Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 6/15/19
I’m traveling this weekend to visit my writing partner, Kristi McDowell, to talk comics and hang out. I need to post more stuff about the next volume of Gamer Girl & Vixen to you good henchies! Remind me next week to introduce you to all the new characters. Anyway, only a couple of comics this week for me.
Giant-Man ends a little sloppily, but I’m OK with that. Wonder Twins is solid and enjoyable, but missing a little something. Comic Book of the Week goes to a rather nice issue of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl!
Meanwhile, I’m going to read but not review Event Leviathan at DC Comics. I’m not reading many DC Comics these days, but I have been reading Action Comics and it’s led to this Big Event. The first issue is fine, if all set-up. I’ll let you know if it gets any better.
Comic Reviews: Giant-Man #3, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #45 and Wonder Twins #5.
Writer: Leah Williams
Artist: Marco Castiello
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
And so we arrive at the first of two comics this week that involve infiltrating a frost giant lair. Fascinating.
The Giant-Men break into the ice fortress and find all of the women in Florida being used as slaves. Moonstone is in charge, using the women to break off pieces of her prisoner, Ymir, which are turned into feral ice giants that she can control. Our heroes fight these ice giants, with Cassie Lang revealing herself among the captured women. She joins in the fight and reveals that Moonstone is using an amulet to control the giants. Her old Thunderbolts teammate Atlas reasons with Moonstone and she surrenders, casting aside the amulet and the ice giants (she had agreed to set this all up for Laufey in exchange for keeping all of the women of Florida alive).
The Giant-Men aren’t sure what to do with Ymir, so Raz makes the executive decision to just cut him free, because nobody should be a prisoner. Ymir leaves the dimension and the Giant-Men feel pretty good about themselves.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This issue was rough. It’s still overall good and enjoyable, and a solid enough conclusion to what we’ve had before. It’s rough in that it feels like the editor took a hatchet to this thing. It feels like this was supposed to be four issues and instead this third issue got chopped up and sewed back together. Action jumps from panel to panel out of nowhere, especially at the start of the issue. It’s just plain confusing. Especially when Moonstone is introduced and takes the focus off our men. She’s an odd character to suddenly show up and she doesn’t add much to the overall story…other than the reveal that Ymir is not their enemy, therefore requiring somebody for our heroes to fight/talk to. But Moonstone only really has a history with Atlas, and that history doesn’t add much to this story.
The reveal of Cassie is fun. Probably a real needle in a haystack that she just happens to be there, in costume, along with every single woman in Florida, but that can be forgiven. It means the story has a bunch of happy endings, and I’m happy with that, considering the grim cliffhanger of the previous issue.
The core of what I’ve enjoyed in Giant-Man so far is a bit missing in this final issue as more random things are added to the comic. But it holds together well enough that it’s not a true crash landing.
TL;DR: The final issue of this short tie-in is the weakest, but it holds together well enough to see the story come to an end.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #45
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Derek Charm
Colorist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Sadly, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl will be coming to an end sooner rather than later. I don’t remember the actual end date/final issue, but it will soon be upon us. Let us enjoy what we can about this amazing, hilarious series.
This might end up being the first omnibus I ever own.
Squirrel Girl and Rachel get into a shouting match and break-up because Squirrel Girl doesn’t like how Rachel is abusing her powers. They each storm off. Rachel finds some frost giants and mind-controls them into doing her bidding, but that gets boring and she realizes that Squirrel Girl was right and she wants to go help. Squirrel Girl has a lovely time in the woods listening to a Robert Frost poem, then is approached by Rachel and her frost giant slave/ride. Rachel apologizes and Squirrel Girl reluctantly agrees to team-up again. Then they have the frost giant throw them the rest of the way to the town of Churchill, the frost giant base.
