Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 4/10/21
Well it’s happened. Almost one year to the day that I wrote a List of Six about why I should buy a Nintendo Switch…I bought a Nintendo Switch! Go me! There’s only a handful of games I want to play on the Switch. Hopefully they will be fun. It’ll be at least tomorrow before all the accessories I ordered arrive…so let’s focus on fun comics, like Batman and Green Lantern!
Comic Book of the Week goes to Runaways #35, because of course it does! Sweet jeebus, people, this comic is good! Runaways is, without a doubt, the best comic book in existence right now. It’s got great character development, fun stories and the biggest moments!
Meanwhile, another banger episode of The Falcon and Winter Soldier. No spoilers, but I love what they’re doing with John Walker. You may recall I was head over heels for the character in that 2020 Force Works comic some time ago, and that positioned me to really love the complexities of Wyatt Russell’s performance! Can’t wait to see where this series goes next!
Comic Reviews: Batman #107, Green Lantern #1, Marauders #19 and Runaways #35.
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artists: Jorge Jimenez and Ricardo Lopez Ortiz
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Let us journey deeper into some Batman comics! Huzzah!
The Scarecrow has the city in a grip of fear and panic after planting a scarecrow calling card in the mayor’s home. Batman investigates and finds no traces of fear toxin, meaning the Scarecrow is relying on good, old fashioned mob hysteria to drive the fear this time. Batman is forced to leave when Commissioner Renee Montoya shows up with a SWAT team and threatens to arrest him. Batman checks in with Oracle and they compare notes before deciding Batman needs to go undercover with the Unsanity Collective. So he switches to “Match” Malone and pays them a visit.
Meanwhile, Harley Quinn tries to stop a bad guy off his meds and gets in trouble with some cops, so Ghost-Maker shows up and saves her. Double meanwhile, the squirrelly guy in charge of the Magistrate is haunted/visited by the Scarecrow.
In the back-up feature, Ghost-Maker assaults Devil Skull Island, where Madame Midas, the richest woman in the world, has put together a team of his greatest enemies to take him on.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Fine issue. Honestly, I expect Tynion’s Batman to be a lot like his Detective Comics run from a few years ago. This is going to be some solid, enjoyable comic bookery. Everyone is written wonderfully. I enjoy Tynion’s take on Batman, and he does a fine Oracle. His Harley Quinn is in a really good place. The art is phenomenal, as one might expect from Jimenez. It’s perfect modern Batman art. And Tynion seems to have crafted a really nice story here. We’ve got new villains, we’ve got classic villains, we’ve got a mystery for Batman to solve. We’ve got a new position for Renee Montoya. I hope Tynion does something fun with that instead of just having her be a jerk cop trying to get into Batman’s way. For once, maybe one of these new commissioners actually tries to establish a new version of the classic Batman/Commissioner relationship.
The Ghost-Maker back-up is fine. I don’t particularly care about the character, so giving him a wacky side adventure with a bunch of crazy new villains seems fine.
TL;DR: This is bread and butter Batman comics. It’s pretty much everything you could ask for, with gorgeous artwork and good, solid character work all around.
Green Lantern #1
Writer: Geoffrey Thorne
Artists: Dexter Soy and Marco Santucci
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Once again, I’m ready to give another new DC comic a try. I love the Green Lantern Corps, but mostly the police procedural aspect of them. I love the Emotional Light Spectrum and all those different corps and characters. I barely know Teen Lantern, but I don’t particularly like the concept. So let’s see what this is about!
The brand new United Planets is holding a conclave on Oa to determine if Oa can join. It’s a big to-do, with all Green Lanterns summoned back, and all alien species meeting in peace — including reps from the Sinestro Corps and the Red Lantern Corps. John Stewart is Corps leader these days, and he has chats with the Guardians, Hal Jordan and Simon Baz to get us all up to speed. We also meet a Thanagarian warrior who is in charge of the United Planet’s Brigade, and then Teen Lantern is on Oa so that the Guardians can examine her gauntlet — though she won’t let them touch it. At any rate, the vote gets underway for Oan membership.
