Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 4/15/17
So, uh, I kind of went a little overboard with the reviews this week, everybody. Sorry about that. It just so happens that a metric ton of my favorite Marvel comics all come out on the same day, and I didn’t want to skip over any of them! So be prepared for everything from Amazing Spider-Man to Unstoppable Wasp to Mosaic to the final issue of Power Man and Iron Fist! Plus I wanted to try out a couple more ResurrXion comics.
Fortunately, this week also delivered one of the best issues of Silver Surfer yet, an easy Comic Book of the Week! That comic is magical! Silver Surfer #10 combines tragic romance with all my favorite bits of Silver Surfer mythology, making for a wonderful issue.
Meanwhile, I really, really, really want to get back into reading more DC Comics. Now that Gotham Academy is coming to an end and Greg Rucka is leaving Wonder Woman, I’m going to try to get caught up on those two series so I can review them through the end.
Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #26, Detective Comics #954, Mosaic #7, Power Man and Iron Fist #15, Silver Surfer #10, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #19, Unstoppable Wasp #4, Weapon X #1 and X-Men Blue #1.
Amazing Spider-Man #26
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Stuart Immonen
I liked the idea of Parker Industries from the start. I think it’s a neat concept and a neat evolution for Peter Parker. But I don’t think Slott has done enough with Parker Industries or Peter as a CEO. It doesn’t help that he’s writing a Spider-Man comic and not a Peter Parker comic.
The rooftop charity ball is in chaos as Norman Osborn reveals himself and calls in his soldiers, who are riding on glider-cycles. Silver Sable, Mockingbird and Spider-Man give chase (though Bobbi has to fall back when SHIELD orders her to get out of this illegal operation). Osborn leads Spidey and Sable into a trap, where he plans to show off all his new weapons to his potential investors. Osborn flees while Spidey and Sable take down a giant walking tank.
Afterwards, Silver Sable fills Peter in on how Osborn and the countess of Symkaria took control of the country (while skirting around explanations for how she’s not dead). She wants his help to take them down, and Peter agrees. Against the advice of his business partners, Peter plans to use the power and wealth of Parker Industries to sneak weapons into Symkaria — which, of course, is highly illegal. Doctor Octopus has been listening in on Peter’s convos, and he anonymously tips off SHIELD about Peter’s plan. Nick Fury declares that Parker Industries is now an international criminal and SHIELD needs to take them down — which means Mockingbird is being sent after Spider-Man!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This issue doesn’t have as much of a personal vibe as the previous one, but it was still fun! We get a lot of Spidey action as he takes on Norman Osborn’s new mess, and I’ve always been a big fan of Spidey and Silver Sable for some reason, so that team-up was cool. Likewise, I really dig the idea that Mockingbird is going to have to go after Spider-Man on orders. That’s a neat way to twist the knife of a possible Peter/Bobbi ‘ship.
TL;DR: With great art, snappy writing a few good twists and just a really fun story, Slott keeps Amazing Spider-Man rolling along just fine.
Detective Comics #954
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Marcio Takara
League of Shadows continues with all manner of fun twists and turns!
Batman confronts Ra’s al Ghul in the Batcave about the lies that Ra’s told him about the League of Shadows. Ra’s mocks Batman for not reading between the lines on those lies and figuring it out for himself. Ra’s did indeed create the League of Shadows, but then Shiva took over and now they’re out of control. Also, Batman uncovered the League several times in the past, but Ra’s always wiped his memories. Now Ra’s asks for Batman’s help in taking them down.
But no sooner does Batman release Ra’s than Ra’s knocks him out and hands him over to Shiva and the League, whom he led into the Batcave. It was a double-cross!
Meanwhile, with the Belfry empty, Colony Prime and his forces break in and free Jacob Kane and the others. Since Batman is gone, it’s up to the Colony to stop the League of Shadows, even if it means burning Gotham City to the ground around them! Gotham is lost anyway at this point, they figure.
