Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 9/16/17
So, uh, comics, hey? Some came out this week! I read them, enjoyed them and have written up a couple reviews! Everybody likes those, right? Sorry, I’m a little distracted this weekend! But I still love comics.
Comic Book of the Week goes to the new issue of Mister Miracle. Whatever writer Tom King is building here, I think it’s going to be good!
The second issue of DC’s Metal event came out this week, and it was fun. They do a great job tying a lot of recent Batman stories together, reaching all the way back to Final Crisis and The Return of Bruce Wayne. But in the end, I think it’s all a little silly. Like, they go to all this trouble and establish a Batman story that supposedly stretches to every conceivable corner of the DC Universe…and it’s all about just bringing a bunch of evil, multidimensional Batman to Earth to fight everybody.
Eh, not impressed. So far.
Comic Reviews: Hulk #10, Mister Miracle #2, Ms. Marvel #22, Runaways #1 and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #24.
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artists: Julian Lopez and Francesco Gaston
Woo boy! I’m not even sure where to start with this one. It’s not a bad comic, by any means, but the new issue of Hulk is a little all over the place.
Monster Oliver has gone public, attacking a bridge full of cars in a monstrous rage! Jen and her posse show up, and she Hulks out to take him on — while discussing Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein via narration. Before the fight can start, Warren pushes through the cops to try and reach Oliver, but that causes the monster boyfriend to jump down to a garbage ferry below. Hulk follows and tells Oliver that she won’t kill him, but he starts wailing on her until it pushes her over the edge and she just might! Fortunately, Hellcat shows up and stops her, and Hulk flees.
Later, we see that Jen’s Frankenstein narration was a talk she was giving to Oliver in the hospital. He’s still a monster, and unconscious. Outside the hospital, Jen meets with Patsy and tells her that she’s stopped going to support group. And some mysterious woman named Robin is spying in Jen with some kind of secret agenda.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
First, I’ve got to address the obvious elephant in the Rome: the art is kind of insane in this issue. Not insane in that it’s a wild, experimental style. Insane in that there are two different artists with two wildly different art styles, each given half the comic. And at least one of them is both perfect for the issue, but also wildly different than anything we’ve seen so far. Lopez is that first artist. He’s got a darker, detailed, realistic style that, honestly, looked pretty damn amazing in the opening scenes on the bridge. It looks nothing like that we had before, but it was still great for this comic!
Then when the fight moves down to the trash ferry, we suddenly switch to Gaston’s more cartoony, comicy style and it’s like taking the air out of a balloon.
Gaston’s art is good. I like it. But jumping from Lopez to Gaston within the turn of a page threw me for a loop, and I couldn’t help but feel let down that this big fight wasn’t going to be as big and impactful as we’d been getting in the first half of the book. That was disappointing. I’m fine with getting fill-in artists to help pick up the slack, but why release a comic with two jarringly different art styles? Especially when Lopez has only ever contributed to this issue? It’s nothing but a distraction!
Second, this was a finely written comic, there’s no denying that. The Frankenstein comparisons are always going to be there, and it helped that Jen was telling that stuff to Oliver, a new monster. So it fit. I personally would have liked the fight to be bigger. Here’s the Hulk taking on a rampaging, out-of-control monster, but they just kind of trade a couple blows on an empty garbage ferry. I would hope for some bigger brawls in a comic called Hulk.
Plus, in the end, this story didn’t amount to very much, as I feared it wouldn’t. Despite everything about monster-creating drugs and some shady TV production guys, and the stuff about cooking shows and relationships, this all boils down to Jen smacking around a monster for a couple pages and making allusions to Frankenstein. I don’t even remember if any of the people connected to the drug got arrested…
TL;DR: The story I was worried would just devolve into generic superheroics devolved into even less. While still entertaining to read, I still feel like this comic could be so much more. A jarring art switch halfway through all sucks all momentum out of this issue.
Mister Miracle #2
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mitch Gerads
And we’re back with more Mister Miracle! This issue is a little more straight forward than the previous one, but can we be sure that any of this is straight forward? It’s that kind of comic.
General Mister Miracle is taking part in the brutal war between Apokolips and New Genesis, his army ordered this way and that by Orion, the new Highfather. After several victories, Mister Miracle and Big Barda go before Orion (with some hilarious bits about Scott not respecting Orion’s new title and the kneeling that goes with it). Orion informs them that while they were victorious on the Western Front, Granny Goodness came in and pretty much slaughtered all their armies on the Eastern Front (Mister Miracle and Barda were raised/tortured by Granny). Orion tells the two of them that, in the morning, they will be sent to assassinate Granny.
During the night, Metron visits Scott like a wild vision and keeps repeating, “You are not to know the face of god,” which ties into something from the first issue.
In the morning, the two teleport to Granny’s camp and hang out with her a bit as she gushes over how much her children have grown. They even have dinner with her while they discuss the peace negotiations.
