Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 6/25/16

How did I get so lucky that all of my favorite comics come out in the same week? As a comic book fan, that’s great! As a comic book reviewer who is having a pretty busy week at work, that stinks! I managed to read a few of my favorites for sure this week, but I’ll be missing out reviews for the likes of Doctor Strange and Totally Awesome Hulk! I’ve also already blown my promise to try out some of the Rebirth titles, since I didn’t get around to reading Aquaman or Wonder Woman.

Guess I’ll just have to make due with the likes of Harley Quinn, Mighty Thor, Ms. Marvel, Power Rangers, and instant Comic Book of the Week, Power Man and Iron Fist! I should be so lucky as to have comics this good all in one week!

I’m sure Aquaman and Wonder Woman were fine too.

Comic Reviews: Detective Comics #935, Harley Quinn #29, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #4, Mighty Thor #8, Ms. Marvel #8 and Power Man and Iron Fist #5.

Detective Comics #935

Detective Comics #935
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Eddy Barrows

For years now, there has been a particular factoid about Tim Drake that has bugged the heck out of me — and one I planned to solve, should DC Comics randomly hire me off the street to write Robin comics. For the first time in years, that factoid is finally being addressed! These are interesting Tim Drake times.

Batwoman is pushing the Batman Corps (my new name for them) to the limit in training simulation after training simulation, but Red Robin uses his computer override to shut it all down and give his team a break. They’ve got a new headquarters called The Belfry in the middle of Gotham City, with a training room that uses Clayface particles to basically be a Danger Room. Tim tells Batwoman that the team is ready to be out there in the city fighting crime, but Batman and Batwoman are holding them back.

Red Robin meets up with Batman to check on Azrael and to express his frustrations with the training regime. Batman is working on something big, but he won’t tell Red Robin everything yet — though they do manage to get the word ‘Colony’ out of Azrael.

Afterwards, Batman tells Red Robin that even though Tim tried to distance himself from the ‘Robin’ name, he was always Robin to Batman. It’s a nice moment…but when you think about it, this kind of means that Tim went to all the trouble of calling himself ‘Red Robin’, but Batman just ignored it (Which he was right to do! Nobody likes the name ‘Red Robin’, Tim!).

Afterwards, Tim heads home and we find out that not only is he in a relationship with Spoiler, but he has also been accepted to Ivy University! But with Batman putting so much pressure and confidence on him, Tim isn’t sure if he can drop out of sidekicking to go to college. Also, Cassandra is struggling to get used to having a solid home and friends. And Batwoman goes home to talk to her dad, who tries to convince her that this whole idea is silly and that she should dump Batman and come back to work with him.

Later, Batman is ambushed by the new army of bad guys!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

So what was the Tim Drake factoid? Higher education! Back in the day, Tim’s time in high school was a big part of his character. He had friends and responsibilities that helped flesh him out as a person. But as time went on, DC writers eventually just dropped high school and Tim’s personal life all together, making him a vigilante 24/7 instead of anything else. But that sounds ridiculous. I know you need to have Tim Drake starring in comics, but how does a smart kid like Tim drop out of high school and never attend college? Both Bruce and Dick attended college. Thankfully, this issue starts Tim back on this path!

In terms of character building, this issue was pretty great — though it is entirely possible that I am biased. After years of Tim Drake being wasted as leader of a crummy Teen Titans, Tynion has brought him back into the Bat-family with purpose! In interviews, Tynion has said that Tim Drake is his favorite comic book character, and it kind of shows. Tim is going to be a major player in this series, and with both a girlfriend and a college acceptance letter, Tynion has already given him more character depth than 5 long years of the Teen Titans comics.

Batman also only tolerates Tim’s desire for a double R logo on his chest

Though I kind of wish we actually got to see Tim and Stephanie becoming a couple. I live for that kind of character development.

Anyway, Tim Drake is doing aces in this book, and that makes me very happy. And the rest of the comic is fun too. Everybody seems to work well together, and Tynion is giving everyone a few good plots and subplots. It’s very important to develop the characters along with the story. I also kind of wish there were more members of the Batman Corps (my name for it). This small group seems almost like a second thought. Like, why this group when there are kind of a lot of vigilantes in Gotham?

