Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 1/28/17
Comics! I love’em. You love’em! We can’t live without’em! And here’s another big stack of reviews for comics I read this week. Kind of fun how I keep doing this.
Lots of good reading options this week, from Infamous Iron Man to the new Hulk series to my return to the Pink Ranger mini-series. There are so many good comics to choose from these days. Including and especially the new issue of Spider-Woman, which easily wins Comic Book of the Week due to another impressive, emotional issue.
Though I’m not going to lie to you: Spider-Woman #15 is crazier than I could have ever guessed.
I’ve also figured out the worst part about Inhumans vs. X-Men: the unintentional villainy of Ms. Marvel. I’m clearly with the X-Men on this one. The Inhumans are monsters who are comfortable with either killing or deporting every mutant on Earth. Since she’s an Inhuman, Kamala Khan gets drafted into the Inhumans’ side with the new issue, and it’s repugnant. That Kamala would so cheerfully and excitedly join the side in favor of genocide is just wrong. But here we are.
Comic Reviews: Detective Comics #949, Hulk #2, Infamous Iron Man #4, Power Rangers — Pink #6, Prowler #4, Spider-Woman #15, The Dregs #1 and Teen Titans #4.
Detective Comics #949
Writers: James Tynion IV and Marguerite Bennett
Artists: Ben Oliver and Szymon Kudranski
I’m still super excited about Marguerite Bennett’s Batwoman comic, but this two-parter was only lukewarm for me. Hopefully she’s got bigger, better plans!
Batwoman and Batman face off against Colony Prime, an arrogant, armor-powered soldier who thinks he’s better than them in every way. But the Bats trick him into going into the Mud Room for a proper fight, and Colony Prime is only able to escape by ingesting the monster formula and fighting his way out as a monster man. Afterwards, Kate talks with her dad, who never liked Colony Prime in the first place. He tells her that he wants to work with her to track down all the monster formula on the Black Market. Kate agrees.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
While still enjoyable, this little storyline felt a little tacked on. Like, DC planned in advance for their Batwoman comic to spin off from Detective Comics, so Tynion and Bennett sat down and hammered out a quick little pilot episode. That’s probably exactly what happened, but usually it’s not so easy to see the cracks. I mean, you’re telling me that the Colony had this super soldier waiting in the wings and didn’t use him in their major storyline only a few issues ago? Still, plot hole aside, this issue had a lot of good action and even better character work for the main characters. I loved the flashbacks to Batman’s first meeting with Batwoman, something I don’t think we ever saw when she first appeared all those years ago. If his is the level of character work we can expect from Bennett’s new comic, we’re in for a good time!
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artists: Nico Leon and Dalibor Talajic
I loved the first issue of this new series, and this follow up keeps the strong story going. This issue is a little light on content compared to the first, but I am definitely enjoying the comic.
Jen confronts the landlord who is trying to force her new client out of her apartment, and he’s a real sleazy piece of work. Jen tells him she’ll see him in court, making the guy furious. He later shows up at the woman’s apartment pounding on the door, demanding she leave, lawyer be damned. When he’s gone, the tenant’s mysterious friend follows after him and beats him with pieces of a car!
Jen, meanwhile, tries to go about her day peacefully. She has a snack, she goes to the park to watch kids play in the snow; but when the kids start playing ‘Hawkeye vs. the Hulk’, it drives Jen a little batty. And when that reporter/author shows up again, Jen flees back to her office and locks herself inside, quickly bringing up a cooking show on her phone to stop the rampaging She-Hulk within. Jen’s new assistant seems pretty chill about the whole thing.
On her way home, a mysterious masked figure is following Jen!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I love the portrayal of Jennifer Walters and the new version of She-Hulk in this comic. I am someone who thinks the ‘less is more’ principle definitely applies to the Hulk. There are plenty of comics out there where the Hulk or She-Hulk smash through everything to cheers and applause. But give me a comic where Bruce Banner or, in this case, Jennifer Walters has to grapple with the Hulk within! It’s a much more tense and interesting story, and Tamaki is laying a solid foundation — even though this issue doesn’t explore the idea much beyond what we saw in the first issue.
This issue was pretty much just a repeat of the last one. Jen goes about her day, does some lawyer stuff, then a random visit from this reporter/author triggers a potential Shulking Out…only for Jen to hide behind a door and play cooking shows to calm herself down. That’s exactly what we saw in the first issue. Tamaki didn’t even expand on what the reporter/author even wants. She just showed up and said, “Hey, remember me?” and Jen took off running. I do hope Tamaki plans to delve a little deeper into this stuff. But like I said, this was still a well written and well drawn comic that keeps the tension afloat.
