Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 6/18/16
I was presented with an interesting conundrum from this week’s comic books, one that strikes to the very heart of the comic book market these days. Which was the better comic this week, Batman or Patsy Walker? Batman or Patsy Walker?
I bet that’s a question I never thought I’d ask myself.
We’ve got some very fun comics this week. Astonishing Ant-Man goes full Ocean’s Eleven. Justice League tells a fun story about Robin’s first meeting with the team. And Civil War II assures us that it’s probably safe to ignore all of Marvel’s hype for this year. But the real battle comes down to an exciting, almost cinematic start for writer Tom King’s Batman run versus one of the most delightful issues of Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat yet!
Though it’s probably no surprise which issue wins Comic Book of the Week from me.
I just can’t help myself. Greatness is greatness. Also, that’s Jessica Jones, for those of you wondering. We can only hope they recreate this scene in Jessica Jones Season 2 on Netflix.
Comic Reviews: Astonishing Ant-Man #9, Batman #1, Civil War II #2, Justice League #51 and Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat #7.
Astonishing Ant-Man #9
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Ramon Rosanas
It’s Ant-Man’s Eleven time! Spencer has been laying the groundwork for this issue since the start of the series, putting the villains and supporting characters into place until he could bring them together for a very explicit movie reference, and I love it!
In order to rescue his daughter from the Cross family, Ant-Man puts together an epic team of heroes and villains: Giant-Man, Ms. Thing, Beetle, Machinesmith, Grizzly, Hijacker, Whirlwind, the Voice and the Magician! Not everybody gets along, and most of them are in this for the thievery portion of the plan, but they all work together to sneak into Cross Industries. While everyone else is off thieving, Ant-Man gets in between the Crosses and his daughter, telling her to shrink and get to safety. Crossfire then uses an experimental weapon to trap Ant-Man in a tiny bubble.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I know it’s an obvious movie reference, but Spencer plays it well, and the issue is a ton of fun. He’s got all of these characters bouncing off each other, from Beetle and Darla giving each other the side-eye, to the various villains and heroes shrugging their shoulders and deciding to work together. It’s an eclectic group, which is entirely the point, and Spencer has a lot of fun with them all.
And I really hope he brings them together even stronger in the next issue! Surely these team of ne’er-do-wells is going to come together to rescue Scott, right?
Ah well, even if they don’t, this was a blast. Spencer has been building quite the cast over the course of this series, and they come together this issue in spectacularly enjoyable fashion. I especially liked the step-by-step fulfillment of Machinesmith’s plan, and all the weird comedy. Like, when you have Grizzly dress up as a security guard, why do they just squeeze his bear costume into the security guard uniform? It’s a silly moment, and Spencer calls himself out on it, so good times all around.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: David Finch
Rebirth is off and running now, and I’m going to do my best to give these new comics a try. I like to think I have an open mind about this sort of thing now. Plus, you don’t have to twist my arm to buy a Batman comic.
Some bad guys have stolen three surface-to-air missiles, and while police were able to recover two of them, Commissioner Gordon tells Batman that they don’t know where to find the third. Gordon should simply turn around, because while they’re talking on the rooftop, the third missile is used to blow up the back end of a passenger plane!
Batman races into action, with logistical support from Duke Thomas and Alfred. Batman uses his ejector seat in the Batmobile to launch himself onto the crashing plane, attaches two portable jet propulsion modules onto the undersides of the wings, then climbs onto the top of the plane to fly the thing like a glider. With Alfred’s help controlling the modules, Batman threads the needles of Gotham City skyscrapers in order to get the plane out over the water, where it will safely set down in Gotham Harbor.
Unfortunately, the impact with the water will kill Batman on the outside of the plane. He says his goodbyes to Alfred, prepared to die an honorable death. But Batman is saved at the last second by Gotham City’s newest hero: Gotham! And his sidekick, Gotham Girl!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Hot damn, what a fun issue. I knew King was good. His Grayson was spectacular! And now that he’s got his hands on the Dark Knight himself, it looks like we’re in for a pretty stellar series. There was just something wonderfully cinematic about this issue that I really enjoyed. King ratcheted up the action quickly, and then Batman was gliding a passenger plane between skyscrapers like a rodeo cowboy! And the reveal of the missile hitting the plane was expertly choreographed. My hat is off to King and company.
