Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 9/17/16

Brace yourselves, people, this week is a wild one. What will be the fate of Tim Drake? Dare we keep reading and find out? Robin is one of my all-time favorite comic book characters, and Tim Drake is my favorite Robin. Can I even stand to read the new issue of Detective Comics?

You’re gosh darn right I am! It wins Comic Book of the Week for a blowout issue, but you’re going to have to keep reading to find out why.

That's right, Tim, drop the word 'Red'

That’s right, Tim, drop the word ‘Red’

This week also saw a large release of a lot of non-Big Two comics that I’m reading. So even though DC Comics had a few other treats this week, I’ve decided to forgo them all and focus on some indie darlings like Faith and Kaijumax! This week’s reviews feature four different publishers!

Comic Reviews: Detective Comics #940, Faith #3, Kaijumax #4, Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy #4, and Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers — Pink #3.

Detective Comics #940

Detective Comics #940

Detective Comics #940
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Eddy Barrows

Deep breaths, everybody. This is it, the moment of truth for Tim Drake. He’s been my Robin since I was a kid, and Robin is one of my all-time favorite fictional characters. This is the moment we’ve all been dreading. But this is a damn good comic, and Tynion knows what he’s doing…right?

As Red Robin takes on the first fleet of war drones all by himself, Batwoman invades the Colony and confronts her father. Jacob Kane never intended for this to happen, and still believes that the League of Shadows is real, but Batwoman is hearing none of his garbage and she takes him into custody. ARGUS shows up to arrest the Colony, but most of them teleport away — unable to halt a second wave of drones from attacking Tim at the Belfry!

With Batman and his friends racing to the scene, Tim gets on the radio and tells Bruce and Stephanie goodbye. Then he stands his ground and gets gunned down by the incoming drones. When Batman finally arrives, he finds Tim’s bloodied bo staff. Red Robin is dead. Frowny face.

In the aftermath, Batman visits Spoiler to make sure she’s OK. Stephanie shows Bruce the letter Tim got from Ivy University about the genius grant. Batman is so overcome that his hands start shaking and he can’t hold on to the letter. But at least they have Jacob Kane in custody for what he’s done.

He killed Robin!

Actually, no! The good news is that Red Robin is not dead! Instead, he was plucked away at the last second by the mysterious Mr. Oz, the new big bad of Rebirth, who has been taunting Superman for awhile now. Mr. Oz introduces Red Robin to his new prison cell, where Tim can only pound on the door knowing all his friends and loved ones believe him to be dead.

Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.

Whew, I’m glad Red Robin is alive. Part of me held on to hope that all the signs were just red herrings, and fortunately for us all, Tynion gets to have his cake and eat it, too. He gets to play with the emotions of everyone thinking Tim is dead — and this is a very emotional comic — while keeping Tim alive in order to build to whatever big Rebirth crossover DC is planning for down the road. That’s going to be a stellar event. I have no idea what they have planned, but I’ll give it a read if it means Tim Drake gets to be awesome and reveal to Batman that he’s not really dead! That should be a fun scene!

Though, if I may say, it’s a real shame that he’s already been removed from Detective Comics. This is still only the opening storyline, but this book has been a great read! And Tim was a big part of that. Now Detective Comics loses one of its best characters just to beef up whatever Big Event is planned for down the line. Let’s hope this comic can survive.

Batman moment of the year?

Batman moment of the year?

At least this issue lived up to all the hype and excitement. Tynion and Barrows write and draw the hell out of Tim’s farewell scene, as he has time to say his goodbyes, even while his friends race as hard as they damn well can to try and save him. And the aftermath scene, with Batman’s hands shaking, is a truly powerful moment. Tynion did a fantastic job building to this moment over the course of the past few issues, and the emotional crescendo was worth all the speculation and pain. He may have ‘killed’ one of my favorite comic book characters, but he did so spectacularly, and leaves me hoping for more.

