Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 6/20/20
Slowly but surely, the comic book industry is on its way back. For the second week in a row, I’ve got an actual pile of comics to read and review! That’s a lot of fun.
We’ve got The Green Lantern, Strange Adventures and a look into new BOOM! Studios comic Wynd by James Tynion IV. I saw it was available and thought I’d give it a try. But Comic Book of the Week goes to the final issue of Zeb Wells’ Ant-Man mini-series for a contented wrap-up.
Meanwhile, I’ve started burning through My Hero Academia. It’s a fun show, and just catchy enough that I keep watching one right after another instead of spacing them out for the purposes of making quarantine more bearable. What will I watch when I’m done?!
Comic Reviews: Ant-Man #5, The Green Lantern: Season 2 #4, Strange Adventures #2 and Wynd #1.
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Dylan Burnett
Colorist: Mike Spicer
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
And so this fun little Ant-Man story comes to a satisfying conclusion.
Macrothrax is in control of Cassie’s helmet, and he’s using it to control the last two remaining Bug Lords, whom he has grown to gigantic size with the last of the Pym Particles. They are making their way to landfall and Cassie flies after them to get her helmet back, leaving her dad behind. But the dying Bug Lord reaches out to Scott and they bond a bit over the ants that Macrothrax killed, so the Bug Lord grants him super bug armor! All of the bugs of the Savage Land climb onto Scott and create a giant bug man! He goes and fights with the other Bug Lords while Cassie fights with Macrothrax, insisting to her dad that she can handle this without him intervening.
And she does! Cassie gets her helmet back and frees the gigantic Bug Lords from Macrothrax’s control. They promptly eat him and everybody returns to the Savage Land, while Scott and Cassie watch a beautiful sunset together.
In the epilogue, Swarm is in the Savage Land feeding on the corpse of the dead Bug Lord, intent on becoming a new Bug Lord!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I really enjoyed this little series and the ending is a perfectly content, perfectly fun way to wrap things up. I feel like Wells knew he only had these fives issues to tell a story, so he told a story in five issues. Nothing too crazy. Nothing about far-reaching plans that need to get cut short. Just a fun little check-in with Scott Lang and his daughter as they go about their superheroic lives. He included a lot of really fun cameos; I especially enjoyed the Black Cat’s appearance. And he told a really fun, character-focused story. All these bugs, and all this focus on Pym Particles, and a couple other little things contributed to a story that really was Ant-Man’s to tell. This isn’t a comic where any old hero could be slotted in and the same things would be accomplished.
This issue in particular doesn’t flip over the table or upend any expectations. It’s just a solid, enjoyable conclusion that goes to appropriate levels of grandiose. Macrothrax is scarier and more powerful than ever, and Cassie gets a lot of great moments as she throws herself into battle against him. The art is especially fun, really leaning into a bit of a cartoon flair to the otherwise solid comic book art. Then we’ve got Scott stepping up and getting a really crazy assist. I especially loved the back and forth of Cassie trying to convince her dad to let her handle the bad guy.
That’s just fun writing. And it really hammers home, in this final issue, what this mini-series was all about. Not many superheroes have kids who are their equals, and that’s a character trait of Scott Lang that can really be played for good character development. Zeb Wells makes the case for more Ant-Man and Stinger comics!
TL;DR: A really fun wrap-up to a really fun series; it’s exactly the perfect amount of the big stuff and the little stuff that make comics so entertaining.
The Green Lantern: Season 2 #4
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Liam Sharp
Colorist: Steve Oliff
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
So, like, is this what happens when Grant Morrison doesn’t have an editor to reign him in? This is madness.
Green Lantern meets up with the Flash at an antiquities museum to…I think talk about toys? Because they are joined by Olivia Reynolds, an ex-girlfriend of Hal’s from the Silver Age. I think they were employees of rival toy companies at the time and were dating? Wikipedia doesn’t have much. Anyway, they all get pulled into a portal by golden giants and wind up on a clockwork recreation of primordial Earth several light years away. And I think the golden giants are from a classic Silver Age Flash and GL story? Not sure about that one.
I am incapable of describing what exactly they encounter. It’s some weird planet of golden giants, and other weird things that defy description, and they talk in a weird, misspelled version of English that is so complex, and the story so obnoxiously insane, that I gave up even trying to read or understand their dialogue.
GL and the Flash fight back and at some point have to solve three challenges? Maybe? Hal forms a giant pool cue with his ring and knocks the planet around? Flash punches a bunch of people. And they partly revive Olivia’s memory about something called the U-Mind, which is that she stores an entire civilization in her brain. That secures them passage back home, and the golden giant ruler is dead, maybe.
And then it all ends with Hal Jordan getting surprise attacked in the museum by another bad guy entirely.
Comic Rating: 3/10 – Bad.
I kept desperately hoping that Morrison would pull out some trick at the end to make the madness worthwhile, but that definitely did not happen. This was like a pure, unfiltered look into whatever madness drives his creativity, without anyone stepping in to help refine his madness into a coherent story. He gathers up a bunch of obscure Silver Age trivia and curdles it into impenetrable madness. I don’t think I can properly explain the story here. It has to be seen to be believed. None of it make sense, and his intentional misspelled language makes it even harder. There’s maybe something to do with toys? And obviously the Olivia Reynolds stuff is tough because I wasn’t reading GL comics in the 70s. GL and Flash never get any meaningful time to interact, with what dialogue they do get being stiff and weird. When Morrison did the exact same thing with Green Arrow in the previous volume, it was written far better — though even that was impenetrable crazy at times.
