Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 10/28/17
Happy Halloween! The most spooktacular holiday of the year is right around the corner, and if you’re reading this on Saturday, I’m right in the middle of some solid celebrations! I have two costumes this year: Walmart is selling giant animal mascot heads for only $20, so I snagged me a rabbit head! And then I’m going to a zombie party tonight! Should be fun!
But I also had comics to read! And they were pretty much spectacular across the board this week, I was amazed! I wanted to give everything a super high score! From Amazing Spider-Man to Detective Comics to Power Rangers! But I would be remiss if the final issue of the Slott/Allred Silver Surfer didn’t blow me away. Comic Book of the Week for sure!
Perhaps even Comic Book of the Year! I was worried they wouldn’t stick the landing, but oh man, Slott and Co. were saving something really, really special for this final issue. Something that pretty much tied the entire damn story together. My hat is off to the creative team of Silver Surfer. This was a masterpiece from beginning to end.
Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #790, Batgirl #16, Detective Comics #967, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #20 and Silver Surfer #14.
Amazing Spider-Man #790
Writers: Dan Slott and Christos Gage
Artist: Stuart Immonen
We don’t follow up on the Spider-Man/Mockingbird romance, but that doesn’t matter when an issue this this darn good! Christos Gage never gets enough credit for his assistance on this comic, but he writes some damn good stories!
Peter Parker is in pretty dour dumps after sitting through a ton of apologies for the failure to Parker Industries, and even though he tries to cheer himself up with Spidey stuff, he’s dragged back into the grind. In order to settle all the lawsuits, Parker Industries has to sell the Baxter Building to condo developers, which pisses the Human Torch right off! Spider-Man is stuck between Torch and Harry Osborn arguing about the property — until Spidey says he’s done apologizing and just gets into a fight with the Torch!
While they’re fighting, the villain Clash (who tried to go good and work for Parker Industries, but now with it collapsing, he’s returned to villainy to steal back his tech) sneaks into the Baxter Building to retrieve his stuff. When one of Clash’s henchmen set off one of the big energy devices, Spidey, Torch and Clash must put aside their differences to combine their powers and diffuse the situation before it takes out the whole block!
In the end, Clash gets away, Harry quits and Spidey and the Torch take a seat so Pete can have a friend to talk to. He laments that everything is just falling to pot — but then Joe Robertson calls Peter Parker and offers him a job writing about science for The Daily Bugle!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This issue is textbook Spider-Man in all the right ways! We got to see a ton of Peter Parker struggling with his latest life failure, really getting a sense for how all of this is weighing on him as a person. We had a great cameo from the Human Torch, giving both Spider-Man and Peter Parker someone to bounce off of. And the use of Clash as the villain was a great touch. He’s been one of Slott’s pet characters during his Amazing run, and it’s great to see Slott bring him full circle in this issue. Even better when Spidey, Torch and Clash have to work together to save the day, because it fits for all of their characters.
On top of the stellar character work in this issue, we also had a plot that fits into Slott’s ongoing story and a conflict that really speaks to all of us as comic book fans! The Baxter Building is an iconic location in comics, and having Spidey and the Human Torch get into an argument over it due to the ongoing storyline is just neat comic book storytelling. It pays tribute to the history of the Marvel Universe while keeping the focus on the present day storytelling. That’s exactly what we should want in a comic!
Plus, Immonen is amazing artist. Holy cow!
TL;DR: The Amazing Spider-Man team ties strong character work with iconic Marvel Universe storytelling to give us the best kind of Spider-Man comic!
Writer: Hope Larson
Artist: Chris Wildgoose
What I really enjoy about this story — besides the flashbacks to Dick Grayson’s time as Robin — is the way Larson is building up an actual mystery that requires detective work!
In the past, Batgirl and Robin investigate Ainsley Wells’ connection to the Chive Garden hackers, and they tell the heroes that Ainsley worked for them but stole all their stuff and split! She worked with the Mad Hatter to make a new nanobot-laced drug, so our young heroes spied on Ainsley in an addiction support group and then moved to take down the Hatter’s operation!
In the present, Batgirl and Nightwing visit the rehab where Ainsley spent time, because Batgirl thinks Ainsley is the Red Queen and she’s trying to tear down important parts of Ainsley’s life. When they get inside, it appears as if the rehab staff have gone crazy, so our heroes fight them off until Batgirl plays the music that calms them down. The staff are placed in a saferoom while Batgirl and Nightwing look into Ainsley’s record — where they discover she died a year ago! That means the Red Queen is Ainsley’s sister, who ratted out Ainsley’s drug use to their parents and sent Ainsley on the path to becoming a homeless addict! Not only that, but the Red Queen was in disguise as one of the crazy staff members just so she could get up close to Nightwing and Batgirl!
With their villain identified, our heroes set about finding where she asked to — but first, Batgirl asks Nightwing to come home with her!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Larson and her team got me caught in a really good twist in this issue, one of those great bits when you have to flip back a couple pages to see that they were definitely toying with you earlier! I love that sort of thing! This has been a really fun story, and this issue really amps up the interesting detective work. The character interactions are already solid, with Larson doing a picture perfect job on both the younger and older Babs and Dick. But she really makes their investigation the highlight of this issue.
