Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 9/10/16

Anybody else get real lazy on a vacation? And I don’t mean a vacation where you go on an awesome trip and have great adventures. I mean a staycation, where you largely spend the time sitting at home playing video games, reading comics and occasionally venturing out to catch Pokemon. That’s the kind of vacation I just had, and it was pretty neat. But man, did it take a lot of effort to actually write comic book reviews this week. But I got it done!

Some quality comics this week, including Iron Man, Nightwing and Doctor Strange, even. But Comic Book of the Week easily and handily goes to Harley Quinn #3, for bringing joy and romance to all of comics! There is no better relationship these days than Harley and Ivy!

What was she going to say?!

What was she going to say?!

They are a shining beacon in all of comics. If only Nightwing was this much fun. Or Iron Man. And the new Supergirl Rebirth would have greatly benefited from some of that charisma.

Comic Reviews: Doctor Strange #11, Harley Quinn #3, Invincible Iron Man #13, Nightwing #4 and Supergirl #1. 

Doctor Strange #11

Doctor Strange #11

Doctor Strange #11
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Kevin Nowland and Leonardo Romero

I stopped reviewing Doctor Strange for reasons I no longer remember. It just got away from me for a bit, but I kept reading, because it’s still a fun comic. Maybe not as epic as Aaron’s Thor, but his cleverness is on full display.

The Empirikul have been defeated and magic is slowly returning to the world, with Doctor Strange ready and willing to shepherd its arrival. He has Zelma Stanton rebuilding the library, and he had Wong shut down the Temple of the Secret Defenders. Then he uses a baseball bat wrapped in enchanted barbed wire to take on a particularly nasty magical spectre. Meanwhile, Baron Mordo is back in town!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

And we’ve finally arrived! Nobody was going to tell Chris Bachalo how to draw, his style is too unique. But one of the guest artists this issue definitely makes Strange look like Benedict Cumberbatch. He’s on board to draw a few flashbacks to Strange’s origin story, and tell me this isn’t Cumberbatch.

Yes, I swear it is!

Yes, I swear it is!

It’s OK, I’m totally fine with that. More power to Marvel. I’m hoping the film is another hit.

Beyond that, this was a thoroughly enjoyable comic. Seeing Doctor Strange struggle to deal with the loss of magic is hugely entertaining. It’s not gone entirely, and Aaron seems to have some fun ideas on how it can seep back into the world. I loved the bit where he just grabs an enchanted beatin’ weapon to beat down a wayward magic sprite. That’s the kind of nitty gritty Strange can get into these days, and I like it! There’s a lot of character and a lot of heart in this comic right now, and I hope Aaron really takes advantage of it. The arrival of Baron Mordo should help, though those flashback scenes didn’t add very much.

Doctor Strange is a comic written by artists with a vision. The new issue is the next phase of that vision, putting Strange in a very interesting, and so far, very fun place.

Harley Quinn #3

Harley Quinn #3

Harley Quinn #3
Writers: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti
Artists: Bret Blevins, Chad Hardin and John Timms

Harley Quinn is having a darn good summer. A lot of people liked her in that movie she was in, and her comic is especially great these days. And we’ve got Amanda Conner teasing us by drawing the cover. How have we gone this long without a proper Conner interior? I guess I’ll just keep on dreaming.

After a dual shower to wash off the zombie guts, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy team up to try and lead the Coney Island Crew to safety through the secret tunnels underneath Harley’s home. But there are zombies down there too, and soon everyone is fighting for their lives once again. Fortunately, the parents of the alien who was ground up into hamburger (the origin of the zombie plague) track his locator chip to Earth and they extract all the little bits of their son still inside people. Apparently the kid will be fine, and at least it stopped the zombies. Oh, and Red Tool got an arm transplant from a notorious public masturbater.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

If you didn’t believe it before, this issue solidifies it for sure: there is no more fun and romantic couple in all of comics these days than Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, and they’re not even going steady! I like a good love story as much as the next person. Throwing a little romance into the mix is a great way to build character growth and add fun and drama to any story, even a comic. Why else do you think so many classic superheroes always had their one true love? But I don’t think that kind of romance exists anymore. What was the last great comic book couple, at least in the Big Two? Was it Otto Octavius and Anna Maria Marconi? Heck, not even Marko and Alana have been all that romantic and fun in awhile.

I'm posting the shower scene, I'm only human

I’m posting the shower scene, I’m only human

Nobody else in comics, at least from what I’ve seen, is writing this sort of playful, fun flirting and banter.

The zombie storyline wasn’t all that amazing or inspired or anything, but that doesn’t matter when the character work is this darn good, and when the art captures it all so well. This was just a masterful issue, giving us all the best of the Harley Quinn comic. Great characters, a truly enjoyable and charming love story, and a lot of excitement and artistic glory. I’m glad to see Rebirth didn’t dull Harley Quinn‘s many awesome qualities.

Iron Man #13

Iron Man #13

Invincible Iron Man #13
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato

Who needs Civil War II when Bendis is also writing a still mostly entertaining Tony Stark story? I am far, far more interested in Tony’s adventures with Doctor Doom than with whatever Civil War II is about. Something to do with time travel?

