Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 9/15/18

In-freaking-sane! That’s the only way to describe this week in comics! Apparently Marvel heard how light things had been the past two weeks, so they released eight comics on my read pile this week! And that’s not even counting the couple of DC Comics this week that I’m reading! Oy vey!

Thankfully, there were a ton of great comics this week, from Runaways to Squirrel Girl to Ms. Marvel to Domino! A real standout is the returned Iceman comic by Sina Grace, but I’m afraid the new issue of Fantastic Four is just a touch better, and Fantastic Four wins Comic Book of the Week!

FF Reed Sue Happy 01

Why couldn’t you all let them be happy?

But Iceman was still really good. I’m very excited to have that comic back! Though hopefully Marvel doesn’t drop so many of my favorite comics in the same week anymore.

Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #5, Catwoman #3, Domino #6, Fantastic Four #2, Iceman #1, Ms. Marvel #34, Runaways #13, Superman #3, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #36 and X-23 #4. 


Amazing Spider-Man #5

Amazing Spider-Man #5
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Ryan Ottley
Inkers: Ottley and Cliff Rathburn
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

I think I’ve figured it out: Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man is a comedy. It’s got touches of being serious and stuff, but I really think Spencer is going for straight-up comedy here. That doesn’t make things better, though.

Peter Parker needs to get the Isotope Genome Accelerator out of the lab (which is locked up tight) and use it to re-combine him and Spider-Man. He tricks Boomerang to get it out, then takes it to Spidey, who doesn’t want to rejoin. They’re attacked by Stromm’s army of Tri-Sentinels, and Peter pushes Spidey out of the way of a big blast, suffering nearly fatal wounds in the process. He tries to talk Spidey into learning about responsibility, but when that doesn’t work, Peter just springs the Accelerator on him and they recombine.

Spider-Man then summons his own Tri-Sentinel and uses the network to stop the army and fly him back to Stromm’s lab, but Stromm has since been killed by the mysterious new Centipede villain that Spencer has created (I’m not sure of his name, but he’s covered in centipedes). Peter doesn’t know this, but now it’s weighing on him that somebody is out there trying to get him.

Peter heads home and has a nice night with Mary Jane. Also, Taskmaster and Black Ant reveal that the person who hired them didn’t want the Accelerator, they had a different task. And Kraven the Hunter is gonna show up soon. He may have been their boss.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

I’ve liked Nick Spencer’s brand of humor in the past, especially in Superior Foes of Spider-Man and Astonishing Ant-Man. But there’s something too broad and too silly about his humor in this comic that I just don’t like. And humor is subjective. It’s why I love the humor in Unbeatable Squirrel Girl like there’s no tomorrow, but don’t really care for most Deadpool comics. So I don’t think I can be an impartial judge of Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man…not that I will ever claim I’m an impartial judge of any comic book. I’m partial as heck!

But this is the kind of humor Spencer is going for:

Spidey Ben Rice 01

It’s the use of the word “delicious”

And it’s fine. I like good wordplay as much as the next person, and there are some solid efforts in this issue. But I guess I like my Spider-Man a bit more serious than straight up farce, where realism doesn’t matter as much as silliness. Spencer’s previous comedy comics walked that thin line of real and funny. His Amazing Spider-Man is pushing more towards straight up goofy, and I’m just not digging it. The kind of goofy where the idea that Peter is roommates with Boomerang is barely an afterthought, or he can turn around an army of Tri-Sentinels in a matter of seconds, where the joke seems to be the Tri-Sentinel itself. I dunno. I’m not good at describing what it is about this style of humor I don’t like, but it’s just not that funny to me. I can see the effort being made, and Spencer is doing a fine job, it just doesn’t tickle my specific funny bone.

The relationship with Mary Jane also feels like an afterthought. There’s no drama or story to their relationship. They’re just immediately in love with each other again, as if they’re always supposed to be. I would have liked a little will they/won’t they drama instead of just sticking them together as if fixing a mistake.

TL;DR: The real comedy foundation of Nick Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man starts to really come through with this issue, but it’s not my sense of humor.


