Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 1/11/20
Short week for me this week in terms of comic reviews. I was blind-sided by stuff both at work and at home, so I didn’t have much time to read too many comics. Such is life! But we’ve got a new era of Batman to look into and my return to Magnificent Ms. Marvel, as requested by you henchies!
Comic Book of the Week goes to New Mutants #5 for a charming and fun space story. Charming and fun are two of my favorite things in comics.
Meanwhile, I’ve fallen behind on Excalibur and X-Force. I considered getting caught up this week, but like I said, I was pretty busy, and I just couldn’t muster much interest in these comics anymore. I think that’s an overall sign of my thoughts on Dawn of X as a whole…
Comic Reviews: Batman #86, Magnificent Ms. Marvel #11 and New Mutants #5.
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Tony S. Daniel
Inker: Danny Miki
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Our long national nightmare is over, Tom King’s run on Batman has ended! I kid. I really enjoyed King’s Batman, even if I didn’t think the ending was very strong. I’ve decided to give James Tynion’s follow-up a try because I really liked his Detective Comics run a few years ago, and we’re both big Tim Drake fans!
In a post-City of Bane world, Bruce Wayne has decided to dedicate himself more towards rebuilding/reshaping Gotham City directly. He’s holding a big fundraiser gala, but he’s out being Batman instead. There was a lot of chatter about costumed killers coming to town, and Batman goes up against them, while Selina works the crowd at the gala and stops the real threat. Batman fights Deathstroke directly with the help of a new vehicle he’s designed, and he’s already several steps ahead of the other killers like Merlyn and Cheshire. Victory for Batman!
Meanwhile, Selina stops the real threat from overwriting Bruce’s plans for the city, but the guy dies a gruesome, poisony death and a voice comes out of his body taunting Catwoman.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This was a good, solid Batman story that uses the post-King status quo to good effect. Lucius Fox is now filling in as the new Alfred, and there are a lot of really nice moments where Bruce thinks about Alfred or mistakenly calls Lucius “Alfred”. So even though I vehemently oppose killing Alfred and think it will be bad in the long run, Tynion at least makes it work in this immediate aftermath. There’s also a little nugget of info that Bullock is now the police commissioner. That should be interesting. Beyond that, everybody is just used well in this issue. It’s competent Batman action. He kicks Slade’s butt and uses his smarts and tech to defeat the others easily enough (even if I’m a little skeptical that his shadow machine works the way it’s described). And then we’ve got Catwoman working as his better half. It all comes together very nicely.
All in all, this was fine Batman content. The writing is good, the art is good and the story is good. I have faith that Tynion will build to something bigger, and those teasers and hints are good. I also like the idea of Bruce Wayne taking a more active role in reshaping/rebuilding Gotham. That should be an interesting and entertaining path to go down. Tynion and Daniel have kicked off a solid, enjoyable Batman comic.
My only complaint is the obvious lack of Robin. But that’s been a bigger issue for a long time now, sadly.
TL;DR: A perfectly fine, very enjoyable Batman comic that’s more focused on the classics than on being some big, crazy statement on the character.
Magnificent Ms. Marvel #11
Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Artist: Minkyu Jung
Inker: Juan Vlasco
Colorist: Ian Herring
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
By popular request, I’m going to start reviewing Magnificent Ms. Marvel again! I didn’t care for the first arc under the new creative team, but the follow-up arc hasn’t been too bad. It’s still not as good as G. Willow Wilson, but then how could it be?
Ms. Marvel’s new alien costume has taken on a life of its own, a life that intends to kill Mr. Hyde because he’s a threat. But Kamala, being a hero, can’t let that happen, so she dukes it out with the costume and eventually grabs Hyde and flees across town. She’s without a costume now and has to scrimp one together from some friendly passersby, then she takes Hyde to the police station, where he should be safe in custody. But both Bruno and the suit find her, and Kamala has to keep fighting, especially when the suit decides that Josh is a better/easier target than Hyde at the moment. So the suit takes off flying and Kamala grabs on, but the suit zaps her and dumps her in the bay.
Meanwhile, Kamala’s father is still undergoing surgery with Doctor Strange for the mysterious ailment that’s killing him. So Kamala wants to be there for her family, but stuff keeps getting in her way!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I liked this issue just fine, but I still think the magic that was Kamala Khan’s original run is still gone. Perhaps that’s just how it has to be from now on. But even without that special magic, this was a solid action issue with a lot of important stakes for our main character, along with some fun bits here and there. I like that Kamala’s dumb new costume turned out to just be a bad guy storyline. And the costume makes for a good enough villain, one that can’t be reasoned with by a hero who is all about reasoning with people. Kamala really pushes herself in this fight, and that’s really cool. She’s desperate, she’s running, and she’s got way more to worry about than this nonsense.
Magnificent Ms. Marvel is a good comic. Or at least a good enough comic, if you really like the character. It’s not saying anything particularly amazing or new. The stories aren’t terribly inventive or original. And it’s main character is fine. This is just good, solid comics. I want to nitpick a lot of little choices. The choice of having Mr. Hyde as the villain of the past few issues was lame. Mr. Hyde is as generic a supervillain as Marvel has in their canon. Having Mr. Hyde show up is essentially saying you have no better ideas, you just need to throw in a fight scene for the sake of having a fight scene. And when your other main storyline is Kamala’s father getting dangerous surgery because he might die, I would hope the creative team could come up with something more original than just randomly throwing Mr. Hyde into the mix for absolutely no reason. It’s choices like that that really keep this comic down.
But in the moment, it’s an entertaining read.
TL;DR: Magnificent Ms. Marvel is a mix of lame story choices and solid writing, though this issue leans more towards the better.
New Mutants #5
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Rod Reis
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Looks like New Mutants will jump back and forth between the two different major storylines. Gotta say, I like the non-space one better.
The New Mutants are escorting Deathbird back to Shi’ar space so she can help Xandra on the throne. But a lot of Shi’ar people aren’t happy with that, so they send a death squad to intercept the ship. Our heroes mop the various floors with the death squad, so the death squad’s ship simply blows a hole into our heroes’ ship, sending some of them out into space. This is a brief recap because most of the issue is charming banter and dialogue and narration.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
New Mutants succeeds on charm. I may like the characters and the story more in the other New Mutants storyline, but Hickman really does bring the charm to Sunspot and his crew on their space adventure. This storyline is just plain fun. The characters are unique and have their own personalities and moments. The story is weird and yet nicely straight forward. Sunspot’s narration is pretty charming. And I like the small moments, like Chamber and Mondo noping out of the fight because they feel like outsiders with this group, or Illyana taunting the death squad members by asking if they’d rather make out instead of her kicking their butts.
This is a fun issue. The characters are clearly having fun with their scenarios, and Hickman is having fun writing them. Karma gets enjoyable creative taking down her bad guy in the fight, and Sunspot brings the character trying to hit on Deathbird. And even though very very little of this issue has anything to do with Krakoa or Dawn of X, it’s still a well-written, well-drawn issue that is having fun. And that counts for a lot in comics for me.
I just hope Hickman eventually gets this fun show back down to Earth so that he can bring this charm to an actual Krakoa-based story.
TL;DR: Even though this New Mutants storyline has forgone Dawn of X, this is still a charming and fun issue that makes great use of its characters and story.
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!