Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 10/8/16
Greetings from New York Comic-Con! I was in the Big Apple this weekend attending the big shindig and promoting Gamer Girl & Vixen, but that didn’t stop me from checking out this week’s stack of new comics. It also didn’t stop me from totally geeking out at all the great stuff on display at NYCC! If you’ve never been, you gotta go! There’s nothing else like a big comic convention these days! Hopefully I didn’t spend too much money…
I didn’t spend much on this week’s comics. Since I started traveling on Thursday, I knew I wouldn’t have much time to read and review a lot, so I’ve only got a couple of reviews this week! I checked out the #1 issues of Jessica Jones and Champions, and both were fine. But Harley Quinn #5 wins a truly outrageous Comic Book of the Week for an issue that’s pure gold.
I also considered reviewing Death of X #1 and Death of Hawkman #1 as if to create some kind of theme, but Death of X mostly left me bummed out, and I really really don’t care about Hawkman.
Comic Reviews: Champions #1, Harley Quinn #5 and Jessica Jones #1.
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Humberto Ramos
As an idea, I like that Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man and Nova are super friends. It’s just a neat concept. But in practice, I simply haven’t read much about them. The two boys haven’t appeared yet in Ms. Marvel, and I haven’t really been reading the other comics that feature the teens. So maybe Champions will be my answer.
Though Heaven help this book if they spoil the ending to Vision…
After the latest big scuffle with the Avengers causes a lot of collateral damage, Ms. Marvel quits the team, as if she’s never heard of Damage Control. She wants to help the little people, so she calls up her pals Spider-Man and Nova to try and put something new together. They then go out and recruit the Hulk by helping him save some trapped miners, and swing by the Vision’s house to pick up his daughter, Viv. The team then stop a human sex slave trafficker dressed like a clown, and Ms. Marvel makes a statement to the media about being a new kind of hero. The hashtag #Champions really takes off after that.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
I really liked the team building aspect of the issue. You don’t really see that a lot anymore, at least not to this degree. Kamala comes up with an idea for a team, then they all set about hunting down and recruiting the members. It’s fun, and gives us a real good look at the heroes working together and building a growing camaraderie. I look forward to seeing what young teen heroes they get to join and how well any of them work together as an ensemble. Based on this issue alone, that should be a lot of fun. Everybody seems to get a unique personality, and they talk well among themselves.
There’s nothing hugely exciting to grab someone in this issue. There’s no big twist or hook. It’s really just this handful of heroes coming together to form a new team, and that’s fine. I hope Waid finds a way to really push the teen angle. There have been countless teenage teams in this past, so what makes this one special? Why should we bother with this one? I think he goes a little too dark with the villain. Sex slave trafficking is a huge problem, but that’s usually something for the Punisher to solve, not a colorful, jovial band of teenage superheroes.
Waid and Ramos turn in a solid team-building comic for the first issue of Champions. The cast seems like they’ll be fun together, and I hope Waid finds a good way to emphasis the teenage nature of the team. He’s got the chance to do something unique at Marvel right now, and I hope he can pull it off.
Harley Quinn #5
Writers: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: John Timms
Golden. That’s what this issue is, it’s pure gold. This is Harley Quinn at its finest, full of personality, charm, fun storylines and a great supporting cast. Sometimes this book gets a little too weird for its own good. And sometimes Conner and Palmiotti are down to clown in the best possible way!
A squad of knights on horseback has been going around robbing banks and post offices up and down the East Coast, and just last night, they hijacked and killed the kind old mail carrier who delivers Harley Quinn’s mail. So Harley declares war, and has a sit down with the chief of police. He asks her to take care of the problem, since his hands are tied in any official capacity. He also tells Harley that the knights double as a punk rock band named Purple Satin.
So Harley decides the best way to take them out is form her own punk rock band, complete with a new mohawk hairstyle. Harley will be lead vocals, and she recruits Tony on guitar, Eggy on drums and Red Tool on bass.
Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.
Harley Quinn #5 is pure fun. It’s got everything you could want from an issue of Harley Quinn. The main character is in fine form, displaying her humor, her heroism, her casual sexiness and her unique sense of style. I love the new haircut. The storyline is just grounded enough that the wackiness doesn’t take control. Why hasn’t Harley put together a punk rock band before? It’s a great storyline! And the obvious answer is because she hasn’t yet faced a team of punk rock jousters before! It’s crazy, but it works in the world of Harley Quinn. And I’m excited that this wasn’t just a done-in-one issue. I want to see a Harley Quinn battle of the bands!
And that’s not all Conner and her team show us!
The issue also makes great use of the supporting cast. I love the scenes where Harley randomly quizzes her friends to find out who can play an instrument. It’s just a nice, normal, really personable thing to do. We even get an extended Red Tool action scene! I like that guy, and this is a great issue for him. I really look forward to seeing how this storyline expands these bandmates even more. I’ve never been very sure what Eggy’s point was in this series, so hopefully he does a great job on drums and makes me a believer. Conner and Palmiotti had me believing from the very beginning, and I couldn’t be happier that I stuck with them.
Jessica Jones #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Gaydos
I’m a huge fan of the Jessica Jones TV show, but I honestly don’t have much history with the character. I never read Alias when it first came out, and only later tracked down a couple of the tpbs. So this is my first time getting on board a Jessica Jones comic at the beginning, and Marvel was cool enough to bring back both Bendis and Gaydos to see it through!
Jessica Jones is let out of prison, but we don’t yet know what she was in for. She heads back to her office to start getting her life back on track, only for Misty Knight to storm in demanding to see the baby. Jessica promptly throws her out and decides to take a case. She meets with a woman whose husband suddenly started acting strange, who claims he was living an entirely different life with an entirely different wife and son. As the conversation goes on, it’s clear to the reader that the woman’s husband has crossed wires with his Ultimate Universe counterpart after Secret Wars, but Jessica is pretty sure the guy is just crazy.
During the chat, Jessica catches a glimpse of Spider-Woman spying on her, so she goes to confront the hero on a nearby rooftop. Jessica Drew also wants to know where the baby is, but Jessica Jones just blows her off, like she did with Misty. Then later that night, while Jessica is spying on the woman’s husband, Luke Cage himself walks up to her car and demands to know where their daughter is.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This was a good, strong start for the new ongoing, though it was a little low key. I can’t quite put my finger on why. I think the issue was kind of low energy, but I can’t be sure that that isn’t simply Bendis’ style. The idea that this woman’s husband has crossed streams with his Ultimate Universe counterpart is neat, and definitely something a superhero private detective should investigate. But the scene kind of goes on for a bit too long…but then also, it doesn’t. Maybe it was the perfect length. The stuff with prison, Luke and the baby is interesting, but it’s purposefully left vague in this issue. I don’t really know how to describe my feelings. This feels like a fine start to a Jessica Jones plot, but I could have used more oomph to make it something really special.
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!