Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 4/22/17
Lots of fun comics this week! Marvel kicks off Secret Empire, which I won’t be reviewing. And DC kicks off their next big Watchmen event in Batman, which I’ve decided to get back into reviewing. In fact, we’ve mostly got DC comics this week! A reversal of the norm!
Unfortunately for DC, the one Marvel comic I reviewed — Ms. Marvel #17 — wins Comic Book of the Week for some really fun bits! Like a day-saving video game session in the middle of a convenience store!
Meanwhile, the opening salvo of Secret Empire came out this week, and while I don’t really review Big Events anymore, I’m digging it so far! I absolutely love the set-up and premise behind this event. Captain America has been brainwashed into being a secret bad guy, and he’s using his clout and heroism to build up a secret army to take over the world! And the rest of the heroes are going to need to band together against impossible odds to defeat and save their greatest champion.
That’s just good crossover storytelling! I liked all the issues that kicked off the event, I love the evil knife twists that Captain America pulls off, and I hope for an exciting ride.
Comic Reviews: Batman #21, Batwoman #2, Harley Quinn #18, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #14, Ms. Marvel #17 and The Wild Storm #3.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Jason Fabok
This issue kicks off the new Button-based crossover between Batman and the Flash, where they start investigating the Watchmen in the main DC Universe. I gave up on Tom King’s Batman early on because I just didn’t care for it — only for him to immediately launch into a pair of amazing Bane stories, and a great Catwoman romance. But now I’m all caught up! So bring on The Button!
Back at the start of Rebirth, Batman discovered the Watchmen smiley face button imbedded in the wall of the Batcave. When he places the button near the mask of the Psycho Pirate, an electrical discharge causes him to see a vision of his Bat-father from Flashpoint. Batman calls the Flash to help investigate, but he’s busy and says he’ll arrive in one minute. A countdown clock starts running in the panels of the comic as Batman is suddenly attacked by the Reverse Flash!
The villain wails on Batman over the course of the minute before he eventually picks up the button himself and is suddenly teleported somewhere else. Reverse Flash returns a few moments later, gasping about “seeing God” while his body deteriorates down to the skeleton. The Flash eventually shows up, a few seconds late, only to find the bloodied Batman and the skeletal Reverse Flash.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
In terms of kicking off the new mystery, this issue kind of fell flat. It read more like a #0 issue or a prologue. So Batman gets beaten up by the Reverse Flash for a bit, huh? The time clock in the corner of the panels is a neat touch, but then the Flash is late, so it sort of negates the point. And in the end, all we get is more weird allusions to something crazy going on behind-the-scenes, possibly Watchmen related. Also, I’m pretty sure Reverse Flash just came back from the dead, so seeing him killed again has zero impact on me.
I’m all for kicking off some big, neat, crazy confrontation between the Watchmen and the Justice League, just get on with it already.
TL;DR: Batman #21 is a finely written, exceptionally drawn comic, but it does next to nothing to move the story or the mystery forward, at least as far as I’m concerned. I may have missed something.
Writers: Marguerite Bennett and James Tynion IV
Artist: Steve Epting
I’ve got high hopes for this new Batwoman series. I want to see her succeed with a kickass, awesome comic!
We learn that Kate’s former lover, Safiyah, ran a bar on the island of Coryana called The Desert Rose. She was den mother to a bunch of thugs and pirates and kept things in order — until she and Kate hooked up and everything fell apart, for reasons we don’t yet know. Now that Batwoman has landed on Coryana, she is attacked by the new villain Knife, who has a history with her, Safiyah and the island. Batwoman is rescued by those same thugs and pirates, who are still around, but who tell her that Safiyah is gone. Coryana has been industrialized, with the KALI company taking over. And they have evil plans for Batwoman!
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
I really like the mystery that’s building here, though it’s doing so pretty slowly. I haven’t seen anything yet to really raise this comic to anything special. It’s just a solid, interesting story being told about Batwoman, with a lot of time spent on the scenery setting and the backstory. I’m really interested to find out what happened with Kate Kane on the mysterious island of Coryana, and why her arrival caused everything to fall apart. So at least they’re doing a good job setting up the mystery.
Like I said, a lot of time is spent establishing the setting and all the new characters. A little bit of time is spent dealing with Kate in this new/familiar land, and hopefully we can get more of the solid character work once the foundation has been established. I really do want to see her go to ground in Coryana to figure out its new mysteries, while also exploring her mystery year. That should be pretty neat.
TL;DR: The mysteries of the new Batwoman series continue to deepen in an issue spent mostly establishing new characters, settings and adversaries.
Harley Quinn #18
Writers: Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti and Paul Dini
Artists: John Timms, Joseph Michael Linsner and Bret Blevins
I read in the upcoming DC solicitations that we’re going to get a story where Red Tool faces off against Poison Ivy. I am more excited for that than Secret Empire or The Button.