Catwoman #3

Catwoman #3
Writer and Artist: Joelle Jones
Artist: Fernando Blanco
Colorists: Laura Allred and John Kalisz
Letterer: Josh Reed

Alright, I’ve decided, the little armpit holes on Catwoman’s new costume are creepy as hell.

The Creel son welcomes Selina Kyle to his party and admits that the copycat Catwomen were his idea to get her attention. He explains that his family runs Villa Hermosa, and there are terms if she wishes to remain a resident. Selina tells him that her business is her own and she’ll leave when she’s ready, which leads to everybody at the party ambushing her. Selina tries to fight her way out, but she gets shoved out a window and crashes onto a car roof below. Later, after  very brief non-recovery, Selina suits up and goes out to find her seemingly catatonic sister.

Meanwhile, the evil Mrs. Creel tells her husband the story of her first marriage. She tells him a nice, friendly lie, while the art shows us the truth: she was a young punk from a broken home who somehow got adopted into a wealthy family. She then proceeded to poison the two youngest children, then was able to frame the mother. After that, she seduced the husband and then killed him to get his money. Now she pulls out a syringe to kill her current husband and get all their money!

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

Nothing seems to really be connected to anything else in Catwoman. It’s weird. It’s like Jones is telling two entirely separate stories here, and only one of them has anything to do with Catwoman. Part of me hopes this is intentional, but there’s no signs of that yet. Like, Catwoman just wants to be left alone, but the Creel family constantly sticking their noses in her business eventually leads to their downfall? Like they brought it on themselves? Maybe, but nothing Jones has presented so far points to that. It’s just my hope. Because so far, the Creel family is pretty dull. We get that extended flashback/story sequence this issue where Mrs. Creel lays out her backstory, and it’s hardly illuminating. So she’s always been a murderous monster. Big whoop. That backstory didn’t explain her grotesque appearance, so I guess we’re going to need more flashbacks about her?

Mrs. Creel hasn’t done anything to make her worthy of our attention. She doesn’t interact with the main character or really have anything to do with the rest of the comic so far. She’s just evil for evil’s sake and that’s not very interesting. It’s like Jones is super excited to introduce her new villain character but forgot to connect that villain at all to the actual star of the comic.

Catwoman New Costume 02

This looks so weird!

The Catwoman stuff remains largely fine, and the art keeps getting better. Catwoman is cool, but has flaws. She gets into scrapes, she toughs it out, she’s got an agenda. She’s got purpose. And while Jones takes her through that agenda, she’s got all this other, far less interesting stuff swirling around on the sidelines, cluttering up the book. We’re three issues in and, considering how much time we’ve spent on the Creel family, there’s absolutely no reason for the hero and the villains to interact at all.

TL;DR: The art remains gorgeous, but the story in Catwoman seems to be getting away from the creative team.


Domino #6

Domino #6
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: David Baldeon
Colorist: Jesus Aburtov
Letter: VC’s Clayton Cowles

I can’t really put my finger on why I don’t love Gail Simone’s Domino more…

Domino and Shang-Chi have a nice night discussing her powers and how she might be able to control them to some degree, instead of just letting the luck happen. But then they’re ambushed by Topaz, who reveals that not only is Prototype dead, but that she and him were in the same lab as Domino growing up. Domino tries to reason with her, but Topaz promises to ruin her life and kill everyone she loves. So Domino knocks out Shang-Chi and fights Topaz! Outlaw and Diamondback show up and crash a jet into Topaz, and then Domino shoots her dead, against the wishes of Shang-Chi.

Afterwards, after she is barred from further training, Domino and her friends return home to their boat and are pretty happy in their friendship. Oh, also, the “traitor” turned out to be a tracking device Topaz had hidden on Domino, so nobody betrayed her.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I think my main problem with Simone’s Domino is that there’s too much going on and the comic feels crowded. Baldeon’s art doesn’t help. I like his art style (at least when he’s drawing women; most of his men look like gargoyles), but he and Simone pack so much wild stuff into the pages without really writing a wild book. The comic feels overstuffed with material. For example, Simone has been using obscure character Greywing as a very minor background character throughout the series. And all of a sudden, in this issue, he’s not only revealed as Domino’s dog-walker, but he’s also apparently a food snob? And gets a small scene where he takes over the kitchen on the riverboat? Don’t get me wrong, I love rehabilitating an obscure character into a minor supporting role as much as the next guy, but Simone never really put in the legwork for the guy to make it work. She just stuffed him into the comic, which was already juggling Domino, an extended, ultimately superfluous Shang-chi guest spot, Diamondback, Outlaw, a couple Deadpool cameos, explorations of Domino’s past, and a pair of half-baked, confusing super-villains. Heck, Prototype essentially dies off-panel.

