Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 6/16/18
Welcome to Unintentional Gail Simone Week! She’s got two comics out on my reading list this week, Domino and Plastic Man, and I enjoyed them both! Simone is firing on all cylinders these days.
Elsewhere this week, we’ve got new Squirrel Girl, Mister Miracle and Man of Steel, all of which were at least pretty good! Comic Book of the Week goes to the first issue of Jason Aaron’s next Thor chapter, which is a stellar debut.
Though it had some stiff competition from a hilarious Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, if I’m being totally honest.
Comic Reviews: Domino #3, Man of Steel #3, Mister Miracle #9, Plastic Man #1, Thor #1 and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #33.
Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: David Baldeon with Anthony Piper
Colorist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
We’re pretty far removed from movie debut Domino in Deadpool 2 a couple weeks ago, but the Domino solo comic is still a lot of fun!
With Domino’s friends blown up, she rushes with anger at Topaz to kick her ass — but Topaz turns up Domino’s powers until she’s writhing in pain. Topaz and the old man leave to keep messing up Domino’s life, and once they’re gone, her friends reveal that they’re still alive. They had enough warning about the bomb that Amadeus Cho saved them, though he’s slightly concerned that Diamondback might be the traitor.
Cho says that the best way to overcome Topaz’s powers is with further training, so he sends Domino to meet a friend of his in Hong Kong. Domino leaves her gal pals behind in case one of them is a traitor, though she lies to them, and they know she’s lying, so everybody feels crappy about it. Domino reaches the dojo, fights off a bunch of chumps waiting in line, and then Shang Chi himself reluctantly agrees to take her on as a student. Domino is smitten.
Also, there are some flashbacks to her childhood, where some scientists had her locked up to experiment on her powers.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
If I was a fan of Domino, this book would be a godsend. Domino is well-portrayed, has a solid supporting cast, a compelling backstory mystery and is getting up to all sorts of fun adventures! Domino learning from Shang-Chi, while having an immediate hubba-hubba crush on him? Sounds like fun! What a neat and unique crossover/guest star. I also like Domino’s reaction to Shang-Chi, which basically amounts to that classic Tex Avery wolf-whistle. I am absolutely in favor of more fun and engaging interactions between characters, and Simone seems to have found a fun offering.
Though I didn’t know Domino was in a relationship? With who? It hasn’t come up in three issues of her solo comic…
The rest of the issue is typical Domino fun. Obviously her friends survived, so that wasn’t really in question. But the ferocity with which she retaliated was pretty darn cool. Simone is getting a lot of emotion out of her main character, and that makes for a funner comic. The traitor on Domino’s team remains a compelling subplot, though I doubt it’s Diamondback. That seems like an easy red herring. Hopefully it’s not Outlaw either, because those three characters as a girl-power team of mercs is too fun to mess up.
Also, Simone explains that the circle around Domino’s eye is a brand from the evil scientists of her childhood. So that explains why she hates it. I thought it was just part of her mutation.
TL;DR: The Domino solo series keeps getting better, with a character-rich issue that really showcases how cool and interesting Domino can be.
Man of Steel #3
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Ryan Sook and Jason Fabok
Inker: Wade von Grawbadger
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Josh Reed
Three issues in and I’m not 100% sold on Bendis’ Superman. I still think I’ll try out the main comics once they get started, but Man of Steel isn’t selling me on much of anything.
Ringo Zingo (sp?) arrives on Earth in the modern day and heads straight for the Fortress of Solitude. He busts in and wrecks the place, including the Bottled City of Kandor, murdering all those tiny Kryptonians.
Meanwhile, Superman and Deputy Fire Chief Melody Moore are investigating the latest arson, and Superman has brought Batman in to help search the building — only for Supes to immediately leave because the alarms are going off at the Fortress. Superman and Supergirl arrive at the Fortress and discover the damage, weeping over the lost lives. Superman tells Supergirl to protect her loved ones while he follows Zogol Raar’s (sp?) trail to Metropolis. Superman is ambushed, but pulls through with Supergirl’s help. Then the pair of them confront a pretty gnarly looking Randal Zaire (sp?).