The new Hulk series continues its good start and a very interesting take on She-Hulk, but the second issue is too much of a retread of the first.
Infamous Iron Man #4
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev
I love me some good guy Doctor Doom. The story is still kind of slow, but it’s hitting all the right beats I love about this trope.
Doctor Doom suddenly shows up on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier to tell Maria Hill that he is not a threat and to ask her to take Ben Grimm off his case. They have a pleasant conversation, with tons of guns trained on Doom. Hill still wants to arrest him, until an agent lets slip that the Thing is in Latveria and Doom rushes off to find him. When he arrives at his former country, Doom finds the place in shambles. Children roam the streets with guns and the military is robbing civilians. Doom tracks down the military leader he left in charge and gives the guy an earful for letting the country go to hell. He orders the general to recruit a new chancellor while he flies back to his castle to confront Grimm and his mom.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
It’s just plain cool to see Victor Von Doom use his very presence to be awesome. Like, he just shows up at the Helicarrier to chat. Everybody freaks out, the ship goes on red alert, but Doom just sits there waiting for them to get on with it, and explains to Maria Hill that, had he telephoned her in advance, it would have led to all manner of hubbub and trouble that neither of them need. It was a darn cool scene.
I also hope Bendis does more with Doom occasionally checking in on Latveria. I don’t know the exact reason why he’s no longer acting as king, but I can’t imagine Doom would just give upon the place. His attitude here, claiming that he intended the military leader to run the country just fine, makes me think he’ll play a bigger role in rebuilding Latveria. He already has a perfect civilian leader picked out. I hope Bendis explores this storyline more going forward.
Doctor Doom is just plain cool as an icy, no guff hero who expects everybody to just be on board with his new heroic persona. Bendis is getting a lot of mileage out of that, and I’m excited for all the ways this story can expand.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers — Pink #6
Writers: Brenden Fletcher, Kelly Thompson and Tini Howard
Artist: Daniele Di Nicuolo
For reasons that can only be described as either laziness or negligence, I missed the previous two issues of the Pink Ranger mini-series. They wrapped up the main story to satisfactory degree, and here we are with a finale that serves more as just an awesome epilogue!
After saving her parents and their French town from Goldar and Co. last issue, Kimberly, Zach, Trini and their two new friends, Serge and Britt, must fly into space to save the normal Power Rangers from Rita and Zedd. Zordon has given the last of his power to turn Serge and Britt into temporary Power Rangers, and they use Goldar’s hastily assembled Typhonis Zord, along with Tor and Titanus, to blast into space and save the other Rangers.
It’s a mad fight to help the others triumph over Serpentara and get back the Ninja Megazord, but everybody pulls it off, the day is saved, and Kimberly and her friends disappear without revealing who they were. They give Zordon back his power, and everybody is super psyched about helping save the world.
All except Kimberly, who is feeling unsure of herself. Zach and Trini are a couple and plan to spend some time in Paris. Serge and Britt were only Power Rangers for a short while, but they’re already planning how best to study and help people. Kimberly is alone and a little directionless. She writers her ‘Dear John’ letter to Tommy and motorcycles into the sunset.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
If the regular, ongoing Power Rangers comic is a showcase of the fun stuff you can do with the original Power Rangers, this Pink Ranger issue shows us what can be done and how much fun can be had with the larger canon. Zach and Trini as a couple? Sure! The Pink Ranger using the Sword of Light to empower four other pink-infused rangers? Damn skippy! A giant, evil Zord built from discarded other Zords, including the pink firebird Zord, which Kimberly then successfully detaches in order to fight the evil Zord? Hot damn! Calling both Tor and Titanus out of reserve to first use as a rocket to get into outer space, and then to use in an actual fight? Where has this stuff been all my life!
This was also a great issue for character development. Alongside the supporting characters, who all get great little moments, Kimberly comes off as a really developed person here. She’s got a lot on her mind and juggles a lot of different trials and tribulations. This adventure has meant a lot to her and it changes her character to the extent that I hope we get more such mini-series. There is a lot of explore, and the creative team has barely scratched the surface — but what scratches! So much fun!
Writer: Sean Ryan
Artist: Javier Saltares
Things are finally heating up in The Clone Conspiracy, but this Prowler tie-in is still sticking to the boring shadows.
Julia Carpenter gets Hobie back to NewU in time to take his pill, but he’s weak in recovering, so she goes out to snoop around. She finds Madame Web, who refuses to take her medication and is dying. With her last breaths, she tells Julia to “save Hobie”, but not the one she’s thinking of. Dun dun dun!