Meanwhile, some magic-users arrive in protest, demanding that the Guardians are evil and must release the Starheart. They burrow down into the heart of Oa and unlock A’Tmatentrym, some great force that starts spreading tentacles all over the planet. John, Simon and the Thanagarian start to fight it, with everybody else getting involved as well. Then a mystery dude shows up and drops some exposition on John about the Spectrum and the creature. It was an early creation of the Guardians. John realizes that they all need to power down and defeat the thing by not fighting. That’s done and they arrest the magic-users.
In the conclave, the United Planets vote to allow Oa to join…but then one last magic user shoots and kills one of the Guardians!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This issue contained a lot of what I want to see in a Green Lantern comic. This issue is all about their existence as a police force, as peace keepers. It’s a very talk-heavy issue. A lot of page space is spent with characters just talking, whether to one another or addressing the conclave. And that was fine by me! They’re talking about really interesting stuff. Since DC is moving ahead with this United Planets idea, which I fully support, I love an issue where characters discuss the nuts and bolts of how the Green Lantern Corps fits into this thing. That’s a real topic that would come up, and Thorne handles it very well.
I especially enjoyed the appearances of the Sinestro Corps and the Red Lantern Corps. We got to see Kryb again! Still no sign of my favorite members from each team, Karu-Sil and Rankorr respectively. Whatever happened to Rankorr? He’s a human Red Lantern. You’d think he’d warrant more usage.
Anyway, loved the procedural aspects of this issue a lot and I hope Thorne leans into that sort of stuff going forward. And I do hope he has plans for the various other colored corps. The mysterious figure who gave John some much needed intel proposed that the “emotional spectrum” was a bad name, considering things like Will and Avarice are on it. Maybe Thorne has some subtle evolutions planned? Sounds good to me!
Also, this issue definitely turned me more against Teen Lantern. Ugh. She reeks of being the hot character of the week…even though I don’t think she’s ever been particularly popular with anybody? She’s a jerk to everybody, is constantly trying to start fights and thinks she knows better than everybody. And the human GLs make excuse after excuse for her, treating her like a princess. As someone who loves the procedural aspect of the GLC, I definitely do not side with the snotty 11-year-old who refuses to cooperate. But maybe that’s just me.
TL;DR: Talk heavy issues that talks about things I really like! Good, solid, interesting start to a new Green Lantern series.
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
I cannot wait for the Hellfire Gala! I’m dying to see what happens!
The Reavers are attacking Lowtown in Madripoor on the orders of the Hellfire Brats, and the United Nations have ordered that Krakoa cannot get involved. So Kate sneaks a portal into the sewers and Callisto summons some Morlocks to go instead, including a fun Marrow cameo, as well as a couple random Morlocks from comics past. They kick butt and stop the Reavers, while Bishop blows up the lab used to make more. The Reavers do manage to kill the father that helped nurse Lockheed back to life, so the Morlocks gift the Princess Bar to the daughter.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
As a lot of issues of Marauders have become, this issue is rather boring. The Hellfire Brats are terrible, one-note villains. The Reavers are terrible, one-note henchmen. And most of the action this issue relies on Morlocks that Duggan mostly plucked from obscurity. I Googled the lot of them and they all have existed prior to this issue. The only notable one is Marrow, but she doesn’t stand out at all. So yeah, it’s a bunch of generally unknown Morlocks fighting paper thin villains as this Madripoor story drags on and on. Then Duggan went and killed one of the two people who nursed Lockheed back to health, so that’s a bummer.
Marauders just isn’t about anything anymore. It was never about a team of X-Men pirates, which remains a damn shame. And now it’s not even really about the Marauders. Not even Kate Pryde gets to be the star of this issue or this storyline. It almost feels like Duggan is spinning his wheels until we get to the Hellfire Gala. I just wish he’d found a more exciting way to spin those wheels. It’s all perfectly fine, but that’s about it.
