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Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 7/21/18

Holy cow! San Diego Comic-Con is in full effect, with so much comic book news spiraling out that I haven’t had time to keep track of it all! Grant Morrison on a police procedural Green Lantern? Sign me up! G. Willow Wilson on Wonder Woman! Kelly Sue DeConnick on Aquaman! Christos Gage on Superior Octopus! These are gonna be some fun comics!

I skipped a couple of my regular comics this week because I was pretty busy, but I made sure to grab my favorites, like Batman, Power Rangers and Runaways. Comic Book of the Week goes to the second issue of Tony Stark – Iron Man, because I am loving this series!

Iron Man Embarassed 01

You’re embarrassing him in front of the wizards

Meanwhile, there was another courtroom scene in this week’s batch of comics, in Tom King’s Batman. Only this time, I didn’t have any problems with it whatsoever! Unlike that Squirrel Girl issue last week, for which I got especially nitpicky. This week’s Batman handles the courtroom scene quite well, from my experience.

Comic Reviews: Batman #51, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #29, Runaways #11, Thor #3 and Tony Stark – Iron Man #2.


Batman51

Batman #51

Batman #51
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Lee Weeks
Colorist: Elizabeth Breitweiser
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

This issue gets high marks for premise alone. I love this kind of thinking!

Bruce Wayne has been called to jury duty in a case against Mr. Freeze, where he is accused of murdering three women. Batman is the one who gathered the evidence against Freeze and beat a confession out of him, but Freeze claims it wasn’t him. After listening to the evidence, everybody on the jury is pretty convinced that Batman is awesome and Mr. Freeze is a criminal, so Batman is probably right.

All except Bruce Wayne, who believes Freeze is not guilty. Because Bruce Wayne knows that Batman has been working through some anger issues since getting stood up at the altar, and maybe Batman made a mistake…

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

Bruce Wayne forced onto jury duty to hear a crime that Batman helped solve is already an awesome premise. It really pushes the ethical boundaries for Bruce and his war on crime. But then Bruce Wayne on a jury where he thinks the villain is innocent, and he has to argue against a jury of his peers who completely buy into Batman’s mythos and infallibility? I love it! The premise is so twisty, so wrapped up around itself, and I have complete and total faith in King to really dig deep into Bruce’s psyche and unweave this web. This kind of story is as character-based as it gets, and I’m legit excited to see King play it out now that everything has been set up.

Bruce Wayne Jury Duty 01

Not even the rich can fight City Hall

And the set-up is pretty fun, too. For a guy that complained a ton about how comic book writers get so much wrong about how courtrooms actually operate, I have to say that King actually does a fairly good job with the few courtroom scenes he has. King really turns the screws on Batman, with witnesses like Commissioner Gordon and Detective Bullock having to answer for how Batman involves himself into police investigations. Granted, in a world of superheroes, if there isn’t already some clause in the law that allows for superheroes to get involved, then the whole thing falls apart. That’s probably why most comic book universes don’t pay much attention to the courtroom side of things. Nobody wants to get into the nitty gritty of explaining how an unlicensed vigilante can bring so many people to justice, and how the courts allow that sort of thing. One can’t imagine that every single criminal or super-villain caught by a superhero for the past century of superhero comics gets off scot-free on that technicality. Thankfully, King doesn’t focus too much on that legal conundrum, and just gives us enough to really get into Bruce Wayne’s head.

I also really liked the scenes where Bruce has to interact with his fellow jurors, how he has to mingle among the common folk. That’s always fun.

Also, writers will always score points with me by having Dick Grayson fill in as Batman whenever Bruce gets tied up with something. That’s like cat nip to me.

TL;DR: Tom King sets up a really excited, character-focused problem that Bruce Wayne has to solve, and I’m on the edge of my seat.


MMPR29

Power Rangers #29

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #29
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Daniele Di Nicuolo with Simona Di Gianfelice
Colorist: Walter Baiamonte
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire

I think this was the first issue of Shattered Grid that I really, truly enjoyed, that really re-captured the magic of Higgins’ start on this comic. It also features one of the coolest moments of all comics I’ve read this year.

The build-up to the final battle against Drakkon is well underway. The various gathered Rangers are working together to sort out Drakkon’s plan to enter the Morphin Grid, while also protect themselves from Drakkon’s weaponry. Space Power Ranger Andros arrives with the location of the surviving Ranger prisoners, so the teams start preparing a side assault to rescue their captured teammates. Grace Sterling is there to help, and she offers a prototype colony ship she’s building — which we learn later becomes Terra Venture. Also, Andros gets a sweet scene where he’s reunited with his sister.

As the teams gear up for the rescue mission, and after a bunch more Rangers arrive, Zordon and Commander Cruger set out on this own mission to recruit the one person who might be able to stop Drakkon: Rita Repulsa!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

What was so great about this issue was the focus on the characters, which has always been this comic’s strong suit. The overall story of Shattered Grid has been lacking, in my opinion. But enough of that story is now out of the way that Higgins can really dig in deep with the characters he’s collected here. Specifically, there’s an awesome scene between Zordon and Commander Cruger, the Zordon-type from Power Rangers S.P.D., where the two of them commiserate on the difficulties of being the Zordon-type when everything is going to hell for their teams. It’s a great scene, another fine example of Higgins’ solid character work. There are a few other similar scenes throughout the issue, really making this a standout.

