Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 10/5/19

I didn’t care for Joker. It’s not my cup of tea. It’s a dark, brooding, severely misanthropic movie that, while well-made and well-acted, is just too bleak for my tastes. If you enjoyed it, more power to you.

Fortunately, we had some truly stellar comics this week! There were some really great turns in Lois Lane, Runaways and The Green Lantern, while Fantastic Four severely disappointed. I’m going to give Comic Book of the Week to House of X #6 for a truly joyous party issue! That sort of fun counts for a lot with me.

XMen Party 01

Jubilee is in her element

Meanwhile, I’ve dropped Future Foundation now that Marvel has announced a nigh immediate cancellation. Can’t say I’m particularly sad, as I was only lukewarm about the series so far. I just hope Marvel sticks Jeremy Whitley on a character or characters with some actual staying power.

Comic Reviews: Batman #80, Fantastic Four #15, The Green Lantern #12, House of X #6, Lois Lane #4 and Runaways #25.


Batman #80

Batman #80
Writer: Tom King
Artist: John Romita Jr.
Inker: Klaus Janson
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

The pacing of this final story is just so weird. It’s like everyone knows the only possible ending is Batman punching Bane in the face and the day being saved…but we have to take so long, kill so much time, to get there.

Batman and Catwoman are back in Gotham City, casually moving around and taking out the various villains with ease and flair. Evil Batman realizes that Batman is back and Bane is notified, but Gotham Girl is dying, so she’s no help to anyone. Evil Batman takes care of her and gets her to rest. The order comes down from Bane to kill Robin and display his corpse publicly. Batman knows this is what’s going to happen, and he knows he can’t stop Evil Batman from just walking down into the Batcave and shooting Robin. So the only thing anyone can do…is wait for Evil Batman to make a decision on whether or not to pull the trigger on his own alternate dimension grandson.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

As fun and as dramatic as it is for Batman to return to Gotham and start reclaiming his city, this issue still didn’t feel very full. It’s just weird. The first attack involves Bruce posing as Matches Malone in order to trick Two-Face and Pyg into…not shooting him right away? I don’t know. They find Matches on the street, approach him and then Bruce kicks their butts. But why didn’t he do it as Batman? What difference did being Matches Malone serve? And was Catwoman waiting until Mad Hatter was specifically threatening a stray alley cat before attacking him? Or did she supply the cat as a distraction?

Matches Malone Distraction 01

Batman enjoys elaborate cosplay traps

Look, it’ll never be boring when Batman declares something like, “This is my city”, and those parts of the story were fun. His attack on Kite Man was obviously fun. I also liked the the ending, that this moment of the story will come down to Evil Batman making the right decision. But overall, this first issue is more style over substance. More flash than pan. It’s still a fun read, and the stakes feel important. But the overall story still feels fleeting. A big deal was made that Catwoman would teach Batman how to approach the City of Bane like her, to give him an advantage. But nothing Batman does in this issue feels different than what he’d normally do.

TL;DR: The grand Tom King finale kicks off with a flashy issue that is fun to read, but overall a bit fleeting.


Fantastic Four #15

Fantastic Four #15
Writer: Dan Slott
Artists: Paco Medina and Bob Quinn
Colorist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

And it all ends up being pretty pedestrian. Alas.

We open on the planet Spyre, the soon-to-be destination of the Fantastic Four. It’s a world much like our own — very much like our own. And they’ve got their own superhero protectors, the Unparalleled. We meet them as they scuffle with a couple minor crimes and emergencies, before they’re alerted to the arrival they have been dreading: the alien invaders, the Fore-told, are coming back! The Unparalleled attack the F4’s ship and get into a fight with them. The Thing gets knocked beyond the city’s protective wall and ends up in the undercity. Johnny is defeated and taken by one of the team members. And Reed and Sue make peace when Reed’s translator finally starts working. The Unparalleled take Reed and Sue to meet their leader, the all-seeing Overseer, who informs them that they can never leave Spyre. Likewise, when Johnny wakes up, the cute, young, lady superhero who took him announces that they are soulmates!

