Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 5/29/21

Oh what a week for comics, my friends! I guess. Some pretty good stuff this week, but not as good as last week, I’m afraid. We’ve got solid work from Detective Comics and Robin, at least. I’m just not really feeling it this week. I’ve been really tired lately. But don’t worry about me! I splurged on some new LEGO to make me happy.

Comic Book of the Week goes to Beta Ray Bill #3, making another solid push to become the best comic of the year already! Just look at what we get in this issue!

This is everything I want from comic books

Meanwhile, I’ve dropped the Harley Quinn comic because I just wasn’t feeling it this week. And another issue of Strange Adventure came out. It was OK…but I think this whole series has just been one long, slow attempt by Tom King to ruin everything that might have ever been good or fun about Adam Strange. If you thought you liked Adam Strange, wait until you find out how he’s a liar and a war criminal! The series.

Comic Reviews: Beta Ray Bill #3, Detective Comics #1036, Robin #2 and X-Men #20.

Beta Ray Bill #3

Beta Ray Bill #3
Writer/Artist: Daniel Warren Johnson
Colorist: Mike Spicer
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino

Beta Ray Bill’s long, dark journey of the soul continues and I am 100% here for it.

The magics of Muspelheim have transformed Skuttlebutt into a robo-lady, though she’s also still the ship. It’s weird for everybody. They’re soon attacked by the chaotic denizens of this land, and Pip and Skurge man the guns! It’s a brutal fight, and they’re forced to dive down into a lava river to get away. Skuttlebutt manages to use the magic to transform the spaceship into an actual ship to ride the lava.

As they head for the energy source deeper in Muspelheim, Bill and Skutt take some time to connect. They break the ice with a game of ping pong and then Skutt introduces Bill to her records room, where she’s stored every interaction they’ve ever had. Skuttlebutt feels like she knows herself and her world for the first time. Then she gives Bill a cool new robo-ax. It comes in handy when they’re attacked again, and Bill, Pip and Skurge fight off some invaders while Skuttlebutt transforms herself into a submarine.

They dive deep, with hull integrity getting weaker, but they push through to the other side into open air…and a giant, looming creature in the darkness!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This is about as fun as comic books get. Have I mentioned that yet? Holy heck is this a fun, well-rounded comic book. It’s got a little bit of everything. The character stuff is fantastic. It’s deep, it’s introspective, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun! We’ve got Beta Ray Bill having deep conversations with his best friend, who is now a sexy, physical robot lady. And we’ve got Skurge manning the biggest guns he can find. The action and storytelling are clear and very exciting. We’re diving deep into this fiery realm, with all sort of fights and twists and new ideas. Skuttlebutt transforms into a ship to sail an ocean of lava? Heck yeah! This is everything I could want from a Beta Ray Bill comic. Big, creative adventure and smart, personal character development. I’m loving it!

Drink it in

And the artwork is something else. In my old age, I have come to appreciate more stylized artwork, if it fits and if it looks good. Johnson is outperforming any possible expectation for art on a Beta Ray Bill comic! These characters are so full of life! This action is so full of energy! The ping pong game is drawn with as much style and energy as that bar fight from last issue. And I love it so much. This comic is full of strong energy, strong characters and strong storytelling. This is one of those comics that I’ll likely buy the physical tpb for after its done because I’m loving it so much. I want it to be part of my collection.

TL;DR: The artwork in this comic just keeps getting better and better, to say nothing of the really strong character work and storytelling. Beta Ray Bill is everything comics should be.

Detective Comics #1036

Detective Comics #1036
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Dan Mora
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer Aditya Bidikar

Both Batman comics are doing really well right now, especially on artwork.

Bruce rushes the zombie body of Sarah Worth into his home, though not before another neighbor, Lydia, sees him and gets suspicious. She calls the cops while Bruce realizes that “Sarah Worth” is some type of Clayface, though not the one he knows. He hides the new Clayface while the cops show up and search the place, finding nothing. He takes Clayface out in a bag and gets stopped by Huntress, who is investigating a recent string of homicides involving young women. The Clayface gets free and Batman has deduced that it’s Lady Clayface, and he and Huntress track her into the sewer. She composes herself and explains that she was in Arkham when it exploded, and she seeped down into the sewers, where it’s likely she saw the murder of Sarah Worth. She mentions Neil, and Batman and Huntress track him down…only Neil dies with some strange purple gunk in his eyes.