Double meanwhile, Cassandra Cain is on a one-woman quest to kick every single League of Shadow butt she can find!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
At first I thought this issue was just going to be Ra’s al Ghul taunting Batman with various retcons about the League of Shadows, and that would have been boring. Ra’s can just erase Batman’s memories in order to keep the League a mystery? That’s pretty lame storytelling. But then Ra’s immediately betrayed Batman to Shiva and it was an awesome twist! I definitely didn’t see it coming, because a Batman/Ra’s al Ghul team-up is a surefire win. So when Tynion pulled the ol’Switcheroo, I was on board!
Not to mention the general coolness of putting the Colony front and center in the fight. Jacob Kane has been waiting in the wings for a long time now. And Colony Prime seemed like a throwaway character from a few issues ago. But Tynion was setting them all up to do what they were meant to do, make a big giant mess of things in their fight against the League! Throw in Orphan as an ass-kicking wildcard and you’ve got the build-up to a great climax.
TL;DR: The excitement of the League of Shadows story just keeps ratcheting up higher and higher in this issue, and that is a damn cool thing.
Writer: Geoffrey Thorne
Artist: Bruno Oliveira
Even though it hasn’t been officially announced (because Marvel doesn’t do that anymore), I’m pretty sure this is the penultimate issue of Mosaic. I’ll have more to say in my review after the synopsis, but this series could have worked.
Mosaic has spent several weeks with the Inhumans at this point, skipping us right over Civil War II. Beast is working with him to figure out what makes his powers tick, while Mosaic would rather spend time hitting on Iso the Inhuman. They actually have a really nice scene together, until the X-Men attack from Inhumans vs. X-Men, and we quickly montage through Mosaic’s roles in that crossover and some of the aftermath, which apparently involved Mosaic bailing on both the Inhumans and Iso.
Now he’s alone and pouring his heart out to Fife, but Fife is getting sick of listening to the incredibly selfish Morris Sackett blather on about his problems, so Fife takes off. Morris tells Fife to fuck off, then starts flying up into the sky, telling everybody in the whole world to fuck off! But then he sees some mysterious goings on and decides to investigate. He ends up possessing a Moloid and runs afoul of the villain Diablo!
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
The thing to know about Mosaic is that the parts of this issue that actually dealt with Mosaic as a person were really good. Whether he’s flirting with Iso or talking about his powers with Beast and Human Torch or getting in an argument with Fife, Thorne has a perfectly fine and interesting character here. Personally, I am a big fan of the concept of having an NBA superstar suddenly develop super-powers. It’s like Bill Murray cameoing in the movie Zombieland. Movie stars and athletes are people too, and in a world of either zombies or superheroes, they have just as much of a chance of being involved as every “ordinary bloke” superhero.
As a concept, Mosaic was a great idea! It was fun seeing Morris as an arrogant, selfish sort of guy, which isn’t the typical superhero we usually see. His journey from selfish, independent superstar to team player probably would have been a good one. There was nothing wrong with Mosaic as a character or how Thorne wrote him.
The problem is that Thorne and Marvel took seven freakin’ issues to tell his uninspiring origin story!
It amazes me how foolishly Marvel misunderstood the modern comic book market. There are so many comics, so many reboots and relaunches, so many crossovers and Big Events and so many new solo comics. What made them think they could spend half a year telling this new guy’s origin story? And it’s not even that compelling of an origin story! Mosaic is an Inhuman, so he gets his powers the same way all Inhumans get their powers. Yes, they were weird powers, and it makes sense to let Morris try them out, but not for all those issues. Couple that with the idea that the Brand Corporation was a really boring villain. They were just ‘evil corporation/scientists’, and that’s nothing.
The good parts of Mosaic’s origin — the stuff with his father and girlfriend — were relegated to the side through most of the origin, or they were dealt with too quickly.
Rather than focus on the compelling drama that was definitely there, or on an actual interesting super-powered conflict, Marvel spent way way too long on having Mosaic jump from random pedestrian to random pedestrian. Comic books are not sold on the coolness of the super-powers, but that seems to be what Mosaic was focused on most.
