Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 4/28/18
How about that Avengers: Infinity War, huh? That sure was something! I enjoyed the movie, but I wasn’t blown away. I’m starting to think I let myself get too hyped up for these Marvel movies. But then I remember that Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok were amazing. So mileage may vary. Expect a fuller review on Wednesday.
As for comics this week, we’ve got a whole pile! No Avengers, I’m afraid, because I don’t read any current Avengers comics. Though the latest issue of Mighty Thor, which caps off the saga of Jane Foster: Goddess of Thunder, wins Comic Book of the Week.
Though I wasn’t particularly happy with how Mighty Thor ended. It’s a gorgeous comic, at least. Wherever Russell Dauterman goes next, I’m sure to follow.
Also, The Hunt for Wolverine kicked off this week and I will not be reading or reviewing. I think Marvel really, really dropped the ball after killing Wolverine, and I have zero interest in his return. He should have stayed dead.
Comic Reviews: All-New Wolverine #34, Batgirl #22, Detective Comics #979, Exiles #2, Mighty Thor #706, The Silencer #4 and The Terrifics #3.
All-New Wolverine #34
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Ramon Rosanas
I think this story arc is just Taylor having a good old time saying goodbye.
The incoming hero is Captain Marvel, and she’s brought along Kate Bishop because Gabby wanted a couple other super friends to join this fight. They head into the domed city of Latveria and try to interrogate a citizen, but Doom is always watching and he sends a bunch of Doombots after them. Maria Hill has a magic bullet that will help them gather information on the Latverian prison they’re searching for by downloading it directly from a Doombot — and the bullet turns out to be the Wasp, who is stuck at shrunken size, and she takes control of the Doombot from the inside. She knows how to find the prison.
But one of the other Doombots manages to get a shot off and kill Maria Hill.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
As much as I’m generally enjoying this issue, the main problem is that there are no real personal stakes for anybody involved. At least, nothing that matters. As far as I know, Laura has no beef with Doctor Doom, so going after him means next to nothing. And while I’m sure she has friendships with the likes of Captain Marvel, Hawkeye and Maria Hill, none of them has ever been a cornerstone of this series. So this just doesn’t feel like the grand finale it’s supposed to be. It just feels like Taylor is writing a generic action story with a bunch of cameos. He writes the characters well, with some fun dialogue and jokes, but none of it really means anything.
Even Gabby is kept at a minimum to make room for all the other cameos. Don’t get me wrong, they’re mostly fun cameos, but it’s all just fluff. I liked the reveal that the Wasp was hidden in the bullet…but why not make it Nadia instead of Janet? Keep the young lady superheroes together? Not that Nadia means more to Laura than Janet, I guess I just miss Nadia…
Anyway, it’s all fine, but this storyline isn’t really saying or doing anything all that interesting. Heck, nothing in this comic demands that it be set in the future. Why not have Bellonna trapped in present-day Latveria and have Laura team up with her pals to go save her? Did somebody come up with the title ‘Old Woman Laura’ and then work backwards from there?
TL;DR: It’s all fine and dandy comic book storytelling, but the issue and story don’t have anything very deep or meaningful to say so far.
Writer: Hope Larson
Artist: Minkyu Jung
Hey, would’ja look at that, a good old fashioned twist!
Batgirl interrupts a domestic dispute to stop an angry, rich father, who claims his ex-wife took the kids in the divorce and turned them against him. He’s going to kill them with a blaster pistol, but Batgirl jumps in front of them and lets her suit absorb the blast, then she kicks the guy’s butt.
Later on, Babs and Frankie go to the farmer’s market and Babs runs into Kai, her old friend who was part of her China vacation. They get food and Babs tells Kai that she feels like she’s in a rut. And later, Babs runs into May, another friend from the China trip. Babs finds out that May is part of some underground MMA ring where fighters have been turned into ‘roided-out monsters, fighting for the amusement of some bad people. Batgirl tries to jump in and save May, but she gets knocked out.
