Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 11/25/17
We’ve got one of those weird, outlier, DC-only weeks again! I will gladly admit that I prefer Marvel Comics, but in an effort to be in any way impartial, I do keep trying to read more DC for these reviews! And this week is all DC Comics (with one non-Marvel exception).
We’ve got really fun issues of Detective Comics and Harley Quinn, but the real winner this week is the new issue of Batgirl. It had a lot of great moments, earning it Comic Book of the Week!
Normally this is where I would review the latest issue of the Big Event, but I’ve decided to shake things up and actually review the individual Doomsday Clock issues. It’s a sequel to Watchmen, so I figure I owe it to…I dunno, the comic book gods? Either way, look below for my review of Doomsday Clock!
Comic Reviews: Batgirl #17, Detective Comics #969, Doomsday Clock #1, Harley Quinn #32 and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #21.
Writer: Hope Larson
Artist: Chris Wildgoose
This storyline has definitely been a highlight of Larson’s time on Batgirl, with exceptionally fun art from Wildgoose. I might be biased because I love Robin so much, but for reals, this was good stuff.
In the past, Batgirl and Robin confront the Mad Hatter to save Ainsley. Robin has to pull Batgirl off Mad Hatter when she goes overboard, after he taunts her with the fact that Ainsley is an addict.
In the present, after an apparently awkward night of Dick sleeping on her floor, Batgirl and Nightwing head to confront the Red Queen. She’s mad that Batgirl and Robin didn’t help her sister, Ainsley, but the heroes point out that two teenagers did their best to help that adult woman, but were ultimately not responsible for her. The Red Queen uses her mind control powers on Nightwing, but Batgirl is able to get through to him by sharing memories of their past. Batgirl and Nightwing then defeat the Red Queen with solid teamwork!
As they recover, Babs flashes back to some of her memories of when Ainsley did OD and she called for an ambulance. Robin came to comfort her afterwards, and they declared to each other that they were pretty much best friends — which also holds true in the present!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Normally the Red Queen might be an unimportant one-off villain, but I think Larson did a great job tying her motivations to something personal for Batgirl and Nightwing. I don’t think Ainsley’s fate, either in the past or present, hits as hard as she intended, but it’s still a strong emotional beat for an otherwise OK story about fighting a supervillain. It’s a good motivation for the Red Queen and it’s a good factor to drag down Batgirl and Robin/Nightwing.
Beyond that, Larson just does an amazing job with the camaraderie between Dick and Barbara. They’re in a constant state of will they/won’t they, which can be cute. Especially in the scenes of them as younger Robin and Batgirl, when they were just starting to explore their budding feelings for each other. Scenes like this really elevate the book into something really nice and fun. I especially enjoyed the flashback ending. We see Babs really shook up from trying to help Ainsley, even if she couldn’t. And the trust and friendship between young Babs and Dick is super nice.
Also, full disclosure, I have always been more of a Dick/Kori ‘shipper than a Dick/Babs. Just fyi.
TL;DR: Larson writes a really nice story about Babs Gordon and Dick Grayson to finish off her latest storyline. The emotional weight of the story, both good and bad, is really strong and helps make this one pretty special.
Detective Comics #969
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Joe Bennett
Now that Tim Drake is back where he mostly belongs, Tynion is kicking off his next big Detective Comics storyline! That’s always good news.
Stephanie Brown visits Anarky in prison and is starting to once again fall under his sway as he talks about empowering the people to stand up for themselves, rather than relying on Batman and Co. But when Tim Drake finally reveals his return to her later that night, Stephanie is so overjoyed that she agrees to rejoin The Team to help Tim complete his various plans. But later, while The Team is taking down Killer Moth’s attempts to build his own Team, Batwoman advises Tim that he needs to stop lying to Stephanie. She only rejoined The Team because she thinks this is only temporary, that Tim will eventually quit and join her in going to college. But the run-in with his future self has convinced Tim Drake that he can shape a better future for himself. He will become Batman, but he won’t let himself turn into Fascist Batman.
Meanwhile, Anarky has teamed up with the First Victim and the Victim Syndicate! Their plans are growing and they’re going to take their city back!
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
First of all, kudos to artist Joe Bennett and the whole creative team for the clever way they reunited Tim and Stephanie. We all knew it was coming, so to make it special, they focused only on Stephanie’s face while Tim spoke from off-panel. It was a much more moving scene, and Bennett did a great job with Steph’s facial expressions and emotions. That’s some quality creativity right there.
