Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 6/4/2016

Rebirth is upon us! After kicking everything off with that big, debut issue last week, DC has churned out a couple of their Rebirth preview comics this week. They’ll get to the new #1 issues soon enough, but for now, we take a quick peek at Batman, Superman and Green Lanterns. I’m going to try out a couple different Rebirth comics coming up, and I checked out all three of these, to varying degrees of enjoyment.

But that’s not the only big release this week! Marvel delivers the first issue of their new Civil War II crossover! And I couldn’t care less! Jeez louise. I understand the desire to tie into the movie of the same name, but come on! I guess I’ll struggle through it.

Fortunately, this week also saw the release of All-New Wolverine and the new Pink Ranger solo mini-series, both of which were delightful. All-New Wolverine scores Comic Book of the Week once again.

How can you not love this?

Who knew I would like a Wolverine comic so much once they ditched Wolverine? Though this issue has more Wolverines than a regular comic.

Comic Reviews: All-New Wolverine #9, Batman Rebirth #1, Civil War II #1, Green Lanterns Rebirth #1, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers – Pink #1, Punisher #2 and Superman Rebirth #1.

Wolverine #9

All-New Wolverine #9
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Marcio Takara

In the middle of all this hoopla, we thankfully have another excellent issue of All-New Wolverine to enjoy. It’s like a life preserver!

Wolverine dives into the belly of Fin Fang Foom to rescue Old Man Logan, and finds him melting away in a pit of stomach acid. Meanwhile, Iron Man and Captain Marvel show up to battle the giant dragon, and Gabby has to steal a SHIELD jetpack to warn them to hold off long enough for the Wolverines to escape.

When they do, Gabby takes Old Man Logan to safety, while Laura gets her own jetpack, slathers herself in the pheromone and leads Foom out into the ocean. When she gets back, she finds out that Gabby brought Logan to their apartment, which is the same apartment where the weakened Logan reveals he raised Laura!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Another issue of All-New Wolverine, another blast to be had! Wolverine herself is all about the badass action, and Gabby fills in the comedy. They’re a solid, hugely entertaining team, and Taylor throws them into some great adventures. Fighting Fin Fang Foom from both outside and in? Sounds good to me! This is a comic that can handle large scale action and small, intimate character moments. The Iron Man and Captain Marvel cameos are a little gratuitous, but Taylor gets a lot of good use out of them for comedy. Everybody works well together, and Takara is a fine guest artist to bring it all to life.

Really, guys? That’s your take away?

But if there’s one thing this series is missing, and this issue in particular misses, is a better sense of legacy for Laura. Wolverine was a hugely important character in the Marvel Universe. He had history and relationships with everybody. So the idea that he’s dead, and that this kid is trying to carry on for him, should be a bigger deal, I think. Here, she gets to team up with both Iron Man and Captain Marvel, not to mention Maria Hill, but nobody really brings it up. How well do these characters know Laura? Are they all just going to shrug their shoulders and accept that it’s totally normal for someone to just pick up where Wolverine left off?

This doesn’t break the series, it’s just something I wish Taylor would explore more. All-New Wolverine is a delightful comic with a very strong lead. What more could we want?

Batman Rebirth #1

Batman Rebirth #1
Writers: Scott Snyder and Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin

Tom King and Mikel Janin, the team behind the wildly awesome Grayson, are taking over the main Batman title, so consider me on board! They’re also bringing along Duke Thomas, but not in the exact way I would like.

Calendar Man is up to his old tricks again (trying to make the seasons change quicker), and Batman is on the case! He’s got help from Duke Thomas, who has signed on to be his new partner. But Duke isn’t going to be Robin anymore, Batman has something new in mind. He unveils a new, yellow, mini-Batman costume, and Duke gets to work. Together, they sabotage a weather controlling machine.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

You people have no idea how badly I want Duke Thomas to train as the new, official Robin. I get the importance of trying new things, I really do. But seeing Batman unveil some dumb new yellow Batman suit instead of giving Duke Thomas a better, cooler Robin costume, really bums me out.

How did Batman decide that yellow was Duke’s color?

Personally, I’d rather Batman be training Harper Row as the new Robin, but DC killed that idea as well.

I get that people really like Damian Wayne, but what has he really done as Robin since he was brought back from the dead? What has he accomplished? What impact has he had, especially on Batman comics? None! He should have stayed dead! Scott Snyder created two different characters to be Batman’s new partner, and both would be a fantastic choice. This issue actually handles Bruce and Duke really well, and this would be a great introduction of Bruce training a new Robin.

Seriously, this is a solid look at King’s upcoming Batman series, and I’m definitely on board. The characters are written well, we’ve got an interesting new mystery/villain to solve/defeat, and Janin’s pencils are as gorgeous as ever. This definitely feels like a fresh, reinvigorated take on the Dark Knight. I think Batman is in very good hands.