Though the story did get a little melodramatic there towards the end. If Batman can figure out how to launch his ejector seat onto a plane, surely we expect him to be able to jump to safety before the plane hits the water, right? He’s Batman! So I don’t know why King suddenly has Batman valiantly accepting his death, and tearfully asking Alfred if his parents would be proud of him. That got a little maudlin.
Tom King’s Batman looks to be phenomenal, with an exciting first issue that plays up a lot of classic Batman elements, while delivering some truly outstanding action. I would probably prefer a better artist than Finch, but I suppose he’ll do for now.
Civil War II #2
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez
Two issues in, and I think I can definitely picture Marvel’s pitch for this story: “So, Brian, we want this year’s ‘Big Event That Changes Everything Forever’ to at least have the same name as the new Captain America movie, and see if you can’t squeeze in the Inhumans while you’re at it, thanks.”
This whole thing feels really slapped together to fulfill some kind of quota.
After the death of War Machine, Iron Man sneaks into New Attilan to kidnap Ulysses, the Inhuman precog. Medusa and the others try to stop him, but Tony makes his escape and takes the boy to a hideout to do some scans of his brain. Tony wants to figure out how his powers work.
Meanwhile, Captain Marvel, the Ultimates and the Avengers get together to stop the Inhumans from tearing Stark Tower to the ground in retaliation. They ask for a chance to stop Iron Man themselves, and they quickly find him and tell him to let Ulysses go. While they’re all arguing, Ulysses has another vision, which projects into the minds of everyone around them: he sees the Hulk turning into a giant rage monster and killing everyone.
Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.
I dunno, this issue was fine, I guess. The art is out of this world, sure. But the story leaves a lot to be desired. I’m not even sure what everybody is ‘civil warring’ about. Sure, Tony Stark is being a little reckless in the wake of his friend’s death, but nobody is choosing sides or fighting their friends over any of this…yet. I suppose that could come up soon. I guess that would make Civil War II something of a slow build. Not that I’m reading this just to see the superheroes fight each other. That doesn’t really interest me in the least. I want to read a good story, and so far, this is still just Bendis building to something.
Though if this is how the Inhumans act in their own comics, I’m glad I’m not reading them. The Inhumans are insufferable in this issue. All these dramatic proclamations how Iron Man ‘invaded our country’ and stuff. They live in a crashed spaceship off Manhattan. And considering their current team lineup, especially with guest stars like Beast and the Human Torch, the Inhumans are just a glorified superhero team. So to see them acting like petulant children, whining about being a ‘nation’ or whatever, they come off as twerps. Maybe once upon a time they were a nation, but Marvel has turned them into a whiny superhero team who think they’re better than everybody else.
Also, not that this matters, but sneaking into a ‘sovereign nation’ to kidnap a specific, plot-important character is exactly what the Avengers did to the X-Men in Avengers vs. X-Men. Cyclops was right. Pax Utopia.
Justice League #51
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Paul Pelletier
New 52 continuity is kind of a mess right now, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Mostly, I’m just gonna plug my ears and forge ahead with the new Rebirth comics. If they’re good, I’ll keep reading. If not, no great loss.
But for some reason, DC decided to use one of their final Justice League issues to show us the first New 52 meeting of Robin and the Justice League. Continuity may not matter anymore, but there’s no way I’m going to miss an issue like this!
When the Justice League gathers for a new emergency, Batman brings along his new sidekick, Robin, both to introduce him to the rest of the team, and to get Robin used to the idea of working with the Justice League. Flash and Green Lantern tease Batman for having a kid sidekick, while Wonder Woman doesn’t think a child should be involved at all. But Batman doesn’t back down, and Robin joins the team in trying to fight a pack of weird techno-wolves in the heart of Metropolis.