While unconscious, Batgirl is visited by Fruit Bat, also from China. This vision informs Babs that the past couple days have been a lie. She’s still back in the middle of the domestic dispute, having been hit by that blaster pistol. It has done something to her brain and she’s trapped in a prison of her own subconscious. If she doesn’t get out, she’ll die!
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
Now that’s a fun twist! I definitely didn’t see it coming. Larson has been adding cold open capers in a lot of her comics, so I thought nothing of the domestic dispute at the start of the issue. It seemed like exactly the sort of thing Larson includes in her Batgirl comics. And then having Kai and May show up, and Batgirl investigating a monstrous MMA ring? All run-of-the-mill comic book stuff. It all seemed perfectly normal and fine. Then that twist shows up and really makes for an exciting read, pulling what started out like a normal, dull comic into something really neat. Of course, that means most of the issue was a somewhat dull comic. Maybe Larson should have done something shocking, like have Babs hook up with Kai…or May! I dunno, something more interesting than an underground fighting ring that turns its fighters into monsters. That’s about as rote as comic book storylines get. Neither Batgirl or the reader lost anything when the issue was revealed to all be in her head.
TL;DR: A really neat twist ending saves this issue from being a dull superhero comic, but it’s still a dull superhero comic before arriving at the twist.
Detective Comics #979
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Philippe Briones
I don’t know why, but I’ve never cared much for the OMACs. Just never been my thing.
The General confronts Red Robin in his brain as the OMAC programming takes over, trying to convince Tim to embrace Brother Eye and Belfry 2.0. He uses the memories of Future Tim and how everything went wrong and everybody died to convince Tim to join him, but Tim resists — until the General turns things up to 11 and pushes Tim’s mind too far. Tim takes over all of the OMACs to launch Pax Batmana, flying to the site of the destroyed Belfry to rebuild it and begin his takeover of Gotham City.
Meanwhile, Batman and company come to the slightly incorrect conclusion that Tim is behind all of this, though Batman insists that somebody must be pushing Tim to do this. They don’t know about The General yet. Batman and Orphan then recruit Spoiler as possibly the only person who can get through to Tim on a personal level.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I can’t wait to see how Batman and Robin get out of this pickle! This is one of those issues where I just don’t have a lot of new things to say. This has been a heck of a ride in Tynion’s Detective Comics, and enjoyable each and every issue. The tension keeps building, while staying true to the characters. The danger is real, the stakes are real, my boy Tim Drake is in quite the jam! Can Tim break away from The General’s plan while keeping his reputation with the rest of the Bat-Family intact? Will Batman ever trust him again? The stakes are pretty great in this story and each new issue keeps everything building nicely. There’s usually a ton of exposition in a lot of these issues, but that’s not a problem. I like where this is going. And the art is really great, too.
TL;DR: The stakes keep rising and the tension keeps building as the current Batman and Red Robin story races to the finish!
Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Artist: Javier Rodriguez
Second verse, same as the first!
The Exiles pick up Valkyrie from her world, then Wolvie from his world, and get transported back to the moon for another chat with the Unseen. They bicker a bit about how exactly they’re supposed to defeat the Time-Eater, and Iron Lad suggests it might not be destroying worlds very quickly, so if they can defeat it in time, their homeworlds can probably be saved. Then a bunch of Watchers show up to kill the Unseen for interfering, and Blink gets all up in their grills because they can’t just stand by and let him be wiped out. In the struggle, the lead Watcher’s gun blasts and shatters the Tallus, sending everybody out into the wild multiverse.
Comic Rating: 4/10 – Pretty Bad.
Ugh, this comic is insufferable. It’s all heavy-handed exposition and stilted dialogue between characters with no depth beyond the surface. It’s like editorial mandated every single character in this series and Ahmed is just churning out a comic. Gotta bring MCU Valkyrie into comics, but in looks only. In this issue, she’s nothing like her movie counterpart, and is instead a Hercules-esque boisterous god person. And Wolvie was popular at one point. And Kamala Khan is always popular. And let’s do something with Nick Fury as the Unseen. And just ugh. For the second issue in a row, we’re just dragged around from one random alternate universe after another to scoop up the mandated number of cast members, who will then face some vague threat. And lets have all of them talk endlessly about their worlds, but only occasionally about themselves. In fact, lets spend at least another page of the Unseen rambling on about the SAME EXACT exposition he gave us in the previous issue!
