Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 9/5/20

Happy Birthday to me! Tomorrow I turn the ripe old age of 37. Jeez louise. Thankfully, several months of stir craziness and some extra money in my pocket has led to a lot of treating myself! My LEGO Razor Crest is supposed to arrive today, and I indulged in some classic Tony Hawk Pro Skater yesterday! So it’s gonna be a good weekend.

Pretty OK comics this week. I enjoyed all of them, but none really stood out as particularly amazing. So we’re going to award Comic Book of the Week to Strange Adventures #5 because that keeps getting screwy.

Easy does it…

Meanwhile, I really enjoyed the show Teenage Bounty Hunters on Netflix. Such a great new show! It’s highly recommended. One of the best things I’ve watched this summer. Also, I finally got the tpb of Punisher: Soviet and it’s good! Always great to have another taste of Garth Ennis’ Punisher MAX.

Double also, I did not get the Avengers video game. I’m going to wait and see how it develops…

Comic Reviews: Batman #98, New Mutants #12 and Strange Adventures #5.

Batman #98

Batman #98
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

We’re still dead center in Joker War, but it looks like things are taking a turn for the better.

While Batman continues to detox and hallucinate Alfred, Harley Quinn is attacked by Punchline in Eden. The two of them duke it out, with Punchline explaining her reasons for following the Joker (she believes in his message of anarchy), and Harley explaining that her reasons are stupid (the Joker has no message). Alfred gives Batman some tough love about getting over his grief for the butler, which helps Batman finally detox and flush Punchline’s toxins from his system. He wakes up and takes her down, then summons the Bat-Family. Meanwhile, Catwoman is going to bring the other villains to the fight.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I liked this issue for how it helps Batman deal with his grief. The death of Alfred will always have been a really stupid, pointless, unnecessary idea. I have always been against the very concept. But it’s done and we’re in this new world now, and using Joker War as a chance to Batman to work through his grief is a good use of this story. It wasn’t amounting to much else, to be honest, so the scenes with Bruce and Alfred are nice. Alfred gives some tough love and Bruce hears what he needs to hear, allowing him to rise up and Batman the hell out of Punchline.

That says it all

Ugh, Punchline. She explains herself a bit more in this issue, but I, just like Harley Quinn, are waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m hoping Tynion and DC have something deeper planned…but I also worry that they don’t. I’m also annoyed that Punchline could so easily find Eden. I hate when villains are like that, when they just know everything. But hey, she’s defeated, Batman calls in back-up and hopefully we can wrap this up nicely.

TL;DR: Another less-than-interesting issue of Joker War contains some really good grief counseling for Batman, at least.

New Mutants #12

New Mutants #12
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Marco Failla
Colorist: Carlos Lopez
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll mention it again: sometimes I just don’t care about certain characters, and that’s my only real problem with New Mutants.

Trinary hacks into the Dox website and gets the location of their HQ, so Magik, Glob and Mirage pay them a visit to expose them. They force the reporters to face all of the mutants lives they have harmed by posting personal information online, but their boss is a hardline mutant hater who declares their “journalism” justified in the face of mutant aggression. In the end, it’s Glob who snaps and punches the guy, threatening with violent anger to kill the man should any more mutants get hurt. Later, back on Krakoa, Glob opens up to Magik about his family. He had a very bigoted, anti-mutant father, who raised Glob to hate mutants as well. When Glob became a mutant, it only got worse, until his mother secretly took him to Xavier’s school. He said he was angry at the school at first, but calmed down over time — until his anger burst again in the Dox offices. Magik tells Glob that letting out a little anger from time to time is a good thing.

Meanwhile, some lady who controls monsters slaughters everybody living in Nova Roma and is on the hunt for the New Mutants.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

First off, I don’t care about Nova Roma and that storyline feels really lifeless. Second of all, the main storyline is much better. Brisson has done a great job building up to this Dox website problem…though it’s a little weird that this evil website has a proper office, proper reporters and an editor-in-chief from Central Casting. I think they should have gone a little more modern for Dox, a little more underground. But that aside, this was a solid confrontational issue. Brisson really got to the heart of the political conflict he’s presented, and then he took it to another level with Glob Herman. The talk he has with Magik is great and really explores the character. I’m so glad that Glob has become such an essential X-Man.

Can wax-covered skeleton men cry?

Really, this is an OK issue. It tackles a topic that the X-Men and all of comics don’t really deal with, and it handles it with class and some cool character development. And then the effort to expand on Glob Herman really elevates the whole thing. And I suppose I can admit that the Nova Roma storyline is still building to something…but man, as much as I don’t care about the classic New Mutants characters, I really don’t care about their weird bonus material. And yet I’m still reading New Mutants, despite giving up on other Dawn of X comics…

TL;DR: A really creative and original storyline, plus some excellent character development, really makes this issue stand out.

Strange Adventures #5

Strange Adventures #5
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Mitch Gerads and Evan “Doc” Shaner
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

Strange Adventures still feels like all foreplay and no action.

This issue is all political. On Earth, Adam finds out that the Justice League won’t talk to him anymore, and he’s worried — but his wife, Alanna, remains solid as a rock. Then a Pykkt drone is found in Gotham City, and Alanna and Martian Manhunter are called to testify before Congress. Manhunter is confident that the Justice League can repel a Pykkt invasion like they have repelled many invasions in the past, but Alanna thinks Earth is being too confident. The President sides with Alanna and forms a task force, with her and Adam Strange at the head. Adam gives a press conference later to discuss it and how he’s perfectly fine with the ongoing investigation into him by Mister Terrific (whom his wife is meeting with, as we saw at the end of last issue).

Meanwhile, in flashback, Adam and Alanna go to recruit the rock people to join the war against the Pykkt (with the rock leader killing the desert tribe leader they brought along). They’re forced to wait in a cave for a month, where the two of them are reduced to eating rats and drinking rainwater — though the stress, hardship and passion does lead to some sex. When the month is over, Alanna has been hardened, and she tells the rock monarchy that she doesn’t care if they join or not, they’ll defeat the Pykkt anyway, and then come back and crush the rock empire. It’s a damn good speech, and it leads to the rock queen having a political marriage to the new desert tribe leader. The tribes are joined and the Stranges show this to their daughter, telling her to be proud of his union.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

We’re five issues in and the issues are all the same: something dark and possibly sinister is building, but we’ve got to get through a lot of that build-up first. I have no idea where this is going to end up, or if it’s even going to be worth it, but King and his art team have done a great job in building that tension. Something happened in the war…something happened with the daughter…the wife is up to something…is Adam playing dumb, or is he really that disconnected from it all? Couple that with all of the neat, grounded looks at a superhero universe, like the Justice League gossip network, or the aliens testifying before Congress.

He couldn’t transform into a nice suit?

But as great as all of this tension is, and as great as the artwork is, the story needs some kind of payoff sooner rather than later. Like I said above, this is all foreplay so far. It just builds and builds and builds! Give us something, King! A twist! A pay-off! An unexpected development of some kind! Anything! That’s all I’m asking, and I don’t think it’s too much. Otherwise, this whole series is going to rest on whatever secret King is keeping…and it better be a good one.

TL;DR: The tension building in this comic is like none other, and it’s building a pretty great story — but some sort of understanding or pay-off would be nice.

The comics I review in my Hench-Sized reviews are just the usual comics I grab from Comixology 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 September 5, 2020, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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