Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 3/6/21
Wowza! What a wonderful finale for WandaVision! I think that show has been pretty perfect, and I’ll have a review/my thoughts on Wednesday! But for now, let’s bask in its utter coolness for a little bit longer. It helps that we only had a few comics this week.
Comic Book of the Week goes to Runaways #34 because it’s another amazing issue of down-to-Earth shenanigans! This is one of my absolute favorite comics right now. I only wish it came out more often!
Meanwhile, DC launched their Infinite Frontier dressage this week with Infinite Frontier #0. It’s an issue that’s mostly set-up, so I didn’t give it a full review. It teases all of the new character directions and it’s a pretty fun comic. It accomplishes what it set out to do. I’m excited for some new DC comics to try. I don’t know exactly which ones I’ll be trying. More than a few, for sure!
Comic Reviews: Batman #106, Power Pack #4 and Runaways #34.
Writers: James Tynion IV and Joshua Williamson
Artists: Jorge Jimenez and Gleb Melnikov
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterers: Clayton Cowles ALW’s Troy Peteri
And we’re back, baby! It’s a new Gotham City, kind of! Next Batman and Dark Detective are gone! Batman and Robin is no more! Let’s see what we’ve got!
We open with Batman a prisoner of the Scarecrow, all tied up and forced to watch a wall of TV screens. But that’s just a tease for what’s to come. In the real story, Batman and Ghost-Maker take on the new Unsanity Collective, who have just robbed a newspaper mogul of some artwork. It’s a frantic, high-speed chase/fight, with Oracle in their ears to help. Afterwards, in one of this new mini-Batcaves around the city, Batman reviews the Unsanity Collective crime spree. They’re targeting moguls, possibly to help make Gotham citizens afraid.
Meanwhile, the CEO of Saint Industries has returned to his home in Gotham City to pitch the Magistrate Program to the new mayor. And even though Mayor Nakano is hesitant, it seems the Scarecrow is waiting in the wings.
In the back-up feature, Damian Wayne has broken ties with the Bat-Family and returns to his mother. But they are soon ambushed by the League of Lazarus.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This was a really awesome relaunch of Batman and I’m excited to see where things go from here. Tynion has always had a solid handle on Batman and his world, and now he’s got a lot of new fun bits to play with. Batman divulged from Wayne Manor and the traditional BatCave? Sounds interesting! Batman partnering with Ghost-Maker? Could be really cool! New focus on the mayor’s office, which I believe has come over from Detective Comics? Sounds good. New villains, new uses for old villains, Harley Quinn as a wild card; all of this sounds great to me! And the art by Jimenez and Morey is to die for! It’s some great, moody, action-packed Batman art!
This issue has everything one could want from a solid, foundational Batman relaunch…at least in this current era. I make no bones about the fact that I miss classic Batman and Robin team-ups. But I guess some things are in the works on that? I dunno. I’d prefer a fresh, new Robin. The Damian back-up works as a continuation of Damian’s character. I just wish he wasn’t dragging the “Robin” mantle with him. I’m definitely going to check out his new series when it launches. Until then, I’m confident and excited in what Tynion has got going on with the main Batman title. The playground is big, exciting and new! Let the playing begin!
TL;DR: Batman has some fun new directions in this soft relaunch, and they all work like gang-busters in this kick-off issue.
Power Pack #4
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Nico Leon
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Why isn’t Marvel throwing money and titles at Ryan North? Is North resisting? The man was born to write this stuff!