Considering the larger world of Batman and Gotham City, this almost seems like too specific a premise to really make work. Tynion seems to have a lot planned for Detective Comics, and he’s got a great handle on the cadre of characters he’s put together, so I have a lot of faith in what he’s trying to pull off.

Harley Quinn #29

Harley Quinn #29
Writers: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Chad Hardin

We’re back to utter wackiness in Harley Quinn, and I’m always on board for that! Personally, I like me a good story, and there’s sadly no follow up to Red Tool in this issue. But sometimes it’s just fun to have fun.

Due to a complex series of events, Harley Quinn and Big Tony become the targets of a reluctant assassin and have to fight him in giant robot suits. Let me back up a second. A few issues ago, Harley accidentally caused the death of a mobster’s son at a roller derby event. Now that mobster has hired one of his goons to kill Harley Quinn. The goon ‘hires’ Harley for a job to lure her out, then turns the tables on her. The mobster has access to a giant Voltron-esque suit…but so does Harley. They duke it out until Harley wins.

Then Harley pilots the suit over to the big mobster’s mansion and kills him too!

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

This is the sort of cut loose and have fun issue that makes Harley Quinn a very fun book. There isn’t much in the way of character or story depth, but I can’t imagine Conner and Palmiotti were too worried about that. It’s just Harley having fun and killing people in an oddly Harley-themed giant mech suit. The fun is in the details, like how the suit comes equipped with cluster missiles that fire out of the robot’s ass. Good times.

How did we get a series like Superman/Wonder Woman but no Harley/Ivy?

We do get some nice scenes, like Harley bonding with Big Tony and Poison Ivy. But mostly this issue is slapstick madness with that special Harley quality. The art was good, but I think the ink and colors were a little too heavy. The giant robot fights get a little over-saturated and confusing, but that’s barely a nitpick.

Power Rangers #4

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #4
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Hendry Prasetya

Teaser posters and Bryan Cranston casting keep making me think this live action Power Rangers movie is going to be real. It’s still kind of a shock, but you never know! Fortunately, I know that the Power Rangers comic is still pretty darn great!

With Scorpina and the Dragonzord attacking downtown, Jason orders Tommy to stay at the Command Center while the other Rangers try to save the day in their own individual Zords. While he’s benched, Tommy works out that his Rita hallucinations are just his own mind trying to trick him. He then decides to defy Jason’s orders and get into the field, hopefully to use his own Dragon Dagger to try and regain control of the Dragonzord. His plan doesn’t go that well, but with Kimberly’s help, Tommy breaks into the Dragonzord control room and defeats Scorpina.

Back at the Command Center, Zach decides he’s had enough of Tommy’s garbage and the two get into a heated shouting match, with Jason stuck in the middle. All the arguing empowers the chaos crystal that Rita built, and soon it explodes the Command Center! Everyone crawls out of the rubble to find a new, mechanical villain has arrived to destroy them.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

Zach getting angry and going after Tommy in the Command Center is the most emotional thing I think I’ve ever seen in a Power Rangers project. The Rangers at each other’s throats?! Bring it on! This is exactly the sort of drama and characterization I want from a series like this, and this comic delivers. And I’m glad it’s Zach, because it would have been too easy to just make this a comic about Tommy vs. Jason. I wish Trini and Billy had things to do, but we’re only at issue #4. I’ll take everything I can get!

When Rangers stop being polite and start getting real

The action is just as good. From actually using the individual Zords in battle to Tommy disobeying orders to get into the fight, all of it is pretty much gold. This series is the Power Rangers treated like real people, and that’s my kind of comic. They had enough goofy, campy, kid stuff in the original TV show. If you’re going to even have a comic like this, I am glad Higgins and BOOM! are taking it seriously. And it’s not like this is some grim and gritty reboot. This is the classic show, with all the color and personality, but treated with some real depth. That’s good Power Rangers comics.

