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Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 10/14/17

Have you heard the horrible news?! After many long years, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti are leaving Harley Quinn! Say it ain’t so, you guys! I’m going to miss you! Don’t worry, I’ll stick with you all the way to the end!

Unfortunately, we don’t have a new issue of Harley Quinn this week! Instead we’ve got some truly awesome issues of Amazing Spider-Man, Detective Comics, Mister Miracle, Runaways and more! And I’m very pleased to award Comic Book of the Week to the latest issue of Ms. Marvel, which settles back into basics and delvers a super fun issue!

Kamala Yaya 01

Whatevs

DC released a new issue of their Metal Event this week and it’s OK, but I’m not particularly liking it. There’s an artifice to the whole thing that’s turning me off. Like, Scott Snyder and DC are trying too hard to fit this into old bits of DC continuity, and that falls flat when the story is so basic. It’s just a bunch of evil alternate reality Batmans, and we’re told that the world has been completely conquered. I think the scope is just too big for what they’re giving this story and too much is being hammered into place just to be clever. No thank you.

Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #789, Detective Comics #966, Mister Miracle #3, Ms. Marvel #23, Runaways #2 and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #25.


AmazSpidey789

Amazing Spider-Man #789

Amazing Spider-Man #789
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Stuart Immonen

Forgive me, Dan Slott, for hoping that Spectacular Spider-Man would be the great return-to-form Spidey we were all hoping for! Forgive me for going astray!

Suffice to say, Dan Slott and Amazing Spider-Man still bring solid Spidey comics.

Parker Industries is in freefall after CEO Peter Parker scuttled everything in order to keep his company and his tech out of the tentacles of Doctor Octopus. As such, Peter is a pariah the world over and has resorted to crashing on Mockingbird’s couch because he has nowhere else to go (they’ve also gone on one date, which either happened off-panel or I missed it. If this first date was published somewhere and I missed it, please someone let me know! I want to read that!).  We also find out this issue that, since Peter only allowed himself a small salary while CEO, he’s effectively broke.

Rather than spend all day miserable on Bobbi’s couch, Peter goes out to confront Joe Robertson at the Daily Bugle for writing bad stuff about him and Parker Industries. Peter wants to know why Robbie didn’t mention all the good that Parker Industries did, and Robbie throws it back in Peter’s face that the human cost, from the jobs to the mismanaged company, were the more important part of the story. Peter concedes. Then out on the street, Peter is chased by a literal angry mob who recognize him as the guy who cost a lot of jobs and a lot of now-defunct webware tech!

Later, the usual gang of Peter pals meet for Flash Thompson’s birthday party and Peter eavesdrops on them from a window. He hears them all have a good time and chuckle at Peter’s unfortunate misfortune. Also, Harry has been handling all the important business calls about the failing company, and Peter has been ducking Harry’s calls. Harry has also gotten back together with his ex-wife Liz.

When Bobbi returns home and finds Peter back on her couch, she suggests they go out and swing around, because being superheroes is awesome. They find the Griffin attacking a food truck and kick his butt, with the crowd pretty angry at Spidey for being Peter Parker’s lapdog. It’s only when Peter saves the food truck from being destroyed — seeing as how it’s the owner’s livelihood — that the people end up happy with Spidey again. Then he and Mockingbird return to her place and start smoochin’!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I’m a little shocked at just how quickly things have fallen apart for Peter. I know I breezed through a couple of Secret Empire tie-in issues without paying too much attention, but this is a pretty drastic status quo change. For the record, I liked Parker Industries, especially when it debuted in Superior Spider-Man. But I don’t think Slott was able to give it to the room that it needed to really become a big part of Amazing Spider-Man. Parker Industries and Peter’s new life as a billionaire CEO were always playing second fiddle to Spider-Man stuff, and it was never particularly noteworthy Spider-Man stuff at that. He fights Norman Osborn a bunch, there was a long story involving the Zodiac, I think. Mister Negative was around. There was that big clone story. I dunno. Just generic Spider-Man stories with Parker Industries as the backdrop.

I felt like Amazing Spider-Man was too busy being a Spider-Man comic to really explore the interesting new status quo Dan Slott had set up.

Spidey Food Trucks 01

Gotta steal to eat, gotta eat to live!