The rest of the issue is good, too. Tynion has such a solid handle on Tim that it’s good having him back at the center of the book. He really brings the comic together. The scene with him and Batwoman, with Batwoman telling him that he’s making a bunch of bad decisions in his relationship, was delightful. As was Tim’s assessment of Killer Moth’s attempts to create a villain team. Funny, endearing stuff.
I was never really captivated by the First Victim or Anarky, so I’m not super excited about their team up/return, but I have more than enough faith in Tynion to pull off everything he’s setting up.
TL;DR: This is a solid issue to kick off the new storyline, with Tynion’s usual flair for character interactions and plot. Also some great artistic choices.
Doomsday Clock #1
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Gary Frank
I don’t normally review these Big Event comics, but I’m in a giving mood this week and I’ve decided to follow Doomsday Clock for real. I don’t think it’s a good idea, not just writing a sequel to Watchmen, but also bringing them into the DC Universe, but here we are anyway.
The issue opens in the Watchmen Universe. Several years have passed and Adrian Veidt’s evil plan has been revealed, plunging the country into chaos. Veidt himself is the most wanted man in the world, but he’s gone into hiding. And due to the rising tensions, all independent news agencies have been shut down. The state-run American News Network has taken over and they announce that Russia has invaded Poland (possibly a lie) and that all Americans should evacuate the big cities and get to safety. It’s madness in the streets!
Amidst this madness, a new Rorschach infiltrates a prison. He seems just as demented as the original, but this one is a black guy. He frees the sadistic criminals Mime and Marionette (based on original Charleston characters Punch and Jewelee) and brings them down into Nite-Owl’s lair, where Rorschach and Ozymandias have been hanging out. Ozymandias reveals that the only way they can save the world is to find Dr. Manhattan, wherever he might be.
Meanwhile, in the regular DCU, Clark Kent has a nightmare about when his parents died in a motor vehicle accident. His screams wake up his wife Lois Lane in bed next to him, and she says she can’t recall the last time Clark had a nightmare. Clark says he doesn’t think he’s ever had one.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
And we’re off! I liked this issue well enough, but it’s mostly just set-up for whatever is to come. A lot of care and attention is paid to make it resemble the original Watchmen, which is nice. There were even some supplemental material in the back, like the original series. And it’s all fine and generally entertaining. Johns writes an entertaining new Rorschach, and does a solid job envisioning what the Watchmen world would look like after Ozymandias’ plan was found out. So those things were fun. But the issue, as a whole, suffers from being set-up. It’s all just there, and nothing of particular note has happened yet, so the issue is mostly just fine.
It must be a lot of fun creating new characters for the Watchmen universe, and being sure to connect them to existing Charleston characters. But Punch and Jewelee were recently featured in a rather awesome Tom King story in Batman, so Mime and Marionette don’t feel as interesting and as fresh as they could. Johns has fun with them, at least, so there’s that.
This issue could have used a big, honking, mind-blowing cliffhanger. A last page reveal to really knock our socks off and kick off this event proper. But we don’t get anything of the sort. We already know the Watchmen characters are going to team up with the DC characters, so no surprises there. And there’s nothing particularly unique or insightful about the Watchmen universe in this issue. It’s all just perfectly fine set-up material to get this story rolling, with writer and artists turning in quality work. No real complaints.
Though while we’re talking about unexpected/unnecessary sequels to legendary works, I highly recommend the movie Hamlet 2.
TL;DR: Doomsday Clock, the Watchmen sequel, is off to a fine start, but this first issue fails to do anything particularly exciting or gripping. Top notch work, but in service of a low key introductory issue.
Harley Quinn #32
Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner
Artists: Bret Blevins and John Timms
After killing Mason over video feed, the Evil Mayor orders his goons to just kill Harley and Sin and get it over with. Harley cries to the goons to shoot her in the neck to protect her face, so they do. Then the pair start arguing about whether or not they’ll torture Sin before killing her — giving Harley time to recover and kill them. She explains that she had a bomb implanted in her neck some time ago, so she pointed the goon’s gun at it and the bullet bounced off. They get the Evil Mayor’s address from one of the goons and Harley heads there on her own, after calling in some backup.
