Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 7/16/16
It is a dark day in comics, my friends. But not in the way Marvel probably wants me to think. But I’m not sure I have any idea what Marvel is thinking anymore. I don’t know what drives them. Is it sales? Is it controversy? Is it headlines? Because it’s definitely not storytelling, not anymore.
Civil War II #3 kind of breaks me. But not due to the story or the art. Not even due to the power behind the twist. It breaks me in that I just don’t know why I should care anymore…
Fortunately, this wee also brings us an excellent new issue of Power Man and Iron Fist, and I’m reminded why I care again. Hooray Comic Book of the Week!
Somebody at Marvel is doing something good. I’m gonna stick with that part of Marvel.
Comic Reviews: Civil War II #3, Detective Comics #936, Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy #2, Nightwing Rebirth #1, Power Man and Iron Fist #6, and Wonder Woman #2.
Civil War II #3
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Olivier Coipel
This is the moment, my friends, where I stop caring. I can’t promise it’s permanent. I’m still going to keep reading Civil War II, if only to see where Bendis is going with this. And Marvel could do any number of things to get me back on board. But this issue, right here, is where I roll my eyes, hang my head and stop caring about any stunt Marvel tries to pull. I’m not angry. I’m not bitter. I’m…exhausted.
Who are they trying to fool? How did this idea even come about? How did it then get approved and put on the page?
And does Marvel remember that they’re currently publishing Totally Awesome Hulk?
After Ulysses gave everyone the vision that the Hulk will go wild and kill them all, the superheroes track down Bruce Banner and confront him about his current gamma experiments. Bruce gets testy at the accusations, and Hawkeye promptly shoots him in the head. Turns out, Bruce went to Hawkeye a few months ago and asked Hawkeye to shoot him if he ever went Hulk again (though during the confrontation, Bruce insisted that he had found a cure and was fine).
Hawkeye is put on trial for the Hulk’s murder, and this further splits our heroes. Carol Danvers thinks killing the Hulk saved lives, while Tony Stark is just upset that another of his friends is dead due to Ulysses’ visions. The issue ends with both the verdict and the secret to Ulysses’ powers about to be revealed!
Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.
I can’t even bring myself to label this a bad comic. It’s fine. The writing is fine, and Coipel’s art is as amazing as always. But jeez louise, this issue is one big, dumb, terrible decision.
Why do you kill Bruce Banner right here and now? What does that accomplish? Is this really how Marvel does things? Are they so convinced that killing a major character during an event makes it a better event? Does it lead to bigger sales? Are news agencies really still giving this sort of thing headlines? Is that what’s driving Marvel? Ugh. I just…I just don’t want to care anymore.
Death stopped mattering a long time ago. This is just rubbing our noses in it.
Also, the very premise of Totally Awesome Hulk is that Bruce Banner has been completely cured of the Hulk, so that Amadeus Cho can take over. Marvel should know this. Surely the idea for killing Bruce in Civil War II was developed alongside Totally Awesome Hulk as a concept, right? Did no one bother to note that the Bruce Banner in Civil War II completely contradicts the Bruce Banner in Totally Awesome Hulk? Did anyone care? It’s not like Marvel had to publish Totally Awesome Hulk. They chose to create this storyline for Bruce Banner at this point in time.
And if Marvel doesn’t care, why should I?
Also, if Matt Murdock really is a prosecutor now instead of his usual defense attorney role, how is Marvel on top of that current storyline and not on top of the Totally Awesome Hulk thing?
Detective Comics #936
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Alvaro Martinez
Detective Comics is probably my favorite DC comic at this very specific moment in time. Not all of Rebirth has arrived, and I’m not reading everything, but Tynion is doing a fine job making Tim Drake and Batwoman awesome in the world of Batman again. That’s exactly what I want from my DC Comics.
Red Robin notifies Batwoman that the bat-themed soldiers have defeated and kidnapped Batman, so Batwoman summons the whole team together to go after them. She also brings in her father to give the team some military expertise. But they don’t have to go far, because the bat-soldiers attack the Belfry, and then Batwoman’s father opens the front door for them!
