Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 8/19/17
Happy Flame Con Weekend! Your favorite henchie is, at this very moment, showing off Gamer Girl & Vixen at Flame Con in Brooklyn! It’s the first major convention of my growing comic book career, and my team and I couldn’t be more excited! Wish us luck this weekend!
For some reason, there weren’t too many comics this week, but I’ve reviewed a couple anyway! We’ve got Aquaman and Batman in the same week, for one! And another nice issue of Silver Surfer. But Comic Book of the Week goes to the new issue of Mighty Thor for a pretty gnarly battle between good and fire!
I am also reading DC’s Metal event comic. It’s pretty wild, so far, and plays pretty fast and loose with continuity. The problem is that DC’s continuity is kind of off the rails in Rebirth, as I’m not very sure what actually counts as stable continuity anymore. So when you write something like Metal, which is chock full of Easter Eggs and continuity-reliant reveals, some of the energy gets lost in the shuffle.
Like, I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to just ignore New 52 Hawkman? Is that right? Or…are we not and I’m reading too much into it? I have no idea.
On a sad note, did you people know that the previous issue of Unstoppable Wasp was actually it’s final issue?! I had no idea! Marvel stealth cancels their comics now without any sort of announcement, in order to keep perceived failures out of the headlines. Makes sense, but man, I really loved that series. I’m kind of bummed about it.
Comic Reviews: Aquaman #27, Batman #29, Mighty Thor #22 and Silver Surfer #13.
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Stjepan Sejic
We’ve now reached a point where Stjepan Sejic might be the selling point of the Aquaman comic. It’s a fun book!
Aquaman and Dolphin are prisoners of the crime boss Krush, who is convinced that Aquaman is the real Aquaman. When he threatens Dolphin’s life with a giant sea monster in order to get Arthur to squeal, the former king relents and reveals the truth — only to turn Krush’s giant sea monster against everybody to help them escape! Arthur and Dolphin flee and then have to take on Kadaver.
Meanwhile, Mera seeks out Garth’s help at Titans Tower, and Volko goes deeper underground with the Widowhood to figure out how to take down the evil king.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This issue was fun, but I don’t think it was anything special. Abnett is making fine use out of all of this characters, and Sejic’s art, of course, raises it all to another level. But otherwise, this was just a solid issue of the ongoing Aquaman story. We get some cool hero moments, we get a lot of great facial reactions, and a couple of the side plots move around. Having Sejic draw the Titans is fun. And all of the characters are really cool. Dolphin seems fun. Was she always mute? Krush and Kadaver are quality villains, and their designs are out of this world. Abnett is doing everything right with this cast. But there’s just that bit of extra magic that seems to be missing. I can’t put my finger on it or explain what it is, but this comic could use a little more oomph.
Like, if Abnett really took the political maneuvering to a whole ‘nother level and gave us an Atlantis as intricate as Game of Thrones. Go all out and have Sejic start mapping Atlantis, so we could see where all of the characters are in relationship to one another. Abnett teases all sorts of interesting stuff, like a fancy market, but the team really needs a larger scope from which to view the proceedings. Then Aquaman would really stand apart.
TL;DR: Aquaman is good and enjoyable, but it could use a bit more of a spark to really set it apart.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin
Forgive me if this sounds mean, but I think this is Tom King’s most pretentious issue of Batman yet. I don’t necessarily consider that a bad thing. But considering his grand experiment with The War of Jokes and Riddles, Batman #29 is King pushing his meta-narrative to the brink!
Bruce Wayne hosts both the Joker and Riddler to a sit down, nine-course dinner at Wayne Manner to try and hash out their differences, posing as just a concerned citizen who wants to end the war. Bruce confirms that the war is about both villains wanting to kill Batman, so he asks them how they would do it, and why the other villain shouldn’t be the one to get to do it. Bruce promises $1 billion to the villain he decides deserves to win (and therefore end) the war.
The Riddler says he will line up everybody Batman loves and shoot them in the head, and their bodies will fall down on him in a ditch as he struggles to free himself from his bonds. Then the Riddler will tell Batman he has devised the most perfect riddle in the world, but he’ll then shoot Batman in the head before telling him the riddle. He says the Joker doesn’t deserve to get the kill because the ‘Joker’ is a phony facade put up by a plain, boring, ordinary nobody.
The Joker says he wants to choke the life out of Batman with his own two hands, and when the serenity of death takes him, Batman will finally smile. The Joker says he deserves to get the kill because “Batman vs. Joker” is famous, while nobody cares about “Batman vs. Riddler”. Kinda meta.
Bruce thanks both villains for attending his dinner and promises to reach out to one of them shortly with the $1 billion. Bruce then tells Alfred that he’s definitely decided which villain Batman will join to end the war.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
I’m not really sure what to say about this issue. It’s weird, for one thing. King continues not showing us the actual war, which I’ve come to accept. But Bruce Wayne hosting a sit-down dinner for the Joker and the Riddler? With their villainous gangs standing around? Making a point to make sure it’s a full nine-course French meal? I feel like there’s some symbolism or deeper meaning I’m missing. That is entirely possible. I will fully admit that I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed. Whatever larger game King is playing here, I’m probably totally missing it. I’m not ashamed to admit that.
But on the lower level of this story, this issue is just kind of weird and I don’t think it says very much. I suppose it says a lot about the Joker and Riddler personally, but their answers are pretty straight-forward and in line with who they are, character-wise. I don’t think we get any new revelations about either villain in this issue, or the purpose of their war. Honestly, I was kind of hoping their war was about much more than just wanting to be the one to kill Batman. Seems kind of shallow, but then, like I said, this could all be in service to some larger brilliance that King is working on that I’m just not grasping.