It turns out that when the League defeated Darkseid in their first team-up at the start of the New 52, they accidentally left behind cracks in the time space continuum. Soon they’re also dealing with a pre-New 52 Mammoth and some alien detective from another dimension who is also investigating the cracks. With help from the detective, and a little insight from Robin, Cyborg is able to seal up the cracks and send everybody back to their proper dimensions.
After the day is saved, everybody thanks Robin for the assist.
Oh, also, there’s some evil entity watching the whole thing from through the dimensional rift. He decides he’ll go after Robin instead of taking on the bigger, more dangerous Justice Leaguers. That ties into the upcoming Titans series, or so we’re told.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
Nothing particularly special, but this was a solid, enjoyable Justice League adventure. Pelletier is a fine artist, and he does a great job keeping the action flowing and the characters interesting. And Abnett writes everybody fine. If it wasn’t for the Robin angle, this would be a pretty standard, almost ho-hum comic book. But I only came for the Robin angle, and at least that was quite fun.
With Tim Drake kind of sucking in the New 52, I have developed a newfound love of Dick Grayson these days. I especially enjoy every little flashback visit we get with his time as Robin. I love Dick’s retconned New 52 Robin costume, and seeing him interact with both Batman and other superheroes is a blast. Robin is a total professional, but is also more open to helping and bonding with the other heroes. He’s an impressive figure, even for a kid sidekick.
These flashback issues pop up here and there, and they make for a nice little story about Dick Grayson’s time as Robin in the New 52. If DC put them all together in a tpb, I’d buy it in a snap!
Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat #7
Writer: Kate Leth
Artist: Brittney L. Williams
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is getting a run for its money for my favorite comic book these days. Patsy Walker is delightfully fun in all the ways I like from my comic books. Great stories, colorful art, fun wordplay, and even funner characters and relationships. And in this issue: Jessica Jones!
Hedy hired Jessica Jones to spy on Patsy Walker for evidence to use against her at any upcoming court battles, not knowing that Jessica Jones is a friend to all superheroes, and she immediately jumps ship to help out Hellcat instead. Jessica tries to trick Hedy into turning over important paperwork, but Hedy doesn’t budge.
Meanwhile, in order to ‘build her brand’, Patsy Walker does a book signing at Tom’s bookstore. She doesn’t like the spotlight or the fan adoration, but she suffers through it for the sake of all this legal business. She even gets a visit from Jessica Jones and family! It’s fun!
Jessica convinces Hellcat to go with her back to Hedy’s apartment, to break in and try to just steal the important paperwork. The two get busted by Hedy, though, and she gets the proof herself that Patsy Walker is the irresponsible, law-breaking superhero! But at that exact moment, She-Hulk is pouring over her own paperwork, and she discovers that Patsy’s mom signed over all the comic rights to Hedy while she was on her deathbed, high on morphine! Such a signature is therefore void!
Everybody throws a party at the end when Patsy gets the rights back to her own comic book! Hooray!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
This is a pretty perfect issue of Patsy Walker. Everything I love about this comic can be found in these pages. You’ve got Patsy front and center, being awesome, adorable and yet painfully human. Just because she’s drawn in chibi form from time to time does not mean Patsy doesn’t feel negative emotions. This isn’t just one big fluffy party. Leth gives her some social anxiety issues, and they only help to expand her character in fun and interesting ways .
Plus this issue was packed with fun cameos and drama. Patsy Walker is notable for being a supporting character on the Jessica Jones TV show. And while comic book Patsy is a million miles from TV show Patsy, it was still fun to team her up with comic book Jessica. Great cameo.
I’m a little disappointed that the conflict with Hedy was wrapped up so easily. Like, has all of this really just been building to She-Hulk noticing something odd in the paperwork she’s always had available to her? But I’m not going to nitpick too much, because Leth and Williams deliver a wonderful issue that further cements my love for this adorable series.
Williams even gave herself a cameo in the issue, which was fun.
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!
Posted on June 18, 2016, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin and tagged Ant-Man, Astonishing Ant-Man, Civil War II, Dick Grayson, Hellcat, Justice League, Patsy Walker, Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.