Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 1/7/17
The new year is off to a great start! I got a mega dose of new comics this week, and hot damn if they weren’t all high caliber, enjoyable comics! It was like people were writing and drawing specifically for me!
Not only does Harley Quinn get back to roaring action, but we’ve got stellar outings for Nightwing, Hawkeye and Unworthy Thor! Even the first issue of the new U.S. Avengers was a smash! And I caught up with the new Nova! Imagine that.
Comic Book of the Week goes to another first issue: Unstoppable Wasp #1! Marvel is really killing it with the awesome, adorable, kickass female superheroes!
I haven’t reviewed Saga in awhile, even though it’s still an enjoyable comic. I like Saga, but for the past few volumes, it feels like Brian K. Vaughn is spinning his wheels. Am I alone in this? The stories are still fine, and the cliffhangers are as strong as ever, but I feel like the story has become lost in the weeds a bit. Ah well, that’s not going to stop me from reading.
Comic Reviews: Harley Quinn #11, Hawkeye #2, Nightwing #12, Nova #2, Unstoppable Wasp #1, Unworthy Thor #3 and U.S. Avengers #1.
Harley Quinn #11
Writers: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: John Timms
Buckle up, people, this is where it gets real. I hope. The Joker is back and this is one very tense issue, in all the best ways.
The Joker has shown up in Harley’s bedroom, but she kicks him out because she doesn’t want anything to do with him — so Joker asks her if they can meet and just talk on the boardwalk tomorrow. Harley will think about it.
Joker bumps into Red Tool on his way out and stank eyes are shared before Tool rushes inside to check on Harley. He wants to help, but she insists she’ll handle the Joker — though could use his help to keep her mind distracted. Rather than bed Tool, like he’d want, Harley takes them on an adventure into the basement to blow through the mysterious chained door they discovered a few issues ago. Inside is a giant slime monster, for some reason, and Harley saves Red Tool and blows the monster up. Weird.
Harley heads back to her room to get a nap before her meeting with the Joker, but Red Tool secretly sets back her alarm so that he can go and confront the Joker himself!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Aw man, and I really liked Red Tool, too. It’s totally in his character to do this, but there’s no way he’ll survive a face-off with the Joker, right? He’s totally gonna bite it.
But hey, maybe not. I have all the faith in the world that Conner and Palmiotti could have anything up their sleeves, and this issue proves it! I’m not entirely sure why we needed the tangent fight with a giant slime monster, but whatevs. It doesn’t take away from the really good stuff in this issue. It helps strengthen the Harley/Red Tool relationship, leading to his ‘gallant’ confrontation with the Joker.
We’re living in a ‘Post Harley Quinn #8 World’, and after a couple filler issues, we’re finally back on track with the ongoing storyline. I’m very excited to see where this goes, and this issue doesn’t disappoint. The characters are as rich as they’ve ever been, the art is as fantastic as always, and it’s clear that Conner and Palmiotti have a lot planned. They tease the idea that the Joker is working on something, and I’m rather excited to see what sort of web they’ve weaved with him, and how they’re going to get Harley entangled within.
Even if it means killing off one of my favorite characters in the book, I’m dying to see this play out.
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Leonardo Romero
Kate Bishop is the antithesis of the sort of female superhero that Marvel is pushing these days. She’s not super-intelligent. She’s not super bubbly. And she definitely doesn’t act like a full-fledged, costume-wearing superhero. She’s still fun and her comic is super entertaining, but there’s just something so wonderfully grounded about this new Hawkeye comic that makes her a special case.
Kate Bishop brings the stalker, Larry, to the police station, but since her client was kidnapped last issue (unbeknownst to Kate), there’s nobody to press charges and the cops have to let him go. Kate’s annoyed. She meets up with Quinn, the computer guy she met last issue, and between him and Larry, Kate learns of this local empowerment group called Take Back Control. Quinn also has proof that more people than just Larry were sending harassing messages to Mikka.