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

Ugh. Oof. Blarg. I can’t express how deeply disappointed I am at how this big mystery turned out. There were, in theory, no limits to Slott’s imagination as to what was actually waiting for the Fantastic Four in their first failed mission. He could have come up with anything. And he settles on a world that’s pretty much Earth, just another town over. The planet Spyre is populated by humans, with normal human skin colors and hairstyles. They have trains, graffiti, marriage, marriage ceremonies that are sealed by a kiss, superheroes, superhero teams, modern superhero naming conventions and costume design. There is nothing about the members of the Unparalleled that separates them from normal Earth superheroes. They could be an Earth team and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.  And when our heroes arrive, we’ve got a typical misunderstanding fight, followed by the declaration that they are here forever! That’s a pretty boring alien world cliche.

Part of me thinks Slott is purposefully playing up classic pulpy space stories, but there’s nothing really in this issue that makes that idea clear.

Unparalleled suck 01

They all look like normal Earth superheroes!

The details of the world annoy me as well. We’re told that the Unparalleled have been waiting for the day the other-wordly invaders would return. So that’s, what, maybe 10 years since the first Fantastic Four mission (not counting the fact that a Spyre year surely doesn’t match an Earth year)? Despite this planet being as busy and complex as Earth, they’ve been waiting roughly 10 years for the possibility that this one single ship would maybe return? So Spyre has had no other contact with the greater galaxy than this one single ship 10 years ago? For that matter, how do they even know about the ship? Spyre is in an entirely separate solar system, revolving around an entirely different sun. You’re telling me that the Fantastic Four’s original mission was able to get close enough to another solar system that the people on Spyre could witness them, yet they were still close enough to Earth that when the mission failed they were able to safely turn around and crash land back on Earth? Surely the Fantastic Four didn’t go too far from Earth when they took off?

Then you’ve got the Unparalleled already knowing about the Fantastic Four, about their powers and capabilities. Surely the people of Spyre couldn’t see that when the ship was in space, as the F4 didn’t learn about their powers until they crashed back on Earth. They play it up as if their leader, Overseer, has some kind of all-sight and researched the F4. If that’s the case, then why do they suspect the Fantastic Four of being invaders? So this Overseer guy only used his powers to check out their powers and learned enough to know that Sue was the most dangerous, but he didn’t learn anything else about the benevolent Fantastic Four? Or anyone else on Earth?

Thing Gets Kicked 01

Now we know the sound effect of the Thing getting kicked by Not-Giant-Man

I think I’ll end the rant there, with all these little nitpicky things that really bothered me as I read the issue. There’s just nothing to really praise or recommend. It’s a slightly neat twist in that the story is told from the perspective of the Unparalleled at the start of the issue, but the F4 take over in plenty of time. And again, the Unparalleled are so painfully generic and unimaginative. Slott doesn’t narrow in on a single audience-perspective character, instead just treating the Unparalleled as generic across the board. And the Fantastic Four have been through so much that could handle this sort of planet in their sleep. Honestly, I would think Reed would be bored out of his skull that this planet turned out to be so uninteresting.

Of course, perhaps I’ve misjudged this storyline by its cover. Maybe Slott has a trick up his sleeve. Or maybe he’s pushing the pulp idea. Maybe I’ll eat my words in a few issues. But for right now, with this introductory issue, I couldn’t be more disappointed in where we are.

I guess if I want really creative, really crazy, really far out space alien stories, I should just stick with Grant Morrison’s The Green Lantern

TL;DR: Last issue’s cliffhanger leads to such a boring and unimaginative new issue that I’ve halfway convinced myself that Dan Slott is pulling a prank on us, just to give myself some hope that this can be redeemed.


The Green Lantern #12

The Green Lantern #12
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Liam Sharp
Colorist:  Steve Oliff
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski

Oh man! Part of me hoped that Grant Morrison’s The Green Lantern would be a nice, compact, 12-issue mini-series. Now it’s being spun-off into The Blackstars and even more GL next year. I suppose I should be happy that we’ll get more exciting action!

