Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 8/20/16

Comics. We all love them. We all read them. I, for one, like to write them as well. And sure enough, I’m back with another pile of quality comics for this week’s reviews. A bunch of my favorites found their way into my pile this week, and I actually had a tough time choosing the best!

But Power Man and Iron Fist #7 easily wins Comic Book of the Week. I absolutely love the world and the characters that writer David Walker is creating. It all feels so real, and so personal for Luke Cage and Danny Rand. I hope they were this good back in the 70s. And I hope their upcoming TV shows are just as good!

“And if it looks like Darth Vader, it’s really you inside. Fair warning.”

Though this week is not without it’s stinkers. Hold on to your utility belts, everybody, because I’m pretty sure I’m probably done with Tom King’s Batman.

Comic Reviews: All-New Wolverine #11, Batman #5, Mighty Thor #10, Nightwing #3, Power Man and Iron Fist #7 and Spider-Woman #10.

All-New Wolverine #11

All-New Wolverine #11
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Ig Guara

Now this is what I’m talking about! I dinged the previous issue because it felt like it was spinning its wheels. Well All-New Wolverine #11 is where we peel out of the parking lot at top speed!

Captain America and SHIELD have come to take Old Man Logan into protective custody because Ulysses has had a vision of him killing Gabby. None of the Wolverines like this idea, and while Laura fights Cap, Logan and Gabby escape on jetpacks. Cap gives chase, but Laura shoots him full of tranquilizers. The Helicarrier is able to lock onto Logan because of his jetpack and they shoot him down over Central Park. He’s mad as hell and starts cutting his way through SHIELD agents while they shoot him full of tranqs, until finally Gabby reaches him and tries to talk him into calming down — but Logan angrily stabs her in the gut, crying out, “You took her from me!”

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This is some fantastic action! This issue has real stakes, real drama and some solid character growth. Laura doesn’t hesitate to take on Captain America himself to protect her loved ones, while Gabby is simply enamored by the Captain America showing up. Old Man Logan is a little tougher to read, but the comic isn’t about him. The fights, the chase, the rapid-fire decisions, this is an excellent action comic with a really powerful ending. As much as I love Gabby, I hope this isn’t just a throwaway moment.

Well, this moment is probably a throwaway

Though I didn’t quite buy the idea that not even Old Man Logan was willing to hear Cap out. All he had to do was go hang out with SHIELD for a bit until the potential danger had passed and all would have been well. That doesn’t mean I’m coming out in favor of using Ulysses for this sort of thing, but considering how strongly Cap and SHIELD seem to be using him in this issue, it probably would have been an OK idea to just go along with it this one time. It’s not like Old Man Logan had something more important to do.

All-New Wolverine is a great comic. Taylor knows how to write his characters in both slower, character-building issues and exciting, action-packed issues like this one.

Batman #5

Batman #5
Writer: Tom King
Artist: David Finch

I tried, I really did. I love Batman. I loved Tom King’s work on Grayson (and am about to read the first volume of Vision). I was more than a little excited to see King’s work on the solo Batman series and really, really enjoyed the first issue. But here is where he breaks me. Batman #5 is where I hang my head and sigh and probably give up. I’ll explain why, probably at length.

Forgive any rants that are about to come. And if Tom King is reading this, it’s nothing personal. I really am looking forward to reading Vision.

Gotham is destroying Gotham City, but Batman is still a ways out, so he asks Alfred to dress up in a Batman costume and distract Gotham. So Alfred crashes a Batmobile into Gotham, then gets out to chat with him a little bit, looking every bit like Alfred in a Bat-costume.

The distraction then lasts all of 30 SECONDS before Batman shows up and takes over, with Alfred fleeing the scene. This is…just ridiculous, I’m sorry. A lot of people online loved this scene. But I do not. It represents everything wrong with King’s Batman so far: it’s all flash, no substance. It’s like he got the idea to have skinny little Alfred with his little Alfred mustache show up in a Bat-costume, then worked backwards from there, poorly. It doesn’t fit the scene at all.

Why does Batman send Alfred into harm’s way if he’s only a minute or two away? It’s not like Batman is tied up. Last we saw him, he was at Gotham’s house. And Alfred, ostensibly, is back in the Batcave. So how is it faster for Alfred to put on a costume and drive all the way from Wayne Manor to downtown Gotham City than it is for Batman to travel from wherever the Clover family lives? Remember last issue, when Batman managed to get from Amanda Waller’s secret bunker to the Clover family home in less than 10 minutes? What happened to that speed?