Col. Kane reveals that he has been training this bat-themed army for years, and he always intended Kate to join them. They used Batman for inspiration, but decided to apply his methods to a larger perspective. They had to take Batman out of the picture because he would have stepped them from the next step of their plan. Col. Kane wants his daughter and the others to join his unit, but they instead make their escape.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Tynion’s solid character work continues as the storyline explodes into action. This is coming a little quickly for my liking, but I can roll with it, since this is technically part of the storyline. Even though this series is based on the idea of Batman putting together a coordinated team, he didn’t do so for the heck of it. Batman put this team together specifically because of this threat from Colony, so it makes perfect sense that Colony is already active and gunning for our heroes. The fun is in seeing the likes of Red Robin and Batwoman react and work together. And believe me, that’s a lot of fun.
This is a pretty major retcon on Kate Kane’s history, but it definitely works. Her father wasn’t doing much of anything anyway, so why not give him a cool army-based storyline? One that really twists his relationship with his daughter. I hope Tynion has plans to make him a really complicated character. His plan isn’t so bad, when you think about it. Probably shouldn’t have attacked Batman and other vigilantes, but maybe they had a good reason.
This was another great, character-based issues, pitting these ragtag team of fun people against an ever-growing, ever-twisting challenge. I look forward to where this could possibly go next!
Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy #2
Writer: Chynna Clugston Flores
Artist: Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
Back for more! The awesome people of both Lumberjanes and Gotham Academy are still going at it, and this issue twists the story up even more than before!
Olive and Jen wake up in the mysterious Greenwood Lodge, with a pair of dresses and a request to come downstairs. They suit up and start investigating, and find another skull ghost monster, who treats them like guests of the lodge. They run into de-aged versions of Rosie and Professor MacPherson, before everyone is gathered downstairs in the dining room. It turns out, the Lodge is permanently trapped in 1988, and several former Gotham Academy classmates have been brought to the Lodge and de-aged so they can celebrate the birthday of Louise Nithercott-Greenwood, whose family owns the Lodge.
Meanwhile, the remaining Lumberjanes and Gothamites struggle to find common ground, until Maps’ frustration finally starts getting them on the same page. They get fresh clothes, grab a bite to eat, gear up and plan a three-pronged attack on the Greenwood Lodge!
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
I want to like this crossover, I really do, but once again I’m struck with the idea that it’s just not great as the sum of its two parts. The two teams work well together, but the jokes just don’t land with the same level of personality and finesse as they do in the regular series. And this issue is overloaded with exposition. The jokes have to squeeze their way into the cracks between the lengthy word balloons. Whether they’re coming up with a plan, explaining all the clues and the mystery, and explaining the background, this issue is like a novel. So hopefully with exposition out of the way, and shenanigans set to begin, the rest of the mini-series excels.
Nightwing Rebirth #1
Writer: Tim Seeley
I’ve decided to avoid most of these Rebirth one-shots, if only because they serve more as unnecessary prologues to the real comics yet to come. But as I’ve said before, I have a new affinity for Dick Grayson these days, and this one-shot is a good example of why.
Following his release from Spyral, Dick Grayson returns to Gotham City to get things back in order. First up, he borrows a special tool from Midnighter to finally get the bomb out of Damian’s head, which has been in there since Robin War. Dick spends some quality time with Damien and Bruce before declaring that he will return as Nightwing in order to take on the Parliament of Owls!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
The key to having me love your comic is strong character work. Create some compelling, interesting and entertaining characters and put them at the heart of your story, and I’m all yours. That’s exactly what Seeley does with Dick Grayson, a character he’s been writing for awhile now. Dick is charming, friendly, funny and heroic in equal measure, among a dozen other character traits. He’s great with whomever he’s sharing the page with, be it Midnight, Huntress, Damien or Batman. I’m excited to see him interact with them all, because they’re all written so well.
Plus, I’m a sucker for quality scenes between Dick and Bruce, and this issue has a good one. Dick Grayson is one of the New 52’s true success stories. He had a rocky start, but everything they’ve done with the Grayson storyline, and everything they’ve done with the flashbacks to his time as Robin, have really elevated him to someone who is a joy to read about. I can’t wait to see what the new Nightwing series brings. Hopefully it is even half as entertaining as Grayson.