The Cannibals kidnap Harley Quinn (without recognizing her) and manage to shake off Red Tool in his pursuit, but he put a tracker on Harley (awhile ago) so he knows where to find them. The Cannibals take her back to their base, where they’re greeted by Madison, the mayor’s aide that hired the Cannibals to eat homeless people in the first place. She just told the mayor about the whole plan and he loved it! But now he needs the Cannibals to close up shop and leave the city. When Madison informs them of this fact, the leader insinuates that they’re not going anywhere.
And it’s about that time that Red Tool shows up on their front door covered in Cable-esque firepower.
Meanwhile, in the future, that Batman-themed MMA cage fighter is zapped back in time on her quest to kill Harley Quinn.
And in the Joker/Harley back-up feature, the Clown Prince of Crime pulls of what he thinks is a perfect heist with no clue that it was him, but Batman finds some evidence left behind by Harley and raids their base.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I am a big fan of Red Tool. He’s my favorite supporting character in Harley Quinn, if you don’t count Poison Ivy’s frequent quest appearances. I know he’s just a Deadpool knock-off, but Conner and Palmiotti have built up a really interesting character. He represents, in my opinion, the overbearing ‘nice guy’ in his efforts to woo Harley. He thinks he needs to heroically save her, he thinks he’s entitled to her interest. But at the same time, he’s not disgusting about it. He’s not hopeless or overbearing. He can be insufferable, but he can also be chill, and Harley is helping to turn him into a better person. Plus he’s got a cool costume and great word balloons.
So I definitely dig an issue where Red Tool gets to sort of be the hero. Or, at least, he’s set up to maybe be the hero. He does good, is basically what happens.
Red Tool vs. Poison Ivy for the heart of Harley Quinn could be the event of the year.
The rest of the issue is mostly set-up, moving Madison and the Cannibal’s storyline along. And we get some scenes where Harley is too Harley to let chloroform get her down. That was nifty. And the art, of course, remains phenomenal. Harley Quinn is still firing on all cylinders.
Two issues in, I can take or leave the Joker back-ups. I am loving the modern Harley Quinn. I’m not desperate for classic era shenanigans.
TL;DR: Another solid installment of Harley Quinn sets up a potentially awesome story climax for the next issue.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #14
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Hendry Prasetya
Considering Power Rangers is, so far, my favorite movie of the year, it’s a great time to get more Power Rangers goodness. Higgins just keeps ramping everything up!
In the real world, the Green Power Rangers sneak through the bowels of the Command Center in a desperate attempt to reach Alpha — except that Alpha has been reprogrammed by Rita and they’re being led into a trap! The Rangers have to fight off a squadron of Goldars, and their only hope is to smash through the wall and escape — only to run into even more Goldars! The Rangers call their Zords, but the fight is still tough. Trini gets ripped out of her Zord and brought directly to Rita!
In the other world, the Coinless try to hold off Evil Tommy’s Ranger Soldiers! They battle on the front lines against the Mastodon soldiers. They contend with the elite Tyrannosaurus soldiers. And Bulk and several others get shot down by the Pterodactyl snipers. Tommy makes his way to the Falconzord to try and even the odds, but he’s defeated and captured by Evil Tommy. The villain then threatens that if everybody doesn’t surrender immediately, he’ll cut off Tommy’s head with Saba!
You may be wondering why Evil Tommy doesn’t have any Triceratops soldiers. That’s because this world’s Billy managed to smuggle out the Blue Power Coin before he died, and Trini has been holding onto it as the Coinless’ ace in the hole. As long as they have one coin, there’s still hope. When the tables turn and Tommy is captured, Trini urges Billy to morph and save the day.
But Billy says he can’t do it. Billy and Trini surrender.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Look, I know Higgins has got a story to tell, and he’s telling a damn good story. And I know it would have been a predictable ending. But you have no idea how much I wanted the last page of this comic to be the Blue Ranger ready to face off against Evil Tommy. I have never liked the Blue Ranger more than in those few pages that teased that amazing face-off. Sometimes you’ve got to just go for the big hero moment!
But Higgins threw a curveball and had them surrender, which I gotta respect.
Still, the anticipation was insane.
Higgins and Prasetya are doing career-high work on this comic. Higgins is doing Dream job level stuff. If I could become known for taking a childhood favorite and reigniting it into something this deep and this fun, I could die a happy man. He’s made Power Rangers as cool and as badass as nearly anything else on the stands. He’s playing with some classic comic book tropes, to be sure, but when they’re applied to the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, it elevates everything to excitingly cool new levels.
This issue in particular just ramps up the excitement everywhere. Both storylines are equally cool, so no part of the issue slacks off. From the Power Rangers being ‘betrayed’ by Alpha to the idea of a Ranger being pulled out of a Zord. From Bulk leading a squad of heroes on a failed mission against some evil Power Rangers to the fate of the universe resting on the Blue Power Coin. Higgins is doing everything this series should, with Prasetya keeping up with him every step of the way.
