Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 7/9/16
Wow, so, uh, for the first time in the history of my doing this blog, I forgot to post these comic book reviews this morning. I had them all written up and almost ready to go, but I woke up Saturday morning and thought to myself…nothing. I forgot all about them. Then I downloaded Pokemon Go and went for a walk around the city. Well, you understand what that would have done to me. Still, not an excuse! These are super late, and I hope they’re still good!
I tried out Kim & Kim from Black Mask Studios. I read through both Amazing Spider-Man and adjectiveless Spider-Woman. And I even gave both Batman and Punisher a try. Pretty standard week of comics, if I do say so myself.
Comic Book of the Week goes to Silver Surfer #5, because it is still a very delightful comic book.
Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #15, Batman #2, Invincible Iron Man #11, Kaijumax #3, Kim & Kim #1, Punisher #3, Silver Surfer #5 and Spider-Woman #9.
Amazing Spider-Man #15
Writer: Dan Slott and Christos Gage
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli
I’ve skipped an issue or two of Amazing Spider-Man recently, but I can’t ignore a cover like this one. Mary Jane as the new Iron Spider? Bring it on!
The villainous Regent has defeated both Iron Man and Spider-Man in battle, and he’s flying them back to his secret lair, where he has many other heroes and villains trapped in tubes to use their powers for himself. During the flight, Mary Jane Watson arrives wearing the Iron Spider suit, and she frees both Spidey and Ironey. Then Mary Jane and Tony keep Regent busy while Spider-Man frees the Avengers and others to help defeat him.
In the end, Mary Jane continues to enjoy her working relationship with Tony Stark, while Peter buys the old Coffee Bean and invites a bunch of friends and family over to hang out (not including Mary Jane). But during the friendly festivities, Jay Jameson appears to have a heart attack!
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
Mary Jane’s debut as a superhero was fun, and they picked a neat costume of her to wear. I almost think Dan Slott and Brian Michael Bendis made Mary Jane into Tony Stark’s assistant just so that she could wear the superhero costume that is a cross between Spider-Man and Iron Man. Funny how that works out. But Mary Jane is badass in the suit, and just as smart as you’d expect when she tells everyone she isn’t about to make it permanent. Quality Mary Jane issue.
Beyond the Mary Jane stuff, the rest was just alright. Peter and Iron Man don’t really come to any great character beats, at least nothing that isn’t the normal status quo. Miles Morales’ role is pretty small and unimportant. The rest of the heroes showing up for a big splash page at the end was just a reminder of the eclectic cast of characters Marvel is focusing on these days.
At least the ending was nice, if not long enough. And it’s too bad Slott isn’t going to attempt something more solid with Peter and Mary Jane. Ah well. At the very least, give us a new romance for Peter to take our minds off Mary Jane! There hasn’t been a good romance in Spider-Man comics since Otto and Anna Maria!
Writer: Tom King
Artist: David Finch
This issue is an odd little duck. There are some weird character moments, some good character moments, some odd style choices, and an especially weird ending. But I’m still going to give King the benefit of the doubt.
Gotham and Gotham Girl are more established now, and they help Batman stop Solomon Grundy from destroying the Statue of Justice (Gotham’s Statue of Liberty). Batman thinks they can be better, and he tells them as much. Later, he spends a little time at home entertaining guests of a gala at Wayne Manor, but duty calls and he’s once again out in the field. This time, he brings Gotham and Gotham Girl with him to a meeting with Commissioner Gordon.
Gordon tells them all that he was just visited by an odd little man who admitted to sending Grundy after the statue, but it seems like he was controlled by someone else. The man then plunges a knife into his own neck, and warns Gordon of the ‘Monster Men’ as he lies dying.
The issue ends with Amanda Waller using Hugo Strange to control people’s emotions, thereby saving Gotham City.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
I really enjoyed the previous issue for its big, exciting, cinematic feel — but this issue slows things down a little too much, and a little disjointedly. First and foremost there are Gotham and Gotham Girl. I’m all about letting King explore this story however he wants, but Batman is a little too quick to add these two huge mysteries to his crime-fighting circle. When training Duke Thomas as a new sidekick is supposed to be a prominent subplot, why make adding Gotham and Gotham Girl into a main plot? Did King even want to write about Duke?
