Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 4/21/18
Only one week until Avengers: Infinity War! If only I was reading any Avengers comics to make this stack of reviews a tie-in. Guess you’re all stuck with just Amazing Spider-Man, Batman and the Power Rangers.
Comic Book of the Week goes to a fairly perfect issue of Ms. Marvel. This book is still so good after all this time! So much fun drama!
I skipped Action Comics #1000 because it’s a big beast of a comic and I haven’t read anything leading up to it. I’ll probably swing back through to my comic shop later to pick up a copy just to own it and perhaps I’ll worry about it then.
Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #799, Batman #45, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #26, Mister Miracle #8 and Ms. Marvel #29.
Amazing Spider-Man #799
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Stuart Immonen
So, huh, we’re only one issue away from the end of this story. The big Red Goblin battle is only three issues long?
Peter Parker calls in all his pals to help watch over his loved ones in case the Red Goblin goes after any of them. This includes the Human Torch, Miles Morales, Silk, Anti-Venom and Clash. Then we follow Harry Osborn and Liz Allen, who use the chip Liz put into her son to find their nanny trying to get the kids onto a train — which is where the Red Goblin attacks! He also reveals that the nanny is Harry’s mom, returned from the dead, and she reveals that she was trying to get the kids away from Norman. Clash, Human Torch, Miles and Silk all show up to fight but get taken out pretty quickly. Anti-Venom shows up and does some damage to the Carnage symbiote, but Osborn convinces Flash Thompson to use his powers to heal his wounded allies instead, distracting Flash enough so that the Red Goblin can trash him, too.
Norman goes off chasing his kids and grandkids while Spidey shows up at the train station to assess his friends. Flash then uses the last of his healing powers to heal Peter’s leg, putting him back into the fight.
Meanwhile, Norman has grabbed Normie and turned him into Kid Red Goblin!
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
I mean, I guess this is all fine, but it’s really really…anti-climactic? Really kind of paint-by-numbers. Like, did Norman Osborn not have a greater plan? Was he really just gonna don the Carnage symbiote and go after his grandson? And just punch anybody that got in his way? It’s not like he’s even going after Spider-Man. Heck, the Red Goblin made Spider-Man the insane promise that he wouldn’t hurt any of Spidey’s loved ones, and he holds himself to that bargain in this issue! He takes out all of Spider-Man’s allies in half a second and purposefully doesn’t kill them!
Not that I want to see them die, but it feels like really weak writing to come up with arbitrary reason why your big bad doesn’t do exactly what he’s created to do. There’s no reason to give Norman Osborn the Carnage symbiote unless you’re going to just go insane with it. And Carnage would not hesitate to slaughter any superheroes who got in his way. But nah, we’re instead getting a namby pamby Carnage who can easily take out anybody he comes across but doesn’t follow through. That instantly neuters all of the inherent danger in an Osborn/Carnage union.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Red Goblin is a great idea! If you’re going to end your decade-long Amazing Spider-Man run, you want to go big, and that’s a pretty big deal! I think, what, we had the Scorpion wear the Venom symbiote for a bit, and would occasionally be a Venom Scorpion? Having Spider-Man’s greatest enemy team up with the Carnage symbiote, still a volatile and evil thing, that’s pretty gnarly and wicked. And it would be in this story if this story wasn’t as basic as it gets.
There are no real fights, no confrontations. The Red Goblin just shows up, gives with the lame banter, and just smacks around anybody he comes across. Spider-Man is out of the fight due to a completely arbitrary leg injury that seems manufactured specifically to keep Spider-Man out of the fight for just long enough to spread this story out a few issues. So we know there are no stakes. Unless Marvel is working on a huge fakeout with their upcoming Nick Spencer relaunch, Spider-Man isn’t going to be killed in the next issue. So he’s going to face off against the Red Goblin and beat him up — something that clearly could have happened in the previous issue, when the Goblin first showed up, but apparently it needed to be dragged out several issues, so Spidey got a random leg injury.
And if the Goblin kills one of Spidey’s supporting characters next issue…ugh. I can’t think of a worse way to tell this story.
Also, the Red Goblin turning Normie into a Kid Red Goblin is not the worst thing he’s done in this storyline (RIP Phil Urich).
Also also, if Spider-Man has time to call in some friends to quickly group up and watch his loved ones, what’s stopping him from calling the Avengers? Surely they’re just as reachable and the Red Goblin would warrant such a response.
Art is still amazing, though.
TL;DR: Despite a really cool villain, despite this being Dan Slott’s grand finale, this Red Goblin short story can’t help but feel anti-climatic. Not a lot is happening, and what does happen feels pretty run-of-the-mill.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Tony S. Daniel
Before we get to the big wedding, Tom King apparently wants to try his hand at Booster Gold! Bring it on!
