Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 4/29/17
Posted by Sean Ian Mills
Good news, everyone! The Gamer Girl & Vixen graphic novel is here! Almost! my partner, the great and glorious Kristi McDowell, picked up the comics at the shipping depot on Friday, and she said they look amazing! I’ll be heading down to her place soon to start packaging them and shipping them out to our Kickstarter backers. If you’d like to order your own copy, stay tuned to this blog for details!
Meanwhile, regular comic book companies keep putting out books. Unfortunately, I’m kinda busy at my day job his week, so I had to trim some of my usual reviews, like Hulk. Fortunately, there were still some goodies! The final issue of Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat is Comic Book of the Week because it went out like we all hoped it would: adorably.
Double meanwhile, after only two issues, I’ve already decided to drop both Weapon X and X-Men Gold. The former is fine, I just don’t care about it. But I am finding X-Men Gold to be actively bad. There’s no cohesion in the comic. Events and scenes aren’t held together by any real foundation, and seem to exist solely to make for ‘kewl’ moments. Plot points are nonsensical and lacking in logic. And the art, of course, is terrible.
These are probably similar reasons to why I’ve stopped watching all of Marc Guggenheim’s DC Comics TV shows on The CW. Yes, even Flash…
Comic Reviews: Detective Comics #955, The Flash #21, Infamous Iron Man #7, Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat #17 and X-Men Blue #2.
Detective Comics #955
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Marcio Takara
The League of Shadows ain’t slowing down, people! So keep up!
Batman gets shackled up alongside Batwoman, Batwing and Azrael in the underground lair of the League of Shadows, where they plan to wallop the fault line beneath Gotham City to destroy the burg in an earthquake — but Cassandra Cain is fighting her way through scores of villains to reach them! After her fight with her mother, Cassandra was rescued by the ballerina she’s been spying on, who bandaged her wounds and read her a story about a girl who uses her shadow powers to save her friends (kind of on the nose, that story).
Cassandra fights through, like, the entire League of Shadows and finally confronts her mother, with Batman and the others having somehow escaped to join her.
Meanwhile, the science whiz of the Colony has invented ‘smart’ chemical warfare ready to deploy on the League.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This was another exciting, action-packed issue of Tynion’s Detective Comics and his League of Shadows storyline. We now know the League’s sinister plan, so that helps. And, of course, the pages upon pages of Orphan cutting through evil ninjas were pretty awesome. I think the scene would have worked better in live action, but hey, it was still good. Give Takara some credit. Solid work pushing Cassandra to her limit against a seemingly endless army of ninjas.
I liked the friendship Cassandra has growing with the ballet dancer. We met the young woman awhile ago in an issue I didn’t review, but suffice to say, she’s solid when it comes to giving Cassandra a life outside the Belfry. Good work there — though the story she read to Cassandra about the shadow girl was a little too on-the-nose. So the ballerina’s mother just happened to read her a bedtime story that perfectly encapsulated Cassandra’s current predicament? Yeah, sure.
Also, I was a little disappointed that Batman and the others all escaped the League off-panel. I would have preferred to see Cassandra take on her mother one-on-one.
TL;DR: Another great issue of the current Detective Comics focuses on Cassandra Cain. It’s got plenty of action and some nice character bits that make me hope she’ll get some more personal focus going forward.
The Flash #21
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Howard Porter
Look, I get what’s going on here. The Button storyline between Batman and Flash is steroid love for all the classic DC fans who are thrilled by Rebirth. This exists so that everybody can marvel at DC’s ‘back to basics’ approach to their characters. I am not that fan, so none of this story’s magic is working on me.
The Flash inspects the crime scene that is the Batcave after Reverse Flash attacked Batman and then disintegrated. There’s a lot of radiation on the Reverse Flash’s skeleton that’s similar to the radiation from the button, and Flash gets the Cosmic Treadmill out of storage to try and figure out where it all came from. Batman tags along, despite being very injured. The pair race through time, seeing visions of their past that they somehow don’t remember. But then the Treadmill crashes and they end up in the Flashpoint Batcave, where Bruce meets his father!
