Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 3/18/17
It’s Iron Fist weekend! Unfortunately, I don’t think Marvel released their new Iron Fist comic yet, so I don’t get that special sort of synergy. But while you’re reading these reviews, you best believe I’m binging some quality Netflix Defenders.
Fortunately, this week had some spectacular comics regardless, with new issues of Ms. Marvel, Harley Quinn, Hellcat and The Wild Storm! I also tried out the first issue of the new Batwoman series, and I’m considering getting back into Amazing Spider-Man!
Comic Book of the Week goes to the latest issue of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which is telling some pretty stellar stories! Let us hope that next week’s movie can live up to the quality of the comic.
Meanwhile, I’ve been catching up on Tom King’s Batman, and it seems like I gave up on that series too soon. After the opening story, which I just didn’t like, King has been doing some amazing work with Bane, Catwoman, the Ventriloquist and more! I might have to add that back to my review pile.
Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #25, Batwoman #1, Harley Quinn #16, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #13, Ms. Marvel #16, Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat #16 and The Wild Storm #2.
Amazing Spider-Man #25
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Stuart Immonen
This comic was a beast. Upwards of 70 pages, with a hefty cover price. And honestly, I didn’t read all of the short back-up stories. I have no idea why Marvel thinks a good jumping on point should cost a ton of money just for a bunch of randomly OK additional Spidey stories.
Though there is one short I want to highlight, and we’ll get to that later.
Now that Clone Conspiracy is over, Spider-Man is on the hunt for Norman Osborn, who has been operating as an international arms dealer. After one mission in Delvadia turns up only a henchman, Spidey and his SHIELD liaison, Mockingbird, set their sights on China. The Uncle Ben Foundation is hosting a charity event in Shanghai, so they use that as cover — with the unfortunate complication of Aunt May and Harry Osborn coming along for the ride.
After knocking heads in the Shanghai underworld, Spider-Man and Mockingbird find out that Osborn is going to the charity event! And he’s spotted Aunt May and Harry! Our heroes race across the city to stop him and discover a mysterious, invisible sniper on the rooftop across. They stop the sniper from taking a shot and the sniper is revealed to be Silver Sable, who’s supposed to be dead! She tells Spider-Man that he just stopped her from shooting Norman!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Of all the back-up stories in this issue, the only one I bothered reading was by writer/artist Hannah Blumenreich. If you’re not familiar with her work, she basically just started writing/drawing some mini Spider-Man comics online, called Spider-Zine. Read it. For the love of all that is geeky, read the Spider-Zine shorts. They are some of the best Spider-Man comics ever. This girl just gets it.
And I’m pretty sure that the good people at Marvel loved her work so much that they’ve totally started hiring her for real comics work. And they gave her a short story in this big issue, in which teenage Peter Parker finds a stray dog, but Aunt May won’t let him keep it. The comic is amazing.
Hannah Blumenreich is a great creator and I’m super excited to see her getting some real recognition. I hope we see a lot more of her work going forward.
Short Story Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.
As for the regular Spider-Man comic, I liked that too — largely because Slott finally injects some personal stuff into the comic. The bulk of the story is about Peter touching base with Aunt May, Harry and a few other people on a human level. That sort of thing has been sorely missing from Amazing Spider-Man for a long time, as Slott jumps from one big story to the next. I know this guy can write great personal stuff, I just don’t know why he doesn’t do it more often in Amazing Spider-Man.
The scene where Peter asks out Bobbi Morse is a great example.
I absolutely support this comic romance.
TL;DR: The costume action and Peter’s new story are good, but the personal stuff really makes the main story in this oversized issue worth it. That and the work of Hannah Blumenreich.
Writers: Marguerite Bennett and James Tynion IV
Artist: Steve Epting
I loved the first Batwoman comic, because the artwork and creativity were second to none. Then, after the artists left the book because DC refused to let Kate get gay married, DC drove the comic into the mud and put it out of its misery.
