Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – Dec. 17, 2016
Sometimes I complain that comics don’t feature holiday stories anymore, but then I never read the specific holiday-themed one shots that both Marvel and DC tend to release. I want to see Batman do Christmas stuff in the actual pages of Batman! Holiday-themed comic book specials are about as entertaining to read as holiday-themed TV specials.
Fortunately, we still have good comics to read otherwise. Detective Comics and Power Man and Iron Fist continue to be great, while Mosaic and Jessica Jones continue to disappoint. But this week also saw the release of the new Hawkeye series, and it wins Comic Book of the Week for a really fun vibe for a first issue.
Also, wha’td everybody think of the new Star Wars movie? I thought it was pretty spectacular. Working on my full review still.
Comic Reviews: Detective Comics #946, Hawkeye #1, Jessica Jones #3, Mosaic #3 and Power Man and Iron Fist #11.
Detective Comics #946
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Eddy Barrows
Tynion continues to tell some really good Batman stories in Detective Comics. Nothing too ground-breaking or myth-making, I don’t think, but this is some solid Bat-Family stuff. I’m excited for the upcoming Batwoman story.
We open with a flashback to when Batman first proposed his team idea to Tim Drake, the young Red Robin was full of excitement and ideas for a better world of crime-fighting. In the present day, Stephanie Brown speaks with a computer program of Tim to try and work out her own frustrations with Batman and the vigilante lifestyle.
Meanwhile, Batman leads the others into an attack on the Victim Syndicate at the clinic. Our heroes take down the villains with awesomeness and ease, leaving Batman to take on the leader. But rather than beat the villain to a pulp, Batman tries to talk them down, unwilling to fight this person he had inadvertently hurt in the past. When the Victim is almost worn down, Spoiler shows up and declares that she is the only one who can clean up this mess!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This was another solid, enjoyable issue of Tynion’s Detective Comics, with a lot of really nice character work. Almost all of the Bat-Family members get a moment to shine in this issue, like Clayface taking out his evil counterpart, and Batwoman being truly brutal against a couple of different foes. Even Tim Drake gets a nice moment in that flashback with Batman. Those two characters haven’t interacted nearly enough in the New 52. I’m excited to see where Tynion is going with Stephanie Brown and how her character evolves.
Tynion and Barrows are making a really entertaining Batman comic, focused on some truly neat characters. This is good Bat stuff on a reliable Bat schedule. Barrows, especially, outdoes himself in this issue with a string of really great double-page spreads.
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Leonardo Romero
I’m a mildly enthusiastic Kate Bishop fan, and an equally mild Hawkeye fan. But with this book looking to try and capture the spirit of Matt Fraction’s legendary Hawkeye run, you better believe I’m on board. It does a pretty stellar job in that regard.
Kate Bishop is operating as an unlicensed private eye/superhero in California, which means she spends her mornings tailing suspicious dudes and stopping bank robberies with a fair amount of wit, pluck and sass. When she settles down in her rumpled office to take on some new clients, they mostly want to see Clint Barton, which is a little disheartening. But then a young college student comes in and hires Kate to investigate a creep who has been harassing her online.
So Kate goes to the college and works some tricksy magic to get to the school library, recruiting a cute library dude to help her trace some of the creep’s IP addresses. Then while she’s surveilling her client, Kate spots a creep taking photos from the bushes and she chases the guy down. He’s got incriminating evidence on his phone, so Kate turns him over to the cops, proud of her work — except later that night, her college student client gets kidnapped in an alley!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Definitely a good start for the new Hawkeye series. This first issue is a lot of fun. It’s a great introduction to Kate, with a lot of sly humor and sharp, subtle comedy. This isn’t Squirrel Girl or Deadpool with in your face hilarity. This is all character-driven sassiness, which is just perfect for this series. And the story is pretty solid so far too. We get a bit of superhero action, which is always fun, one or two ongoing sub plots, and then the main storyline, which is handled really well. This first issue is a whole package.
