Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 7/29/17

Light week this week, for no good reason. I guess I just didn’t read enough comics I liked enough to review! But we’ve got solid and exciting issues of Iceman, Detective Comics and Infamous Iron Man, so that’s good enough for me.

Comic Book of the Week goes to Batgirl #13, as Hope Larson delivers possibly my favorite issue yet of her Batgirl run! She’s definitely having fun with this comic, and it shows!

Batgirl Sidekick 01

Batgirl tries on a sidekick for size

Secret Empire has reached a grinding section. There are bits and pieces here and there that get exciting, like the final page cliffhanger of the new issue, but overall, I think the scope of this story is just a little too big. It feels like I’m reading a big What If…? comic instead of an actual, in-continuity story about these characters.

Comic Reviews: Batgirl #13, Detective Comics #961, Iceman #3 and Infamous Iron Man #10.


Batgirl #13

Batgirl #13
Writer: Hope Larson
Artist: Inaki Miranda

Another one-shot, and this one is just plain fun! If Larson just wants to tell a bunch of clever Batgirl stories, I am definitely down for that!

Batgirl comes across Esme, one of her students, standing up to a gang of punk kids in a warehouse in Burnside late one night. After Batgirl scares off the punks (a prepubescent gang called the Shifties), she finds out that Esme is searching for Rookie, the Internet-famous fire dog, who has gone missing. Esme follows a lot of celebrity dogs on Pixtagraph. Batgirl is about to take Esme home, but then they spot Catwoman nearby, and Batgirl brings Esme along rather than let the thief get away.

After a brief scuffle, they quickly learn that Catowman’s pet kitty, Isis, is also missing! Isis also has a celebrity pet account on Pixtagraph, along with endorsements. In fact, Rookie and Isis recently did a pet perfume commercial together, which is the sort of coincidence that detectives like these three would pick up on! Using neighborhood cats to track the scent of the perfume (or purrfume), our heroes find Rookie and Isis being held prisoner in a luxury penthouse downtown. They are the prisoners of Velvet Tiger! Since she wants the best in life, she decided she needed the best, most popular pets.

Our heroes confront the villain, and Rookie saves the day by freeing all the other captive pets, who gang up on Velvet Tiger! In the end, Catwoman and Isis make their getaway, while Esme and Batgirl pose for a Pixtagraph pic with Rookie. And Batgirl takes Esme home, while promising not to tell her teacher, Barbara Gordon.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

I thought last issue’s stand alone swimming pool mystery was a bit wonky, but Larson more than makes up for the weirdness with this stellar stand alone comic. The level of creativity at play is a ton of fun! From Esme to the Shifties to basing a mystery off celebrity pet Instagrams (which I’m sure is a real thing). She even worked in Velvet Tiger! I love it when subsequent writers are willing to use their predecessor’s original characters! The Batgirl of Burnside era can definitely use some reoccurring villains! And supporting characters like Esme.

Shifties 01

The Shifties! Adorable!

I had a lot of fun with this issue. It explores a new and unique part of the world, has a lot of fun characters, and involves a real mystery, at least a little. Not much came of teaming up Batgirl and Catwoman, but I don’t have a problem with that. Not every team-up story needs to be mined for full continuity-based importance. It can just be a fun, one-off, dog and cat-seeking adventure with great art!

TL;DR: Hope Larson and her team tell an adorable, one-off story about missing pets that renews my faith in this comic.


Detective Comics #961

Detective Comics #961
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Alvaro Martinez

You guys, Tynion and DC are going to bring back Azrael’s classic armored Batman costume, the one that everybody hated back in the 90s. I love this idea so much I could squeal.

So Azrael wants to kill everybody, because a part of Ascalon was inserted into his body/mind upon birth. That’s how the Order of St. Dumas controlled him, and now Ascalon is back in control and has turned Azrael into a killer. Batwoman and Orphan fight against him as best they can while Luke Fox digs deeper into the programming that has allowed Ascalon to take control of all the Batwing armors. Batman and Zatanna arrive in time to shut down Azrael before he kills anybody (after another flashback to Bruce and Zatanna’s teenage years, when Zatanna’s dad erased Bruce’s memory of his discovery of Zee’s real magic).

Everybody needs to head to the Belfry to help Clayface against Ascalon and its army of drones, but Luke tells them that they will need Azrael to defeat Ascalon. And to help with that, Luke unveils the new armor he created for Azrael. It will still interface with his mind/body like his current armor, but Luke has replaced the Order with a better programming: Batman!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I love the idea of repurposing that classic, reviled Azrael Batman armor into a new, awesome, character-driven story element. Brilliant work by Tynion, rehabbing that armor. Enough time has definitely passed, and Azrael has been sufficiently rehabbed, to make this work. So I can’t wait to see it in action.

This was another really solid issue of said action. Great fight scene between Azrael, Batwoman and Orphan. Great use of Luke, making all of this weird religious-programming stuff actually start to make sense. And, of course, there was another great flashback scene with Batman and Zatanna. Tynion continues to do a great job writing those two together, makes me wish she was a regular part of his life. Or, at the very least, they had a whirlwind teenage romance back in the day before Bruce moved on to other Batman things.