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
The comic is perfectly fine. The writing is cool, the art is phenomenal, and I suppose it’s a neat enough story. It’s just not doing anything for me. I don’t care about the Cosmic Treadmill. I don’t care about Reverse Flash. I don’t care about Bruce meeting his Flashpoint father. I am not the sort of comic reader that DC can bamboozle with hints that they’re going to undo their New 52 continuity changes. It’s a blatant attempt to backtrack.
All that being said, this comic is perfectly fine. I don’t get a sense that it’s going to answer its Watchmen mysteries just yet, so that’s disappointing. And I don’t really feel the camaraderie between Batman and Flash very well.
TL;DR: This is a perfectly enjoyable comic, but since I’m not under the spell of DC Rebirth, the magic of seeing all this continuity reshuffling means nothing to me.
Infamous Iron Man #7
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev
I am a sucker for this series. I can’t help it. I am a big fan of the comic book trope of having super-villains turn into heroes, and this issue in particularly really dials up the personal stakes of Doctor Doom trying to turn over a new leaf.
After the Wizard escaped Doom in the previous issue, he has called together a bunch of super-villain pals to warn them that Doom has gone straight. Some of the villains want to fight, some want to flee, and then Doctor Doom crashes the party and starts taking them out. Doom lets the Wrecker flee, and the Wrecker goes straight to Ben Grimm and SHIELD seeking asylum. Ben informs the Wrecker that Doom left all the villains alive, and now all of them — including Wrecker — are under arrest.
Later, when the Thing heads home, he finds Victor Von Doom waiting for him. Doom apologizes for always being an asshole to Ben, even back in college. He praises Reed and Sue and says he’s ashamed he never appreciated them while they were around. Ben doesn’t necessarily believe any of this, but he’s willing to hear Doom out, at least a little. Doom doesn’t have any answers when Ben asks about Doom’s mom, and he leaves a short time later.
Then Ben finds Reed Richards in his apartment!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
This is a completely biased review, and I do not apologize for that. The opening of the issue is fun, as Bendis bounces some of his usual villains off each other, only to have Doom wreck their lives. Then he has some fun with both Doom and Ben Grimm independently teasing the Wrecker. That’s always a hoot. But it was the end of the issue that sold me completely. I’ll admit that I’ve never been a particularly passionate fan of the Fantastic Four, but these are still characters with history and real heart. And seeing Ben Grimm and Victor Von Doom commiserate as real human beings was magical.
What can I say? I know continuity is usually a mess in comic books these days, and this do-gooder area for Doctor Doom won’t last forever. But in this moment, in this apartment, these are real people with real histories that matter to them. I hope Bendis can maintain this energy.
TL;DR: Infamous Iron Man gets very real in a very human, very phenomenal way.
Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat #17
Writer: Kate Leth
Artist: Brittney L. Williams
Sadness abounds with the final issue of Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat! This series was too good for this world. Fortunately, we go out on a high note!
Patsy Walker receives her first royalties check after regaining ownership to her classic comic book series, and it’s a whopper! So she takes Ian, Tom and Jubilee on a shopping spree at the mall! But they’re ambushed by a pair of dorky super-villains called the Somnambulisters! These two ladies bicker and giggle so much that Patsy quickly unmasks them to reveal Stevie and Danica, Patsy Walker’s two biggest fans! They found out Patsy was Hellcat and wanted to impress her by being super-villains, but really, it was all a way for Stevie to impress Danica!
Patsy and her friends take the girls for lunch and have a serious talk about what’s really going on, setting them on the right course for romance instead of super-villainy. And once that’s taken care of, Patsy and Jubilee share a nice moment of awesome friendship!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
What can I say to properly eulogize Patsy Walker? This was a super fun comic and I’m going to miss it! The humor was spot-on, the characters were wonderfully cheerful and the art was something else. Chibi Patsy is going to be sorely missed. This was a wonderful, friendly and colorful series and a nice addition to Marvel’s lineup. This was a fine example of them expanding their style and product. Everyone involved should be incredibly proud of their work and happy that they made it to 17 issues in today’s market. Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat was a dream.