(Though I wasn’t as touched by the scene where Andros reunites with his sister. I’m sorry, perhaps it was awesome for fans who watched those Power Rangers series, but considering they’ve barely showed up in this comic, it meant nothing to me.)

The best scene is a double page spread towards the end of the book, when the cavalry of other random Power Rangers arrive. It’s the sort of turning point where you feel it in your heart that everything is going to be OK and the good guys are going to win. It gave me a really warm feeling inside.

Higgins builds up to the scene wonderfully, announcing that it’s happening, letting our heroes worry just a little bit, and then wowing us with a double-page spread by Di Nicuolo and the rest of the art team that is breath-taking.

Power Rangers Awesome Rain 01

Power Rangers Awesome Rain 02

Just looking at that page, I can see it play out in my head as if I were watching a movie. I can hear the soft, heroic music as the lights fall from the sky like rain. I can see the Power Rangers tentatively stepping forward, awed by the spectacle, where the sheer hope it represents washes away all the fear and anger from the evil they’re facing.

The scene is so powerful, it’s completely shifted my interest in Shattered Grid. I want to see the good guys pull this off, gosh darn it! And this page might become my new desktop wallpaper.

TL;DR: Higgins and company finally find the characters in their over-plotted Shattered Grid event, making for a truly wonderful issue.


Runaways11

Runaways #11

Runaways #11
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Kris Anka
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

What’s this? A Runaways issue where everybody just hangs out and deals with personal problems? Yes, please!

It’s a chilling-at-home sort of Saturday. Doombot shows up to give Victor a new body, but Victor doesn’t like the buff, weaponized Transformers body that Doombot makes, though Victor isn’t being particularly forthcoming about his hang-ups. Gert storms out for some alone time, since it’s still too weird for her being around everybody. She sees that the world has changed when it comes to purple being a rebellious hair color, so Gert buys a new outfit and some brown hair coloring in order to make a new her. Everybody is pretty awestruck at her new look — except Molly, who is excited that she and Gert have the same hair color, like sisters, and that they’re ordering pizza for dinner.

Also, we find out that Klara was adopted by a nice couple and she turns down the Runaways’ offer to ditch her new family to be a runaway again.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

First of all, I like that Rowell took the time to give us a little Klara epilogue. I am a firm believer that Joss Whedon’s Runaways comic was pretty terrible, but Klara shouldn’t be punished for that. So I’m happy to see that not only does she have a nice life, but she rejected the Runaways’ offer in favor of her nice life. The Runaways are a creepy level of paranoid when it comes to adults, and I am glad to see Rowell pushing back against that.

Of course, I am also the one that really hopes Karolina is still going to college and didn’t throw that away just so she can hang out in the loft doing nothing.

Gert Grumpy 01

We’ve all been there, Gert! That’s why I order my fat-clothes online!

Beyond that bit, I loved pretty much everything else in this issue. Doombot is a pretty darn hilarious addition to the supporting cast, and Victor’s robotic body issues are pretty good drama. That Molly is there to provide Molly’s usual level of adorable friendliness is icing on the cake.

Then there’s the Gert storyline, which I also love! The best thing about Rowell’s Runaways, the one thing that pushes this series from good to great, is that she’s not keeping them stuck in the past, that she’s not just recreating the original Runaways. All of these characters have grown up and need to deal with that — and now that includes Gert. After a few issues of being grumpy, she’s learning that she has to accept the strange turn her life has taken. The world isn’t the same as what she knew “yesterday”. I love her makeover idea.

Gert Makeover 01

I feel like she’s gonna be OK, you guys

This comic is pretty much perfect.

TL;DR: Runaways remains a cut above the rest of pretty much all other comic books out there. You’re not going to find a more character-focused, well-thought-out comic when it comes to superheroes.


ThorNew3

Thor #3

Thor #3
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mike Del Mundo, with Marco D’Alfonso
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino

Oy! Jason Aaron! What happened to you?

Thor and his pals battle the newly arrived Hela and her allies, among whom she counts Tyr. The fight ends when Loki proposes another option: having Hela marry Balder, and that should unite the disparate forces of Hel into one army on their side. But the wedding doesn’t go off without a hitch. First, Thor convinces Loki to kill him, so that Thor can go to Valhalla and recruit those warriors. Second, Hela’s current boyfriend, Thanos, shows up to object.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

Man, the heavy exposition in Aaron’s new Thor chapter is getting suffocating. We are completely removed from Midgard now, and it’s really bad! Now we’ve got Hela and Fenrir in play, and it needs to be explained that they are both children of Loki, which is already tough to wrap my head around. Plus it needs to be mentioned multiple times that Fenrir is technically Thor’s nephew. Then Aaron’s got to explain why Tyr would betray Thor for Hela. Then all the politics of Balder marrying Hela need to be explained, alongside Karnilla being upset because she loves Balder. Then Thor and Loki get into a big conversation about Valhalla and its rules. Then Thanos shows up. It’s really dragging me down. Rather than tell the story he wants to tell, Aaron is getting lost explaining how everything works in Hel, over and over again, and then adding new wrinkles that need to be explained but aren’t particularly interesting. He never explains how Balder marrying Hela is somehow going to turn the forces of Hel onto their side and against Sindr, and then he adds that Thanos complication to a wedding that already doesn’t feel right. It’s getting to be too much, man!

