Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 9/24/16
This was a banner week for comics. I grabbed a whole pile, read a whole bunch, and largely enjoyed myself. Comics are a fun medium, with lots of good stories, great characters all manner of adventure. And this week was especially good, with new issues of All-New Wolverine, Luke Cage & Iron Fist, Patsy Walker and even Mighty Thor; talk about a handful of favorites!
But Comic Book of the Week has to go to the new issue of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers from BOOM! Studios! This comic is tapping into every single one of my nostalgic veins, and I can’t stand it sometimes.
‘Member Megazord? ‘Member Green Ranger? I ‘member Green Ranger! ‘Member Dragonzord? Yeah!
I also picked up the latest issue of Civil War II, but this series is just a mess. There’s no real character depth, no real rivalry or focus. This is possibly the flimsiest Big Event I’ve read in a good long while. It’s all just nonsense, and I’m glad I dropped it quick.
The Night of the Monster Men event running through the Batman comics is shaping up to be pretty cool, though. I didn’t bother reviewing the issues, but they’re fun nonetheless.
Comic Reviews: All-New Wolverine #12, Astonishing Ant-Man #12, Harley Quinn #4, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #7, Mighty Thor #11, Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat #10 and Power Man & Iron Fist #8.
All-New Wolverine #12
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Ig Guara
Having the All-New Wolverine face off against Old Man Logan sounds like a pretty solid premise, but I dunno, you guys. Taylor does his best to make it worthwhile, but I don’t think he fully pulls it off.
It’s possible that I just don’t care about Old Man Logan. His story was good at the time, but he doesn’t really add anything to the Marvel Universe now.
Old Man Logan has killed Gabby and fled into the sewers. Wolverine tells Captain America to take care of Gabby and his people while she hunts down the older Logan, furious at what he’s done. She finds him berserk in the sewers and an epic fight ensues — and ends when Gabby shows up to help out! She was cloned from Laura, of course, and has both healing powers and her own, single bone claw.
After Logan has calmed down, Wolverine tells him to stay away from both of them forever! And then she tells Captain America and SHIELD to do the same, that this Future Crimes garbage is gonna ruin everything.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
I gotta say…I kind of wish they’d killed Gabby. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy the character. I’m big on adorable and awesome female characters right now, and Gabby has been great in this series. But at the same time, All-New Wolverine could have used that harsh dose of emotional reality. I like this comic a lot, but I think Taylor could have gotten a lot of mileage out of Wolverine being mad at Old Man Logan for killing Gabby. It’s not like Gabby is some classic character whose death would rock the world of comics. She was created for this series, and I doubt she has much staying power beyond Taylor. He can do what he wants with the character.
This was a fine, enjoyable issue, but I kind of felt that it lacked any sort of emotional punch. For one thing, we already knew that Gabby was alive and well when the fight between Wolverine and Old Man Logan began, so that drama was gone. And I dunno…I just don’t feel there was any real emotional investment between Laura and Old Man Logan. I’m still not even sure why that guy is around. He’s not the Logan that everybody knows, and Laura points that out. He’s this weird knock-off that Marvel decided to bring along. Giving him a history with Laura and Gabby in his own alternate timeline, and pitting him against Laura now, both ring really hollow. He only came into her life an issue or two ago, and I just don’t care about a fight between them.
All-New Wolverine continues to be an enjoyable comic, and this issue has plenty to work with. But I think Taylor needs to spend a little time building a better emotional foundation for the characters and the story.
Astonishing Ant-Man #12
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artists: Brent Schoonover and Ramon Rosanas
Man, how disappointing. Spencer put all this build-up into The Trial of the Astonishing Ant-Man, and now that we’re actually here, this is a huge let down. I know this book is getting cancelled, so I guess Spencer is just writing himself a quick exit? I dunno, but I would swear it’s like he and Marvel have stopped caring about the particulars.
Everything is pretty crummy in this issue, whether it’s Scott Lang himself, the horrendous abuse of a courtroom scene, a major step down in art quality, to a cliffhanger ending that has me shaking my head in resigned shame.
I really hope Spencer can eventually stick the landing.
