Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 7/7/18
It’s Comic Book Convention time again! This weekend, I’m in Syracuse, NY at the Salt City Comic-Con, showing off Gamer Girl & Vixen to a whole new audience. This is the biggest convention I’ve done solo, so wish me luck! And buy my book!
This is a pretty nifty week for comics in that I’m mostly reading big names. Avengers, Justice League, Batman, Captain America, the Hulk, Superman; where are all my obscure, niche comics? Whatever the case may be, Comic Book of the Week goes to Captain America #1 for what looks like it could be an exciting, political start.
Meanwhile, I very much enjoyed Ant-Man and the Wasp! It’s a fun and energetic movie, much like the first. The characters are a joy to watch and Ant-Man remains my favorite superhero in the MCU. I think I’ll go see it again on my day off on Monday!
Comic Reviews: Avengers #4, Batman #50, Catwoman #1, Captain American #1, Go Go Power Rangers #11, Immortal Hulk #2, Justice League #3 and Man of Steel #6.
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Paco Medina and Ed McGuinness
Inkers: Juan Vlasco with Mark Morales
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
The Avengers are still up to all manner of trouble this week, as their problems just keep getting bigger!
Odin tells Thor and She-Hulk about the BC Avengers and their fight against the First Host. He seems convinced that the Final Host will kill everybody, but he takes the heroes down to a secret vault in Asgard, where they recover the Blood of Ymir to use as a weapon. She-Hulk also kisses Thor when he nearly freezes to death in the vault’s icy atmosphere.
Iron Man and Dr. Strange find the Eternals, but they’ve killed each other. The last survivor is able to choke out that the Eternals were never meant to protect the people of Earth, they were instead meant to cultivate humans for the Celestials.
And while the Final Host prepare their attack in the North Pole, Loki informs Captain America that the myths about the Celestials creating super-humans are lies, that super humans are a mistake that never should have happened.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
Well cut off my legs and call me ‘Shorty’, the Eternals were dead when the Avengers showed up! And here I thought for sure that they would be shoe-horned into this comic because of Marvel’s possible plans for an Eternals movie. Things could still change and they could come back, but them being dead here is a twist I did not see coming. Tip of my hat to Aaron and Marvel. Not that it matters.
I’m just not feeling this comic yet. I can appreciate all the craziness going on around the Avengers, and the characters are written strongly enough to keep me going. But the comic as a whole just isn’t gelling with me. The characters feel only skin deep. The comic is clearly focused on Aaron’s revamping of the origins of superhumans, with the various Avengers just along for the ride so that somebody is around to have the revamp explained to. The problem is that the exact origin of superhumans in the Marvel Universe has never particularly mattered. Loki acts like he’s supposed to be blowing our minds when he informs Cap that the Celestials didn’t create superhumans millions of years ago, he created them billions of years ago. But who cares? Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and the rest of the Avengers have absolutely nothing to do with the ancient origin of superhumans on the planet Earth, and those origins have never factored into actual Marvel comics. Changing them up for your new big storyline doesn’t matter in the least. It’s all hollow. And when the story is based on that hollowness, the whole thing just doesn’t matter.
If you’re loving all this ancient cosmic beings shaping ancient Earth stuff, then by all means, enjoy. But it’s not my bag and I think it’s bringing down the whole comic. Especially when there’s strong art, and Aaron is doing a solid enough job with the individual characters.
TL;DR: Avengers is focusing way too much on retcons to ancient history when it could be focusing on interesting characters telling an interesting story.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin (and others)
Colorist: June Chung
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Here we go! It’s wedding time! If you managed not to get spoiled by pretty much every comic book website on the internet.
Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle decide spontaneously to get married in the morning, so they set about gathering a judge, witnesses and getting dressed. Meanwhile, all this preparation is intercut with artistic splash pages from famous Batman artists, with Bruce and Selina narrating to one another about each other. As the issue progresses, we find out that these narrations are letters that each one wrote to the other, but neither one read the letters before they were supposed to meet on a rooftop at dawn for the ceremony.