Domino Topaz Showdown 01

The art is good here and there

This is still a fun comic. I like the idea that Domino can be trained to control and utilize her powers, instead of just letting her good luck happen. That’s definitely an idea to build a Domino solo comic around. And Simone nails her character quite well, making Domino a solid, enjoyable protagonist in her own comic. Work in some of actor Zazie Beetz’s charisma from the Deadpool movie sequel and Domino could be a breakout star. I especially enjoyed the fact that she killed Topaz in the end, rather than let her live. She’s Domino. She’s not afraid to kill, especially when the bad guy is a piece of work like Topaz. I also enjoy that Domino has a pair of positive female friends, which is always nice to see in comics.

TL;DR: Simone has a lot of good ideas for her Domino comic, but she’s also got a lot of unnecessary, half-baked ideas too, and they’re cluttering up an otherwise solid comic.


Fantastic Four #2

Fantastic Four #2
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Sara Pichelli
Inkers: Pichelli and Elisabetta D’Amico
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

I was a fan of Dan Slott when he was writing a decade of Amazing Spider-Man comics. Now there’s just something really fun and magical about letting him cut loose and start fresh with some new properties.

So what have Reed Richards, Sue Storm and the kids of the Future Foundation been up to all this time? They’ve been creating universes and then exploring them. Franklin, now known as “Powerhouse”, creates them, and the Molecule Man makes them whole, and then the whole crew just goes exploring like the adventurnauts they are! In one universe, Valeria, now known as “Brainstorm”, kind of has a thing for the cute prince dude on one of the planets, but the family whisks away to create more universes rather than let her keep flirting.

Eventually, Franklin’s powers seem to stop being able to create universes, and the group attacked by Entropy, the Griever at the End of All Things. She appears to be some sort of cosmic entity who is determined to destroy all of these ‘manufactured’ universes, and the Fantastic Four with them. The team flees in their ship to figure out their last stand (and Val crashes them on the planet of her princely paramour), but Entropy simply chases them and laughs about how easily it will be to defeat the legendary Fantastic Four.

Reed points out that this isn’t the Fantastic Four, it’s only half of them and a bunch of kids. Entropy takes the bait and gives them a teleporter to summon the other two members, and that is the signal we saw at the end of last issue. Reed summons the rest of the Fantastic Four to defeat Entropy, which not only means Ben and Johnny, but every superhero who has ever been considered a member of the FF!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

I very much enjoyed this issue for its feeling of light-hearted happiness. There’s a gentle, friendly, family-oriented sequence at the beginning about how much fun and how rewarding it is for this crew to travel from universe to universe, studying science and making lives better. There’s an especially nice scene between Reed and Sue. And seeing the older, more mature Franklin and Val is good too. I like the idea of aging them up a little bit. Because why not? There’s no reason to keep them as kids forever — though I’m not sold on their new superhero names, but more on that in a bit.

FF Brainstorm 01

She’s got a thing for aliens that were just brought into existence, seemingly fully-formed, by her own brother

Likewise, the solid character work continues when they battle the bad guy, and Reed figures out a trick to help defeat her. That giant superhero showdown at the very end was a welcome surprise! Bring it on! Though considering the fun and joy the Future Foundation experiences traveling the cosmos like this, it leaves a sour note to remember that Ben and Johnny are miserable back on Earth being excluded. I wonder if Slott will come up with a reason for why the two of them couldn’t go along with the group. There doesn’t seem to be a particular reason. Hopefully Slott will have Reed and Sue be forced to confront the hurt feelings and grief that they put Ben and Johnny through, especially if it wasn’t intended.

But besides that, there’s just a lot of happiness and joy in this comic, and a real sense of forward and exciting momentum. I like that.