I can only hope Morrison is going somewhere fun with all these crazy one-off issues.
TL;DR: This whole issue is just a big, crazy, impenetrable peek into unrefined Grant Morrison, and that’s not a good thing. The man seemingly vomits loopiness onto these pages.
Strange Adventures #2
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Mitch Gerads and Evan “Doc” Shaner
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
This comic is going to be a marathon, not a sprint.
Batman has asked Mister Terrific to investigate the claims against Adam Strange. This issue focuses on Terrific as he goes about his daily training regiment, which involves everything from going to the gun range to swimming in icy cold water. Throughout all of this, he constantly has T-spheres asking him complicated trivia questions from history, geography, mathematics and more. And he talks with Batman about why Batman has asked him off this. And he reads Strange’s book several times. In the end, Terrific realizes that Adam Strange’s daughter is not actually dead, and that is likely not the only lie in the memoir. Also, Terrific orders his T-sphere to ask a question that he does not know the answer to, and the sphere asks the sex of the unborn child that died with Mister Terrific’s wife…
Meanwhile, in flashback to the Planet Rann, we see Strange and his wife take off into a desert to try and find a nomadic tribe to help them fight back in the war. His wife is eventually forced to make camp and stay behind, but Strange continues on through harsh conditions until he finally comes face-to-face with the tribe.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
So when I say this comic is more of a marathon than a sprint, I mean Tom King is going to take this time to tell possibly the most methodical story of his career. This is an issue that spends almost its entire run time establishing the fact that Mister Terrific constantly tests himself with world facts as he goes about his daily routine. Sure, we get a couple of solid conversations with Batman, and that flashback to Rann was pretty fun, but this was a slow, methodical issue showing us exactly what we’re dealing with when it comes to Mister Terrific’s character in this comic. And to that end, it’s a solid issue that accomplishes everything it seems to set out to do.
I feel like I know Mister Terrific better now than I ever have in my entire comic book loving life. So that’s something! And now I think the stage is set to really get into the meat of the Adam Strange mystery…or not. I have no idea where King is going to go and that’s perfectly fine. I trust him. I absolutely trust his artists. So I’m cool with them taking their time. This issue is rich in character building, with just enough intrigue there at the end to really get me excited about where this mystery is going. And the flashback is just plain fun, as Shaner draws a gorgeously clear set of desert action scenes. I really think I have a lot of faith in where this comic is going.
TL;DR: Slowly and methodically, King and his art team are starting to build something that could become really special in the long run.
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Michael Dialynas
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
I like BOOM! Studios. I like James Tynion IV. And I like promoting LGBTQ+ comics. So let’s give the first issue of Wynd a try! If I recall correctly, this was supposed to be a full graphic novel released later this year, but BOOM! has decided to release it issue by issue. After reading it, I think they should have stuck with their original plan.
Wynd is a teenager living and working in Pipetown, a half-medieval/half-steampunk fantasy world. The issue opens with Wynd being awoken in the middle of the night as he transforms into a wolf/hawk monster and gets attacked by his friend — but this is all a dream, and his friend, Oakley, instead wakes him up to get him to work. Wynd lives where he works, which seems to be a tavern. He helps deliver the food from the downstairs kitchen through pipes to the dining room above. Also, Wynd has pointy ears and is some kind of non-human, but he’s told to hide that, even from the cook. To hammer this point home, the hostess is forced to listen as one of the soldiers who has come in for food rants about the Blood Laws and the impurity of pointy-eared people and their magic. And word has it the mysterious Bandaged Man has been brought back to help weed them out. The hostess seems to be worried for Wynd, but the cook notes that Wynd has snuck away like he usually does between the breakfast and lunch rushes.
Wynd spends that time spying on a strapping young man who goes for a mid-morning jog around the castle. This is Thorn, the son of the groundskeeper. We get a scene where the groundskeeper informs his son about the importance of keeping magical plants from infecting the greenery of the kingdom, and then Thorn is summoned up to the prince’s room. They’re pals, but the prince is really worried today. He doesn’t want to take the throne from his sickly father, and he’s heard that the Bandanged Man has been called back to prevent a possible plot by the prince’s uncle to launch a coup. The prince has something very important and mysterious to talk to Thorn about…
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
These definitely reads like an opening chapter of a much much larger story, and because of that, it doesn’t really stand out as a single issue. Whatever the inciting incident is supposed to be in Wynd, I don’t think it happens in this first issue, and that really limits the issue’s excitement. Instead, this entire double-sized issue is just expository introductions. It’s all done well. I feel like we really get to know all the important characters and the world, and Dialynas’ art is phenomenal…but then nothing interesting happens to these characters. And I don’t really know if anyone in particular is to blame. This feels like the first 10 minutes of a movie. It works great as the first 10 minutes of the movie, but as a standalone adventure, it’s just not very fulfilling. The characters seem nice, the world-building is done well, and perhaps the forthcoming adventure will be amazing! But as of this first chapter, maybe wait for more to come out.
TL;DR: A really fun opening chapter that does a great job of establishing its characters and its world…but then doesn’t really do anything with them of note.