Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 10/27/18
Why do my favorite comics only come out on the same week? I’ll get a whole truckload of great comics I love, so I’m doing upwards of 8 reviews in one week! And then we’ll get a week like this, where I scrape together a couple comics I’d mostly given up on just to have something to review and post about. It’s not fair.
We’re going to dive back into The Silencer and Amazing Spider-Man this week. And I go on a pretty ugly rant about how much I dislike the new direction of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. But at least Action Comics wins Comic Book of the Week…by default. Though it’s not bad.
Meanwhile, I nearly forgot to post these reviews because I was gearing up to spend my entire Saturday playing Red Dead Redemption 2, so you know where my head is at this weekend.
Comic Reviews: Action Comics #1004, Amazing Spider-Man #8, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #32 and The Silencer #10.
Action Comics #1004
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Ryan Sook
Inker: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Josh Reed
I’m having a real love/hate/am annoyed by/enjoy on a certain level relationship with Bendis’ Superman.
Clark Kent is looking into this mysterious Red Cloud and the mobster murders, but the Daily Planet’s gossip columnist somehow got her hands on a photo of Lex Luthor visiting Lois Lane in her secret Chicago apartment. The photo looks like it was taken in the hallway immediately after Lex knocked on her door in the previous issue. Would Lex Luthor really let some chump with a cell phone camera get that close to him? Anyway, Perry calls Clark into his office to let Clark know about this, and it causes Clark to think back to the end of issue #2, when he confronted Lois. And we get a flashback.
So they hung out in her hotel room, made sweet, married love a couple times, and Lois explained that Jon is doing great out in space, but she needed to come home so that Jon could really cut loose. Clark wants her to come back to their normal life, but Lois tells him that they’re Superman and Lois Lane, they don’t need to have a normal, picket fence life. And she needs to write this book.
Back in the present day, Copperhead attacks the newsroom because of the gossip columnist, and Superman shows up to cart her off to prison and hobnob with the Daily Planet staffers for a bit. Then he goes to check on Lois, and she tells him that Lex wanted to pump her for information he could use against Superman. The two of them are most definitely still in love, despite this new normal.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
I love the character work that Bendis delivers in his Superman comics, especially with Action Comics, which focuses more on Clark Kent. Even though the flashback is awkwardly inserted into the story (and should have taken place chronologically last issue), I love Clark and Lois just hanging out and talking about their relationship. I love the idea that Clark Kent wants a normal family dynamic like a normal family, because that’s Clark Kent to a T. And I love that Lois Lane wants to embrace the unique weirdness of their family dynamic. They’re Superman and Lois Lane! They don’t need a normal life. And I love that they work it out as a couple, as reasonable adults having a conversation about not just the state of their marriage, but their hopes, dreams, wants and desires — especially for one another. It’s such a wonderful couple of character-based scenes.
And Bendis still nails the smaller character moments. Like Superman stopping by the Daily Planet and chatting with the staff. Check out this quick aside with Perry White.
I love that moment like I love few other things in comics. The casualness with which Perry White asks his ole pal Superman to check him for cancer. The fact that Superman doesn’t hesitate. The simple but effective use of a super-power against a real world concern. It’s so good!
So it’s a shame that all of this great character work is saddled with a hugely uninteresting main plot. Clark Kent investigating the mystery of Red Cloud? What mystery? The reader has already seen Red Cloud. She’s some new super-villain with smoke powers who just happens to be red in color. Big whoop. And she’s killing mobsters that we’ve never heard of before and don’t matter in the least. Bigger whoop. So boring.
Also, there’s a really annoying bit of dialogue where Perry White keeps confusing Red Cloud for Red Tornado, and since he gets confused, he thinks that means Clark’s story has a hole in it. I think award-winning journalist Clark Kent can tell the difference between a witness describing a “red cloud” and Justice Leaguer-in-good-standing Red Tornado. You’re better than that, Mr. White.
Also, Ryan Sook is a god among comic book artists. Just had to be mentioned.
TL;DR: Action Comics has some really great character development, but it’s unfortunately coupled with a really lackluster plot.
Amazing Spider-Man #8
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Inker: Victor Olazaba
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
How’s this for synergy? The new storyline is entitled “Heist” and features a guest appearance by the Black Cat, the same week the new Spider-Man video game DLC comes out entitled “The Heist”, with a major guest appearance by the Black Cat. Timing!
All around town, Avengers and other superheroes are losing their equipment, including Iron Man’s armors, Cap’s shield and Thor’s hammer. Just poof, gone, right in the middle of them using it. The Thieves Guild is looking to return in force to NYC, and this is their big debut. Tony Stark calls Spider-Man to get his help — while Spidey is on a date with Mary Jane — and Spidey swings out into the city to begin the search. But his web-shooters are gone mid-swing and he starts falling! Black Cat catches him and attacks, telling him they have unfinished business!