My only real complaint with the comic is the villain, Entropy. From the sound of it, she comes off like one of those other-worldly cosmic entities, that exists as part of the natural order of things. And the idea that some cosmic entity would come after the Future Foundation for creating a bunch of random, home-brewed universes makes sense. But Entropy (or Griever, I guess?) is written and drawn like a really bad, one-dimensional ‘bad girl’ villain. Just look at this design:

FF Entropy 01

Gotta love quality underboob

She’s way too complicated, and way too mustache-twirling to be effective as a cosmic entity. But I still enjoyed the team’s response to her.

Though if I may, it also kind of rubbed me the wrong way that the team’s creation of these alternate universes came off more like an advanced game of Spore. When they started this journey at the end of the excellent Secret Wars, I thought they were going to recreate the Multiverse and all those fascinating alternate reality universes. Instead, it seems like Franklin is just creating normal universes with just different planet styles and crazy creatures. Like, “Oh, now we’ll make an aquatic planet with fish people” and so on. That felt a little weird. Especially when Slott turns immediately around and just has Entropy destroy almost all of them, making the whole journey worthless to begin with.

Though I can totally see where Entropy is coming from with all these makeshift, cobbled together universes just shoved into the natural order of the multiverse. If she is indeed a cosmic entity, she’s got a job to do, and these random humans from Earth 616 are mucking everything up!

(Also, if I can have a moment, I’ve been meaning to write for years about my thoughts on modern superhero naming conventions, and how it’s so much different than when the Fantastic Four were first created. Nowadays, superheroes just get generic, single-word names that have some vague connection to their powers. Like “Powerhouse” or “Brainstorm”. But back in the day, man, the Fantastic Four had some amazing names. “Human Torch”? Nobody is going to create a name like that in this day and age, yet it’s perfect. The “Thing”? That is freakin’ genius in its simplicity! The only real stinker is “Invisible Girl”, but even that is an older naming convention. Nobody is going to name their character “Batman” or “Spider-Man” these days, let alone “Invisible Girl” ((says the guy who created Gamer Girl for his own comic!)). I don’t really have a point to all of this, it’s just something I like to notice, and I’m slightly disappointed that Slott just went with the modern day superhero naming convention for Franklin and Val rather than really digging deep into classic 1960’s naming conventions.)

TL;DR: Dan Slott continues to shine on a new, largely continuity-free comic, making the Fantastic Four’s return more than worth the wait.


Iceman #1

Iceman #1
Writer: Sina Grace
Artist: Nathan Stockman
Colorist: Frederico Blee
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino

Well what do you know, we’re back with more Iceman comics! How nice!

While out on the town trying his hand at dating, Iceman spots a flyer talking about a missing Morlock. Bobby passes along the info to Kitty Pryde, and he and Bishop are tasked with heading down into the sewers to figure this out. They discover that a group of evil mutants have banded together to kill Morlocks, because if they wipe out all of the weird-looking mutants, the human-looking mutants will have a better chance of fitting in. Our heroes team up with some newer Morlocks to organize the group into a fighting force, and they easily defeat the bad guys (who work for Mr. Sinister, who is interested to hear that Iceman has become pretty darn powerful).

When they return to the X-Mansion, Iceman gets a special visitor — Emma Frost!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

The first thing I noticed about this returned Iceman comic is that this one is a little more direct with its comedy. Grace goes for some clear comedic moments here, making for a lighter tone and a more fun approach to the comic. I think I like it, though it was a bit jarring at first. Grace’s Iceman is no longer weighed down by his parents or his love life. Now he’s making jokes about that stuff, and it mostly works and mostly makes for an entertaining comic. The character remains the same as before, and there are no radical departures in his status quo. Grace just writes Bobby Drake as a lot more fun and outgoing this time around, and I definitely like the change — not that I disliked the previous drama.

Spit Girl is Back 01

Also, Spit Girl is back! Yay!

I especially like the story here, even if the lighter tone seems to betray the seriousness of a second Morlock Massacre. I like the idea of some radicalized mutants trying to kill ugly mutants, though Grace could have taken the extra step to make these new villains as unique and memorable as he does the new Morlock characters he creates. Instead, they just get generic black uniforms and simple powers. But they work as bad guys, and I like Iceman and Bishop organizing the Morlocks into a better fighting force. It makes for a great story, a lot of opportunities for good character interactions, and there’s a lot of promise for more.

