Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 11/4/17
I’m surprised they don’t have an issue of Mighty Thor on the stands this week. The big #700 issue dropped two weeks ago, but the big Thor: Ragnarok movie event is this weekend! And it’s a great movie! A ton of fun! I’ll be sharing my thoughts on Wednesday.
For now, how about a couple of comics? It was a very light week for me this week, with new issues of Iceman and Iron Fist, alongside the newly returned Captain America. Comic Book of the Week goes to Batman for another stellar issue in Tom King’s ongoing Catwoman romance storyline.
I gave Peter Parker: Spectacular Spider-Man one more chance this week, with the highly publicized issue of Spidey sitting down for an interview with longtime nemesis J. Jonah Jameson — but it didn’t work for me. The concept is interesting, but it doesn’t belong in this series at this moment.
Brian Michael Bendis will always have the definitive confrontation between the two characters in Ultimate Spider-Man. But too much weird stuff has gone on between the two characters in the 616 universe, a lot of which is referenced in the new issue, to make the confrontation as meaningful as it should be.
Comic Reviews: Batman #34, Captain American #695, Iceman #7 and Iron First #74.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Joelle Jones
I am loving Tom King’s run on Batman. Obviously, I’m not alone, but I’m personally loving it for just how richly he accesses the continuity and familiar character beats of everybody involved.
Batman and Catwoman face off against Talia al Ghul’s armed guards in the forbidden city of Khadym. Once the guards are defeated and Batman and Catwoman are exhausted, Batman tries to reason with Talia: They only want to speak with Holly Robinson, who is hiding in Khadym. Holly killed several hundred people in Gotham City, Catwoman took the fall and now they want to settle the matter. Talia tells Batman to get a sword as she attacks, eventually defeating and stabbing him with one of her swords. Then Talia turns to Catwoman and tells her to draw a sword — so Catwoman pulls the one out of Batman’s side and prepares to face-off against Talia.
Meanwhile, Damian and Dick Grayson arrive at the gates of Khadym, only for Superman to turn them away. The Justice League has agreed with the United Nations not to step foot in Khadym. So Damian says he’ll just sit and wait on the steps for his mom and dad to come out. Dick agrees to wait with Damian.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
What can I say, I just love how King writes everybody interacting. He doesn’t need to spell out the deep, deep history between Batman and Talia, or how Damian is connected. We comic book fans just know. So watching Batman and Catwoman confront Talia, and have Talia learn that the two of them are engaged, is just sweet, sweet character work and King has a lot of fun with it! The pre- and mid-fight banter between Batman and Catwoman is hilarious and adorable, while Talia is supremely cool.
Then having Catwoman rise to Talia’s challenge by pulling the sword out of the injured Batman? Bad. Ass.
This is already a fun story to begin with. Batman and Catwoman out in the desert, using their sheer badassery to get into this forbidden city, all as part of their marriage proposal. To then add rich and entertaining character dialogue and interactions on top of that is icing on an already delicious cake. Even the quick scene with Damian and Dick is great. We know how important this is for Damian, and we know that the history of Dick and Damian is pretty cool, so seeing the two of them as solid as ever is great.
On a personal note, the only time I’ve ever really liked Damian was when he and Dick were Batman and Robin. I wish they’d never done away with that.
TL;DR: Another great Batman story is being told with some pretty great Batman characters. This is even more fun than Kite Man.
Captain America #695
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Chris Samnee
Secret Empire was a pretty crummy story. I don’t hate the idea of an evil, fascist Captain America clone as some people do, but the story definitely didn’t do Marvel any favors in the long run.
In order to rehab Cap and get him back into fighting shape, Marvel is passing him along to Mark Waid and Chris Samnee to work their magic! I suppose I’m on board, at least to check it out.
Ten years ago, back when he was just unfrozen, Captain America stopped a bunch of terrorist known as the Rampart from attacking the small town of Bouton, Nebraska. Now, after the horrors of Hydra Cap and Secret Empire, Steve Rogers returns to Bouton and discovers that it has been renamed Captain America, Nebraska. Steve has also just arrived in time for the annual Captain America Celebration. Steve walks around kind of awe-struck at all the people celebrating Captain America.
But then a newly reformed Remnant attack the crowd and Steve pulls out his costume and shield. He wasn’t just here seeing the sights, he had intel that the Remnant were back and might attack again. So he kicks their butts and the town loves him all over again, but a humble Steve points out that the citizens of this town were and are pretty heroic themselves.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
This is a quaint little story that doesn’t do much to really kick off this new series or grapple with the complicated status quo of Captain America. It’s a cute idea, to be sure, that there’s a little town that worships Captain America. Having an annual festival dedicated to him is just a neat idea on its own, but to have Cap show up and hang out there for a bit is cool, too. But then we’re supposed to believe that this crummy little villain group shows up at the exact same place 10 years later, in the exact same costumes, just to cause trouble? And sure, Cap deals with them easily, but then to end with Cap reassuring everybody that they’re super totally also the heroes here? Yeah, that’s fine. But there’s no real meat to this story, either on its own or to kick off a new series. It’s just fluff — incredibly well-drawn fluff, because Samnee is amazing — but fluff all the same.