Mighty Thor #8

The Mighty Thor #8
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman

Following a two-issue divergence into a Loki fairy tale (which I’m sure will come up later), we’re finally back on track with Mighty Thor! Looks like the story is still going strong…though I’m very disappointed that Marvel seems to be taking Loki out of this book to focus on his run for President. Whatever silliness that mini-series is trying to accomplish is peanuts compared to the epic story Jason Aaron has been telling, and Loki is crucial! Stupid company synergy.

Apparently, a bunch of evil businessmen get together every now and then to have a secret cabal meetings in Switzerland. Aaron tries to play it off like this is some big historical retcon, that these meetings have been happening for decades, with the likes of Wilson Fisk and Sebastian Shaw in attendance, but it’s a weak bit of storytelling. It’s just impossible to believe.

So let’s just take it at face value: a bunch of world-class evil business people get together for an evil summit, including Fisk, Shaw, Darren Cross, the new Silver Samurai and that crazy blonde girl from Aaron’s Hellfire Brats. Today’s meeting is all about putting Dario Agger in his place, since the Roxxon CEO started collecting resources across the Nine Realms without telling the rest of them. Dario snarls back and threatens all of them, but none of them back down, and the Silver Samurai even starts a hostile takeover of Agger’s holdings.

Then Oubliette Midas, the Exterminatrix, shows up and shoots Agger, looking to take his place in the cabal. I believe she’s one of Aaron’s favorite villains.

Meanwhile, Jane Foster is still doing her thing as Thor. Some SHIELD agents kidnap her to interrogate her for the secret identity of the new Thor, but Roz Solomon shows up and pulls her out of the meeting, since she’s in charge of all Thor business. Then Roz and Thor team up to investigate this cabal thing.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

As dumb as I feel that big wigs meeting was, I actually like the idea that some other Marvel figures are holding Dario Agger responsible for something. And I’m especially glad that he got his ass kicked. Agger is a pretty bad dude, and he’s been a fine antagonist for Aaron’s Thor. But in the bigger picture of the Marvel Universe, he’s a weasely fish in a very big pond. Guys like Kingpin and Sebastian Shaw have decades more staying power than a newbie like Agger, so I’m glad to see them put him in his place in ways that Thor never could. It’s a very fun twist, giving Agger some trouble that doesn’t wield a hammer. He doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

Thor has been busy in the downtime

The Jane Foster stuff is fun, though it does strike me as a little odd how important Roz Solomon is at SHIELD. Once upon a time, she was supposed to be some low level environmental analyst, and that was her appeal. But now she’s a full-on Agent, it would seem. That’s slightly disappointing. But I’m also glad she’s back, and I think she and Thor will make a great team.

As much as I enjoyed the 2-issue fairy tale, I’m glad to have the regular Mighty Thor story back and on track. Between Aaron’s characters and Dauterman’s outstanding artwork, this is still a top tier title.

Ms. Marvel #8

Ms. Marvel #8
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artists: Takeshi Miyazawa and Adrian Alphona

Oh Kamala, you’ve once again found yourself buried in a new Big Event. You were able to use Secret Wars to your advantage, but will Civil War bring you down? It’s looking a little weird…

In the middle of Civil War, Kamala goes up into space to visit Captain Marvel, who has a special assignment for her. Carol puts Kamala in charge of a squad of tough teens, and together they’re going to use Ulysses’ precog powers to stop crimes before they happen in Jersey City. I’m not entirely sure where these teens come from. They’re trained like soldiers, but they don’t wear uniforms or seemingly have powers. But they all go out and do good work, and at the beginning, Kamala is totally on the side of catching bad guys before they commit crimes.

Until her new sister-in-law gives her a bit of an education, and Kamala feels a bit more unsure. Things get even worse when the next vision finds Kamala and her squad targeting her friend Josh!