When Julia returns to Hobie, he tells her to give up her fight against the Jackal because the Jackal may be a bad guy, but he’s doing good things. Kind of like how Hobie sees himself. But Julia refuses and rushes off to the other NewU facility. Hobie follows and takes part in the big fight scene from the latest issue of The Clone Conspiracy. He teams up with Spider-Man to fight the army of bad guys, but when the Jackal turns on them all, Hobie can only limp away as his body starts to break down. He doesn’t believe that the Jackal would turn on them, so instead he finds Julia, blames her and attacks, but she breaks his arm and leaves him alone in the hallway.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
Seriously, if Ryan reveals that the real Prowler is still alive and he takes over this comic, I will be so happy. You don’t even know.
That hint aside, this comic still hasn’t really won me over. After four issues, I’ve come to realize that I don’t remember a single thing about Hobie’s internal narration. It’s all a bunch of trite navel gazing that never really seems to tie into the story or expand his character at all. I have no real recollection of what Hobie has been thinking to himself four issues in. Something about how people often consider him a villain, maybe?
I dunno. This series hasn’t done a whole lot with this character or its tie-in status to Clone Conspiracy. The plot with Julia Carpenter makes Hobie to be the bad guy, which is never good. He’s actually pretty pathetic this issue. So enamored with the Jackal that he falsely accuses Julia of sabotaging NewU, then he attacks her, then he gets his butt whooped. I really do hope the real Prowler takes over, because Pod Person Prowler kind of sucks.
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Veronica Fish
I honestly don’t know how to feel right now. Like, seriously, you guys. Just…just read on.
Spider-Woman defeats the new Porcupine and finds out that Hobgoblin was the one who killed the old Porcupine. Hobgoblin franchises out old super-villain guises, but she had no idea that Roger was involved. Jessica sets out to track down Hobgoblin, but she’s ambushed by Hobby’s thugs. It’s only with the timely intervention of a hooded figure that she’s able to overpower them and win!
Who is this hooded figure?
Is it Carol? Or maybe Clint? Or maybe Ben Urich has secretly been helping his nephew, Phil, recover and sent the kid to save Jess?
Hey, a guy can dream.
Nope, it’s Roger! Turns out, he’s not dead! Roger was wearing Jessica’s old Alpha Flight-approved maternity shirt, complete with force field, so that the pumpkin bomb blast didn’t kill him. And since he knew the Hobgoblin thought he was dead, Roger shaved his beard and went to ground, keeping tabs on Jess from the shadows because he knew she’d be upset. Relieved to see Roger still alive, Jess pounces and kisses him!
But their reunion is cut short by the Hobgoblin! He ties a rope around Roger’s ankle and carries him off into the sky screaming, with Jessica calling out for him!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
For the briefest and most wonderful of moments, I really thought it was going to be Phil Urich. That got me so excited! I thought Hopeless was teasing it earlier in this issue during a scene with Ben Urich, and then for Jess’ rescuer to show up in a mysterious hoodie? It would have been too perfect! But alas, my hopes are dashed.
Still, Roger?! I don’t know how to feel right now. On the one hand, I’m elated, because I like Roger a lot and that kiss with Jess is a wonderful moment! But on the other hand, I’m furious, because how could Hopeless do this to his own story? The death of Porcupine was the emotional highpoint of the entire series so far! He had put in the legwork building Roger up, built the emotional foundation for Roger and Jess’ friendship, making his death all the more meaningful. Here was a comic book death that wasn’t just a cannon fodder killing for some Big Event. Do you know how rare that is in comics? Do you know how rare it also is to get your series to last long enough that you can do all the build up and the pay-off?
How could Hopeless take away from his own moment? Roger’s death was great! Jess’ reaction was great! That scene in the last issue, where Jess is confronted by Roger’s ex-wife, was amazing!
But then again, isn’t this scene pretty amazing too?
Jessica kissing Roger benefits from the same exact build-up that Hopeless has been doing for his death! And it works even better than normal comic book relationships, because I definitely didn’t see it coming. I hate when the love interest is painfully obvious. Remember Carley Cooper? The moment she appeared in the first Spider-Man comic at the start of Brand New Day, we knew instantly that she only existed to eventually be Peter Parker’s new girlfriend. And she was and it was boring. There was no chemistry or drama involved.
