Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 9/3/16

I’m on vacation again! I love me a good work vacation. I get a whole week to just hang out and relax. Read some comics. Watch some movies. I’ve got a whole list of stuff to do this week. Hopefully I get around to at least half of it and I don’t just spend the week playing video games. That could happen.

But until then, how about this week’s comics? We’ve got some good ones, like Kim & Kim and Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. We’ve also got a comic that breaks my little heart. Stupid Amazing Spider-Man #17!

Fortunately, writer Dan Slott almost redeems himself with a stellar Silver Surfer #200 anniversary issue! He wins Comic Book of the Week, but the guy is damn good at toying with my emotions.

I’ve read that comic, it’s really good

Saga also returned this week, but I’ve decided to stop reviewing that comic. Saga is an amazing story, and part of me thinks it’s meant to be read issue-by-issue, but I just don’t think I can be fair to the series that way. Some issues might be duller than others, but that does not bring down Saga as a whole. It’s a tough decision, but the only decision that matters is that you should be reading Saga.

Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #17, Astonishing Ant-Man #11, Kim & Kim #2, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #6, Ms. Marvel #10 and Silver Surfer #200.

Amazing Spider-Man #17

Amazing Spider-Man #17
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: R.B. Silva

God dammit. This is proof that I can’t have nice things! And this is the second time Dan Slott has done this to me! It’s not fair!

Now, of course, I know he’s not doing it specifically too me. And as the writer of Amazing Spider-Man, he’s totally free to use whatever Spidey supporting characters he’d like in whatever way he’d like. It just so happens that he’s now ‘ruined’ two of my favorite Spidey supporting characters from their previously pristine (if unused) condition.

God help me if Slott ever starts writing the Slingers…

Peter Parker asks the Prowler to investigate New U, the organ cloning group that Peter wants to use to save Jay Jameson. So Prowler sneaks into their headquarters and discovers the Jackal attempting to re-power Electro. The juice doesn’t take, but the electricity powers are instead absorbed by the clone Jackal made of Electro’s ex-girlfriend. She proceeds to kill Max Dillon with her new powers.

Prowler is discovered and chased out of the facility. But just as he’s about to get away, the new Electro fries him too. They kill the Prowler. God dammit.

A short time later, a Hobie Brown clone wakes up in Jackal’s lab with all of Prowler’s memories. Jackal uses him to call Peter to assure him everything is fine. Then he shows Hobie his master plan, and Hobie is immediately on board with whatever the Jackal is planning. Then Jackal reveals that all his clones have to take a special pill every day to survive, so they have to work for him.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

God dammit. Alright, I’m gonna save my rant for the next paragraph. For now, this was an awesome issue. All the personality and energy that I felt has been lacking in Peter Parker lately is found here in Hobie Brown. He’s a dynamic, interesting character, and the Prowler is just fantastic. He’s got a cool new costume, his skills are top notch, and his character dynamic is new and cool. This is everything I could have possibly wanted when Slott brought Prowler back. This is a damn cool Prowler issue.

Just look how cool this guy is!

So of course, they frickin’ kill him. God dammit. Why?! Why kill the Prowler just as you’re making him awesome again? Obviously the story calls for it. Replacing one of Peter’s allies with a clone fits into the whole Clone Conspiracy storyline. It all makes sense from a storytelling perspective. It just sucks for me personally. I have loved the Prowler since I first saw him back on the Spider-Man cartoon in the 90s. He’s one of those awesome obscure supporting characters who never gets used enough. And this is the second time Slott has done this exact same thing to me.

When he brought Phil Urich into Amazing Spider-Man a few years ago, I was over the moon! Then a few issues later, he drives Phil insane and turns him into a super-villain. When he brought Prowler back into Amazing Spider-Man a few months ago, I was over the moon! Now a few issues later, he kills Prowler. What the frick, Dan Slott and the universe?

He’s got a point, you do gotta catch’em all

What makes this even worse is that I was legitimately excited for the Prowler solo comic coming out in a few months. But now? I’ll probably still pick it up, but my excitement is gone. I want to read about the Prowler, not about a clone stealing his life. It’s not the same character. It’s a fake, a phony, a usurper. It doesn’t matter if the clone has all of Hobie’s memories, he’s still a different person. Ben Reilly is not Peter Parker.