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
This issue is a pretty strong example of the biggest complaint about Bendis’ writing: his slow paced nature. Normally it doesn’t bother me, but it was very evident in this issue. There’s a lot happening, some of it pretty emotional, but by the end of the issue, Superman still only just faces off against Rogol Zaar. So in the larger sense, there’s not much story here. Rogol just shows up on Earth, smashes Superman’s stuff and ambushes him for a fight. There doesn’t appear to be much depth or cleverness to anything Rogol is doing. And yeah, it sucks that the Fortress of Solitude was messed up, and all those Kandorians were killed…but at the same time, haven’t there been a dozen or so stories where Superman frees the citizens of Kandor? And haven’t all those stories involved the Kandorians being super evil? Are there any stories outside of the Golden Age where Superman saves the Kandorians and they are super nice and cool?
Anyway, so the story is largely just fine, only without much meat on its bones. The real fun of this comic, so far, are the little bits of Superman’s life and personality that Bendis plugs into his issues. Like, when Superman leaves the arson to go respond to the Fortress alarm, Batman tells Melody, “If the politest man in the galaxy has to be somewhere so fast that he can’t even say ‘goodbye’, there’s a good reason”. And that’s a pretty fun observation about Superman.
Unfortunately, Bendis only seems to drop one of these tidbits per issue. The rest of the time, Superman is normal and bland.
Also, the Lois and Jon story continues to develop at a glacial pace.
TL;DR: Man of Steel remains largely generic, with little to no depth. But Bendis is still a good writer, with an all-star art team, so the comic is still fine and enjoyable.
Mister Miracle #9
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mitch Gerads
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
The end is near for this insane comic, and King and Gerads don’t seem like the types of ease off on the gas anytime soon.
Mister Miracle and his forces sit down at the negotiating table with Kalibak and his forces to negotiate peace. The talks last over the course of several days, and sometimes get pretty contentious. There are also cutaways to Scott and Barda reflecting on their pasts, and a story about a master and an apprentice, and probably more subtextual asides than fifty comics.
In the end, after Scott and Kalibak agree on peace terms, but Darkseid rejects them all in favor of new terms: he will surrender completely, release all POWs and allow New Genesis to inspect his weapons…if Scott turns over his newborn son to be raised on Apokolips as the true heir of Darkseid.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Talk about a mic drop! Trust in King to blow our minds with each cliffhanger! This issue was a masterful showcase of rising tension, coupled with the usual hilarity of Mister Miracle contrasts. The way King and Gerads juxtapose the insanity of the New Gods and Apokolips with the ordinary of things like reading glasses and needing to use the restroom is astounding. It’s my favorite part of this already enjoyable comic, and it just keeps getting funnier with each instance.
Beyond simple joys like that, King keeps ratcheting up the tension for his main character. He just keeps twisting the screws. Whether it’s Scott crying into a magic mirror when he sees him and Barda as ugly, scarred creatures on the inside, or Barda teasingly drinking bonewine, the quiet scenes are great and help to make that climax a thing of true power. I didn’t see it coming, but of course that’s what Darkseid wanted. Of course that’s what King was building that baby storyline up to; it’s genius. Darkseid’s request hits both the characters and the readers like a freight train, making this one powerful issue. Especially when you consider Scott himself was turned over to Darkseid as a baby to end a war. That was the entire basis of his and Orion’s origin stories. So King and Gerads have brought us full circle!
TL;DR: The new Mister Miracle is a showcase in the creative team’s unequaled ability to use character and setting to build tension, setting us up for another gut-punch of a cliffhanger.
Plastic Man #1
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Adriana Melo
Colorist: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letterer: Simon Bowland
I’ve never been a big Plastic Man fan, but then I could say that about a lot of DC characters. I never cared for Green Lantern until Geoff Johns blew the lid off the whole thing.
I picked up this issue on Gail Simone’s reputation alone. You’ll notice I didn’t bother to read Hawkman #1.
Once upon a time, Plastic Man was a crook named Eel O’Brien in Cole City, and he and his gangster pals tried to rob a science lab. A guard was shot and Eel was doused with chemicals. His gangster pals left him to die, but instead Eel went on to become Plastic Man. Now he’s back in town tracking down his pals to bring them to justice. He goes undercover as Eel to draw them out — and get his butt whooped in the process — but he manages to track them down and interrogate one of them for details on that original robbery (Plas has no memory of the robbery). The goon says that Eel is the one who shot and killed the guard.