Power Man and Iron Fist #6
Writer: David Walker
Looks like we don’t have to fear the Civil War II tie-in after all! Kudos to Marvel for letting the Power Man and Iron Fist creative team avoid that whole crapfest all together. I hope it stands.
After hearing about the carnage from Civil War II, Luke Cage and Danny Rand decide to stay out of it and just focus on the revived Heroes-4-Hire. Their first clients are a group of former and current Harlem super-villains (and some family members), who want protection from a vigilante gang calling themselves Preemptive Strike. They’ve been going around beating up and killing street-level super-villains, regardless of whether or not they’re active or retired.
But Preemptive Strike attack Luke and Danny’s HQ and a big fight breaks out, which gets even worse when the SWAT team shows up and starts busting all heads, regardless of who is actually responsible. Luke and most everybody else gets away, but Danny and one of the villains, Spear, get arrested.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Luke and Danny are the exact sorts of heroes who would stay away from fighting their friends, and I am grateful for that. Walker has created a fun little world and such an entertaining comic, and I am very grateful that he can keep telling the stories he wants instead of getting sucked into the Big Event nonsense. After the Civil War II blurb at the start of this book, we jump right into the real, entertaining action. And it’s a million times better than the garbage drama of Civil War II. Walker is building these characters, these relationships and this world from the ground up, and he’s doing a spectacular job. The characters he chooses, the stories he tells, really make this comic come alive.
I hope Marvel lets Walker explore the world of police brutality in this comic. I stay away from any political comments or gestures myself, but if he can make a really great story out of race relations with the police, then isn’t that what a good comic book is for? Using the extreme state of superhero comics to shine a mirror on the real world? I don’t know if that’s where Walker is going, but he really sets that story up nicely with all the chaos he introduces here. The neighborhood villains are great, Danny and Luke are fantastic, and the conflict feels very real and earned.
Power Man and Iron Fist is one of Marvel’s best comics right now, and I am so glad to see David Walker’s story continue. He’s cooking up something good.
Wonder Woman #2
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Nicola Scott
I missed reviewing the first issue of Greg Rucka’s new Wonder Woman, and for that I apologize. I’m a huge Greg Rucka fan, even though I missed out on his original legendary Wonder Woman run. Here’s hoping this new tenure is just as good.
Also, to get you up to speed, Rucka is telling two simultaneous stories, and they’ll be rotating issues. First up is a present day story, and with this second issue, he’s redoing Wonder Woman’s origin.
Diana is a friendly, beautiful, headstrong young princess on Themyscira. She’s not content with the way life is, and always looking to the horizon. But at least she has friends, family, lovers and teachers on the island. Steve Trevor is a brave, handsome, courteous soldier who heads out on a mission with his squad, but their transport plane crashes on Paradise Island. Diana and the Amazons rush down to the crash site, where Steve is the only survivor.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Even though we’ve seen the Wonder Woman/Steve Trevor origin story done a million times by now, Rucka and Scott still make it enjoyable. They create the story with an interesting and entertaining cast of characters, filling both Steve and Diana’s lives with great people and loved ones. It all builds nicely to the classic plane crash, and I look forward to seeing the two of them come together and explore the world of man, yet again.
Scott is also a phenomenal artist, and she always does Wonder Woman justice. I loved her back when she was on Gail Simone’s run, and I look forward to her half of Rucka’s story. The characters are as lush as the environments, and the colors are absolutely gorgeous. It’s been long enough since Brian Azzarello and company wrote a great Wonder Woman. I’m ready for more.
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 16, 2016, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin and tagged Batwoman, Civil War II, Danny Rand, Detective Comics, Gotham Academy, Hulk, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Lumberjanes, Nightwing, Power Man, Power Man and Iron Fist, Rebirth, Red Robin, Tim Drake, Wonder Woman. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.
English is not my first language, so forgive me for any mistakes you may find in my post.
I completely agree with everything you wrote about Marvel. Generally speaking, I’d say the Civil War II main series has been mediocre at best so far, but some of the tie-ins have been really good. Both Power Man and Iron Fist and Captain America: Sam Wilson are exploring the main themes of this event in a deep and powerful way, tackling the issue of police brutality. Spencer and Walker are doing a much better job than Bendis with this event. The core series has no action scenes nor character development, just cheap deaths for shock value.