This issue in particular was a really nice one. While I don’t particularly remember the two mega-fans who show up in this issue, they are wonderful as a pair of silly super-villains. Leth and Williams can really cut loose with the humor and the character building, all set inside a mall. This comic wasn’t all about fisticuffs. Sometimes it was about Patsy sitting her enemies down and just talking to them until they all figured out what was going on, even when Patsy was the last one to catch on.
TL;DR: Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat will be sorely missed. Fortunately, the creative team goes out on a series high note with this colorful, good-natured and all-around enjoyable issue.
X-Men Blue #2
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Jorge Molina
I may have already given up on Weapon X and X-Men Gold, but X-Men Blue is still good comics. For the most part.
Two months ago, Magneto made his offer to Jean Grey to lead her team of Young X-Men to do awesome things. He allowed her to read his mind, and inside she found devotion and anger. Now the teenage mutants are adjusting to their new lives and base in Madripoor, which includes Danger Room sessions, Hank secretly conducting evil magic, Jean trying to figure out Magneto and Bobby not hearing back from his boyfriend. Then they’re dispatched to Spain to battle Sentinels, but these Sentinels greet the X-Men as “fellow mutants”.
Also, Magneto is building a new time machine in the basement to send the Young X-Men back to their own time.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
The biggest thing that separates Blue and Gold is cohesion. This comic has a solidly defined cast of characters, with personalities that both mesh and clash well. Bunn plays the characters off each other very well, in ways that remain grounded. We know where these characters are in relation to each other and to the setting. We know how they’re impacting one another. We know how they connect to the plot. X-Men Blue is a good comic book. X-Men Gold is not.
This issue in particular was nice. We get a lot of great character interactions, from Cyclops and Beast burying the hatchet to Jean Grey trying to suss out Magneto. I love how they use Magneto here as a mentor figure. It’s a really great dynamic for the Young X-Men. And it’s all tied together with another superhero mission. That’s good comics by me. I only wish the regular X-Men title had this solid of a foundation.
TL;DR: X-Men Blue is comics done right, especially in comparison to the rest of the new X-Men line so far. It’s got solid characters, a real foundation and some interesting plot stuff so far.
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!
About Sean Ian MillsHello, this is Sean, the Henchman-4-Hire! By day I am a mild-mannered newspaper reporter in Central New York, and by the rest of the day I'm a pretty big geek when it comes to video games, comic books, movies, cartoons and more.
Posted on April 29, 2017, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged Cassandra Cain, Detective Comics, Doctor Doom, Flash, Flashpoint, Hellcat, Infamous Iron Man, Magneto, Patsy Walker, Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat, The Button, The Flash, The Thing, X-Men: Blue. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.
Infamous Iron Man is fine.
Hellcat is great. So wonderful. Jubilee at the mall! Yes! And the Somnambulisters! Those girls are adorable. I’ve loved this series, and I’ll really miss it. Also: “I’m painfully straight sometimes.” “Sure y’are, Pats.” Subtle, Kate. A shame she wasn’t allowed to reveal Patsy as queer.
X-Men Blue is good. I still have some concerns about Bunn’s promise to use a lot of older characters, and I’m not a fan of the focus on Scott’s feelings for Jean. I’m also not keen on Romeo ghosting Bobby. But there is some good stuff. And Molina draws a really cute Jean.
Hulk is great. Really good emotional work.
Weapon X is well-written, with some good character work, but it has Greg Land on art.
X-Men Gold is a serious step down from the last issue. Poor pacing, too little character work, Guggenheim seems convinced that Amara should be a terrible person, and I am so done with “every single human being on the entire planet hates mutants and wants them all dead and there’s not a single person who’s actually OK with mutants.”
You noticed that about Molina’s Jean Grey too, huh? It’s really striking. As chiseled and handsome as Molina’s Magneto is, his Jean is cute and kind of adorable. And if Bunn’s promise eventually involves him using the Mimic, this will quickly become my favorite X-Men comic, hands down.