Meanwhile, Obscura, agent of Spyral, tracks down Plas to recruit him to take down an evil criminal organization that has infiltrated all levels of law enforcement, including major superhero teams. This coincides with Plastic Man’s old gangster pals being killed, and one of them scrawling “JLA” on the wall in his blood! Could they really be compromised? Suddenly, the building is surrounded by cops, with witnesses painting Plastic Man as the gangsters’ killer!
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This is a fun story, with a lot of neat potential, but it doesn’t do much as a Plastic Man comic. The idea that a secret agent wants to recruit Plastic Man to help investigate possibly compromised super teams, because he is so obscure and random that there’s no way he’s involved, is a neat idea. As is the story of Plastic Man trying to remember whether or not he killed that guard (we’re shown in flashback that he didn’t). These are solid story ideas and Simone and her art team present them well. Lots of good hooks in this issue. But as a Plastic Man comic, there’s not much to sell here. He never gets too weird, wild or creative with his powers, and that’s his whole stock-in-trade. Simone has a bit of fun, but not nearly as much as one would expect. Likewise, Plastic Man’s comedy chops aren’t as robust as I would have expected or liked. We all know Simone can write great comedy, but there’s nothing particularly noteworthy or hilarious in this issue. It’s just Plastic Man going about his business, instead of really shining in all the unique ways that Plastic Man shines. He’s funnier and wilder in The Terrifics (which aren’t mentioned here at all, btw, not that they need to be).
TL;DR: The new Plastic Man mini-series is off to a solid, if only OK, start, but it doesn’t do much to highlight Plastic Man’s unique and noteworthy qualities.
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Mike Del Mundo and Christian Ward
Color Assist: Marco D’Alfonso
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Here we go again! It feels like forever since Jason Aaron came onto Thor, and yet it also doesn’t feel like his story is anywhere close to the end. The War of Realms is still raging, and Thor is back in the saddle! So let’s get to it!
Thor is back to being Thor again, armed with an entire armory of new hammers, axes and weapons built by his dwarf friends. On his first day back, he’s tasked with recovering all of the cosmic weapons that crashed to Earth from Odin’s Vault when Asgardia was destroyed. He has to fight off the Juggernaut to get the Warlock’s Eye, and he has to use and destroy his entire armory to defeat the big lug.
Thor then checks in with everybody, from Odin and Heimdall rebuilding Old Asgard, to Roz and Freyja running a refugee center in New York City, where Volstagg is still recuperating. Thor gets worked up after arguing with his mother about Loki, so he goes to fight Namor for the Gem of Infinite Suns.
After a long day of fighting other super-beings, Thor retreats home to the houseboat he’s been living on — with Loki there to greet him. Thor nearly beats his brother to death, but Loki insists he can help Thor against Malekith by teleporting Thor to the various realms (the Rainbow Bridge is broken). Loki teleports Thor to the front lines, with Thor grabbing Loki through the portal to drag him along too (along with the house boat, Thori and the goat). Our heroes then find themselves in Hel, and are greeted by Balder, the King of Hel.
Meanwhile, in a back-up feature, we once again flash forward to the far future, where Thor is a grandfather to three goddesses of thunder, and he’s attempting to bring life back to Planet Earth. He and his family have succeeded in bringing humans back, a small population. But Thor discovers that the universe is dead, and those still alive amount to little more than the last little twitches.
Also, Phoenix Wolverine is there at the end of all things, because of course he goddamn is. Now that Wolverine is coming back from the dead, it should be of no surprise that Marvel is just going to force him into every freakin’ book they can.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Epic and fun, just what I expect from Jason Aaron’s Thor. This issue is bursting with both personality and action. It easily handles the task of getting all of the main characters up to speed without feeling forced, or as if they’re just reciting exposition. And almost everyone is in a pretty interesting place these days. Thor is cool as the lead character again, a struggling, slightly de-powered Thor who has to learn how to be a superhero again, this time without Mjolnir to back him up. His encounter with the Juggernaut is both hilarious and amazing, as Juggs knocks Thor around until Thor goes all Rain of Hammers on the guy, reminding us all what he’s the god of again.