Hal Jordan rushes off to do battle with the Qwa-Man, who is currently tearing through the other Green Lanterns. It’s a rough battle, and he gets some help from the Sinestro we’ve been seeing lately. He reveals that he’s the Sinestro from the Anti-Universe where he’s a good guy (or at least a lovable rogue, at best). He also reveals that the Qwa-Man is the Hal Jordan from the Anti-Universe, possibly the one we saw at the very start of this series? This issue features probably a ton of callbacks to the previous 11 issues, few of which I easily remember off the top of my head.

Sinestro gets blasted and some back-up Green Lanterns arrive, along with Superwatch. But GL Chriselon gets wounded and suddenly transforms into a Durlan, whom Hal recognizes from the Blackstars. And suddenly he starts worrying that something is wrong. The Qwa-Man keeps getting bigger and stronger, and Superwatch can’t contain him, and there’s a big explosion — but Hal is teleported away by a Zeta Beam planted on him by the Durlan.

He’s been rescued by the Blackstars, though he’s about to die. Controller Mu reveals that he’s still alive, his mind simply downloaded into clone bodies. The Mu and the Blackstars have completed their quest to gather five cosmic artifacts to build a Miracle Machine to alter reality, with Hal being the fifth and final component. Now all Hal Jordan has to do is wish the wish of Controller Mu and remake the entire galaxy…

Then in an epilogue, the Qwa-Man is rebuilt by forces in the Anti-Universe and a new Weaponers Corps is formed! At least I think this is what happens.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This issue has it all and then even more than that. Parts of it are still a little confusing, in that typical Grant Morrison fashion, but I think most everything comes together in an exciting conclusion/cliffhanger. Hal Jordan is supremely heroic, the stakes are boiled down to good guys vs. bad guys, and then everything goes to hell in the end rather than a nice, clean wrap-up. The art is as phenomenal and as detailed as always, and I really enjoyed this issue. We’ve got true Green Lantern heroics, and not just for Hal. We’ve got the bad guys being shifty and sneaky. We’ve got some twists and surprises. I can’t exactly say this is a tight and clean wrap-up to everything that’s come before, but Morrison definitely tries, in his usual Morrison way.

Green Lantern Major Fight 01

Epic battle!

One thing I liked about this issue, but know that I didn’t fully catch, is I think there were a lot of small callbacks to previous issues. When GL Chriselon turns into the Blackstar Durlan, it’s treated as if we were supposed to recognize the Durlan right away. I definitely did not, but I bet we’d see them if we went back through the whole series. I don’t have the entirety of The Green Lantern memorized, but it felt like there were a couple different moments where characters or concepts from earlier paid off here. I was at least able to understand the surprise with the Blackstars and Controller Mu at the end, and how they succeeded in their goal. That was fun. And I’m definitely looking forward to what comes next from Morrison’s GL saga!

TL;DR: It’s not the clean cut ending I was hoping for, but this issue is nonetheless an exciting, action-packed, twist-filled cliffhanger for what comes next!


House of X #6

House of X #6
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Colorists: Marte Gracia and David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

I am so ready for this new era of X-Men. Consider me buying hook, line and sinker into this new Charles Xavier, his new dream and the promise from Marvel that — this time — things will never be the same again.

The Quiet Council of Krakoa has their first official meeting. They are Xavier, Magneto, Apocalypse, Mister Sinister, Exodus, Mystique, Storm, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Sebastian Shaw, Emma Frost and Emma’s other choice, who has yet been named. Meanwhile, Cyclops, Gorgon, Bishop and Magik operate as captains. The ruling council banter and bicker among themselves for a bit before making the first laws of Krakoa: 1.) Make more mutants, 2.) Murder no man, and 3.) Respect this sacred land. The group then passes judgement on Sabretooth, finding him unanimously guilty for killing those humans at the start of the story. And since capital punishment is not allowed (since it would just lead to resurrection), Sabretooth is sentenced to exiled stasis in the bowels of Krakoa.

