Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 9/22/18
Is anybody reading all the weird stuff that’s going on with Venom these days? I understand it’s some noteworthy stuff, and it’s getting a lot of buzz on these here internets, but I can’t bring myself to care — and the movie is only two weeks away! Would anybody mind letting me know in the comments if it’s been worthwhile or not? Thanks!
I’ve mostly been sticking with comics I already love and adore, which is great for my general well being! Tom King on both Mister Miracle and Batman? Yes, please! Kelly Thompson on both Mr. and Mrs. X and West Coast Avengers? You’re damn right!
Mister Miracle wins Comic Book of the Week as we dive headfirst into the climax of one of the biggest, craziest comics of the year!
Meanwhile, I am completely ignoring the Return of Wolverine and the Infinity Warps stuff. Part of me knows they’re probably OK, and I’m sure the creative teams are great, but I have had my fill of Marvel’s attempts to either force Big Event comics to tie into recent movies, or deluge us with bringing Wolverine back, even though they made sure he wasn’t really gone anyway. There’s already been, like, several dozen different comics about Wolverine’s return. Just bring him back already, jeez louise! I can’t imagine there is anybody out there who is chomping at the bit to have regular Wolverine back so badly.
Speaking of which, I passed on the new issue of Thor because of its Wolverine indulgence. Hopefully I get caught back up on Thor soon…
Comic Reviews: Batman #55, Mister Miracle #11, Mr. & Mrs. X #3, Multiple Man #4 and West Coast Avengers #2.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Tony S. Daniel
Inks: Daniel and Danny Miki
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
If you haven’t heard the news yet, there are crazy things ahead for Dick Grayson. This issue kicks them off.
Batman and Nightwing are out on patrol, beating up the mummies of Phantom Pharaoh and otherwise having an OK time. Nightwing is a chatterbox, especially about the good old days, while Batman is stern and unflinching…mostly. Meanwhile, a mysterious Russian with one arm arrives in Gotham, purchases a rifle and breaks into a high rise apartment. When Batman and Nightwing arrive at the Bat-Signal later in the night to talk to Gordon, the Russian shoots Nightwing in the head.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This issue is pretty much just getting us to Nightwing being shot in the head, which is going to kick off a big storyline between the Bat-Family comics, wherein Dick Grayson struggles with his injury and the possible end of his crime-fighting career. I’m still debating whether or not I’ll cover it. We’ll see if I can bring myself to read Nightwing comics. I never manage to stick around very long because I’ve always been more interested in how Dick Grayson relates to Batman, not really Dick Grayson out on his own. But besides all of that, this was an enjoyable issue with a shocking cliffhanger. The stuff with the Russian (who I think is KGBeast) is solid, presenting him as a cold, focused individual, so that sets up a solid mystery. And the Batman/Nightwing banter is enjoyable, setting up the loss that they’re about to suffer. So the issue serves its purpose splendidly, while maintaining that quality Tom King writing.
And the cliffhanger would have been a million times better had DC not extensively revealed their Dick Grayson plans in advance.
TL;DR: A solid issue gets the job done — and then some — in setting up the next big, expansive storyline.
Mister Miracle #11
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mitch Gerads
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
There’s only one issue left of King and Gerads’ Mister Miracle, and the climax here is everything we could have hoped for!
Mister Miracle and Big Barda teleport to Apokolips to complete the exchange: their son Jacob for peace with Darkseid. They go through with the exchange, with Darkseid pulling out his own eye as his part of the deal, so that he can’t use the Omega Beams. But when Scott asks for one last chance to say goodbye to his son, he grabs the boy and the plan is on: Barda uses her stroller to blast Darkseid with a super energy beam from the Miracle Machine, but Darkseid survives the blast and knocks her out. Darkseid then beats down Scott, who pulls a Fahren-Knife out of the vegetable tray and stabs Darkseid in his empty eye-socket. Scott angrily explains that the knife was made from Orion’s corpse, who was prophesied to be the only one who could kill Darkseid!
The day is won and the family is together…but then Desaad reveals himself to be Metron in disguise. And Metron reveals that Scott shouldn’t be here; he says there is another world out there, full of DC superheroes.
Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.
We’ll get to that ending in a second.
Everything besides that ending is phenomenal and exactly the climax we could have hoped for. This has been a thrilling, mind-bending series, and King and Gerads go for broke in the climactic battle with Darkseid. Not only do we get scenes of Darkseid munching on a vegetable platter, but we also get scenes of Scott and Barda pulling off an awesome double-cross and really sticking it to the villain. This issue is the plain and simple joy of the good guys triumphing over the bad guys, and I gobble that stuff up! But the writing is not so plain and simple, because King infuses the whole thing with his signature style. Whether it’s setting up the eventual vegetable platter at the start of the issue (which itself is a callback to previous discussions on vegetable platters), or the profanity-ladden surprise attack that finally fells the foul foe, or the conversation mom and dad have afterwards about swearing in front of their baby. It’s all gold.
