Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 6/30/18
The week we’ve all been waiting for is here! The first issue of Multiple Man has hit the stands and is in my hands! Longtime readers of this blog will know that Multiple Man is my all-time favorite comic book character. So I am very excited that he’s back in print after being in limbo/dead for years now.
And no, August solicitation for Multiple Man #4, I don’t just tell people he’s my favorite to seem cool. Stop gatekeeping your own comic book.
Unfortunately, Multiple Man #1 is not Comic Book of the Week. It was an OK issue, as you’ll read in a bit. The real standout this week was the 50th issue of Ms. Marvel!
Meanwhile, anybody else excited for Ant-Man and the Wasp next weekend? Woohoo!
Comic Reviews: Man of Steel #5, Ms. Marvel #31, Multiple Man #1, The Silencer #6, Thor #2 and The Terrifics #5.
Man of Steel #5
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Adam Hughes and Jason Fabok
Colorists: Adam Hughes and Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Josh Reed
Does anybody know if this storyline is going to bleed over into Bendis’ upcoming runs on Superman and Action Comics? I have done approximately zero research on this.
Superman yanks Rogol Zaar all the way to the moon to continue the fight safely away from Earth, but Superman gets his butt whooped and Zaar takes off. Down on Earth, Deputy Fire Chief Moore is still investigating the arsons when she and her department get called out to another fire. Supergirl flies in to help rescue people, and the Justice League shows up to put out the fire. They are looking for Superman, and Supergirl rescues him off the moon. They take Superman to recover and talk out who Zaar is and what he wants. Why did he never appear in any of the Kryptonian writings that Superman has studied? While chatting, they realize that Zaar is probably going to cleanse the entire Earth just to get rid of Superman, so Supes has to punch his way into the very core of the planet to fight Zaar again!
Meanwhile, Clark and Lois are against Jor-El’s plan to take Jon on a tour of the galaxy, to begin his training. After back and forth between parents and grandfather, Jon says he wants to go.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
Does Bendis have kids? I don’t know. I don’t have kids, but I do know that a 10-year-old does not get to decide on his own that he’s going to join a strange maniac on a trip, even if that strange maniac claims to be his estranged grandfather. It’s a weird scene, is what I’m saying. Both of his parents put their foot down pretty solidly, telling their very young son that he won’t be going on some crazy space adventure. Isn’t that how parenting works? Yet Bendis writes the scene as if Jon’s opinion on the matter carries any weight. Like, when Jon says he’s going, it ups the tension, Jor-El smirks and we’re left to wait another issue to see how it plays out. But, like…his parents said “no”, and the parents are the ones who decide what a 10-year-old does with his time (or whatever young age Jon is supposed to be). It’s weird.
Weird parenting choices aside, this was an otherwise fine issue as the story ticks along. It’s still a pretty boring story, overall. I expect something deeper and more interesting from Bendis. But it’s not bad, per se. It’s just…kind of here. It’s Superman going through the motions against a new villain. There are cameos and guest appearances, and they’re fine. But honestly, I’m more curious about the serial arsonist in Metropolis than I am Rogol Zaar. The guy is boring as hell. And his retcon is so contrived and so dumb that everybody spends this issue wondering how it’s even possible, if he could possibly even be telling the truth. Bendis literally takes the time to have his characters remark on how this retcon is too big to really be believable, yet he forges ahead with it anyway. At least the arsonist is a properly established mystery.
As expected, Adam Hughes is amazing on art. I would be perfectly fine if DC paid him a ton of money to keep him around on at least one of Bendis’ Superman comics, but I don’t think that’s happening.
TL;DR: Bendis’ main storyline in his introductory Superman story remains boring and uninspired, but almost everything else about this comic is able to keep it afloat.
Ms. Marvel #31
Writers: G. Willow Wilson, Saladin Ahmed, Rainbow Rowell and Hasan Minhaj
Artists: Nico Leon, Gustavo Duarte, Bob Quinn and Elmo Bondoc
Colorist: Ian Herring
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
It’s the Ms. Marvel 50th issue spectacular! Even though the cover says Ms. Marvel #31! There was that abrupt renumbering nonsense Marvel likes so much a couple years ago, and so we’ve got this weird numbering problem. But it’s still a celebration!