And the origin story still wasn’t over in this issue. Thorne is forced to skip over Civil War II entirely and then rush through Inhumans vs. X-Men just to get Mosaic to the present day. It’s not Thorne or the character’s fault that a new Inhuman is being introduced immediately ahead of two major Inhumans crossovers, but they were poorly handled. Thorne spends several great pages setting up the flirtation between Mosaic and Iso, but the rapid montage later in this issue can only devote a single panel and a single speech balloon to their ‘break up’. What a waste.
Also, Diablo? Really? Not only did Doctor Doom kill him a couple months ago, but why randomly drop Diablo into this comic? Did Thorne flip to a random page in the giant Marvel Character Encyclopedia?
TL;DR: Mosaic took way too long to get started as a series and now all that feet-dragging is coming home to roost, cutting the new series off at the knees before it has a chance to really get going. All the promise in this issue is buried by rushed place-setting.
Power Man and Iron Fist #15
Writer: David F. Walker
Artist: Sanford Greene
This is it. This is the end. Power Man and Iron Fist was my favorite new comic of 2016, but now it’s shuttering its doors far too soon. At least it goes out on a high note.
After Doctor Voodoo gives Power Man and Iron Fist a crash course in the history of the Grandmaster of Street Magic, we rejoin our heroes battling a giant Hell demon inside a magic box. The monster has got ahold of everybody, but Senor Magico arrives just in time to free them and close the box. Then Alex Wilder and Black Mariah show up to crack some skulls, with Alex possessed by the Chadoe, the original Grandmaster of Street Magic, now reduced to demonic possessions. A big fight breaks out, which is soon joined by Tombstone, Mr. Fish and their rocket launcher! The fight is just crazy!
Eventually, they’re able to free Alex from the Chadoe and trap the Chadoe in the magic box with the Hell demon.
A few days later, Danny and Luke lament the destruction of their building and the failure of the Heroes for Hire, but all the friends they’ve made along the way show up and promise to help them rebuild. Luke and Danny share a well-deserved hug.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Abandoning the larger gang war storyline — which I had high hopes for — Walker and Greene just throw it all together in a big, series-ending brawl. I don’t know if this was always the intention, but it works out just fine. We get a big, wonderful fight and a solid conclusion to the latest revival of the Heroes 4 Hire. Greene kept the art on point so we never lost track of what was happening, and the fight itself was just stellar. Everybody got in some good licks.
And the ending epilogue was especially nice. This series was great because it really got into the heads of Danny and Luke, and then put them squarely into a unique and vibrant community. I loved seeing all the different characters weaved into the adventures, and I liked them all coming to a head in this fight. The creative team ended this series with a big brawl, and I am totally OK with that.
I’m sorry to see this series go, but it was definitely fun while it lasted.
TL;DR: The last issue of Power Man and Iron Fist goes out with a big ol’fashioned brawl to end them all. The creative team sticks the landing with a great super-fight and a poignant emotional finale.
Silver Surfer #10
Writer: Dan Slott
Artists: Mike and Laura Allred
Silver Surfer has been on a roll with the past couple stand-alone issues, but Slott and the Family Allred hit all my buttons this week for a brilliant one-off love story.
The Silver Surfer and Dawn Greenwood are summoned to aid Galactus, who has been transformed into The Bringer of Life by the Ultimates. Galactus reveals that he is doing everything in his power to keep the Alphex and the Omegron from uniting once more. When his pod Big Banged into our universe, it split apart the Alpha/Omega, giving birth to the universe. The two halves were spread to the far ends of the universe, but now their journey to reunite is almost at an end, and if that happens, then the universe will be destroyed.
Dawn points out that they’ve met the universe, his name is Eternity and he seemed nice. The Surfer tells Dawn that the universe can be seen in many ways.
The Surfer and Dawn immediately volunteer to each take one half and return them to the opposite ends of the universe, resetting the lifespan of the universe. Galactus uses the last of his power to bend time and space around them, transporting them to opposite ends of the universe — only for them to realize that they have no way back to each other! There’s an entire universe between them (illustrated wonderfully by having panels for Dawn and Surfer on opposite sides of some double-page spreads, with blank white between them).