Thankfully, we’re back with a new comic and new prominence!
Batwoman is on an international mission to track down the last remaining supplies of the Monster Men serum, with assistance from Julia Pennyworth. After stopping a would-be suicide monster at a marketplace in Istanbul, they head to the mysterious, Mediterranean island of Coryana — where Kate Kane once spent a “lost year” in the company of the ravishing Safiyah. Kate has some reservations about returning to the island. When they arrive, Batwoman is immediately met on the dock by her old friend Rafael, who not only recognizes her in costume, but also dies in her arms.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I’m really excited about this comic, and the first issue is off to a great start. Bennett and Tynion have a really solid handle on Kate as the main character, and I think they’re going to do a great job exploring her past and her relationships. She’s got a cool mission, and setting the story on a mysterious and sexy island town with connections to Kate’s past sounds like a great idea! I don’t know how long this story is going to last, but it’s starting off on the right, exciting foot.
The only slight nitpick I have is that I’m a little iffy on Epting’s take on Batwoman’s costume. Epting is a great artist, and he does plenty of superhero work, but Batwoman kind of sticks out like a sore thumb in the middle of the more grounded, human art. Maybe it’s a coloring thing. I don’t know. Maybe Epting should have done a slight redesign on the costume to make it more realistic. Whatever the case, it was sticking in my craw, but is hardly a deal breaker.
TL;DR: The new Batwoman comic is off to a great start with solid art, a lot of mystery and a story that already has me pretty excited.
Harley Quinn #16
Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner
Artists: John Timms and Joseph Michael Linsner
We’re back again with more crazy Harley Quinn stuff, and I liked this issue a bit more than the last one. The Power Girl guest appearance is used to great effect. Palmiotti and Conner wrote a great Power Girl comic way back before the New 52, and she makes a nice addition to Harley Quinn.
Power Girl has joined the fight against Zorcrom, and Atlee explains that he is empowered by the sun. So our heroes decide they need to wear him down in the nighttime. Zorcrom declares he wants Power Girl to be his queen, so Harley convinces Peej to go on a date with Zorcrom. They head all around the city doing date things, with funny results. But eventually Zorcrom goes too far by telling Peej to strip down so that they can begin mating and having children, so she punches him.
The punching continues around the city until Zorcrom is worn down, with a little help from the rabies he contracted last issue. The weakened Zorcrom is then hit by a bus before our heroes can figure out what to do with him. The day is saved, Harley hugs Peej and everybody goes on their merry way.
Meanwhile, those vampires who are killing homeless people deny being vampires and claim they are merely cannibals.
Double meanwhile, the Batman girl from the year 2167 wins all of her fights, and the grand prize is a trip back through time to meet the real Batman. She declares that she’s going to use the time travel to kill Batman’s future murderer: Harley Quinn!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
The heart of the Harley Quinn comic is character. There’s always a lot of wacky things going on, and Harley is always up to some kind of mischief. But it’s the solid, outstanding character development and interaction that brings me back to every issue. Harley interacting with her supporting cast is always fun, and a guest appearance from other DC superheroes is great too! The Harley/Peej friendship is a neat one, and there are a lot of good scenes of the two of them being friendly in this issue. There’s real heart and personality to the guest appearance, and that makes the issue a win. The Zorcrom storyline was never all that interesting, and it’s wrapped up in nice fashion, but its the character work that really sells this issue.
TL;DR: The latest weird Harley Quinn story is wrapped up with a really great guest appearance from Power Girl.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #13
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Hendry Prasetya
I keep saying this with every review, but Higgins keeps surprisings me: it’s amazing how much new material he’s able to inject into the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. It’s brilliant.