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
I wish Amazing Spider-Man had the strong character work of Action Comics. And I wish Action Comics had the interesting storylines of Amazing Spider-Man. They’re both just half a comic.
The Thieves Guild wants to reopen their NYC branch, and their opening gambit is to steal superhero weapons and equipment? That’s neat! It’s a creative idea. I don’t particularly see how thieves can steal Spider-Man’s web-shooters right off his wrists without him noticing, but that’s the level of silly that Spencer is going for. It might not be my sense of humor, but credit where credit is due, the idea is at least neat and creative. And we’ll see what he does with it. Also, I will give major props to Spencer if he undoes the really bad ‘crime boss’ status quo that Dan Slott forced Black Cat into. It never worked for her, and if Spencer reverses it, I’ll be very pleased.
My problem with this issue, and Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man as a whole so far, is that he doesn’t put much work into the character stuff. He tries, there are attempts, but it never amounts to much. For example, there’s an extended sequence this issue where Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson hang out at a carnival. They chat about this and that, and it’s fine, but it’s little more than fluff. And then Peter rushes off to respond to the plot. They don’t have an ounce of the passion that Clark and Lois have. It’s like Spencer just wanted Peter and Mary Jane back together, snapped his fingers to make it happen, and now doesn’t do anything with it. There was no romance. No courting. No actual story. Just “poof!” They’re back together and they make mild chitchat when standing near each other.
TL;DR: Amazing Spider-Man continues to have some interesting ideas, but stumbles when it comes to meaningful characterization.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #32
Writer: Marguerite Bennett
Artist: Simone Di Meo
Colorists: Walter Baiamonte and Francesco Segala
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Welp, sad to say it, but I think I’m done with the main Power Rangers comic. I was hoping things would improve from the last issue, but they just got worse!
The away-team Rangers are forced to fight a bunch of monster soldiers without morphing, and they eventually open an airlock to suck them all out into space. Mike Corbett nearly gets sucked out, but Kim saves him, and Tanya is super grateful. Tanya then gives Mike an earful about not sacrificing himself. Kim also takes some time to interrogate Heckyl to find out more about him, but he’s evasive with answers. But whatever, they’ve got to chase after the new Stranger Ranger who stole Promethea’s power.
And they find her pretty easily on a nearby pub outpost, even though they hadn’t found a scrap of life in the month or two they’ve been in the universe. All of a sudden they find a whole tavern of aliens. The Stranger Ranger is Ellarien, who has a best friend, Remi, who owns the tavern. Oh boy, the world-building is nearly impenetrable. There’s a villain called the Praetor, and Ellarian (Ari) used something called the Solarix to steal the Promethea’s power. And when the Rangers show up and are able to morph again, without explanation, Ari claims it is Vortex Energy? And that draws some new alien soldiers, called The Crimson Raiders, to the tavern, and everybody fights and the bad guys eventually flee and the art is terrible.
They end up questioning Ari about the Solarix and the rest of this stuff, being the first people to ever show her mercy. Then they all flee to Ari’s ship, lest some bar patron try to get the Solarix. But I think the Raiders put some kind of tracking goo on her ship?
Comic Rating: 2/10 – Very Bad.
I’m out. This is maddeningly bad. Both the writing and the art are nigh impenetrable. I had to turn the pages back several times just to try and make sense of what I was reading. Not only are both writing and art bad on their own, but often times they just don’t work together. I’ll post some examples.
Let’s start with the art, because it clouds everything. The art remains sketchy and frantic, obscuring the action and doing very little to distinguish between characters. It even goes out of its way to obscure characters. Di Meo is required to draw up to a dozen figures in tightly contained rooms in fight sequences, and she just fails.
Even the smaller scale stuff is disappointingly bad.
Take, for example, this panel. A character, bathed in shadow, rescues Mike Corbett before he’s sucked out through the open airlock.
Why is that character in shadow? Why hide their identity? What is that character holding onto that they are also not sucked out into the airlock?
We find out in a couple pages that the character is Kim, and we find out when Tanya suddenly grabs Kim in a big hug, so grateful and thankful that Kim saved Mike. So let’s use this to talk about how Bennett continues to do a piss poor job introducing us to our main cast. Because we finally get to spend some time with some of them, and the character choices are bafflingly.
First of all, Tanya is suddenly so in love with Mike that it’s nauseating, whereas Mike might as well be a wooden board. And it’s all subtext. They’re not in a relationship, nor does either of them comment on it. Her affections are all in how she acts and how she’s drawn. But why is Tanya so suddenly puppy-dog eyes at Mike? Everything she does, from showering Kim with affection for saving him to pulling Mike aside for a desperate talk about how he’s worth a damn, it’s all made abundantly clear that Tanya is in love. Where did it come from? Is no effort going to be made to show why Tanya is suddenly super in love with the guy? Are you not even going to try to have this character development actually grow over the course of the series?