Booster Gold seems trapped in a weirdly dark version of Gotham City, where superheroes like Green Lantern are “Jokerized” into madmen who kill themselves. Booster seems to be taking it all in stride as he and Skeets set out to find Batman — and they do, but this Batman is Dick Grayson, who says he’s going to grant Booster a swift death before Booster becomes Jokerized himself. Booster escapes and decides to find Bruce Wayne instead.
Bruce is at a big party celebrating his alive parents’ wedding anniversary. Booster breaks in and takes Bruce aside, filling him in on what happened. Booster heard the classic story of when Superman got sucked into the Black Mercy plant and had a fake perfect life presented to him, and how Superman came out of that event with a greater appreciation of everything. So Booster decided, as a wedding present, to go back in time and stop Bruce’s parents from being killed. Then he would reveal the truth to Bruce, go back and set things back to normal, and Bruce could have his own greater appreciation of everything.
After hearing the story and confirming to himself that not everything in the world is correct, Bruce Wayne smashes the time machine in Skeets and goes back to his party.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This is a wild issue with a pretty neat premise. The issue is mostly set-up, which is fine, because King lets the mystery build of just what exactly is going on here. The issue opens with Green Lantern killing himself, then bounces around as a somewhat ambivalent Booster Gold checks out just how different things are — with the occasional check-in on important people from Batman’s life, like the Robins and Talia. Booster and Skeets carry the issue with their nearly nonstop banter. It’s not the funniest the pair have been, but it’s good enough to keep the story moving. I’m not going to knock down DC’s door to make King write a Booster Gold comic or anything, but it’s fun enough to keep the comic moving and set up the weird but interesting story. Solid, enjoyable set up from an already awesome comic.
TL;DR: The new storyline looks to be a pretty crazy one, and that’s always fun! Requires a full issue of set-up, though.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #26
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Daniele Di Nicuolo
Shattered Grid ran into a bit of a problem this issue: it’s an idea that’s a little too crazy for its own good!
Tommy Oliver is dead and the Power Rangers can’t keep that from his family, so they must grieve and attend the funeral like normal people, while keeping their secrets and supporting each other. Then the Pink Time Force Ranger wakes up and fills them in on what’s happening: Lord Drakkon’s Tommy killing actions have fractured the normally linear Power Rangers timeline, branching off each Power Rangers incarnation into their own unique zone. But they can’t just go back in time and stop Tommy from dying.
Drakkon returns to his dimension and his pal Finster-5. He’s kidnapped Ninjor and uses him to start jumping from dimension to dimension with his armies. They attack the Samurai dimension and capture everybody, but the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers arrive just in time to save Samurai Red (Lauren).
Drakkon later reveals that his plan is to keep jumping into different dimensions and stealing the powers of other Rangers, adding them to his own power.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This issue was better than the last one, especially once the action started to pick up. I’m over them killing Tommy and we’ll see where that part of the story goes, but it’s best not to dwell on something nitpicky like that. It’s part of a larger story and we’ll see what happens. The story could definitely have potential. The Power Rangers teaming up with various other random Rangers to take on this villainous threat? Sounds pretty cool, and I really liked the action scenes in the Samurai universe. The whole concept is really neat, and it’s just plain fun to see Drakkon’s Power Ranger stormtroopers show up.
But the issue is really forced to pump the brakes when Time Force Pink Ranger needs several pages to just tell us all what’s happening, and how it’s a touch too complicated. Fractured timelines, shattered morphin grids, something something with Ninjor…it’s all a deep cut into Rangers lore and references, and it’s never fun to have to sit through mountains of complicated exposition just to lay out the threats/stakes.
Also, quick nitpick, the art was great this issue, but Jason was drawn at the funeral as just a generic white kid with generic brown hair. That’s not Jason. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but he’s drawn exactly like new character Matt from the Go, Go Power Rangers comic, and seeing him on the page, I thought Matt was making his first appearance in the ‘current’ Power Rangers comic time. I got excited! Instead, it turned out to just be a really off-model Jason.
TL;DR: The action heats up as Power Rangers start crossing over, but the whole event takes a lot of explaining.
Mister Miracle #8
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mitch Gerads
Speaking of solid, enjoyable comic book set up from a reliably awesome writer, how about Tom King on Mister Miracle?
The issue intercuts two stories: either Mister Miracle on the battlefield, drenched in blood, slaughtering his enemies, suffering through emergency leg surgery, digging a trench in which to store the dead and other gruesome scenes; or Scott Free at home taking care of his baby. Scott and Barda are switching off who is home with the baby and who is at war. And oftentimes they chat on the Mother Box phone while the other is in battle. It’s kind of adorable. The issue is just back and forth: raising a baby, fighting in a war, raising a baby, fighting in a war.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I almost worry that I’m inflating this story too much in my mind, and that King isn’t building to some Earth-shattering finale. Maybe he really is just telling a nice story about Mister Miracle and Big Barda having a baby. Maybe Darkseid isn’t.