Making Kate Bishop a private investigator is a simple but perfectly fine set-up. It will put her right in the heart of some action, and she was great in the job back during Fraction’s run. I’m excited to see what ideas Thompson has in mind. Though it might get a little funny if she keeps having to find ways to incorporate some bow & arrow action. The Hawkeye scenes and the Kate Bishop scenes almost have nothing to do with one another, it’s funny. But the character is tons of fun in all situations.
This is exactly what I want to see in the start of a new series. We’ve got good story, great characters and a mighty fine writing and art style. This should be bread & butter Marvel comics, and I look forward to where we go next.
Jessica Jones #3
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Gaydos
I don’t know if this matters, but the Jessica Jones comic doesn’t feel a whole lot like the Jessica Jones TV show. Maybe I just need to try and picture Krysten Ritter in all the panels.
And I would be tickled pink if the Spot showed up on the Jessica Jones TV show.
Jessica Jones was kidnapped by the Spot at the end of last issue, and she wakes up in a dark warehouse bound to a chair. The Spot works her over a bit more until Jessica catches him off guard and bites his arm. Then a mysterious woman arrives and tells the Spot to back off or he won’t get paid. This is Alison Green, a banker from the fringes of Civil War II. Captain Marvel arrested and held her prisoner based on Ulysses’ premonitions, but nothing every came of it and Alison’s suspected ties to terrorism were completely unfounded. Now Alison wants revenge, so she gives Jessica a friendly spiel about hiring her to learn all the secrets of the superhero community. Alison eventually lets Jessica go, and Jessica finds out the warehouse was right across the street from her office — where Luke Cage has been meeting with the homicide detective who called Jessica in the last issue. When Jessica sees the two of them, she takes off.
Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.
I always love an appearance by the Spot, even if he comes off as a serial killing dirtbag in this issue.
Anyway, this is another fine issue of Bendis taking his sweet ass time getting to anything whatsoever. This entire issue is spent with Allison only vaguely alluding to what she wants from Jessica during a rather pleasant conversation. None of the other ongoing plots move at all, and this new plot doesn’t even really get any sort of set up. It’s weird. Like, what is Bendis trying to build here? Three issues in and he’s still tossing out new plots while barely paying lip service to the ones he’s already dropped on us. This feels slow even for him.
Also, it feels odd to make Allison out to be this sort of villain. I don’t remember if she appeared in the main Civil War II series, written by Bendis, but I know she was a big deal in some of the Captain Marvle subplots. She was this innocent woman picked up by Captain Marvel who seemed to defy all of Ulysses’ predictions. Since Civil War II isn’t over yet, I’m not quite sure if Allison’s story there has concluded, but I’m pretty sure it was made clear that she wasn’t a HYDRA terrorist — so what’s she doing turning bad guy anyway?
Bendis and Gaydos are making a fine comic, and I do want to see where this is going, but the latest issue accomplishes very little and adds even less to the ongoing story. Rather than fully dive in to the new storylines he’s introducing, Bendis spends a whole issue just sort of teasing everything that could come later.
Writer: Geoffrey Thorne
Artists: Khary Randolph and Thony Silas
I think the problem with Mosaic is that Thorne seems to think the comic should be about the super-powers, when it should actually be about the characters. Morris Sackett has some neat powers, sure, but Thorne needs to stop pushing the personal drama to the subplots.
Morris returns home to find Fife, the first person he possessed, hanging out in his apartment. For some reason, Fife can see and speak to Morris in his ghostly form, and Morris can’t re-possess Fife. Before they can figure out how to help each other, Tia returns home with her assistant, CC. They spot Fife and CC goes into bodyguard mode, knocking him out and calling the private security guys to come pick him up. Morris decides to jump into CC in order to finally explain everything, but that turns out to be a bad idea.
Morris discovers that he can read people’s memories, and inside CC, he discovers that his relationship with Tia has all been a publicity stunt cooked up by his father. Tia was a hip hop artist on the way down, and Morris’ image needed some maturity, so they hooked the two of them up as a business deal — with Morris none the wiser, until now (Tia is actually in love with CC).