Also, this issue opened with a flashback to an Indian family fleeing their country into the newly formed Pakistan many generations ago. It’s pretty disconnected from the rest of the story, but I’m pretty sure we’re watching some of the Khan family ancestors.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

So yeah, I’m really not sure what’s up with this teen squad. An editorial note explains that this issue takes place after Captain Marvel #6, which comes out next week, so hopefully they’re explained there. But it’s really weird that Kamala is suddenly teamed up with a handful of normal-looking teens. They don’t even fit into Captain Marvel’s Alpha Flight storyline. They’re just a couple of random young people who dress in civilian clothing. I mean, maybe if they were new super people who are training to join Alpha Flight, or maybe if they were other Inhumans, it would make more sense. But Kamala is really teamed up with a bunch of gung-ho, modern day young people. Whatevs.

That’s not really how it works

Fortunately, the Kamala stuff is great. It looks like Wilson is going to do a pretty good job of settling this Civil War story down to its basics and putting Kamala through the emotional and moral wringer. She’s got a great supporting cast that she knows how to use for full effect. I’m going to ignore as many Civil War tie-ins as I can, but I’ll be more than happy to see Kamala Khan through this event.

Power Man and Iron Fist #5

Power Man and Iron Fist #5
Writer: David Walker
Artist: Flaviano

Welp, leave it to Power Man and Iron Fist to deliver one last great issue before they get mired in Civil War II. I hope the crossover doesn’t bring this comic down, but even if it does, David Walker gave us a lovely bit of comics before we go.

A fight between Power Man, Iron Fist and the villainous Manslaughter Marsdale is the talk of the town, especially on the Yo, Jimbo Show on the radio. He’s a big fan of the duo, and is excited that they’re back together. But Jimbo keeps getting conflicting reports from callers about how the fight went down, including Marsdale himself. When the tall tales get a little too out of hand, Luke and Danny head down to the studio themselves to straighten a few things out — though their stories are a little conflicting as well. Then when Marsdale shows up to attack Jimbo, Luke and Danny put him back in his place, and that fight becomes an even bigger talk of the town.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

For a done-in-one issue, this was pure gold. Using the classic set-up of telling the same story from different perspectives, Walker and guest artist Flaviano have a lot of fun with their characters and their story. The fight with Manslaughter Marsdale over a simple hot dog has a ton of fun angles, and the story just keeps blossoming with each retelling. And at the heart of it, Luke and Danny continue their wonderful two-man routine. I don’t think of the pair were always this pleasant together, but I’m loving it now.

The power of radio

Flaviano is a great fill-in artist, and I hope Marvel keeps him on hand when the regular artist needs  break. He keeps the down-to-Earth spirit of the book alive, while injecting his own special style of fun and energy. The whole issue is nothing but energy, from action scenes to just the characters existing together. There’s a wonderful lived-in feeling to Power Man and Iron Fist, and it just keeps getting deeper the more their street-level world grows. I’m loving this comic.

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 25, 2016, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Thor is good. It’s fun. The inclusion of one of the Hellfire Brats is stupid. (No one likes those wastes of ink, Jason!) The SHIELD agents were a lot of fun. I hope Jane and Roz become good friends. It is a little disappointing that Shaw is apparently back to villainy, and I’d like to see an X-title explore that. On a side note: The villain meeting is pretty clearly a reference to the Bilderberg Group, a real-world collection of 150 or so rich people who get together for secret meetings.

    Ms. Marvel is really good. I like the exploration of issues of profiling and “tough on crime” policies. Tyesha raises some really good points, and the fact that she’s just a normal black girl adds some weight. Also, that tank. Best tank ever.

    PM&IF is great. I love the Rashomon plot. Power Fist can fly! Manslaughter Marsdale sings about hot dogs! It’s such a weird, crazy issue and it’s awesome. Also, the Wiki Editor is my new favourite character. Accuracy matters, dammit! I am 100% on their side!

    • You seem to know an awful lot about this Bilderberg Group…

      • There’s an article about them on Wikipedia. Of course, it doesn’t mention the human sacrifices to Yog-Sothoth, but . . . Oops, those are supposed to be a secret.

        Hey, when someone knocks on your door in about 15 minutes, make sure you answer, OK?

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