Detective Comics #940 nails the emotional heroism and turmoil in Tynion’s story, which is everything you can possibly hope for in a Bat-family comic.

Also, this Mr. Oz nonsense better hurry up and happen already. I don’t want Tim off the board for too long!

Also, also, is nobody going to do a forensic examination of the scene? Does Batman just assume the drones vaporized Tim and there’s absolutely no trace of his body or costume left? You’d think a guy like Batman would maybe do a little detective work and maybe get a little suspicious. But I digress.

Faith #3

Faith #3

Faith #3
Writer: Jody Houser
Artists: Pere Perez and Marguerite Sauvage

I tried my hand at reading some Valiant Comics when they made their big push a few years ago. I didn’t really connect with any of those comics, but I’m enjoying Faith well enough. Seems like good stuff.

Faith and her boyfriend Archer head to a comic book convention, with Faith dressed in steampunk cosplay and Archer dressed as Legolas. They gallivant around and Jody Houser gives us her take on attending a comic-con. Eventually, Faith discovers that somebody in a Murder Mouse costume has been robbing some of the booths. She gets help from @x to track the villain, and she and Archer eventually find him holed up in his hotel room. Murder Mouse hits them with some kind of magic spell before making his escape, a spell that seems to have created an exact duplicate of Faith!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

More comic books need to do issues like this one. Most of the issue is just Faith and Archer having fun at a social event/date. I understand the constrains of a superhero comic, but these characters need to be people first, superheroes second. This issue is a great example of that idea, with Faith having a blast at a comic book convention, whether she’s showing her boyfriend how to have fun or reminiscing about conventions in the past, she’s just having a great time. And that lets us get to really know the character.

Behold the magic of off-color knock-offs!

Behold the magic of off-color knock-offs!

And then once we better know the characters, the plot picks up in interesting ways. Houser easily mixes the fun of the comic book convention with the crime of superhero comics. It’s a nice balance in a nice story that goes a long way to really humanize Faith and get us on her side. She’s easily likable, and issues like this one could make her a star. This is how you make a hit comic. It’s all about having fun.

Kaijumax #4

Kaijumax #4

Kaijumax #4
Writer and Artist: Zander Cannon

It seems like it’s been awhile since we last saw an issue of Kaijumax. But Zander Cannon is still playing in a very fun, very cool world here, so let’s dive in to another adventure!

Electrogor is on the run from the law, and he flees down into the depths of the ocean to escape. Down there is a very nasty community, essentially the ghetto, where he runs into some gutter trash monster woman named Goat. He tries to be cool, but life is different down there on the ocean bottom. It’s ugly and drug-addicted, but Electrogor tries to stay positive and get back to his family. Eventually he comes up against the neighborhood’s king jerkass, and Electrogor beats him up like some kind of white knight, but Goat tells him that’s not how it works down there. Still, he gets away.

Meanwhile, Jeong and Chisato are beat cops together, and they catch a ‘mon prostitute, who gives them some insight on the bad sea bottom neighborhood. They’re able to pinpout where Electrogor is hiding. But Chisato gets some bad news from her brother in the Kaijumax: their ‘father’ the scientist has died.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

The real world parallels get laid on pretty thick with this issue. I wasn’t even entirely sure we were in a monster world anymore. I don’t think Cannon did anything particularly new or interesting with his social commentary in this issue. It’s all pretty standard stuff when you’re dealing with the ‘hood’. I liked that the big bad neighborhood guy was Cthulhu, that was a neat visual. But the best story was the one with Jeong and Chisato. I want to see more about the beat cops of this monster world. That one seems to have a bit more depth than just Electrogor wandering through a cliche rendering of the ‘hood’.

Kaijumax feels like it’s heading somewhere interesting, and I can’t wait to see what Cannon has in store. This issue feels a little bit like spinning his wheels, but there are some interesting developments found within.

Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy #4

Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy #4

Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy #4
Writer: Cynna Clugston Flores
Artist: Rosemary Valero-O’Connell

I’m not about to give up on this crossover! It maybe hasn’t been as good as I was hoping, but there are only a few issues left, so I’m on board all the way through! It’s still a super fun idea.

Our heroes do their best to go along to get along at Louise’ birthday party, including a day out at the pool. But Pomeline can’t stand just sitting around and she starts arguing with the spooky guards, so they take her away. Olive tries to bond with Louise and learns a bit more about her, like she had a huge crush on a guy named Simon back in school (but we learn from some of the others that Simon died in an accident a few years ago, so he won’t be at the party). During all this, Mal, Ripley and Kyle show up to ‘surrender’ and get roped into the festivities as well — with Louise mistaking Kyle for Simon!

So everybody hatches a new plan: with Kyle pretending to be Simon, they’re going to give Louise what she’s always wanted: the best damn 16th birthday party anybody has ever seen! So everybody gets all dressed up, they give Louise a pep talk, and the party is about to kick off, but then she just happens to spot Olive chatting with Kyle and she immediately assumes Olive is trying to steal her Simon! Uh oh!

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

The Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy crossover is still an enjoyable adventure, but it’s not nearly the super fun, awesome comic I was hoping for when it was first announced. It’s just not nearly as good as its individual parts. There are a couple obvious reasons for this: there are too many characters for anyone to get a chance to shine, and the story dreamed up for the crossover just doesn’t have much oomph behind it. The new issue is a bit more fun than previous issues, but not by much. This is another issue where everybody just kind of stands around and talks.

I hear ya, Maps

I hear ya, Maps

The plot may be interesting, but it’s also kind of complex, and there’s just not much to it. A good chunk of the past few issues have been spent with everybody explaining the set-up. In fact, they’re still explaining it int his issue, as we don’t find out about Simon until now. There’s very little action, and what there is sometimes feels forced, like having Pom throw a tantrum. Otherwise it’s just everybody interchangeably telling everybody else about Louise and their history and why she’s acting the way she is. And then the big plan involves taking everything they’ve talked about and putting it into practice, which ends up just being a party, which is basically more standing around and talking.

Even though the crossover remains mostly enjoyable to read, the story itself has become a bit of a slog, and the over abundance of characters doesn’t help the series find any sort of entertaining focus.

Pink #3

Pink #3

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers — Pink #3
Writers: Tini Howard, Brenden Fletcher and Kelly Thompson
Artist: Daniele Di Nicuolo

I’m not sure why, but there’s a new scripter for this comic. We’re only at issue three in a mini-series, so I have no idea what’s keeping Fletcher and Thompson from writing the whole thing. But hopefully it all works out in the end.

With the three former Power Rangers captured, they have to rely on their smarts and some trickery to escape their cages and start leading innocent townsfolk to safety. Leaving Zach and Trini to help the people, Kimberly goes after Goldar and his fish-faced companion. She grabs the Sword of Light while Goldar and fish-face bicker and turn on one another, and then it’s morphed Rangers into battle! Even Kimberly’s mom, who was turned into a fish monster, comes to her senses and helps out.

The Pink Ranger eventually faces off against Goldar in his new Zord, but while they’re fighting, fish-face takes control of the Zord and launches it out to sea! Now Kimberly and Goldar must work together to escape the inside of the Zord or they’re both going to drown!

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

There was something slightly off about this issue. The art and action were a little too wild to follow at times. That personal touched seemed to be missing. I don’t know if it’s because they added a scripter, or maybe this was just an action-heavy issue. But it was still a fun read. And as part of the ongoing story, it was solid entertainment. Kimberly gets to be a badass hero, there are a lot of cool monsters, the day is saved, trouble arises anew, and all of it is quite enjoyable. I hope they have something really fun planned for the finish, and it’s not just straight action from here on out.

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 17, 2016, in Batman, Comics, DC, Reviews, Robin and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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