TL;DR: The new Thor is drowning in exposition and artwork that favors style over storytelling. This relaunch has been a big misstep.


TSIronMan2

Iron Man #2

Tony Stark – Iron Man #2
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

This is the sort of comic I expected from Brian Michael Bendis’ Superman! Everything Slott is doing right with Iron Man, Bendis is doing wrong with Superman.

Having recently come back from the dead, James Rhodes hasn’t been feeling 100% lately, but he’s keeping that to himself. When Tony has him suit up as War Machine to stop Sunset Bain’s latest super tank (built with stolen Stark Tech), Rhodey freaks out in the field and bails from his War Machine armor — only to come through in the end by taking direct control of the super tank (called The Manticore). Afterwards, Rhodey comes clean with Tony that his PTSD from dying has him freaking out when confined in the armor, but he rather likes feeling like a pilot again in the cockpit of the Manticore. So Tony’s buys it from Sunset Bain.

And Tony admits to Rhodey that he’s not sure he’s come back 100% normal from his own recent return from the dead.

Meanwhile, Jocasta attempts to use holograms to fit in with the humans in the office, but she’s exposed in a rather embarrassing moment in the cafeteria. She wants to fit in, but her boyfriend, the Machine Man, is against the idea of her turning her back on robots.

Double meanwhile, security chief Bethany Cabe doesn’t know she’s under the control of The Controller.

Triple meanwhile, Jocasta’s first task as chief robotic ethicist was to free the A.I. Friday from inside Tony’s armor, and give her her own robot body. And robot Friday kind of flirts with new guy Andy Bhang.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

I saw this mentioned in another review and I think it fits: Tony Stark – Iron Man is like the Saturday Morning Cartoon version of Iron Man. And I love that! It’s like a cartoon in that everything is so bright and colorful, with a kind of simple premise that gets better in the details. This is Tony Stark and Co. stripped of all angst and baggage and just having fun at being superheroes and super scientists. And not only is Tony super fun, but Slott has put a ton of thought into the supporting cast as well, filling them with all manner of nifty details and subplots. Rhodey suffering from armor-related PTSD? Cool story idea! Rhodey feeling much better in the cockpit of the villain’s new super weapon, so Tony buys it for him from the villain? Even better story twist!

Iron Man Bain 01

I’m also digging the Ultimate Iron Man influences in this issue’s armor

This comic is just so much fun! Pretty much every character is interesting, and Slott has no problem adding new and even more interesting characters! He brought back The Gauntlet! He has the Machine Man dating Jocasta and getting into arguments about robot rights! He turned Friday into an android of her own and started toying around with the very idea of robot and A.I. rights. It’s neat! And the scene where Jocasta is embarrassed in the cafeteria is heart breaking! She just wants to fit in!

Jocasta Embarassed 01

You will believe a robot can cry

Slott is working so many angles here, and they’re all really fun! And Schiti and the rest of his art team are working their magic as well. I’ve always been a fan, and this might be Schiti at his best. This comic looks so good, it looks so full of energy and color that I can’t believe it!

TL;DR: This comic is good. It’s damn good! Freed from 10 years of his own built-up Amazing Spider-Man continuity, all of the joy and creativity of a Dan Slott comic is allowed to roam free in Tony Stark – Iron Man.


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!

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About Sean Ian Mills

Hello, this is Sean, the Henchman-4-Hire! By day I am a mild-mannered newspaper reporter in Central New York, and by the rest of the day I'm a pretty big geek when it comes to video games, comic books, movies, cartoons and more.

Posted on July 21, 2018, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I agree with you about Thor #3, but I did at least understand it better than #2, and therefore enjoyed it much more. I’m hampered by not knowing who many of the characters are, so it’s been pretty messy for me. But, despite not understanding a lot, I liked this issue and got really excited at the end.

  2. Runaways is good. I love Doombot. He is the best.

    Thor is fun, but meandering a bit.

    Iron Man is fun. Rhodey’s PTSD is a cool idea. But I am a bit bothered by Friday getting a physical body. It assumes that Friday wants a physical body. Slott seems to be assuming that all AI want physical bodies, and that feels weirdly anthropocentric. What about AIs who don’t want physical bodies?

    • That’s some good thinking on Friday. I wonder if Slott has thought it through that much. He clearly gave it some thought, and perhaps Jocasta is purposefully being written as being overly pro-robot body.

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