What even is the intended audience for the Prowler comic? This killing has got to be as much a punch to the gut to other Prowler fans as it was to me, though granted there probably aren’t a lot of us. So is Marvel expecting Amazing Spider-Man fans to love the Clone Conspiracy storyline so much that they also pick up a Prowler comic? That seems ridiculous.

Look, as a longtime comic book fan, I know that things are rarely going to work out in my favor. I’ve just got to suck it up and move on. But this one really sucks. And sure, this could all be some kind of bait and switch, and that could be the real Prowler or something. Or the real Prowler comes back to life at some point. But why? He’s a minor character that nobody was using before Slott grabbed him for this death/clone story.

I know that death doesn’t usually matter in comics, but sometimes it does for the little guys who nobody cares enough about to bring back.

Ant-Man #11

Astonishing Ant-Man #11
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Ramon Rosanas

Last issue was a blast, and next issue is the Trial of Ant-Man, which also sounds like a lot of fun. But for now, we twiddle our thumbs in prison a little bit.

Scott Lang is in prison after the break-in at Cross Industries, and he’s getting by. He’d adapting to the prison routine, though he does get beat up a bunch. At least Cassie is fine (and she gets revenge on the Power Broker). He gets visitors, including Grizzly, Machinesmith, Darla and his investor. His security company is definitely gone, but everybody seems to have his back — though Cross and his goons are zeroing in on Scott’s lab. And in the meantime, She-Hulk has come on to be Scott’s lawyer!

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

Not much to say about this issue, I’m afraid. We don’t actually spend any time with Scott in prison. It’s all voice over and montage. The meat of this issue are the fun prison visits from his pals, and they’re all pretty cool. Grizzly and Machinesmith are a hoot. Sparks fly a tiny bit with Darla. And his investor is fine. This issue kind of just glides by as we prepare for Scott’s trial next issue. And I know I was a little tickled that he’ll be represented by She-Hulk instead of Matt Murdoch. The two of them, plus Darla, were all members of the FF not too long ago! That was a great comic.

Kim & Kim #2

Kim & Kim #2
Writer: Magdalene Visaggio
Artist: Eva Cabrera

In my continuing efforts to branch out and read more comics, I’m gonna try to stick with Kim & Kim from Black Mask Studios. I vaguely know at least one person involved, and I like to support people. It helps that it’s a fun comic.

In an effort to track down the enigmatic Lady Babylon and help their new weresquid friend, Kim and Kim head to a special underwater city to look for information, but instead get into a big fight with a local bartender and his sons. When that doesn’t work out, Kim decides to call upon her old training as a necromancer to summon forth her dead aunt, who used to hang with Babylon, but they accidentally summon a giant, rampaging sandworm instead. The Kims decide to try and fight it, but give up when they realize they can’t exactly do much with a guitar and a machine gun.

So instead they try necrotic rock & roll magic! But that ends up summoning Kim’s aunt, who tells them that the sandworm is good people and they should leave him alone. Then Kim’s aunt tells them that she is Lady Babylon!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Quality comics, that’s what this is. Kim & Kim is a fun, upbeat title with cool characters, which is exactly the kind of comic I like these days. It doesn’t have the polish and shine of a top tier Squirrel Girl or Hellcat comic, but this is definitely the indie market equivalent. The characters are a lot of fun to read about, their lives and histories are slowly being explored, and I especially enjoy the humor. I love it when the Kims just stop fighting the giant sandworm and accept that they probably can’t fight such a massive thing on their own. It’s a very grounded kind of humor, where the characters want to be awesome, but know their limitations in a fun, realistic way. I like that sort of dry humor.

Complete with Necromancer costumes

The art remains just as strong. It’s got that indie feel, while still being tops to what else you might see around at this level. Kim & Kim is still just getting started, but it’s definitely putting its best foot forward. The comic and its world are building nicely, and I hope for even more awesomeness going forward.

Power Rangers #6

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #6
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Hendry Prasetya

Hot damn, here’s some quality Power Rangers action! We never saw anything nearly this cool in the old TV show! It’s issues like this one that completely justify launching a new Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers comic!

Rita’s plan to harness the chaotic green energy has summoned the evil Black Dragon to Earth, destroying the Command Center in the process. The Black Dragon is a total badass and he lays waste to the Power Rangers, forcing them to retreat into a pocket dimension — all except Billy, who the Black Dragon grabs before he can teleport away.