Teaming up Iceman and Bishop is also pretty funny and awesome. The X-Men have a deep roster right now, and Grace had the genius idea to team up Iceman with someone he’s rarely ever involved with. I love that Grace went there and what he does with it. I love that he has fun with such an unexpected character pairing.

Iceman Bishop 01

I want more 1-on-1 X-Men character team-ups where they make small talk about what they did in other team books

I liked Stockman on art, though I think his work could be a little tighter. That will come with experience. He’s got great characters and great action, with a wild and varied use of powers. He just needs the refinement that will come from solid, continuous work.

TL;DR: Iceman‘s return is much appreciated and much enjoyed. Sina Grace goes for a lighter, more humorous tone, and it definitely works for the character and the comic.


Ms. Marvel #34

Ms. Marvel #34
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Nico Leon
Colorist: Ian Herring
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

This is a weird but exciting comic!

While Ms. Marvel continues to battle the Shocker and his weird experiments, Bruno figures out that Kamala’s powers work through personal time travel. She borrows or gives away mass to her past and future selves, which is kind of trippy. He figures out that Shocker’s experiments are what are causing her powers to be out of whack, so he rushes out to help her.

Meanwhile, the Shocker throws Kamala into his weird science vortex and she becomes unphased with reality again. Then Singularity shows up from A-Force, a character I wish I’d gotten to know better. Singularity takes Kamala on a little trip to try and get her back to the real world, dropping hints of future stories to come. Eventually Singularity brings her back to the Circle Q in Jersey City to face off against the Shocker again. But Bruno throws himself in front of her to save her from Shocker’s blast!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

What I especially loved in this issue were the various teases about possible future stories. Like, when Singularity is taking Ms. Marvel back to the real world, they wind up at a strange temple, where a monk seems to recognize Kamala. They leave before we find out what’s going on, but it’s a great tease ahead. Likewise, when she departs, Singularity mentions that they’ve met before “in the wars”, which I took to mean haven’t happened yet. So that was neat! I haven’t seen Wilson use ‘future vision’ like that before, but I liked it! Bruno also sees some alternate future Kamalas in his experiment, but those visions weren’t really anything we hadn’t seen before, so no fun there.

The real fun is in Ms. Marvel’s wacky adventures!

Shocker Awesome Bit 02

It’s all in the eyes!

Shocker is still being written a bit weird, but I like him nonetheless here. He’s rather down-to-Earth with Ms. Marvel, if not oddly weird about crazy science experiments. He’s a weird choice for villain to make Ms. Marvel’s powers go wonky, but Wilson seems to be having fun writing him, and I like it when a writer has fun writing the Shocker. And I especially like it when a writer has fun writing their main character interacting with the villain. G. Willow Wilson has never lost an ounce of skill and talent in writing Ms. Marvel, even after all these years. Ms. Marvel is as delightful as ever.

Also, I kind of like that explanation for Ms. Marvel’s powers. It’s weird, and I don’t fully understand it, but it’s a special kind of weird that is really neat.

TL;DR: The current story just gets weirder in the new issue, but in all the best ways for all the best reasons!


Runaways #13

Runaways #13
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: David LaFuente
Colorist: Jim Campbell
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Apparently my reading comics digitally these days means I don’t always catch it when there’s a secret final page. The last issue, with all the great lovey dovey stuff, actually ended with villainous original Runaway Alex Wilder returning! He was recently the bad guy in a Power Man and Iron Fist comic, but I wasn’t that big of a fan of him there.

So Alex Wilder is back and he’s being chased by a giant three-headed monster. The Runaways want him gone, but they leap into action when the monster attacks, and Alex immediately begins issuing orders like a team leader — though some of them, like Nico, have no interest in following his orders. Once the monster is chained up, the Runaways tell Alex to get lost, while he tries to explain that he only betrayed them to save his parents, that he saw that as the only way forward. The Runaways point out that there was another way, their way, and it worked just fine. He’s still a traitor.