Kamala Khan invites Nakia, Mike and Zoe over to her house for a slumber party so that she can get some advice on her current boy troubles — but nothing goes as planned. First, she has to sneak out to help Lockjaw chase a teleporting cat to an alien planet. Then the pizza delivery girl turns out to be an Inhuman with skunk powers, who gets really angry that Kamala gets to do normal things like have slumber parties, while she’s stuck working a crappy job with skunk powers. So Kamala’s got to sit down with this girl and talk out how things can be better. And then Kamala gets dragged all the way to New York City to help Miles Morales break into a government building to stop an Arnim Zola plot. That one gets a little nuts.
By the end, after missing so much slumber party time, and leaving her friends hanging, Kamala steps into her bedroom and reveals to them all that she’s Ms. Marvel — which, of course, they already know. It’s been obvious for a long time. They just didn’t want to step on her toes about the reveal. Kamala is super-relieved and everybody group hugs and promises to be the best friends ever!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Am I the only one who would have preferred the slumber party?
Don’t get me wrong, this was still an entertaining issue, and most of the guest writers and artists acquit themselves well with the material. But as a fan of character-based comic books, I would have really enjoyed an entire issue of Kamala hashing out her problems with her friends, deepening all of their bonds and characters, until she finally convinces herself through dialogue to reveal her identity. I know Wilson could handle that, and the issue could have been amazing!
But nah, this is cool, too. I have felt for awhile now that Wilson was really pushing incredulity with Kamala and her friends. Surely they had to know…and I was right, so that was fun, and a nice moment. But until that climax, it was really awkward watching Kamala rush out of her own party. Like, she went all the way to New York City to help Spider-Man? That’s pretty extreme. But like I said, everything is still pretty fun. Wilson nails all of the scenes in the Kahn household, like we know she could. And most of the guest writers are great. I liked Rainbow Rowell’s bit the best, with her Skunk Girl character. I liked Hasan Minhaj’s Spider-Man story the least. I’m a big Hasan Minhaj fan, so it was cool seeing him show up here. But his segment was really focused on Miles awkwardly flirting with Kamala, who was clearly having none of it. Does Miles have a crush on Kamala? Is that a thing that came out in their Champions comic? Ahmed’s bit with Lockjaw, with really cartoon art by Duarte, was the weirdest of the bits, but it was largely superficial (though, again, it was really weird that Kamala had to leave her awesome slumber party to go to another planet and fight aliens!).
Ms. Marvel has probably been my favorite consistent comic over the past four years it has been around. I had high hopes when it launched, and those hopes have been met and surpassed at every stage by Wilson and her creative teams. This is, straight up, one of the most heart-warming, grounded, personal and charismatic comics on the stands. This is what can happen when you get solid creators to stay in one place and tell good stories. I personally don’t think Kamala should have been stretched so thin in such a short time, like joining the Avengers, quitting the Avengers and founding the Champions, but, thankfully, the Ms. Marvel series itself has always remained wonderfully grounded. This comic deserves every ounce of praise it has received in its short lifetime.
Now give us that Ms. Marvel movie already! It better be in Phase 4 of the MCU!
TL;DR: This Ms. Marvel anniversary issue is a ton of fun, with some big, comic-altering changes that should be great going forward, and some small guest writing stints that are just kind of cute in the moment.
Multiple Man #1
Writer: Matt Rosenberg
Artist: Andy MacDonald
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
I am holding in my hand an actual comic book called Multiple Man #1! It was hard to imagine this day would ever exist. But here we are!
Word of warning in advance: I probably cannot be objective in this review…not that I really try to be in my reviews. I just want to point out that Multiple Man is my all-time favorite comic book character, so this series matters a lot to me and I might go a little fanboy crazy here and there. Please forgive me.
The New Mutants break into a sealed science lab and discover a dying Jamie Madrox. They rush him to Beast’s lab for medical help. Jamie reveals that he’s a dupe who has been working on a way for dupes to be more independent, and perhaps that’s why he didn’t die with Jamie Prime and the other dupes in Death of X — but Beast informs him that he’s dying anyway. Jamie heads out into the school and knocks out Bishop, stealing his time travel device.