If that’s the case, I’d be fine with it, because this comic is unlike any other. I am beyond loving the juxtaposition between ordinary parental normalcy and the insane Fourth World that Scott and Barda live in. That juxtaposition has been the best part of the ongoing comic, and King uses it well in this issue, as Mister Miracle goes to brutal, bloody war while keeping one ear open to the eating and sleeping habits of his kid. It’s adorable, hilarious and wonderfully genuine.
Mister Miracle is hilarious and painful and mind-boggling in equal measure, and all to the betterment of the story and the reader. It’s a comic that fills you with happiness and hope, then slips a knife into your ribs when you’re distracted. This issue wasn’t particularly knifey, but we’ve got plenty more to go, and I need to strap in for the rest of the ride.
TL;DR: A baby makes three! Mister Miracle has gotten even better as the juxtaposition of Fourth World mind-boggletry and normal, Earth-bound baby raising is both hilarious and touching.
Ms. Marvel #29
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Nico Leon
Yep, this is a pretty much perfect issue of Kamala Khan.
Tyesha is giving birth, and Kamala is there to give her brother moral support! Tyesha gives birth to Malik Theordore Khan, and Kamala is instantly in love with her new nephew! Ms. Marvel goes out for an excited patrol and runs into Red Dagger on the rooftop of the Circle Q. He tells her that he’s so happy to finally see her again, and he goes in for Kamala’s first kiss!
Which, of course, is when Bruno clears his throat down below and reveals that he’s finally back. Kamala and Bruno sit down to talk and try to repair their relationship (though Mike sees them together and runs off crying). After they talk, Kamala realizes that she possibly still loves Bruno, and she wants him to stay in America! She runs to Sheikh Abdullah for advice, and after an adorable tease, he sits her down and gives some solid advice about dealing with her feelings and having to make adult decisions.
Meanwhile, Zoe likes a new mean girl at school, but when Zoe tries to talk to her, the girl crunches a locker door with her hand and says she’s not there to make friends!
Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.
This is about as perfect an issue of teenage drama that one could possibly want, and it’s exactly what I want from Ms. Marvel. Yeah, some superheroics would be nice, I guess. But there isn’t a super-villain in any comic book universe that Ms. Marvel could punch that would be better than the drama and humor that unfolds in this issue. Kamala and the birth of her nephew? Adorable! Happy Ms. Marvel and Kamala’s first kiss, with that dashing rogue Red Dagger? Sweet! Ongoing attempts to patch things up with Bruno, including a small sad scene where Mike’s heart breaks? Meaningful and sad! Utterly hilarious encounter with Sheikh Abdullah? Amazing!
Nearly everything in this issue was 100% perfect in riling up the drama and humor in Kamala’s life. The only thing that felt like a slight misstep was the introduction of Kaylee Kirk. She just shows up and throws her mean girl bonafides around by unnecessarily inserting herself into Kamala and Bruno’s conversation. Like, can you clearly not see these two people are having a conversation? Why not ask any of the half a dozen other people around how to get to the gym? Why keep poking your nose into this clearly private affair other than to blatantly introduce yourself as an important new antagonist?
Of course, Kaylee’s stilted introduction is saved by Wilson adding the subplot that Zoe finds the girl instantly attractive! And it’s Zoe’s attempts to get to know her that reveal Kaylee as some kind of super-powered threat! The world doesn’t revolve around Kamala Khan!
This might just be me, but I don’t really care for either Bruno or Red Dagger. I like a good romance in my comics as much as the next guy. But neither of these guys has really won me over as being a good romantic match for Kamala. Or that either one is a solid romantic story to begin with. Granted, it’s just high school stuff, and Sheikh Abdullah kind of comments on that a little, but I dunno, I’m just not feeling it. I never really cared much for Bruno in the first place. I think it’s his dumb long hair or his somewhat out-of-the-blue genius-level intellect. Bruno just never clicked for me. And the transition from best pals to romantic interests never did either, at least not from Kamala’s side.
So we’ll see where that all goes. Honestly, I don’t ‘ship Kamala with anybody. She totally deserves to kiss boys and stuff, but none of what we’ve read so far has clicked much with me. And that’s all on me. Opinions may vary.
TL;DR: The high school and character drama is absolutely perfect in the latest issue of Ms. Marvel. The creative team is in that special zone where everything works and works so well!
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 April 21, 2018, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man and tagged Amazing Spider-Man, Big Barda, Kamala Khan, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Mister Miracle, Ms. Marvel, Power Rangers, Red Goblin. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.