In his letter, Bruce promises to love Selina. In her letter, Selena tells him that if Batman is happy, he will cease to be Batman and will cease to help people, and she can’t do that. She doesn’t show up at the ceremony. Bruce is pretty devastated.
But in the end, we learn that his devastation is all part of Bane’s master plan, which he has been orchestrating since the very start of Tom King’s run!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I did not get spoiled before reading this issue, thankfully. But just the fact that every website on the internet was blaring the fact that there were spoilers led me to believe that something worth spoiling was going to happen. And a happy wedding going off without a hitch isn’t something worth spoiling. So I kind of knew something was going to happen. Knowing that little bit didn’t ruin this perfectly fine issue, though.
It’s a nice issue. The actual comic stuff is really good, with Janin fantastic on art. The scene where Bruce casually suggests Alfred could be his best man is just wonderful.
Everything looks amazing, the wedding preparation goes nicely and the ending is both legitimately sad and pretty wicked. All Bane’s plan? Sweet! Let’s kick things into high gear!
The real focus of the issue is a series of splash pages done by famous Batman artists over the years, everyone from Jim Lee to Frank Miller to Amanda Conner. They’re all single page, they all look great and they all feature portions of the letters written by Bruce and Selina. Basically, we get a couple pages of story, then a splash page of Bruce’s letter, followed immediately by a splash page of Selina’s letter, then back to story. Rinse and repeat. At first, I thought the splash pages were distracting. Both letters go on and on for a while about each other’s eyes, and while the art was pretty to look at, these were pretty big interruptions to the flow of the story. Plus, we didn’t know the context of these big narrative boxes yet. It came off more as an obtrusive gimmick.
Thankfully, once we found out we were reading letters written to each other by the lovely pair, and once we saw how Catwoman’s letter played out, I forgave the initial cumbersomeness and enjoyed the devastating ending. It all comes together nicely in the end, kicking off King’s next 50 issues!
TL;DR: The story is fun, the additional artists are great to look at and the ending is powerful on several levels. Quality wedding issue all around!
Writer and Artist: Joelle Jones
Colorist: Laura Allred
Letterer: Josh Reed
I loved Joelle Jones’ recent artwork in Tom King’s Batman, so you’re darn right I’m on board to check out her creative spin-off.
It has been a week since Catwoman left Batman at the altar, and she’s laying low in Villa Hermosa. She can’t sleep and spends all her time playing backroom poker games. Meanwhile, the wife of the country’s governor is secretly a crime boss, and she has a fake Catwoman running around committing crimes and accidentally killing police officers. Selina gets wind of this trouble when the cops try to arrest her, but she escapes and gets back to her safehouse, where Alfred has forwarded her Catwoman uniform. Selina reluctantly gets back into costume to sort this mess out, starts trailing the phony Catwoman and stumbles upon an entire room of copycats!
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
I don’t know anything about art, so I don’t know exactly what changed between Jones’ work on Batman and her work here, but it just wasn’t as good here. Was it the change in colorist? Did she ink differently? I don’t know what it is, but I didn’t love it as much in this issue. It was still good, but something was just different enough that it wasn’t as good.
But the rest of the issue is fine and fun. The opening few pages, where Jones juggles three different scenes simultaneously, were a little confusing. It jumped between Selina at a Mahjong game, the fake Catwoman running from the cops and the villain giving an interview on TV. It was just a little difficult to track everything at once. But everything settled out nicely once Jones started focusing on the different storylines and getting things done. Once that happens, the issue really comes together solidly.
Jones has a great handle on Selina post-walk out. She can’t sleep, she’s busying herself in a foreign country jumping from one game to the next. She breaks down in tears when Alfred thoughtfully sends her back her Catwoman costume…even though it’s a new costume with weird slots missing at her armpits. Did…did Alfred alter her costume and then send it to her in a lovely box? That’s kind of weird.