The pair sneak around gaining intel until Rachel touches upon an idea that Squirrel Girl says could be the key to saving the world!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
There’s a really nice, artful moment in this issue where Squirrel Girl pauses in a quiet, peaceful, wintery part of the forest and listens to a Robert Frost poem. I have scolded Tom King a lot in the past for adding poems to his comics, but this time it’s different. In this issue, the poem isn’t the entire comic. It’s just a nice, nifty little scene where Squirrel Girl pauses amidst the madness and reflects on the beauty of nature and the importance of her mission. It’s the sort of serious, delightful scene that works wonders if the comic around it is usually all giggles and laughter all the time. This is the sort of serious emotional strength that a book like Unbeatable Squirrel Girl saves in reserves.
The rest of the issue is really good, too! Rachel gets fleshed out even more (and I’m only calling her Rachel because I’m feeling too lazy at this moment to look up the proper spelling of her Norse squirrel name), and that character growth works really well with Doreen. There are a lot of fun gags and the finale is strong, especially in the tease for the final part of the tie-in. This is much improved from the previous issue and works really well as a tie-in to The War of the Realms. I’m pleased.
TL;DR: North busts out some strong humor, strong pathos and strong, silent moments in what could have been a lackluster tie-in.
Wonder Twins #5
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Stephen Byrne
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Turns out Mark Russell has more to say than just an awesome comic about the Wonder Twins. I think I would have preferred just the awesome comic about the Wonder Twins.
Also, good news, Wonder Twins has been extended another 6 issues! That’s great!
Polly Math wins the science fair, but she’s really distracted about her dad being part of the League of Annoyance. Jayna promises to take care of them. When Polly gets home, she finds her dad meeting with the Scrambler, who wants to recruit her father for a big scheme, but Filo turns him down when Polly announces her disgust at the very idea. Filo promises to put a life of villainy behind, no matter what Lex Luthor holds over him.
(Also, the Scrambler gives a speech on the three stages of a magic trick: The Pledge, The Turn and The Prestige. This might come up next issue.)
Jayna has challenged the League of Annoyance to one final brawl to end it all, and she and her brother go off to fight the remaining members at the zoo. They take out Red Flag (who is heartbroken after Jayna dumped him) and the Malingerer, but Sylvia gets away, complete with her Kryptonian cell phone device. When you’re afraid, it zaps people. Sylvia goes back to the Legaue’s HQ, just as Filo shows up to collect the rest of his stuff. Sylvia is startled and zaps Filo, seemingly disintegrating him! Which doesn’t look good for a white lady to be disintegrating a black guy. She calls up Lex Luthor for help, who uses his Lex News network to clear Sylvia in the court of public opinion and she faces no criminal charges.
(Filo, meanwhile, is in the Phantom Zone with a bunch of other black people that Sylvia zapped (and a koala).)
Distraught over losing her father, and the unfairness of the world, Polly reaches out to the Scrambler to help him with his scheme: he hooks into the cloud and therefore has the power to scramble every single person on the planet. As an example, he switches the minds of an asshole athletics company executive and a little slave boy making his company’s soccer balls. The Scrambler makes the big announcement to every screen in the world, how those in power, like Lex Luthor and Donald Trump, need to be taken down a peg. He gives everyone a deadline of 30 days to make the world worth living in for everyone.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
So what was missing from this issue? The Wonder Twins. Russell’s bigger story really comes into focus this issue, but it’s lacking the main characters. This is all about Polly Math and the Scrambler for some reason. I like their story, it’s kind of neat. Russell has some strong points to make about how Lex Luthor might tie into some of the real world injustices. And I like the twist of the Scrambler’s villainy being more morally gray than originally thought. And Polly’s story is a solid one. But there’s no meaningful connection to the Wonder Twins. They get a couple of fun scenes, and are still written well, but the two storylines definitely feel disconnected. At least in this issue. I hope Russell plans to correct that for the finale.
And I’m definitely excited for more Wonder Twins!
TL;DR: A still enjoyable issue suffers from a disconnect in that the main characters aren’t really incorporated into the story being told.
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!