There’s another example of bad art. Who is Tanya referencing in that final line? I thought it was the person in the long coat (who I didn’t realize was Kim), but she’s apparently addressing Mike down on the floor. I realize that now that I’m explaining it, with just the panel in question, it makes more sense. But reading the issue, it’s a jarring transition in conversation.
How about the scene where Kim interrogates Heckyl? Thankfully, Linkara’s History of the Power Rangers series has gotten up to Power Rangers Dino Charge, so I was able to watch that since the previous issue to get a crash course in Heckyl…BUT WHY DOESN’T KIM KNOW WHO HECKYL IS?!
There’s a finite number of people on Promethea, and they’ve been adrift in this strange universe for an entire month. Did nobody do a headcount in that time? Did the Power Rangers, whose whole deal is teamwork, not figure out what the entire team now consisted of? Especially considering Heckyl is one of only half a dozen Rangers who can still morph! And he’s part of the away team! Did they not take an inventory of all the Rangers who can still morph? Did they really put this away team together without doing a simple, “Hello, my name is…” thing? Did Kim take a team into battle without knowing all their names? They weren’t in a rush or anything. And they’ve had A WHOLE MONTH of living together with nothing to do but interact!
And how can they morph when they do catch up to the Stranger Ranger? I thought Promethea didn’t have power! That’s why they were forcibly de-morphed at the end of last issue! Did they siphon power from the Solarix by being close enough? How would they even know that to morph?
Don’t get me started on the Solarix or the rest of this space gobbledegook. I’m not even sure if we see the Solarix in the issue the art is so bad. I’m not even sure it’s a physical object. Bennett just starts rapid-fire hitting us with maddeningly boring and generic space nonsense about aliens, cantinas, a Praetor, this Solarix, Vortex Energy, and the art does absolutely nothing to help us distinguish what we’re dealing with.
This comic is a mess. This is worse than fan fiction, because I’m confident fan fiction writers would at least make an attempt to introduce the reader to new characters. Only about half the team is properly introduced, and what little character work they get is baffling. And then they’re thrown into a truly mind-boggling amount of rushed universe-building, which is the last thing we need right now.
TL;DR: The new direction is a disaster. It’s a bunch of mindless space gobbledegook stuffed down the reader’s throat, with a painfully stilted effort to introduce us to only some of the new main cast.
The Silencer #10
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Patch Zircher
Colorist: Mike Spicer
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Hey, did you hear that Silencer is going to make her live action debut in the new season of Arrow? Good for her!
Silencer is still stuck in the body of her cyborg enemy Quietus, but the two of them are working together to stop a giant kaiju from attacking the Action Land theme park, where Silencer’s family is hanging out. It’s a really neat fight, with a lot of back and forth between Silencer and Quietus, and it ends when the magic villain, Wishbone, is told to end the shenanigans. She switches their minds back, Quietus’ body is destroyed and the kaiju reverts back to a normal person size. Quietus’ head then convinces Silencer to continue their quest to kill Talia, saying she can worry about her family later. But while she’s gone, aid workers tell her husband that the hotel where she was supposedly staying was demolished by the monster. There were no survivors.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
I lost interest in The Silencer because it’s a pretty generic comic. The writing and art are fine. The characters are at least a little interesting. But there’s nothing really special about the series, or this issue in particular. The premise of the former mercenary trying to live a normal life is on the back burner, considering she’s been forced back into the life pretty much nonstop since the start of the series. And while there is some drama to be mined out of her husband and son not knowing the truth — like with this issue’s nice cliffhanger — the tension isn’t enough of a focus to really stand out. And while the action is pretty good and entertaining, it’s still all in the service of a largely nebulous enterprise. With the exception of Talia al Ghul, Abnett seems to be creating every single character from the ground up, so there’s no real foundation for what Silencer is getting into. The Leviathan Civil War is between characters we don’t know, based on a history we don’t know. And it’s not like Leviathan is really a known quantity in DC Comics, so who cares if it has new or old leadership? So while it’s neat to see our protagonist kick butt, there’s a disconnect between action and reader about what exactly she’s kicking butt against.
TL;DR: The Silencer remains an entertaining enough comic to read, but it has yet to find the magic to make it a must-read comic. It could stand to slow down and smell the roses sometime instead of always rushing forward with its plot.
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 October 27, 2018, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man, Superman and tagged Action Comics, Amazing Spider-Man, Boom!, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Power Rangers, The Silencer. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.
Amazing Spider-Man remains a comic titled Amazing Spider-Man, and I will leave it at that.