Then the children of the Gibborim show up and demand payment from this new Pride. The Runaways (including Gert, who returns with Victor) sass the Seed of the Gibborim with the fact that they’re not the Pride and they don’t care if these lousy would-be gods try and take over the Earth. The Seed of the Gibborim claim they will start a new Pride, and the Runaways will be the first sacrifices…but the Runaways look pretty damn tough.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

I loved the attitude in this comic! Whether the Runaways are dismissing Alex (or hugging him, like Molly does), or they’re giving sass to the new Gibborim, it’s all hilarious. I even liked it when Alex jumped into leader mode and purposefully started using the team’s old codenames. Rowell really put a lot of thought into what Alex is up to and how he’d act with the group now that he’s back. It’s very calculated, just like Alex. And I’m half-convinced that this Seed of the Gibborim thing is all part of Alex’s plan, that he’s behind all of it. I didn’t really care for him as the super evil villain in the last Power Man and Iron Fist storyline, but he could be a real villain to Rowell’s Runaways. He’s already seeping into their heads in smart, subtle ways. It’s perfect!

Lucy in the Sky 01

Cold-blooded, y’all

I like LaFuente’s work on art, though at times it’s a little…I dunno, everybody looks just a touch too childish. But it otherwise works nicely. Everybody looks great, and the colors by Campbell really pop. Even when we’ve got a big monster fight and the return of the Gibborim, Runaways remains a comic firmly entrenched in character-first storytelling, and that’s what I love so much about it. Rowell expertly uses the conflict in the issue to really establish and explore her characters, and really sets up the new bad guy for some great drama going forward.

TL;DR: Rowell digs in deep with her characters for an exciting new story that really dredges up stories from the Runaways’ past.


Superman #3

Superman #3
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Ivan Reis
Inkers: Joe Prado and Oclair Albert
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Josh Reed

I’m sticking with Bendis’ Superman for now. I can’t seem to quit it. I still have faith in him as a writer, and am just plain curious to see if he course corrects. This issue isn’t that correction.

Superman discovers that some STAR Labs experiment sent Earth into the Phantom Zone, though it was an accident and nobody is quite sure how to fix it. He fills in the other superheroes, all of whom are suffering some sort of sickness now that Earth’s atmosphere is mixed with that of the Phantom Zone. Superman keeps rushing around and fretting, until he senses the oncoming invasion…

Rogol Zaar spends his time arguing/fighting with classic Kryptonian villain Jax-Ur, who has been imprisoned in the Phantom Zone for a long time. Rogal Zaar convinces Jax-Ur to join with him, and together they lead a massive army of Phantom Zone monsters towards Earth.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

There are a few cute moments in the issue, the one thing Bendis has really been able to pull off in his Superman comics. Like Livewire attacking the STAR Labs facility like she normally does, only to stumble upon all the scientists panicking about the accidental dimensional breech and being unsure how she should proceed. Or a cute little bit where Adam Strange returns to our galaxy, only to find the Earth gone. They’re funny little bits, and they help prop up the comic. In a stronger story, they’d be icing on the cake. But this story just isn’t very interesting or strong. Superman does nothing to try and solve the problem at hand, and instead just zips around so that Bendis can lay out some of the other factors at play. And, as always, Rogol Zaar continues to be a dearth of anything interesting. The brief scenes we get present Jax-Ur as a far more interesting antagonist.   I don’t even know if there’s any possible twist Bendis can deliver to Rogol Zaar to make him interesting. He’s terrible.

TL;DR: Superman continues to fail to impress. The story is basic, the characters are simplistic, and only the occasional insightful bit or amazing art keeps the series above water.


Squirrel Girl #36

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #36
Writer: Ryan North
Artists: Derek Charm and Madeline McGrane
Colorist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: Travis Lanham

I considered skipping this review because it’s another stunt issue, and those are usually perfect. But I owe it to you readers and to Unbeatable Squirrel Girl to treat this issue fairly.

