Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 2/25/17
Oh man, you guys, have I got some big news for you! This is news that has been building since I first started this blog a million years ago! I’m going to reveal this news tomorrow and it’s going to blow all your minds!
Until then, comics! Like Hulk and Prowler and Mosaic! And I’ve even decided to start reading Steve Orlando’s Justice League of America, replacing the Teen Titans as the DC team book I’m reading.
Comic Book of the Week was a tough one to decide. At first I was going to give it to the new issue of Detective Comics, for an exciting issue. But then I read Spider-Woman and my heart melted all over again. Dennis Hopeless has done an amazing job on this comic!
Meanwhile, Inhumans vs. X-Men continues to plod along in its desperate attempt to make sure everybody comes out of it smelling like roses. Do not recommend.
Comic Reviews: Detective Comics #951, Hulk #3, Infamous Iron Man #5, Justice League of America #1, Mosaic #5, Prowler #5 and Spider-Woman #16.
Detective Comics #951
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Christian Duce
Oh man, now things are getting good! They’ve been good on Detective Comics since the beginning, but now Tynion is ramping up the storyline he’s probably planned from the start, and this series is in fine form!
After a chat with Batwoman about trying to be there more for Cassandra, Batman visits Mayor Hady to talk about their joint crime-fighting efforts — except that Hady has been skewered and strung up by the League of Shadows! And when two cops show up in the mayor’s office and see Batman with the body, they instantly blame Batman! The Dark Knight flees, and he and Batwoman have a chat with her dad, who continues to insist that the League is real and that Gotham City is about to deal with some major trouble.
Then Batwing calls them upstairs to check out a news report on the mayor’s death, where the reporters suddenly burst out laughing and die from an apparent attack by the Joker! Then they get a report that Joker gas is being released into a nearby park and people are wildly attacking each other!
The Bat-Team rushes off to contain the madness, but Cassandra, who can read body language, quickly notices that the attacking people are only pretending! Suddenly, all the people stop fighting, surround the Bat-Team and whip out badass ninja swords! It was a trap!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
This was an exciting comic book! Tynion opened with some solid character work, setting the reader at ease. I loved Batman’s suggestion that he and Kate take Cassandra to the new ballet to show her some real, human comfort. I hope Tynion is able to turn that into an entire issue. But that friendly chatter gave way to a thrilling introduction to the League of Shadows, as everyone must accept that maybe Batman is wrong for once. That’s always an exciting possibility, and I enjoy how Tynion is building on everything he set up with Jacob Kane and the Colony.
And that ending was just stellar! I love the idea that the League of Shadows would imitate the Joker to draw out Batman, and I was caught totally by surprise by that twist ending. If only this was live action, and we could see all the rumbling people in the park suddenly stop fighting and face our heroes. But I loved how Cassandra Cain could immediately see that the fighters were only pretending to battle. I loved how Tynion teased us that maybe Cassandra had instead seen the League’s leader — Lady Shiva — only to reveal the pretending twist. It was an exciting ending to an already exciting comic.
TL;DR: Detective Comics kicks off a new storyline with all the excitement and pizazz we’ve come to expect from Tynion’s series. All the characters are used to great effect and he establishes a thrilling new antagonist.
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Nico Leon
Tamaki is delivering a bit of a slow burn with her Hulk storyline, and while sometimes that can be troublesome, she’s doing such a good job building up Jennifer Walters and her new world that I really dig it.
Jen continues to take things day-by-day, juggling weird clients and doing her best to keep the Hulk in check. She gets a phone call from her best friend, Patsy Walker, but she blows Patsy off — so Hellcat shows up in costume to have the talk. Jen tries to explain that she’s just trying to be normal for a bit, and Patsy promises to give her space, while still being there for her.
Later, Jen studies the case file of her client, Maise Brewn, the weird tenant. Maise was a health nut and co-owned a fitness center, until her partner tried to have her killed so he could sell the business. Maise spent a lot of time in the hospital and came out changed.