In his sorrow, the Silver Surfer calls out to Eternity, demanding every favor that the universe owes from all the times Surfer has saved it. So Eternity, larger than all of existence, brings his two index fingers together, reuniting Dawn and the Silver Surfer.
“Just this once,” he says.
Our two heroes embrace and share a cosmic kiss!
Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.
First of all, I’m a sucker for a good romance. Second of all, I’m a sucker for good Surfer/Galactus stories. Third of all, I’m a sucker for stories that involve the Silver Surfer invoking his unique place in the cosmos. So this issue had everything I personally love about the Silver Surfer.
(Some of my favorite Surfer stories include the final issue of Silver Surfer: Requiem and the four-part Surfer prologue to the original Annihilation. That second one may seem strange, but it’s a story about the Surfer checking in with his fellow former heralds and then Galactus himself about the upcoming war, and the dialogue and importance of all the characters is just wonderful, geeky stuff.)
So yeah, this one-off issue contained pretty much everything I want out of a Silver Surfer comic. It’s got the Surfer meeting the new version of Galactus and the two of them treating each other like equals as they try to solve a universal crisis. It’s got the Surfer and Dawn being awesome and heroic, with a tragic twist, since it’s written that the two of them don’t realize what they’re agreeing to when they volunteer to help.
Having Galactus explain the tragedy like that is like a twisting knife. It really hits you what our heroes have just done. I loved it.
Then the art is fantastic as the Allreds separate Dawn and the Surfer with empty white page space. Brilliant decision. These people are geniuses. Artistic geniuses.
And then you’ve got the Surfer calling out to Eternity himself, set up nicely with Dawn name-dropping the guy earlier in the issue. Slott makes us think that, “yeah, sure, Eternity exists, but sometimes you’ve just got to ignore him when you’re talking about the cosmos,” only to turn around and once again use Eternity in a most amazing way. Seriously, the pages that show Eternity bringing his fingers together to reunite Dawn and the Surfer, all in honor of the Silver Surfer as a cosmic hero, are just magical.
TL;DR: The new issue of Silver Surfer is the best one-off story yet. It combines the cleverness of Slott’s recent cosmic stories with all my favorite trappings of Silver Surfer lore.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #19
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Erica Henderson
Holy cow, you guys! I only just found out that the writer of Squirrel Girl, Ryan North, was also the genius behind Dinosaur Comics! I love Dinosaur Comics! My love of Ryan North has just sky-rocketed a few more notches.
Melissa monologues to Squirrel Girl about her family history of sabotage and attempts to control animals, revealing all the ways she steals company secrets and hides her nefarious plans. When cats do her bidding, people just post it on Youtube as funny cat videos! Melissa also reveals that she was responsible for putting Doreen in the same computer classes as Chipmunk Hunk and Koi Boy. She thought she could get Squirrel Girl to join her, but Doreen is too much of a goody goody!
Melissa then uses Pym Particles to shrink her animal controlling super computer so that she can insert it into her ear, making the power mobile — all while Doreen battles her adorably dressed bear servants and henchmen. Melissa manages to teleport away just as Doreen’s friends arrive.
Several weeks later, with Doreen suspicious of every animal she meets (including Howard the Duck), Melissa launches a massive mosquito attack on Manhattan!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
It’s at this point in the review process that I just accept that Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is great and there’s not much more I can say beyond that. This was another hilarious issue with some fun character moments and a neat story. I could have maybe done without the obvious monologuing by the villain, but North and Henderson more than make up for that by being wonderful. The dialogue, the silliness, the humorous bits and panels, like the one I shared, are just plain spectacular. And attacking the city with a swarm of evil mosquitos? Brilliant!
TL;DR: Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is hilarious. Issues like this new one are hilarious. It’s funny and lovable and so much fun to read. Don’t pass it up!
Unstoppable Wasp #4
Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Artist: Elsa Charretier
Hard to believe it’s only been four issues of Unstoppable Wasp so far. This comic is just so much fun.
