Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 8/5/17
Kind of a quiet week for comics this week. There were a lot of good releases, but not many on my normal review pile. In any other situation, this might prompt me to try out some new comics. But nope! I’m a bit too lazy for that!
Instead, we’ve got new and entertaining issues of Batman, Iron Fist and Hawkeye, as well as Unstoppable Wasp, the adorable and awesome Comic Book of the Week!
I’m serious, it’s mostly adorable and awesome.
After a great pair of issues focusing on Janet Van Dyne, I kind of want this title changed to The Unstoppable Wasp and the Regular Wasp! Or writer Jeremy Whitley should get a Janet Van Dyne comic!
Comic Reviews: Batman #28, Hawkeye #9, Iron Fist #6 and Unstoppable Wasp #8.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin
Our journey through the War of Jokes and Riddles continues on the periphery, and I’m happy with that. I no longer think King is trolling us, but the War was definitely planned this way for no doubt thematic reasons.
Gotham City has fallen into open war. This issue doesn’t have a single story, instead checking in on various stories. First, Gordon meets with both Joker and Riddler, and they both want Batman. When Gordon doesn’t deliver, Joker and Riddler send Deathstroke and Deadshot to kill Gordon, but when the two expert snipers and marksmen spot each other, they instead launch a deadly, 5-day tête-à-tête. When Batman intervenes, many are already dead. In fact, while he was worried about the two of them, the military sent special forces into Joker and Riddler territory, and they were all slaughtered.
Also, Batman did bump into Catwoman at one point during the War, but she was busy being a thief instead of getting mixed up in all of that.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This is definitely an interesting way to approach something like The War of Jokes and Riddles. I think every Batman fan out there would have loved to actually see the war play out, but that’s clearly not King’s plan. He’s telling this story from the periphery, with one small tale after another on the sidelines. It’s interesting, and so far, entertaining. He’s a great writer, with some great art teams, so at no point has this been boring. Some of it isn’t particularly enthralling, like seeing a massive brawl between Deathstroke and Deadshot told entirely through narration and montage. That’s the sort of thing I want to see play out in real comic book time. But King is going somewhere with this (I hope), and it’s more than good enough to just enjoy the ride.
(Though, there’s one gripe I have. During the big brawl, Batman points out that these are two of the greatest mercenaries on the planet, but he’s only a year or two into his crime-fighting career. That struck me as kind of odd. Were guys like Deadshot really fully established when Batman was only starting out? Wouldn’t the timeline have made more sense if they were all kind of starting out at the same time? How established was the masked superhero/villain world by the time Batman joined?)
((Also, so the War of Jokes and Riddles apparently occurred within a year or two of when Batman started. He specifically references a scene from Batman: Year One in this issue, and states the War occurs about a year later. The war is described in almost apocalyptical terms in this issue, with the city having “fallen” and the villains carving out turf. If we consider Zero Year, that means Gotham City was reduced to a literal war zone at least TWICE in two or three years! And both times, the freakin’ Riddler was at the heart of it! How can any of this jibe with Gotham City being a normal, operating city in the present day? Or the Riddler just being the Riddler as opposed to the man who twice turned Gotham City into a war zone? DC should stop retconning massive, city-wide apocalypse scenarios into Gotham’s recent past.))
TL;DR: The War of Jokes and Riddles continues in quality and content. I’m both loving and mildly bothered by King’s sideline perspective approach.
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Leonardo Romero
A somewhat simple fight issue is raised to the next level by some of the best banter in comics!
Kate Bishop wakes up in a cage at the fight club she invaded, but at least she’s found the missing father she was tracking. The fight club then puts her in the ring with Clem, a giant of a man with a battle-ax and the ability to burst into flame. Kate defeats him with skill, quips and a fire-retardent foam arrow.
Meanwhile, Kate’s cop friend shows up at her office, and her office friends fill the cop in about the fight club. She immediately launches a police raid and gets Kate to safety. So Kate is saved, the father is reunited with his daughter, and the cop confirms that Kate’s mother’s blood is on her old necklace.
Kate decides she’s finally going to get some rest, but then a mysterious woman shows up in her office!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Good banter can go a really long way! Kate Bishop is hugely entertaining in this issue. Remember the fight scene between Spider-Man and Bonesaw in the first Spider-Man movie? Where he just keeps mocking Bonesaw while they battle in a cage? This issue is like that, but legitimately funny. Sorry, I just never liked Tobey Maguire’s attempts to be quippy. Whereas Kate Bishop is a total pro. This comic was so much fun to read!
The story isn’t as impressive. I’m not entirely sure what this little detour into a crazy fight club was to accomplish. The little girl only showed up last issue, and her story is resolved right away? I kind of wish Kate did have time to get some proper sleep. Thompson is running her ragged! I’d like to see her focus on some more character and world-building. She’s got a big supporting cast, but Kate’s new friends are all just being grouped together as a mass gaggle. They had more personality when they were first introduced. They also seem to be falling into the trap of not having lives outside of Kate Bishop. Like, this girl just showed up one day in LA and bumped into them, now their entire lives seem to revolve around hanging out at Kate’s office, even when she’s not there.
