Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 8/18/08
So I own Avengers: Infinity War now. That’s something, right? Comic book-related? Ah, what do I know, let’s get to the reviews! Iron Man! Multiple Man! Batman!
Comic Book of the Week was a tough call, but I’m going to give it to the latest issue of Batman. Writer Tom King delivers a treatise on Batman’s fallibility, and that speaks to me, as he wraps up his Bruce Wayne on jury duty bit.
And the new issue of Dan Slott’s Iron Man wasn’t as amazing as the previous two issues, so Batman edges it out just a little bit.
Meanwhile, the Multiple Man Marvel Legends action figure has arrived in my crummy little apartment. I own this thing. At long last. After blog rants and hoop dreams (Google the phrase ‘Multiple Man action figure’ and my blog shows up twice), I finally own this piece of treasured memorabilia. It’s great!
Comic Reviews: Batman #53, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #30, Multiple Man #3, Thor #4 and Tony Stark – Iron Man #3.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Lee Weeks
Colorist: Elizabeth Breitweiser
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Man, Bruce Wayne sure knows how to make a mockery of the judicial system.
Bruce Wayne is serving on jury duty in a triple murder against Mr. Freeze, and he is the lone holdout to a conviction.
Rather than provide any factual evidence of why Mr. Freeze should be found not guilty, Bruce instead launches into a big speech about how the citizens of Gotham City view Batman as God. But, Bruce continues, he’s not God, he’s just a man, like all of them. And he’s fallible. And he was clearly going through some stuff that night he arrested Mr. Freeze, so maybe let’s all not think Batman is infallible. Sure enough, the jury finds Mr. Freeze not guilty of triple murder.
Later, Bruce asks Alfred to fetch his original costume out of storage because he wants to get out there in the city and really connect with himself and his roots. Also, he bribed his way onto the jury so he could give that speech and convince other people that Batman wasn’t God.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
A lot of comic book blogs spent way too much time this week talking about the return of Batman’s costume briefs. Jeez louise, talk about burying the lede. That is the least interesting thing about this issue.
Let’s break this down, for being both genius and kind of disgusting: Bruce Wayne bribes his way into the criminal justice system, letting a possible murderer off free, just so he can put together an impromptu focus group to whom he can argue the very merits of Batman’s legacy. I love this from a story perspective, and I kind of hate it for how Batman so completely orchestrates a miscarriage of justice. The latter isn’t all that important, it’s just a silly nitpick, so we’re not going to dwell on that. King doesn’t provide an “actual” killer or any real evidence that Freeze is innocent, so I can only assume Freeze is 100% guilty and Bruce’s methods are letting him off the hook. Not exactly justice for the families of those three women, and there’s something a little sickening about Batman letting that happen. But that’s a sour after taste to a far more interesting idea.
Bruce is so caught up in his feelings of rejection and sadness that he uses the criminal justice system to create a jury of his peers that he can then use to debate the merits of Batman, without having to reveal that he’s Batman. It’s genius! I love it! It may be one of the most far out ideas of King’s entire run so far. And the debate is pretty solid, tearing down Batman’s infallibility by stressing that he’s just a man, like everybody else. It’s not super deep, because that’s kind of the whole point of Batman, but in this day and age, where “I’m Batman” is shorthand for him being godlike in his ability, makes it striking enough. That the actual Batman comic deconstructs the character so well, and in such a unique and awesome situation, is pretty damn cool.
And I couldn’t give two craps about Batman wearing the trunks again. Who frickin’ cares?!
TL;DR: Bruce Wayne gets philosophical in a really strong, character-focused issue of Batman. Too bad about the miscarriage of justice, though.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #30
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Daniele Di Nicuolo, with Simona Di Gianfelice
Colorist: Walter Baiamonte
Like a good penultimate issue, this one sets everything up well enough.
After Zordon and Commander Cruger convince Rita to help defeat Drakkon, the Power Rangers Army teleport to his dimension and launch their attack! Jason leads the fight on the ground after symbolically passing off the Dragon Dagger and Shield to Kimberly, who is leading the fight with the Megazords. It’s an epic battle, but Drakkon is pulled away by Rita’s Green Candle in his throne room. Drakkon’s powers are based on his original Rita-created Green Ranger Powers, after all, so of course the Green Candle can stop them.
