Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 5/25/19
Man, there are a ton of really great, meaningful comics this week. Nothing that really got me on the edge of my seat, more like just a bunch of deeply foundational, character-driven comics that really play up with the deep benches these comics have developed. I love that!
Comic Book of the Week was hard to decide, because both Unstoppable Wasp and Tony Stark – Iron Man had such strong issues. But I’m going to give it to the new issue of Runaways, for a wonderful, character-driven issue with a lot of good drama and humor!
Meanwhile, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is coming to an end! What a damn shame! Ryan North is ending the comic on his terms because it’s what he wants to do, this isn’t a cancellation. But still. Man. What a total bummer. That comic is brilliant! I’m gonna have to save up and buy all the tpbs just to double own the comic!
Double meanwhile, Tom King is getting kicked off Batman before he can finish his epic story. I’m sorry to hear that! King’s Batman has been my favorite Batman comic in a long time. I think it’s great! I’m always surprised to read online that people don’t like it.
Comic Reviews: Action Comics #1011, Mr & Mrs X #11, Runaways #21, Tony Stark – Iron Man #11 and Unstoppable Wasp #8.
Action Comics #1011
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Steve Epting
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Josh Reed
Hehe. This issue is good, but it ends on such a gloriously silly advertisement for the new Event Leviathan Big Event. Oh comics…
The authorities attempt to arrest Kate Spencer, the Manhunter, after the villain used her likeness to kill Director Bones last issue. But Kate busts out and goes on the run.
Superman finds Lois hiding in the crowd after the attack last issue. She reveals that Tiger gave her all of his confidential information on Spyral, because he says the leaders have abandoned the organization and its all spies for themselves (then he gets blown up by one of those villains). Lois and Superman visit with the Huntress to confirm all of Tiger’s information, so that they have a second source that can corroborate the info for a newspaper article. Lois gets to work typing up the story while Superman confers with Jimmy Olsen at the Fortress of Solitude. Seems Amanda Waller knocked him out and escaped. She’s in the wind.
Also, the villain recruits the Guardian from his hospital bed.
The issue ends with Superman, Lois and Jimmy looking straight ahead at the reader and asked, “Who is Leviathan?”, “What do they want?”, and “What happens tomorrow?”. It’s silly.
Comics Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Another excellent issue continues ramping up the excitement for this big Leviathan storyline. I don’t know if it’s going to be a full-on event or just something that’s happening in Bendis’ Superman comics, but I am on board. Bendis’ strong focus on character keeps the big, crazy mystery grounded, and that’s what I like in a good comic book story. His characters are a real treat, with Jimmy Olsen starting to come into his own as a fun, important guy. And the brief glimpse we get of Kate Spencer — whose Manhunter comic I enjoyed back in the day — makes me think she’ll be a fun player going forward as well. This is some solid, enjoyable build-up to what could be a big, eventful event comic. That counts for a lot, considering some of the other nonsense we get elsewhere in comicdom.
TL;DR: Bendis continues to increase the tension and raise the stakes for his upcoming event with fun twists and solid character work.
Mr & Mrs X #11
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Oscar Bazaldua
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
I’m disappointed that Mr & Mrs X will come to an end with the next big X-Men relaunch, but honestly, this comic probably didn’t have long legs. The title has always been too much of a mouthful when something like “Rogue & Gambit” would have done nicely.
On his own, Gambit travels to New Orleans after his father told him last issue about troubles with the Thieves Guild. Gambit is aware of what’s happened to mutants since he was away, and part of him wants to join up with Cyclops and Wolverine in Uncanny X-Men, but he’s got responsibilities as the King of Thieves. When he shows up, it’s an ambush, because the Eternal Candra has returned and has united the Thieves and Assassins guilds. They string up Gambit to use as a sacrifice, only for Rogue to eventually show up and try to free him. She gets knocked out as well, and it seems she might be the sacrifice now!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
There was a moment in this issue that perfectly summarized the unique heart of this comic. Gambit is imprisoned and trying to convince Belladonna to set him free — but then they start hearing a bunch of fighting and smashing noises from another room. Gambit immediately believes this to be Rogue, come to rescue him. But the way the page was laid out, how the fighting noises were coming from off-panel, and how the reveal of who’d arrived was being saved for a page turn, I thought for sure it would be someone else come to save him. I thought it would be some surprise twist, especially with Gambit already getting his hopes up that it’s his wife.
But there is no twist. It’s Rogue. And it’s matter-of-factly Rogue, just showing up and knocking heads and come to save her husband. Either intentionally or not, it’s one of the sweetest moments in this series so far.