Quinn tries to ask Kate on a date, but she’s oblivious and instead gets distracted by a woman screaming for help in an alley. She pulls out the bow and arrow and takes out three frat guys who were getting too handsy with a girl. She also meets Johnny, a neighborhood guy who also came running when he heard the woman screaming. He doesn’t like trouble in his neighborhood, and he and Kate hit it off. Johnny also tells her that it seems like there’s “something in the air” that’s making people more violent recently.
Kate heads back to her office and finds Ramone, her new neighbor, inside. Turns out that Ramone is Mikka’s ex-girlfriend and found her bag and phone ditched nearby. She’s worried about Mikka, as well she should be. Kate checks the tracker she put on Larry and finds him heading to a Take back Control meeting, which is where she believes Mikka might be. Kate intercepts Larry and gets his help infiltrating the meeting, where she finds a creepy dude in a mask leading a bunch of people in their own masks. They immediately suss out Kate and the leader orders his people to grab her. Kate runs, chased across campus and towards the pier by a seemingly possessed mob of people!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This comic has so much going for it, on top of being a hugely entertaining read. I love how Thompson is building Kate’s world already, with complex and interesting characters. Yes, Larry is a creep and a stalker with all the wrong ideas about talking to women, but he at least kind of helps Kate get into the Take Back Control meeting. And we’ve got Quinn, Johnny and Ramone getting fleshed out as not just potential supporting characters, but also just people in the neighborhood. Thompson is building a really cool world for Kate Bishop to operate in.
But Kate Bishop herself remains the entertaining center of attention! She’s a fun character, both in dialogue and actions. She’s got a ‘fly by the seat of her pants’ sort of approach to this hero thing, whether she’s working a case or whipping out the bow and arrow. It’s fun, and gives the book a really positive energy. Romero is a dream on art, adding to the grounded feel of the book while perfectly creating a headspace and world for Kate.
The Hawkeye creative team is on to something really good with this series, mixing a reckless detective story with witting superheroics to make for a really fun comic book.
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Marcus To
This is some quality Nightwing comics, people. Strong central character, interesting side action, some real detective work and a reverence for the character’s past and place in the world. Good times!
Nightwing gets Jimmy’s help to meet with the Run-Offs, in order to learn more about the murders and the frame jobs against Gorilla Grimm and the Defacer. He learns that the two murder victims were getting up to some criminal stuff in Bludhaven, and tried to hire some of the Run-Offs, but they declined. Now the two guys are dead, so our heroes head out to speak with the third, surviving criminal guy, but he’s already trying to leave town so as to not be murdered himself. The team is then attacked by Orca and her gang, but manage to defeat them. Orca warns the group that there are some real bad people out there, and we see a devil-masked villain kill the surviving criminal guy.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I feel a little guilty that I don’t have more good things to say about Nightwing right now. It’s a lot of fun to read, for a lot of the same reasons as the other comics on the review list. The main character is in a fantastic place, with a good handle on the character and a great rapport when interacting with other characters. The story is neat, with a good cast and a solid mystery. The art and action are phenomenal. Marcus To delivers crisp and clear pencils that enhance the down-to-Earth, people-oriented storytelling. This is very good Nightwing and very good storytelling.
Writers: Jeff Loveness and Ramon Perez
Artist: Ramon Perez
Here’s a good question for you people: why the heck am I reading Ghost Rider when I could have been reading the Nova relaunch?! Not only is Rich Rider is back, but this comic is simply delightful!
I wrote off Sam Alexander a long time ago, back when he first debuted. But his comic is clearly in good hands with Loveness and Perez!
Richard Rider is back among the living, but the Cancerverse still haunts him, both in his mind and physically. He’s attacked by a giant, cosmic blob monster, and only the timely intervention of the new Nova, Sam Alexander, saves the day. Together, the two Novas defeat the monster and drive it back through its portal, though Richard is a bit tight-lipped about the Cancerverse.