Scott Lang is on trial for the break-in at Cross Technological, having (sort of) taken the fall to protect his teenage daughter, Cassie. He’s represented by She-Hulk, his former teammate in the Fantastic Four, so that’s pretty cool. But moments before opening arguments, the judge reveals that there’s a special prosecutor on this case: Janice Lincoln, secretly known as the Beetle!
Let’s stop right here. That’s not how any of this works. Lawyers are not just magically interchangeable, especially not when it comes to criminal prosecutors. Janice is a corporate lawyer from New York City. She can’t just fly down to Florida and decide she wants to be a district attorney for one single high-profile case. District attorneys are an elected position, and then they hire assistant district attorneys to prosecute cases.
You also don’t meet your opposing attorney the morning of opening arguments. Courts don’t blind-side you with this sort of thing in real life. And you definitely don’t introduce a brand new attorney after the jury has already been selected.
But hey, maybe they do things differently in Florida. But I doubt it.
Then you’ve got the fact that there’s clearly a conflict of interest between Janice and Scott. Not only were they romantically involved, but she participated in the crime! In fact, in the middle of the courtroom, in front of the judge, jury and his own defense attorney, Scott pulls Janice aside to have a private chat with her! This criminal trial, with a no-nonsense judge, just pauses so that the defendant can have a clearly personal chit chat with the lead prosecutor!
Like a sane person, She-Hulk wants to point out the conflict of interest to get a mistrial, but Scott turns down that idea in order to protect his daughter. Exposing Janice would be exposing Cassie, he says, and She-Hulk foolishly goes along with it. So both she and Janice give their opening statements, one glowing, the other confident in the conviction because she knows exactly how Scott planned and pulled off the heist. If Janice uses the footage from Darla’s TV show, that’s fine; but if she tries to convict Scott based on her own evidence/knowledge, that’s also ridiculous.
In a criminal trial, the defense and prosecution share all the evidence. Nobody is hiding some secret evidence to surprise them at trial. District attorneys can get into a lot of trouble if they withhold evidence from the defense. So in a real trial, She-Hulk would already know all of Janice’s evidence.
But on his way out the apparent door, it seems like Spencer is just gonna wing it. I guess I can’t blame him. He’s got nothing to lose or gain. But I’d like to think he had a lot of great plans for this story. I’d like to think Spencer put more effort into this comic.
Meanwhile, Cassie is super scared and reveals the truth to her mother.
And Darren Cross teams up with Egghead in another ridiculous subplot. I applaud Spencer using Egghead, because that’s just neat. Anyway, the two of them, along with Crossfire, break into a SHIELD Helicarrier in order to steal Scott Lang’s Ant-Man helmet. Rather than just say it’s in a police evidence room, Spencer invents a special room that apparently exists in every Helicarrier where SHIELD stores all their leftover superhero/villain tech when they don’t put it in proper storage. So these three guys are apparently able to just waltz onto a Helicarrier, knock out a couple guards and stroll right up to Ant-Man’s gear. They shrink down so that they can sneak into the science lab that Hank Pym was hiding in Ant-Man’s helmet.
And inside, they find a ton of cool science stuff, but the biggest prize of all is an experimental super-suit that Hank Pym was building. And sure enough…sigh…Darren Cross puts on the suit and…groan…reveals himself as the new, movie-based Yellowjacket.
Comic Rating: 4/10 – Pretty Bad.
I went on a long enough rant about how Spencer just throws courtroom procedure out the window, so I won’t bother with that again. Lots of TV shows and comics and whatever else get courtrooms all wrong for the sake of drama, but Spencer really pushes the envelope here. No care is taken to treat the courtroom scene as anything resembling proper procedure. And what’s the point of courtroom drama if you don’t even really use the courtroom? This issue is bad even beyond that, though.
There’s little to no real meaningful interactions between any of the characters, despite this being a big moment. Scott basically just sits back and makes snappy remarks while all the courtroom people talk. He mentions his old team with She-Hulk, but their relationship here is basically just She-Hulk scolding Scott for this or that. And when Janice shows up, despite her long and fun history with Scott, she’s basically just a spiteful ex who wants to go to extreme lengths to punish him. She says it’s because he didn’t call her, even though Scott points out he was in prison.
