Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 10/15/16

I need to stop convincing myself that I’m in good enough shape to go to Comic-Con. Maybe once upon a time I could handle it, but oh boy, last weekend in New York was misery! I had a lot of fun hanging out with my friends, but I was so winded and worn out that I didn’t actually see anything at Comic-Con. The most I can say is that I made it into the building and found a couple of nice chairs.

A two-hour line to get in will do that to you…

Anyway, the experience has not soured me on comics in general, and we’ve got some nice ones this week. Great Lakes Avengers and Mosaic kick off at Marvel, and I’ve decided to try Superwoman again. But the Comic of the Week goes to the final issue of Darth Vader for being its usual badass self!

None can stand in his wa

None can stand in his wa

On the chopping block is the new Supergirl series. After two issues, I just don’t think it’s for me and I won’t be reviewing it going forward. I’m sure Supergirl fans will be happy with it, but I find it kind of mundane.

Comic Reviews: Darth Vader #25, Great Lakes Avengers #1,Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy #5, Mosaic #1, Power Man & Iron Fist #9 and Superwoman #3.

Darth Vader #25

Darth Vader #25

Darth Vader #25
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larrocca

Some time ago, I ended up losing track of Marvel’s Star Wars comics. I really enjoyed the comics, but the combination of a big crossover (Vader Down) and some other business caused me to just lose track. I stopped doing reviews, but I kept buying the comics and putting them off. It was a real shame.

But this is the final issue of Darth Vader, so I made sure to get caught up so I could deliver a solid, positive review of this great series! This is Darth Vader as we’ve never really seen him before, and it’s amazing!

Darth Vader has defeated the traitor Cylo V, but his clone, Cylo VI, is escaping. Vader chases after him in his TIE fighter, destroys all the remaining clone bodies and then uses the Force to push the ship and Cylo VI into the sun. Afterwards, Vader returns to the Emperor to report on his success, only for his one-time sidekick, Doctor Aphra, to reveal herself at the Emperor’s side! She has told the Emperor everything about Vader’s secret plans (except for Vader’s interest in Luke). Aphra thinks the Emperor will be angry with Vader and protect her, but the Emperor is overjoyed that Vader would be so evil and plot behind his back.

For her treachery, Vader launches Aphra out an airlock.

After that, the Emperor instates Vader as commander of the Executor Star Destroyer, and Vader’s first order of business is to Force Choke the former commander, Grand General Tagge. Vader then orders his crew to get to work while he dreams of tracking down Luke.

Later on, Triple Zero, Beetee and Black Krrsantan rescue Aphra from the depths of space so that they can all continue their adventures together!

Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.

This was an utterly perfect finale for an overall amazing series, delivering the sort of Darth Vader action I never knew I wanted. The character is huge. He’s pop culture royalty. And I can remember asking myself how Marvel planned to get an ongoing series out of Darth Vader. What’s he going to do? What Darth Vader stories are there to tell? Leave it to Keiron Gillen, with career-defining work from Salvador Larrocca, to answer that question with ease. Marvel’s Darth Vader comic is essential reading for any Star Wars fan and effortlessly justifies these Marvel Star Wars comics.

We have never seen Darth Vader so badass and devoted to his cause. He’s deep in the Dark Side, in the Force and loyal to the Empire (even if not to the Emperor himself). He gets his job done with ruthless efficiency and incredible power, as well as some of the greatest burns this side of Naboo. Seriously, throughout this whole series, Darth Vader has the best one-liners. I want to catalog my favorite ones.

This is a good one

This is a good one

This issue in particularly is a great summation of everything wonderful about this series. We see Vader dispose of what remains of Cylo, his over-arching nemesis in the series. It’s a powerful, epic moment, just perfect for Larrocca. We see him bristle against the Emperor, their relationship quite fascinating. He’s not a mindless puppet, and the Emperor is no fool. It’s great.