After some of his own recent cosmic troubles, Sam takes Rich to meet the Champions so that they can run some tests and confirm that this is the real Richard Rider, back from the dead. Sam then helps Richard clear his head by first taking him home and letting him hang out at a family gathering, then flying out to Knowhere for a visit with Cosmo and a stop at the bar, where everybody remembers Rich and raises a toast — only for the two of them to be shot by intergalactic bounty hunters!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
I think this little cameo is the most I’ve ever liked the Champions. It helps that Rich, a former teen superhero himself, spends the scene poking fun at the weirdness of comics.
At any rate, I can’t recommend this new Nova series enough! I skipped the first issue because, again, I just didn’t care about Sam Alexander. He’s never interested me. But I was a huge Nova fan during and after Annihilation, and I heard some really good word of mouth about this comic, so I am definitely on board! If you’re looking for a comic where a young Hispanic man carries on the legacy of a popular ’90s hero, then pick Nova over Ghost Rider. This comic is all charm.
The first issue even made me care about Sam Alexander. He’s a fun kid, and the creative team has a blast using his pending puberty and high school dramatics for quality character building. Throw in the somewhat mysterious return of Rich Rider — who is in fine form — and you’ve got the makings of a really enjoyable adventure! The two characters play really well off one another, and Loveness and Perez steep this story in reverence for Rich’s past awesomeness. This is just plain great legacy superhero comics.
Unstoppable Wasp #1
Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Artist: Elsa Charretier
I don’t know much of anything about the new Wasp. I haven’t read any of her comics, don’t know anything about her character, and have only vaguely gleaned through the Internet that she’s the long lost daughter of Hank Pym. Sounds fine to me! Let’s try out her new comic!
Nadia is the long lost daughter of Hank Pym and his canonical first wife, who was kidnapped by Russian agents and gave birth in secret. Nadia was raised in the Soviet Union’s Red Room, where she became a science prodigy and studied her father’s work with Pym Particles in order to escape. Now she’s the new Wasp!
Nadia and Ms. Marvel head into the city to square away Nadia’s citizenship, since she is a foreign-born daughter of a U.S. citizen. Nadia is a charming and friendly person to everyone she meets, and shares delicious donuts with everybody at the Immigration Office. They just love her there! But the meeting is interrupted by a giant robot attacking downtown, so the two heroes rush out to aid Mockingbird in taking down mad scientist Monica Rappaccini.
Wasp flies into the robot’s control cab and reroutes the circuitry to her own costume, so that she can happy dance the robot to defeat. She also fan-girls about meeting Rappaccini, since reading about famous scientists and their work was pretty much all the Red Room would let her do. But Rappaccini escapes.
Mockingbird then treats the two young heroes to some food, and Wasp fan-girls about meeting scientist Bobbi Morse, too! Bobbi gives Nadia a ride home and an idea: start a club of awesome lady scientists so that they can finally get their due!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Part of me was going to open this review by wondering if Marvel should slow down at introducing so many new young lady geniuses at once, but then I remembered that it’s exactly what Marvel did in the ’60s with Peter Parker, Tony Stark, Hank Pym, Bruce Banner and Reed Richards, among others. So I should be the one slowing my roll.
It helps that Nadia is a really fun character, and this first issue is even more fun than that. Whitley’s wit and dialogue is spot on, not only with adorable jokes and some good character building, but also in the relationships with other characters. Nadia’s friendship with Ms. Marvel is fun, but he really steps up the fun when it comes to Nadia instantly bonding with Bobbi. Makes me wish I’d read that Mockingbird comic. Heck, I even liked the fan-girling over Rappaccini. The writing is just stellar in this issue, and a real treat to read.
The art, likewise, is nothing short of perfect for this comic. Charretier easily captures Nadia’s joy and happiness, as well as the big robot action. This new comic is firing on all cylinders coming out of the gate. It’s got fun and entertaining characters, solid art and a really good direction if they pursue this ‘gather the female scientists’ angle. That’s a good direction for the character, whereas some new heroes often lack direction and just butt heads with the first available super-villain.