I honestly thought, because of everything I think I know about how comics and fiction work, that it was going to be some surprise arrival. Such a fool I was. This is a comic about a strong and united marriage, and of course it was Rogue, showing up to help her life partner when he’s in a bind. The moment was just so heartwarming to me. Kudos to Thompson for setting me up like that and delivering such a strong underline for the very point of this comic. I also enjoyed how Rogue so easily handled the thieves and assassins, using all of her powers like a total pro to rule the room.
The rest of the issue was really good, too. We spend a lot of time in Gambit’s head as he internally monologues about the current state of the X-Men, which was fun. The conflict the couple is facing is both new and interesting, while also being rooted deeply in their history. This is exactly the sort of story I’d expect a comic like this to handle, and Thompson and friends do such a wonderful job bringing it to life. I also enjoy the running gag that Rogue and Gambit keep finding themselves chained up on their adventures.
TL;DR: A nice little issue of this wonderful comic delivers some strong character work and at least one really heartfelt moment.
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Andres Genolet
Colorist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Runaways is the best mix of humor and character drama in comics.
We focus on Chase as he goes about some errands and deals with the various problems everybody else is dealing with. He’s out at the store picking up groceries, while juggling phone calls from pretty much everybody. There’s a really cute employee at the store who is so clearly flirting with him, but Chase is oblivious. When she asks him out, he stumbles through an excuse that he’s got a girlfriend and totally missed her signals. She shrugs and moves on.
Meanwhile, Karolina goes to a therapy session and begins to focus on her anxiety, and how it’s clashing with her knowledge that life is pretty good for her right now and she’s happy. On her way home, she rescues a little girl from being struck by a car. The rescue is pretty standard, but once she has the girl in her arms and they’re flying, Karolina looks happy.
When Chase gets home, he deals with an overeager Old Lace, a largely ambivalent Nico and a brooding Molly. Chase sits down and talks out Molly’s problems, how everyone she knows and loves keeps leaving her and everything sucks. Chase gets through to her by pointing out that he’s never going to leave her, and if he dies, then he’ll just do what everyone else is doing and come back to life and save her again. It’s really touching.
When he goes to take a shower, Chase discovers Victor’s discarded body (Gert has been looking for Victor all day). Chase runs upstairs to find Gert, only to find her making out with a hot, full-bodied Victor Mancha!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
I love Runaways for its solid character-based drama and humor, and this issue is glowing with that stuff. Rowell smartly uses Chase to help keep the issue focused, with Karolina drama to keep the issue balanced. Chase is a great focus. He’s cheerful and confident, while being a little bit in charge of what’s happening. So he’s got interest in pretty much everybody’s drama, or at least enough to give us lots of really good scenes this issue.
The Chase/Molly scene was especially great. I liked how, last issue, Molly’s fellow teenagers weren’t entirely sure how to help her and just shrugged and decided to let her be. That’s a teenager’s level of decision-making. But Chase has matured, perhaps more than anyone else, and he takes his guardianship very seriously, and he actually parents Molly. It’s fantastic! The scene helps move forward with Molly’s storyline, while contrasting the parenting skills of Chase and the other Runaways. Each character is unique and Rowell is so damn good at letting that show.
Everybody else’s drama is just as rewarding. I like the deep dive we get into Karolina and her anxiety; that should be a good avenue to explore. Even the most beautiful and seemingly stable among us can be wracked with something like anxiety. And the Gert/Victor/Chase romance storyline is always fun. Runaways is killing it with the deep, well-written, foundational character drama.
TL;DR: The wonderful character drama never lets up in Runaways, and issues like this one are a great showcase of the writing skill that goes into building this great comic.
Tony Stark – Iron Man #11
Writers: Dan Slott and Jim Zub
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
It’s not often that we get a good wrap-up, aftermath issue, but this storyline deserved one, and Slott and Co. pull it off quite well.
The eScape has been shut down, but the Controller is still on a rampage. The Champions show up to help out, while Arno Stark locates Tony in space and brings him back down to Earth. Rhodey catches the crashing Iron Man, and Tony leaps into action. He uses a Sunset Bain facility to quickly build the God-Buster armor from his time in the eScape, and he uses that to defeat the Controller — then destroys both the armor and the Bain equipment he used to build it. The day is saved!
But the aftermath is devastating! Tony takes all the blame for the failure of the eScape, and the nations of the world are angry. It’s gonna be expensive. Sunset Bain and Arno bask in their success; since Tony is taking all of the blame, Baintronics is skating through. Friday is dead, and Jocasta doesn’t like Tony’s suggest that they just load up one of her backup files, so Jocasta quits the company. She’s also feeling especially lonely now that she doesn’t have the eScape, but she’s still got Aaron. And Amanda wants to leave, and she asks Andy to go with her.
