previous season, this new issue is still a fine read. Cannon has clearly put a lot of thought into his kaiju world, and I liked this peek into what life is like outside of the kaijumax. This isn’t as structured a world as some others, but Cannon makes the idea that giant monsters and robots live and work alongside regular humans seem normal. He paints a very detailed picture, as grainy and grimy as it might be. I enjoyed the trip he took us on with this issue.
And now I definitely don’t know where the story is going. Our expected protagonist, Electrogor, is in the issue, but this one is definitely not about him. Is each season going to be episodic? That would be kind of neat — though I will admit that I didn’t quite recognize everybody or remember what the heck was going on. It’s been a long time since the last issue.
Still, Kaijumax is a fun, weird little world, and I am enjoying each visit.
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #3
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Hendry Prasetya
I almost feel like a sucker for liking the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers comic as much as I do. I don’t usually read licensed comics, like the Rick and Morty comic. They just don’t work for me. But this isn’t just a licensed comic. This really is a re-imagining of one of my favorite childhood TV shows, combining the same colorful action I loved as a child with the deeper, more nuanced exploration of character and story that I crave as an adult.
After passing out last issue, Tommy wakes up and Trini gives him a medical exam to make sure he’s OK. The exam is interrupted when the Dragonzord suddenly shows up outside the Command Center and attacks! Trini morphs and calls in the Sabre-Toothed Tiger Zord to defend, while Tommy tries to use his Dragon Dagger to control the Zord. But it doesn’t work and all seems lost…except this was just another hallucination. Tommy is actually still getting the medical exam.
Elsewhere, the other Rangers discuss Tommy and his problems. Zach doesn’t think they should trust him as much as they do, while Kimberly does her best to stick up for him. Jason tries to play it straight down the middle. And Billy is mostly concerned with fixing Tommy’s communicator. Trini calls them back to the Command Center to discuss her findings: it seems that Tommy’s powers are way out of control in his body. Tommy finally comes clean about the hallucinations he’s been having, and everyone is disappointed that he kept this from them.
Meanwhile, Rita uses the Putty Patrollers that Tommy fought last issue as a mold to forge a new, knock-off Dragon Dagger. She gives it to Scorpina, who uses it to take control of the Dragonzord, ready to wreak havoc!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
First of all, the revelation that Tommy was only hallucinating about he and Trini fighting the Dragonzord was bunk. Total bunk! I absolutely wanted to see a team-up between Trini and Tommy, two characters who have zero history together from the show. And I wanted to see the Sabre-Toothed Tiger Zord fight on its own, rather than just being a foot to the Megazord. It would have been great! But nope, hallucination.
At least it was an awesome hallucination.
Still, this was another fantastic issue, delving into the real lives of the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. I love that Trini and Tommy spend some time together, fleshing out her character a bit more. I love that the other Rangers actually debate what they should do about Tommy, and that Zach openly admits that he doesn’t trust the Green Ranger. These are real people with real opinions and feelings, not just lovey dovey kid show characters. This is exactly the kind of drama I want to see in this comic.
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers remains an incredibly fun experiment. It’s simple, but works so perfectly. The art remains top notch, and the character work is fantastic. Loving this series.
Writers: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Elsa Charretier
And so we bid goodbye to this nice little Starfire comic. It wasn’t as popular as Harley Quinn, but it was still a fun little foray into this fan-favorite character.
Starfire is leaving Key West, and everybody is sad to see her go. She frees her dolphin friend. Sol and his co-worker get together. Stella and Atlee are super sad. But Kori loves them all, they love her, and she’s off to new adventures!
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
Much like the series as a whole, this final issue is just kind of light and fluffy. Starfire simply never made much of an impact, but perhaps it wasn’t supposed to leave an impact. Perhaps it was just supposed to be a fun, enjoyable and friendly comic. Maybe DC wanted to go all-in on cleaning up their act with Starfire, rather than let her New 52 debut define the character for the rest of her comics career (and they succeeded, if that was their goal). I don’t know, and it doesn’t really matter. Starfire was a nice little comic, with no fuss or muss. It had some fun issues, told some fun stories, created some fun characters, and I suppose that’s all we might really want from a comic book.
I hope Starfire fans enjoyed it.
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!