The Unstoppable Wasp is a really fun comic right from the get go. And not only is it fun to read, but the creative team clearly has plans in place and ideas to play with. That’s a lot more than can be said for other new hero comics that have launched recently.
I’m talking about Ironheart, but I’m going to give Unstoppable Wasp a few more issues to see how they do before I get too explicit in comparing and contrasting the two nearly-identical new superheroes.
Unworthy Thor #3
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Kim Jacinto and Olivier Coipel
Why yes, I will gladly take more issues of Thor and Beta Ray Bill being complete and utter badasses as they fight bad guys in space. Thank you very much.
Odinson is the prisoner of the Collector, no matter how many times he busts out and tries to reach Ultimate Mjolnir. Then Beta Ray Bill shows up and sets Odinson free for good, though he’s got the Warrior Madness and knocks Bill around a little bit. At the same time, the hooded figure who approached Thanos for a favor last issue arrives with Proxima Midnight and the Black Swan, also seeking Mjolnir. Everybody tussles for a bit, including the Collector, but nobody can get their hands on the hammer. So Odinson calms down from his madness, cuts his hair and regroups with Bill, Toothgnasher and Thori the Hellhound.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
There’s some more badassery coming! I can feel it! This was another hugely enjoyable issue of the Unworthy Thor mini-series, pushing our hero to the edge and surrounding him with perfectly awesome supporting characters to fight with. Randomly throwing Thori into the mix just for the fun of it? Awesome! Beta Ray Bill being an absolute cool dude? Awesome! The possible return of Gorr the Godbutcher? Awesome! This story is just really cool.
I hope Unworthy Thor‘s best issues are still ahead of it, because it’s already been an incredibly fun comic, and this issue ups the coolness factor even more. This is Aaron getting his hands dirty in a special corner of his ongoing Thor saga, and I’m loving it.
U.S. Avengers #1
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Paco Medina
I have no one to blame but myself for not picking up any of Ewing’s Avengers or super team comics. There just hasn’t really been any attraction, and I can’t really explain why. But a new concept and a new #1 issue are enough to bring me in to give it a look!
The Secret Empire is going to invade California with their floating volcano island fortress, but the new U.S. Avengers are on the case! Roberto Da Costa, the new Citizen V, is pushing the patriotic angle in order to garner more support from the American government and S.H.I.E.L.D. He’s got Cannonball, Squirrel Girl, a new Red Hulk, the new Iron Patriot and Enigma, the former Pod, and they launch their teamwork counter-attack! It all goes well, the bad guys are stopped, and everybody gives some testimonials to help flesh out their characters.
Meanwhile, the Gold Skull, a villain from the future, is courting a bunch of pirates to be his bad guy army.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Yep, this was another really fun comic! All of the characters seem really interesting, the testimonials really help to introduce them to a new reader like me, and the whole adventure is just great. These diverse, interesting Avengers team up in fun ways to take on a floating volcano fortress. This is comic books to the max!
Though a personal pet peeve of mine is when there are too many Hulks around. This time, some entirely new general with the same mustache as Thunderbolt Ross is turned into the new Red Hulk because of some hand-wavy technology that allows people to temporarily Hulk-Out for an hour. I get that Red Hulk fits the brand, and Hulks are fun to have around, but it really, really dilutes the importance of the real Hulk and even She-Hulk when everybody and their brother can just turn into Hulks. It’s annoying.
But that nitpick isn’t a deal breaker by any means. U.S. Avengers uses its new premise to great effect in launching a new team comic with a really cool cast. Everybody seems to have a role, they work well together and it builds on what has come before, even for somebody like me, who didn’t read what has come before. Consider me on board to fulfill my patriotic duty!
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 January 7, 2017, in Avengers, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews and tagged Beta Ray Bill, Dick Grayson, Harley Quinn, Hawkeye, Kate Bishop, Nightwing, Nova, Thor, U.S.Avengers, Unstoppable Wasp, Unworthy Thor, Wasp. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.