That aside, King’s Batman just left me a little off track. There’s a small scene between Bruce and Alfred where the latter reminds Bruce that he’s supposed to be hosting a gala elsewhere in Wayne Manor. It’s an absolutely perfect scene for Alfred.
But it’s a weird scene for Bruce, because King doesn’t spend any time at the gala. We get a single page later of Bruce cutting away from a dance with a beautiful woman to go respond to the Bat-Signal. The whole thing felt forced, as if King realized he should add some Bruce Wayne stuff. And what’s typical Bruce Wayne stuff? I dunno, gala in Wayne Manor, maybe? With Alfred griping about it?
And then there’s the ending, which I guess pre-supposes that Hugo Strange is supposed to be shocking? It’s kind of been a poorly kept secret that King’s story would focus on Strange and the Monster Men, a classic Batman storyline from way back in the beginning. And I got the sense here that we were supposed to be surprised by the arrival of Hugo Strange. Has he ever faced Batman in the New 52? Is the original Monster Men story no longer in continuity? And what was Amanda Waller supposed to be doing there?
Batman #2 was a bit disjointed for my taste. It had some really good character moments, but overall, the juggling plot points didn’t gel for me.
Invincible Iron Man #11
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato
A big deal was made on the Internet this week that Riri Williams is going to be the new Iron Man following Civil War. I am totally fine with that, and I hope it makes for a good story. And I decided to take another peek at her ongoing debut in Invincible Iron Man.
Tony Stark is still undercover trying to get the Techno Golem in Japan, but last issue, Rhodey called on the Avengers for help, and they totally bust up the joint. All of Tony’s hardwork is essentially lost, and the Golem herself manages to escape. Very frustrating. Meanwhile, Mary Jane helps stop the Stark Board of Directors from taking over the company, and Riri Williams uses her super-suit to stop some thieves.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This was a solid conclusion to Iron Man’s Japan adventure, with the interesting twist that everything didn’t go as planned. Tony put a lot on the line to go undercover and learn the full extent of the Techno Golem’s plans, but the Avengers just ruined everything! I rather like that twist, and it was cool to see Tony Stark doing something other than Iron Man superheroics. So that part of the issue was solid. The Riri stuff was also pretty cool.
I think Marvel is rushing into making her the new Iron Man. She’s barely appeared in the pages of this comic, and already we know she’s just going to be thrust into the superhero role in a few months. If Marvel had any patience whatsoever these days, perhaps they would have given Bendis a little bit more time to build the character or tell stories starring Tony Stark. As it is, this Civil War II malarky is going to ruin a lot more comics than it’s going to help. I was actually excited for a Bendis-penned Iron Man series.
I mean, I’ll probably read this Riri Williams stuff, but how soon before she’s replaced by something else? Marvel has to stop doing this to themselves! They have to slow down!
Writer and Artist: Zander Cannon
I think this might be the best issue of Kaijumax yet! Thanks to a nifty flashback and a bit of a swerve, there’s some real ethos here that I enjoyed.
After all the escapes and explosions at the Kaijumax, the Warden is visited by one of the prison higher ups to assess the facility. She’s an old, conservative woman who would rather just kill monsters than lock them up, and she wanders around in her giant, old geisha-looking mech suit. We also get a black and white flashback to a young boy and his friends trying to defend a monster from the military. The monster is their friend, they say, the protector of all Asia!
As the tour goes on, the boss woman keeps complaining about how the Warden prefers to coddle monsters. They come upon one inmate who the Warden tasked with consuming some of the radiation from the escape, but the boss woman isn’t going to put up with a monsters outside of his cell, and very nearly blows his head off — until the Warden goes superhero and stops her from the rash action, telling her that the world is not black and white anymore.
And it’s here that we learn the flashback wasn’t about the Warden and his monster-loving ways. The kids in the flashback include the little boy and his younger sister, and they jury rig an alien spaceship to help their monster friend escape the military. But as they watch, their monster friend gladly starts wrecking buildings and eating people. And the little girl uses the weapons on the alien spaceship to destroy the monster before he can harm anyone else.