Gerads is also fantastic on art, of course. I especially love the ways he uses Jacob, with the baby crawling all around the throne room while the adults are either setting up their negotiation or just bantering back and forth. It’s super fun. And he draws fantastic action and even better calm scenes, like Darkseid munching on carrot sticks. It’s all gold.
What isn’t gold is that ending. We haven’t seen the final issue yet, so I don’t know where this is going…but is Metron telling us that this whole story has been out of continuity? At least that’s my take away. That this is some alternate reality Mister Miracle having this adventure (hence all the T-shirts and Batman toys), and he really belongs in the DC Universe where he doesn’t have a kid and didn’t just kill Darkseid. I think this is a little too crazy of an ending, to now tell us that none of this matters because it’s some weird alternate reality? Of course, I could be completely misinterpreting what Metron is saying. We won’t know until the final issue, which will no doubt blow our minds all over again.
TL;DR: The climatic, penultimate issue of Mister Miracle delivers the perfect climactic, penultimate issue we could want, in terms of writing, art and story. But there’s still plenty of time for King and Gerads to blow our minds even more!
Mr. & Mrs. X #3
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Oscar Bazaldua
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Hey, look at that! Thompson ditches Deadpool halfway through the issue and the comic sings!
The egg hatched into a small naked Rogue and everybody is confused. Kitty explains that the egg was the manufactured progeny of Professor X and Lilandra, and is the center of the struggle for the Shi’ar throne (since the child of Lilandra could be ruler, but Gladiator currently sits on throne). The being looks like Rogue because she has telepathic powers and is likely just mirroring the only other female nearby. The being reads Gambit and Rogue’s minds to learn about her parents, and then changes into her proper form, asking to be called “Xandra”. At that moment, their ship is attacked by Deathbird, who is leading a rebellion against Gladiator and wants the egg.
Gambit and Deadpool teleport over to Deathbird’s ship, fight through her guards, banter a lot and then defeat Deathbird. They return to their own ship and get rid of Deadpool, but then Nightside from the Imperial Guard slips in and grabs Xandra, who has since hidden herself back in egg form. She teleports to the Darkforce Dimension and Cerise shows up on the ship to take Rogue and Gambit to the Shi’ar homeworld in pursuit — but they get captured pretty quickly.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Whoever had the bright idea to shove Deadpool into this comic, shame on you. If it was Thompson, please know that you’re better than this. If it was editorial, which is the likely suspect, please have more faith in Kelly Thompson writing an amazing comic and not needing that stupid cash cow plastered all over the cover. I realize a Rogue and Gambit comic is a tough sell on its own, but let it rise or fall on its own. The cheap stunt of adding Deadpool is just that, a cheap stunt. It adds nothing to the comic and takes away time that could be spent on the smolderingly hot titular pairing Thompson has built up. It’s writing like this that makes it clear why Thompson was tapped to be part of the upcoming Uncanny X-Men relaunch in a couple months.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Deadpool just fine, and Thompson writes a pretty funny Deadpool. But man, he was absolutely not needed in this comic, and he didn’t contribute to the story at all. He’s not even a space character. Why would he have a random spaceship? But whatever. He’s gone now, hopefully for the rest of the story. The rest of the comic is great. Rogue and Gambit have amazing chemistry under Thompson’s pen. Their flirty banter in the face of wild action is the sort of writing that makes a comic. The characters are so full of life, and they keep the story grounded when it indulges in the right sort of weird and crazy. And Bazaldua does a great job on art with all this space stuff.
I’m sorry, I spent most of this review complaining about the Deadpool cameo. Seriously though, the rest of the comic is fine without him. Thompson has a winning concept on her hands here.
TL;DR: Rogue and Gambit are allowed to star in their own comic again, and their vibrant chemistry and banter is proof enough why Kelly Thompson is such a rising star.
Multiple Man #4
Writer: Matt Rosenberg
Artist: Andy MacDonald
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
I was right for once! My theory about Emperor Madrox last issue was correct!
After Emperor Madrox cuts off the head of Protagonist Madrox, he realizes the dupe isn’t one of his and therefore shenanigans are afoot. So he changes into Protagonist Madrox’s clothes and goes back in time to the first issue, where he encounters the dupe who was trying to stop Beast from making the serum back in issue #1. That dupe was sent by his right-hand man, Royal Grand Vizier Madrox, and the two get into the fight we saw in the first issue, with Emperor Madrox reabsorbing the dupe.
Meanwhile, we check in on the various members of the Super-Powered Madrox Squad, who teleported to different realities/timelines in order to find help. They each spend a couple years gaining their powers, then Dr. Strange Madrox reunites them all to go back to the present to the X-Mansion to pick up Emperor Madrox, who has since become Protagonist Madrox.