Meanwhile, the cops are investigating the death of Maise’s landlord from last issue and they chat with her at her front door for a bit. Then when they leave, Maise’s mysterious ‘friend’ attacks the cops and drags them away.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Tamaki seems content to let her story rumble under the surface, but she gets away with it because that story seems like it’s going to be pretty neat, and her characterization of Jennifer Walters is top notch. I’m loving this simmering portrayal of a Hulk, with the normally super-awesome She-Hulk forced into the lonely confines of PTSD. But she’s not a wreck who can barely function, she’s doing pretty well for herself. Tamaki is doing a great job rebuilding Jennifer Walters.
The ongoing story is fun so far, too. Jennifer’s position as a lawyer puts her in a very unique position at Marvel Comics. Unlike most other superheroes who have to take on regular costumed super-villains, the story here is all about Jennifer trying to help a client with a landlord dispute. Yes, there’s probably going to be a brawl later, and there’s definitely a monster, a murder and some cops, but the lawyer angle is put to good effect.
TL;DR: The new Hulk story and the relaunch of the She-Hulk character both continue to simmer and delight in taking their time and letting the comic grow.
Infamous Iron Man #5
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev
Just like his Jessica Jones comic, Brian Michael Bendis has definitely fallen back into his decompressed roots. Infamous Iron Man moves slowly through its story, but I’m still digging it.
Doom faces off against his sorceress mother to protect the Thing, and she reveals that she’s been alive for a while now, but never approached him because she was upset at his evil ways. Now that Doom has turned good, she’s proud of him and loves him. Doom isn’t convinced that she is the real deal, but she leaves before he can question her further. It seems Doom’s mother is currently in league with Maker, the Ultimate Reed Richards!
The Thing is picked up by SHIELD and recovers, shocked that Doctor Doom saved his life. And since a SHIELD agent was in trouble in Latveria, Maria Hill used that to put boots on the ground to start cleaning up Latveria, including taking Doom’s military proxy into custody.
Elsewhere, SHIELD continues to try and poke Amara for information on Doom, but she continues to shut them down. When the agents leave, Doom arrives and starts opening up to her. Amara is, at first, indignant, but she sighs and starts letting Doom in.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
The story is slow, but I’m enjoying Bendis’ take on the reformed Doctor Doom too much. I’ve always been a general fan of Doom, even if I never read many Fantastic Four comics. And after his big push in Jonathan Hickman’s recent work, especially Secret Wars, I am definitely attuned to see where he goes — and I love the direction Marvel is taking him. Doom is a uniquely cool superhero. He’s this cool, stoic guy determined to do the right thing, even while the rest of the world either hunts him or shuns him. But Doom is too cool to worry about that. He’s a fun character, and Bendis is nailing it.
I wish the story would kick things up a notch, though, but I suppose I’m a patient man. The Maker makes his first appearance here, giving Doom a proper antagonist. And the Thing was a solid character, hopefully he sticks around. And I like whatever is brewing between Victor and Amara. I especially enjoyed Thing and Maria Hill bantering about the very idea that Doctor Doom has a mom. Bendis has always been good at dialogue, and he’s got some really juicy scenes, characters and developments to play with here.
TL;DR: Infamous Iron Man is a slow burn of a series, but Bendis’ portrayal of a reformed and badass Doctor Doom makes it totally worth all the waiting. This issue is a particularly strong showing of the new Doom.
Justice League of America #1
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Ivan Reis
Like the plucky young comic book reviewer I am, I try out new comics and series all the time. I don’t have any bosses or quotas or anything that determines what I read, just my whims and interests. I have little to no interest in the Justice League or any of the characters in this lineup, but Orlando has been doing good things, so here I am!
The various members of Batman’s new Justice League of America are still butting heads because the team is so new, but they’ve got to put all of that aside to take on Lord Havok and the Extremists. The villains arrive in a nice little town and start wreaking havoc, so our heroes show up and a big fight breaks out. The Atom, a total newbie, is really worried during the fight and gets himself caught by Havok. To save the Atom, Batman offers himself in exchange.
Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.
The issue was fine, I suppose, but there’s nothing particularly exciting about this Justice League of America. Batman keeps insisting that it’s a grounded team meant to appeal to regular people, but it’s still full of hugely super-powered individuals. And fighting Lord Havok and his team is about as Justice League as it gets. This whole comic is about as generic as it gets when it comes to superhero team comics. Take an established hero, throw in a bunch of interesting teammates, and send them against some big bad guys in a general fight. Orlando didn’t even give Lord Havok any sort of new motivation. He just shows up, threatens to take over the world and everybody gets to fighting.
