Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 3/31/18
Posted by Sean Ian Mills
Happy Easter Weekend, everybody! If you celebrate! For me, it’s just another good excuse to go home and visit with my folks and whatever family shows up for dinner. Should be fun.
You know what else is fun? Comics! Lots of diverse comics this week, mostly from DC. They gave us another chapter of Doomsday Clock, and the Power Rangers comic kicked off their first Big Event with Shattered Grid! But Comic Book of the Week goes to the final issue of Dark Knights: Metal for being all manner of intense comic book insanity.
Meanwhile, Marvel announced the return of a proper Fantastic Four comic, like we all knew they would eventually. It’s only been about two years and Marvel did very little with the missing team — though what they did do, with Brian Michael Bendis’ Infamous Iron Man, was phenomenal! I don’t particularly care about the Fantastic Four, but I’ll definitely pick it up, since the creative team is Dan Slott and Sara Pichelli. If Slott can do for the Fantastic Four what he did for Silver Surfer, then I’ll probably fall in love all over again.
Also, I read Green Lantern: Earth One this week and it was really good! Solid re-imagining of Hal Jordan and his Green Lantern origins.
Comic Reviews: Dark Knights: Metal #6, Detective Comics #977, Doomsday Clock #4, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #25, The Silencer #3 and The Terrifics #2.
Dark Knights: Metal #6
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artists: Greg Capullo, Mikel Janin and more
I haven’t been reviewing Dark Knights: Metal like a normal comic, but I recently had a request to review this final issue, and I try to honor requests.
To catch everybody up, basically, everything has gone to hell. The evil bat god Barbatos has descended the Earth into darkness with the help of his evil alternate reality Batmen from the Dark Multiverse. And now it’s up to the various scattered members of the Justice League to fight back against Barbatos’ armies, re-ignite the Forge of Creation and save the day! You’ve got Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl leading a charge through Barbatos’ evil armies, with the help of Aquaman, Green Lantern, Mr. Terrific and Deathstroke, plus Plastic Man lends a helpful hand at one point. Then you’ve got Flash, Cyborg, Detective Chimp and a bunch of other heroes coming with the cavalry of good alternate reality Batmen to help out in the fight.
Eventually, Wonder Woman dives into the Forge, fights her way past the Evil Corrupted Hawkman (with Hawkgirl’s help) and she finds Batman and Superman, who were lost in the forge. The trio of heroes are now powered by 10th Metal Armor, which is a big deal, I tell you what. They rise up, empower everybody and take the fight directly to Barbatos — who then calls upon the Batman Who Laughs to pull off their secret final plan involving the Over-Monitor.
So Batman dives down to where they’re hiding (losing his armor in the process), and he takes on the Batman Who Laughs. Batman loses and is rescued by the Joker, who teams up with Batman to defeat their foe.
Batman saves the Over-Monitor, Hawkgirl kills Barbatos, and then the Justice League all join hands and use the power of light and goodness to empower all the people of Earth to rise up. Their energy reaches throughout the multiverse, all the way to the Source Wall, which is shattered.
In the aftermath, Bruce Wayne invites everybody to a formal get-together at Wayne Manor to party and discuss where they all go from here. Hawkman had some pretty gnarly visions of the future, and smashing through the Source Wall has revealed all sorts of incoming dangers. While everybody else parties down, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman retreat to his special planning room so he can show them all his neat new Justice League ideas.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
If nothing else, Dark Knights: Metal succeeds on sheer bombastic spectacle. This is about as big and as wild and as crazy as comic books get, and Snyder, as always, is a relatively steady hand on the helm. He knows the characters, he’s planned this all out, and he and his art team knock it out of the park in that regard. This is about superheroes being heroes in the purest, most badass way, and about evil villains being smited with epic righteousness. Snyder also does really well with the smaller, more intimate scenes, like Hawkgirl giving Wonder Woman a pep talk, or Batman and the Joker teaming up to take on the Batman Who Laughs, or the entire epilogue. They are rich, character-based scenes and they work splendidly. I am legit excited for everything the future has to offer thanks to that epilogue.
And yeah, Snyder writes a badass Batman/Joker combo.