I know, Batman, but that still doesn’t mean I have to like it

But man, it bugs the heck out of me that they’re going to force Duke into some knock-off role. I’ve made this argument with Harper Row before: being ‘Robin’ has meaning, even beyond the comics. People know ‘Batman and Robin’. They’re iconic. They mean something. Batman and Robin will be around for a long, long time. But Bluebird? Or whatever this new, yellow mini-Batman is? They will be brushed aside and forgotten before too long.

I want a female Robin. I want a black Robin. I want Robin to be anybody and everybody. It is long past time for Damian to move on from the moniker and become his own man, even if he’s only 13. DC is clearly ready to have someone else in the role, but apparently they’re too scared to actually go through with it.

Civil War II #1

Civil War II #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez

Here we go again. Another Marvel Big Event. And this one is a pseudo sequel to a Big Event from 10 years ago, pumped out so that it can have the same name as Captain America: Civil War. Even though I enjoyed Marvel’s last Big Event — Secret Wars — I don’t have much interest in Civil War II. This first issue does not assuage my disinterest.

There’s a new Inhuman with the power to see the future, and the Inhumans use this to warn the Avengers, Ultimates and other superheroes about an incoming Celestial attack. Everybody teams up and saves the day. It’s pretty awesome.

At the victory party, Iron Man, Captain Marvel and everybody else find out about this new Inhuman, and it splits them down the middle. Captain Marvel is all about stopping problems before they happen, but Iron Man is far more wary about such a power and its implications. They part on disgruntled terms.

Later on, Captain Marvel uses the future vision to send the Avengers to intercept Thanos, and everything goes horribly wrong. War Machine is killed, and She-Hulk is mortally wounded. Iron Man finds out and rushes to the scene to find his best friend dead, then confronts Carol on what she’s done. She-Hulk wakes up just long enough to tell Carol to fight for this, before she, too, dies.

The war is on!

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

And I really don’t care. The issue is fine, there’s no problem there. But Event Fatigue has definitely set in for a comic fan like me. I couldn’t care less how this Event goes. I can only roll my eyes that War Machine and She-Hulk are now ‘dead’ and were killed off to kickstart this event. And the ‘fight’ between Iron Man and Captain Marvel feels so forced and awkward. Are these really the thoughts and opinions these two heroes would have? I don’t know, and I don’t care.

Though it is frequently touching, and damn well made

The basics of the story are all fine. I like Bendis as a writer, and Marquez is a god of an artist. So the dialogue is fun and the art is fantastic. But even their best efforts can’t overcome how forced and tired this all feels. There are no stakes anymore. Deaths are meaningless. Big Events are meaningless. Bendis and Marquez do their very best to present all of this material honestly and down-to-Earth, and that part works fine. I like how real these characters feel. But this feels like it’s going to be such a slog.

Green Lanterns Rebirth #1

Green Lanterns Rebirth #1
Writers: Geoff Johns and Sam Humphries
Artists: Ethan van Sciver and Ed Benes

I gave up on the Green Lantern titles shortly after Geoff Johns left the franchise. I just wasn’t interested in what the new creative teams were offering. I didn’t like the focus on constant Events. I just wanted a comic that told stories about the Green Lantern Corps.

So I’m hesitantly excited about getting back into Green Lantern comics, especially since my personal favorite GL, Simon Baz, is finally headlining a book. I was beginning to wonder if DC had forgotten about him.

Hal Jordan is going to be busy out in space fighting Sinestro and helping the Green Lantern Corp, so he leaves rookie Lanterns Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz to safeguard Earth. The two heroes meet for the first time, and instantly rub each other the wrong way. Simon is a little too cocky about being a GL, and Jessica has no idea what she’s doing. Hal tells them they’ll have to work as a team to protect Earth.

Meanwhile, a mysterious Guardian with a mysterious power races towards Earth, and the Red Lanterns plan to take his power!

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I haven’t been reading Justice League and know very little about Jessica Cruz, so I’m happy to say that this issue covers the basics nicely. Actually, that’s all this issue really is: covering the basics ahead of the new relaunch. We get the Cruz basics, we get the Simon Baz basics, Hal Jordan shows up to pass the torch/explain the book’s premise, and then the first big storyline gets teased. It’s all solid set-up, and I’m definitely interested in seeing Baz and Cruz partner as rookie GLs. I hope Humphries has some big things planned. The Red Lanterns are always a hoot.

Green Lanterns uses its Rebirth issue to set up the new premise, and they’re off to a good start. The characters should be fun, and Humphries will hopefully be solid on story.

