Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 2/27/21

And so we’ve come to another week of new comic book releases and new comic book reviews! Gotta love it! Some solid comics this week, from X-Men to the last gasps of Future State.

Comic Book of the Week goes to Future State: Dark Detective #4 for a very strong ending to this fun little mini-series. I felt this one really captured what Future State seemed to be about.

Not now, Batman! She has a scathing Tweet to write!

Meanwhile, I’ve dropped U.S. Agent because it’s getting to be too much of a mish-mash for me. I don’t think I fully understand or appreciate what’s going on in that comic, and I’d rather let it go than try to hold on and badmouth it just because I don’t get it.

Comic Reviews: Future State: Dark Detective #4, Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #2, The Union #3 and X-Men #18.

Future State: Dark Detective #4

Future State: Dark Detective #4
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Dan Mora
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar

Of the two Batman comics in Future State, this was the better one.

Bruce drugs both Noah and his daughter to get them out of the apartment building, where he’s laid an explosive trap for the Magistrate’s drones. They raid the building only a few minutes later and stumble into the trap. Bruce sits Hannah down and gets info on her job: she’s been spying on the Magistrate from the inside, after they hired her as a programmer. She has recordings of all their bad stuff. Bruce then goes to blow up the Magistrate HQ. He tells Hannah to stay in his safehouse…but for some reason, she’s then also at the HQ? Trying to get even more info, maybe? Either way, Batman fights Peacekeeper-01 in the building, keeping the guy there until the whole thing explodes on both of them.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This was an exciting and energetic ending to this little Bruce Wayne story. I’m not sure how or why the daughter, Hannah, went from the safehouse to the HQ in a matter of pages, but it doesn’t matter. Bruce Wayne puts all of his skills, weapons and tech to work to take down the Magistrate’s systems and defeat his foe. It’s just plain cool. We see a new and interesting side of Bruce Wayne, we see a fun use of the new supporting characters, and the artwork is to die for. I would have to say that Dark Detective is the best of the Future State stories I’ve read, at least in terms of embracing the “Future State” idea. It’s Bruce Wayne, stripped of his money and resources, up against a futuristic, omnipresent bad guy force that has taken over the government.

Dan Mora is a joy

I would be 100% cool with this idea being explored again for real someday. I have no idea what DC has planned for Batman going forward. The Next Batman launched a new web-first comic this week, but I didn’t read it. Is he sticking around? Jace Fox also appeared as Next Batman in a Batman: Black & White issue this week, which I also didn’t read. So what’s going on? I’m pretty sure regular Batman goes back to regular comics next month. So is Dark Detective over? Was it just this short story? That’s fine by me, because it was a good short story. But, like I said, I would be happy to read more about a scrappy Bruce Wayne continuing his mission without his money and resources.

TL;DR: The better Future State Batman comic comes to a satisfying and gorgeous finale. This issue embraces and lives up to the very idea of “Future State” better than most comics in the initiative.

Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #2

Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #2
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colorist: Ivan Plascencia
Letterer: Dave Sharpe

This two-parter definitely works as an epilogue to Bendis’ Legion of Super-Heroes comic.

Turns out, the reunited Legion’s attack on Element Lad is fake! It’s actually all happening in his head, with Saturn Girl creating a mental projection to distract him while she reads his mind. Saturn Girl discovers that Element Lad and his people are not actually responsible for the destruction of the galaxy. The Legion goes out and gets Cosmic Boy to fill him in. Turns out, Saturn Girl’s people are the ones responsible. They let her join the Legion and used their connection to her to them infest Element Lad with their thoughts, and he led them back to his home planet, where Saturn Girl’s people mentally took control of Element Lad’s people, forcing them to destroy the galaxy. Saturn Girl confronts her mother in a mental showdown, then reveals her mother’s confession was broadcast to the whole galaxy, and Brainiac 5 has trapped the people of Titan in a planetary prison. The day is saved, and the reunited Legion is determined to do good this time.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Fortunately for me, the recap page on this issue sums up the grand disaster that was only hinted at in the first issue. That recap caught me completely up to speed and allowed me to dive right into this issue, which finishes the story just fine. The twists work great, from the fight being fake to Element Lad not being the bad guy. They really liven up this very short story. It was a little disappointing that the confrontation with the Titans basically amounted to a mental conversation, with the art focused entirely on Saturn Girl in a void, but it was fine for what it was. We already had the big group scenes. And I suppose, in hindsight, it feels like filler that the recruitment of Cosmic Boy took up so much time. What did that even add to the story? But I digress.