Personally, I kind of hope he’s doing something big and I’m just an idiot. And I hope he can pull it all together in the end. I’d love a nice dawning realization moment about the purpose of The War of Jokes and Riddles.
TL;DR: Whatever meta game Tom King is playing with The War and Jokes and Riddles, it feels like it reaches its zenith with this bonkers issue. On it’s own, it’s just OK, but I’m hoping King is playing some kind of crazy long con with this one.
Mighty Thor #22
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Valerio Schiti and Russell Dauterman
I’m way behind on reviewing Mighty Thor because I feel like this comic is treading water. I felt the Shi’ar arc was superfluous, especially the Quentin Quire cameo, and now we’ve just kind of hanging around with the War Thor.
Still a very good comic, though, overall.
In his unquenchable thirst for vengeance, the War Thor storms Muspelheim, the realm of fire. He attacks Queen Sindr, daughter of Surtur, and their battle and boasts rage like the world around them. Then Thor shows up to try and stop them from destroying everything, eventually having to take the War Thor to the Yawning Void so that they can talk in peace. But the War Thor does not want to talk, he wants vengeance! So it looks like Thor must battle the War Thor!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Jason Aaron’s writing has always been solid gold on this comic, and Schiti is an excellent fill-in for Dauterman. The action is huge and bombastic, filled with the flowery language of the gods. The War Thor and Sindr trade larger-than-life boasts and challenges just as easily as they trade blows, and it makes for a very cool battle scene. The War Thor still feels a little bit superfluous, but it’s clear why he’s here: to push these battles all the way to the wall! There’s a great scene where the War Thor arrives in Muspelheim and brings the storm, and the fiery denizens of that realm encounter rain for the very first time. It’s creativity and bombast like that that makes Mighty Thor such a fun comic.
Aaron and his creative team are still doing a great job on this comic. The characters are as rich and as interesting as always. When Thor shows up, she really changes the fight in some positive and entertaining ways. And the art keeps up with Aaron’s intense requirements.
But still, I feel like the War of Realms has dragged on long enough, and that we’re in a really slow, middling period. The Shi’ar stuff and the Phoenix Force didn’t really add anything to the overall landscape. And the War Thor, while interesting, isn’t really adding much to the war itself other than another fighter. I just feel like Aaron should start showing signs of where all of this is heading.
A story this great can’t just linger in a perpetual state of war, especially when most of the stories are about side projects during the war.
TL;DR: Mighty Thor is still crazy fun and some of the best action you’ll find in comics, but it feels like the comic is treading water with the overall storyline.
Silver Surfer #13
Writer: Dan Slott
Artists: Michael and Laura Allred
We’re almost at the end! This is the penultimate issue of the Slott and Allred Silver Surfer comic, and I’ve made my peace with that. I’m ready for it to be over.
The final adventure of Dawn Greenwood and the Silver Surfer begins with a simple request: Dawn would like to see her father again. Using the Power Cosmic, the pair settle upon time travel and start heading back — only to lose control and travel all the way back to before the Big Bang! They land on the planet Taa, and they even encounter Galen (Galactus) as he prepares the spaceship that will carry him through to the new universe.
After Dawn convinces the Surfer not to kill Pre-Galactus, they head off to explore this new universe they’ve discovered. And that’s what they do. Dawn Greenwood and the Silver Surfer grow old together having all sorts of wacky, montaged adventures. Dawn eventually dies of old age, but not before revealing that she knew all along that the Surfer was using the Power Cosmic to artificially age himself alongside her. He’s still as young and vibrant as ever, and he buries her outside their home.
Some time later, the universe starts to collapse and the Surfer spots Galen’s ship flying across the sky. He transforms Dawn’s remains into energy and hitches a ride.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This issue was quaint. It was nice. But no matter how much we say we want nice, it’s not really what we want at all. There’s no conflict in nice. There’s no storytelling. Wouldn’t it be nice if Dawn and the Surfer were allowed to live happily ever after? Of course it would, but is that really the story we want to read? Not especially. Wouldn’t it be nice if everybody lived on Game of Thrones, got married to happy people and the kingdom had peace? Wouldn’t it be nice if Jurassic Park didn’t get shut down and instead went on to host a perfectly successful amusement park? Sure. But that’s not really the story we want to hear.
Slott’s Silver Surfer is very much a take on Doctor Who, so let’s use that as an example. Wouldn’t it be nice if nobody died under the Doctor’s watch? Wouldn’t it be nice if all of his companions got happy endings and he visited them all regularly? Wouldn’t it have been nice for Donna Noble to keep her memories, so that she could live on to have all manner of wacky adventures with the Doctor? Of course it would! But that wasn’t how Donna’s story ended. And her story is so memorable, so powerful, because of how tragic it was in the end.
Sometimes we need tragedy. And that’s what I thought Slott was setting up for Dawn and the Silver Surfer. We may still get tragedy, since there’s one more issue left. There’s still hope that this ending can be salvaged.
But for now, it’s just quaint. And after the wonderful, emotional journey this creative team has taken us on, I don’t want quaint. I want something powerful and emotional, something thematically resonant.
I want something that means something; no matter how nice it would be to stick with the ending we’ve got.
TL;DR: If this truly is the end of Dan Slott’s Silver Surfer, it’s far too quaint. A comic this good deserves an ending just as good. Thankfully, there’s still one more issue to go.
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!