Pink #1

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers – Pink #1
Writers: Brenden Fletcher and Kelly Thompson
Artist: Daniele Di Nicuolo

I’m loving BOOM!’s new Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers comic, so it only makes sense they should try a few spin-offs. It’s very rare that we see any Rangers operating solo, so this book should be a no-brainer. That they chose Kimberly the Pink Ranger is another fantastic choice!

This mini-series is set after Kimberly gave up her powers to pursue a career in gymnastics. She’s competing in Europe, but when her mother and step-father go missing, she hops on her motorcycle and checks out their village in France — but when she arrives, the whole town is empty, and there’s an eerie silence on the air.

So Kimberly suits up in gear she has on hand and eventually discovers some fish monsters trying to kidnap a guy down the street (a cute guy!). Kimberly kicks their butts and the guy fills her in on the town: these fish monsters showed up and started kidnapping people, and he’s pretty sure they’re based out of a nearby cliff. Kimberly tells the dude to chill while she calls some friends.

But Zordon informs Kimberly that he Power Rangers are off-planet, so they can’t come to her aid. Fortunately, due to some rather specific conditions of her power transfer, Zordon says Kimberly has enough pink energy remaining that he can help her transform again. Kimberly jumps at the chance and becomes the kick-ass Pink Ranger once again. She goes to the cliff, confronts the monster and their boss, Goldar, and is determined the save the day! Also, the fish monsters are the townsfolk, transformed by a new monster. And her mother is among them!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

One really weird thing about this issue was how specifically it references Power Rangers lore. Rather than set it during the same period as the main comic and just come up with some reason why Pink Ranger would be alone, Fletcher, Thompson and BOOM! pick that specific time period where Kimberly had given up her powers to the new girl, Katherine. They even name Katherine without any context in the issue itself. Then, rather than come up with some simple reason like, ‘once a Power Ranger, always a Power Ranger’, they specifically reference the lore about power transfers to come up with a viable reason why Kimberly can still transform. It’s crazy specific!

Of course, it works splendidly for me. I can’t remember some of my childhood birthday parties, but I absolutely remember how Kimberly transferred her power to Katherine, and how it differed from the original power transfer when they picked new red, black and yellow Rangers. This issue even brings in the Sword of Light used in that original transfer, with little explanation for where it came from or why it’s important to the lore.

Likewise, a cool new costume, just for the heck of it

This is insane, but oddly cool. I guess they’re really, really dedicated to making these new comics fit the old continuity. I can’t really fault them for that, considering that old continuity was a defining show from my childhood.

Other than that oddness, this is a fine issue with a really good story. Kimberly is written well, and it’s exciting to see a Power Ranger go solo. There’s a touch of the generic, I will admit. Creepy town, monsters, the hero being awesome and action-packed with nothing getting in her way. But the story is written well enough, and the art is great. This is a really solid start for a solo Power Rangers outing.

Punisher #2

Punisher #2
Writer: Becky Cloonan
Artist: Steve Dillon

I’m willing to give this new Punisher series a chance. Maybe a few more issues. Maybe see where Cloonan is going with this. Doesn’t hurt to keep reading.

The Punisher ambushes Face and some drug dealers in the middle of a forest just outside New York City. Frank is able to get just enough information that the drug activity originates in Vermont before Face kills the dealer for talking. Face then takes some of his own super soldier drug and smacks Frank around a little before taking off. Face gets word to his Vermont connection that the Punisher is coming, and the guy is such a total asshole that he puts his young daughter in a suicide vest for added Punisher insurance.

Also, the DEA is so eager to catch the Punisher that they slap him with an APB. They are really eager to prosecute these bad guys.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

This is a solid, by-the-numbers Punisher comic. But after two issues, there’s just nothing special about what we’re reading. The Punisher is on the trail of some drug manufacturers. That’s par for the course. The drug grants people superhuman strength and craziness. Isn’t that ever drug in the Marvel Universe? The named bad guys are especially evil. Yep. Everybody else is an unnamed bag of cannon fodder. Uh huh. The comic is fine, but so far, Cloonan hasn’t given me any reason to care.

The Punisher himself is unflinchingly dull. And it turns out that she wasn’t building to anything particularly interesting with his silence in the first issue. Frank Castle speaks right away in this issue, and it’s nothing important. Then he goes about killing or beating on people, as he is wont to do, without any particular style. He’s got no emotion. And Cloonan doesn’t use his steadfastness in any interesting ways, like by giving us his internal monologue or anything like that. Punisher just moves through the comic how he’s supposed to for the story to progress.

That’s kind of his whole deal

The villains, likewise, aren’t that interesting. I honestly forgot what the named villain, Face, looked like, and it took me a few moments to realize that he was the unassuming guy already on the page. His whole schtick is that he’ll cut your face off, but that is an ‘after the fact’ sort of thing he does. He’s not about to cut Frank’s face off in the middle of a fight. His super-powered drug isn’t all that interesting either. Name me any ‘new drug’ in the Marvel Universe that doesn’t grant some kind of super power.