Gorgeous but funky artwork

The characters are still written strongly, even if Bendis had to stretch a little to find reason to fit some in. The heroes save the day and the Legion get a nice epilogue. So it all works. The art is the real standout in this comic. If this were a regular ongoing series, I probably wouldn’t like the art at all. It’s just not my cup of tea for superhero comics. It’s wild and crazy and more style over substance. But it works for this little two-parter. It’s really great art, it just needs to exist for a specific kind of comic, and Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes is the right sort of comic.

I also got a little confirmation on the Subs, so that was fun!

TL;DR: A couple good story twists make this two-part Legion of Super-Heroes epilogue worthwhile. The art is also something to behold.

The Union #3

The Union #3
Writer: Paul Grist
Artist: Andrea Di Vito
Inker: Le Beau Underwood
Colorist: Nolan Woodard
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham

And just like that, King in Black is no longer part of this crossover. I’m grateful.

We open in North Wales, where Choir is doing some shopping and stops a robber, but this exposes her and she finds a mean, scary man back at her camper. Joe Chapman is woken up by a phone call from Agent Selwyn, and then by new hero the Bulldog smashing down his door and getting into a fight. Later in the car, Bulldog explains that he was just following superhero tropes of fighting first and teaming up later. He’s the new member of the team, and they head out to Wales to investigate what happened to Choir. They’re joined there by Kelpie and Snakes, who are checking in on their friend. The cops are also there.

All of a sudden, a villain called Shifter shows up, who can change into any animal. They all kind of fight him for a bit (and we find out Snakes is just a pile of snakes that shape themselves like a man) until Selwyn whispers to Shifter to take him hostage and pull him into a nearby car. Once inside, it’s revealed that Selwyn is a former villain named Sponge, who can absorb the powers and energy of others. He absorbs Shifter’s energy, pulls out a gun from the glove compartment and shoots Shifter dead, then makes it look like a suicide when the others finally open the car.

Selwyn then reveals that he knows that mean, scary man who grabbed Choir. He’s Doc Croc, and he’s trouble!

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I’m glad that the King in Black tie-in is over, even if it’s done so unceremoniously. I’m glad that The Union can really dig into telling its own story. But I don’t think this comic is as good as it can be. The Union is still a good comic. The characters are pretty interesting, and the storytelling is solid. But The Union has not yet really risen above its basic material. The characters still feel a bit at arm’s length, especially as more and more keep getting introduced. All of a sudden we’ve got Bulldog and Shifter, and Selwyn is revealed to be a bad guy from back in the day. And yet the comic assumes we know the characters well enough to recognize Choir out of costume. I was a bit confused by the opening, as there was nothing to really explain this was Choir we were following. Once I was on board, the rest flowed just fine. But it flows without anything really special.

I love superheroes in civilian clothes

I want to like this comic and I see its potential. But I feel like The Union is being forced to be a traditional superhero comic, to its detriment. We should be spending time getting to know these potentially interesting characters and seeing how they interact. Instead, the story is more focused on plot and twists. I have no doubt that something big is planned with the death of Britannica in the first issue, but I never knew Britannica and I’m only being told how important she was. That’s not the same as if we’d actually spent time with Britannica. Same with all of the members of the Union, with the exception of Union Jack. He’s getting some actual character development. I suppose that’s going to have to be enough.

TL;DR: This is a solid superhero comic, but I can’t help but feel it could be so much more with a little more patience and crafting.

X-Men #18

X-Men #18
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: VC’s Calyton Cowles

And we’re back, one year later, to continue the adventures of the X-Men that went into the Vault.

We pick up with Wolverine, Darwin and Synch as they enter the Vault, which started many issues ago. No sooner do they arrive than they are detected and attacked by the Children of the Vault. There’s a fight, the X-Men kill some of them, and one of the Children explodes, causing a lot of damage. Also, Synch can copy the powers of the Children, which is a surprise to everyone. The issue is narrated by Synch, who goes on and on about how memories work.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

If I recall correctly, time moves differently in the Vault. And if Hickman is writing this story to mimic time moving slowly, he’s doing a bang up job. The last chapter of this story came out in February 2020, an entire year ago. I rated that issue a 4/10 because it took an entire issue just to insert the three characters into the Vault, with little to no other story. Here we are, the second chapter, a year later, and it’s taken an entire issue to get them from the entrance into the actual city itself. And again, most of the issue is taken up by an extended fight scene. Very, very, very little happens to move the story forward. And that bugs me. It does not make for a fulfilling comic, as far as I’m concerned. The writing is fine, the art is great, but the story accomplishes so very little. The only thing I can think of for this storyline is that it’s the ultimate long con. Hickman is purposefully dragging this out for some grand pay-off in the very very end of his Krakoa-era plans. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see.

TL;DR: Very little happens in a storyline that I’m beginning to think it some kind of long con.

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 February 27, 2021, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I’m just popping in to make sure you know the Dark Detective team is taking over Detective Comics in a couple weeks since you liked it so much

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