Weirdness aside, this is a strong debut issue. The main character is in a tough but understandable place and she’s up against an interesting story and villain. Should make for a solid comic, I hope.
TL;DR: Art, story and character come together nicely in a strong debut that builds nicely off the events of the big Batman wedding.
Captain American #1
Writer: Ta-Nehisis Coates
Artist: Leinil Francis Yu
Inker: Gerry Alanguilan
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
I passed on Coates’ Black Panther after a few issues. I just didn’t connect with the comic, but wanted to try out the much-hyped writer. So here I am again giving Coates another chance, and he does a solid enough job out of the gate.
In the wake of Secret Empire, when an evil clone of Captain America took over the country in the name of HYDRA, the real Cap is on unsure footing about his place in the country and the world. People don’t trust him like they used to. Cap, Bucky and Agent Carter intervene when a bunch of armed thugs built like Nuke open fire on innocent crowds in Washington DC. Lives are lost and Cap feels the burden. In the wake of HYDRA’s defeat, there are still those people in the country who sympathized with their evil ways, and that sympathy is infecting the very consciousness of the country.
Meanwhile, Thunderbolt Ross has been tapped by the President to investigate these Nuke guys, and he’s asked Agent Carter for help — but not Cap. And elsewhere, X-Men villain Selene is part of a movement crushing HYDRA in Russia.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Captain America and HYDRA are a pretty great tool to explore today’s current vitriolic political climate, and I think Coates does a solid job introducing that theme with this issue. He lays it out cleanly alongside a couple of exciting action beats, while putting the focus squarely on Cap’s unease, both with the climate and with his place in the world. Cap is still reeling from the events of Secret Empire, and the world is still uneasy around him. Ross is a solid choice to explore that unease and he works very nicely this issue as a bureaucratic antagonist. The tension in his scene is great.
The stuff with Selene is a bit weirder. She’s an odd choice for villain, especially being positioned as working with Russia. I have faith that Coates has a plan, but it’s a bit jarring in the first issue. A story about Captain America taking on lingering HYDRA sentiment across America and also a weird, immortal life energy vampire? Yeah, OK, let’s see what Coates does with it. The rest of the issue he handles just fine, with a solid take on Cap’s current unease, and a good supporting cast with their own issues.
Yu’s artwork is as good as always, and he’s a solid choice for this grounded, gritty comic. Though there were times where the art seemed a touch sloppy, like it was a little rushed.
I really hope this series gets really political. And I’ve got Coates’ Black Panther tpbs on my Amazon wish list to maybe give them another chance in collected format.
TL;DR: The new Captain America looks to get really political and I’m excited, because Coates does a solid job setting up the unease and the danger of this new adventure.
Go Go Power Rangers #11
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Dan Mora
Colorist: Raul Angulo
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
The Alternate Evil Kimberly is going to be the main character when writer Marguerite Bennett takes over the main series, so it’s nice to get this focused introduction.
Kimberly faces off against Alternate Evil Kimberly, who is trying to sabotage the Command Center. Kimberly fries all the circuits, which not only stops the plan, but frees Alternate Evil Kimberly from Drakkon’s mind control, which is what was making her evil. She’s back to normal now, and everybody celebrates by taking a trip to Ernie’s Juice Bar, where Alternate Good Kimberly can revel a bit in a nice, peaceful, happy timeline.
Later, after Drakkon finds out that Alternate Good Kimberly is free, she is more determined than ever to stop him. She breaks into a hidden part of the Command Center and starts enacting some kind of plan. Billy walks in trying to be helpful, but she zaps him so that he can’t find out what she’s doing. Meanwhile, Rita has sent two new monsters to attack Angel Grove.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I love a good character-based comic, and this one is charming with its focus on Alternate Evil Kimberly reconnecting with a world she’d long since lost. She hangs out at the juice bar and drinks so many milkshakes that everybody is worried about her. She gets to reconnect with Bulk, whose alternate reality friendship gets another quick glimpse this issue. And we get to see Matthew in the alternate reality…right before he dies. I’m still dying to see where this Matthew character/storyline is going (pun intended), and each new tidbit helps keep it interesting.