And most importantly, we see him deal with Aphra, a fate that both we and she knew was coming from her first appearance. It’s heart-rendering, and all the more perfect with Vader’s ruthless efficiently. Gillen sets it up as if Vader might spare her at the last moment, but that was only a trick. He shows no remorse or hesitation, he just shoves her straight out the airlock. I’m glad she survived to live another day, but even still, the moment is brutal and perfect — just like this comic.

Great Lakes Avengers #1

Great Lakes Avengers #1

Great Lakes Avengers #1
Writer: Zac Gorman
Artist: Will Robson

I’m a longtime fan of the Great Lakes Avengers, though mostly from reputation. I wasn’t around to read their original adventures, but I love the concept and the characters are a blast. So of course I’m going to pick up their new first issue!

Due to some legal technicalities, Flatman is granted ownership of the ‘Avengers’ brand name, so the Avengers’ lawyer goes to visit him to bargain for it back. Along with money and a new HQ, Flatman is allowed to restore the Great Lakes Avengers to official status! He texts everybody that they’re getting the team back together, but only Doorman and Big Bertha show up (Mr. Immortal is mysteriously not answering his texts). The team head out to their new HQ in Detroit (an old Stark warehouse). When they arrive, they’re greeted by some goth girl who was receiving all of Mr. Immortal’s texts and decided to just show up at the address. Everybody is pretty chipper about all this.

Meanwhile, there are a bunch of supervillains living down the street, and they’re none too happy that some superheroes have moved into the neighborhood. They’ve been causing a ruckus lately, and one of them got beaten up by a teenage girl werewolf.

Double meanwhile, Mr. Immortal is buried in a casket in a cemetery somewhere, with only an air tube to help keep him alive. Not his best idea.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

It was fine. Zac Gorman is no Ryan North, but then who is? Gorman does a bang-up job creating the series and laying out all the details. I didn’t exactly laugh out loud, but then perhaps this just didn’t tickle my particular funny bone. Comedy is subjective. Some people love Deadpool. I’m sure some people will love Great Lakes Avengers. Gorman does a fine job with the jokes and the fun. This is definitely a fun comic, which can go a long way to being entertaining. There is a lot of personality in each of the characters and that’s exactly what you need.

He's my kind of Doorman

He’s my kind of Doorman

The art is phenomenal. Where has Will Robson been hiding? His characters are detailed and expressive to an untold degree. He’s great with the super-powers and the staging. Flatman looks so damn good. Everything just looks phenomenal. We’re going to see Robson on a big crossover one of these days, mark my words. This guy is going places with a comic this good.

The first issue of the new Great Lakes Avengers revival does everything it needs to do to establish the wacky team and set them on a course for some great stories. I wasn’t laughing out loud or anything, but that’s not a bad sign. Gorman and Robson are off to a fine start and I look forward to more.

Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy #5

Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy #5

Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy #5
Writer: Chynna Clugston Flores
Artists: Kelly and Nichole Matthews

Semi-good news, everybody! This crossover has some new art! Not that I want to poop all over the previous artist or anything, but I like the Matthews’ style better. They try to mimic the previous artwork as best they can, but their characters have more personality and style. I’m grateful for that.

With Louise angry, her army of spooky bodyguards start attacking all the party attendees — not that the Lumberjanes or Gotham students are going down without a fight! There’s a whole mess of hijinks and fights, with everybody getting a chance to kick some butt or deliver a solid one-liner. It’s pretty fun, but the spooks just keep growing in number! There doesn’t appear to be any real stopping them, and Louise isn’t calming down. So all the spooks combine into a giant, multi-spook, and they smack Maps! Olive isn’t about to let that stand, and the whole place starts catching on fire! Olive is pissed!

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

Finally, something interesting is happening in this crossover. The bulk of this series has just been laying out exposition, with characters mostly standing around either giving exposition or listening to exposition — and it’s not like this is all that complicated of a story. But there are just so many characters and so many plot points, I guess. Still, the finale is right around the corner, and this issue kicks everything into a nice gear. It’s got action, it’s got some solid character moments, and then there’s a truly chilling cliffhanger ending. I’m definitely excited for the final issue now!