(Though, as we found out last issue, there was a fifth Madrox who went forward in time to get help. He ended up in the world of the Marvel beach bikini pin-up books, whose art can be found floating around the Internet. We don’t yet know what becomes of him…(unless this is him!))
We repeat the scene from issue #1 where the Super-Powered Madrox Squad fight the X-Men and then take Protagonist Madrox into the future. Shortly after they’re gone, a new portal opens up and a battle-damaged Royal Grand Vizier Madrox emerges with an army of dupes, all armed to the teeth.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
In my review of the first issue of this mini-series, I mentioned that the weirdness felt like something Rosenberg was doing intentionally, and that it would all make sense in the end. Turns out I was right. This is the issue where we start finding out what was what back in that confusing first issue, and the explanation is pretty neat. This is not a particularly deep comic, but it’s turning into more of a fun one. The shift from evil Emperor Madrox to chill Protagonist Madrox is pretty sudden. Other than that, it’s all fine. The various journeys of the Super-Powered Madrox Squad are played largely for laughs, which I think is the whole point in the end. This mini-series doesn’t have anything particularly interesting to say about the main character (and Madrox Prime is still dead), but as I said before, the shenanigans are pretty nifty. I’m curious to see how this all ends, and once it’s done, I imagine this will be a nice, weird little story.
TL;DR: The Multiple Man comic starts making sense and therefore starts making the whole mini-series worthwhile.
West Coast Avengers #2
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Oddly, I’m finding that I enjoy Thompson’s team book less than I enjoyed her solo book starring the same characters/general concept.
The West Coast Avengers take on the giant Tigra, with the help of B.R.O.D.O.K., who they all assume is really M.O.D.O.K., just in a studly surfer dude body (with a slightly bigger head). After B.R.O.D.O.K. gets Tigra to leave, Kate invites him back to base so that he can be pumped for info. She leaves B.R.O.D.O.K. with the others while she and Clint investigate his Advanced Image Mechanics office downtown, grabbing a bunch of files on clients and figuring out he’s the one who probably turned Tigra into a giant.
Meanwhile, Gwenpool and Quentin do that whole thing where they hate each other, start screaming at each other and then start making out, much to everyone else’s disgust.
Later that night, B.R.O.D.O.K. discovers the stolen files and realizes his new ‘friends’ have turned against him. So he summons Giant Tigra and a bunch of other giant monsters to attack Los Angeles!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This was a very enjoyable issue, but before I get to that, I need to do a little more ranting. Thompson has failed to shore up the very foundation of her team book, so when she tries to move on to complex and interesting character drama, it’s really shaky. There’s no reason why this team has the drama it does. There are multiple references in this issue about how weird it is that Kate is paying her best friend America to be involved, and that Kate is effectively her boss. So again, I ask, as I did after the first issue, why does America need to be paid to hang out with her BFF and be a superhero? And why does Kate need to be the one to pay?
There are also multiple references to the idea that nobody really likes or trusts Quentin or Gwenpool, yet those two are the only real hangers-on and have no real reason to be there in the first place, with no real connections to the other characters. Why keep Quentin and Gwenpool on the team at all if they’re such a problem? Why put up with them? Nobody is forcing them to be on the team or forcing this team to be together. Kate just decided on a whim to put a team together, then decided haphazardly to letting Quentin and Gwenpool on the team.
How is the team of Kate, Clint, America and Johnny not enough to handle whatever they want to handle? How about none of them receive a paycheck for helping out and each live in their own pre-exiting apartments? There, I just solved all of the internal drama that West Coast Avengers is building its entire comic on.
Alright, rant over. The issue is pretty fun when you ignore all of that stuff. Thompson has a real flare for dialogue and character interactions, and the fun of her earlier Hawkeye comic definitely carries over to West Coast Avengers. Kate and Clint are still a wonderful team, and their partnership is a major part of this issue, so that was nice. Throw in some solid character work with everybody else and you’ve got the makings of a good team comic (though I could have done without the silly cliche of having two people angrily yelling at each other, only to suddenly start making out. You’re better than that kind of cliche, Thompson).
The story is also nicely weird and wildly interesting. A giant, feral Tigra? Sure, why the hell not! MODOK trying some weird subterfuge thing? Definitely the right kind of weird. Kate making some pretty obvious mistakes as a struggling leader, and doubting herself at every moment? And Clint trying to provide good mentorship? Hecks, yes, thank you very much.
My (legitimate!!) grievances aside, Thompson is writing a really fun team book here.
TL;DR: West Coast Avengers is the right kind of fun and the right kind of wild.
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 22, 2018, in Avengers, Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Multiple Man, Reviews, X-Men and tagged Dick Grayson, Gambit, Gwenpool, Hawkeye, Jamie Madrox, Kate Bishop, Kelly Thompson, Mr. & Mrs. X, Nightwing, Rogue, Tom King, West Coast Avengers. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.