Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 9/8/18
Not only was this the week of my birthday, but it is such a comic book geekery week! I’m currently up to my eyeballs in hours playing the new Spider-Man video game, which is great. But I’m also watching the new season of Iron Fist, which ain’t half bad (so far)! And I’m on vacation from work! This has been a good week!
Not many comics came out this week that I wanted to read and review. Of the few, Comic Book of the Week goes to the new issue of Tom King’s Batman as he finally tackles Dick Grayson, who holds a special place in my heart.
If Tom King ever does a Tim Drake issue about his history as the best Robin, there’s a very good chance I might have to retire.
Ugh, new issues of both Avengers and Justice League also came out this week and I couldn’t bring myself to care. I wanted to cover both books, since they’re running simultaneously. But man, I can’t drum up any interest. Even when I’m on vacation and have nothing but time on my hands, I couldn’t find the interest to get caught up. Forgive me.
Comic Reviews: Asgardians of the Galaxy #1, Batman #54 and Captain America #3.
Asgardians of the Galaxy #1
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Matteo Lolli
Colorist: Federico Blee
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Between the solid pun and my vague interest in Thunderstrike, I decided to try out Asgardians of the Galaxy.
Angela and her secret ally (wearing the Destroyer armor) put together a team of Asgard-themed randos in order to travel to Nidavellir and stop Nebula from stealing a magic horn. The team consists of Angela, Destroyer, Throg, Thunderstrike, Valkyrie and the Executioner. Nebula gets away with the horn while our heroes fight her army of mercs and trolls. After the battle, Annabelle Riggs realizes that the magic hammer is able to call together an entire fleet of Naglfars, the ship of the dead. Nebula wants to cause Ragnarok with the fleet.
Unbeknownst to the team at large, Angela’s secret ally is Kid Loki, hiding inside the Destroyer armor. They’re helping each other so that he can use the fleet for his own purposes.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
It’s fine. I honestly think this series only exists because of that premium pun. Once that pun pops into your head, something has to be done with it, and Cullen Bunn has the kind of clout to convince Marvel to let him have a quickie mini-series. The idea is pretty solid: a bunch of Thor extended universe characters team up to do a thing. That’s neat enough. Bunn writes them all well enough. None of these characters have particularly strong personalities or characters to begin with, and all of them are pretty much samesies in this issue. So really, I think the draw will be seeing some cool characters get up to some craziness. Though obviously I’d be pleased if Bunn finds some solid character interactions in all of this.
The story owes a lot to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, obviously. You don’t make Nebula the villain — with a movie makeover — if you’re not doing so with orders from on high. Her scheme (so far) is a perfectly fine take on other classic Thor elements, and there are plenty of indistinct trolls and vikings for our heroes to punch. It all works fine.
Everything is fine, is what I’m trying to say. The characters are fine, and no doubt they have some fans who should be pleased. The villain is fine, her scheme is fine, and the good guys punching the bad guys is going to be fine.
What’s not fine is leaving Beta Ray Bill off a team like this…though hopefully that’s because there are bigger and better plans for him elsewhere!
TL;DR: Everything about Asgardians of the Galaxy is fine for a first issue. The most impressive part is the pun.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Matt Wagner
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Leave it to Tom King to write the perfect summary of what Dick Grayson/Robin means to Bruce Wayne/Batman. He does it in a single issue, and it’s pretty much perfect.
For the sake of full transparency, there are few things in comics I love more than the camaraderie between Batman and Robin, so this issue is like crack to me.
Bruce Wayne is back from jury duty, ready to resume his work as Batman after Dick Grayson filled in for a bit — but Dick doesn’t feel like leaving just yet. He sticks around, making himself at home in the Manor, and helping out as Nightwing as they take on the likes of Crazy Quilt and the Condiment King. Slowly but surely, he starts getting Bruce to open up and feel something other than intense depression from being left at the altar.
This runs parallel to a flashback story of when Dick Grayson first came to live at the Manor as a boy, but was initially bullish and stubborn about receiving help. Slowly but surely, Bruce found ways to connect with Dick and make him feel more at home.