Finster-5 shows up in time to stop Rita from killing Drakkon, but with his powers waning, Drakkon wants to absorb all of the rest of the morphers. Finster-5 warns him that it will kill him, but Drakkon snaps Finster-5’s neck for disobeying him. Drakkon then goes to absorb all the frickin’ power, you guys!
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
Shattered Grid is back to being a little too overstuffed for the really good character beats to feel as powerful as they could. Jason giving Kimberly the Dragon Dagger and Shield is an awesome moment. We’ve never seen the Pink Ranger wear the shield before — and we don’t really get to see it now. The panels with her in it from then on are overstuffed and full of too much action to get a really great, really solid hero shot of Kimberly in the armor. The sentiment is still strong, I just know it could have been stronger.
There are a couple other good bits in the issue, like Zordon and Cruger having a solid conversation with Rita about the fate of the galaxy. That’s good stuff. And Jason gets a tiny cute moment with the other Red Ranger, whose name I will never remember. But mostly this issue is all fights and craziness with so many Rangers and Zords that it’s hard to tell exactly what’s happening. We also don’t get a moment where Red Ranger Jason meets Gold Ranger Jason, even though GRJ is right there on the page. But that’s hardly a big deal.
TL;DR: When the character moments land, they’re really nice. But a plethora of wild, over-the-top action keeps the issue from truly delivering heart. The action is still pretty cool, though.
Multiple Man #3
Writer: Matt Rosenberg
Artist: Andy MacDonald
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
OK, things are sort of ironing out here and the mini-series is a bit better because of that.
The surviving members of the Super-Powered Madrox Squad hold off the Evil Madrox Army while Forge rush jobs a couple time traveling devices. Jamie uses these to send the good guy dupe members of the Resistance forward in time to get help (and thereby become the Super-Powered Madrox Squad). The Evil Madrox Army bust in, Forge sacrifices himself and the leader of the army shoots Davey. Jamie is taken to meet Emperor Madrox, where we learn that he was hidden in that bunker because he represented all of the evil, megalomaniacal parts of Jamie Prime’s psyche. And when he drank the Beast’s stabilization serum, that turned him into a new Jamie Prime, with a baseline of being evil, hence his taking over the world.
Jamie gives Emperor Madrox two options: either surrender and stop being a fascist, or kill Jamie and have the guilt turn him good anyway. Emperor Madrox chops off his head.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
The Super-Powered Madrox Squad didn’t amount to much of anything, which is disappointing. This issue is mostly fight action, which keeps the issue entertaining, but doesn’t provide much meat for the overall story. I assume we’ll see something about their storyline return before the end, and I hope Rosenberg can use that to really sell this story as a whole. The second half really starts making this whole thing more comprehensive, which I appreciate. We now know the true origins of the Jamie we’ve been following, and everything starts to make a bit more sense. That helps. But the sense it does make does not yet justify the story in the first place. I’m hoping that arrives before the end. Otherwise this will just be a short story about a random dupe going on weird time travel shenanigans.
This comic is the very definition of shenanigans. I have faith that this will all make sense and serve a purpose by the end.
If I may make a prediction: I think the Jamie dupe we’ve been following in these first three issues is Emperor Madrox. He will indeed feel guilt at having killed that dupe, so he dresses up in his clothes and goes back in time to issue #1, then continues on through this story to try and stop himself from becoming Emperor Madrox, eventually leading to his past self chopping off his own head.
And somehow, hopefully, this brings back the original Jamie Prime!
TL;DR: The time travel shenanigans of Multiple Man finally start to make sense, making for the strongest issue yet in the mini-series.
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mike Del Mundo
Color Assists: Marco D’Alfonso
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Man, I am just not loving this new era of Aaron’s Thor, not like I used to.
Sindr crashes the wedding of Balder and Hela and a big fight breaks out. Thor easily convinces the Valkyrie and the warriors of Valhalla to join in, and the fight just gets bigger. And the good guys win, with Sindr fleeing Hel all together. The big war is over in one issue, surprisingly.
Also, Thanos showed up just so he could break up with Hela, meaning that whole storyline/cameo went absolutely nowhere.
In the end, Karnilla finishes the wedding ceremony and marries Hela to rule as the Queens of Hel, with Loki granting her the wedding gift of bringing Balder back to life. Thor, Valkyrie, Balder and Loki end up back on Thor’s boat toasting to victory, and Loki slips away after stealing a portrait of their mother.