When night falls, Scott and Barda sneak into Granny’s war tent, and Granny is waiting for them. She blasts Barda and pulls Scott deeper in. She’s worried! She knows about Metron, and she tells Scott that Orion warned her that Scott and Barda would try to kill her to disrupt the peace negotiations. Granny says she was always a friend to the original Highfather, and it was she who warned him that Darkseid had found the Anti-Life Equation. And she mentions the ancient prophecy that Darkseid will die at his son’s hands. Everybody assumes it means Orion, but Granny suggests it might mean Scott — at which point Barda walks up and beats Granny Goodness to death.
As Scott and Barda teleport away, we’re warned about the Paranoid Pill! Also, there’s a candle that might hold some significance.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
First of all, the stuff that I’m pretty sure is straight forward is great! Mister Miracle’s utter contempt for Orion’s leadership is glorious, especially in the scenes where he refuses to use Orion’s new title or kneel to him. We’re only two issues in, and the rivalry between these two characters is so much fun. Likewise, the relationship between Scott and Barda is already sweet and wonderful, and their meeting with Granny Goodness is chock full of character development and expression. If nothing else, King is a master of quality, enjoyable character interactions.
Second of all, I’m not sure what the heck is going on. I’m not entirely sure if any of this is really happening or what might be happening in the margins. This is one of those kinds of books. Are these scenes happening as I perceive them to be happening? And what happened with Granny Goodness at the end, with the candle and this Paranoid Pill thing? What does it mean?! Will we ever know? Are we supposed to know now and I’m just not getting it? Is any of this war really happening?
TL;DR: Mister Miracle continues to impress with a really character-driven issue, at times hilarious, scary and very touching. But the very nature of this comic puts every single panel into question!
Ms. Marvel #22
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Marco Failla
Ms. Marvel‘s latest storyline comes to an end, but I’m a little disappointed in its ending. I thought Wilson really had something great here, but I wish she’d gone deeper.
Also, when the Ms. Marvel movie gets made (or the TV show), I nominate Basic Becky (Lockdown) and K.I.N.D. as the villains. I never liked the Inventor. Does anybody else even remember him?
Kamala and Josh don’t get very long to discuss her secret identity before Becky starts banging on the door. Josh tells Kamala that they’re still enemies, that her reveal doesn’t change anything, but he does stall Becky to allow Kamala to escape through a window. She’s exhausted and not sure what to do…but then Lockjaw shows up out of nowhere and teleports her to a nearby diner so she can eat a big meal and regain her strength. The diner chefs tell her they hope she’s going to stop this criminal takeover of City Hall, boosting her confidence.
Meanwhile, Tyesha and Nadia lead a mob of citizens up to the mosque to confront K.I.N.D., demanding that the armed officers stand down. When K.I.N.D. refuses, Tyesha reveals that the Court of Appeals has struck down Mayor Worthy’s hostile takeover of City Hall. The cops show up to arrest the K.I.N.D. officers, and Lockjaw teleports Ms. Marvel back into the fight so that she can finally defeat Lockdown with some wicked new stretchy moves. The bad guys are locked up, the hostages fight back and are freed, Josh slips away in the confusion and the mosque opens for evening prayer.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This issue was good and very enjoyable, but I feel like Wilson didn’t go far enough with her story, and she took a lot of easy outs. Like, it should be a huge deal to have Kamala reveal her identity to her friend/enemy, but she and Josh don’t get to deal with it because the scene is quickly cut short when Kamala has to escape. Josh will likely be a problem to deal with later, but I wanted it dealt with now. Wilson did such a great job last issue setting the two of them up for a real face-off. On top of that, Basic Becky crossed the line into general crazy sadism, so she was quickly brushed aside as just a crazy villain. And Mayor Worthy and his mob of angry, ordinary citizens didn’t appear at all, so Kamala didn’t get to take on the very idea of Trumpism in the story’s finale.
There’s literally a scene where the K.I.N.D. leader says “we’re just doing our job”, but the implications of that are never explored. That’s equivalent, I think, especially in this context, to the Nazi excuse of “we’re just following orders”. Who are these seemingly ordinary civilian men who signed up to join K.I.N.D.? Are they all Hydra soldiers? They don’t look like Hydra. And, again, considering the political implications that Wilson has been challenging with this storyline, Americans don’t need to be Hydra to join this sort of organization. Where’s the exploration of why these ordinary civilians are so ready to arm themselves and create a paramilitary force in the streets of Jersey City just to keep minorities down?
The story doesn’t go any deeper than these men just being this level of evil.
Then there’s the sudden appearance of Lockjaw. Just when Ms. Marvel is at her most challenged, just when she’s been pushed too far and is on the run from her enemies, a giant, magical dog just shows up and saves her. We haven’t seen Lockjaw in this comic for months, but he just poofs in, revives Ms. Marvel and gives her the leg up to win the fight. That’s just a little too convenient for my tastes. Yes, we got a nice scene of those diner cooks having Ms. Marvel’s back, but that wasn’t worth the magical fix for her exhaustion in the face of adversity.
Why not just have her stumble into the back of the diner and the chefs recognize her and bring her inside on their own? That would reveal that some people in the city still have her back without bringing in Deus ex Dog.