See? They match!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
So yeah, I thought this issue was beautiful from start to finish. Not only is Dick Grayson written wonderfully, with a plucky attitude and a clear reason to be here, but King crafts such a nice parallel story. He makes it look effortless. And the parallel stories are so touching! Bruce connecting with a young Dick, and Dick getting through the hard, exterior shell of old Bruce. It seems simple, but the parallels are built so well! I didn’t see them until the very end, but that may say more about me. It helps that the adventures are so much fun.
The issue really gets into the heart of both Batman and Nightwing. The easiest answer for why Robin was ever around was to lighten up Batman, and this issue contains a scene where Dick gets Bruce to laugh. It’s that simple, but that simplicity is so much fun. And I love that the issue is wrapped up in one. There are some big, scary things coming soon for Dick Grayson, so it was nice that King would give us this one really sweet, really fun issue that reveals the very heart of the characters before any of that bad stuff happens.
The art is also a nice touch for the cheerful issue. Solid choice there.
TL;DR: Tom King works his magic and writes a simple and wonderful issue that perfectly explains that relationship between Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson; which, I’ll admit, is my Kryptonite.
Captain America #3
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artist: Leinil Francis Yu
Inker: Gerry Alanguilan
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
I’ve started reading Coates’ Black Panther in tpb form, and I think the start of his Captain America run has been stronger than the start of his Black Panther run. This series is getting good.
Steve Rogers goes undercover in America’s heartland to get a better understanding of what the people are going through. All those real problems — lost jobs, poor schools, increase in drug use — were fixed by the violent, authoritarian tactics of HYDRA when they took over the country, and that has given Americans new hope, even though HYDRA was evil. Now a new organization, called Power Enterprises, has moved in and picked up the slack that got dropped when HYDRA was defeated. But Cap knows they’re trouble, and he meets with Black Panther and Okoye for more intel. They’ve got a Who’s Who of baddies in charge of Power Enterprises — though they haven’t uncovered the contact within the U.S. Government — and they’ve zeroed in on a facility beneath the local coal mine where these Nuke soldiers are being built.
Cap, Black Panther and Okoye break into the lab and take on an army of these Nuke soldiers, with Cap lamenting that these were all honest American soldiers who got warped into this evil thing. Cap and T’Challa take down the facility leader, Zeke Stane, while Okoye uploads a virus to shut down all the Nukes. But in doing so, she discovers that Agent 13 is being set-up!
Agent 13, meanwhile, is on assignment in Albania, being escorted by some goons. She quickly realizes she’s being set up and takes them out, holding on a gun on one to get info — only for Selene to show up and drink the guy dry, telling Agent 13 that she has plans for her.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I’m still weirded out by Selene as the big villain — so far, at least. Coates is doing a solid job of building up a really political story, using elements from the Marvel Universe to portray the current problems in the real world. And the big villain is…that weird X-Men villain Emma Frost knock-off who is some kind of immortal energy vampire? It’s just such a weird choice!
Beyond that, however, the series starts coming together with this issue. We’ve got some solid action as Cap and his allies take on a bad guy factory. The best part of the issue is the ways in which Coates uses the MU to feed into real world problems. The concerns of the people that Cap talks to are real, both in the comic and in the real world. And using HYDRA as a stand-in for the diabolical real-world groups is great! It makes the issue both real and comic booky at the same time, which I think is an awesome way to write a Captain America comic. Reflect on the politics of the real world using the mechanisms of this crazy comic book world.
I think Coates is doing a good job building this story. His Cap is a strong character with some unique, interesting emotions weighing him down. How does Captain America fight for what he stands for in this day and age? What can he do? Find something quick and easy to punch and fix, while struggling with the weight of all of American society on his shoulders. That’s some solid Captain America storytelling, I think, and Coates is doing a fine job setting all of that up in enjoyable ways.
TL;DR: The mysteries and political intrigue keeps growing in Captain America, and that’s a damn good thing. It’s a nice blend of real world politics and superhero universe action.
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 September 8, 2018, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin and tagged Angela, Asgardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, Captain America, Dick Grayson, Nightwing, Thunderstrike. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.