Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 3/20/21
Good news, everybody! I have been vaccinated! Or at least I got my first shot! Movie theaters are reopening and I want to be as safe as possible when I go to see Godzilla vs. Kong on the big screen! That sounds incredibly selfish of me. Anyway, somebody said something about comic books?
Comic Book of the Week goes to Nightwing #78! I’ve decided to give it a try and it was nice. Nothing spectacular, but such was this week in comics in general.
Meanwhile, I very much enjoyed the first episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier! Great starting point, great introduction to the characters and hopefully the launch of another fun show! The next bunch of weeks should be a hoot!
Comic Reviews: Iron Man #7, Justice League #59, Nightwing #78, S.W.O.R.D. #4 and Thor #13.
Iron Man #7
Writer: Christopher Cantwell
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Things take a weird turn in the new issue of Iron Man!
Iron Man and his team are rocketing through space trying to catch up to Korvac and his team. Tony and Rhodey have a heart-to-heart as they tune up and overlock each other’s armors, while the rest of the team debate the meaning of “god” in the Marvel Universe. Tony then chats with Hellcat and they decide to try and use her connection to Korvac to confront him, so Patsy and Tony show up in his mind palace. They ask Korvac to show them his plan, and it’s to turn the whole universe into a homogenous singularity utopia — which Tony and Patsy reject. But then Tony blinks out of existence and Korvac fries Patsy again. And our heroes catch up to Korvac’s ship, leading to a space dogfight.
Tony has been teleported to some strange planet he doesn’t recognize. And he’s confronted by a pack of warriors that I don’t recognize, but they seem like characters from some ancient Marvel fantasy comic.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
I thought this issue was building towards the big confrontation with Korvac, but nope! It’s a lot of talking, and then an ending that comes out of nowhere! Fortunately, Cantwell is a solid character writer, so the talking isn’t half bad. I liked mostly all of it. The “god” conversation is nifty, if only to see more personality out of this crazy team. Korvac’s master plan is a little out there to wrap my head around, but I suppose I can make enough sense of it. So basically this is another issue of set up with some solid character work to keep it flowing. And then a really crazy, out of nowhere cliffhanger. I wish I could Google who those characters are, but there’s nothing descriptive or named to latch onto.
TL;DR: More set up for the big confrontation to come, buoyed by some solid talking heads.
Justice League #59
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Josh Reed
I’m a big fan of Brian Michael Bendis, and, like Wonder Woman last week, I’m going to give some of these Infinite Frontier comics a try. So I’ll gladly try out his Justice League relaunch!
In the nation of Khandaq, a strange alien tough guy named Brutus shows up wanting to conquer, and he’s rebuffed by Black Adam. The Justice League show up as well, and everybody fights Brutus for a bit. Then he leaves when he realizes he jumped in half-cocked. The League retreat to try and study the guy, and Green Arrow interrupts with some worries he’s been having about the League being too comfortable. It could use some dissenting voices, he suggests. Then the League figures out that Brutus’ energy signature matches that of recent hit character — and Bendis creation — Naomi. Black Adam has already figured this out and pays her a visit.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
It’s fine. This issue has a general baseline of quality. The art is gorgeous, and that’s always a boon. But the story leaves a bit to be desired. Like I said, I’m a Bendis fan, so you won’t find me tearing him apart or anything like that. He’s good with characters and I like his dialogue. And all of that is fine in this issue. Honestly, nothing really stands around as all that exciting. Some random new bad guy shows up and just happens to run afoul of Black Adam. Then the Justice League just appear in Khandaq en masse and they also fight the bad guy. Seems pretty simple, and it is.
I can’t fault DC and Bendis wanting to hang a lot on their new pet character, Naomi. I read some issues of her comic and wasn’t all that interested. Is she popular? Is she making waves? I know Warner Bros has gotten the ball rolling on…a TV show? A movie? I dunno, and don’t particularly care. I would have liked more character for Black Adam. He’s a longtime villain that Bendis is about to add to the Justice League. His bad side could have been more on display, or his ruthless side maybe. He’s about to be played by The Rock on the big screen. Black Adam should have showed more personality. Everyone should have, honestly. Otherwise, this issue is just a good, solid, unremarkable launching point.
TL;DR: A solid and unremarkable start with some gorgeous artwork. The characters and the story could have used a lot more personality.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Bruno Redondo
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Letterer: Wes Abbott
So this is a nifty new one on me! I can’t tell you the last time I read a Nightwing comic! But I do enjoy Tom Taylor, and as I’ve said, I’m going to give some of these DC comics a try. Considering my love for Dick Grayson, you’d think this would be a lock for me…
We open with a flashback to the first time Dick met Barbara Gordon. Both of them intervened to stop a bully and his goons from picking on a kid. After Detective Jim Gordon drove Dick home, Alfred assured Dick he was proud of him for standing up. Now Dick is back to stopping bullies and bad guys in Bludhaven, including stopping some thugs from killing a puppy. Dick gets bitten when he tries to help, and he ends up taking the puppy home to his apartment — where Barbara is waiting. She is the executor of Alfred’s will, and it turns out Alfred Pennyworth had a billion or so dollars of his own through Wayne stock and wise investments. He has left it all to Dick, along with a letter detailing how proud Alfred was of “Master Grayson”.
