Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 12/27/17

Happy last comic reviews of the year, everybody! The horrible year of 2017 is almost over, leading into possibly the even worse 2018! There’s only one way to find out! I had a pretty solid 2017, to be honest. I published a graphic novel. I gave online dating a try. And I paid off my car a couple months early. Not too bad.

It’s another weird week of not having any Marvel comics to review. As a Marvel Zombie, I do find that weird. I’m also beginning to realize that the only DC comics I read involve the Bat-Family. I need to work on that. But for now, I’ll enjoy stuff like Detective Comics, which wins Comic Book of the Week!

Batman Surrenders 01

A solid Batman strategy

Normally I would use this space to talk about the latest Big Event, but then I remembered that I decided to actually review Doomsday Clock like a normal comic. I’m slightly regretting that at the moment. Over at Marvel, I skipped the resurrection of Jean Grey because I largely don’t care.

Comic Reviews: Batgirl #18, Detective Comics #971, Doomsday Clock #2 and Go Go Power Rangers #5.


Batgirl #18

Batgirl #18
Writer: Hope Larson
Artist: Sami Basri

Hope Larson and her rotating art team continue to deliver a pretty awesome Batgirl comic! And to think I was worried that Batgirl of Burnside wouldn’t continue!

Barbara and Frankie go to meet Alysia at the Gordon Clean Energy Christmas Party, which is at a swanky rooftop bar. But the bar double-booked with the Smellicule Christmas Party, a start-up that offers custom scents for rich people apartments. It is run by the slimy Bradley Burr. Harley Quinn shows up dressed as Santa and poisons everybody with a slow-acting poison, declaring that Burr must find the “reason for the season” if anybody wants the antidote!

So Batgirl, Frankie and Alysia team up with Burr to look into family, charity and religion as possible reasons for the season, looking back into Burr’s life and how he was kind of a crumb bum regarding all of those things. Then Batgirl figures out that, of course, to Harley Quinn, the “reason for the season” is presents. They find her back at the bar. She never actually left.

After some tomfoolery, our heroes get the antidote and Harley gets away. It appears that Burr will face no repercussions — except that while our heroes were away saving the day, the people still at the party started talking and everybody agreed that working for Burr sucked, so they quit.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

There was a lot crammed into this issue, making for a pretty clipped pace, but it’s still a solid and enjoyable issue. Along with the clipped pace, Larson also sort of has to hand-wave any real concerns away just to keep everything moving. Like, Frankie and Alysia both go with Burr and Batgirl, and Burr doesn’t find this suspicious? Or Millennials in today’s climate straight up quitting their jobs there at the end? Madness! Anyway, Larson still had a lot of fun with the issue, and that’s what counts the most.

Wrapper 01

Definitely having fun

It’s quick, it’s a little sloppy, but it’s still a fun little tale of Batgirl and her friends taking on Harley Quinn in a neatly Christmas-themed adventure. You don’t see many of those these days. For good reason, probably, but it’s nice to have a fun issue about it now and again. The hijinks and jokes and character camaraderie were all fun in this issue, and Basri turned in some simply stunning work on art. This is the perfect kind of art I want on the Batgirl comic, so that is just plain perfect.

Though, on a personal note, it was weird how often Larson referenced Harley’s Suicide Squad status quo instead of the one from her solo series. It was a weird reminder that DC has two very different status quos for one of their most popular characters. I obviously prefer her solo series status quo over this one.

TL;DR: Batgirl delivers a nice, done-in-one Christmas story that’s a little rushed and a little too jam-packed with stuff, but is an otherwise very entertaining, well-drawn comic.


Detective Comics #971

Detective Comics #971
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Miguel Mendonça

Here we go! After a couple somewhat scattershot issues, Tynion starts bringing his storylines together here and they make for a really good adventure! Though there’s at least one really badass Batman moment in this issue that gets glossed over in favor of everything else going on.

The Victim Syndicate has taken over Arkham Asylum, with all guards on staff on their side and Clayface as their prisoner. They’ve removed his control band, so he’ll go crazy in a couple hours. The Syndicate want Batman to surrender and reveal his identity on live TV, or they’ll start releasing dangerous criminals (though the place is surrounded by cops, so where they’re going to release them to, I don’t know…)

The mayor calls Batman and demands that he surrender. Over protests from Red Robin, who thinks there’s a way to be clever about this, Batman agrees to go to Arkham alone. He sends his allies out to watch some social media-organized protests, and Red Robin later notes that the protest spots seem to line up with the city sewer junctions.

Batman arrives at Arkham and heads inside, where he is confronted by the Syndicate and all their guard allies. Batman immediately implements an Arkham override code he put in place in case the Joker ever took over, locking down the building. Batman then proceeds to take on the Syndicate and all of their guards — off panel. When that’s done, Batman tells Gordon to send in the cops, but that’s when the newly enraged Clayface shows up!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I know Tynion has a lot going on with his Detective Comics run, with a bajillion characters and a big plotline. But he really let an awesome Batman moment slip through this issue. Making it out like Batman was going to surrender, putting him up against a huge Victim Syndicate army, and then overriding the entire building’s security the way only Batman can? That’s badass, but it’s horribly downplayed in story and art. Tynion has too much else going on for this badass moment to get any breathing room.

And then when the First Victim hisses and tells him that he’ll have to take on a hundred of them, Batman just readies his fists and tells them to bring it on! Badass!

Batman Rules 01

But the fight is off-panel.

I know we’ve seen Batman be badass plenty of times in all of our lives, but there’s no harm in watching it happen again. We love that stuff! And Tynion set up a really awesome Batman Badass Moment! Revel in that stuff, yo! Savor it and let it play out at its own speed.

