Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 5/28/16

I’m a little late to the party, but I had a busy week and couldn’t get up a quick anything about all the comic book controversy. What have they done to Captain America?! What the heck have they done now to the DC Universe? Read on to get my reviews!

Part of me was just planning to review the big two controversial issues and leave it at that. But this week also saw the release of some of my favorite comics, and quite honestly, each issue kind of serves as the anti-thesis of DC: Rebirth and the new Cap twist.

So in an unprecedented move, Comic Book of the Week goes to three of my favorite comics, all of which released perfectly pleasing issues in this crazy week: Ms. Marvel, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat.

Good advice

This week’s Hench-Sized Reviews is about as big a statement on comics as I may ever be able to make. I’m quite pleased with myself, and really enjoyed some of these reads.

Comic Reviews: Captain America – Steve Rogers #1, DC Universe – Rebirth #1, Ms. Marvel #7, Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat #6 and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8.

Captain America #1

Captain America – Steve Rogers #1
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Jesus Saiz

So yeah, this issue caused quite the controversy this week. I honestly think Marvel chose this controversy and release date specifically to steal attention away from Rebirth. That’s how the business works this days. And once again, Marvel execs are giving interviews trying to pass this off as legit. So weird.

After several complicated recent events, Steve Rogers is back in a younger body, and he’s once again fighting bad guys as Captain America. He’s got a whole strike force now, including Sharon Carter as ops command, Rick Jones as hacker, and the heroes Jack Flag and Free Spirit in the field as back-up. They’re teaming up to take on the Red Skull, who is going around creating a new HYDRA out of disenfranchised, underemployed, right wing extremist racists. They’ve strapped one of their own into a suicide vest and taken control of a train, and it’s up to Cap and his team to try and stop him. They save the day, but the bomber still kills himself. Cap is a little bummed about that.

Meanwhile, Baron Zemo is trying to reforge HYDRA himself out of Z-list supervillains. Cap and his team intercept in an effort to rescue Zemo’s hostage, Dr. Erik Selvig (who has made the jump from the movies). Zemo gets the upper hand against Cap on an airplane, but Jack shows up in time to rescue Cap and knock out Zemo. When it’s over, a disappointed Cap tosses Jack out of the plane and declares, “Hail HYDRA.” Apparently he’s been a secret HYDRA agent THIS WHOLE TIME!

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

In my honest opinion, I have zero problems whatsoever with this twist. There are a lot of angry fans and people out there. But I am in the camp of ‘wait and see what happens’. This is a twist at the end of a first issue of a new storyline. It’s going somewhere. Spencer has a story to tell. There could be a million different explanations and directions. I’m not about to guess or speculate. I’m not going to come up with some kind of fan canon in my head to explain the twist after only one issue. The real explanation is coming, and I have more than enough faith in Spencer to see it happen.

I’m more upset about the potential loss of Jack Flag

For me, I only care if comics tell a good story. Few retcons really bother me anymore. If I had been pissed about Otto Octavius taking over Peter Parker’s body, I would have missed the amazing Superior Spider-Man storyline. As fans, we’ve got to chill and just read the comic and see what happens. I can’t tell you how to feel about this, but I am perfectly OK with it.

Will I be around to see what happens? I don’t know. I’ve never been much of a Captain America comic reader, even if I really enjoy Spencer as a writer. Nothing in this issue really sold me on the series. It’s all just generic Cap goodness. Honestly, I would be more interested in reading about a Captain America Squad made up of his old sidekicks than to pick apart this ‘Hail Hydra’ stuff.

The first issue of this new Captain America series delivers a lot of controversy, but a fairly by-the-numbers story.

Rebirth #1

DC Universe – Rebirth #1
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Gary Frank, Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis, Phil Jimenez

Rebirth isn’t a twist/controversy in the same way as the new Cap stuff. This isn’t just a cliffhanger twist, this is a whole shakeup of the New 52. So while I’m not up in arms about anything in this issue, I do feel a little fatigued as how often DC keeps trying to rewrite their entire universe.

Just write good, entertaining comics!

The New 52 Universe is not what it seems. There was some bigger, more evil hand at play after Flashpoint remade the DC Universe. The only one who remembers is the original Wally West, who has become lost in the Speed Force. Somehow, he manages to make his way into the New 52, but only as a lighting spirit, slowly fading away into the Speed Force. He zips around the world trying to connect with old friends, while recognizing how much everything has changed from before the New 52. Like how Green Arrow and Black Canary aren’t a couple. Or how the original Teen Titans were never a team.