Also, you’re telling me the Batmobile doesn’t have some kind of remote control that Alfred can use from the Batcave? Having Alfred put on a Batman costume and pretend to be Batman in order to purposefully antagonize an angry Superman figure is insane.

So okay, Batman shows up and to fight Gotham, who has all the powers of Superman. Batman explodes the Batmobile on him and crashes the Batplane into him, then has Alfred call the Justice League in for backup. Alfred acts like they’ve never done this before, but whatever. Every single member of the Justice League shows up for a big group shot, and then Gotham defeats all of them faster than Darkseid.


Anyway, back at the Batcave, Gotham Girl has woken up and Duke Thomas tries to comfort her. Psycho Pirate made her scared, but she’s struggling to fight through it. She explains, poorly, that I guess she and her brother bought their powers? And you trade years off your life for an extended use. So for Gotham to become strong enough to defeat the Justice League, he’s probably gonna die soon. Finally, Gotham goes to confront Batman, who delivers some big, teeth-clenched speech about just killing him already. But then Gotham Girl shows up and kills her brother.

And as she’s doing this, Gotham Girl gives narration as if she’s in the future. She explains that she and Duke get married and that she eventually kills Batman.

Comic Rating: 3/10 – Bad.

I just couldn’t handle this issue. It’s clear King is going for epic, but his story has just been too disjointed and I don’t think he’s laid the proper groundwork for it to be as epic as he wants. He’s a damn good writer, but I feel like he’s utterly flubbed this Gotham/Gotham Girl storyline. Did editorial demand he throw in some new characters as quickly as possible? I just don’t know what to think. Everybody involved in this comic is a total pro and have done great stories in the past — and heck, a lot of people are loving this comic — but it’s just not clicking with me.

Run Alfred, while you can!

Gotham and Gotham Girl were rushed into the comic and didn’t get nearly enough build-up for an issue like this one. Batman throws out all the stops and Gotham beats up the ENTIRE Justice League, but the character is paper thin. King has spent very little meaningful time with either Gotham or Gotham Girl. They showed up, Batman investigated them, they hung out a few times, and then Gotham goes insane and becomes a murderous monster, all in the span of two or three issues. Has Gotham Girl even said more than half a dozen lines in this entire time?

Tom King tries to set up an epic showdown between Batman and Gotham, but I don’t feel like he’s laid down near enough groundwork or character work to make this issue work. Batman #5 is disjointed and disappointing.

Mighty Thor #10

Mighty Thor #10
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russel Dauterman

Tensions keep building, the action gets stronger, and a sense of impending awesomeness is in the air. Mighty Thor is pounding along as powerfully as ever, and I’m enjoying every moment.

Midas, Silver Samurai and a captive Dario Agger arrive at Roxxon Island floating above NYC and they start fighting their way through the Hulked-out security to reach the vault inside. Thor and Roz show up soon after and also get their hands full with all manner of trouble. Then SHIELD shows up and agents Kurdle and Krill are more focused on arresting Thor than they are about stopping the Agger Initiative. Dario Agger also breaks out of his restraints and goes full minotaur, prompting Midas to try and shoot him with a bullet that turns people into gold. Thor saves him by catching the bullet with her hand…which promptly starts turning her hand into gold.

The agents don’t care, however, and try to arrest Thor anyway — until Jane Foster steps out of a portal from Asgard, looking to help!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

The cliche of government agents/police who ignore the obvious threat in favor of arresting the hero on some trumped up charge is one of my least favorite tropes, so Kurdle and Krill are more annoying than anything else. But at least they help ratchet up the tension in another solid, exciting issue of Mighty Thor. We’ve got villains, we’ve got a ticking clock, we’ve got a minotaur; it’s all one big, messed up crazy battle, and I’m loving it. That twist at the end is probably some throwaway cliffhanger, though. I’m sure the folks in Asgard have some kind of shape-changing magic. But a good cliffhanger is a good cliffhanger.

Nightwing #3

Nightwing #3
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Javier Fernandez

Much like Tom King’s Batman, I’m shocked and disappointed at how little I’m enjoying Tim Seeley’s Nightwing. These guys were a dream team on Grayson, one of DC’s very best comics in the past few years. But split apart, there’s just something that’s not gelling for me.

It might be that both writers have over-relied on new, uninteresting characters.

