Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 3/24/18
Allow me to use this space as a warning to all: don’t get old! Apparently I’ve developed seasonal allergies! Ugh! This sucks! I want my face back!
Anyway, buncha fun comics this week, from Batman to Ms. Marvel to a big and epic Mighty Thor. Comic Book of the Week was a tough call between the delightful new issue of Runaways and the dramatic Mighty Thor, but I think Thor gets a nudge ahead for being such a milestone issue.
I’m so glad writer Jason Aaron is sticking with Thor for the forseeable future, though I’m disappointed that artist Russell Dauterman is leaving the series. Wherever Dauterman goes next, it’s bound to be amazing.
Comic Reviews: Batman #43, Mighty Thor #705, Ms. Marvel #28 and Runaways #7.
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Mikel Janin and Hugo Petrus
I don’t know if I’ve ever before experienced such emotional whiplash in a comic.
Batman remains laid up in a hospital bed, surrounded by Dr. Harley Quinn and the various Super-people. Catwoman is visiting with Ivy in person, trying to understand the grief she’s feeling for the five mobsters she killed back during the War of Jokes and Riddles. Batman starts to get through to Ivy by insisting that her love for Harley is what’s going to help her get through this — though that is also a slight distraction, giving Catwoman enough time to knock out Ivy — whom she has to revive immediately, or some of the people Ivy is controlling are in precarious enough positions that they may die. Batman uses those brief seconds to snap Harley Quinn completely out of Ivy’s control, and he takes Harley to meet with Ivy in person.
Harley is fully on board with helping Ivy and getting her to release the world, so she gladly works her magic as a shrink and a supportive friend to help and comfort Ivy. Batman also reveals that Ivy didn’t kill those mobsters, she only strung them up. The Riddler went back and shot them all in the head afterwards. So Ivy surrenders and is taken somewhere safe, the world is put back to normal, and Batman and Catwoman are content.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I both love and hate this issue for similar reasons. I love it because of the focus on the characters involved, as opposed to any typical comic book violence. I hate it because it doesn’t go far enough with the characters involved and the end felt anti-climactic.
I have stopped caring about comic book fisticuffs. I prefer a nice, character-focused story over a general action issue where superheroes punch super-villains. So I loved the idea that Batman and Catwoman saved the day not by simply punching Poison Ivy until she was defeated, but by appealing to her humanity and her emotions to convince her she was wrong. And I especially loved that Batman did that by getting to Pam through her friend and sometimes lover Harley Quinn. If you read any of my Harley Quinn comic reviews over the past few years, you know how much I loved the Harley/Ivy material. And to see that brought over into Tom King’s excellent Batman comic, with Janin drawing both characters splendidly, was really exciting!
For a moment there, I thought DC was finally going to let Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy be an established, legitimate couple. No more innuendo, no more beating around the bush. Let them be a couple! I legit had goosebumps at the potential!
But then King and DC don’t commit. Harley just shows up and plays the comforting friend/therapist to Ivy. It’s fine, but it could have been so much better and more meaningful. And then to make it even worse, King just goes ahead and retcons himself by having Batman just come out and say, “Oh wait, no, Ivy didn’t kill those guys in my earlier story, it was something else entirely! So she doesn’t have to be sad!” That was a really, really bad retcon that immediately robbed Ivy from having to deal with her own emotions. You can’t just wave your hand and fix a problem as complicated as that!
TL;DR: For a moment, I thought this issue was going to give me everything I ever wanted. But then Tom King swept everything under the rug.
Mighty Thor #705
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman
This is it, people! All the marbles! All the tragedy! And if you’re not reading Mighty Thor, do yourself a favor and pick it up in collected editions. This storyline will read so much better, I imagine.
In case you’re still wondering how Jane Foster was able to get to the Moon to lift Mjolnir in the first place all that time ago, a quick flashback shows us that Heimdall teleported her there on her wishes.
In the present, Thor has been battling the Mangog for some time, the both of them bloody and bruised. She gets a brief moment to tell Odin, Freyja and Odinson to evacuate Asgardia before it crashes into the sun. Mangog returns and the battle is as extreme as it gets, with Mangog wondering why she would fight for the gods, since she hates them as much as he does. Jane Foster tells Mangog that she fights for love, and that he will lose, because he fights for hate. She throws him into the sun.
But he comes roaring back, ready to kill her. But Thor keeps fighting, and Odinson comes to lend an ax, but Mangog keeps fighting. So Thor wraps him up in chains built for Fenrir and has Mjolnir drag him into the sun!
Without Mjolnir, she’ll change back to regular Jane, and everybody knows that’s going to kill her. Odinson rushes to her, at first angry that she would throw away Mjolnir and her life like that. But Jane finally removes her helmet and smiles at him, telling him that she willingly made that sacrifice to stop the Mangog. They kiss as Asgardia crashes into the sun.
The fleeing gods made it to the Moon, and soon Odinson comes crashing down to join them, a dead Jane Foster in his arms.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Once again, I feel like this whole storyline, and this issue especially, would read better in trades. The momentum is just too great. The issues and cliffhangers all lead immediately into the next. It’s a big, epic and awesome battle. The size and scope of this fight isn’t common in comics, and they’re all about fighting. Aaron and Dauterman give this issue their everything and it is beyond amazing. It’s tough, it’s brutal, it’s personal, it’s funny at times, and in the end, it’s beautifully heroic.
And to think I ever questioned why Thor never took off her helmet mask. Aaron was waiting for this beautiful moment.