TL;DR: The action just keeps escalating in another excellent Detective Comics. Tynion is doing a lot for Azrael and it shows!


Iceman #3

Iceman #3
Writer: Sina Grace
Artist: Alessandro Vitti

I can’t wait for Grace to write the classic Champions reunion! He was gushing about it at Comic Con last weekend, and with how good this comic has been so far, I can’t wait to see Iceman really team up with his superhero pals!

Bobby goes home to have dinner with his parents, but conversation is as awkward as possible, considering they don’t really want to hear about the “mutant stuff” and Bobby doesn’t want to cut out his entire life when talking with his parents. They don’t come of as cruel or bigoted, just old-fashioned and set in their ways, while still loving their son. It’s relatable and nice, and Bobby’s struggle is real.

But then, sigh, an army of Purifiers take over the home spouting their usual nonsense and Iceman surrenders to save his parents. Then his dad stands up to the assholes, and Iceman goes nuclear with his powers, icing up everyone and pretty much the whole street! His mom gets him to back off and the Purifiers get arrested. The next day, some other X-Men show up to help repair the Drake household, and Bobby’s mom, at least, tells him that he’s right, and asks for some more time in letting his parents get used to him.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

I compliment Grace for doing a bang-up job making the Purifiers in this issue matter — but they still suck as antagonists. The lead Purifier in this issue is the father of the Purifier from the first issue, so there’s a bit of parallel between fathers and sons in this issue. So on that level, it works. But holy freakin’ hell are the Purifiers horrible characters. They are all painfully one note, their “holy” angle borders on vomit-inducing, and their level of extreme violence flushes any nice, realistic scene down the stinker. This issue had a great opening with Bobby having a realistic and awkward dinner with his parents. But then two minutes later, their home has been invaded by a small army of gun-toting maniacs spouting Bible verses. Ugh. At least Iceman gets the better of them.

Iceman Rules 01

And does he ever!

I mean, maybe the Purifiers work as a level of satire, like the extreme version of the hatred that already exists in the world. But they aren’t played for comedy. They’re played as legitimate maniacs opening fire insides homes or on school grounds, and all the heroes treat them with a blasé attitude. Give me a villain with some depth! Give me Mystique in disguise inviting herself in for dinner, either to screw with Bobby, killer him or support him.

But still, everything about Bobby’s struggle with his parents is solid gold character development. And I love it when Iceman really cuts loose with his powers and the writer touches upon the insane depths of what he can do. This definitely feels like an Iceman comic book, dealing with Iceman-related issues, as opposed to a generic superhero comic starring any superhero fighting any villain. That happens far too often.

TL;DR: Three issues in and Grace is doing more for Iceman’s character than X-Men comics have for a long time. This comic is so very good on a human level. I just wish X-writers would abandon the damn Purifiers already.


Infamous Iron Man #10

Infamous Iron Man #10
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev

Not every issue can contain a continuity-rich, really personal conversation between two classic Marvel characters. Sometimes you just need to move pieces around.

Victor spends some quality time with his mother in her strange, between-dimensions magical stronghold. He’s distrustful of her, due to a tough childhood, but she begins to teach him some new magics and point out how his Iron Man obsession is getting a little ridiculous. Then the Maker shows up and Victor realizes something is up.

The Thing is told by SHIELD to take care of Doom no matter what. He travels back to the castle in Latveria, where he meets a little orphan girl who tells him that having Lord Doom as their leader was like heaven compared to the wasteland that is now their country. Doom actually cared about his citizens and treated them well. As Thing continues to explore the castle ruins, he finds an old framed picture of the three fellas at college — but then an armored Victor bursts out of a portal and warns the Thing to run!

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

There is nothing wrong at all with this issue, it’s just a whole lot of table-setting for the showdown to come. Doom and his mom have a tense, terse meeting, so there’s not much to really dig into. And the Thing is mostly on his own, reflecting on the idea that maybe Doom isn’t as bad as he always thought. Both are good for the building story, and I look forward to the Doom and Thing taking on the Maker, but for now, we’re just moving pieces into place and establishing key factors for the story. Nothing great, but nothing bad, either. Just a solid, mechanical issue.

TL;DR: Pieces move around and the story continues to simmer in the latest Infamous Iron Man.


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 Mills

Hello, 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 July 29, 2017, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Iceman is good. Good tension, but I also like how it shows Bobby’s dad as courageous and defiant in the face of hate. Also: Lorna texting back that she knew Bobby was gay makes me happy, because I’ve been saying for months that I want her to have always known.

    Infamous Iron Man is good. Doom’s scepticism is handled well.

    No interest in Secret Empire, but I did see the pages of Black Widow getting killed. And while it’s just one more bit of bullshit in an event full of it . . . damn, Sorrentino’s amazing. It is a gorgeous sequence. That man is goddamn magic.

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