Nadia tries to talk Poundcakes out of hurting anybody at Priya’s store, and it almost works, but then her villainous partner Letha shows up with Jarvis as a hostage! Nadia is forced to suit up as the Wasp and take them both out, using her analytic mind in combination with her Krav Maga training to take down the villains with martial arts precision! Afterwards, Priya is totally ready to join the lab.
The next morning, Nadia meets with her attorney, Matt Murdock, about her citizenship. If they can prove she is Hank Pym’s daughter with DNA then there’s no problem, automatic citizenship. But they can’t do that right away, so he recommends she apply for asylum by coming clean to government officials about the Red Room.
Speaking of the Red Room, Nadia is ambushed by her friend Ying outside Matt’s office. She freezes Nadia with some tech and is about to take her away when Jarvis shows up and convinces Ying to let her go by telling her that Nadia was prepared to fight her way back into the Red Room to save Ying. Afterwards, Ying reveals that the Red Room has implanted a bomb into her skull that will explode if she doesn’t deliver Nadia!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
This issue was packed with story, and all of it was delightful! From Nadia trying to talk down Poundcakes to the precision with which the narration describes her use of Krav Maga to the funny meeting with Matt Murdock to the scuffle with Ying! Whitley and Charretier pack so much into a single issue. This comic is practically bursting, and all of it is super fun. I was especially taken by the way in which they describe Nadia’s fighting style, using their previously established scientific acumen to talk about fighting.
Whitley and Charretier are doing a great job building this character and her world. Each issue just gets bigger and more enjoyable, with more of Nadia’s world explored and expanded upon. She’s great with new characters and she’s great with classic characters, like Matt Murdock. Just plain simple fun stuff.
TL;DR: The latest issue of Unstoppable Wasp is packed to the thorax with fun encounters, great dialogue and some really smart and clever superheroing.
Weapon X #1
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Greg Land
I don’t like Old Man Logan. I liked the original story just fine, but I really don’t like the idea that he’s been supplanted into the regular Marvel Universe. I think X-23 works perfectly as a legacy for the currently deceased Wolverine, so Old Man Logan is just redundant.
To say nothing of the fact that, in the two X-comics I’ve now read that feature him (this one and X-Men Gold #1), he’s treated like regular Wolverine, just with gray hair. They don’t even pay lip service to the idea that he’s an old man from another dimension where he lived a long, full life that included the vicious deaths of everyone he loved and the complete dystopian destruction of America.
Nope, he’s just regular ol’ Wolverine hanging out and clawing bad guys. And it sucks. And now he’s gonna star in three separate X-books, while Laura only gets one.
Old Man Logan is hanging out in nature when he’s ambushed by two murder robots posing as people. He escapes them over a waterfall and recognizes their claw blades as similar to Lady Deathstrike. Old Man Logan heads to a public library and looks up Sabretooth on the Internet, which leads him to a cabin in the woods. Creed was also attacked, this time by a murder robot posing as a little girl. The two enemies compare notes on the murder robots and Old Man Logan suggests a team up — a suggestion that becomes moot when he reveals that he purposefully led the murder robots to their location.
The murder robots obviously work for a new Weapon X, which is kidnapping and possibly cloning a select couple of mutants. They’ve already got Lady Deathstrike and are holding her in a tube. They also put a hunk of Old Man Logan skin into another tube after that opening fight. A couple more tubes are labeled for Domino, Warpath and Sabretooth. Not sure why those characters specifically.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
Honestly, this reads more like a new Old Man Logan comic than some big, fancy Weapon X rebirth. Remember the last time Marvel pushed a new Weapon X? They made it a really big deal, repurposed a lot of old characters and went whole-hog. This time, Weapon X barely factors into the story. Everything here could have easily fit into an Old Man Logan comic, or even any general Wolverine comic. Heck, it would have been better as an All-New Wolverine comic starring Laura and Gabby.
But on it’s own, for what it is, Weapon X #1 is fine. It’s even entertaining. I just don’t have any particular stakes in the issue.