TL;DR: This was another hugely entertaining issue of Hawkeye, but I fear the comic is getting stretched a little too thin with the constant action.
Iron Fist #6
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Mike Perkins
So we’re still doing Iron Fist? Yep, we’re still doing Iron Fist! It was a light week.
While returning from his latest adventure, Danny Rand’s airplane is attacked on the tarmac by a gang of hooded monks. He gets out to fight and protect the innocent civilians, and is soon joined by Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung Fu. Shang-Chi informs Danny that there’s a price on his head, and that these mysterious monks are the mind-controlled servants of the Seer, who is looking to collect on that contract. Our two heroes chase one of the monks through the airport, where they are led into a trap by the Seer and are soon overwhelmed by the ghoulish villain and his horde of puppet monks! And then Shang-Chi also falls under the Seer’s control!
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This was a fine and dandy issue of Iron Fist. Iron Fist himself is pretty Iron Fisty. We get some solid fights and a new, mysterious and mystical villain. And Shang-Chi’s cameo is pretty darn cool — though there’s no real explanation for how he’s able to randomly find Danny Rand in the middle of an airport runway. But that’s just a quibble. This is a solid issue, with a pretty terrifying sort of villain. The problem is that I guess I don’t think Brisson is doing anything…special with Iron Fist. That might be a good word for it. There’s nothing in the series so far that elevates this into a Must Read comic. It’s just solid, entertaining Iron Fist adventures.
TL;DR: Shang-Chi adds some fun energy to the latest issue of Iron Fist, but the comic still doesn’t rise to the level of anything special or exciting. Just solid, fun Iron Fist action.
Unstoppable Wasp #8
Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Artists: Ro Stein and Ted Brandt
What’s this?! Can it be? A comic book without an obligatory super-villain brawl? I never thought I’d see the day!
Once again told from the perspective of Janet Van Dyne, this issue is all about Janet helping Nadia properly set up her G.I.R.L. lab at Pym Laboratories. Janet gets all the girls back, with permission from their parents, and sets them up in Hank Pym’s old artificial intelligence wing. They’ve all got rooms to live there, including Janet, and are free to be all sciencey! They also hire Poundcakes and her partner to act as security, helping out the two crooks that Nadia tried to help earlier. Janet also managed to track down a bit of Hank Pym’s DNA, so they can easily prove that he is indeed Nadia’s father and she is an American citizen. And when they finalize that paperwork, Nadia asks if she can be called Nadia Van Dyne instead of Nadia Pym! It’s very touching. Also, Janet found an old video tape of Hank and his first wife, Nadia’s mom. Also very touching.
There’s also a big gala lab opening, and Janet uses her fashion connections to get all the girls awesome new outfits! And Shay and Ying become an adorable couple! And Mockingbird is going to join the lab!
Nadia overhears some other people talking about how Hank hit Janet, and Nadia confronts her about this (since Nadia never knew the single most defining bit of trivia about her father). Janet talks to Nadia about forgiveness and other important life lessons, and they both make their peace with it all.
The issue ends by jumping forward two months so that everybody is all settled in and working on a new teleportation device!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
It’s not that I have a problem with comics and superfluous super-villain fights, it’s just that I don’t think they’re always necessary. Comics have evolved as a medium and no longer need a fight in every issue to justify their existence. Sometimes a good story can be told without fighting or randomly chosen super-villains to drop into the tale. Sometimes we can have an issue like this one, with very little conflict, but which is nonetheless charming, entertaining and well-earned! Whitley has done so much in so few issues to establish Nadia as a wonderful character, and build up a truly unique and interesting world around her. So to take an issue to get all of her ducks in a row and set her up with an awesome new status quo — one that has been building since the beginning — is great!
I was on board with the G.I.R.L. idea since the first issue! Too many superhero comics think all it takes is a hero and the fight of the week. Unstoppable Wasp has had fights, but it has mostly focused on the hero and her personal quest to raise the profile of female scientists and engineers in the Marvel Universe. That’s a nifty idea, and Whitley had a lot of fun with it. But now the story has evolved, and using realistic MU resources that fit the story — like the original Wasp, and Pym Laboratories — Whitley has transformed his little comic into something even bigger and better going forward! Why not have his cake and eat it, too? Why not have everything fall neatly and cheerfully into Nadia’s lap? She’s a neat and cheerful character! There will be plenty of time for conflict and super-villains later!
Though, if I can complain a little bit, I felt Shay and Ying’s romance was rushed. I love a good, adorable romance in my comics and this felt like it came out of nowhere. I’d actually been getting some vibes between Ying and Nadia…
Also, the art was incredible! So personable and full of life and energy! This comic is firing on all possible cylinders!
TL;DR: A happy and cheerful issue sets up the new status quo in a lot of fun ways with a lot of fun characters, and nary an unnecessary super-villain fight to be seen! I like that.
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!