Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 3/27/20
Good news, everybody! My local movie theater is open again and I just saw Nobody! The first movie in theaters in a year — if we don’t count that fun story I have about finally seeing Tenet. Nobody was fine. I’m still surprised it was not a parody. But enough about movies, what about comics? Like Detective Comics and Harley Quinn! Though this is one of those rare weeks where I didn’t read any Marvel comics…
Comic Book of the Week goes to Power Rangers #5 with a lot of fun new character arrivals and exposition dumps!
Meanwhile, another banger episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier! Loving this show! And on the side, I’ve started watching Snowpiercer. It’s pretty good so far. Enjoyable. Nothing amazing, but it gets the job done. I’m also going to try to finish off the new DuckTales cartoon. I’ve very much enjoyed that show.
Comic Reviews: Detective Comics #1034, Harley Quinn #1 and Power Rangers #5.
Detective Comics #1034
Writers: Mariko Tamaki and Joshua Williamson
Artists: Dan Mora and Gleb Melnikov
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterers: Aditya Bidikar and ALW’s Troy Peteri
For the first time in a long time, I shall be reading and reviewing both Batman and Detective Comics! How exciting! I also really enjoyed this creative team on the recent Future State: Dark Detective, so let’s see if they can keep up the good work on a regular Batman comic.
Mayor Nakano is hosting a fundraiser gala for this “Vision for Gotham” and it’s attacked by the Party Crashers, one of the new outfits that has popped up since the Joker War. Bruce, who was attending the gala, sneaks out and comes back as Batman to secure the room. The mayor and his people are escorted to safety, including his angry righthand man Neil, and Hue Vile, a name that I thought was some kind of code phrase when I actually read it in print. Anyway, the Party Crashers somehow got away off panel.
The next night, Bruce is invited to a neighbor’s party and we meet some of his new neighbors downtown. There’s Lydia, who is Neil’s wife, but he couldn’t make the party. There’s Sam and Sarah, a married couple. And there’s Deb Donovan, a good reporter. After the party, Batman goes off and catches the Party Crashers, though he suspects something more is going on with them. And somebody visits Sarah late at night and she goes missing. Bruce and Deb find Sam distraught the next morning, and we, the reader, see Neil walking through the sewer with bloody arms.
In the Robin back-up, Talia explains that the League of Lazarus were part of the Ra’s al Ghul overall organization some time ago, but they rebelled, and they have a tournament. She doesn’t want Damian to worry about that because she will need his help rebuilding her empire. But as she’s explaining all of this, Damian slips away, revealing that he had his new Robin costume on underneath whatever costume he was wearing in this two-parter. So I guess he had two masks on even? Anyway, he’s gonna go fight in a tournament.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
First thoughts, I’m disappointed at how quickly Tamaki is dispatching the new neighbor characters. I thought she was building up a new supporting cast for Bruce Wayne now that he’s living in a brownstone downtown. This is a brand new status quo for Batman, and I thought Tamaki and DC were going to really flesh it out. But nope, these characters apparently only exist to further this specific story. It’s fine. The story is good. But I guess I had different hopes. That’s on me.
Beyond that nitpick, this is a good start to a Batman story. We’ve got some bad guys, we’ve got some mystery, we’ve got some people in Bruce Wayne’s life. It’s all building nicely. Tamaki writes a solid Bruce Wayne, though like I said, I hope we can go a bit deeper with him and the people around him. Explore the new space! This is a monumental status quo change for Bruce Wayne. Let’s have some fun with it! And the artwork is gorgeous. I just started reading Klaus, the Santa Claus comic Dan Mora does with Grant Morrison. The man has earned all of the praise for his artwork, and it’s a great fit for a modern, straight forward Batman comic. We should be in for a treat with this one!
TL;DR: Pretty straight forward, but otherwise very strong, kick off to a new Batman story. Though I would have preferred they explore the new status quo a bit more.
Harley Quinn #1
Writer: Stephanie Phillips
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colorist: Ivan Plascencia
Letterer: Deron Bennett
The only ongoing Harley Quinn comic I have ever read was the Conner/Palmiotti joint, and I very much loved it! I’m trying new things with Infinite Frontier, so lets try this!
In the wake of Joker War, Harley Quinn has set out to be a good guy and make things right. She starts by trying to apologize to Killer Croc, only to get into a fight. Batman later stops by her apartment to check on her, and Harley reveals her big wall of people she needs to make amends to, kind of like the TV show My Name is Earl. Batman is very reluctant to trust Harley in all of this, but then he gets called away to a riot at Amusement Mile. Some ordinary citizens are attacking the workers, accusing them of being former Joker henchpeople.