This is exactly the sort of story I would love to see Wilson and Ms. Marvel explore. She’s the perfect hero to challenge the growing resentments in our current political landscape. And I thought Wilson had been doing a great job setting all that up with this storyline — especially when she revealed that one of our regular supporting characters had joined the bad guys full tilt, with (at least to him) justifiable reasons. Wilson had successfully mixed the anger of the electorate with a superhero/villain story.
But I feel like she wrapped everything up a bit too neatly in this final issue, with a few too many cheats to avoid any real struggle.
TL;DR: This was a really great fight issue of Ms. Marvel, but I don’t think this storyline called for just a standard hero/villain fight in the end. I wish the creative team had dug deeper and delivered a more nuanced and emotional finale.
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Kris Anka
I loved the Runaways. You loved the Runaways. Everybody loved the Runaways, so much so that they’ve got a TV show coming out. And after the team has been off the radar for several years now, it feels right to have a “getting the band back together” story.
Nico Minoru is living a pretty boring apartment life when Chase suddenly teleports into her apartment holding the recently dead body of their old friend Gert, who died in the original Runaways story. Chase says he went back in time to the exact moment Gert was stabbed and recovered her body. She’s minutes away from bleeding out! Nico uses the Staff of One to summon a doctor to her apartment, and then conjures up a bunch of other quick, panicky spells to help the doc perform life-saving surgery right there on the floor of her kitchen. It’s pretty crazy, since Gert is dying and Nico has to be really creative and quick with her spells. It’s nuts!
Anyway, the doctor saves Gert! She wakes up enough to drop a pretty swell joke. But someone is mysteriously watching these happenings through the eyes of a cat! A bigger fan of Runaways lore might recognize the villain immediately, but I don’t.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
Here’s the thing: killing Gert in the original Runaways comic was a bad idea. Gert was the break-out character of the comic, the sarcastic, chubby awesome chick with the pet velociraptor. Everybody loved Gert! Which is probably the reason why original writer Brian K. Vaughan killed her. Vaughan is one of those writers who loves a big, emotional death. “Kill your darlings” is the common parlance. Vaughan loves it. Joss Whedon loves it. But Gert was the heart and soul of the original Runaways. She was a major selling point. And considering Runaways was supposed to be an ongoing series, you can’t just kill the heart and soul of your book and expect it to thrive.
It’s like my Killing Alfred Theory. In fact, I mention Gert in that very blog post all the way back in 2013!
Killing Gert was the death knell for the Runaways comic. So bringing her back to life, and making that the focal point of a “get the band back together” story is a solid plan. We comic fans have long accepted that nobody stays dead, so I see no problem with bringing Gert back to life. And based on this first issue, I’m confident Rowell can get a really good story out of this.
But this first issue is almost all prologue, to be honest. It’s fun, well-written prologue. It’s a very gripping scene. But it’s just one, issue-long scene of Nico casting panicky spells until Gert is fine. Rowell makes it awesome, so that helps. The characters all feel real, and have a nice, grounded touch to them. And Rowell creates real tension out of the fact that Nico can only cast a spell once, and she’s already used up all her basic ‘heal my friend’ spells in her superhero career. So she’s running out of ways to cast spells and has to get really creative, which isn’t easy when your friend only has minutes to live. Rowell mines all of that tension supremely well, so it’s an exciting comic.
And Anka’s art is just perfect. I hope he sticks around permanently!
TL;DR: The first issue of the relaunched Runways gets off to a strong start, with a lot of tension and strong character moments. But it’s over too quickly to really let us sink our teeth into the relaunch.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #24
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Erica Henderson
The awesomeness of Squirrel Girl in the Savage Land continues unabated!
Squirrel Girl teams up with Antonio the Doombot to take on the Ultron Tyrannosaurus Rex. That should be all the recap anybody needs. It’s funny. Ultron-Rex is not full Ultron, but still wants to take over the world. And Antonio is destroyed after proving himself to be really awesome! Then Ultron sets off the volcano under the research facility, blowing everybody up but leaving him alive to conquer the world!
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This issue was fun, as all issues of Squirrel Girl are automatically, but it wasn’t as personally investing as previous issues. There was none of the good interpersonal stuff, especially not between Nancy and Stefan. Ultron-Rex is great and all, but I’m kind of here to find out if Nancy gets to kiss the cute boy! Come on, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl! Get with the program!
The issue was mostly just Squirrel Girl trading barbs with Ultron, who seemed a little off-kilter, because his memories of being Ultron were a little messed up. And some time was spent telling his T-Rex origin, which was fine. And we see his Deadpool card, which is a must. But yeah, this issue traded character development for general superhero action, while still being its usually hilarious self.
TL;DR: An action-packed issue of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl combines Ultron, robots and dinosaurs, and we’re all the better for it!
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 September 16, 2017, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews and tagged Hulk, Mister Miracle, Ms. Marvel, Runaways, She-Hulk, Squirrel Girl, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.