The Yellowjacket reveal at the end is as groan-worthy as it gets. The artist shows the costume in shadow first, with just enough color peaking through that the reader know exactly what’s about to happen. But then we turn the page and get this nonsense:
The movie Yellowjacket design is awesome. It’s badass and dominant, detailed and iconic. This is just a garbled mess of ‘kewl’ with a couple dumb-looking robo-appendages thrown on. This is a hideous design. And if Marvel was just going to make Darren Cross into Yellowjacket all this time, why not just make a movie-accurate costume? What’s stopping them? That’s clearly what they’re going for.
This page also shows off one of the issue’s other big detriments: the art. I’m sure Brent Schoonover is a fine person and artist, but his work on this issue is mediocre at best. The characters are not nearly as well-defined, emotive or staged as we’re used to, and everything just has the sheen of a low-tier talent. It adds fuel to the fire that Marvel just chucked some fill-in artist on this story to get it out the door. Regular series artist Ramon Rosanas has been a superstar on this comic, and he even drew the previous issue, which was basically filler. Why not have Schoonover on the filler issue and Rosanas on the big trial issue? Hopefully this means they’re saving Rosanas for a big, blowout final issue. That would be the only excuse.
Astonishing Ant-Man #12 is a hugely disappointing comic. In what seems like it should be the big climax of the series, Marvel and the creative team just limp things along. The series is being cancelled, and everything involved in this issue, from the story to the art to basic logic, seems to be rushing out the door.
Harley Quinn #4
Writers: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Joseph Michael Lisner
I wish I knew what directions Conner and Palmiotti are given from the DC higher ups. Their Harley Quinn comic is the top selling comic in the industry these days, blowing everything else out of the water. The series definitely deserves that love, but this is one weird book.
After strolling around Coney Island for a bit and dealing with the usual riff raff, Harley gets a tip that the scammers who have been calling and stealing from people at her nursing home are based in India. So she and Bolly Quinn hop on a plane and fly over to fight them, with help from Bolly’s handsome cousin Hari.
They take a quick tour of traffic in India, fight their way through a big skyscraper that’s guarded by a giant robot, and find a room full of robotic people all calling around for their scams. Harley eventually defeats the giant robot and finds evidence of where the operation’s boss hangs out. She then proceeds to fly to Moscow and cuts his throat, while telling his girlfriend to shut down all scamming operations. Then she and Bolly Quinn enjoy the flight back home.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Like, this issue is total madness. It’s entertaining, but it’s disjointed madness nonetheless. We start out with Harley meeting some weird characters at the Coney Island boardwalk, there’s a vomit joke, then we’re randomly flying off to India to pick up a storyline from even before Rebirth. Then we’re in India fighting a random giant robot, then we’re in Moscow killing a business jerk. And all the while, Harley makes either flippant comments about how she’s able to afford all these international First Class plane tickets, off-hand remarks about easily getting her hands on rocket launchers, or fourth-wall breaking quips that are better suited to Deadpool.
So, like, what sort of direction are Conner and Palmiotti given? Not that they need to be given direction. Maybe DC is looking at the sales numbers and just telling them to go nuts and write what they want! Harley Quinn is definitely a singular comic, and I am quite pleased with that fact.
This issue was fun, albeit weird. I liked the call center jokes, though I can’t be entirely sure if those callers were actual robots or not. I’m also not entirely sure why the building was guarded by a giant robot, but hey, whatever, Harley got to fight a giant robot. And I like them using Bolly Quinn, tossing in the Gang of Harleys cast members as supporting characters is always a hoot.
Harley Quinn #4 is the height of Harley lunacy. She travels all over the world in the span of a single issue just to pursue her own insane, but heroic, agenda. I like when Harley Quinn throws in some legit drama, but madcap adventures are fun too.