To understand why nobody acknowledges the events depicted in Totally Awesome Hulk you should read the tie-ins of that series. They focus on Banner after he has been depowered and are very well written and emotional (unlike the early issues of the series revolving around the adventures of Amadeus which were not very interesting). Long story short: not even Banner is completely sure that Amadeus succesfully “cured” him. He has been cured before and it never lasts. It seems too good to be true. Additionally, he has rarely been seen around after being depowered and in those rare occasions his behaviour has been strange and erratic. Some of the heroes know what Amadeus did, but none of them is too sure about the success of his experiment. For the reasons stated above they fear that Banner may still revert to his old green ways (especially after discovering he has been injecting himself with dead gamma cells) and even he has some doubts. The only people who know what Bruce has been up to in the past months are Amadeus, Rick Jones and She-Hulk. The first two are not around in Civil War II #3 and the latter is in a coma.
Bendis probably thought the only people who may have been confused as you by this issue would have read the Totally Awesome Hulk tie-ins and tried to make things more simple for all the readers who ignored that Cho had become the Hulk and Banner had been depowered.
And yes, Daredevil is a prosecutor now.
Yeah, I’ve been reading the Totally Awesome Hulk tie-ins. And I just don’t think they line up at all with Civil War II. And the only explanation is exactly what you said, that Bendis probably just ignored it to make Civil War II easier to understand. But my point is, if Marvel knew they were going to kill Hulk like this, why even publish Totally Awesome Hulk?
No Civil War 2 # 3 was not fine it was flat out bad, with the character assignation of Clint Barton, can’t help but wonder if Captain Marvel is next on Bendis’s character assignation list. Every last character in this book desevers better.
Stuff like what has been done to Hawkeye and Hulk is what I’m going to stop caring about. These Big Event changes are just ridiculous. They’re just shock value. I will be perfectly happy just reading the regular comics that don’t give in to this garbage. And I still need to collect all of Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye run in tpb form…
When will they get the message that the Big Summer Event gimmick is played out?
CWII is OK. The fact that Tony once again blames Carol when she did nothing wrong is ridiculous. Tony’s just an ass.
PM&IF is great. Really great stuff. Luke is now making Dad Jokes. But the early scenes, with Luke, Danny and Jessica reacting to the news, is really strong. And relevant every time a new tragedy unfolds on the news.
In terms of great tie-ins, I’d also note Choosing Sides #2 had a fantastic story, by Jeremy Whitley and Marguerite Sauvage, of how Ms. America, Monida Rambeau, Misty Knight and Storm feel about Rhodey’s death. It’s a great story, well worth checking out. (The same issue also has a great story about Tom Foster, nephew of the Goliath killed in the first Civil War, well-written by Brandon Thomas, with the mind-bendingly amazing art of Marco Rudy.)
That’s a good point. Carol hasn’t really ‘done’ anything yet, but she gets blamed because she’s the chosen character in the story. Interesting.
And Choosing Sides is good, you say? Don’t tempt me!
Choosing Sides #2 is great if you like bad-ass women of colour exploring their feelings about life and death.
Any issue that has a well-written America Chavez is worth getting, IMHO. I wonder if Marvel knows what a great character they have in her, potentially.
The pendulum is swinging again. DC’s starting to get better-written comics out there, and Marvel is slowly going stupid. I wish the two of them could just… stay in the same good spot. But it looks like one of them can’t improve without some sort of fracking Quickening going on.
Ah. Bendis. He writes so … adequately … when he’s not doing something important. And they keep putting him on important stuff, and he shows the depth of understanding of characterization and context that one would expect from a brain-damaged chihuahua, and there isn’t a Handler to keep him from flinging that stuff around.
At some point Disney is going to say “WHAT ARE YOU DOING OVER THERE?” and fire some people.
Meanwhile, I can just wish that whoever is providing Bendis with his LSDCrackKetamine will fall off a bridge and we won’t have to put up with as much of this “plotting”.