That little girl would then grow up to be the boss lady. And after the Warden’s lesson, she gives her bosses a glowing review of the Warden and the Kaijumax, then takes a day off to visit the grave of the monster she killed when she was a child.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I gotta say, Cannon totally got me. I thought the flashback was a clear connection to the Warden, and we’d just learn a little bit more about the world. But the swerve that it was the boss lady took me by surprise, and I’m grateful for that. It really ties the whole issue and her visit together.
This is one of the best and richest issues of Kaijumax yet. Top notch writing, the usual fantastic art, and a very inventive world all come together for a very cool story.
Though if I’m being honest, I am starting to lose track of some of the comic. I haven’t been able to keep track of every single character very well, or their names, so I was a little lost on the subplot about the giant robot police officer from last issue. And I don’t know if the whole Kaijumax world is really holding itself together as strongly as Canon might think. But all of that is probably just the result of me reading so many comics and not really thinking about this series very much. If I was more focused on Kaijumax, or maybe read it all in one sitting, this stuff probably wouldn’t be an issue.
Kim & Kim #1
Writer: Mags Visaggio
Artist: Eva Cabrera
A long time ago, I promised myself that I would read and review more independent comics. I kind of failed on that promise, but I’m going to keep trying, regardless. Kim & Kim has been getting a lot of attention in some of my comic circles, so I made sure to give it a read!
Kim Q. and Kim D. are a pair of bounty hunters in the future who get screwed out of a payment and are a little desperate for work to fill their empty wallets. They get wind of a really big bounty for a mysterious young man who is sabotaging a big project, so they head off in search of him, while trying to stay one step ahead of a bigger, badder bounty hunter group (led by one of the Kim’s father).
They eventually find their mark, but he’s got a lot more going on than just being a regular bounty. And there’s a pretty gnarly dust-up with the bigger bounty hunter group. But the adventure continues!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Kim & Kim #1 is a really fun debut issue for a series that should appeal to any fans of punk rock rebellion. The main characters are fun and personable, and we spend a lot of quality time with them. They get into scrapes, they have soul-searching conversations, and we learn about their histories, friendship and whatnot at a nice pace. This is a really good introduction to the characters, their weird, futuristic world and the sort of mischief they’re likely to get up to.
The art is also pretty stellar. It’s all awesome characters and punk rock colors, and it really helps to sell the style and vibe that the creative team is going for. They’re created a pretty neat book with a solid enough premise that I hope they find much success.
Writer: Becky Cloonan
Artist: Steve Dillon
I’ve dropped Black Panther because it flew way over my head, but I think I might have to give up on Punisher because it’s way too simple. Three issues in and Cloonan is still just telling a story about the Punisher killin’ a bunch of dudes.
The Punisher systematically takes out all of the hillbillies guarding the drug lab trailer park. When the lead hillbilly sends out his young daughter strapped into an explosive vest, Punisher pops smoke and sneaks up on the guy unawares, killing him and rescuing the girl. Punisher takes her with him to get her somewhere safe, but they’re ambushed by Face and a whole truckload of ‘roided up super thugs.
Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.
I’ll admit, there was a slight bit of excitement when the Punisher uses smoke to save the girl and take out her evil dad. There’s always some excitement when the Punisher kills somebody who deserves it. But the dude was just so completely underdeveloped that his death doesn’t matter. None of the people the Punisher killed in this issue were developed beyond ‘hired gun’ or ‘asshole leader guy’. Cloonan and Dillon are doing just fine with the action and the killing, but they stink at building up any interest in the killing. So the Punisher takes out some drug dudes, big deal! He’s always taking out drug dudes! And Face is barely interesting, so who cares that he’s now brought along even more generically evil henchmen for the Punisher to kill?
Also, if I may be a broken record for a bit, the Punisher interacting with a young girl was already done to perfection by Garth Ennis in Mother Russia. Sorry. I hate being that guy.
Silver Surfer #5
Writer: Dan Slott
Artists: Mike and Laura Allred
At least we can count on Silver Surfer to still be all manner of fun. Slott and the Family Allred turn in another winner in this cute tale of the Sentinel of the Spaceways falling for a rather wonderful Earth girl.