This issue starts getting things back to basics for Peter, which is fine. I don’t really care what Peter Parker’s status quo is, as long as we get good comics and good character work. And this is all solid character work. Peter is put through his paces, both professionally and personally, and you can really feel how it’s taking a toll on him. Poor guy. And then you’ve got this Peter/Bobbi relationship bubbling, and I feel like Slott has really laid enough groundwork to make this interesting. I want to see where it goes, and I like that Slott is pushing this relationship as something Peter can focus on as Spider-Man. When Peter Parker’s life is crappy, why not lean hard into the kind of fun he can have as Spider-Man? It’s a great angle to play with as this story moves along.

TL;DR: Massive status quo changes are taking effect, and Dan Slott lays out them with his usual skill and focus on characters.


Detective966

Detective Comics #966

Detective Comics #966
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Eddy Barrows

Considering the blowback from making Captain America a fascist, I’m surprised that DC is so readily jumping into a story about a fascist Batman. And I’m disappointed that Fascist Batman is going to be Tim Drake after we just got him back!

While fighting Doomsday, Tim and Future Tim discuss how exactly Tim Drake eventually turns into Fascist Batman. Future Tim explains that after Bruce dies, all the other Robins either fade away or make a mess of things, so it falls to him to take care of Gotham City. And somehow, Batwoman plays some kind of major role in turning Tim into a fascist, but we don’t yet know what exactly happens. Either way, the two Tims are able to delay and distract Doomsday enough that Future Tim hacks into the prison and teleports them back to Tim’s Gotham City.

Future Tim then asks Tim to do him a favor: forgive Conner. But Tim has no idea who Conner even is! In the New 52/Rebirth timeline, Superboy was never called Conner, and he and Tim were barely teammates in the Teen Titans. Future Tim is from the Pre-52 timeline! And he realizes, since the timelines are so different, then perhaps he has a chance to stop Tim from becoming Fascist Batman. He knocks out Tim and declares that he has to go and kill Batwoman!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This was some solid Tim Drake action as Tynion played around with timelines and alternate futures to a pretty fun degree. He concocts a pretty cool timeline for Future Tim, and it’s fun seeing regular Tim try and wrap his around around what’s happening. I always like seeing Red Robin in action, so I definitely liked this issue. I do hope they can stop Tim Drake from becoming Fascist Batman, and I hope they can do it without killing Batwoman. This was a solid, exciting issue of Tynion setting up the myriad of complexities that are going to drive the story forward, while maintaining a pretty strong focus on Tim Drake as a character. Doomsday is barely an afterthought, though we do get a great monologue from Future Tim about how he knew he had to rely on his intelligence to be the best Batman possible, so he thought up ways to take down all the major Justice League rogues. It’s pretty cool stuff.

TL;DR: The Batman books are about to get pretty crazy and Tim Drake is at the center, so this was a fun issue watching Tynion set up the mind-boggling story twists that are about to happen.


MrMiracle3

Mister Miracle #3

Mister Miracle #3
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mitch Gerads

Three issues in and we have reached peak meta for Mister Miracle. We’re at the point already where I’m not even sure if I can review this issue objectively, because we’re not so much reading a comic book as we are bearing witness to a tapestry-as-comic book experience conducted by King and Gerads.

I’m not entirely sure what I’m reading, and I think that’s the point.

Scott Free and Big Barda are taking a break from the war so that he can perform some more stunts/make a living. But one night, when he can’t sleep, he’s visited by Forager. They chill on Scott’s couch while Forager tells him that Orion is letting the bug people get slaughtered in this war, and that if they go after Darkseid, like Orion wants, then even more big people will die! Forager wants Scott to rally against Orion, and that the bug people will follow him if he does. But then Lightray shows up and murders Forager for this disobedience. Scott goes back to bed.

The next day, he successfully completes his latest stunt, then gets lunch with Barda. He tries to open up to her about how he can’t be sure what’s real and what’s fact, and some suspicion is cast on Barda being not real. Then a fan gets a selfie with the two of them for Instagram.

Later, Scott goes to see Orion to talk to him about the Anti-Life Equation and how it might be messing with both of them. Orion asks Scott if he’s seen the face of God, which is a reoccurring point in this series. Scott doesn’t answer to Orion’s satisfaction, so Orion starts beating the crap out of him. Orion then takes off his helmet and repeats that He is the face of God!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Yeah, uh, I can’t really describe the meta stuff in this issue if you’re not reading it. But King and Gerads are messing with old narration from the original Mister Miracle comic, and they’re playing around with panels as if they’re adjusting the knobs on the side of an old TV set. It’s weird. And considering the heart of the story is whether or not any of this is real or if Scott is somehow being effected by the Anti-Life Equation, who knows if any of this is happening? It’s that weird, edgy sort of nearly insanity that seems right up Tom King’s alley. I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to be unsure about everything in this comic, and that’s definitely working.