Batman chases one of he former henchpeople in particular, Kevin, into a house of mirrors, and Harley shows up just in time to stop Batman from taking the guy in. Harley insists she can help the former henchpeople, and Batman agrees to let her try. Kevin tells Harley he wants to help, too.
Meanwhile, Saint Industries springs Huge Strange from the mental hospital to get his help in Gotham City.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
The first thing to notice about this new Harley Quinn comic is the artwork, and I love it. Rossmo goes for gritty and wacky in equal measure, and it works for me. It’s very stylish, with a funky color scheme. I especially enjoy the contrast between Harley and Batman. That works very well in the issue’s favor. The artwork might not be for everybody — I’m still shocked that some people didn’t like the art on Unbeatable Squirrel Girl — but it definitely works for me as Harley Quinn artwork.
The story is off to a good start as well. We’ve got Harley in a potentially interesting new spot. She considers herself a member of the Bat-Family, even if Batman is reluctant. And she’s got a board of people she will try to apologize to for past misdeeds. That’s a good direction to take a story. Couple that with Harley trying to help former henchpeople of the Joker, especially in the face of Gotham City’s current hatred for all things clown, and we’ve got some really strong story ideas starting off. These are all good avenues to take Harley Quinn in a new solo comic. And Phillips writes Harley just fine. She’s wacky and snappy, with a bit of heart. I dig it.
TL;DR: The new Harley Quinn comic is off to a good start, with some solid story ideas, some solid characterization and some truly wild artwork.
Power Rangers #5
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Francesco Mortarino, with ink assistance by Simona Di Gianfelice
Colorist: Raul Angulo, with color assistance by Jose Enrique Fernandez
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
It seems Power Rangers is a chance for Ryan Parrott and BOOM! Studios to play around with the various space characters in the Power Rangers lore…which, unfortunately, stretches beyond my childhood watching. So I’m having to Google a lot of these people!
The Omega Rangers have landed on the planet Onyx in order to get some parts to fix their ship. Onyx is some type of Wild West villain planet, and Jason and Zack go undercover to play space poker with a really bad dude to get their stuff (while Trini, Xi and Drakkon stay behind to fix the ship/talk about stuff). The really bad dude wins the poker game, but he was cheating, but the game is interrupted by Astronema, Princess of Evil, who wants to kill them. Jason and Zack morph, there’s a fight, and then that fight is interrupted by the S.P.D., who take everybody into custody.
Back on the ship, Xi did some science and discovered an ancient philosopher who had contact with the Emissaries, and who described the birth of the universe/Morphin Masters. Xi and Trini theorize that the Empyreals are the dark shadows of the Emissaries from the beginning of time. Back in S.P.D. custody, Jason refuses to answer any questions, even as the officers reveal they’re following Zordon’s request for aid in capturing Drakkon and the Omega Rangers. Zack tries to level with Astronema, but she’s pretty determined to kill him.
Then back on the ship again, the gang is visited by a cloaked figure: Ecliptor!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Oh boy, this issue really packs on the exposition and wider lore! I mean, we take a break right in the middle to discuss the creation of the universe. And then we get Astronema! And S.P.D.! And Ecliptor! Like I said above, none of these characters mean anything to me. I’ve seen them before, sure, but I wasn’t really watching their seasons of Power Rangers. Hopefully fans of those seasons enjoy their appearances here. I definitely love the idea of these comics expanding to include much more Ranger lore. And I like the idea of Power Rangers being the comic to do that. It really creates a nice distinction between the two series. And by using Jason, Zack and Trini, Parrott is free to create any sort of new stories he wants. There shouldn’t be any crazy continuity problems.
This issue itself is definitely the meatiest we’ve had so far for Power Rangers. I’m still not entirely sure what this comic is trying to accomplish. It doesn’t have the deep character development of its sister series. This comic is more about just flinging our three heroes into one scrape after the next, all while Drakkon stands on the sidelines being all Drakkony. Heck, this is an issue about Zack getting into a space poker game! In previous issues, they fought space vampires! A lot of Power Rangers still feels surface level, but this issue brings up some interesting ideas and some potentially interesting new characters. I have full faith in Parrott that he has all sorts of fun plans and stories. I look forward to Power Rangers having some more meat on its bones.
TL;DR: A lot of lore and exposition gets dumped in this issue, coupled with a lot of action. Just a lot happens, and it’s all really good.
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!