Then there’s the ‘shocking’ cliffhanger ending of the Vermont guy putting his daughter in a suicide bomb vest. We only just met this guy and he got two scenes: in the first, he’s a complete and total asshole to his young daughter; in the second, he’s got her strapped into the suicide vest. If he’d been super sweet to his daughter in the first scene, and then strapped her into the vest, that would be an interesting twist. Instead, he’s just another dickhole criminal with zero depth of character.

Becky Cloonan is writing the kind of Punisher story that probably occurs on some idle Tuesday, the sort of drug ring that Frank Castle takes out in his down time, between the bigger, more interesting adventures.

Superman Rebirth #1

Superman Rebirth #1
Writers: Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason
Artist: Doug Mahnke

Sometimes I find myself willing to give Superman a chance, but in the end, I never stick around. I have never been a regular reader of Superman comics. There are some great graphic novels out there, and I like the character just fine, but I just don’t read his regular comics.

The new Rebirth switcher-oo probably isn’t going to change anything. This gets pretty complicated.

So the New 52 Superman is dead, having given his life in some big battle (DC didn’t even have the decency to kill him during a big Event crossover). But the pre-New 52 Superman is still alive, having somehow transferred into the New 52 universe with his wife, Lois Lane, and their son. They were planning to keep a low profile, but with Superman dead, Superman decides to get involved. Recalling how he was killed by Doomsday and came back to life, he heads to the memorial in Metropolis to retrieve Superman’s ashes to bring him to the resurrection chamber in the Fortress of Solitude.

When he arrives, he finds Lana Lang trying to break into the memorial as well. She wants to take the ashes back to Smallville to bury them with Ma and Pa Kent. Superman and Lana team up to resurrect Superman, but when they arrive at the Fortress, they discover that the resurrection chamber isn’t there. So Superman gives up trying to revive Superman and gives the ashes to Lana to bury in Smallville.

Looks like he’ll just have to be Superman.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

How the heck did DC get themselves in this mess? I guess when you try and fail for five long years to make New 52 Superman a viable comic book, you get a little desperate. Don’t like the New 52 Superman? Well, we’ll just bring back the pre-reboot Superman! You all liked him, right? But instead of just bringing back the old character, DC creates this insane, complex, in-continuity explanation for how all this is happening, and it only serves to make things worse.

How do you explain to people that your Superman comic is about an alternate reality Superman who has traveled to a new version of his old universe to replace the Superman that existed in this new universe? He’s also married and has a kid, and even though all his new friends are nearly identical to his old friends, they’re still not really his friends.

It’s so weird.

If you admit it’s confusing for her, what about the readers?

And the concept really drags this issue down. We get an extended sequence where Superman recounts his battle with Doomsday to Lana Lang, even though we’ve heard the story a million times. There’s just this weird disconnect as Superman talks down to Lana, because he’s kind of like a tourist in this world, interacting with slightly off-model versions of people he knows and loves. She isn’t his Lana Lang, so there’s a subtle, awkward disconnect.

The art is fine, though slightly off in a few places. Overall, this is a solid enough attempt to set up Rebirth Superman going forward. Superman seems like a nice guy, at least. The creative team gives it their all, and I wish them the best. But I won’t be following along.

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 June 4, 2016, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Punisher, Reviews, Robin, Superman, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. RE characters reacting to Laura as Wolverine: I think there’s a bit of risk involved in dwelling too much on other characters questioning whether Laura is worthy of taking up the Wolverine name. Particularly when there’s so many other Legacy characters running around (remember, Carol herself is a Legacy character). They addressed it with Doctor Strange in #4, and I think that’s more than satisfactory. Let Laura have the occasional moment of doubt, explore it more with Old Man Logan, but otherwise move on so people don’t feel it being driven into the ground.

    • I see your point, and it’s definitely not something I demand from this series. I’d just like to see a little more. If Laura is going to become a more important part of the larger Marvel Universe, then I’d like to see people reacting to her instead of just accepting her outright. That could build good character interactions. Like, at the end of this issue, Captain Marvel lets Laura borrow a Captain Marvel T-shirt, but it happens off-panel. I think a scene where Carol offers Laura a spare shirt would be a good place to build a friendship between the two – plus it would address how Carol just happens to have branded T-shirts of herself lying about.

  2. Wolverine is great. It’s so much fun. Gabby on a jet pack! Laura gets a couple solid one-liners. There’s great visuals. It’s a really fun comic.

    Civil War II Is very Bendis. Which means huge amounts of dialogue that take four times as long to say half as much. Also, Tony is just a straight-up dick in this issue, and I have no idea what his exact problem is.

    Punisher is a competent Punisher story.

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