Where Dark Knights: Metal fails is that it gets a little too big and too wild, and all the clever little bits of continuity that Snyder seeded throughout the story don’t amount to a hill of beans. Plastic Man is the biggest example. I thought it was really cool when Snyder and DC revealed that Batman and Mr. Terrific had Plastic Man in stasis for mysterious reasons, explaining where Plas has been since the start of the New 52. It was a major Chekhov’s Gun moment for Metal…only when we get to this big final issue, Terrific summons Plastic Man at a purely arbitrary moment to fight some purely arbitrary bad guys, and Plastic Man gets one full-page spread to look cool before he’s ushered out of the story entirely. All that build up for nothing. Same with the cavalry of good alternate reality Batmen. They add nothing to the story beyond a single page. And all those evil alternate reality Batmen who made up the bad guy’s army? There was so much hype behind those baddies, but other than The Batman Who Laughs, they barely amount to more than background cameos in this final issue, dispatched with barely a second of concern. Or Martian Manhunter’s surprise return in a previous issue. Considering the continuity mess of the New 52/Rebirth, I had no idea that Martian Manhunter was considered missing…and then he doesn’t do anything in this issue! And is then invited to rejoin the Justice League in the epilogue. It feels like it should be a big deal, but continuity has been too weird over the past few years for this to have the impact that Metal thinks it should.
Small story nitpicks like that just kept piling up for me over the course of Metal.
There are also 3 to 4 moments in this issue alone where the bad guy stands momentarily triumphant at the bottom of the page, only for a voice to come in off-panel to reveal a big surprise hero arrival on the next page. It just keeps happening!
But I’m really just being nitpicky. Overall, Dark Knights: Metal is a solid event in terms of being huge and insane. Whatever nitpicks I might poke into the story as a pedantic nerd don’t derail the beast train that is everything Snyder concocted.
TL;DR: Dark Knights: Metal brings its insanely gigantic story to an exciting end with all the punching, surprise twists, vanquished villains and heroic moments one might expect from a comic book.
Detective Comics #977
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artists: Javier Fernandez, Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira
Fun fact: I just found out that Ulysses Armstrong is actually a classic Batman/Robin villain from the Pre-52, re-imagined by Tynion here in his Detective Comics! Neat!
He was known as The General, and was also Anarky for a little bit.
Ulysses uses a historic recording of the future to show Tim Drake how it is that Batwoman eventually kills Batman, forcing Tim to step up. Ulysses has built a whole operation with Brother Eye and he wants Tim to join him, but Tim is pretty hesitant and asks for time to think it over. Red Robin joins up with Batman, deciding that he’d rather go to Batman for real help rather than continue driving himself crazy with the weight of the world. But in order to force Tim to see things his way, Ulysses uses Brother Eye to take over the minds of two Colony agents and sends them out to massacre some crooks!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Tim Drake deciding to forgo doing anything crazy and instead turning to Batman for some good old-fashioned Dynamic Duo therapy? That’s a winning story in my book no matter what else is happening. Honestly, if Tynion randomly dropped everything else and just turned Detective Comics into Batman and Red Robin fighting crime like the good old days, I would be one happy comic book fan. I’m that transparent. The rest of the issue is good, too, with Ulysses making his play and Red Robin being sufficiently nonplussed. I especially enjoyed the art this issue. Barrows does a great flash forward scene (including a cameo of longtime Tim Drake pal Ives! (though I was slightly disappointed that Tim was still wearing the same old Red Robin costume in the future instead of any sort of upgrade)). And Fernandez and Ferreira do a fine job with the rest of the issue.
TL;DR: I can’t help but love a comic when my favorite characters are written well and involved in exciting storylines.
Doomsday Clock #4
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Gary Frank
Hey, do you know what the laboriously slow Doomsday Clock needs at this point in the story? An entire issue devoted to a seemingly meaningless origin story for the new Rorschach!
The new Rorschach is Reggie Long, the son of that psychiatrist who worked with the original Rorschach back in Watchmen. Reggie was caught on the very edge of the alien attack at the end of Watchmen, so while his parents died, he suffered severe craziness. They locked him up in an insane asylum, where he met and befriended Mothman, who helped train Reggie to fight. Reggie eventually escaped, assumed the identity of Rorschach, and tracked down Veidt to his HQ in Antarctica — where Veidt convinces Reggie to help him make things right.