Meanwhile, Blockbuster has a secret meeting with the mayor of Bludhaven and kills him. The head of the city council is also there, Melinda Zucco, the daughter of Tony Zucco. She is now the acting mayor through the line of succession, and she has plans…possibly involving Dick Grayson.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I worry I get too nitpicky in my reviews, so let’s get those out of the way quickly. First of all, I hope Alfred didn’t leave everything to Dick…he has a daughter of his own, plus a couple of other Robin sons. Second of all, Tony Zucco already has a daughter, named Sonia Zucco. She appeared in a couple issues of Detective Comics back when Scott Snyder was writing Dick as Batman. So I hope that gets explained. And that’s it for my nitpicks! Other than this issue also feeling really short for some reason. Don’t know why that is, but it was over pretty quickly. I would say the issue accomplishes everything it sets out to do, so that’s fine by me!
We’ve got stories getting set up. We get a lot into Dick Grayson’s headspace. The comic isn’t beholden to everything that came before. I know a lot has been going on in Nightwing comics for a while now. There was that whole “Ric Grayson” thing. But I’m glad Taylor isn’t forced to make that the whole issue. He’s free to bring a clean and refreshing look at Dick Grayson to this comic, and that’s a good way to start a new jumping on point. I like Dick, I like the story developing around him, and I hope this makes for a fun series.
One last nitpick: has it really taken this long to deal with Alfred’s will? Or were they waiting for Dick to get his memory back? Also, if you’re going to do a big Bat-Family shake-up where they don’t have the Wayne fortune anymore…why immediately give Dick a billion dollars? Why not let Dick also deal with being cash-strapped for a while?
TL;DR: Enjoyable kick-off to a new Nightwing story, with a strong focus on the main character and some gorgeous artwork.
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Ariana Maher
I skipped the previous issue of S.W.O.R.D. because it was a Manifold-focused issue and I had a busy week that week. But we’re back with issue #4! Which is still a King in Black tie-in.
Knull has taken possession of Kid Cable, and through him he’s taken all of the mutants on Krakoa hostage. Manifold confronts him and they have a teleportation chase. Meanwhile, Agent Brand and Whiz Kid are focusing on the problem at hand, while the Five have defeated Mentallo, who was sent by Brand to take them to safety. Hope does not like Brand’s plan to simply relocate the group of them to restart the mutant race elsewhere. Whiz Kid teleports down to them and turns Mentallo’s tank into a mech, and they go around smashing symbiotes.
During all the fighting, Frenzy manages to gain enough control to break out of her symbiote shell. She disarms Knull Cable and Manifold forces Knull out by bringing a piece of the sun into the fight. Knull is repelled, Krakoa is saved, and Magneto has some new ideas going forward.
Comic Rarting: 7/10 – Good.
King in Black is doing this comic no favors. Ewing spends way too much time with a Knull-possessed Kid Cable. The villain is just one-dimensionally evil, whereas Ewing is clearly trying to build a very layered team comic. The scenes focused on the members of SWORD are great! Frenzy willing herself to come out and save the day is awesome! Whiz Kid showing up with a transformer mech is cool! Abigail Brand having a no-nonsense talk with Hope about her “save the species” failsafes is some great character development. Even Mentallo gets a few more chances to be funny. And Manifold gets a lot of chances to be epic!
It’s very clear that Ewing has a lot of very cool, very firm ideas for what to do with this comic and these characters. There’s a confidence at work that I like. I just hope Ewing gets a chance to tell some original SWORD stories with that confidence. King in Black is coming and going like a wet fart, like most Marvel crossovers these days. The sooner SWORD can cast off those shackles, the more this comic will have a chance to really shine, I bet.
TL;DR: The King in Black tie-in is like an albatross around this comic’s neck. But Ewing still finds opportunities for some fun character moments, and it looks like the crossover is over.
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Nic Klein
Colorist: Matt Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
We’re not yet at the end, but we’re very close!
Donald Blake is carving up the World Tree, so all of our heroes come together. Valkyrie recruits Odin and Dr. Strange gets Bill, Sif and the other Asgardians from the dimension they’re stuck in. They all teleport to Donald Blake and mostly just stand-off against him…until Odin reveals that the blood of the World Tree is dripping down to the realm Thor is stuck in. Thor calls his ravens and they use their magic to transfer Thor’s soul into the Destroyer armor.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
My first takeaway from this issue is that, instead of being exciting, it underlines the problem with this storyline: there’s no story. Donald Blake showed up and immediately sent Thor out of the story, then simply defeated everybody who came up against him on a quest to do…who knows what. Destroy everything? I guess. And now the big finale is gang rushing him? OK, fine. I’m sure there will be a lot of punching next issue, and that should be fun. And this issue was fun in general. The story has some good momentum. And the artwork is great. But the story really reached a point in this issue where the lack of substance was heavier than the coolness of the action.
TL;DR: The weight and weaknesses of this story are a bit stronger in this issue as it stretches on more and more.
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!