Like I ranted above, Old Man Logan is written just like regular Logan. He narrates the whole issue and there’s absolutely nothing in the narration to set Old Man Logan apart as his own unique character. He gets into a fight with some robots, spends some time considering those robots, and then has a brief scene with Sabretooth — who I think is still a good guy these days. Even Sabretooth acts like he’s just the regular Wolverine and not a visitor from another dimension.
The story is simple and doesn’t try too hard to be anything more than it is, which is a simple story about Wolverine fighting and running from death robots who just happen to maybe work for a new Weapon X, not that that connection matters to this issue.
I also don’t have as much a problem with Greg Land as most people, so I was fine with his art in this issue. He does a perfectly adequate job.
TL;DR: Weapon X #1 might as well just be Wolverine #1 for all any of the trappings matter, and in that regard its a perfectly fine comic about Wolverine fighting deadly robots with no greater agenda — so far.
X-Men Blue #1
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artists: Jorge Molina and Matteo Buffagni
I fully admit that I’m probably not the most objective critic. A big part of my love for the X-Men involves the use of characters I like, and when a new team doesn’t feature any characters I like, it’s just not going to matter as much to me. That is probably part of the reason why I didn’t care for X-Men Gold last week.
And it may play a part in my enjoying X-Men Blue a bit more this week — though, much like with Old Man Logan, I wish Marvel would just send the Young X-Men away. They’ve outlived their purpose.
Though I also believe the conspiracy theory that Marvel is focusing on the Young X-Men and Old Man Logan in order to stick it to the Fox movie studios. It just makes sense.
The Young X-Men head out on their first mission since breaking away from the rest of the X-Men, and it involves stopping Black Tom Cassidy from robbing a yacht. Black Tom brought his old pal the Juggernaut with him, so the X-Men are in for a bit of a scrape. They work as a team, use their powers effectively, banter like pros, and eventually win the day — though Beast angers Cyclops by using demonic magic to teleport Juggernaut through Hell to Siberia.
They head back to their new base in Madripoor and report their success to their new boss, Magneto! He tells them that they will continue their work to make Charles Xavier’s dream a reality.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
The most important thing about X-Men Blue is that it’s not trying too hard to appeal to nostalgic X-Men viewers. It takes a similar ‘back to basics’ approach as X-Men Gold, but it doesn’t shove time worn X-tropes down our throats, like I felt Gold did. Granted, it’s a pretty simple story about the X-Men taking on the Juggernaut, but Bunn makes it work. The yacht/ocean setting makes an encounter with the Juggernaut pretty unique and interesting. And he puts a lot of the focus on the team interactions and pushing these characters forward, which I liked.
The best part of X-Men Gold was the treatment of Kitty Pryde, and putting a lot of focus on Kitty stepping into her new role as leader of the X-Men. Bunn manages to inject that feeling into most of the characters here, whether it’s Jean taking over as leader, Scott bristling just a little at that fact and Hank showing off some new magical skills. As much as I don’t care for these Young X-Men anymore, Bunn makes them work, while also giving some heft to the fact that they’re not supposed to be here.
The art was also just plain great in this issue. Molina and Buffagni keep it light and a little comical, but nicely detailed and grounded. This was perfect comic book art, both in character and setting. Solid showcase all around.
Plus, that final page cliffhanger really sold the premise of Magneto leading the Young X-Men to me. Magneto has evolved to the point of wanting to fulfill Xavier’s dream, and he appreciates the symbolism of using the original X-Men to make it happen.
TL;DR: Despite the time-tossed original X-Men having worn out their welcome, the first issue of X-Men Blue makes them work with solid writing and great art.
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 April 15, 2017, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man, X-Men and tagged Amazing Spider-Man, Danny Rand, Dawn Greenwood, Detective Comics, Galactus, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Mosaic, Old Man Logan, Power Man, Power Man and Iron Fist, R'as al Ghul, Silver Sable, Silver Surfer, Squirrel Girl, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Unstoppable Wasp, Wasp, Weapon X, X-Men: Blue. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.