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #7
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Hendry Prasetya
Sometimes I think crafting a big, powerful comic book story has gone by the wayside. The comic book market is a fickle one, and there’s no guarantee any comic book series — especially from an Indie publisher — is going to last very long. So I can understand why Higgins and BOOM! might want to rush a big story like this. The issue is still great, and really takes the story to the next level.
It’s just…I dunno…I feel like there could have been more build-up to the story of Rita Repulsa taking over the world. We’re only on issue #7.
The Command Center has been destroyed, Zordon is gone, the Power Rangers have lost their powers and Rita Repulsa is ready to assume her place as ruler of the world. She starts building a new palace in the ruins of the Command Center and broadcasts an announcement that the world leaders have 24 hours to surrender to her or be destroyed. She’s even got the Black Dragon taking control of the Power Rangers’ Zords to have them watch over humanity across the globe.
Only Tommy, the Green Ranger, still has his powers, so he and Jason take the Dragonzord up to Rita’s palace on the moon. The plan is to sneak inside and use the teleporter to get to the Dark Dimension to rescue Billy, because he has the best shot at figuring out what happened to their powers and Zordon. But the Black Dragon is lying in ambush, and he grows large enough to defeat Jason and the Dragonzord, then grabs the still normal-sized Green Ranger.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
So yeah, check it: Rita has taken over the Command Center and the Zords, she’s revealed herself to the world and the Power Rangers have lost their powers. This feels like the climax of the biggest Power Rangers story ever…but we’re only at issue #7! We’re only just getting started! Where does Higgins go from here? How does he make this feel both epic and mundane all at the same time? This should be the greatest threat the Power Rangers ever faced, but instead it’s only issue #7. This is a weird dichotomy.
If nothing else, the scene of Rita Repulsa erecting her throne over the spot where Zordon was once housed should be a bigger moment.
Also, she makes reference to some kind of history with Alpha 5, immediately injecting an incalculable amount of exciting, untold lore into the series. I immediately want to know more.
But that’s just a weird gripe of mine, and doesn’t detract in any way from this awesome comic. Just when I think Higgins has gone pretty deep, he goes even deeper. Just seeing the Zords from new angles is pretty exciting. Seeing the Rangers become fully fleshed-out characters, who bicker and worry and struggle, is just plain cool. Seeing them think outside the box, seeing them grasp at straws, seeing them as human beings, is exactly what I want from this comic.
Kyle Higgins and Hendry Prasetya are telling a Power Rangers story of a lifetime. I couldn’t have imagined this kind of depth and excitement from a comic like this. We can only hope that upcoming movie has even a fraction of the storytelling involved.
Mighty Thor #11
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman
Even when Jason Aaron is spinning his wheels on a filler Thor story, it’s still an epic, wonderful adventure with real character and great action! And Dauterman is a national treasure.
Everyone is shocked that Jane Foster has just appeared out of a portal to help Thor while she’s turning into gold. But that shock wears off when everyone remembers that Roxxon Island is falling out of the sky towards NYC. Roz tries to convince Dario to help out, and he’s on the verge of shutting everything down when those two stupid SHIELD agents blast him.
Jane is able to remove the magic golden bullet, and when it gets tossed aside, it turns the entire island to gold — which is a lighter, more manageable material than the rock and metal it used to be. So Thor, being awesome, flies beneath the falling island and grabs it before it can crash. She then tosses all that gold into the sun, while Dario, Silver Samurai and Midas are taken away in custody.
Later, the mystery Jane is revealed to be Mjolnir casting an illusion. And Thor reveals her identity to Roz.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
In this end, I don’t think this story amounted to very much. It was nice to see Dario Agger come up against someone other than Thor, though by the end, it looks like he might get away scot free. And Roz Solomon is always fun, though I lament that she’s been transformed into your typical action-packed SHIELD agent, rather than the boring environmental number cruncher she started out as. The revelations about Mjolnir were neat, but I don’t find them to be Earth-shattering or anything of the like. Just some more magic that Aaron is weaving. This was a fun, enjoyable story with a lot of neat things going for it, but it’ll probably just be a blip on the overall Jason Aaron landscape.