Jack is narrating this one as the Power Pack fight off the Wizard, who has stolen their powers. They manage to escape, and the Wizard decides that they are so completely worthless that he’s not even going to bother killing him. He leaves, and the teens are left feeling grouchy, as a bit of Wizard’s attitude seeped into them. Katie is angriest, and Jack helps talk her down. The kids regroup and decide they need real help, so they leave a note for Wolverine at the Krakoan embassy. Wolverine shows up at their house later, and they convince their parents that he is Prof. Brucie Mansworth, a tutor. They get him up to speed and they all concoct a plan to defeat the Wizard!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Want to find a fun way to add a bit of energy to your mini-series? Add a Wolverine cameo! That has been a Marvel staple for decades, but rarely is it more fun than in this Power Pack issue by Ryan North! I’m not sure if it’s a parody of those types of guest appearances or just a legit love letter to them, because it’s so much fun! From the kids nervously visiting the Krakoan Embassy and leaving him a note, to Wolverine showing up at their home and the kids having to juggle their parents! It’s fun stuff in an already fun comic!
North has all of these characters down pat. And the individual narrator thing works perfectly to help explore their individual personalities and their places in the group. As an elder millennial, the way North wrote Jack as a kid obsessed with internet culture and social media posting was like nails on a chalkboard, but he nails it anyway! Pun intended! And adding that story twist where the kids are suffering from a bit of Wizard Personality Syndrome adds some new avenues for character interaction. An angry and homicidal Katie is just plain funny, adorable and scary!
TL;DR: It’s a damn shame this is only a mini-series. North and Leon are a perfect team in reviving the Power Pack for the modern day. This comic, and this issue, are filled with so much fun and some truly enjoyable character moments. I didn’t even mind the gratuitous Wolverine cameo because North has so much fun with it!
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Andres Genolet
Colorist: Dee Cunniffe
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Every issue of this comic has been wonderful, and the new storyline is as good as its ever been. Curse the world for giving Runaways such a rare release schedule!
Wolverine and Pixie have arrived to take Molly back to Krakoa, claiming she wrote them some concerning emails and they traced the IP back to this area. Once Molly turns the tables on Wolverine, she explains she didn’t write anything. So everybody calms down and they check out the emails, which definitely came from somewhere in the area. Everybody loads up to search the park and they find a suspicious clearing. When they investigate, they pass through some invisible entrance into an open void, split into groups of Nico and Pixie and then Chase, Molly, Wolverine and Old Lace. Then some monsters show up and they fight, with Nico using a couple of spells. She eventually comes up with a spell to make the illusion disappear and they arrive in front of a large mansion. Also, Nico and Pixie bonded in their fight and end the issue exchanging a look! You know the type of look!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
And that makes two great Wolverine cameos in adorable comics in one week! Has the character ever been this good? Has he ever been this much fun? Molly and Krakoa has been teased since back before the start of the pandemic, and now that we’re actually in the middle of that storyline, it was worth the wait! It’s very very fun to see the Runaways interact with other members of the superhero community. The Runaways have a very specific, very weird little thing going on, and it’s nice to see others comment on their whole deal. It’s funny and it really works to develop the characters. Clearly Molly has come a long way.
And the fun character interactions switch over to fun action scenes! We’ve got a solid mystery on our hands, and who doesn’t love some random monster fights? The comic has a lot of fun with the genericness of it. Pixie and Nico are struggling, so the book creates a cliffhanger to check in on the other group, who are doing just fine and kicking all manner of butts! Trust me, it’s funnier on the page, and adds a special warmth to the narration. And, of course, Rowell continues the pretty fun idea of Pixie acting like she knows the Runaways because she read a file or heard something third-hand. It’s funny…
…and leads to the shocking ending! Uh, hello?! Pixie and Nico exchanging doe eyes?
I don’t know how I feel about that! I mean, I’m not Nico/Karolina until I die. And relationship drama is always fun in comics, as far as I’m concerned. And Rowell definitely puts in the work of bonding Nico and Pixie. And I do rather like it when these strict groups find relationships in the wider superhero community — it’s why I liked Karolina and Julie Power so much! So this is a very interesting development!
TL;DR: Another fun and adorable issue of Runaways graces our eyeballs. And this one has action and unanticipated romance as well! And a Wolverine cameo?! What more can one ask for from a comic book?
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!