Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 11/18/17
Man oh man, this is quite the comic book fan weekend! Not only did the Justice League movie come out — which I very much enjoyed — but we’ve got the Punisher on Netflix! I’ll be watching that this weekend! And expect my Justice League review/list to go up on Wednesday!
Unfortunately, I didn’t read any Justice League or Punisher comics this week! Just normal stuff like Amazing Spider-Man and Mighty Thor! And Comic Book of the Week goes to the new issue of Batman for an absolutely fabulous story!
I think it’s definitely safe to say I like Tom King’s work on Batman more than Scott Snyder. It’s really a shame that I was so cold to King when he started. I just didn’t like that Gotham/Gotham Girl stuff.
Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #791, Batman #35 and Mighty Thor #701.
Amazing Spider-Man #791
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Stuart Immonen
I wish I could remember where Peter Parker was at when Dan Slott took over as the sole writer of Amazing Spider-Man. This character has been through so much change!
It’s Peter Parker’s first day of work as the new editor of the science section of the Daily Bugle (even though, over in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man, the Bugle is apparently so short-staffed that they can’t have reporters looking into a major stolen superhero identity story. But here, they have so many reporters that the science section in the Sunday supplement has a whole staff!). Peter’s new gig coincides with his girlfriend Bobbi Morse’s new gig working for Humanitech Robotics, so the two decide it would be great if the Bugle did a big, exclusive cover story on Humanitech’s new household robot assistant prototypes.
But they discover that something isn’t quite right with the robots, and company owner Xander Zynn is that special sort of suspicious, so Spider-Man and Mockingbird (or “Spockingbird”, as he quips) pay a visit later that night. When the robots begin to attack, the duo break into their silicone-based brains and discover that all of the robots are being controlled by an imprisoned Quicksand, one of Thor’s villains who is sand-based, like Sandman. The heroes let Quicksand go free, Zynn also escapes, and Peter gets his cover story about the fall of Humanitech Robotics. And then Harry, Liz and Alchemax buy up the abandoned robotics lab.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
A guy named Xander Zynn turning out to be a bad guy is pretty easy enough, but at least the rest of the issue was pretty fun! I like Peter and Bobbi as a couple, and Slott writes them adorably well, so I definitely enjoyed this issue. The two of them are just plain cute together, especially with a more light-hearted, burden-free Peter Parker. It’s nice to see Peter being relatively cheerful, and Bobbi supporting that! Even when they’re Spidey and Mockingbird, their friendly and sometimes flirty banter is a joy to read. Slott gives them a solid case to investigate and then has a ton of fun bouncing the two of them around together. That’s just entertaining comic books right there, people.
Then Slott goes one step further with the feminism jokes.
These are a riot. There are a couple in the issue, and I giggled at each one. I totally approve of Mockingbird being the mega-equality feminist in the superhero community and I like the way Slott has fun with that. The Quicksand reveal is just great. Both the reader and Spider-Man expect it to be Sandman once it’s clear what’s happening, but then Slott and Mockingbird school us all! Good times.
TL;DR: Spider-Man and Mockingbird are delightful together as Slott beings exploring his latest new status quo for Spidey and Peter Parker.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Joelle Jones
Tom King’s Batman is pretty much everything I want from a comic starring Batman and friends. Not only is it a solid story on its own, but it relishes and celebrates those characters in deeply understanding ways. I love it!
Catwoman and Talia face-off, dueling with swords as they compare origin stories and debate their loves for Batman. Talia insists that Batman is the only person in the world who could maybe be her equal, and that’s why she loves him. But Catwoman tells her not to project anything too otherworldly on Batman, because he’s just a guy who has dedicated his life to a promise he made himself as a 10-year-old boy. Batman is just a stupid man that she stupidly loves!
Catwoman defeats Talia and sticks a sword in her back, just like Talia did to Batman last issue. Then Catwoman meets with her friend Holly and asks her to turn herself in for the lives she killed, while the injured Talia and Batman sidle up next to each other and Talia admits that she likes Catwoman after all.
Meanwhile, Dick and Damian remain outside discussing why Batman wouldn’t tell them that he was marrying Catwoman. Dick surmises that Batman wants to be happy, but being happy is something selfish you want for yourself, and Batman is pure selflessness. Telling the Robins about the marriage proposal would have been akin to helping him be happy, and Batman has a hard time asking anyone for help.
Batman and Catwoman come out of the city and reunite with the boys, then they all head home.
Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.
On the surface, this is still just a fun story! Catwoman and Talia face-off in an epic sword fight for the love of Batman! And Jones is stunningly great on art! I don’t know where Jones has been all my life, but this issue and the past few issues have been amazing. This should be career defining work! Keep her on Batman for as long as humanly possible! The detail is fantastic, the characters look so good, and so much like themselves it’s scary. So even just with that, the issue is still a ton of fun. But King goes even deeper and the issue is all the more perfect for it!
The conversations and the character understanding make the issue even better. Catwoman and Talia’s conversation is pretty great, and is especially fun for a sword fight. King really seems to get Batman, and delves into some previously unexplored parts of the character. Yes, Batman is both the mythical being that Talia sees, and the stupid guy in a bat costume that Catwoman sees, and both versions are genuine. He’s also the noble idiot who can’t just ask his friends and loved ones for help, like Dick sees. So even when Batman is barely in the issue, everything revolves wonderfully around him, with fully fleshed-out characters singing his praises and damnations.
TL;DR: Rather than just be a stunt storyline, the engagement of Batman and Catwoman has opened this series up to some really solid character exploration. Coupled with amazing art, this is probably my favorite story arc Tom King has done yet.
Mighty Thor #701
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: James Harren
The next great chapter of Jason Aaron’s Thor Saga begins in earnest here, and I’m all about that Mangog!
I was actually surprised to learn that Mangog is a classic Thor baddie, created by none other than Stan Lee and Jack Kirby! Well he’s back, baby, and he delivers a royal beatdown to the War Thor! There have been a lot of fights in Aaron’s Thor so far, but this might just be the biggest and bloodiest, as Mangog uses the power of a billion billion beings to tear War Thor down! He even destroys Ultimate Mjolnir! Then Malekith shows up to point Mangog towards Asgardia so that his war can gloriously continue. And Malekith allows War Thor to change back into the far weaker Volstagg and float away into the great beyond.
Meanwhile, Queen Karnilla of the Norns arrives in Hel and reunites with her beloved Balder the Brave. But their reunion is short lived, because Balder’s rulership of Hel is under attack from the fire monsters that War Thor killed a few issues ago!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This is a badass fight issue in a series that has had a lot of badass fights, but there’s just something more badass and fighty about this one. It’s like Aaron knew he was eventually building up to Mangog, so he purposefully held back on previous fights so he could go above and beyond with Mangog. Don’t get me wrong, Mangog looks so incredibly silly under the pen of a modern artist. He’s slightly harder to take seriously because of that. But the idea of Mangog laying waste to everybody to the degree that he lays waste to War Thor is pretty promising.
The fight scene is made all the better by a rather pleasant narration that runs through the issue. It digs into Mangog’s backstory and paints a nice picture of the beast going forward. Then we find out that Malekith was the narrator, bringing it all together nicely in the end. This was a powerful introduction to the next big threat in Jason Aaron’s Thor, and I’m as excited as can be!
TL;DR: Mangog arrives like a billion tidal waves with an issue that hits as hard as his blows. This is a great start for the dangers to come!
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!