So watching Alternate Good Kimberly have a really nice day was fun. And the rest of the issue was cool, too. We get a tense face-off with Drakkon, which helps to flesh out his character a bit more. We get Alternate Good Kimberly concocting the sort of plan that requires her to knock out Billy, so that’s some solid mystery for next issue. And we get more Finster awesomeness, if only briefly. When the creative folks at BOOM! Studios sat down to figure this series out, whoever’s bright idea it was to make Finster this tortured artist needs a pat on the back. It’s brilliant and deranged and oh so perfect.
Go Go Power Rangers continues to be a wonderful companion series to the main Power Rangers comic.
TL;DR: The new issue is a fun little chapter that helps us get to know the future star of the main series.
Immortal Hulk #2
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Joe Bennett
Inker: Ruy Jose
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterers: VC’s Cory Petit and Travis Lanham
I may not stick around very long with this comic. It’s fine, but just in the general sense so far.
When Bruce Banner stops off in some small town, he begins to learn of a series of mysterious deaths that followed the sudden death of the town’s golden boy football star. When Bruce visits the boy’s grave, he detects Gamma Radiation and figures the boy’s scientist father had a part to play. The clues take Bruce to a cave up a mountain, where the father has turned into an irradiated skeleton monster. Bruce turns into the Hulk to subdue the scientist, who explains his wayward Gamma experiments. The Hulk ain’t having it, so he tears off the scientist’s limbs and buries him in the mountain to live for all eternity.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
I’ve got no real complaints, but I wasn’t particularly wowed or excited by this issue either. Bruce narrates a pretty standard, run-of-the-mill mystery in some random town, until it’s time for the Hulk to put the hurt on a bad guy. I don’t think it had much connection, if any, to the previous issue. And it still doesn’t say anything new or interesting about Bruce or the Hulk. Bruce is just his usual on-the-run self, and the Hulk, while smart and talkative this time around, seems like the Hulk. There’s a bit more cruelty in this series, I think. And maybe Ewing is building to something there. But it doesn’t connect very well in these first two issues. There’s nothing to dislike, not really. It’s all well-made, well-written and the art is fine. It’s an OK comic. But there’s nothing particularly Hulky or unique about this issue. It just is.
TL;DR: Stuff gets done and done well in the new, unremarkable issue of Immortal Hulk.
Justice League #3
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Colorist: Alejandro Sanchez
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Avengers vs. Justice League is totally a competition, and Justice League is still winning, as far as I’m concerned.
With the timely arrival of Cyborg, the Justice League is able to defeat Ultraviolet John Stewart and start figuring out just what the heck is going on. John knows a bit about the Invisible Emotional Spectrum, and he fills in the League about the seven concepts that need to be unlocked, like the Still Force, and how a black sun named Umbrax is at the heart of the Invisible Emotional Spectrum. Wonder Woman, Flash and Aquaman head to what I think is the Legion of Doom’s secret underwater base, where they encounter a bunch of feral white martians. John and Cyborg head to the Watchtower on the destroyed moon to look deeper into the new Invisible Emotional Spectrum, but Sinestro shows up and reveals that Umbrax has arrived and has added Earth to its dark solar system.
