Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 10/21/17

Ever have one of those weeks where work gets really, really busy and you just can’t read as many comics as you’d like? That’s me this week…and next week. And then it’s Halloween! At least we had some really good comics this week, from another stellar issue of Tom King’s Batman to a nifty Harley Quinn, drawing us ever close to the end.

Comic Book of the Week goes to the oversized Mighty Thor #700, which uses its anniversary status to tell some really neato tales!

Throg Hand 01

Everything should be a job for the Frog of Thunder

It is with a heavy heart that I announce that I’m throwing in the towel with The Wild Storm. I really wanted to stick with the comic for the entire duration and really provide an outsider’s eye to the experience, but with the latest issue this week, every reserve of energy I had left to care has been exhausted. This isn’t the comic for me. I’m sorry if I’m disappointing anyone and I hope you’re all still enjoying The Wild Storm.

Meanwhile, I’m super enjoying Saban’s Go, Go Power Rangers. I didn’t get around to writing up a review for the new issue, but the series is spectacular!

Comic Reviews: Batman #33, Harley Quinn #30, Mighty Thor #700 and Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #5. 


Batman #33

Batman #33
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Joelle Jones

Tom King is killing it with his Batman. I think I like this more than I did Scott Snyder’s Batman epic. This issue is especially good as King brings back the Robins for some more mischief!

Batman and Catwoman are deep in the desert in the Middle East on a mission. They hook up with Tiger, Dick Grayson’s spy friend, and he helps them reach the gates of Khadym. This is a forbidden, mystical city, so forbidden that the Justice League has rules that no one can go inside. Catwoman takes out the guard and they head inside.

Meanwhile, Alfred has gathered the Robins to inform them about Bruce’s marriage proposal to Selina. But their meeting is interrupted by an emergency call from Superman about somebody breaking into Khadym. Alfred and the Robins know that it’s Batman, but why would he break into Khadym? Damian knows. It’s because that’s where Talia al Ghul is hiding!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I’m a sucker for a good Robin scene. And having all the Robins hanging around the Manor bantering with each other and Alfred is exactly my cup of tea. I especially loved the moment when Jason called for Duke for not doing his duty as the new Robin and keeping Bruce grounded, only for Duke to turn it around and point out that he’s not Robin — Damian still is. That sort of inside-baseball chatter about Bat-Family politics is one of my comic book weaknesses. I’m a sucker for that sort of stuff.

Robins Chatter 01

Best kind of shop talk

Beyond that wonderful scene, the tale of Batman and Catwoman riding through the desert is just amazingly cool. There’s a real dusty, cowboy-esque feeling to the whole adventure, with both characters written as expertly cool as King can manage. The cameo from Tiger was fun, too. This whole sequence is as stylish as hell, and Jones just kills it on art. This is a gorgeous issue, from the desert vistas to the extensive detail on Batman and Catwoman’s desert gear.

Batman Tiger 01

He’s not entirely wrong

This should be career-making work!

TL;DR: Everything comes together this issue for a glorious Batman story, whether it’s Batman and Catwoman in the desert on a horse with no name, or it’s just the Robins bantering back-and-forth on the couch. Great read.


Harley Quinn #30

Harley Quinn #30
Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner
Artist: John Timms

I hope Palmiotti and Conner plan to go out with a bang. I hope they have a couple more tricks up their sleeves. And I hope I’m wrong about this issue.

In spite of Scarecrow’s attack in the first debate, Harley Quinn is skyrocketing in the polls! Apparently people like it when one mayoral candidate beats up the others. Riding the surge of popularity, Harley has Poison Ivy launch a bunch of plant bombs, causing rapid plant grow around Central Park, as part of Harley’s promise to bring more greenspace to New York! As they deal with the aftermath of that mess, and prepare for the next debate, Harley spends some quality time with Mason, and he reveals that not only is he developing real feelings for her, but he wants to take her to visit his old life and friends down in Florida. Harley is all in favor of the idea. They’re getting really close.

On the night of the next debate, however, the Evil Mayor kidnaps Mason and gets a message about it to Harley. On the debate stage, she announces that she’s dropping out of the race, effective immediately!

Comic Reviews: 7/10 – Good.

Here’s the thing: I’m not quite sure we can judge this issue for what it is. I think — and hope — that this issue is all set-up for a couple great twists down the line. I hope they’re delivering some solid red herrings and that not everything is what it seems. Because if everything in this issue is what it seems, then it’s only a good comic, with an OK storyline. It’s fine that Harley and Mason are happy and don’t seem to have any complications in their romance. It’s fine that the Evil Mayor kidnaps Mason in the end without any other twists. And it’s fine if Palmiotti and Conner want to set up the third mayoral candidate as a good person who can easily take up the job when Harley doesn’t get elected.

This comic is still fun to read if everything in this issue is exactly what it seems.

Personally, I think Mason is incredibly boring, and the worst of Harley’s potential paramours, but again, it’s perfectly fine if that’s what Conner and Palmiotti are going for here.

Harley Mason 01


What I’m hoping for is that all of this is some kind of trap by the Red Tool. As much as I like the character, he’s a solid choice for a final villain for the series. And Harley’s romantic life is an equally solid choice for the climax of the overall Harley Quinn comic. Personally, I’d rather the relationship drama be more realistic and actually hard on Harley to decide. But if Red Tool were turned into a villain, that would be OK, too. As long as it wasn’t just as simple as Harley and Mason ride off into the sunset together without any drama whatsoever. That would be really boring and this comic is never usually boring.

Unless you count the Mason scenes in this issue. Jeez louise, that guy is as dull as a brick.