This is what you get when you’re reading Jason Aaron’s Thor. You get a battle as epic and powerful as anything anywhere in comics. You get whole cities hurled into suns. You get the hero and her allies pushed to the very breaking point, only to come out on top in the name of love and awesomeness! You get heroes making sacrifices. You get true love’s kiss at the heart of a deadly sun. You get all of this and more!
Might Thor is as epic as comics get.
TL;DR: The creative team nails the big, emotional climax of their years long story in a powerful, awe-inspiring issue.
Ms. Marvel #28
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Nico Leon
Where’s that Kamala Khan TV show or movie we’re due?
Captain Marvel and Kamala’s friends continue to fight the Inventor’s giant animal cyborgs, even when they transform into a Voltron-combiner! It’s pretty cray cray.
Meanwhile, Naftali has managed to track Kamala down to the Over-Lee Private School. Kamala says she wanted to go somewhere she could just blend in and be normal, where the world didn’t rest on her shoulders. She didn’t want the responsibility anymore of being the glue that holds her friends and world together. But Naftali suggest that if Kamala tell her friends all of this, they’d probably be more than happy to help carry the load.
So Ms. Marvel returns to action just in time to stop her friends from being stomped by the Voltron monster. The Inventor is defeated, though not before delivering a goodbye shock to Kamala. Once the dust has settled, Kamala and Carol make up and make peace, promising for talk for reals later. And Kamala returns to her normal school and her normal friends the next day, happy that they all have her back.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Mostly I’m glad that Kamala and Carol have made up and that they can maybe have a proper relationship going forward. And thankfully, Wilson really grounds their feud in realistic terms, with Carol never having really hated Kamala (or vice versa) for the actions of Civil War II, but that they stayed away from each other for very mature reasons. Their little scene worked wonderfully. As did the rest of the fight. It was all kinds of goofy, with the various kids fighting monsters, and a great arrival for Ms. Marvel. It was all rather splendid and underlined Kamala’s heroism, with hopefully big events on the horizon.
But this issue is not without complaints. I feel like Wilson really really glossed over the idea of Kamala abandoning her life and her friends. She had legitimate reasons to do so, and going so far as to transfer schools was a big move. But I would have liked to have seen Kamala at that school. Seen her actually try to live life without being Ms. Marvel. But to have a random weird character like Naftali, whom we’d never met before this story arc, just show up and convince her in a sentence or two that she needed to go back? That didn’t work for me. This was clearly a big, important choice for Kamala. And as much fun as it was to see her friends try and play superhero, I feel like the better, more personal story over the past few issues would have been Kamala’s. I think Wilson should have used all the page space she gave to Naftali and give it to Kamala instead, and then have a character we actually know and are invested in impart their wisdom about facing their friends.
At least that’s what I would have preferred.
Also, that ending is really, really silly if we’re holding on to the belief that none of Kamala’s friends know that she’s Ms. Marvel. It’s getting painfully weird at this point. So the exact moment they all convince Ms. Marvel that she’s still needed in Jersey City, their friend Kamala Khan also comes back to school? C’mooooon!
TL;DR: There are a couple storytelling missteps as the creative team wraps up their latest, excellent storyline, but on the whole, it’s a fun adventure.
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Kris Anka
If the Runaways never fight a proper super-villain for the entire length of this series, I will probably be very happy!
The Runaways are now back together living in their old hostel — but they’ve got to have lives instead of just being superheroes. For example, Molly has to go to school, because she loves middle school, has a best friend and has both band and soccer practice. She’s not just going to abandon all of that! So Nico uses a spell to make her and Chase Molly’s legal guardians and they take Molly to school. Meanwhile, Chase goes out to get a job and ends up landing a bummer job as a garbage man, and Nico and Karolina have lunch and reconnect (with Karolina already freaking out her girlfriend Julie with her absences (and Julie is coming to visit tomorrow!)). Gert and Victor also have a heart-to-head chat while Gert cuts his hair.
Later, when Chase and Nico take Molly to the parent/teacher conferences, Molly runs off with her BFF Abigail. While enjoying an ice cream social, Abigail suggests, in a very creepy way, that they could be BFFs FOR-EV-ER!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
What Rowell and Anka are doing with the personal lives of the Runaways in this series is nothing short of genius and incredible! I’ve praised this comic plenty of times before about how it is determined to be a comic about the lives of these characters and not just a generic comic book, and I will keep praising this comic for that very thing if it keep pumping out issues like this one! Granted, I’m already a little annoyed that Molly’s BFF is some kind of evil person. I mean, c’mooon! First her grandmother, and now her BFF at middle school?! Does Molly have no normal people in her life? Normal people do exist in the Marvel Universe!
At least the rest of the comic is amazing!
I love the idea that none of the Runaways expected Molly to still want to go to school. Like, they all thought they could just move into the hostel together and just hang out or something. But no! Molly loves middle school! She’s got soccer practice, you guys! And will need a ride home! It’s brilliant! Run away from your super-villain parents when you’re a kid? Sure, that’s tough. But attempting to live some kind of bohemian lifestyle now that you’re young adults with responsibilities? Now that’s a struggle! And Rowell is nailing pretty much every single part of it!
I’m even partly OK with Karolina being a bad girlfriend if it means more adorable scenes between her and Nico recapturing their friendship.
TL;DR: Now that the team is back together and the series shifts into regular gear, the Runaways relaunch is not dropping the realistic angle that makes it such an awesome comic in the first place! I love it!
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!