A giant old lady ghost attacks a rock concert and defeats Squirrel Girl and Iron Man, casting a silence curse across all of New York City. Various superheroes try to defeat her, while Squirrel Girl and Nancy do research in the library to try and connect with her. They realize the ghost lady is a librarian, so they reach her through books and a nice, shiny, red apple. The ghost, Ms. Chloe, explains her backstory and how she died, and Squirrel Girl convinces her to become a superhero with silence powers! Works out great for everybody, and Ms. Chloe takes a job as the night librarian at Empire State University.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

So yeah, the issue and its gimmick are pretty much perfect The story isn’t all that deep or meaningful. It’s all pretty straight forward. Then North goes and adds a couple twists that make it pure genius, like Squirrel Girl’s penchant for reasoning with villains instead of just punching them. And then the idea that the evil ghost librarian become a superhero for a bit, complete with nifty costume. That’s a level of genius I will never achieve in life, and I’m OK with that. I’m a little surprised that new artist Derek Charm was hit with a ‘no dialogue’ issue so soon into his coming onto the comic, but he does a great job and there are no problems. Everything is presented clearly, the story is well-told through the art and we’ve got ourselves a delightful little done-in-one stunt issue. Everyone involved should be supremely proud of their work here.

TL;DR: Unbeatable Squirrel Girl spends an issuing doing a “no dialogue” story and it works splendidly. Everything about this issue is delightful and pure Squirrel Girl.


X-23 #4

X-23 #4
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Juann Cabal
Colorist: Nolan Woodard
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

I complained about Domino being too overstuffed with material, but X-23 is a little understuffed. This is another quick issue that gets through everything nice and cleanly, but I’m more OK with that. It’s still very good.

The experiment is a success and the evil Cuckoo, Esme, takes possession of Gabby’s body. She immediately orders the soft-hearted Cuckoo, Mindee, to go search for X-23. Laura was blown away from the scene out into the woods, where she begins to heal and recover, and learns that the other dead sister, Sophie, is now in her mind. Sophie wants to stop Esme, and Laura is their only hope. And now she’s got Mindee to help her.

Comic Review: 8/10 – Very Good.

So yeah, this issue really just sets up the new twist in the conflict going forward. There’s not much deeper than Esme taking control of Gabby’s body and being evil about it, and then Laura learning that Sophie is now inside her mind, ready to fight back. There’s a little bit of Cuckoo politics between them — singling out Mindee as the most soft-hearted — but that’s about as deep as anything gets. And that’s fine. Tamaki is writing a nice little comic, handling the characters very well, and we’ve got some legit, character-based trouble to deal with right now. And Cabal is killing it on art! This is a gorgeous comic, with such wonderfully drawn and emotive characters. The identical Cuckoos look so damn good! And evil Gabby is great! The creative team is telling a nice little story here.

TL;DR: The current X-23 story is solid and enjoyable storytelling, though it doesn’t dig very deep into anything in particular.

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!


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 September 15, 2018, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man, Superman, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I can’t forgive Sina Grace for snubbing Anole in Iceman. He hasn’t been a “Button Masher” for YEARS. I’m just plain sick of seeing the New X-Men — who kicked Belasco’s ass on his HOME TURF, defeated Nimrod, fought Purifiers and Bastion, and saw FIFTY of their friends murdered in one moment — getting shafted like this.

  2. Agree on all the X books. You really nailed the good and bad of the Domino series. I have nothing to add!

  3. ASM sure was an arc that was published, and that can never be taken away from it.

    Domino was a pretty intense finale to the arc. Man, three sentences, and they were brutal.

    FF was, uh . . . So the Indigenous People stand-in literally had red skin? That’s the direction they went? Not a great choice, I gotta say.

    Iceman is OK. There’s some good stuff with the Morlocks. Iceman himself remains not at all interesting to me.

    Ms. Marvel is great. Singularity! I’ve missed her SO MUCH! I wish we could get more of her. Especially more Ms. Marvel/Singularity teaming up. (As for her “in the wars” comment, I took it to mean Secret Wars, and the A-Force Secret Wars mini.)

    Runaways is good. Kind of amusing how everyone is so blase about Alex being back from the dead.

    Squirrel Girl is, as always, lots of fun.

    X-23 is good. Nice plot developments. Esme is compellingly awful, and I’m excited to see Laura, Irma and Sophie team up to save Gabby. And the art’s great.

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