Tommy and Billy are taken to the home base of the Coinless, the resistance to Evil Tommy and his forces on the alternate world. Zack is the leader of the Coinless, and he trusts Saba’s word that these dudes are on the level. We meet some members of the team, including Aisha, Bulk and a more hardcore Trini. Billy also finds out that alternate Billy is dead. Meanwhile, Evil Tommy prepares for an assault on the Coinless’ secret base, with assistance from Scorpina, who is also trapped in this world, and his army of Power Rangers-based soldiers! Skull, a secret spy, tips off Bulk about the impending attack.
Back in the regular universe, the other Rangers are trying to keep busy in the ruins of the Black Dragon. They’re also still forced to rely on the Green Ranger powers, since Rita controls the Command Center. Jason gives Kim a pep talk, before the Rangers are contacted by Alpha, who tells them of a secret plan to sneak into the Command Center! What they don’t know, however, is that Finster hacked into Alpha’s computer brain and sent the message, luring the Rangers into a trap!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Last issue was mostly an info dump, and this new issue takes all that info and runs wild with it! The Coinless are great, and I love that Bulk and Skull are included, because you’re damn right they should be. I love that Higgins has built this whole alternate world out of Power Rangers lore, from future Rangers and Zords to a total reinvention of how the power works. These are all classic comic book tropes, but when applied to the very formulaic MMPR, the property takes on an entirely new life. And as a fan of both classic MMPR and comic books, I’m just gobbling this all up.
Maybe a less biased reviewer would be a bit more critical, but that’s not me. I’m loving this dark alternate Power Rangers reality.
And the rest of the issue is great too! There’s a really nice scene where the remaining Rangers try to rally that delves nicely into the characters, from Trini’s inability to relax to Jason trying his best to be a leader. And the twist that Alpha is being controlled by Rita’s forces was a nice one. I did not see that coming.
TL;DR: The dark alternate reality Power Rangers story gets bigger, deeper and even better in the latest issue. This series just keeps blowing my mind.
Ms. Marvel #16
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa
Immediate popularity and fame can be a pretty weird thing. Kamala Khan started off as a kid from Jersey City who developed super-powers, made a costume based on her superhero idol and set about protecting her home town.
Within, like, a year of comic time, she’s been an Avenger, quit the Avengers, now leads her own superhero team, has starred in several crossovers and, in this issue, can just stroll into SHIELD headquarters like it’s no big thing.
This is definitely not the trajectory of every kid who gets super-powers in the Marvel Universe. I’m not convinced this has all been a good thing.
We find out that the Doc.X virus was created by some smarmy World of Battlecraft employee to try and get noticed. It’s an adaptable virus, and he wanted to see how it might grow if he introduced it to the WoB crowd.
Now the virus is blackmailing Ms. Marvel. If she doesn’t upload him into the SHIELD mainframe, then he’ll expose her friend Zoe’s secret love for Nakia to the whole school! So Ms. Marvel heads to the Triskelion to meet with Agent Coulson to upload the virus, but she can’t go through with it and runs over to Zoe’s place (in full costume) to tell her what’s going on. They both agree that they can’t give in to bullies (and Zoe sorta drops some hints that maybe everybody already knows that Ms. Marvel is Kamala).
Ms. Marvel takes her phone to a remote field in Jersey to tell Doc.X that she won’t go through with his schemes. Then she calls Bruno in Wakanda and uploads him a copy of the virus — which sounds insane — but their brief and terse conversation gives Kamala an idea for how to defeat Doc.X!
Also, Zoe tells Nakia about her feelings. Nakia doesn’t feel the same way, but she reaffirms their friendship. It’s sweet.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Just because Kamala can stroll into SHIELD headquarters and be super pals with Agent Coulson doesn’t mean this still isn’t a great comic — though I have no idea why Kamala didn’t just tell Coulson about Doc.X. I’m pretty sure SHIELD would be better equipped to take down a sentient compute virus than Bruno. Also, why the heck would she send a copy of the virus to Bruno’s computer? Does she want to infect the Wakanda computer network?!