I think what I dislike most about this issue is that nobody seems to care that they’re jumping between alternate realities, some of which are really, really weird. Like, is everybody so jaded in the Marvel Universe that the existence of a cartoon reality phases none of them? That they all just shrug their shoulders and roll with it and even participate? And nobody is bothered that the cartoon Wolverine is gonna join up with them? And cartoon Wolverine also just rolls with everything? Does nobody care?! Does none of this mean anything to anybody?!
And hey, the Time-Eater challenge isn’t bad enough. Let’s randomly throw in some Watchers to be jerks, just so the new Exiles can butt heads with them for inexplicably being jerks.
TL;DR: This comic has no heart. It’s all long, drawn-out exposition about a cast of characters that mean nothing to each other or to the reader.
Mighty Thor #706
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman
This is it. The end of Jane Foster’s time as Thor. In a month or so, we’ll relaunch with a new Thor #1 with the regular Thor back in the saddle. I’m excited for that, too, and will happily see this one go. Not that I want it to leave, I’m just overwhelmingly satisfied with this story.
Well, until this final issue…
Jane Foster awakens at the gates of Valhalla, only to be confronted by an angry Odin, who now finally knows the identity of the usurper Thor. But in the middle of his angry rant, Odin softens, as he remembers that Jane was the one to defeat the Mangog and save everyone, and that she sacrificed her life to do so — even Odin can respect that. So he bids her welcome to her reward in the paradise of Valhalla…but Jane doesn’t want to go.
Meanwhile, a distraught Odinson summons that Mother of Storms that was bound inside Mjolnir and tries to use that to jumpstart Jane’s heart. Odin joins him and together they harness that thunder and infuse into Jane, and she lives! Hooray!
Some time later, everybody is rebuilding Old Asgard and Jane and Odinson stroll through the work, catching each other up. Jane is focused on her cancer treatments now that she doesn’t have Mjolnir to tempt her away. And she convinces Odinson that There Must Always Be a Thor. So he goes off to make some new hammers and she stares out contentedly at the cosmos.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
They should have let her die. There was a moment at the beginning of this issue, where Odin softens and Jane says she wasn’t ready, that I started to get choked up. In that moment, I imagined an issue all about accepting death and sacrifice, where Odin and Jane’s antagonistic relationship finally came to a fitting conclusion as he got the character development he’d been building towards, and she embraced the true meaning of her sacrifice. Aaron had built everything up so well, all the times Jane was told she was dying by becoming Thor. How she made the decision in the end to become Thor and save the day, even though she knew it would die. That’s a heroic gorram sacrifice!
And this issue rips it all away!
How often does a character death actually get to matter in comics anymore? Marvel usually just kills off characters haphazardly as part of a crummy Big Event comic. Or they decide, randomly, to kill a character like Wolverine and then waste every possible storytelling opportunity that could have come from that — only to undo it barely two years later.
But Jane Foster should have been different. She’s never been a huge or important character. I’m pretty sure she was barely even part of Thor comics until this run. She’s not even part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe anymore! And she has CANCER! They GAVE her cancer as a very effective bit of character development. Why revive her? Why take away her heroic sacrifice? This was built for months, if not years! All of the emotions were real. All of the action was amazing. The fight with the Mangog was the stuff of legend. She earned her heroic sacrifice!
This story had everything going for it, and the death of Jane Foster, after making such a badass sacrifice, would have been a thing of glorious beauty. The character could be retired with a great reward. There’s no better place to go than Valhalla.
But nah, let’s squeeze out an anti-climatic happy ending that robs the entire series of its true ending.
To quote Doctor Who: “Things end. That’s all. Everything ends, and it’s always sad. But everything begins again, too, and that’s always happy.”