Also, it has been revealed that Aaron will finally get his hands on Beta Ray Bill in the upcoming Thor spin-off comic. While I’m disappointed that Bill won’t get to hang out with the new Thor, I’m excited to see him show up nonetheless. A story about Bill and old Thor kicking butt and taking names across the realms should be pretty amazing.
Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat #10
Writer: Kate Leth
Artist: Brittney L. Williams
Patsy Walker gets into some real deep stuff this issue, but never forgets the adorable fun that has made this series so enjoyable. This is probably my favorite new series of 2016.
Patsy is trapped in the dominion of Belial, the demon of lies, who uses all manner of trickery and illusions to try and get Patsy to submit to his will and his power. He takes her on several journeys, through her past, through her present, through the men in her life, but Patsy isn’t budging! Meanwhile, Jubilee and the others convince Daimon Hellstrom and Mad-Dog that Patsy is on the up and up and that they’re both doofuses.
Patsy eventually tricks Belial into sending her back home by demanding he prove he’s all that somewhere other than his personal domain. Once back in the regular world, Patsy and her pals team up and send Belial packing with ease. Then Patsy gets her jerk exes to apologize.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Who knew Patsy Walker had so much baggage to unpack? I guess I might have been too wrapped up in all the fun and games, but things get super serious here. Leth does a fine job laying it all out and piling it on Patsy, which helps to add some layers to the character. But the real fun, of course, is in the comedy. From Jubilee’s various vampire quips to Belial just being a hoot to Patsy being her particularly awesome self.
Patsy Walker is an unending source of humor and awesome. I love this comic. Even when we get a semi-serious issue like this one, Leth and Williams pack in that adorable humor I love so much. Patsy is a super fun protagonist, and they’ve got such a fun cast. I hope Hellstrom and Mad-Dog stick around, because I think I’d like to see Patsy interacting with semi-romantic interests.
Power Man & Iron Fist #8
Writer: David Walker
Artists: Sanford Greene and Flaviano
The past few issues have been slightly off, I think, in terms of whatever Walker is building. But thankfully, everything gets laid out pretty clearly in this issue, and he builds an even bigger, more personal story than we’ve seen yet. This is probably my other favorite new series of 2016.
Luke Cage tries to convince Danny Rand to get bailed out of prison, but Danny insists he needs to stay, because all of the street-level guys they were hired to help are in the same prison. The bad guys have a device that can hack into government systems and give anybody a criminal record. Luke’s makeshift squad of helpers has their hands on it, but they can’t figure out what to do about it. Luke is running ragged himself, unsure of how to beat this thing, and worried about Danny in prison. He calls on his friends Melissa Gold (Songbird) and Dr. Noah Black (Centurius) for help in coming up with a plan, but they’re ambushed by Carol Danvers and her Future Crime team, who have seen a prediction that Luke will bust Danny out of jail. Luke and his friends are not prepared to surrender.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
First of all, if Walker wants to add Songbird to the supporting cast of this comic, I fully support that decision. I am a huge Songbird fan, and seeing her randomly show up to have Luke’s back is just fantastic. Walker is getting a lot of mileage out of cameos and guest stars in this storyline and I’m loving it. I’ve often praised this book for how it’s building it’s own little connected world, and this issue is another fine example.
This issue really put everything about this story into perspective, and now I am fully on board. I understand what’s bothering Luke, and Walker does a great job getting into his head and putting him in this difficult situation. It was a really unique read. Usually, superheroes know exactly what to do; but here, Luke is legitimately flummoxed. Everything is getting out of hand, and he’s just one man who can’t handle it all at once. I like that, really builds his character and the story. And Danny’s part of the tale also comes into greater focus, which helps.
I was a little off-kilter on this story before, but Power Man & Iron Fist #8 lays it all out neatly, cleanly and with a ton of great character depth. Throw in a wonderful couple of cameos and this book is back to being the very best!
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 September 24, 2016, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged All-New Wolverine, Ant-Man, Astonishing Ant-Man, Boom!, Harley Quinn, Hellcat, Iron Fist, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Mighty Thor, Patsy Walker, Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat, Power Man, Power Man and Iron Fist, Scott Lang, Thor, Wolverine, X-23. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.