Inside the pocket dimension, Zach and Tommy are still at each other’s throats over this Black Dragon guy, but cooler heads start to prevail when they realize they’ve lost Billy. Elsehwere, the Black Dragon uses the Blue Power Coin to directly attack the Morphin Grid, cutting out the power to the red, black, yellow and pink Power Rangers. Only Tommy remains morphed!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This was one hell of an action-packed issue, and I loved it! No more ‘lather, rinse, repeat’ monsters from the TV show, where they grow and get cut down by the Megazord on repeat. This Black Dragon guy means business. Not only is he one of those ‘cool’ villains with some real personality, but he just destroys the Power Rangers without a second thought.

With dry cool wit like that…

That’s the kind of energy and excitement we need in this series, and Higgins pulls it off with aplomb. Here are the Power Rangers in a real pickle, taken apart and reduced to mere teenagers in a matter of minutes. They have no idea what they’re up against, and it shows in just how poorly they respond. They’re not perfect. And that will make their eventual recovery and victory even stronger.

Beyond that, it’s the little things I continue to enjoy, like Tommy and Zach sniping at each other. Or the idea that green rangers are known to be unique, and that Black Dragon might be able to rip the golden shield off his chest. Or just the fact that the Triceratops Power Coin is used as a major prop instead of, say, the green or red power coins. Higgins definitely nails the small touches, and that just makes for a better comic.

Ms. Marvel #10
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artists: Takeshi Miyazawa and Adrian Alphona

As great as Wilson’s Ms. Marvel has always been, there’s just something a little off about this Civil War II tie-in. It doesn’t seem to hold the same emotional weight that other stories do with ease. It’s still enjoyable, with great art, but there’s a disconnect here.

Bruno is in very bad shape after he accidentally blew himself up last issue, trying to break into Ms. Marvel’s secure holding facility in Jersey City. Kamala is all manner of broken up, and she rushes out of the hospital to confront the Cadets and to tell them that this whole project is done! But Becky isn’t about to have that, and she powers up her suit of armor to fight Ms. Marvel (Kamala wins!).

The other Cadets call Captain Marvel, and Carol gives Kamala a pep talk about sticking with the future crimes stuff because there’s a lot of pressure on Carol to be right about all of this. Kamala is uncomfortable but goes along with it, at least on the surface. When she’s alone, she tracks down the villain from a few issues ago to recruit him to commit some crimes that she thinks will conflict with Ulysses’ visions.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I think the problem is that I still don’t know where these Cadets came from or why this whole Jersey City operation even exists. It’s unlike anything else that’s happening in any other Civil War II tie-in, and it’s very clearly being written as pure evil instead of some kind of moral dilemma. Basic Becky is pretty much a Nazi at this point, and Carol is weak-willed and unsure of herself, and seems to be encouraging the future crime stuff as a point of pride. I guess I just don’t think Wilson is tying into Civil War II very well, and that lack of grounding makes the whole issue suffer, despite some very important emotional beats for Kamala.

You two were supposed to be besties!

The biggest problem is the Cadets. They came out of nowhere and don’t mean anything. They aren’t mentioned in the Captain Marvel series, so it’s not like they’re a big part of this crossover. They don’t have names. They’re not superheroes or really powered in any way (other than Becky revealing some fancy armor this issue). It’s literally that Captain Marvel apparently felt the teenage Kamala was important enough to put her in charge of a random, oversight-less squad of randomly militaristic children who get to have their own mini-Guantanomo in the middle of Jersey City. There’s zero depth to the Cadets, so hanging a lot of Kamala’s emotional weight on them just doesn’t hold up.

It might have been OK if these characters were just another Ms. Marvel storyline, but the fact that they’re tied to Civil War II gives them more weight and expectations, and the story isn’t living up to that.

The current Ms. Marvel storyline acts like it’s telling a big, emotional story for Kamala Khan, but it’s built on a very shaky, unstable and, at times, silly foundation.

Isn’t Ms. Marvel one of the big, important Inhumans comics? Why not a story where the teenage, new Inhuman Ms. Marvel tries to bond with the teenage, new Inhuman Ulysses and we actually give him some character depth? Although I suppose that could be happening in one of the dozen or so Inhumans comics that I’m not reading.