Miracle Forager 01

Now’s not a good time, brightly-colored bug man

Besides all of that, it’s still good reading. I’m definitely wrapped up in Scott’s story, eager to see where all of this is going. I love the juxtaposition of Scott and Barda’s simple home life with the insanity of their New Gods world. Like that picture above, with a disheveled and unshaven Scott sitting on his couch, and then the brightly costumed Forager shows up talking about Orion. It’s crazy, but oh so catchy. Both King and Gerads are doing high quality work here, and I’m excited to see how it plays out — even if I’m worried that I’m not fully understanding it.

TL;DR: Mister Miracle is getting weird, but it hasn’t lost me yet. The newest issue really ups the sense that nothing is as it seems, but what we do see is really fun to read.


MsMarv23

Ms. Marvel #23

Ms. Marvel #23
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Diego Olortegui

This issue is top quality Ms. Marvel comic bookery. This character is at her best when you’ve got Wilson writing her as just your average teenager trying her hand at being a superhero. And that’s exactly what we get in this wonderful issue!

Kamala is surprised to learn that the new Pakistani exchange student in her class is Kareem, the handsome young man she met when she visited family in Pakistan a dozen issues ago! But he’s barely got time to settle into class when everybody is drawn to the window for some kind of train emergency. Kamala ditches class and changes into Ms. Marvel to help. The out-of-control train is only going about 25 mph, and it can’t just hit the emergency brakes because it’s a super long freight train and a sudden stop will cause all the cars to pile up. So Ms. Marvel jumps on top of the train to ride it along while she and the conductor try and figure out what to do.

Then Red Dagger shows up out of nowhere, also wanting to help! And he and Ms. Marvel instantly start bickering about what either of them is doing there, while the conductor occasionally interrupts to inform them about a new emergency. Like, they’ve got to duck for an overpass, or close an upcoming bridge that got raised, and at one point Ms. Marvel hops off to grab some snacks at a convenience store, where she runs into some fans who are already excited for the mysterious new Jersey hero who is all over social media already. That bums her out that she’s so easily turned into old news.

The pair’s bickering is finally interrupted at the end of the issue when the conductor reveals that a bullet train is heading for them on the same tracks!

Oh, also, Bruno has been granted full Wakandan citizenship and Kamala’s brother and his family are moving into their own place.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

Want to know how much fun Ms. Marvel is? Read this comic! This is Wilson firing on all cylinders, having pure fun with a story. It’s a great mix of some solid superheroics and some real quality character drama. We get a brief glimpse of Kamala at home and school, which is fun. But then the real joy of the issue is Ms. Marvel bickering with Red Dagger while they ride around on top of a slow moving train. They argue about their origins, about how it’s suspicious that they’re both there, and a couple other just hilarious topics. That Kamala takes a break to go visit a convenience store is fun too!

Kamala Angry 01

Being a superhero on social media is tough!

And the new artist is just fantastic. He really gives everyone a solid, human look, and has no problem getting really creative with Ms. Marvel’s powers. Check out her reaction to having to duck under and overpass.

Kamala Flat 01

This is great art!

I laughed out loud repeatedly throughout this issue. There are no greater themes keeping this comic series. No real hassles. Just Ms. Marvel, the teenage kid, doing her best in a weird situation, while getting inexplicably grumpy that a boy she’s totally going to be crushing on shows up to cramp her style. It’s great!

TL;DR: Ms. Marvel is in fine, nearly perfect form this issue as we get a very down-to-Earth, human look at what being a teenage superhero is all about! Quality character work all around!


Runaways2

Runaways #2

Runaways #2
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Kris Anka

I don’t remember the original Runaways enough to know whether or not Rowell has got Gert’s voice down, but that doesn’t matter. She nails Gert regardless!

When Gert wakes up, she immediately demands that Chase and Nico catch her up to what the heck is even going on! Then the pair spend the issue filling Gert in on what’s been happening in the two years that she’s been gone, and how the Runaways pretty much just drifted apart. When they get to the subject of Victor being killed, Chase digs out a box he got shipped from Tony Stark of Victor’s stuff…and it turns out to be Victor’s robot head!