TL;DR: Another explosive and exciting issue of Power Rangers just keeps raising the stakes, playing with expectations and getting sentimental at the best of times. I dare say this is the best the Power Rangers have ever been in their multi-decade existence.
Ms. Marvel #17
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa
Zoe tries to keep her chin up at school, even though all her love letters to Nakia have been spread online and everybody’s giggling behind her back. She nearly breaks down at her locker, but then Nakia gives her a big hug, followed by Kamala, Mike and then everybody in the hallway, letting her know that not everybody is going to make fun of her. This also gives Kamala a bright idea for saving the day.
Kamala summons all of her Battlecraft guildmates to the Circle Q for a LAN game where they will be super nice to other players. Since Doc.x was built out of all the negative emotions on the Internet, she and her guild are going to flood the web with good emotions to rewrite his circuitry. It’s a cool moment…but I’m not really sold on how it works. Apparently, a couple of players on Battlecraft handing out free loot to others starts altering Doc.x’s programming?
Then Ms. Marvel tries to take the program to a secluded space on her phone, even though he’s clearly no longer just on her phone. But she runs into a parade and Doc.x starts jumping into people in the parade, mocking her. Then he glitches a little and is somehow able to take physical form as a giant? And Kamala punches him and he disappears? Gone for good?
Look, I don’t exactly know the ins and outs of how Ms. Marvel defeated Doc.x, but it was still a great issue.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Okay, so, I don’t really know exactly how everything got tied up in the end. Like, how is Kamala trying to isolate Doc.x when he’s already on Mike’s computer? And since when does he have a 12-hour repliation cycle? Where did that come from? And suddenly he’s a giant hologram that can be punched into nothingness? Nothing about the ending makes any sense whatsoever, short of the very basic idea that Kamala’s plan worked and she totally defeated Doc.x. I can live with that.
Fortunately, the first half of the issue more than makes up for the confusing ending! I was grinning from ear-to-ear with this one!
First it was the big, group hug for Zoe, with Kamala’s narration about people understanding what happened. Great character moment for the ongoing Zoe storyline. Then there’s the idea that Ms. Marvel would gather together her raiding guild to help defeat Doc.x! I loved that! I wish Wilson had spent more time developing these characters before this storyline, but she did a fantastic job in this issue of establishing that, yeah, these four had been raiding together for years and are friends. I’m a big proponent of online friendships, and it was just a really cool, creative scene that absolutely worked for Kamala Khan as a character.
It is so perfectly in Kamala’s character to, first, be part of a big, group hug on Zoe, and then kick off a Battlecraft LAN party in full costume in the middle of the Circle Q. That level of character development/understanding is near magical.
TL;DR: The ending to the Doc.x arc is a little confusing, but it’s more than made up for by some of the best Ms. Marvel character work in forever! This issue really showcases the heart of Kamala Khan and why she’s such a great new character.
The Wild Storm #3
Writer: Warren Ellis
I will not give up! I will not give in! This needs to be documented from the perspective of someone who has no interest or personal love of anything Wildstorm. I am the fresh eyes. And I liked this issue.
Also, please forgive me, but I haven’t learned everybody’s names yet…
Angie Spica is hold up in a facility on Long Island, working on her super suit. Then Grifter and his two compatriots teleport into the room, offering to help her on behalf of Marlowe and Halo. Marlowe is the guy she saved from falling out a building, which kicked this whole comic off. Angie is panicked, though, because International Operations is definitely out to get her — and speak of the devil, three IO commandos blow the door and rush inside. Grifter, Angie and a badass lady with a super gun hold them off (while IO command start futzing about the mysterious “wild CAT” unit that’s randomly on site). Eventually, Angie begins to make her escape through a hole in the ceiling, while the badass lady works to revive their teleporter, and IO command orders their men to just blow the whole place!
Also, there’s a woman with the power to walk in and out of screens, including whatever TV show or commercial or digital comic happens to be on the screen at that time. She’s also tipped off to Angie Spica.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Leave it to Warren Ellis to write a really exciting action issue. I definitely like Angie Spica at this point, and I’m fairly certain that Grifter is a good guy, so having Grifter show up to protect Angie from bad guys, while Angie works her technological magic, makes for a pretty nifty comic. The action is just really good in this issue, good enough to make me forget all the other weirder stuff in this comic. And like I said, I’m definitely interested in Angie’s ongoing storyline. Here’s a rogue scientist with a self-invented super armor that’s being tracked by some very powerful people. That part is really solid, and the action in this issue makes for a really exciting chapter.
TL;DR: A healthy dose of well-scripted action makes for an exciting read, and is cool enough to make me forget the more indifferent parts of The Wild Storm.
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 22, 2017, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews and tagged Batwoman, Flash, Harley Quinn, Kamala Khan, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Ms. Marvel, Power Rangers, Red Tool, Reverse Flash, The Flash, The Wild Storm, Wildstorm. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.