There’s a little character work in this issue, which needs to be the bread and butter of a team comic. But here it’s generally more of the same. Some characters get along fine. Some butt heads a little bit. Some learn the importance of not judging each other. This is Superhero Team Comics 101 and doesn’t explain why this comic exists. After four tie-in introductory issues and a Rebirth one shot, Orlando has yet to provide a reason why DC needs a second ongoing Justice League comic.
TL;DR: If you like superheroes punching super-villians, then the new Justice League of America is for you. But if you want any sort of original idea or theme or plot, then Justice League of America falls very short.
Writer: Geoffrey Thorne
Artists: Khary Randolph and Thony Silas
Finally, Mosaic reaches the dramatic climax I’ve been waiting for. While it went in a direction I did not expect — and is the worse for it — the moment still kicked this series into high gear.
As he gains more control over his powers, Mosaic finds himself able to search through all of his memories as if they were playing on a screen — only with him in his new body instead of his old human body. He remembers one particular memory of his father, wherein Pops was already aware that something was genetically different about his son, and he sold that difference to the Brand Corporation way back when. Mosaic goes to confront them all.
Meanwhile, the Brand Corporation scientists start experimenting on Mosaic’s original body, and the pain draws him back into his original form (leaving Spider-Man in the prison cells where they’re holding Mosaic’s former hosts). Mosaic tries to fight off the scientists and their leader, Busey, but his body is slow and weak. They subdue him and ship him out for further study.
Except that Mosaic has jumped into one of the scientists. He returns to Spider-Man and gets his help saving the former hosts, then he goes to confront his dad and Busey. Pops is more of a dick than previously let on, siding with Brand over his son. But Mosaic just jumps between the Brand bodies, temporarily knocking them out, and then jumps into Busey. He sets off the explosives in the building and then tosses Busey’s body out the window of the skyscraper. Mosaic then flies off, leaving his dad in the burning building.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
I’m disappointed that Pops turned out to be such a vile person. He seemed like an upstanding guy at the start of the series, and I was really looking forward to Morris confiding with his father about all the issues at hand. But this issue reveals that Pops was always a jackass who sold out his son from a very young age, and only ever saw him as a means of generating wealth. It works just fine for a superhero origin, but it kills some of the drama that Thorne appeared to be building. Cool scene, though.
The Brand Corporation prove to be only minor adversaries, though I’m sure we’ll probably see them show up later on. And again, I wish the confrontation with Pops had been more interesting, or perhaps Morris would confront his ex-girlfriend (hopefully that’s still to come), but even if the confrontations weren’t what I was hoping for, Mosaic himself was pretty cool. He was determined, resourceful and badass at times. I definitely look forward to having Thorne explore Morris Sackett’s life now that he’s free.
Though now there are a ton of more questions about how his powers work. If nobody can see him in his natural form, then how is everybody seeing and interacting with him in Inhumans vs. X-Men?
Also, the Spider-Man cameo was definitely wasted.
TL;DR: Personally, I was hoping for a bit more dramatic weight as the first story reaches its climax, but even without that drama, it’s still a really cool battle for the soul of this new, original character.
Writer: Sean Ryan
Artists: Javier Saltares and Jamal Campbell
And here we are! Five issues in and we find out that this has all been for nothing. This is insane. Why would Marvel launch a Prowler comic, twist reveal that the comic actually stars his clone, and then kill the clone five issues in to be replaced by the regular Prowler?! What the hell was the point of all this?!
Pod Prowler tries to help the heroes control the marauding bad guy clones from the final chapter of the Clone Conspiracy, but his body is breaking down. They leave him in an alley to recover, where he’s found by Julia Carpenter and Electro. Pod Prowler sacrifices himself to save Julia from Electro.
Later, when real Hobie wakes up, Julia greets him to fill him in about how his clone was an upstanding guy.
Comic Rating: 4/10 – Pretty Bad.