Also, the mysterious cat person who is spying on them is also spying on Molly, who is living with her grandma.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This was a very enjoyable issue, but Runaways is a really slow comic. I dinged the first issue because it was one quick, tense issue that only really accomplished one thing. This issue is kind of similar, in that it’s really just an issue of Chase and Nico being kind of vaguely bummed about how the Runaways fell apart, with Gert chewing them out for letting it happen. It’s not a big info-dump of a recap, thankfully. Rowell gets all of the information out through natural dialogue. All three main characters are on point, and like I said above, Gert is really great. This issue really works — at least for a Runaways fan. Someone new to the team/concept might not find as much to like.

Runaways Heart 01

Is Nico the gull bladder? 

It also helps that the comic gets kind of meta about the fate of the Runaways. They pretty much acknowledge what I said in the previous review, that Gert was the heart of the original team, and everything fell apart when she was killed. They also acknowledge the use of Chase and Nico as throwaway characters in Avengers Arena and a bunch of other stuff. So while I think it’s safe to say that none of this was planned when the Runaways was first created, Rowell does an amazing job of treating the actual publication history of the Runaways characters like real backstory in their lives. Like, when Chase and Nico were chosen for Avengers Arena, or when Victor was picked to appear in The Vision, surely none of that was done with a future Runaways reunion comic in mind. But now that we’re here, Rowell makes it work, and that’s part of what makes this issue work so well.

TL;DR: The Runaways, as characters, are perfectly positioned for this kind of reunion series, and I’m so excited to see the creative team run with that idea to its fullest.


Squirrel25

Squirrel Girl #25

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #25
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Erica Henderson

If the new issue of Ms. Marvel was peak Ms. Marvel, then the latest issue of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is likewise peak Unbeatable Squirrel Girl! We’ve got everything from comedy to drama to computer programming!

Squirrel Girl and her friends barley escape the exploding volcano and regroup to figure out how to best take on Dinosaur Ultron. Nancy’s plan is to have Squirrel Girl go all out in fighting the robot while she and Stefan convince the hostage programmers to design a virus to shut Ultron down. Squirrel Girl goes nuts and teams up with Kraven the Hunter (Who Ultron has prisoner in his belly, kidnapped from the back-up stories in the past few issues). So it’s Squirrel Girl, Kraven and all of Kraven’s trained dinosaur friends versus and evil robotic T-Rex, while Nancy and Stefan convince the frightened programmers to be heroes!

They design the virus, shut down Ultron, and Doreen takes his rebooting core and puts it in her mom’s garden so that this Ultron can become a nice, simple, robotic house plant.

Oh, also, Nancy and Stefan decide to part as friends rather than anything romantic. Too bad.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This has been an incredibly fun Squirrel Girl story, and this final issue seals the deal in the best of ways! The humor is top notch, from joking about Squirrel Girl’s rarely seen forearm bone spikes to every single line of dialogue from robot Ultron, this is laugh out loud funny. And North gets serious too, with Squirrel Girl and her friends debating the merits of cutting loose and just killing Ultron. He’s just a robot, right? Not to Squirrel Girl! She won’t kill, no matter what, and always finds a better way! And then there’s the programming humor!

Squirrel Programmers 01

Rise up, programmers of legend!

If you have a computer programmer/comic book fan in your life, get them the collected edition of this story as soon as it comes out! Holy cow, North and Henderson have so much fun with computer programming and computer programming-based humor. It’s hilarious in its own right, and even more so at the heart of an exciting superhero story about robotic dinosaurs!

TL;DR: Unbeatable Squirrel Girl wraps up its latest, wildest story in true Squirrel Girl style! It’s hilarious, it’s action-packed and there’s more computer programming-based heroics than 10 comics!


The comics I review in my Hench-Sized reviews are just the usual comics I pick up from my local shop an-y 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!

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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 October 14, 2017, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin, Spider-Man and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. ASM is OK. Not particularly special. I still think Bobbi can do way better than Peter.

    Ms. Marvel is great. I love her bickering with Red Dagger. The art is great, and Olortegui gives everyone so much character. And Ian Herring is so much an unsung hero.

    Runaways is a very slow comic. Was the original series this much of a slow-burn?

    Unbeatable Squirrel Girl has Ultronasaurus. So it’s pretty damn good.

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