Doctor Doom takes Tony Stark to visit his girlfriend Amara, who summarily rejects Tony since he faked his own death and dropped off the face of her Earth recently. Later, Tony listens to a broadcast Captain Marvel gives about the awesomeness of PreCrime, and then he finds himself alone and mourning in his lab during Rhodey’s funeral. He recalls some better times with his best friend, and then Doctor Doom shows up in his lab again. Tony was prepared this time and traps Doom in a Zero-Point Energy Web Net. And now that he has Doom prisoner, Tony wants answers!

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

This is kind of a quiet issue, but at least it promises to go somewhere entertaining. The break-up with Amara was disappointing, but not unexpected. Is this really her end? Or did Bendis have some bigger plans for her, only to have them waylaid by who knows what. I couldn’t say, but he gives her a boring, paltry exit if this is indeed her end. She’s much cooler as Doctor Doom’s protege than as Tony Stark’s girlfriend. But at least some of the comic holds up. Bendis writes some fine flashbacks with Tony and Rhodey, and seeing him grieve is a pretty strong moment. But it’s the frenemy rivalry between Tony and Doom that is most entertaining and interesting.

Nightwing #4

Nightwing #4

Nightwing #4
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Javier Fernandez

I suppose Raptor has finally grown on me. I still don’t particularly like him or Seeley’s focus on him, but we get a better peek at what he might be building here. Also, I owe Tim Seeley an apology. I mocked the phrase ‘Raptoring it’ last issue, but only because I forgot that that he’d already coined ‘Nightwinging it’ in a previous issue. I totally forgot the context of Raptor’s remark. That’s on me.

Nightwing and Raptor head back to the Parliament of Owls and meet with them in their big, labyrinth base. But later that night, the pair spring into action to save the refugee prisoners, then have to contend with a giant were-owl monster in the maze (who used to be a regular human member). They find the center of the maze and retrieve all the Parliament’s secrets, then Nightwing has to bandage up Raptor after he starts bleeding to death. Nightwing then figures out that Raptor also used to be circus folk.

They fight the monster again and make their escape, with Raptor shoving Nightwing out the exit while he stays behind (and Raptor makes a cryptic comment about knowing Nightwing’s mother). Nightwing hooks back up with his Spyral contacts and hands over the all the Parliament’s secrets.

Later at the Batcave, Nightwing vouches for Raptor to Batman, even through Bruce doesn’t trust him. Meanwhile, we see that Raptor was working for Kobra all along, playing Nightwing for a fool.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

This issue was just, generally, built better than the previous ones. Raptor wasn’t as annoying, and he finally started to take shape. As someone who is driving a wedge between Dick and Bruce, he raises my hackles for sure. But he’s probably supposed to, so Seeley is doing a good job there. He’s building up a potentially solid rival for Nightwing. Let Raptor get into Dick’s good graces, and the eventual betrayal will be even harder. That should make for good drama. This issue, though, was mostly more of the same. Raptor being good at everything and Nightwing falling easy prey to his wiles. Also, that were-owl thing was too much. The Court of Owls have fallen far enough from their original creation. Having their members turn into owl monsters takes away a lot of the mystique. They’re cerebral villains, not monstrous villains.

Supergirl #1
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Brian Ching

Forget everything you thought you knew about Supergirl in the New 52, ’cause they’re changing it up to be like the TV show. It helps that I never read Supergirl in the New 52, but did watch some of the TV show. I didn’t care for it. And wasn’t particularly taken by this comic either.

Supergirl now works for the DEO, who have set her up with the secret identity of ‘Kara Danvers’ and enrolled her in a local science academy in National City. Unfortunately, Kara’s scientific knowledge is so advanced that the stuff at the academy is ancient to her, and she can’t get it right. She’s also got two agents assigned as her ‘parents’, Eliza and Jeremiah Danvers. Their jobs are to help acclimate Kara to life on Earth.

When Kara hears a couple terrorists attacking a train, she slips out of school and goes and stops them. But we see that Cat Grant was on the train, and she’s definitely been transformed into the TV version of herself. She scoffs at Supergirl for having saved the day even though Cat was just about to do the same. Later, Supergirl gets reprimanded by the DEO for going out in costume without permission. She belongs to them and needs to go through the proper channels.

Later, Supergirl goes to visit the Fortress of Solitude, where she encounters her Kryptonian father, who has arrived on Earth as a Cyborg Superman.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

This is one of those unfortunate incidents where I grade the comic based on how I personally feel about it, even if that doesn’t reflect the genuine quality of the work. It’s a fine issue, with Orlando doing a well enough job to set everything up and deliver a comic. He’s got characters, drama, conflict; everything you need for a good story and a good supporting cast. It’s just that none of it was all that interesting. It’s all just run-of-the-mill, and I think I know why. Supergirl herself is fine, though she doesn’t do anything in this issue to stand out in any particular way. At least Ching is phenomenal. I love this art style. It’s kind of perfect.

Look, she's faster than a speeding train!

Look, she’s faster than a speeding train!

But this is definitely a comic designed by editorial. I wonder how much leeway and freedom Orlando has to write this comic, because someone clearly sat him down and told him that he had to make it like the TV show — except, of course, it’s not exactly like the TV show. It’s a weird amalgamation, and I’m not sure what the point of that is. I guess they want to make anyone who comes over from the TV show as comfortable as possible, yet not totally just recreate the show. It’s…weird, I guess. But if you’re a Supergirl fan, I’m sure it could be really nice.

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 10, 2016, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Dr. Strange is good. It’s fun. Nice to see magic slowly returning, I guess.

    Iron Man is OK. There’s some nice emotional stuff, with Tony grieving for Rhodey.

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