After the meeting, the Quiet Council goes and joins a big ole party already in progress! We see old friends now resurrected, like Skin, Synch, and Banshee; we see old enemies make amends, like Wolverine and Gorgon, and Jean and Emma; we see everyone proud and happy at what they have accomplished. Good for them.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I am so scared of the other shoe dropping. Just let this happen Marvel. Hickman is building something really fun and really cool here. Let this be the new status quo and tell stories off this blueprint. Don’t revert back to the same old X-Men we’ve had decades about. Be new! Be bold! Be as exciting as everything being built in this story. I want a world where mutants are this ascended new species, living on this awesome party island and conducting business with this new hierarchy. I want to see the infighting of the Quiet Council. I want to see these first laws both serve as rules for living and to come back to bite them somehow. I want to see what becomes of Sabretooth. As pointed out in another review I saw, Hickman is setting up a whole bunch of Chekhov’s Guns in this series, setting up rules and policies and characters to really grow and conflict and possibly come crashing down.

I just don’t want it all to come crashing down for real. Or immediately.

XMen Party 02

So who snuck the 6-pack of likely human beer onto Krakoa? They better cut up those plastic rings!

This issue was fun. I liked the interactions of the Quiet Council. Hickman really nails the characters, even if most of them only get a few lines of dialogue. Then Larraz kills it with body language. The languid way Emma Frost sits in her council seat is so perfect, as is the snarling monstrous nature of Victor Creed. The Council is a nice mix of heroes and villains and should make for a fun group going forward. I liked the scene where Mystique tries to get under Nightcrawler’s skin by cloyingly asking him what the religious member of the council thinks of all this, and Kurt razzes his mom by coming up with the “Make more mutants” law, that they should all go forth and multiply.

And I loved the party scene at the end. It’s such a bright, joyous, wonderful moment for the X-Men. When was the last time they were this joyful? Hickman and Larraz have a lot of fun with this scene. Like Siryn using her powers to amplify Dazzler. A reunion between Synch and Skin. Bigger moments, like Scott, Logan and Jean making peace, and then Jean and Emma making peace, and then Logan offering Gorgon a beer to make peace. And above it all, Xavier and Magneto stand together, awesome and powerful. This is the level of excitement and energy I hope to see going forward.

But watch it all come crashing down in the next issue of Powers of X. That would be my luck.

TL;DR: There’s a big, wonderful party in this issue, and it nicely summarizes how I feel about this whole reboot in general!


Lois Lane #4

Lois Lane #4
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Mike Perkins
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Simon Bowland

Things get tense, the world ticks on and mysteries abound!

Lois has a lovely reunion with her son, despite the weird moment where she catches him in the shower. They go out for middle of the night pizza and catch up, with Jon telling Lois he’s going to go away to join the Legion of Superheroes. They later share a touching goodbye.

Meanwhile, Renee has her own lovely reunion with the original Question, Vic Sage. They share what they remember about their history from 52, with Renee remarking how her memories are weird, considering all of the reboot/relaunch/rebirth turmoil DC is doing these days. She wasn’t the Question in the New 52, but she was the Question in the Pre-52, and now she’s the Question again? It’s all confusing to her. She gets a text to meet Lois in a nearby park, and Vic comes along. Lois knew he was alive and Renee is pissed that she didn’t tell.

But Lois shoots right back at her that some people can’t handle the truth. She goes on a big speech about how people prefer comfortable lies to the truth. And the truth about the reboot/relaunch/rebirth stuff is pretty darn huge. Is Renee sure she wants to be only the third person on Earth who knows what’s going on? Renee tells Lois to start talking.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

It’s moments like these that make me regret not buying every single weird crossover comic DC is putting out so that I can better understand the small stuff like this issue. I just don’t know enough about whatever madness DC is conducting about the New 52 reality warping to fully appreciate there being two Questions, or Lois’ offer/threat to Renee at the end of the issue. Thankfully, Rucka writes it all so damn well that I’m still entirely on board (and it helps that the Renee/Question storyline was my favorite part of 52 way back in the day). Considering I’m a huge fan of the Renee Montoya character, especially Rucka’s use of her as the Question, I am loving that she’s become such an integral part of this story. His Lois Lane ain’t half bad either.