Meanwhile, Reggie settles into Arkham Aslyum well enough, with Batman posing as a new psychiatrist trying to get into his head. In the end, Saturn Girl helps Reggie escape.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
I graded this issue as slightly better than mediocre because, if nothing else, Johns is a good writer. And when his story is focused on one specific thing, like the origin story of this Reggie Long fella, it’s still a good read. There’s no denying that, especially with Frank providing art. The problem is that NONE OF THIS ACCOMPLISHES ANYTHING! Nothing has happened in Doomsday Clock so far! We’re four freakin’ issues into this supposedly landmark series! What does the extensive origin of Reggie Long accomplish? So he’s some dude who was tangentially connected to the real Rorschach, met Mothman and he’s teamed up with Veidt simply because he couldn’t bring himself to kill Veidt. What does any of this say about his character or the story as a whole? What does it add to an already sluggish and meandering story? And if Batman really did want to get information out of Reggie, why not keep him at the Batcave and talk to him there? Why run any risks by putting Reggie in Arkham freakin’ Aslyum and going to all the trouble of posing as a psychiatrist? It’s complication for the sake of complication.
I read somewhere that this origin issue reflects the Doctor Manhattan origin from issue #4 of the original Watchmen. That’s fine thinking when building a sequel, but the thing is, that Doctor Manhattan origin was not only thematically relevant, but Manhattan was a mysterious character who needed an origin story full of pathos, and the origin is one of the most brilliant and creative sequences in all of comic books. Whereas this new Rorschach is a so-far meaningless character and his origin is as boilerplate as it gets.
TL;DR: The last thing the sluggish Doomsday Clock needs to do is spend an entire issue on an unnecessary flashback, but here we are.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #25
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artists: Daniele Di Nicuolo and Simona Di Gianfelice
The big Shattered Grid event begins here! Are you ready for it? I know I am!
I’ve missed a couple issues of the two Power Rangers comics lately. To get everybody caught up: Lord Drakkon (Evil, Alternate Dimension Tommy) was being held prisoner by Promethea and nobody was sure what to do with him. So Saba, from Drakkon’s dimension, decided to try and kill him to save the Rangers from having to make a difficult decision. His assassination attempt failed and Drakkon escaped. He killed Saba, but kept the blade, giving him the power to teleport through time and space.
Sometime in the future, the Time Force Rangers encounter a tear in time and space and they fly their Megazord up to fix it — but a blast kills the green, blue and yellow Rangers! Red stays to hold the rift while the Pink Time Force Ranger teleports out to try and fix things in the past.
In the present, Jason and Tommy investigate Drakkon’s escape and cut ties with Grace Sterling for her mishandling of her prisoner. Everybody regroups with Zordon and nobody is sure what Drakkon will do. Billy and Trini get to work on making some more defenses using leftover Black Dragon parts, while Alpha scans the security footage of the escape to try and determine what Drakkon whispered before he left. And Tommy and Kim go on their first date!
Meanwhile, Drakkon teleported into the future to visit Ninjor, master of the power coins. He had Ninjor fix his morpher and Black Dragon power coin (while posing as a friend). Then Drakkon went and stole the green energy crystal from the leftover Black Dragon parts.
Then Drakkon ambushes Tommy in an alley after the date, stabbing him in the back with the crystal to recharge it! Kimberly finds them (having run back to give Tommy the goodbye kiss she previously chickened out on) and the two fight — with the Pink Time Force Ranger showing up to lend a hand!
But Drakkon teleports away to his home dimension, leaving Kim to cry over Tommy dead in the alley!
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This is a fun, energetic start to the big Shattered Grid crossover. But I’m going to be honest with you here: bad call killing Tommy. I’m not about to complain about breaking continuity with the show. This comic has never been in lockstep with the show and that’s part of the appeal. So there’s probably a very good chance that Tommy is really dead. But here’s the problem: he’s my favorite Power Ranger. In fact, I’m pretty sure the collective agreement between all of us is that Tommy is the best Power Ranger. He’s everyone’s favorite. So this action reeks of the ‘Kill Your Favorites’ trope, where writers purposefully kill off a beloved character just for the tragedy of it. Joss Whedon did it all the time. Brian K. Vaughn is a huge fan.
Killing Tommy especially sucks with him being jobbed by the villain as the big kick off of the whole event. It sucks all of the fun and excitement out of the room just as the event is kicking off. I get why it was done. If you’re going to kill a classic Ranger to kick off this event, Tommy would be the most shocking and unexpected choice. But are we trying to tell a shocking and unexpected story here? Or are we trying to tell a kickass Power Rangers story?
I probably sound really butt hurt here, and I’m fine with that. I love this series because of its grounded, human look at the Power Rangers. Tommy and Kim’s date is the perfect example of that. But Higgins then wipes away all that fun by killing Tommy for no particularly good reason. To make Drakkon more dangerous? Cliche. To give your big event a big death to make it matter more? Cliche.