Tony Stark is still a bit twisted up by the fact that he’s not the original Tony, that he’s been through too many mind and body rebuilds. Janet tries to take his mind off that with some romance, but Tony sneaks out in the middle of the night to go to a bar. Rhodey is there to stop him and support him, but Tony is burdened by the memories of drinking while in the eScape. He’s really got it rough.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
So much good stuff happens in this issue that I’m not quite sure where to start. Apparently a lot of it has to do with setting up Iron Man 2020, which is a storyline I never read and have zero interest in. But the use of Arno Stark, the look of the god-buster armor and someone actually referencing the year “2020” is all apparently a big hint that Slott is tying his comic into one from the past. Thankfully for a reader like me, it does not seem to be a necessity to have read and understood Iron Man 2020. If Slott and Co. can continue to build to it organically within this comic, I should be fine. As it stands, the god-buster armor looks cool and is used really well in this issue. I love the explanation that Tony’s mind was freed to come up with anything it wanted in the eScape, but once he was back in his meatbag, real world body, he was having some trouble remembering the exact specs. That’s a neat bit of storytelling.
This is such a well-constructed comic. I love how everybody still has to deal with the Collector, even though the main eScape stuff is passed. I love how Sunset Bain weaves her way through the story, helping or hurting the heroes at her whim, and then uses Tony’s altruistic sacrifice to keep her company from taking any blame. It’s a skillful villain trick that works so well for enriching the comic’s supporting cast. Then there are the small bits of storytelling, like Jocasta quitting the company because Tony’s thoughts on A.I. are not as woke as they should be. I’ll admit to be just as in the dark as Tony about this stuff, so I’m amazed at how Slott has tapped into an entirely new understanding of robots in comics.
Also, we get an interaction between Iron Man and Ironheart this year. I really wish Marvel would play up that relationship more!
TL;DR: The latest issue of Iron Man digs deep into the plot and characters to deliver a very thoughtful, story-filled epilogue issue.
Unstoppable Wasp #8
Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Now this is more like it! Too bad we’re losing Unstoppable Wasp again! Jeremy Whitley is moving on to a new Future Foundation comic, and you best believe I’ll be buying that, too!
The G.I.R.L. Science Expo has arrived, and Nadia is acting as host while her friends show off their various experiments. Meanwhile, Mockingbird and the Winter Soldier are investigating Nadia’s mom’s claims that she’s being held prisoner by the Red Room at a lab in Siberia. It’s a trap, of course.
As is the Expo. The sinister forces start separating everybody, from Whirlwind trapping Janet and Alexis in a room, to new villain El Cucuy using the mom ploy to trap Nadia in a different room. Then our lead villain team uses Shay’s teleporter experiment to simply teleport right into the heart of the expo, with Monica Rappaccini, Finesse, Seeker and Brilliance!
Also, El Cucuy seems to be able to use technology to project images of other people, like a holographic shapeshifter. So that might explain Evil Priya.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Look at how much more fun this comic is when Whitley adds actual conflict to his happy-go-lucky comic! Not that I didn’t enjoy the happy, friendly stuff, but I need actual plot and conflict in my comics, too! It can’t just be all hugs and happy birthdays, it just can’t! Give us a good surprise villain attack! Whitley and his art team did such a wonderful job ratcheting up the tension as the big surprise ending was revealed; I loved it! I loved them setting up Shay’s teleportation project several issues ago, bringing it up again in this issue, and then using it as part of the big attack! And I still super love this villain team. Having Nadia’s girls take on a team of bad guy girls is definitely the best possible idea.
I’m not as excited about this new villain, El Cucuy — and not just because I have no idea how to pronounce that name. Obviously that bit with Nadia’s mother was a trap, but the design of the new villain isn’t that interesting…and I really wanted Evil Priya to be something really personal. I wanted some drama to really rock the core of G.I.R.L., but now it just looks like a random new shapeshifting villain is to blame. Oh well. I have faith in Whitley making this awesome.
TL;DR: The new issue of Unstoppable Wasp is a nice blend of the cheerful, friendly comic we know and love with some real super-villain conflict and 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 May 25, 2019, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Superman, X-Men and tagged Action Comics, Gambit, Iron Man, Leviathan, Mr. & Mrs. X, Rogue, Runaways, Tony Stark, Tony Stark - Iron Man, Unstoppable Wasp, Wasp. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.