The Silver Surfer is world famous and very popular after saving the world from Zenn-La, and he and Dawn Greenwood can’t catch a moment’s break as they treated to baseball games and Hamilton seats and getting the Key to the Planet. They retreat to the Greenwood family home, but that, too, is swamped with people. They finally get some peace and quiet inside, and Surfer meets Eve’s husband, Costas. He lets the Surfer borrow so clothes and they all take a nice Greenwood family photo.
Surfer is still a bit melancholy about erasing his home planet’s culture, so he goes to visit Uatu the Watcher on the Moon — except Uatu has been killed and replaced by the Unseen, and Surfer tries to beat him up. He fails, and the Unseen suggests that Surfer focus on the future instead of the past. Back home, Surfer and Dawn explore the attic and we learn that Dawn’s mom left the family some time ago. The Surfer seizes upon this idea to make Dawn happy, and flies her across the planet to see her mom again for the first time since the woman left!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
It was a little jarring just how popular the Silver Surfer became after saving the planet. Don’t superheroes save the planet every other week in the Marvel Universe? Granted, people don’t always know about it, but Slott went just a touch overboard in the beginning — but I suppose that’s not too bad.
The real heart and joy of this issue is still in the Surfer’s relationship with Dawn. It’s still adorable and touching, and I liked the scenes of him trying to fit in with her family in the wake of his defeating Zenn-La. Slott has made the latest crisis personal, and I’m enjoying how he uses the established Greenwood family to help the Surfer cope. The fight with the Unseen was a bit meh, but no biggie.
The relationships at the heart of Dan Slott’s Silver Surfer make this series something truly special, and that cliffhanger ending promises a lot more depth (or maybe turmoil) to come.
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Javier Rodriguez
Never let it be said that Dennis Hopeless can’t spin a Big Event tie-in to suit his needs. Spider-Woman is Captain Marvel’s best friend, so of course she should have some kind of hand in Civil War II. It makes sense. So I’m glad to see Hopeless have some fun with that while he can.
Spider-Woman is purposefully ignoring Captain Marvel’s calls because she doesn’t want to get embroiled in this Civil War II mess (I’m with you, Jess!). So she, Ben Urich and Porcupine head up to a ski lodge in Canada to investigate increased reports of Wendigo activity. Turns out, the chef at the lodge is putting human meat into the food to turn everybody into Wendigos! Spider-Woman and Porcupine have to fight a bunch of Wendigos, and then Captain Marvel shows up to yell at her best friend for ignoring her calls, until finally the Wendigos are defeated and Jess agrees to hear Carol out. So Carol explains all about Ulysses and she wants to hire Jess’ team to look into some of the kid’s smaller predictions to see if they pan out.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This issue is right up my alley in terms of great characters and wacky fun. It doesn’t hold together perfectly well (so the team arrived at the exact moment in time to stop an entire cafeteria from eating Wendigo fuel?), but it doesn’t have to. This issue was all about having a wild and wacky adventure before the realities of Civil War II come to bog everything down. And heck, Hopeless even has fun with all that stuff, too, with Carol and Jessica arguing with each other for the full second half of the issue.
Hopeless really knows how to use his characters to full effect, creating a great book ensemble. And adding Carol to the mix is always a treat. These are the sorts of personal relationships I love in my superhero comics. And I love superhero action when Hopeless and Rodriguez make it this much fun! Spider-Woman on skies chasing a Wendigo through the woods of Canada, while Porcupine battles a room full of Wendigo back at the lodge. Good times all around, and another awesome issue.
Though, if I could offer one little nitpick: I’d kind of like somebody to comment on Porcupine being in Jessica’s life. Like, does Carol not have an opinion on her best friend hanging out with his bearded wonder? Or there no rumors? No gossip? I know they’re not a couple, but surely we could wring some dialogue out of the two of them beyond Roger just being a drama-less hanger-on in overalls.
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 July 9, 2016, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man and tagged Amazing Spider-Man, Black Mask Studios, Boom!, Invincible Iron Man, Iron Man, Kaijumax, Kim & Kim, Mary Jane Watson, Punisher, Riri Williams, Silver Surfer, Spider-Woman, Tony Stark. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.