Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 2/3/18
This was a weird week in comics. Some weeks, all my favorites come out and I get flooded with so many fun comics to review! And then we get weeks like this one, where none of the new Marvel Comics are ones that I read, or that I’m so far behind on that I can’t review, like All-New Wolverine (which remains excellent). And since it was a Fifth Wednesday, DC mostly put out Annuals, which I’m never all-too thrill to review. The Detective Comics Annual has an origin for James Tynion’s Clayface, so at least there’s that.
But of regular, meat and potatoes comics that I actually read, there was really only the new issue of Harley Quinn for me this week! It’s an improvement over the previous issue, but I’m going to give Comic Book of the Week to the first issue of The Silencer, one of DC’s new wave of titles. I applaud DC for releasing a wave of comics with almost entirely new characters — even if I haven’t been too tickled by the lineup personally. The Silencer could be fun, though.
Honestly, All-New Wolverine should have won. I’ll get back to reviewing it next issue.
Meanwhile, I really, really don’t care for Dark Nights: Metal, which saw a new issue drop this week. It thinks it’s so clever, fiddling with DC continuity on the fly and treating it like kibble for fanboys. But DC continuity is so malleable right now, after the New 52 and Rebirth, that none of this stuff matters. Martian Manhunter shows up in a surprise appearance, and I was left scratching my head as to when the last time Martian Manhunter mattered or had solid continuity. How is his sudden arrival supposed to mean anything if we don’t know where he’s arriving from? Or why his arrival is sudden?
It’s stuff like that, plus the general idea that the villains are just a vague, omnipresent evil that can be anywhere, do anything and beat anybody…until they can’t and the heroes win. No thanks.
Comic Reviews: Harley Quinn #36 and The Silencer #1.
Harley Quinn #36
Writer: Frank Tieri
Artist: Inaki Miranda
I really want Frank Tieri to branch off and tell his own Harley Quinn stories. As much as I loved the Conner/Palmiotti stuff, and as much as I like those characters, I’m ready and willing to let them lie so that Tieri can really cut loose and tell his own stories. I think he’s slightly hampered by these characters.
The Gang of Harleys rush out to the boardwalk chasing Bat-Harley as she swoops at people, gobbles up food and basically causes a big ruckus. They can do little but watch, until Harley comes down to ground level and they try to talk to her. But then Francine Langstrom shows up as She-Bat and starts beating everybody up, with her plan to turn all of Coney Island into bat-creatures. Bat-Harley sees her friends getting beat up and snaps out of it, defeating She-Bat.
Meanwhile, Red Tool, Eggy, Coach and Goat Boy have SOMEHOW gotten permission to take Kirk Langstrom out of Arkham Asylum ON THEIR OWN to search for Francine’s lab. They find it easily enough, with Tony still tied up. They have to fight off Bat-Tony for a bit until they can administer the antidote, and in the scuffle, Kirk grabs some Man-Bat serum and escapes.
Everybody meets back up on the boardwalk and they give Harley the antidote. But some time later, Harley is still feeling mopey about how nobody will leave her alone, so the hot dog guy suggests she just take off, which she does. Meanwhile, we find out that the Penguin is the one who set up Francine to go after Harley, and he’s got even more planned!
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
I liked this issue just fine, but there’s an overwhelming sense of Tieri…I dunno…trying really hard to match the voices/personalities of the supporting characters? The Gang of Harleys, who fell out of service in the main Harley series, but I think Tieri wrote more of in the side stuff, are constantly quipping and one-linering throughout the issue. And it’s fine, it just feels weird for whatever reason. Like these characters aren’t real people, they’re just quip-machines who have dedicated their lives to dressing up like multi-colored Harley Quinns for reasons that have zero impact on who they are or what they do. They’re not characters, they’re cartoons. But the comic and the art do not signify a cartoon.
Likewise, the story is a little silly. Francine Langstrom’s big evil plan is to just turn everybody into Man-Bats? How is that a plan? And the Penguin is not only setting up some big villainous campaign against Harley Quinn, but he’s literally sitting in his sinister office watching Harley’s allies on a view screen, monologuing to nobody in particular about how evil his plan in? While all of this made for an entertaining comic, the logic and the characters just don’t hold together very well. As if, rather than advance the story that came before, Tieri is just keeping the lights on.
And the art is pretty bad. Characters look wonky and misshapen, without a real solid baring on the page. I’m no good at criticizing art. It just doesn’t look like DC are putting their best people on Tieri’s Harley Quinn.
TL;DR: While still entertaining, the new Harley Quinn feels like a warmed over continuation of what came before than anything new and exciting.
The Silencer #1
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: John Romita Jr.
I’m not particularly interested in The Silencer when it comes to the new titles, but like I said above, there just weren’t many other comics this week.
Once upon a time, The Silencer (real name: Honor Guest) was a badass mercenary working for Talia al Ghul and Leviathan, with the power to create a noise-cancelling field around her. But she left that life behind, settled down with a husband, had a kid and now lives a perfectly nice life in the suburbs. But something has happened and her old life has come calling. First she has to take out a big hunk of cyborg assassin in a grocery story parking lot, then Talia pays the family a visit at their home in order to whisper warnings to her. Honor keeps insisting/demanding that Talia leave her alone, that she’s out of that life, but Talia warns that there are forces at work who won’t obey Honor’s wishes.
Sure enough, as Honor is driving Talia to the airport later that night, their car is attacked by two Leviathan mercs. They focus on Talia, so Honor slips into her old gear and takes them out.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
This is a fine introduction to the new character and comic. I don’t think this premise is particularly new, but it might be in the world of superheroes? We’ve got so many armed and talented mercenaries, especially at DC Comics. Should be fun to meet a new one and see her dragged back into the life after settling down with a husband and kid. Honor doesn’t get any really specific personality in this first issue, other than annoyance at having her life thrust back into her, but I look forward to her character growing and deepening. She’s very protective of her life and is part of a very adorable family. Her powers are cool, too.
I don’t know what it is, but all of Romita’s recent work never looks right. Back in the day, the guy was king. His Amazing Spider-Man run is phenomenal. But all his recent work looks a little rushed and just a touch sloppy. Is it the inker? The colorist? I don’t know enough about art to know for sure. The art in this issue is fine and solid, but it’s not Romita’s best, which is disappointing.
TL;DR: The new series is of to an OK start, resting more on premise than on character. But it’s got good characters, too.
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!