Comic Rating: 4/10 – Pretty Bad.
Surprisingly, this was the end of the fight in Hel, and I was legitimately shocked. I thought Aaron was building up to a really long commitment, like this would be an epic war that could last a long time. He spent so much time building up all the players and the places, giving Sindr all those specific generals and factions. He orchestrated a wedding between Balder and Hela that didn’t go anywhere, though I suppose we have Balder back among the living, which is apparently as easy as Loki casting a quick spell. And Thanos’ cameo was weird. Aaron is the one who created the Thanos/Hela relationship in that Unworthy Thor spin-off comic. Did anything ever come of that? Or did it start there and end here with no greater purpose?
Everything felt really rushed this issue. Thor’s trip to Valhalla and bringing them into the fight is over within a couple of pages, and we don’t even see any classic dead heroes join the fray. It’s basically just Thor gathering a bunch of other dead people to join the currently underway battle. Valkyrie the character shows up, but there’s no good reason why she couldn’t before this. And then the rest of the issue is just fighting, until all those terrible, overwhelming forces that Sindr had are easily defeated and the battle is over.
Aaron gave us three issue of obtuse, exposition-heavy build-up, then seemed to rush through the actual battle in a single issue. Just not cool.
TL;DR: A rushed issue feels at odds with everything we’ve seen before, making for an abrupt chapter.
Tony Stark – Iron Man #3
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Colorists: Edgar Delgado with Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Dan Slott’s Tony Stark – Iron Man is on a roll!
Tony Stark’s eScape project is a big Ready Player One-esque digital fantasy world, where users can log on and just have fun in whatever setting they want. Tony gets his friends to pose as NPCs and has a bunch of human beta testers join the game to see if they can spot his friends, therefore ironing out any bugs. But Machine Man attacks the eScape as part of his mech-activist campaign, angry at Stark for turning A.I. into video game NPCs. Before Machine Man (secretly being controlled by the Controller) can hack into Tony’s brain, the last beta tester kills herself in game to shut down the entire test and free everybody. That beta tester is Jocasta, who breaks up with the crazy Machine Man and thanks Tony for letting her be one of the ‘human’ beta testers.
Tony then admits to Jocasta that the real purpose of eScape is to create a world where humans and A.I. can interact as equals. The thing that’s been bugging Tony Stark is that, between his re-downloading his brain after Civil War, and his recent rebuilding/cloning of his body cell-by-cell, he’s not sure if he’s even really Tony Stark anymore, or if he even has a soul. Jocasta tells him that she sure as heck has a soul, and that gives him some comfort.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I really liked that revelation about Tony Stark at the end. That’s some smart thinking that really ties Tony’s recent past to the story Slott is trying to tell going forward. I personally love that old thought game. If Jason and the Argonauts set sell on their ship, the Argo, but over the course of the adventure, they end up having to slowly, gradually, replace every part of the Argo over time…is it still the Argo in the end? Is Tony Stark still Tony Stark after replacing both his mind and body in his superhero adventures? It’s a fascinating topic to explore and gives this already super fun comic a nice existential crisis to play with.
The eScape turning out to be just a Ready Player One thing was a bit of a let down, but I suppose it’s not Slott’s fault that the movie came out this year. I’m more than willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and see where we go from here. He’s definitely got some ideas that the book/movie didn’t touch upon when it comes to A.I. NPCs. So we’ll see where it goes! The wonkiness of the world didn’t really hold together as well as I would have liked. The art was good, but the visuals were really insane, so it was hard to really track what was happening at times. The semi-psychedelic cover image is a good representation of how weird the virtual world looked. And the game itself just didn’t really work for me. But those are personal nitpicks to a solid comic. I liked that the audience surrogate turned out to be Jocasta in the end, and I thought this was a fun use of Machine Man.
We’ll see where Slott is going with all of this. I’m still very excited to see what’s in store!
TL;DR: The story is in danger of going off the rails a bit in this wild issue, but some really strong character-based storytelling keeps the adventure on track.
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 August 18, 2018, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Multiple Man, Reviews and tagged Boom!, Iron Man, Jamie Madrox, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Power Rangers, Thor, Tony Stark, Tony Stark - Iron Man. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.