Anyway, that aside, this was a stellar and enjoyable issue. The superhero stuff was neat, as always, but the real treat came from the personal stuff. Zoe/Nakia has been a fun subplot for awhile now, and it’s great to see that blossom, because this comic has really missed out on the down-to-Earth, teenage-life stuff. The conversation between Ms. Marvel and Zoe was similar, and Zoe was definitely hinting that more people know that Ms. Marvel is Kamala.
I mean, come on. Ms. Marvel just bursts into Zoe’s room and tells her that a super-villain is going to expose her sexuality and crush to the whole school? Plus all the times Ms. Marvel was seen working with Bruno and Mike? Yeah, I’m pretty sure everybody knows at this point. Which is great.
TL;DR: It’s another exciting and fun issue of Ms. Marvel, one that prioritizes the human element over the superheroics, which this comic has been missing for too long.
Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat #16
Writer: Kate Leth
Artist: Brittney L. Williams
Sadly, Patsy Walker comes to an end next issue. I really enjoyed this series and will be sorry to see it go.
Hellcat is still suffering from magical sneezes, and Sharon is super angry that the sneezes caused her building to disappear! The latest sneeze tips Hedy Wolfe into what’s happening and everybody heads over to Hedy’s apartment — where they find out she’s in a relationship with Belial, the demon that challenged Patsy a couple issues ago! Belial explains that Patsy has Pan-dimensional Stress Flu after all the reality jumping she’s been doing, and she needs to relax. Patsy insists she’s fine, but everybody can tell she is super not relaxed.
Belial takes her somewhere private and shapeshifts into She-Hulk so that Patsy can talk some stuff out and get some stress off her chest. That helps and the flu goes away, and Belial uses his power to turn everything back to normal. Maybe now Patsy is ready to be a hero again.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Fun issue. I liked the twist that Hedy was suddenly dating Belial, that was handled in a very Patsy Walker comic sort of way. Just a neat bit of story. And I liked how the book got really introspective on Patsy. I might have liked more, and it would have been nice if she had a real personal moment with She-Hulk instead of with a shape-changed Belial, but it was still nice. The comedy was good too, like the running gag where Sharon keeps trying to get people back on track to discuss her missing building. Funny stuff!
TL;DR: I’m gonna miss Patsy Walker when it’s gone, and issues like this one are why. Funny, clever and deeply personal when it needs to be.
The Wild Storm #2
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Jon Davis-Hunt
I’m in this for the long haul. As I mentioned with the first issue, I have zero history and knowledge about the original Wildstorm stuff, unless you count reading a couple of the New 52 issues. But I’m gonna see how this goes.
There are three special agencies in the world — International Operations, Halo and Skywatch — and all three of them have special agents that they send after Angela Spica, the robo-suit woman. They all seem to know that she’s at an abandoned facility on Long Island, so everybody’s gonna go there.
Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.
Yeah, not sure what the big hubbub is supposed to be about this book. It’s fine, I suppose. Even entertaining, if I stretch. But otherwise, The Wild Storm is just about throwing a bunch of names and red tape at us. Everybody keeps talking about ‘Skywatch’ without giving us any context. And when we do meet Skywatch, they apparently literally ‘watch the sky’, I think. But yeah, all three agencies in this issue have the same exact reaction to Angela Spica (who doesn’t do much in this issue). They all seem to be identical agencies, yet I guess we’re supposed to immediately understand why they all seem opposed to each other? It’s just not clicking for me.
TL;DR: The Wild Storm is starting small and slow, while throwing names and vague exposition at us to try and distinguish between about a dozen seemingly identical characters. It’s fine, but it don’t impress me much.
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 March 18, 2017, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man and tagged Amazing Spider-Man, Batwoman, Harley Quinn, Hellcat, Kamala Khan, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Ms. Marvel, Patsy Walker, Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat, Power Rangers, The Wild Storm, Wild Storm, Wildstorm. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.