I'm going to take this as an unofficial Squirrel Girl cameo

I’m going to take this as an unofficial Squirrel Girl cameo

And see what I mean about the art? It’s just livelier, with more character to the characters. Plus it’s a bit easier to actually tell them apart this time. Not that the previous artist was bad, I just like the art in this issue more, and I hope to see them through to the end. Which I hope is a good one!

Mosaic #1

Mosaic #1

Mosaic #1
Writer: Geoffrey Thorne
Artist: Khary Randolph

As acknowledged in the back of the issue, it’s not very often that Marvel Comics introduces a brand new character out of the blue. Sure, team books are often filled with some newbies. But usually when you’ve got a new character headlining a solo series, they’re tied to someone else, like Ms. Marvel or Agent Venom.

But here is Mosaic! He’s an Inhuman, sure, but he’s his own man through and through. It’s an OK start!

Morris Sackett is an asshole, egotistical basketball player who believes he’s pretty much solely responsible for winning his team the championship. He’s got a hot, popstar girlfriend and a doting father, both of whom can only stare on in shock as the Terrigen Cloud turns Morris into an Inhuman. When he wakes up from his cocoon, he’s some kind of monster, and his girlfriend zaps him with a stun rod, causing him to fall out of a window to the sidewalk. From there, Morris’ new powers kick in and he starts jumping from body to body, possessing different people as he struggles to figure out what’s going on. Eventually he lands into the body of a street thug named Beto, and he tags along as Beto’s crew robs a Russian warehouse. Morris is able to use Beto’s skills to help steal a ton of money, but as they flee from the Russians, Beto is shot and killed with Morris still inside him.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

This is a solid origin story for Mosaic, though things do get a little wonky once his powers kick in. And it’s a good thing I knew in advance what his powers were, because the comic itself doesn’t do too great a job explaining the ins and outs. I’m still not entirely sure every extent of his powers, but I’ll be happy enough to check them out as we go along. For now, Thorne and Randolph get the ball dribbling.

This kinda explores his powers

This kinda explores his powers

Morris Sackett seems like he could make for an interesting main character. We get a clear indication in the beginning that he’s a major league jackass, which is a fine place for a hero to start. Got to have a journey in there somewhere. The flakey girlfriend doesn’t seem like much of a character yet, but the relationship  Thorne sets up between Morris and his father looks like it will have some legs. And the power set is neat; I hope Thorne has put a lot of thought into what we’re going to see. We’ve got a taste so far, and I hope the rest of the meal is really good.

Mosaic starts strong, but doesn’t blow any minds with the first issue. It’s got great art and a good enough premise and hero, but ‘good enough’ isn’t going to lead to sales and a continued existence. Let’s hope Thorne and Randolph up their game as we go forward.

Power Man & Iron Fist #9

Power Man & Iron Fist #9

Power Man & Iron Fist #9
Writer: David F. Walker
Artists: Sanford Greene and Flaviano

At first I was glad that Civil War II wasn’t going to intrude on Power Man & Iron Fist, but I should have trusted Walker to turn it into comic book gold. This comic is very one-sided on the predictive justice angle, but honestly, that’s Civil War II in a nutshell.

Captain Marvel and her superhero pals arrive at the prison to stop Luke from busting Danny out of lockup, except that Luke wasn’t really planning a breakout, he was just thinking about it with some friends of his. The fight is intense and starts destroying the prison, and soon Luke and everyone else are inside with Danny and the other prisoners. Danny rises to Luke’s rescue while the prisoners start to escape, but the darn fight just keeps escalating!

Reason eventually prevails, though not before a lot of people have been hurt, a lot of prisoners have escaped and Luke has suffered a few broken ribs. He then tells off Captain Marvel for her ridiculous predictive justice idea. All this damage and all this pain was caused because her people have a vision that Luke was going to bust Danny out of prison, but Luke wasn’t even doing anything when they attacked.

Luke and Danny head off to talk alone, and Luke wonders if even just thinking about busting Danny out of prison set off the visions, leading to all this carnage. Does that make it his fault after all?