She also has to tell Madame Macabre that Mason is dead. It’s a heart-wrenching moment for Harley, and she has to pull over on the highway to throw up. The assault of the Evil Mayor’s compound is mostly off-panel, as the Mayor instead turns on his assistant, Madison, for screwing up so much, then he goes to hide in the panic room. Harley cuts of Madison’s head with an ax, then uses Red Tool to lure the mayor out of the panic room. Once he’s trussed up, Harley leaves the mayor in the hands of Macabre while she and Red Tool recover Mason’s body.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I was super excited by the violent cliffhanger in the last issue, but I don’t think this issue capitalized on that in any really memorable way. It’s still a fine issue, with a really emotionally charged Harley, but all of that is in service to a pretty standard bit of aftermath. Like, Harley is super pissed, so her and her pals pretty much just beat the bad guys lickety-split. It’s not like shooting Mason triggers a Hulk-like rage in Harley, and she goes to extremes we’d never seen before. She pretty much just does her normal thing and kicks butt. Except that a lot of it is off-panel (though chopping off Madison’s head is nice).
I just feel like the issue could have done more. Like, twice in this issue, Harley leaves one of her allies alone with a bad guy to let them do whatever. Seems like a weird thing to repeat in a single issue. And other parts of the story just don’t fit together as well as I know this creative team is capable of. Like, they come up with a complex trick involving Red Tool to lure the Evil Mayor out of his panic room, but they put him in the panic room in the first place. I dunno. I just feel like the Evil Mayor needed a big, more exciting finish than getting lured into a trap and then left for another character to deal with off-panel. And Red Tool didn’t have as big a role as I would have liked, considering Palmiotti and Conner are leaving the title.
TL;DR: This is still a pretty awesome, emotional and, at times, satisfying issue of Harley Quinn, but I just think the creative team could have gone bigger and better, considering we’re at the end of their epic run.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #21
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Jonas Scharf
After a pretty stellar retcon flashback last issue, we’re back to normal business now and I’m pretty excited to see where all of this is going.
After Grace Sterling has told the Power Rangers about her squad from the moon landing, they re all aghast and start to grow more distrustful of Zordon for keeping a secret like this. But they all quickly gather their thoughts to deal with the new problem, and Grace takes them to her home base: the technological mini-city known as Promethea! It’s basically a science wonderland where everybody is working to make the world a better place. She gives them a quick tour and re-introduces the problem: Finster’s monsters that pose as people.
Grace has one in captivity and she shows the Rangers that it not only thinks it’s human, but has memories and a life and everything. But when the time comes, it transforms into a horrible monster! Then it escapes and the Rangers have to fight it across Promethea, with an assist from Grace, who has built her own Mechazord. Grace tells the Rangers that she thinks they can track these monsters within 12 hours of when they’re going to change, and the best way to stop them is with the Rangers’ teleportation tech. She wants them to work with her, but the Rangers are hesitant to loan themselves out to a civilian like this.
Meanwhile, Zordon returns to the Command Center!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I have no idea where this story is going and that’s pretty awesome! On the surface, this issue features a fun battle with a strange new monster, so that’s always a blast. If Higgins is creating these things, somebody needs to hire him full-time for the actual Power Rangers shows so that he can design the monsters. So the issue features a fun monster fight, but, of course, the real treat is in the grounded look at the Rangers and their world. Seeing the Rangers in costume on a field trip to a civilian institution is just something we don’t see a lot of, and it works perfectly. Promethea seems a little too good and too big to be true, but it’s still a cool sequence for the Rangers.
And then we’ve got all the great personal touches, from the Rangers reacting to Grace’s story, to the little things like how Billy missed out on an internship at Promethea and Grace wants to rectify that. It’s the personal touch that really sells this comic, coupled with the unique and original adventures that Higgins keeps sending the team on. This really is a delightful series for an old-school Power Rangers fan like me.
And Scharf does a solid fill-in job on art. I hope BOOM! is making this series a priority.
TL;DR: Power Rangers slows down a little for a lot of exposition, but the new issue still has a great action sequence and a lot of really great personal touches.
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 November 25, 2017, in Batman, Comics, DC, Reviews, Robin and tagged Batgirl, Detective Comics, Doomsday Clock, Harley Quinn, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Power Rangers, Watchmen. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.