Morris definitely needs to talk to his father now, and he decides the fastest way to find his Pops is to hijack Spider-Man, who he spies swinging by. Morris jumps into a guy with a bicycle and catches up to Spidey, possessing the wall-crawler (without setting off the Spider Sense somehow).
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
I am interested in the drama that Thorne is creating in Morris Sackett’s life, but Thorne is taking his sweet time getting to that drama. Normally that would be fine, if he had all the time in the world to write Mosaic. But this is the comic book industry, this is a brand new, untested superhero, and we’re already at issue #3. I don’t know how the sales are doing, but popular characters with great comics have been cancelled sooner. Thorne needs to really dive in and give us a reason to keep reading Mosaic, and I’m sorry, Marvel Marketing Division, but a cliche Spider-Man cameo is the absolute worst idea. Did having Spider-Man show up in your new comic ever work in the 90s?
I am far more interested in Morris confronting his father than I am in Mosaic possessing Spider-Man. And therein lies my biggest gripe with Mosaic.
We all understand that super-powers are cool. They’re the life blood of a superhero universe. But the coolness of super-powers does not a successful comic make. Comics these days require good characters, good relationships and good drama. Thorne has all of that, but he’s pushing it into the background so that Mosaic can keep playing around with his powers. I understand that the powers are new and weird to him, but there has been zero pay-off to the frenetic scenes of him using his powers. He’s not using them to fight crime or stop a bad guy or confront his father. He’s just using them because they’re there.
The new issue of Mosaic is too distracted to make for a great comic. All of the right pieces are there, and it seems like there’s some quality, character-based drama on the horizon, but Mosaic is too busy goofing off. It’s a fine line to walk, and this issue’s cliffhanger could be a bad tipping point.
Power Man and Iron Fist #11
Writer: David F. Walker
Artist: Sanford Greene
I am willing to call Power Man and Iron Fist the best new comic series I read in 2016. Granted, I didn’t read all the new comics. I know there were some real greats released. But out of all the comics I read and review regularly, I think Power Man and Iron Fist is at the top for all around greatness.
Luke and Danny continue to investigate the mysterious new computer program that can manipulate a person’s criminal record, following up various leads and talking with various people downtown. This has them running parallel to the gang war brewing between several of their old enemies. Piranha and Black Cat rob one of Tombstone’s armed cars, while Black Mariah, Cottonmouth and Cockroach Hamilton all join up with Alex Wilder and The New Pride. With Alex and his magic leading the charge, they teleport into Tombstone’s office and kick his butt.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
I’m a little disappointed that Alex Wilder has been revealed as the true villain in all of this. It’s sort of cool that he’s back and being evil and stuff, but he’s clearly overshadowing all of the classic Power Man villains. Like, I want to see Cottonmouth and Black Mariah and Tombstone and Mr. Fish leading the charge in the gang war, letting their past problems simmer as they try to carve out something for themselves in the present. That sounds like a great storyline. Instead, it’s just Alex basically magicking himself into power while the classic villains just kind of hang out alongside him. I got the sense that Mr. Fish was going to be some kind of gnarly wildcard, but Alex basically just snaps his fingers and makes him disappear.
The issue is still solid. Luke and Danny are doing a fine job with their investigation, and the character work is top notch. But with the focus on Alex, and with art that seemed a little sloppier than normal, this issue felt a little too claustrophobic for my tastes. I was expecting a bigger, more expansive gang war spread throughout the world that Walker has created. I thought he’d be using everything he’s built so far to really throw open the shutters and make something grand. Instead, it’s just a brand new villain popping in to wreck stuff.
Power Man and Iron Fist has a great story bubbling just under the surface, but this new issue messes up the focus in disappointing ways. Walker has created a world that’s overflowing with powerful characters, but he seems to push them all to the wayside for reasons that are not quite clear, and certainly not as compelling.
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 December 17, 2016, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews and tagged Detective Comics, Hawkeye, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, Kate Bishop, Luke Cage, Mosaic, Power Man, Power Man and Iron Fist, Spoiler, Stephanie Brown. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.