The look on Lois Lane’s face when her son mentions the Legion of Superheroes is the look comic book art is made of. Mike Perkins may have peaked.

Lois Lane Legion Face 01

The face of a thousand moms

This was a really great character-focused issue. And if you know me, you know I love it when characters are treated as people first, superheroes second. After that weird bit in the shower, Lois and her son have a really nice scene. I loved the contrast of the down-to-Earth chat and Perkins’ realistic art with the idea that they’re talking about Jon traveling 1,000 years into the future to join a superhero team. Renee and Charlie were great together. And I especially enjoyed Lois’ speech to Renee about truth and comforting lies. That Renee Montoya doesn’t balk from learning the secrets of the universe is just plain badass.

TL;DR: I thoroughly enjoyed this character-focused issue, a nice combination of Lois Lane being the best mom and Lois Lane being a total badass.


Runaways #25

Runaways #25
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Andres Genolet
Colorists: Federico Blee and Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Still a great comic! Bring on Doc Justice!

Due to all of Karolina’s superhero activity — which has her all over social media — the City of Los Angeles has become aware of the Hostel and sends demolition crews to start digging into the land. The team sits Karo and Nico down to talk about what they’ve been doing, with Molly very excited that they’re superheroes, and Gert annoyed. They explain that Doc Justice saved them last issue and revealed that he’s Los Angeles’ longest-serving superhero. He fought the Pride on numerous occasions and has kept an eye on the Runaways, waiting to see what they would do in the wake of defeating the Pride. He tells the pair that he’s very proud that they have decided to become heroes, and he gives them his card if they ever want his help.

Meanwhile, at the Hostel, the gang can’t stop the heavy machinery and city government, much to Chase’s annoyance. Do you know how much work he put into making this place livable? The Runaways pack up their stuff and hit the road in search of a new home.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

Just like with House of X, I want so badly for everything in this issue to be above board. I don’t want it revealed that Doc Justice is some dirtbag or villain posing as a hero to trick the Runaways. Why can’t he be as straight forward as he seems? Why not tell a story about that? We’ll see going forward. Thankfully, the creative team was on fire with this issue and they kick off the story in splendid fashion! Everything works in this issue. From the set-up of Doc Justice to the nifty reason for needing to find a new home to all of the great dialogue, humor and art. This may be Andres Genolet’s best issue yet! So much is just so absolutely perfectly done in this comic.

There’s one particular scene that just speaks volumes to the skill of the whole creative team. The storytelling is so subtle and perfect, and the art captures it so well, that I really want to highlight this sequence. Keep an eye on Gert and Victor.

Gert Victor Chase Stairs 01

Molly also has a knife

It’s not specifically pointed out or highlighted at all. It’s just a background detail that so perfectly informs the ongoing relationship drama. This issue is full of a lot of fun bits like that. Little snippets of dialogue or tossed off jokes that really sell the relationships between the characters and the overall tone of the book. It highlights why I love Runaways so much. The finer details are just so lovely.

The larger details are great, too. The ongoing concern about Gib being hungry should lead to something fun down the line. And the idea that the Runaways have to pack up and leave the Hostel sounds like a good idea to me! I’m sure it’s a nice place to live, but forcing our heroes to scramble and struggle is what makes for good, solid conflict. Chase’s various reactions to having to leave the home he worked so hard to build are another great touch!

Runaways continues to run on all cylinders and I’m excited for the next big storyline!

TL;DR: Both the major and minor details come together to make a truly enjoyable issue of this already phenomenal comic! The creative team makes this look easy!

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 October 5, 2019, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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