A couple minutes later, a Jamie Madrox steps through a time portal in Beast’s lab to check on the progress of the cure, even though, to Beast, it’s only been 15 minutes. This Jamie claims to be from the future and is confused about what year he’s jumped to, and he’s soon tackled by another Jamie, and the two get into a scuffle. Beast separates them and one of the Jamies absorbs the other. So Beast and the others sit this Jamie down to get answers, but he’s not very forthcoming, other than he wants Beast to stop making the cure. The X-Men are then attacked by a bunch of crazy crossover characters, like a Wolverine/Deadpool, a Cable/Warlock, a Dr. Strange/Cloak and a Hulk. There’s a big fight and Jamie eventually yells at everyone to stop, asking these guys who they are — they’re all Jamie Madrox, and they’re there to help.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
This is a weird and crazy comic, and I’m pretty sure that’s the point. Rosenberg has five issues to tell this story, and I get the feeling that he’s got all five issues planned out, and that it will all wrap up cleanly by the end (I hope). So Rosenberg probably knows exactly where the various Jamies go through the timeline, which Jamie is which in this issue, and what it’s all going to mean by the end. Hopefully it’ll make for a really enjoyable story once all is said and done. But as for this first issue, it’s all a little too obtuse to really grab onto. And Jamie Madrox doesn’t provide much of a solid foundation, since he’s all over the place on various levels, whether it’s the time travel level, the duplicates level or the weird crossover characters level. There’s no solid, single, well-characterized Jamie to really hold onto as the series foundation.
Likewise, even though this issue is set in the X-Men school and has tons of cameos from other characters, none of it feels very solid. Rather than anyone being shocked or excited that Jamie is back from the dead, everyone just kind of shrugs at the idea that there’s a Madrox dupe running around, and Madrox himself (himselves?) doesn’t much care either. There’s no sense of gravitas for anyone involved. Even Strong Guy, Jamie’s best friend, is pretty blasé about the whole thing, and we don’t even see Wolfsbane’s reaction. But again, this might just be my personal desires poking through. I want Multiple Man’s return to be a big deal, but I have to accept the fact that it’s not. Just like I have to get over the fact that this Jamie Madrox doesn’t ‘sound’ exactly like the Jamie Madrox I picture in my head, the one written almost exclusively by Peter David for the past few decades. That’s not going to happen and I’ve got to get used to it. I’ve got to just be happy that Madrox is back, kind of.
And I am happy. It’s still a fine enough comic, and the art is a nice understated style that keeps all the characters pretty grounded. So I’m definitely going to suck it up and keep reading, hoping for the best.
TL;DR: The return of Multiple Man is a light and breezy affair that struggles under the weight of its intentionally complicated time travel plot.
The Silencer #6
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Viktor Bogdanovic
Colorist: Mike Spicer
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
The Silencer takes the easy way out on its big cliffhanger from last issue, but I forgive it.
The Silencer places her son in a mute bubble, and behind an upturned table, so he is completely oblivious to the murderfest going on around him. The Silencer and Talia fight off the Leviathan forces, with Talia assuming Honor set her up, when really it’s just another underboss getting revenge against them both. Honor eventually gets so angry that she stabs Talia and escapes with her son (with Talia’s forces recovering her body.)
Honor returns home and reveals to her husband that she’s “won” a free vacation to a foreign country. She just doesn’t mention that they’ll be near Leviathan HQ, where she can bring down the entire damn organization. Also, the villains Cradle and Grave snuck into the fight and placed a tracking beacon on Honor’s son, so now they know where she lives!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I definitely prefer Bogdanovic on art over Romita Jr. Silencer’s costume just looks better under Bogdanovic. She looks like a real comic book character. The fight scene was crazy fun, which is always a hoot in a comic book. And Abnett kept the story grounded by keeping the fight mostly about Honor and Talia bickering at one another, with little peeks into Deathstroke and the underboss to keep that subplot going. So we had solid action, with strong character work and a big dramatic moment when Silencer stabbed Talia. That’s quality action comics. And we had some new scary cliffhangers. The only real problem I had with it all is how easily and weakly Abnett keeps Honor’s son out of the fight. The whole point of last issue’s cliffhanger was that her son was finally caught in the middle of her merc work…only for the kid to dopishly just sit there minding his own business. Yes, he couldn’t hear anything, and was behind an overturned table, but that kid really didn’t look around at all? And none of the fight ever crossed into his potential fields of vision?
It’s not like The Silencer is some kind of sacred cow. It’s a brand new character and a brand new comic, and doesn’t necessarily have long to live. Why not have her son see what happened? I realize Abnett probably has a big plan for that moment, but why tease otherwise if you’re not going to pull the trigger? What’s the point in waiting? Give us the juicy family drama now!
Sorry, that sounded impatient…
TL;DR: The Silencer is action-packed and character-focused, two great traits for a comic book.