TL;DR: This was a perfectly fine and, at times, pleasant issue of Harley Quinn. And if that’s how Palmiotti and Conner want to go out, I suppose that’s fine, too. But me personally, I’m hoping this is all set-up for some really great, emotional twists in the end.


Mighty Thor #700

Mighty Thor #700
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Walter Simonson, Matthew Wilson, Russell Dauterman, Daniel Acuna, James Harren, Dave Stewart, Becky Cloonan, Das Pastoras, Chris Burnham, Ive Svorcina, Andrew MacLean, Jill Thompson, Mike Del Mundo and Olivier Coipel

There’s not much to say about this issue other than it’s a pretty stellar anniversary comic!

The forces of Malekith attack the Nornhold at the base of the World Tree — norns being the weavers of fate. Odinson is there to hold them off, while Karnilla, Queen of the Norns, and the other norns weave stories about the rest of Thor’s cast. There’s Jane Foster fighting Jennifer Walters’ new, feral Hulk; there’s Throg catching a murderer and then helping Jane; there’s Loki spending quality time with Laufey; there’s flashbacks to Young Thor and flashforwards to Old Thor; there’s a story about Black Galactus, the Butcher of Worlds and his fight with Ego the Necroworld; and then there’s Volstagg, who once again becomes the War Thor, but finds himself facing off against Mangog, the Ultimate Judgement!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

So Marvel is going back to their old numberings for a lot of comics, which is fine. Whatever. DC did it first and Marvel is just following what’s popular. Again, whatever. I don’t really care. What I care about is getting another great installment of Jason Aaron’s Mighty Thor comic, and this issue definitely delivers! It’s a bunch of smaller stories, but this isn’t an anthology issue. Everything is weaved together with that great book-end story about Odinson and the norns, with a lot of shoutouts to other major events in Thor’s growing circle. This is a great chapter in the build-up to Mangog and the War of Realms!

Black Galactus 01

This is definitely a thing now!

I especially enjoyed the fight between Thor and Hulk. Such fights are classic, but as the Norn point out, those fights are really between this Thor and this Hulk. Honestly, I was just thrilled to read about the feral, out-of-control Jennifer Walters. I liked that storyline in Mariko Tamaki’s Hulk comic, but she seems to have abandoned that idea pretty quickly, much to my disappointment. Seeing Jennifer Walters off the deep end in this issue was great!

The rest was good, too. Throg had a nice storyline. Loki had a fun little bit. The insanity of Black Galactus and the Necrosword was just mind-blowingly cool. Aaron really had a lot of fun with the short stories in this and I pretty much loved them all. And he had some amazing art teams backing him up. Marvel clearly went all-out in this anniversary issue, made even better by the fact that every part of it factors into Aaron’s epic ongoing story.

My only complain is that we didn’t get a Beta Ray Bill segment. WHY THE HELL NOT?! Come on, Jason Aaron! Give us more Beta Ray Bill!

TL;DR: This overside, overstuffed anniversary issue is a fantastic read, with gorgeous art, great stories and a real connection to the already ongoing tale. This is exactly what you should want from such an issue (though I could have used more Beta Ray Bill).


Spectacular Spider-Man #5

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #5
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Adam Kubert

Maybe it’s just me, but the wind has completely gone out of this comic. When a character as awesome as Spider-Man plays second fiddle to the writer’s personal characters and stories, you know you’ve got a problem.

Spider-Man can’t stop the Vulture from escaping with Mason, and instead has the entire lab blown up on top of him. Teresa managed to get a webline on the Vulture and she flies up with him, somehow managing to get Mason out of the villain’s clutches — but then both she and Mason are falling. He quickly fixes her wing-suit and the pair of them fly to safety. Meanwhile, Spidey has lifted enough heavy stuff to make his own escape from the destroyed lab.

When they regroup, Peter takes Mason to stay with Aunt May for a bit (without Mason knowing that Spidey is Peter). And then Peter and Teresa return to his apartment to start getting her out of town. But J. Jonah Jameson shows up, hot on the trail of whatever source is stealing superhero secrets. He wants an interview with Spidey, and Peter mostly agrees on Spidey’s behalf. Meanwhile, Betty Brant is hitting up Flash Thompson for information, and Flash points her towards Mason.

Elsewhere, the villainous Gray Blade decide that, in order to get to Spider-Man, they need to arrest Peter Parker.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

Spectacular Spider-Man is just more focused on the Mason, Teresa and whatever crazy Gray Blade storyline Zdarsky has cooked up, and none of those things interest me at all. He’s completely lost me on the plot, I have no clue anymore what Teresa is accused of doing or why Gray Blade wants her. And considering everybody is somehow involved in that storyline, including a raving J. Jonah Jameson, I’m growing more and more disinterested. I don’t care about the Mason, but Zdarsky treats him like some kind of superstar. And while it might be fun for Peter to stash a superhero pal at Aunt May’s house, Zdarsky’s epic hoop-jumping to explain why Spider-Man would hide someone with Peter Parker sucks all the fun out of the scene.

But then, pretty much every plot point and character sucks all the fun out of this comic. The stakes seem minimal. The action feels perfunctory (Vulture clearly making a cameo because of the movie). And Peter Parker just doesn’t seem very funny. Not as funny as a writer of Zdarsky’s comedy chops should be able to write, at least.

TL;DR: I expected more out of this comic but am apparently getting so much less.

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 October 21, 2017, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Thor was fun. I always love seeing Throg. I didn’t like Aaron’s writing of Jen. But Throg.

    Spectacular Spider-Man was an improvement, but still not a great comic. You know who should’ve been given this book instead? Kate Leth. But women don’t get to write Spider-Man titles.

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