Everybody else in the book is in a pretty neat place. Honestly, I’m amazed at how far Roz has come as a character. She’s rather minor these days, but it’s still been a neat journey. I remember when she was just a SHIELD environmental investigator. I like where Odin and Freyja are, and Loki is used to much greater effect in this comic than in Aaron’s new Avengers #1. Thori the dog is also quite wonderful, as always. Aaron really has set almost everybody up with a nice storyline in the new series, while keeping the comic focused entirely on Thor and his renewed efforts in the War. Should be really exciting.
Jane Foster is still around and adds nothing to the story in this issue. I stand by my claim that she should have been given a heroic death at the end of The Mighty Thor.
I’m never very good at critiquing art because I just don’t know what to say. Del Mundo does as good a job as Del Mundo can do, but his style is not my cup of tea. It’s a painted and artistic style, which looks great, but just not my choice for comic book art. I like Russell Dauterman-levels of detail and sharp pencils. But hey, Del Mundo is fine.
Also, Skurge the Executioner shows up alongside Balder, since Skurge has been in Hel this whole time. He’s also, apparently, going to be in the Asgardians of the Galaxy comic. I’m torn. Obviously, Skurge’s death is one of the greatest deaths in comic book history. It’s the sort of death you shouldn’t undo. But at the same time, I don’t want to cling to the past just because it’s the past. If Marvel’s writers have some worthy Skurge story ideas, let them tell those stories. Nobody stays buried forever. I can live with that.
Double also, fuck Phoenix Wolverine.
TL;DR: Jason Aaron has been writing Thor forever, but he hasn’t lost an ounce of bounce in his step as this new series kicks off. The first issue is full of personality and action, which make for a great debut.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #33
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Derek Charm
Colorist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Every new issue of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl has the potential to be the funniest issue yet. This issue isn’t the funniest ever, but it’s damn funny and charming.
Doreen and her crew bust out of the deadly escape room trap, only to find themselves in an gauntlet of different traps and escape room puzzles. Using their wide variety of skills and powers, as well as awesome teamwork, the Justice Pals make it through to the end and confront their captor — Mojo II! Remember him? From the ’90s?
The whole escape room business is his attempts to provide reality TV footage for Mojoworld, and maybe Mojo will welcome him back. But the Justice Pals continue to use their powers and teamwork to defeat him pretty quickly. The day is saved and Kraven thanks them all for showing him a good, heroic time.
Then a bunch of cops show up to arrest Kraven on all his open warrants and supervillain stuff. Doreen and her friends don’t like it much that the cops are doing their jobs, because Kraven is their friend. Squirrel Girl and the others stand with Kraven…and they all get arrested.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Man, this was just a fun comic. I know I probably say that a lot about this series, but come on! How can this comic be so carefree? Squirrel Girl and Kraven the Hunter go to a booby-trapped Escape Room together, then have to use their unique skills and abilities to solve deadly puzzles. How does that sort of premise fly in the comic book industry in this day and age? DC is retconning Superman’s origin so that a dark edgelord of a villain really destroyed Krypton, and then he murdered a bunch of innocent people in a bottle. Marvel has Squirrel Girl and Kraven the Hunter going to an Escape Room together! And then the villain is revealed to be Mojo II! Come on! This comic is genius!
I didn’t even mention the part in the synopsis where North and Co. present the final puzzle room to the reader first and foremost, laying out all of the clues in one big picture and then telling the reader to solve it if they can. Obviously they go on to explain their way through the puzzles on the next couple of pages, but this comic seriously just stops right in the middle to give readers a crazy visual puzzle! Here, see for yourself.
I didn’t bother trying because I am an idiot. But it’s still there for smarter readers to try! You’ll have to read the issue to get the solution.
Also, Squirrel Girl and friends are a little naive there at the end when they try to stop the cops from arresting Kraven. As good as Kraven is around them, he’s still totally a wanted super-villain. The cops are just doing their jobs.
Double also, new artist Derek Charm is kicking butt. I’m already fully on board with his style for this comic.
TL;DR: This issue of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl may be one of the funnest issues yet! Whether its audience participation, really sweet character moments or a surprise 90s villain return that had me laughing out loud, this is just plain quality comics.
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 June 16, 2018, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Superman and tagged Domino, Gail Simone, Man of Steel, Mister Miracle, Mojo II, Plastic Man, Thor, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.