Though I will always be a sucker for the Robin stuff, not gonna lie.
The Red Queen isn’t much of a character or villain yet, but she doesn’t have to be. This is a story about Babs and Dick, and those are great stories. I hope we get a really nice emotional payoff with this one, because Larson and Wildgoose have definitely set the stage for a great finale.
TL;DR: The story really kicks into fun gear with this issue, but the real strengths of Larson’s work on Batgirl are still the quality characters.
Detective Comics #967
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Alvaro Martinez
The long awaited reunion of Tim Drake and the rest of the Bat-Family is finally here! But they don’t get to celebrate long, because there’s still an Evil Tim Drake Batman from the Future on the loose!
Batman rushes to the hospital when Red Robin’s costume alarm suddenly starts pinging in the middle of Gotham City, and Batman is reunited with the sidekick he thought dead. But they don’t have time to celebrate because of the aforementioned evil Tim Drake Batman from the Future! Red Robin returns to the Belfry and gets everybody back up to speed, including the idea that Future Batman is going to try and kill Batwoman, because he says she is the cause of the Dark Future.
Batman and Red Robin then realize that, if this really is a time-traveling Tim Drake spending time in a peaceful version of his reality, then he would definitely pay a visit to Alfred! Everybody loves Alfred! And indeed, Future Tim gets a really nice scene with Alfred before Nightwing, Red Hood and Robin show up to try and stop him.
Batman and Red Robin race to the Batcave, where Future Batman has defeated everyone. Red Robin tells him to stand down, but Future Batman scoffs at the idea that they think he only came to Wayne Manor for a tearful reunion with Alfred. He actually came to activate Batman’s secret weapon: Brother Eye!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This was a fun issue with some really touching moments! Personally, I would have liked a bit more time to really celebrate Tim’s return and feel the impact, but there’s a story to be told and no time to waste! Still, it feels almost like an afterthought that, to most of these characters, Tim Drake has seemingly returned from the dead. At least Tynion is able to give us some great scenes between Tim and Bruce, and then definitely that scene between Alfred and Future Tim Drake. The scene was very well written and almost had me getting a lump in my throat!
The rest of the issue was fun, too. It was great to see Red Robin in action again and interacting with the team. Their chat about what the team should be called — Red Robin called them the “Gotham Knights” in his head, while Clayface says that Batwoman just called them “The Team” in an “ominous tone” — is a lot of fun. And I like that Tim gets right down to business with. Tynion writes the character so damn well and I am loving this big pay-off to the ongoing Tim Drake storyline! It’s great to have my favorite Bat Family member back!
TL;DR: Tim Drake’s return is everything we could have hoped it would be and more! Lovely and awesome writing, with the usually stellar art.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #20
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: DAniele Di Nicuolo
This is some damn fine retcons, people. Higgins is kind of a genius.
Last issue, Grace Sterling revealed that she was once the Red Ranger, and this issue shows us that one, fateful mission.
When Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, he awoke the Psycho Green Ranger, whose ship had crash-landed there while trying to free Rita from her dumpster. The ship went into hibernation until the human life signs woke it back up. Don’t remember the Psycho Rangers? They fought the Power Rangers in Space! And back then, there wasn’t a Psycho Green, so this is not only a cameo from a Power Rangers in Space series, but a retcon of that as well! That’s pretty cool.
Anyway, with this sudden threat, Zordon and Alpha summon five worthy people from all across the planet to become an emergency team of Power Rangers — but they don’t take into account the fact that none of the people know each other, and some of them have some pretty gnarly grievances. Like, the new Blue Ranger is a grumpy Russian who finds himself having to team up with Americans at the height of the Cold War. And at the time, Grace Sterling, the new team leader, was just a secretary at NASADA, and nobody really wants to follow a secretary into battle, even if she knows a lot about the moon.
(Also, the genders don’t match up like the modern Rangers, so both yellow and pink are men on this team, which is a fun bit.)
So they head to the moon, butting heads constantly, in search of Psycho Green. This ragtag team of misfits is no match for him and Green kills the Black and Pink rangers with ease. The remaining Rangers manage to take him out, but when Psycho Green grows into a giant monster, Blue takes one of Zordon’s guns and launches a suicide attack to defeat him.
Red and Yellow return to the Command Center, where Zordon accepts the blame for the horrible mission. He then tells them they can’t keep the power and have to leave — though Grace has secretly stolen Psycho Green’s dagger!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
This issue was so cool! The idea of there being previous Power Rangers before the main five has always been floated, and it’s so cool to get not only confirmation of that idea, but in such an amazing way! The old TV show would have done some cheesy bit where the main five’s ancestors were also best friends and also became Power Rangers. But Higgins is too smart for that lunacy! This is a great story that shows Zordon can make mistakes and learn from them. The five people he recruits in this issue would probably make great Power Rangers, but the alien Zordon didn’t really understand the complexities of politics and personalities, so they clashed. That’s a great story!