Nightwing and Raptor are about to break into the home of world-renowned labyrinth builder Knute Ruud when Batgirl shows up, having grown worried about Nightwing when he skipped their date. She’s none too happy that Dick blew her off for a jerk like Raptor, and she decides to tag along. The house is filled with all manner of traps and puzzles, but the trio easily make their way through — until Raptor knocks them out and rushes ahead! When they catch up to him, they see that he’s murdered Ruud!

Watching on video monitors, the Parliament of Owls is super pleased that everybody is going to hate Nightwing now that he’s allowed this murder to happen. And Batgirl is especially pissed. But when the monitors are smashed (by Nightwing attacking Raptor again), Raptor reveals it was all a set-up and Ruud was just faking. Ruud then hands over the blueprints for the Parliament’s HQ in Greece.

Batgirl storms out, upset that Nightwing would ever think of partnering with a jerk like Raptor, and Nightwing only has vague, half-hearted insistences that this is the right thing. Raptor and Nightwing then head to Raptor’s personal HQ to grab some crazy guy who will help them.

Comic Rating: 4/10 – Pretty Bad.

It’s entirely possible that I’m supposed to dislike Raptor. Maybe he’s a Fantomex-type character who is designed to be that ‘hyper cool’ sort of comic book character who is supposed to get under your skin. For example, there’s no way this scene is meant to be taken as legit:

And there’s no way Dick Grayson would let a comment like that go

But the problem with that, so far, is that all of Seeley’s other characters appear to be suckered in to an almost painful degree. They all take it so damn seriously and treat Raptor with 100% credibility. Nightwing, Batgirl and the Parliament of Owls all come off as idiots in the face of Raptor’s jerkiness.

Since when does Dick Grayson whine so much?

Like, this can’t be the first time someone has been killed on a Bat-family member’s watch. Nor can it be the first time that someone has gone undercover or had to work with a less than reputable partner. Yet Batgirl is ready to crucify Nightwing for even glancing in Raptor’s direction, even after Raptor reveals the ‘murder’ was staged and he’s only helped Nightwing’s case. And the Parliament of Owls is basing their entire Grayson plan on the idea that the Bat-family will shun him because Raptor killed somebody on his watch. That’s not how the Bat-family works! That’s not how any of this works!

Seeley is telling an otherwise fine story. The idea of Nightwing going ‘undercover’ to take on the Parliament of Owls is neat and the action is top notch. But he’s muddying his own waters by pushing this Raptor character too far — unless that’s the plan, and he’s setting us up for something.

Power Man and Iron Fist #7

Power Man and Iron Fist #7
Writer: David Walker
Artists: Sanford Greene and Flaviano

This comic is good. It’s damn good. Walker is in command of a great little world brewing in the pages of Power Man and Iron Fist. Every issue really digs deep into the characters and produces something wonderful. This new issues gets especially fun in the nitty and the gritty.

Danny Rand is in prison, and he connects with a bunch of criminals to try and figure out just what’s been happening to them on the outside, as well as how they’re going to survive on the inside. Suffice to say, a bunch of worse criminals pick a fight with Iron Fist and start a riot.

On the outside, Luke Cage is freaking out that his friend is in prison. His wife manages to calm him down over the phone. Luke is in a safehouse while Jessica is out trying to figure out what’s going on. She also brought Colleen Wing along to help watch Danielle. Misty Knight even shows up to touch base with both Danny and Luke. Luke has a lot of different operatives working different angles of this thing, but it all leads to Luke deciding he’s going to bust Danny out of prison!

Which is something Ulysses predicts, so Captain Marvel gathers a team of superheroes to go stop him.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This issue really gets into the heads of its two main characters, while also expanding the world they operate in in some fun directions. I would almost complain about how many names were thrown at us in this issue, but I fully support Walker filling out the supporting cast like this (especially considering he’s mined Luke Cage’s entire back story for some great players). It helps to make this comic into a living, breathing neighborhood, and that’s something you don’t get very often in superhero comics these days. Power Man and Iron Fist aren’t just superheroes, they live in a real world with real people and real relationships and consequences. This issue really stacks the deck against Luke and Danny, and in different ways, to really see them struggle in different circumstances. The characters in this comic are just so human and wonderful that I kind of want to look up some of Walker’s other work. Has he done other superhero stuff? Because he’s nailing this comic!

Plus it was fun to see Misty Knight and Colleen Wing. By all means, bring in the classic allies and have some fun with them. And it’s nice that Walker is finally giving Jessica Jones more to do.