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

The anti-predictive justice angle was a bit heavy-handed, but I don’t mind. That’s pretty much entirely how Civil War II is playing out. Does Marvel realize that? And the longer that main series gets delayed, the worse it makes Captain Marvel look. This is now the second tie-in I’ve read where a character gives a big speech to Carol about how this doesn’t work, and I’m not reading every tie-in. How many speeches has she had to face down? What the hell is possibly motivating Carol Danvers so damn much? It’s getting ridiculous.

Fortunately, Power Man & Iron Fist is still a great comic. And that Songbird cameo paid off nicely.

Songbird and Mockingbird need their own spin-off comic

Songbird and Mockingbird need their own spin-off comic

This was a great conclusion to this whole arc (if this is indeed the end). Luke and Danny get some great moments to shine, bringing their current troubles to a head, or at least moving them in the next direction. They get some real quality friend time, at least. The cameos were great and used well. The art was new and a little wonky, but it worked for the epic throwdown of a fight.

Civil War II might be a mess, but Power Man & Iron Fist is a great comic, and the new issue moves the far more interesting storyline along with some big, exciting superhero action.

Superwoman #3

Superwoman #3

Superwoman #3
Writer: Phil Jimenez
Artist: Emanuela Lupacchino

I really want to stick with Superwoman. I’ve never read many Superman comics, and I’m not ready any during Rebirth either. But Superwoman is a new, potentially interesting comic, and I want to like it. Superwoman is really good so far.

Superwoman and Steel battle the Atomic Skull downtown, with Lana really cutting loose with her powers. But the Skull just wants to talk, and Steel convinces his girlfriend to calm down and listen. The Skull complains about the brutality conducted at Stryker’s Island Prison after Lex Luthor turned the place into a for-profit prison with his own security guards. Steel can’t stand such abuse, but Lana is a little more lenient, stating that the monsters and murderers probably deserve it a little. But then they all work together, including the Atomic Skull, to restore electricity to Metropolis after the blackout — except something is very wrong with Lana and she gets a bloody nose.

Meanwhile, Lex Luthor is imprisoned by his sister, Lena, who reveals that she’s a super awesome, super intelligent super-villain now. She dons her own green and purple power armor and summons her army of Lady Bizarros to her side.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

There was a lot going on in this issue, and that’s kind of a detriment. Phil Jimenez is known for packing his comics with a lot, and it’s usually great, but I’m starting to feel a little overwhelmed with Superwoman. We’ve got two unique, important plot lines fighting for page space in this issue. Both are interesting with interesting characters, and both feel over-crowded — though Lupacchino on art helps to ease some of the strain. Jimenez is known for packing his pages full, and Lupacchino handles it with ease and awesome art.

Kudos on the subtle Natasha Irons character growth

Kudos on the subtle Natasha Irons character growth

I’m liking Superwoman so far, but I think the comic would benefit from stopping and smelling the roses. There is just so much going on, with so many characters, and all of it seems monumental. Lana Lang is dying. Lex Luthor is being held prisoner. Steel and his niece are hanging out. Atomic Skull is doing stuff. Lena Luthor is a new villain with an army of lady Bizarros. It’s crazy! Entertaining, but crazy.

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 October 15, 2016, in Avengers, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Star Wars and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. After reading Power man and Iron Fist # 9 I don’t think I’ll be picking up Occupy Avengers next month. To be honest I’m getting tired of the character assassination of Carol Danvers that been going on in some of thess book and yes that inculdes the main min series.

  2. GLA is great. Really funny, but with plenty of heart. Also, I appreciate that Big Bertha is now being portrayed as an attractive plus-size woman. She used to be a skinny model who could make herself fat, which was often used to make fat jokes. Gorman seems to want to avoid that, starting with her no longer being thin. And her weight isn’t treated as a joke or a defect or anything like that; quite the opposite, it comes across as empowering, with her owning her weight and knowing she still looks damned fine.

    Mosaic is really good. The premise, of him keeping bits of all the people he possesses, is a great set-up for an exploration of the nature of identity. So it’s definitely a long-game series, and I’m fully on board for it.

    PM&IF was great. I love the escalation in errors.

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