TL;DR: The new Captain America series starts off small with a fluff story that is good enough to be entertaining, but nothing to really sink our teeth into. Fine stuff all around.
Writer: Sina Grace
Artist: Robert Gill
I gotta say, at the end of it all, I could have used a lot more Champions. I know this comic is about Iceman, but Grace seemed so excited to bring the Champions in. I feel like we spent more time getting to know Bobby’s sudden, sleazy LA boyfriend than we did heroes like Ghost Rider, Hercules and Darkstar!
Iceman and the Champions take out the Sentinels, which, it turns out, aren’t fully functional Sentinels, but they still do a lot of damage. During the pretty easy battle, Iceman gets a moment to save his new crush Judah and the two of them go out for some frozen yogurt later, followed by some NetFlix N’ Chill. The next morning, when all his friends want to hear details, Bobby deflects on his good night and tells the story of when he first met Black Widow.
Later, Bobby checks in on the special effects woman who made the Sentinels and he gives her some local academic contacts so that she can put her engineering skills to good use.
Bobby returns to New York and the X-Mansion and gets a firsthand look at the happy family that is the X-Men these days. He’s still texting with Judah, and when he sees that everybody pretty much has everything in hand, Bobby announces that he wants to move to LA.
Meanwhile, Bobby’s mom has discovered that there’s a time traveling junior version of her son hanging around.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Definitely could have used more Champions. The fight with the Sentinels is OK, but hardly as awe-inspiring a use of the characters as I would have liked. I would have much preferred they all get to spend more time just hanging out and being friends. That’s where the strength of this comic lies. Or perhaps give them a challenge where they get to really show off what makes them all individually special. Plus more time to insert them as important people in Bobby’s life. Instead, we’ve got this Judah chowderhead who, like I said last issue, comes off more as some sleazy LA braggart than an actual romantic interest.
But hey, none of that detracts from the still solid and entertaining character work that Grace has been delivering. It’s great to see Bobby having fun and exploring his new freedom of sexuality. And I’m sure Grace has something interesting planned with this Judah character. We also got a great look at Bobby interacting with his X-Men family, which is a scene that works so well that it’s a shame Bobby’s moving to LA! Grace should be tapped to write some bigger X-Men books down the line. The guy’s got a natural talent for relatable and entertaining characters.
TL;DR: It’s another fun, enjoyable, character-driven issue of Iceman, but I do feel that the best characters — the Champions guest stars — were a little wasted.
Iron Fist #74
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Mike Perkins
I don’t really know why I’m still reading this Iron Fist comic. I needed to toss in another comic to review this week, and when I saw that both Sabretooth and Constrictor show up in this issue, I figured I’d give it a try. I like them both.
Someone posing as the Constrictor broke into Iron Fist’s New York apartment and stole the Book of the Iron Fist, so Iron Fist has teamed up with Sabretooth to track down the thief (Sabretooth has a glowing respect for the original, deceased Constrictor, for some reason). First they bust heads in the Bar With No Name, which leads them to some laundromat owner named Soapy, who points them to Constrictor’s hideout, where he’s staying with his Serpent Society crew.
Meanwhile, Constrictor was hired by Choshin, who has come to New York to wage another attempt to kill Iron Fist and claim K’un-Lun. When he attempts to make the exchange with Constrictor, the villain ups his price and saunters off. So Choshin teams up with the rest of his rebels and raid Constrictor’s hideout — at the exact same time as Iron Fist and Sabretooth.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
I dunno. This series is fine. It’s quite enjoyable, even, on some level. I bet Iron Fist fans could get a lot out of it. And it’s better than the TV show, that’s for sure. But I’ve never been an Iron Fist fan, and the story/status quo aren’t doing enough to capture me — not like that legendary Brubaker/Faction run on Iron Fist. In that, the story and style were more than enough to get over my general disinterest in the character. So far, Brisson hasn’t captured that same level of magic, but he’s still doing a fine job with the series.
The team-up between Iron Fist and Sabretooth is neat. Obviously, Sabretooth first appeared in an Iron Fist comic, so the team-up works as an idea. And Sabretooth is some kind of good guy now, so at least the team-up makes some sort of sense. But I had no idea Sabretooth respected the Constrictor so much. Where’d that come from?
Still, having both Iron Fist and Sabretooth crash the Serpent Society’s lair alongside the Choshin storyline is solid storytelling, and there’s definitely plenty to enjoy so far.
TL;DR: Iron Fist is a good comic, but it’s not really capturing my attention on a personal level. That’s entirely on me. The creative team is at least having fun with the Marvel Universe in their storytelling.
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!