Spider-Woman #10

Spider-Woman #10
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artists: Javier Rodriguez and Veronica Fish

Hopeless finds a fun, if inconsequential way to tie into Civil War II, and I’m OK with that. Then he ties into one of the big shocking moments, and the comic gets even better!

Spider-Woman and her pals travel around the country checking into some smaller predictions from Ulysses. They bust the Melter for a crime, stop an alien on the moon, stop a pet-eating blob in the sewers, and even arrive in time to keep a little old lady safe when her new Inhuman powers burst out of control. Jessica has a lot of reservations about this whole thing, even though Ulysses’ predictions all turned out to be true. She gives Carol a call to explain all of this — but she called just as the news that Hawkeye killed the Hulk hits the airwaves. Jessica sees the news while she’s on the phone and she freaks the heck out!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

That was one great ending! Hopeless plays it for laughs, because at first, Jessica is too wrapped up in her phone call to see the TV or to listen to Carol trying to interrupt her to explain. But Hopeless and his art team (who are actually a little rusty this issue) do a great job building the tension of that big reveal and focusing on Jess as she storms out of the bar in anger. She was in a relationship with Hawkeye not too long ago, and I wonder if Hopeless will call back to that fact. It’s more than enough reason for her to get pissed.

The Legion of Monsters makes house calls

The bulk of the issue was just general Spider-Woman fun. The art suffers a bit from needing multiple people on the pencils, but it’s not too bad. And the individual little stories are good for a chuckle and a smile. This is quality Spider-Woman through and through, and I’m actually excited to see how Hopeless ties it all into Civil War II.

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 August 20, 2016, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. David Walker is doing a really good job writing Nighthawk for Marvel. You should consider picking that up!

    • Nighthawk, you say? Man…I’m really trying to stay away from all those weird multi-dimensional heroes. I loved the original Supreme Powers, but Nighthawk now is just a weird, out-of-place character.

      • I get what you’re saying and for the most part I agree with you, but Walker’s run has nothing to do with any of that. The backstory of the character is completely ignored and so are all the multi-dimensional elements that define it. The focus of the series is pure street-level vigilantism; the plot is grounded in reality and revolves around important social issues (mainly racism). It’s grittier than PM&IF, but not too stiff or serious (it’s actually very funny at times).

    • I’ll echo that. Nighthawk is phenomenal. It’s a very dark and brutal exploration of racial politics. It has classi villain Deadly Nightshade serving as his tech support, and she is so good. She’s really snarky, bringing a nice comedic element, but she’s also very clearly got some real anger issues that keep up the tension.

      Such a great series. The art is a stumbling block for some people – Ramon Villaobos has a very rough art style. Not too dissimilar from Sanford Greene or Flaviano, on PM&IF, actually. I think it works for Nighthawk, some people just find it unpleasant to look at. Still, the writing is excellent, and Villalobos certainly brings the brutality the book demands.

      Oh, and I’m glad you’ll be picking up Vision, because SO FRIGGING GOOD. Only two issues left and I am terrified.

      • Alright, then I shall look into Nighthawk! And I’m definitely excited for Vision. I grabbed the first trade, and it looks like I’ll grab the second. I keep meaning to read more books in trade just to see what they’re like all at once.

  2. Spider woman was great, I just hope Carol and Jess’s are still friends after Civil War II is over.

  3. I have to disagree with your assessment of Old Man Logan in ANW 11. He WAS willing to hear Cap out, and at first it was Laura who was the main voice of objection (which was perfectly in-character, as well). It was Maria Hill who escalated the situation. Note that Logan doesn’t start to get belligerent until AFTER he and Laura overhear Hill telling Cap to get out of the way so the positioned snipers can take him out.

  4. Wolverine was great. A really fun first half, a really tense second half. Gabby is wonderful. I love Gabby. She’s the best. Good use of Steve in the issue. I’m hoping the cliffhanger is a bit of a fake-out, though.

    Thor was good, some fun stuff, but the arc still feels a bit like filler. As for the cliffhanger, I’m betting on Loki.

    PM&IF is great. Really dramatic and tense. I loved the Luke/Jessica conversations, that little show of how their marriage works.

    Spider-Woman is a lot of fun, until suddenly, it’s not. The mood whiplash was handled perfectly.

    • Mighty Thor definitely feels like filler. But I have more than enough faith to see it through to something amazing. Aaron has yet to let me down on that book. Same with the rest. They’re all just so consistently good!

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