But Jessica and Roger is perfect! There were no hints of a relationship at all, other than the general sense of possible that hangs over such a close friendship between a man and a woman. And then when Roger spilled his guts to Ben it was great. And when Ben had to explain it all to Jess, it was even better. So on one hand, it’s great that Roger and Jess could be together. It would be cute and neat and I’m fully in favor of it.
But on the other hand, oh man, his death was so perfect.
Anyway, this was another amazing issue of Spider-Woman by Hopeless and Fish. Her anger is electric and practically leaps off the page. The action is phenomenal, and as I’ve been saying, the emotional beats are some of the best you’re going to find in superhero comics right now.
The Dregs #1
Writers: Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson
Artist: Eric Zawadzki
It is, regrettably, not very often that I review indie comics. But the guys behind The Dregs sent me a copy of their first issue and I was in a fun mood this week. So let’s check out The Dregs from Black Mask Studios!
In Vancouver, some evil dudes are chopping up homeless people and turning them into food at the La Mancha restaurant. Another homeless guy, Arnold, finds out that his friend Manny is missing (got chopped up) so he goes out in search of his friend. Arnold is a fan of old mystery novels, so he starts investigating like a noir detective. He runs into shady property developers, a mysterious drug dealer and an even more mysterious woman. Pretty good for a dirty, likely smelly homeless guy.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
I really like the idea of a dirty homeless guy acting like some kind of makeshift Philip Marlowe, and The Dregs gets a lot of mileage out of the idea. Arnold’s narration is all grit, and he’s an admitted fan of detective mysterious to begin with, so it’s a neat idea overall. The guy knows he’s playing detective, but he really does have a mystery on his hands, and as a homeless man, he knows his city pretty well. The Dregs really digs deep into Arnold criss-crossing the city in the search for his missing friend, taking him from back alleys to public meetings to interesting clues.
The Dregs sets out on a determined path and really mines the tension of their story to good measure. The idea of a homeless detective is really neat and executed well, with sufficiently gross and gritty art.
Teen Titans #4
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Khoi Pham
After suffering through the entirety of the New 52 Teen Titans, I think my time with this comic is coming to an end. I can’t say that Percy isn’t doing a better job than the New 52 creative teams, but I can say I’ve found new things to dislike about this comic.
Damian surrenders himself to R’as al Ghul to call off the hunt on the Teen Titans, but R’as isn’t about to take Damian’s past betrayals lying down. Mara and the rest of the Demon’s Fist return and she and Damian will fight to the death. They duel over a lava pit and Damian is the victor — until he refuses to kill Mara and turns his back on her, at which point she stabs him and claims victory. Instead of killing Damian right then and there like she wants, everybody instead plans a big ceremony for later that night. The other members of Demon’s Fist toss Damian in a cell, while grumbling that they aren’t getting their due.
Meanwhile, the Teen Titans have tracked Robin to the League’s island and have a quick heart-to-heart about being friends and saving Robin. They decide to go ahead with this Teen Titans thing and sneak in and bust Damian out of his cell!
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
This is possibly the treacliest comic I have ever read. It’s almost sticky in how forcefully sentimental it is. The Teen Titans, most of whom have never met before, basically just stand around and convince themselves to form a superhero team and risk their lives because Damian just might consider them fwiends. It’s like they think they can establish a team friendship bonding by just declaring that they’re all friends now.
The issue literally ends with the Titans breaking into Damian’s cell and telling him that “your friends” have arrived to save you. The Champions have done a better job pulling their teenager superhero team together, and I don’t like how they’re doing it either.
And the other half of the story isn’t much better. I love the idea of Damian having a cousin, but Mara is paper thin. Why not draw on the rich tapestry of the al Ghul bloodline to create a really awesome character? Instead, she’s just an angry, evil little twerp. Plus, the events of the story don’t make any sense. She insists on it being a fight to the death, but the moment she defeats Damian, she lets him live so that they can arrange a different ceremony later that evening? And why are her teammates upset? The deal was that if Damian won they’d have to give up their own targets in the Teen Titans. Well Damian lost. What’s stopping them from going after the Teen Titans to fulfill their own stupid ninja training? Honor? There’s clearly no honor in the League of Assassins presented here.
The Rebirth Teen Titans are good enough as a comic, with incredible art, so I can definitely consider this a well-made comic. But for me, personally, the team is too forced and the storyline leaves a lot to be desired.
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 28, 2017, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin and tagged Black Mask Studios, Damian Wayne, Detective Comics, Doctor Doom, Hobgoblin, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers - Pink, Pink Ranger, Porcupine, Prowler, Spider-Woman, Teen Titans, The Clone Conspiracy, The Dregs. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.