Then you add in all the bonus details, like this being the moon landing, or the switched gender colors, and you’ve got an even better story. The introduction of Psycho Green is a really deep cut into Power Rangers lore and I loved it! So smart. So cool.
Now we need to see what Higgins has planned for the surviving Yellow Ranger…
TL;DR: Higgins and BOOM! rewrite the history of the Power Rangers is a pretty profound way, and I love it! This issue was full of deep cuts to the lore!
Silver Surfer #14
Writer: Dan Slott
Artists: Mike and Laura Allred
They did it. Those crazy fools pulled it off! Just when I thought this final issue of Silver Surfer was just going to be a simple epilogue, they went and pulled out the twist of the year!
I’m gonna recap this issue, because that’s what I do, but I highly suggest you go out and buy it yourself. This could be the comic book of the year!
We rejoin the Silver Surfer where we last saw him: hitching on a ride on Galen’s journey through the universes, carrying with him the last essence of his beloved Dawn Greenwood in order to bring her remains back to their real universe. When they arrive, the Surfer casts her red energy with black spots out into the cosmos, saying his final goodbyes.
It’s at this point that the Silver Surfer stops the story to explain to his audience that he really is saying goodbye to Dawn. There’s no miracle resurrection. And by ‘audience’ I don’t mean the reader. The Silver Surfer is telling his story to some people.
Anyway, so there he is at the dawn of time and no way to return to his proper time. So the Silver Surfer takes on the form of Nor-Vill again and just lives through the rest of history. He watches alien races grow and evolve. He watches the birth of Galactus and follows his hungry crusade through the galaxy. Finally, he watches his younger self volunteer to be Galactus’ herald, and he watches as his younger self betrays Galactus and is trapped on Earth. In this moment — the famous story where the Fantastic Four first fight Galactus — Nor-Vill decides to visit the Greenwood Inn, including little 8-year-old Dawn. And then because of Galactus’ infamous barrier, Nor-Vill is also trapped on Earth for about a decade.
And so, once a summer while imprisoned on Earth, Nor-Vill revisits the Greenwood Inn and spends a day or so with the Greenwood family, watching Dawn grow.
Then, of course, time catches up with them all and Dawn and the Silver Surfer start going on their adventures together. So Nor-Vill follows them took, watching from the shadows, as we had seen him do countless times over the course of this series. And he watched until the time when Dawn asked the Surfer to go back in time, kicking off their life in the alternate universe.
With the two of them gone, Nor-Vill is free to return to his life as the Silver Surfer, but now he has a plan. He goes to visit Eve and her family on Earth to let them know what happened to Dawn. Eve is pissed at him, but the Surfer reveals that he has a couple holo-tubes from that planet where everybody is a hologram. Remember that one, from Silver Surfer #9 earlier this year? The Surfer left behind a holographic copy of Dawn.
Well, the Surfer has brought along holographic copies of himself, Eve, her husband, her baby and even Reg Greenwood! It seems the Surfer had this plan for awhile, and he secretly made a holographic copy of Reg back when he was pretending to be Nor-Vill. Now the entire Greenwood clan and the Surfer can live happily ever after together on the hologram planet!
But that’s not all! The Surfer reveals that the memory of Dawn Greenwood has touched all creatures throughout the cosmos. Back at the dawn of time, when he released Dawn’s energy and said goodbye? That was the first light in all of creation. And what do we call the first light of the morning? What does every species on every planet call the first light?
Damn, people, I’m not made of stone here.
So the Silver Surfer flies off, ready to return to his normal life. But back on the hologram planet, the holographic Norrin Radd reveals one tiny bonus detail: that final bit of Dawn energy was not only the first light of the new universe, but it was also the basis for the Power Cosmic in the new universe. And since he changed it to Dawn’s colors, the Power Cosmic is now visualized as red energy with black polka-dots! How cool is that?
Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.
Okay, that ‘dawn’ thing really blew my mind. I know it’s pretty simple, but come on! I’m only human! I thought Slott was just setting up a nice happy ending, but then he delivered a twist that he had to have been saving up for a long time. That’s the sort of genius idea I hope to have in my own writing someday. The sort of twist that tires an entire story together, revealing a heartfelt depth that you knew had to be there, but you didn’t quite experience until the reveal. That’s storytelling, people. That’s heart. That’s the Slott/Allred Silver Surfer.
I’m sad to see this series go, but I’m also happy that they get to go out on their terms. Back in the day, comic books used to just be ongoing things, with new writers and artists hopping on and off as the business saw fit. But I like the idea of having limited runs where the singular creators can tell their story and share their vision and that be it. Now I can go out and get all the tpbs and have the collected story to reread whenever I want. This was a truly touching tale and one of the best comic book stories I’ve ever read.
Kudos to everyone involved in this masterpiece.
TL;DR: Silver Surfer comes to an end with a touching final issue that tugs on the heartstrings in all the best ways, and blows your mind in a few ways more. Masterpiece of a series.
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 October 28, 2017, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin, Spider-Man and tagged Amazing Spider-Man, Batgirl, Boom!, Dawn Greenwood, Detective Comics, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Power Rangers, Silver Surfer. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.