Silver Surfer #200
Writer: Dan Slott
Artists: Mike and Laura Allred

I wish Doctor Who had scripts and characters as wonderful as the new Silver Surfer. Dan Slott is a huge Doctor Who fan, and this comic is clearly his ode to that venerable series. But now he’s definitely outshining the good Doctor.

The Surfer has brought Dawn Greenwood to her mother’s home in San Francisco, even though the woman walked out on Dawn and her family 13 years ago. Dawn is pissed at the intrusion into her life, but she decides to use this opportunity anyway. Her mother is a painter, but we find out that she never really wanted a family, and seemed to break it off to pursue her own life and dreams. But Dawn is desperate to impress her, and goes on and on with stories about being an interstellar adventurer.

Meanwhile, the Surfer teams up with Spider-Man to fight a bunch of shape-shifting monsters who have turned into all the Surfer’s arch enemies. Dawn and her mom get drawn outside by the commotion, and Dawn gets caught by the creatures when they try to grab the Surfer. He fights to free her, then drives the creatures away by letting them feed on his extended Zenn-Lavian lifespan. But Dawn has lost a lot of blood and it’s not looking good — and the last thing she sees before losing consciousness is her mom skulking back into her apartment and leaving Dawn to her fate.

Fortunately, the Silver Surfer is super fast, and he gets Dawn home in time to get a blood transfusion from her twin sister. Everything seems to be fine, except that Dawn is still quite troubled by the encounter with her mother. She asks the Surfer to take her back out into space, without even saying goodbye to anyone. She just wants to go.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This doesn’t completely absolve Slott from what he did to Prowler, but it was still a wonderful issue of Silver Surfer. The characters were rich and enjoyable, especially Dawn. This was a huge issue for her, and Slott has done such a great job building her up that everything flowed wonderfully. Her motivations and feelings were easy to relate to and understand, and it all built to a couple really powerful moments concerning her mom. This was a big hit for Dawn to take, but Slott handled it quite well.

The art on Dawn Greenwood has gotten sooooo good!

The stuff about the Silver Surfer fighting some weird, shape-shifting slugs from the Earth’s core was off-kilter, but whatever, I can roll with it. The Allreds are great with Spider-Man, and the battle scene was really good. That it helped to push the Dawn storyline was even better.

Dan Slott is doing his best work in a long time on Silver Surfer. His characters are rich and enticing, and this issue hits harder than most when it comes to the very human struggle in a Silver Surfer 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 September 3, 2016, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. ASM was fine, I guess. Can this be Slott’s final arc? Please?

    Ant-Man was good. It’s fun.

    Ms. Marvel is great. Especially Alphona’s pages at the start. Tons of visual gags, as usual, but it was also nice seeing how Kamala and Bruno met. The conversation between Kamala and Carol was great, too.

    Silver Surfer is so amazing. You’ve got the goofy little main plot with the shape-changing fish, but mostly, it’s Dawn. Her sense of joy and wonder at the things she’s seen and done is infectious. And then the end of the issue is just heartbreaking. The way she says she wants to go back to space. Heartbreaking.

    • I’m really enjoying those Alphona flashbacks in this storyline. Though I wish we’d stayed with some of Kamala’s ancestors a little more. I know very, very, very little about that whole time period/history.

    • Also, I read Visions vol. 1 and you’ve been absolutely right, it’s fantastic! Gripping and suspenseful, and masterly written, paced and drawn. I’m not sad that I missed out on the individual issues. I’ll have a better chance of re-reading it someday if I collect it in tpbs, and now I can’t wait for vol. 2!

      • Ha! Glad to hear it. One of the best comics Marvel’s ever put out, and I am not a particular fan of the Vision as a character, so that’s saying a lot. Virginia is the real stand-out character, though, and the one that I worry most about.

      • Agreed. I’ve never cared about the Vision either, but a good writer with a good idea can make anyone great (see Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye). Though I’m mostly worried about Viv…at least in the sense of how Marvel plans on moving her into the Champions. I don’t know anything that happens after volume 1 (and I don’t want to know yet), but how could this story possibly be continued onward into other titles? Sheesh. I suppose I’ll see how Marvel pulls it off. It better not ruin King’s vision here.

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