This issue was fine. It was written well, Pod Prowler went out like a hero and the art was nice. A lot of the scenes are just repeats from final issue of The Clone Conspiracy, but that’s fine. Seriously, the issue was perfectly fine, even enjoyable at times.
But holy hell this whole series has been ridiculous! Why does it exist? It added NOTHING to The Clone Conspiracy or the Prowler as a character! All Pod Prowler did behind the scenes of The Clone Conspiracy was butt heads with Julia Carpenter and Electro and then die. It added nothing to the overall story, it adds nothing to the real Hobie Brown as a character, and if this has any impact on Julia Carpenter, I will laugh. Hell, the artist on The Clone Conspiracy drew Prowler in his classic costume, so even the new costume they gave him in this series is a joke (though it looks sweet)!
What could Marvel possibly be thinking? The Prowler is a very, very obscure superhero. A solo series was going to be a hard sell to begin with. But why, oh why, do you shoot the series in the foot at the very beginning with a completely unnecessary and ridiculous tie-in to an already somewhat underwhelming Big Event?
Here’s hoping Ryan takes over the real Prowler from now on for some good comics. After all, Dennis Hopeless’ Spider-Woman series started out with a crappy tie-in arc to Spider-Verse, and it went on to become one of Marvel’s best comics.
TL;DR: The Prowler comic ends its Clone Conspiracy tie-in by revealing that none of this has mattered and there was no point in buying the comic so far. It’s a perfectly adequate single issue, but the bigger picture is insane.
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Veronica Fish
Spider-Woman is one of Marvel’s best comics. Hell, I haven’t put too much thought into the actual rankings, but maybe it is Marvel’s best comic! The characters are amazing and human. The action is badass. And the storytelling has been built up so well and for so long that everything clicks beautifully into place.
This is master class comic book storytelling, and not all series can be this damn good.
Roger has been kidnapped by the Hobgoblin, and an injured, hurting Jessica pushes all of that down, revs up her motorcycle and gives chase! She finds them in a junkyard, where Hobgoblin and his cronies are planning to fry Roger in a giant tire fire! But he and Jess team up to kick some ass! Jess whoops bad guy butt, steals a couple goblin gliders, and launches herself at the Goblin for a game of glider chicken! Roger then climbs up the rope around his legs and sabotages Hobby just in time for Spider-Woman to deliver a game ending uppercut!
But the battle isn’t over yet! Jess and Roger only get a few minutes to catch their breaths make googily eyes at each other before Hobgoblin and his cronies get their second wind and prepare for a slobber-knocker — which is when the over-powered Captain Marvel shows up and just starts mega-blasting all the damn bad guys! When she’s done, she tries to patch things up with Jess, but our hero is too busy making out with her new man. Jess gives Carol a thumbs up to let her know that things are cool.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
I completely forgive Dennis Hopeless for revealing that Porcupine didn’t really die. This is like the ending of my favorite movie, Stranger Than Fiction. We can’t kill the Roger Gockings of the world. I could just start gushing right now and I might never stop. Hopeless has done such a great job over the course of the series to build up this relationship that everything in this issue is so much more impactful — and we honestly don’t see this a lot in comics. He put in the effort and now Jess and Roger are so cute together, whether they’re making out in celebration or raising their fists to prepare for battle together.
My only hope is that this relationship somehow survives the end of the series. Maybe Hopeless can bring it with him to Doctor Strange.
Everything is awesome in this issue. I loved how Roger’s narration is all about praising Jessica, until he realizes that he doesn’t have to be a damsel in distress and should start helping her out, even while tied up! I loved how Spider-Woman just kicks total ass, with a fair amount of banter, in a series of glider fights over a raging tire fire. That’s epic stuff! I loved how Captain Marvel showed up at the end to save the day. She was part of this story early on, she’s a legit character to bring back. It was so well done!
TL;DR: Spider-Woman is amazing. This issue is amazing. Hopeless’ work here is a master class in creating relatable characters over the course of a series and then using that foundation to enhance already exciting stories. This is a climax with real heart.
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 February 25, 2017, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews and tagged Detective Comics, Doctor Doom, Hulk, Infamous Iron Man, Justice League of America, Mosaic, Porcupine, Prowler, She-Hulk, Spider-Woman. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.