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mike Del Mundo
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
I know Jason Aaron is pretty wordy over in The Avengers, but that had never been a problem in his Thor comics…until now.
Thor and Loki are in Hel, and they are soon scooped up by the good guys: Balder, Skurge, Karnilla and Tyr. They are on the move in the ongoing battle against Sindr and her flaming forces. They battle some flaming centipede monsters and eventually make camp to talk strategy. Meanwhile, Sindr is meeting with the various tribal chiefs of Hel to gain allies. Some join her, some refuse and get killed.
Later, Thor and his allies attack a Sindr-controlled hell train to try and steal the secret doomsday weapon she has acquired. What’s the weapon? Hela and Fenrir.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
That’s a pretty short synopsis, but holy heck was there a lot to read. Aaron goes a little overboard with exposition this issue, hitting us with descriptions of the landscape of Hel, introductions to all manner of new and less-than-interesting characters, and more than a few plans of attack. Apparently Hel has tribes? And each tribe has individual leaders? And their loyalty is up for grabs? Did Hela have to deal with this when she was in charge? It seems really simple, but Aaron finds so many ways to just keep going on and on and on about this, that and everything. It’s still Jason Aaron telling an exciting Thor story, but man oh man, this is one wordy issue.
Del Mundo’s art is gorgeous, sure, but this issue is a perfect reminder of why I don’t like his style for comic books. There are a lot of really intense, really insane action sequences in this issue, and his painted style doesn’t work as well as something more detailed. At one point, Thor is using multiple hammers to fight multiple creatures made entirely out of fire, riding atop a giant fire centipede, with Thori the dog killing alongside him. And it’s just a mess. I have no doubt that Del Mundo can draw some of the greatest pictures of Thor of all time, and I’m sure his landscapes could be awe-inspiring. But wild and frantic action scenes, of which this issue has a few, are not his strong suit.
Also, on a personal note, it’s always bugged me how Hel exists in the Thor mythos. Like, people die…but they just go to Hel and continue living. Balder, Skurge, Karnilla and Tyr are walking and talking like normal, ordinary people, able to join Thor in his quest and fight their own battles. Likewise, the bad guys all get to just exist, even though they’re supposed to be dead. There appear to be no ramifications to dying. Someone even mentions how Sindr taking over Hel would give Malekith the greatest army in all the realms, since everyone who has ever died is there. But like, really? They can just do that?
I dunno, it’s just always bugged me about Hel.
TL;DR: Jason Aaron’s Thor remains a fun comic, but this issue gets really really wordy with all the new mythology and characters it tries to cram in.
The Terrifics #5
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Doc Shaner
Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
The Terrifics gets a little fancy with the art in this issue and I like it!
The Terrifics are all still hanging out at the Stagg compound, each dealing with their own problems. Plastic Man tries to reconnect with his son’s mom over the phone, while Metamorpho tries to lay down the law with his girlfriend and convince her to leave her father with him. Mr. Terrific helps Phantom Girl with a bit of testing, but she asks too many personal questions and he gets uncomfortable.
Then everybody is summoned to Belmont, Michigan because it looks like everybody is turning into a Metamorpho! Turns out, Algon the Ancient Element Man has been trapped underground for centuries and now he’s free, and has the Orb of Ra with him! And now he’s going to have Metamorpho take his place as guardian!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
The Terrifics is a comic that takes the time to play up the personal aspects of these characters, which is something I very much appreciate and enjoy — though I wish it had more. Fighting out-of-control elemental energies is fun, and the sudden appearance of this Algon guy is comic book weird, but I still wish Lemire would slow down just a little bit to focus more on the characters than on yet another crazy action sequence. But that’s just me. I really liked what Lemire and Shaner did with the panel structure this issue. Each page had a four-panel structure, with each panel representing an individual character. So their stories were being told simultaneously. Then when two characters would meet up — like Mr. Terrific and Phantom Girl in his lab — the panels combine. It’s a great bit and rather genius, and really elevates the issue.
The Terrifics is so close to greatness. It’s fun to read, the characters are entertaining and the art has been stellar. The series just needs to push the character stuff a little bit more, to really dig in deep into the team dynamics of this weird lineup, and it’ll be great.
TL;DR: Some clever art tricks really elevate an already strong and fun issue.
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 30, 2018, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Multiple Man, Reviews, Superman, X-Men and tagged Jamie Madrox, Kamala Khan, Man of Steel, Ms. Marvel, The Silencer, The Terrifics, Thor. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.