But the rest of the issue is fine, too. There’s a tension growing between Batman and Red Robin, which will hopefully lead to something cool. There is tension among the team, which is always good. And we’re finally going to see everything Tynion has been building with Clayface come to a head. That should be fun. The art isn’t as strong as some of the regular artists on this book, but it’s still solid.

TL;DR: I have been a little worried that this storyline was going off the rails, but the creative team clamps down with this issue and starts the immediate build-up to something big and exciting!


Doomsday Clock #2

Doomsday Clock #2
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Gary Frank

Watchmen was never anything too special too me. I wasn’t reading comics in the 1980s, so Watchmen was already around and its tropes were already infused in the industry by the time I got into comics. I’ve read it and like it, sure, but it’s not a personal favorite of mine. I’m not sure how much that is impacting my general disinterest in Doomsday Clock so far.

Once upon a time, when Marionette and Mime were robbing a bank, Dr. Manhattan showed up to vaporize them, but he stopped when he realized Marionette was pregnant. That one moment of humanity is why Ozymandias has brought them along on his mission, hoping that it can act as a beacon for Manhattan. Everybody loads into Archie to pass between dimensions just as the bombs blow up New York City. The Owl-Ship crashes into Gotham City and Ozymandias and Rorschach split up to find the two smartest people in the world: Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne, who are currently engaged in a takeover attempt.

Rorschach breaks into Wayne Manor and the Batcave and eats Batman’s pancakes, while Ozymandias breaks into Luthor’s office. He and Luthor begin to engage in a tete-a-tete, but then the Comedian shows up and shoots Luthor.

Also, Marionette and Mime were handcuffed to the wall in the Owl-Ship, but they manage to pick the lock with one of Mime’s imaginary lockpicks.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

I dunno, I’m just not feeling the magic that this comic seems to want to bring to the table. Batman meeting Rorschach is cool, I guess, but this isn’t the regular Rorschach, and the overall “BIG HUGE IMPORTANCE” of Batman meeting Rorschach is weighing the scene down. Though little flairs of humanity, like Rorschach eating Batman’s pancakes, or Rorschach noting that only serial killers keep the sort of mementos that Batman does, keep the issue moving along nicely. There’s a lot of solid character work in this comic, but the overall story has yet to wow me. So Watchmen characters can just press a button and jump on over into the DC Universe? It’s that easy? And why is the only Watchmen character to do so Ozymandias, the lamest of the lot? Like I said, Rorschach isn’t really Rorschach, and Marionette and Mime might as well just be DC characters to begin with they’re so new and Geoff Johns-y.

Mime Lockpick 01

I find them funny, at least

The tete-a-tete between Ozymandias and Lex Luthor also wasn’t as thrilling as I would have liked, with these two geniuses facing off. I feel that scene, a major scene in this issue, could have packed more depth and wit. And I don’t know what the sudden arrival of the Comedian was supposed to accomplish, but for me, it was just kind of dull. It’s a weird surprise. Like, I get that it’s supposed to be mysterious or suspicious, but neither of those things really apply based on what we know. We know Comedian is dead and we know this small band of Watchmen Universe characters had to traverse the dimensional plane to get here. So the Comedian showing up is more “uh, okay” then a really ribald twist. At least it felt that way to me. The idea of bringing the Comedian back to life sounds exhausting.

Also, why is Bruce Wayne considered one of the two smartest men on the planet? I get that Batman is smart, but he’s not Lex Luthor-levels of genius. And he surely wouldn’t go around advertising that Bruce Wayne was that smart. He’s supposed to be maintaining a dopey playboy persona.

TL;DR: Doomsday Clock is a little too slow and a little too hung up on itself and its concept to really hook me just yet.


Go Go Power Rangers #5

Go Go Power Rangers #5
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Dan Mora

I thought I’d missed an issue of this excellent comic, but nope! It’s just been this long for issue #5 to come out.

The Homecoming Dance is on its way and the Power Rangers are a little flustered in trying to prepare, whether they already have dates or not. Meanwhile, Rita has kidnapped their sixth friend, Matt, and begins torturing him for information about the Rangers to use against them. She has a Putty posing as Matt down on Earth and he begins sewing dissent among the Rangers, like telling Jason that Trini has a huge crush on him, but then suggesting Jason not rock the boat about it. This causes Jason to get a little tougher in a training exercise, and he declares that he might need to go that far as team leader, even if it’s not the friendliest thing to do.

Also, Bulk is running for Homecoming King.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I hope Parrott, and perhaps Kyle Higgins, have a lot of big plans for Matt. I love the idea that the Power Rangers had a sixth friend in their group and that he got left out of the Power Rangers stuff. It just sounds so tragic. And now that he’s in the clutches of Rita Repulsa, I hope she comes up with a really great way to use him against them, to really twist the emotional screws. There’s so much potential here, and an issue like this really showcases how much story can be told with these characters, even at this time in their lives.

GG Power Rangers Dance 01

Tough choice to make

I loved Evil Matt really twisting the screws on Jason, using the crush that Trini has clearly had on him. I love how Rita’s plan is working on the Rangers during training. I love all the personal, human stuff that the Power Rangers are dealing with. There’s a great training sequence where they’re just fooling around with the Zords, because they’re teenagers piloting giant robot dinosaurs. And they’re excited to see what powers they have, and are subtly trying to one-up each other with how cool they think their own individual Zords are. This is a wonderful companion series to the main Power Rangers comic, which I already love.

I only wish this series could include Tommy, my favorite Power Ranger, but that would defeat the entire point!

TL;DR: The latest issue of Go Go Power Rangers may have taken awhile to come out, but it’s still as good as I remember. Strong, personal and very human characterization using the Power Rangers characters and their world is apparently exactly what I want from comic books.

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 December 30, 2017, in Batman, Comics, DC, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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