TL;DR: Jane Foster’s time as Thor ends beautifully, but a single story choice robs the entire saga of its proper ending, leaving an issue that could have been so much more.
The Silencer #4
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Viktor Bogdanovic
Huh, turns out I do like the Silencer’s outfit, I guess just not when comic legend John Romita Jr. draws it…
While Honor goes about her day with either her family or some old assassin infrastructure people, we flashback to five years ago, when she wanted to get out of Leviathan. Talia tries to insist that nobody leaves, but relents and gives her one last job: kill a Levianthan underboss who has turned state’s evidence in his own attempts to get out. Honor kills the guy, but not before having to go through his bodyguard, Deathstroke, to do it. Deathstroke warns her that Leviathan turning on itself will start a war.
Back in the present, Deathstroke tracks her down again to point out that he was right.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I dunno, man, I’m just really digging this comic. Not on any visceral level. The Silencer isn’t my new favorite DC superhero or anything. I’m just…liking it. I’ve tried out a couple of these new DC Comics and this is my favorite. I dropped Sideways without even bothering to read the second issue, I was that disinterested. But The Silencer is fun so far. I like it. The main character is a pretty cool person, and her dynamic between family and mercenary is cool to explore. And Bogdanovic makes her costume look great in this issue, whereas Romita’s version looked too padded or dull or something. Bogdanovic actually makes it look like it belongs in a world of superhero outfits.
And the story is cool, too. We get another really fun look into Honor’s home life, which is always a treat. And the flashbacks to her attempts to get out help to inform her back story and her current motivations. The fight with Deathstroke is cool, and he’s a good choice for the first existing character crossover. I look forward to the two of them duking it out going forward. And I hope to see more flashbacks, like where Honor’s powers come from and how she got tapped to join Talia al Ghul.
TL;DR: The Silencer continues telling a fun little story about a brand new character. She’s got personality and a neat life, and I just really find myself enjoying this comic.
The Terrifics #3
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Joe Bennett
The Terrifics is still going pretty strong, and for that, I’m happy. I always like fun comics.
The various Terrifics are varying degrees of perturbed that they’ve got to stick together, and Sapphire Stagg offers to let them stay at her father’s compound while Mr. Terrific figures out how to reverse what has happened to them. Everybody heads off on their own to take care of whatever. Rex Mason and Sapphire get into an argument over how she can’t see that her father is a bad guy who is manipulating her. She will stick with family no matter what and seems willing to choose her dad over her boyfriend. Intangible Girl — who is apparently going to be called Phantom Girl — asks Mr. Terrific if he can help her contact her homeworld, but he grumbles that he’s busy.
Then a giant War Wheel attacks the compound and everybody has to work together, albeit begrudgingly, to stop the Wheel — only for Stagg to reveal that it belongs to him and he has no idea how it activated.
Afterwards, everybody decides to get a bite to eat and some R&R, but Mr. Terrific grumpily says he’s going to keep working.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
The big problem with The Terrifics so far is that none of these characters mean anything to each other quite yet. So while they banter and bicker like the best of them, with some legitimately fun and engaging dialogue, it falls just a bit flat because nobody cares what Mr. Terrific, Plastic Man or Metamorpho says about each other. Let alone the completely superfluous Phantom Girl. Some work is being done to start building these characters into a workable troupe, but it’s a steep hill to climb. There’s very, very little for Abnett to work with, but he’s doing an OK job building something from nothing. For example, there’s a completely arbitrary and random attack by a War Wheel that just arrives in the middle of the issue to provide an action scene. It’s really dumb, but Abnett has some fun with the foursome adjusting to maybe trying to be a superhero team. These are really rich and fascinating comic book characters, but just because the characters are cool doesn’t mean they have any chemistry together.
Let’s hope Abnett is a good alchemist.
TL;DR: The Terrifics continues to build something fun out of nothing, even if it’s got to be a little weird and arbitrary to get there.
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 28, 2018, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged All-New Wolverine, Batgirl, Detective Comics, Exiles, Mighty Thor, Red Robin, The Silencer, The Terrifics, Thor, Wolverine. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.