Alright, I think I’ve made it clear that killing Tommy at the end of the issue really sucks the fun out of this big event right off the bat. The other stuff is OK to good. Drakkon tricking Ninjor to help him get his powers back? It’s fine. Drakkon is a pretty one-note villain and seeing him effortlessly do whatever he wants isn’t all that interesting. The rest of the Rangers don’t get a lot to do, with the date and the death taking up most of the issue. So there’s not too much meat on the bones of this Big Event just yet.
But it was pretty cool when the Pink Time Force Ranger showed up to help Kimberly there in the end. At least there was that.
TL;DR: This is a pretty solid kick-off to the upcoming Big Event, with some cool moments, but I think the Big Shocking Cliffhanger does more harm than good.
The Silencer #3
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: John Romita Jr.
Surprise, surprise, I’m still sticking with The Silencer! I’m not particularly invested in the character just yet, but the comic has some nice momentum.
The Silencer fights her way through the Maulmart, taking on veritable hordes of robo-dude killers. When that doesn’t stop her, Leviathan orders an orbital strike to blow up the entire place! Thankfully, Silencer managed to escape via tank seconds before the blast. She picks up her son from school, buys him ice cream, brushes off some paranoia and tells Talia al Ghul that she’s still not playing this game, and Talia better end it!
Meanwhile, Deathstroke is rather curious why the Silencer is back!
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This issue is almost entirely wild and crazy action, and in that regard, it’s a solid, entertaining issue. Abnett and Romita don’t let up with the forward momentum, pushing Silencer through some pretty hellish fights. She uses her powers, her quick wit and her indomitable skill to overcome insane odds, showing us just exactly why she’s such a big deal. It’s a pretty badass issue. And it’s also peppered with smaller moments that add a lot, like the big villain coordinating with his man on the scene to pinpoint Silencer, building up to the orbital strike, to Silencer getting ice cream with her kid at the end of a long day. Not to mention the part where she commandeers a tank to make her escape! So yeah, The Silencer is pretty cool so far. It’s simple, and I’m growing to like the main character more and more. I just think she could use a better, more appealing costume design…
TL;DR: The new issue of Silencer is all action in the best comic book ways possible. The main character is also quickly growing on me.
The Terrifics #2
Writers: Jeff Lemire and Ivan Reis
Artists: Ivan Reis and Jose Luis
I probably like this comic more than Marvel Two-in-One. I’m not sure what that says about me.
After hearing Tom Strong’s warning, the Terrifics yank out his radio beacon and get zapped with a weird energy. Then the giant sleeping monster wakes up and Metamorpho has to smack it but good so that everybody can escape back through the portal. Once there, Mr. Terrific shuts down the portal and takes back his tech, then decides he’s going to just leave everybody so that he can go study the beacon — except he doesn’t get far, because that weird energy from before has somehow tethered the four heroes together!
Also, Intangible Girl was flying through space with her parents when she got sucked into a portal to the Dark Multiverse, then pretty much just hung out on the space giant alone for years until the Terrifics showed up. Now back in the real world, she can go solid again, but anything she touches starts to explode! Mr. Terrific says he’ll work on a fix.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
Really though? Some kind of energy field that forces the four of them to hang out? That’s the reason they came up with to keep the team together? Couldn’t come up with a more character-based reason? Eh, I think I’m just feeling a little salty. And another thing! That’s the best origin you could come up with for Intangible Girl? Why does she even exist? Argh, the saltiness is strong with me today.
So I’ve got a couple weird nitpicks for some story choices here, but they don’t really ruin the comic at all. It’s still an entertaining group of characters to throw together and send on an adventure. They’re fun to read as they bicker and banter. And the adventure is a neat one, to say nothing of the big, exciting art. Reis does a phenomenal job with the big wide scenes, especially with how Plastic Man stretches out to really use them.
This right here is a double-page spread:
This is a fascinating little team and I think they all work well together. Personally, I wish the creative team had come up with a better token female, and came up with a better reason why the four of them are going to keep hanging out, but I can overlook those weaknesses when the characters are this level of fun to read about.
TL;DR: These are fun characters and this is a fun comic, with amazing art; but I’m not personally a fan of some of the story and character choices.
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 MillsHello, 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 March 31, 2018, in Batman, Comics, DC, Reviews and tagged Boom!, Dark Knights: Metal, Detective Comics, Doomsday Clock, Green Ranger, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Plastic Man, Power Rangers, The Silencer, The Terrifics, Watchmen. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.