TL;DR: Another rather boring issue of Marauders doesn’t even focus on the Marauders.
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Andres Genolet
Colorist: Dee Cunniffe
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Hey guys, you know what’s a good comic? Rainbow Rowell’s Runaways. Here we are, 35 issues in, and she’s still surprising the heck out of me!
The Runaways and X-Men have won the day and found themselves in front of a big house. A mother comes out and requests their aid with her daughter, a mutant, who seems to get really sick when she uses her powers — her powers being what caused all those monsters. Turns out her mother wrote the note to Krakoa because she wants her daughter to go there and be properly trained, but the daughter doesn’t want to leave mom alone. Wolverine convinces them that the daughter can come and go from Krakoa as much as she likes, and Nico uses her magic to “refresh” the girl. She decides to go to Krakoa, but Chase insists that Molly will be staying with the Runaways. Wolverine is cool with that (though Molly did learn a big lesson about balancing family and Krakoa).
We check in with Karolina, who is feeling better after spending all day in the clouds. She bumps into Chase, who seems to be headed to a date, though he won’t say. Karrie finds Nico and they talk. Nico loves her so so much and wants to be truthful: Nico tells Karolina about the magician that is seeping bits of her soul every time she uses her magic. Karolina is aghast and wants to destroy the Staff of One, but Nico can’t do it, because it’s the thing that makes her special.
We then check in on Chase on his date…with an older version of Gert! AAAAAHH!!!
Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.
OK, this issue gets such a high rating because of that last page reveal. My gosh, people! I cannot express in proper words how excited that ending made me. I did not see it coming AT ALL! Chase has been up to something for several issues now. I thought he’d gotten some secret job maybe. Even when his date was teased this issue, I thought that was fine. But then we see Gert in silhouette…and then we see her for real on the last page. And my freakin’ mind is blown! Rowell is so damn good at long term planning! This was a seed planted ages ago, back when they were fighting the children of the Gibborum. The idea of having Gert go back in time, live through the two years she missed so that she’d be the same age as everybody else, and then she’d come back and be a super awesome Gert…it happened! Our Gert hasn’t done it yet, but she will and it’s awesome and she looks awesome!
The rest of the issue is really good, too! Though it’s a little low key from the fun and funny I’ve come to expect from this series. I was so close to throwing Green Lantern #1 a bone as Comic Book of the Week this week until that final page reveal of Future Gert. Anyway, the bulk of this issue is two very good, very strong conversations. I hate in fiction when characters finally come together to have a conversation, but it’s a topic the audience already knows, so the show or movie skips the scene entirely. It robs us of the emotional impact of the conversation. When the Stark children finally reunite in the final season of Game of Thrones, I want to see the scene of them sitting down and enjoying each other’s company as they catch one another up on everything that’s gone on.
Thankfully, we get a lot of that in this issue. We see the X-Men walk this new girl through her powers and her potential. We see the look on Molly’s face as they assure the girl she can learn about her powers on Krakoa and still come back and visit her mom whenever she likes. And we get to watch the entire conversation where Nico not only tells Karolina she loves her, but then reveals the stuff about the magician! Thankfully, this conversation also served as a reminder of what his deal actually is. That new bargain was struck many many issues ago, and I don’t feel like digging through back issues to remember the specifics. But it’s a powerful conversation, touching on their trust in one another, as well as their reliance on power and what makes them special. Without the Staff of One, who is Nico Minoru? She was an Avenger once because of that staff! She can’t just give it up!
Runaways is back to firing on all cylinders and clearly Rowell has so many great story ideas still up her sleeve! This is what it’s like when Marvel doesn’t just cancel a book after 7 issues! I need to start buying both Rainbow Rowell’s other books and find some omnibuses of her Runaways comic…
TL;DR: Superbly written and enjoyable issue that focuses on some strong conversations…all leading up to one heck of a final page surprise!
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!