Wally finally reconnects with Barry Allen, the Flash, whose memory is suddenly restored. Wally tells Barry about how everything is messed up, though he doesn’t know who is behind it. We do, though. It’s Doctor Manhattan, from Watchmen!

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

None of the twists in this issue really mean anything to me. I don’t care that the ‘real’ Wally West is back. I was happy with that new one (even though I hadn’t read a single comic about him). I don’t care that the Watchmen are going to be inducted into the DC Universe, or that Doctor Manhattan played a hand in creating the New 52.

I’m just generally exhausted at the idea that DC is going to turn the entire New 52 universe itself into some kind of big, reality-shaking something or other.

DC’s new plan to fix Superman is to take the pre-New 52 Superman, transport him into the New 52, have him married to Lois Lane with a son, and have him take over for the dead New 52 Superman, even though all of his new friends and allies are going to be weird, off-model versions of his old friends and allies

Just…just cool your jets.

I am a little disappointed that DC so feels the need to abandon their more creative titles to go back to some kind of fan-pleasing stuff. I loved the new Batgirl, and how it spilled over into other, more creative comics. But sales were crap, apparently, and DC has to chase the money. But as we’ll see later on in these reviews, Marvel manages to make fun, creative comics starring classic characters without having to shake up the entire universe.

As for this issue in particular, it was fine. It was mostly just a bunch of fan-pleasing vignettes, but none of them really starred any of my favorite characters, so the fan in me wasn’t piqued. I’m definitely going to pick up a bunch of the new Rebirth comics, but only because I’m always eager to find fun, enjoyable new comics, not because I think DC is doing the right thing.

Ms. Marvel #7

Ms. Marvel #7
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Adrian Alphona

Brace yourselves, people. We’re about to go through three amazing comics. None of them court controversy. None of them shake up the universe. They’re just three great, enjoyable comics. I couldn’t be happier.

Ms. Marvel is between big stories, so Wilson and original artist Alphona cut loose in a fun, free-wheeling Kamala Khan adventure.

It’s the annual tri-state science fair at Madison Square Garden, with students from New Jersey, New York and Connecticut competing for fancy scholarships and a year’s supply of duct tape! All in the name of SCIENCE! Kamala, Bruno and their team are up first and unveil their Skyshark experiment, where they created a perfectly fine rescue bubble for saving endangered sharks! Then Miles Morales, Ganke and their team unveil a giant battery that gobbles up all the static cling in the world and turns it into usable energy! All the while, Avengers teammates Kamala and Miles eye each other suspiciously (Kamala knows his secret I.D., but he doesn’t know hers).

Not to be undone, Bruno whips out his latest invention: a miniaturized nuclear reactor! Which promptly explodes!

Ms. Marvel and Spider-Man quickly get into costume to save people (and Nova shows up too, though he wasn’t at the fair). In the end, Kamala, Miles and their respective science teams recognize the silliness of the hyper-competition and agree to all just be pals!

Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.

This issue was just delightful! I had no idea what to expect going in, but Wilson sets up a wildly fun science fair story! It kind of comes out of nowhere, and they don’t even try to keep it grounded. Wilson and Alphona just go crazy with it, and it’s awesome! Shark bubbles! Solving the world’s energy crisis! Wild rules! Emotional outbursts! This was the perfect sort of wacky science fair/superhero action comic story, the perfect one-off Kamala Khan story full of fun and awesomeness.

It looks so happy!

The art was fantastic as well. Alphona so wonderfully captures the youthful exuberance of Kamala Khan. I love her faces! And he’s just great with the wild science and the crowded, out-of-control science fair. And I especially enjoyed his Spider-Man. With help from colorist Ian Herring, they create a really striking look.

Those webs!

Now I kind of want Alphona and Herring to do the Miles Morales book. It would be a weird look, and I don’t know if it would fit, but I love that costume.

Hellcat #6

Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat #6
Writer: Kate Leth
Artist: Natasha Allegri

Oh my gosh, you guys! Natasha freakin’ Allegri is the guest artist on this issue! She created Bee and Puppycat! And I love Bee and Puppycat! This is such a perfect pairing. Marvel had better be working with Allegri to produce some Patsy Walker animated shorts!

Patsy, She-Hulk, Ian and Teddy all take a day off and head to Coney Island for ice cream and amusement park fun! But when they spot Arcade fiddling around in the arcade, the heroes leap into action! Arcade is taking a trip down memory lane, and challenges the heroes to a series of his patented murder carnival games. No cheating and no powers! Our heroes whoop arcade in two out of the three games, and he’s taken away! Then Jessica Jones shows up in the end.

Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.

This was another utterly delightful stand-alone issue. I almost think this was part of some epic plan by Marvel. Stir up all this controversy with one comic, while slipping in some truly wonderful, non-controversial comics. Patsy Walker and her friends go to Coney Island! They play silly murder games with Arcade! And Natasha Allegri stops by to art the whole thing! It’s wonderful!

Oh child…

I realize that not everybody is into this sort of comic, but I absolutely am. Marvel is killing it with these kinds of fun comics. And they’re not just fun and adorable, they’re also funny as heck! From the dialogue to the art, Patsy Walker is just a blast to read. They don’t need to worry about Arcade’s recent history (though they do reference it). They just bring their heroes together and put them into all manner of entertaining trouble. That’s great comics.

Squirrel Girl #8

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Erica Henderson

Have I mentioned how funny this comic is? Ms. Marvel is awesome, Patsy Walker is adorable, but Squirrel Girl is laugh-out-freakin’-loud funny! And the new issue is another winner. Comedy gold, people. Comedy gold.

After teaming up with the New Avengers to defeat a giant tree lobster — only to end up talking to the thing — Squirrel Girl finds out that Chipmunk Hunk has a date, and she’s TOTALLY NOT COOL WITH THAT, NANCY! So Nancy, Khoi Boi and Tippy Toe help Squirrel Girl set up an online dating profile to take her mind off her crush. She goes on a series of regrettable dates with a bunch of bozos, before ending up with a seemingly nice guy jock at a carnival. The jock turns out to be a superhero truther, but before Doreen can amscray, Mole Man shows up to attack!

Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.

That montage of regrettable dates is just wonderful. Sometimes the guys seem perfect, until they reveal that they totally hate squirrels. Or maybe the guys are Boomerang, and Squirrel Girl has to turn them over to the police. Or sometimes, they’re this…

I don’t know how else to heap praise upon this book. Story and art are working together like a brilliant hilarity machine. Every panel, every page turn, every moment is a gift of perfect comedic timing. Squirrel Girl herself is such a wonderful character in this series, and nobody gets her like North and Henderson. Part of me wants to write a huge issue synopsis, so I could get into all the nuance with the tree lobster. It’s a wonderful scene, and it’s not even the meat of the comic!

Sending Squirrel Girl on a series of Tinder dates is such a fun idea, and they pull it off splendidly. The whole cast gets involved, and North and Henderson turn out a stunningly hilarious and perfect issue.

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 May 28, 2016, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Captain Steverica was good. It was a well-crafted comic. There’s some really interesting commentary. And I loved the use of colour in the flashbacks. As far as the reveal, well, we’ll see where it goes. Luckily, I don’t care all that much about Steve so I can’t be bothered to be bothered by the reveal.

    Ms. Marvel is great. Skyshark! SKYYYYSHAAAARK! I also love the speech about the screwed-up college financing system, which also doubles as a commentary on Civil War II.

    Hellcat is so much fun. Allegri’s art is adorable. Arcade issues are always a fun little treat. And it’s impossible not to grin at, “It’s not just She-Hulk, it’s WE-Hulk!” An amazing line. And Patsy has Regina Spektor as her ringtone this month!

    Squirrel Girl is a delight. The awkwardness of online dating. I love it. And the sad Sentinel! Poor Sentinel. And Fancy Dan!

    It actually kinda bothers me that Captain Steverica got all the attention, because this week had so many fantastic female-led comics that deserved attention. (In addition to these three, there was also Mockingbird, which was fun while also delivering some really strong feminist commentary on just how hard it is to be a tween girl and how shitty society is towards young girls.) Plus, there was the first issue of Nighthawk, a black solo title with a black writer, which had some great racial politics in it. Marvel put out a few awesome titles with leads who aren’t white guys, so who gets every piece of press? The white dude, naturally.


    • If you do something right, nobody will know that you’ve done anything at all.

      • That’s . . . not how art works, though. Especially not commercial art. I mean, no one knowing what Mockingbird does right means no one is reading Mockingbird. Which is a shame, because it’s a great series and the most recent issue was deeply feminist.

        I just hate that “White Dude Does Something” has gotten massive press, while “Women and People of Colour Do Lots of Things” is just totally ignored.

      • I know, I was just quoting a Futurama quote I like to throw around. You’ve got a damn goo dpoint.

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