Meanwhile, Superman and Martian Manhunter continue their journey into the Totality, with mini Batman and Hawkgirl inside their brains fighting off the mutation spores. Our heroes come face-to-face with some giant beings who want to squash them, while the Joker sneaks into Hawkgirl’s vessel.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This issue…was fine. I don’t have too much else to say about it. Snyder continues his madcap push forward through his crazy ideas, which I think are pretty fun. I’m not a big fan of him retconning Sinestro as being someone who was always searching for the Invisible Emotional Spectrum. That just hijacks an already cool character who Geoff Johns already gave some great retcons to in order to beef up this new storyline. But that’s easily forgivable, considering Snyder is writing a pretty fun story. He’s losing me here and there with some of the big concepts, but everything is otherwise fine. The Justice League are up against some strange new problems, and they work together solidly as a team to see them through. Things look dire, but clearly Snyder and Co. have some tricks up their sleeves to pull this one through. The focus is almost squarely on the characters involved, and that’s what I like.
TL;DR: The current Justice League just keeps spiraling deeper into fun and wicked madness.
Man of Steel #6
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Jason Fabok
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Josh Reed
Man of Steel wraps up with this issue and I’m confident that it served little to no purpose. This was just a weak prologue instead of the kickoff of something as big as Brian Michael Bendis writing Superman.
Superman confronts Rogol Zaar in the center of the Earth and steals his genocide machine, then takes the fight into outer space. Zaar is a pretty tough cookie, but Supergirl eventually shows up and blasts him into the Phantom Zone. Superman berates for her the band-aid of a solution, but she says she’s going to head out into space and look into Zaar, his origins and his claims of destroying Krypton.
Meanwhile, Clark, Lois, Jon and Jor-El continue to debate Jor-El’s plan to take Jon into outer space to give him a fun adventure to help him grow as a person. It’s eventually decided that Lois will go with them as a chaperone. Clark is going to miss his family, and his long-distance communicator was destroyed in the fight with Zaar, so he has no way to know where his family is our what they’re up to.
Also, a young boy shows up at the Metropolis fire station and informs Melody Moore that he saw Superman starting all those arsons.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
I have always been a fan of Brian Michael Bendis as a writer. I like his wit and I’m usually fine with his slow pacing. I keep meaning to go back and read his Daredevil run. I was excited to hear he’d be taking over Superman and hopefully doing something big and exciting with it. I’ve never gotten into Superman much at all, but I hoped Bendis would be a guiding light. He’s not there yet. At the end of this six-issue prologue, I don’t care an ounce about what happens to Superman, his family or the new villain, Rogol Zaar. Nothing Bendis introduced in this mini-series has intrigued me enough to get me to keep reading. I just don’t care.
But I’m going to keep reading because I still want to believe. And because I like comics, so it’s no big deal.
There’s a lot in this issue, but not much to this issue. The Kent family goes around in circles for a while until Lois relents and agrees to accompany Jor-El into space. I still think it’s nuts that Clark and Lois would be at all OK with this crazy person taking their son into space. Jor-El claims that Jon is ‘of age’ for Kryptonians, but that sounds like made-up stuff so Bendis can justify his storyline. I’m all for young people going on journeys to better find themselves, but this Jor-El part is still very uneasy. Likewise, we didn’t need six entire issues teasing this out. We also didn’t need six issues setting up Rogol Zaar. The fights are as uninspiring as Zaar himself, and in the end, Supergirl is the one who is going to go off and investigate him and his claims. What’s left for Superman to do? Superman didn’t even defeat him, Supergirl did.
And that twist ending to the ongoing arson mystery just falls flat, in my opinion. Either somebody is framing Superman through this kid, or something is wrong with Superman that he’d do it. Neither sounds particularly enticing.
Though Bendis does still excel in the little moments. Like the bit above where Superman has to coach his son that he isn’t necessarily going to turn out like alternate reality versions of himself. That was a pretty neat comic book moment.
TL;DR; Bendis’ Superman prologue ends with more whimper than anything else, setting up nothing particularly interesting or exciting for the proper relaunches of Superman and Action 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 July 7, 2018, in Avengers, Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Superman and tagged Boom!, Captain America, Catwoman, Go Go Power Rangers, Hulk, Immmortal Hulk, Justice League, Man of Steel, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Power Rangers. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.