Some of the Penguin’s goons find a homeless man with that same purple gunk in his eyes. Also, Lydia is found dead the next day.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

This is still a fun mystery story. Simple as that. I don’t think we’ve seen anything particularly clever yet. Nothing to make this a proper mystery. But we’ve got some strange events going on, and Tamaki is writing it all well. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a little disappointed that she is in the process of killing off all of the potentially interesting new supporting characters for Bruce Wayne. Like, damn, Bruce moves into the city proper and everyone on his block is immediately murdered in some grand plot? But I’ve accepted that that is what this story is about. So be it. Their deaths are interesting, as are the various turns of events in this comic. Huntress has had some nice back-up stories so far, and her arrival in the main story as a foil for Batman works great. This is good, solid Batman comics, with a strong story and great use of character.

And the artwork, of course, is second to none. Dan Mora is on fire with this series and hopefully we see a lot, lot more of him in Batman and other comics!

TL;DR: Good, solid, enjoyable Batman comics, with a strong story and great use of characters.

Robin #2

Robin #2
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Gleb Melnikov
Colorist: Luis Guerrero
Letterer: ALW’s Troy Peteri

We are very close to having a comic called “Robins” that will examine all of the kids under the mask. A preview came out this week and it was fun. So how does regular, only singular Robin hold up?

Damian’s wound heals and he wakes up on a slab. Ravager is there to greet him and she explains the rules of the tournament: all fights are to the death, at which point you will be resurrected. Everybody gets three deaths. You’re allowed to leave the island after your second death, but the third death is permanent. The winner of the tournament gets immortality. Damian immediately launches into a killing spree on the beach, taking out a half dozen warriors just to prove he can. Ravager then introduces his toughest challengers: Respawn, XXL, Flatline (the girl who killed him last issue), Black Swan and Hawke. Robin rejects Ravager’s offer to help him.

Robin sneaks away at night to investigate the island. He’s joined by Flatline, who likes teasing him. They discover a gigantic Lazarus Pit deep within the island. Ravager shows up and tells Robin that she can teach him something Batman never could: how to have fun! She takes him to a beach party!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I like what I see. The set up continues in this issue, and it’s good set up. We learn the rules and get to see Damian Wayne cut loose a little, while also getting to better know both Ravager and Flatline. And I like all of that. This is a storyline-based comic, at least so far. Williamson has set up this crazy fighting tournament and he’s dropped Damian Wayne right in the middle. He’s clearly having fun with characters and set-up, and I’m enjoying that. He keeps the dialogue moving nicely, and we’ve got plenty of action and now mystery. He’s also clearly loving the hell out of Flatline, which is a hoot. She works well with Damian.

He can’t help himself

So it would seem like we’ve got a solid, enjoyable comic on our hands. Williamson has laid out what Damian will face in the tournament, and added a bit of mystery with that Lazarus Pit. And, as always, I am 100% in favor of comic book characters getting to unwind and have some fun. I am definitely looking forward to seeing Damian exist in this party setting. And I trust Williamson and his team to make it fun. Let Damian have fun!

TL;DR: More set-up for the story, and it’s interesting set-up with some cool characters.

X-Men #20

X-Men #20
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Francesco Mobili
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Jonathan Hickman’s time writing this series is drawing to a close, so he’s started setting up some of his bigger plots to pay off. I am very much here for it.

Mystique is sent on a mission to the Orchis Station, where Dr. Gregor has completed Nimrod and implanted her husband’s memories/life force inside. The newly active Nimrod immediately detects the mutant Mystique and she’s forced to run, setting off the singularity bomb that Forge made for her. Nimrod is able to duplicate himself and one part of him kills Mystique, while another part gets Dr. Gregor to safety and another part teleports the bomb away from the station. Unfortunately, the memories/life force had not yet spread to the entire body…and they were lost in the duplicate that sacrificed itself. So Nimrod survives…but without the memories/life force of Gregor’s husband.

Mystique is resurrected on Krakoa and reports to Xavier and Magneto that her mission was a failure. This means they will not move her wife, Destiny, to the front of the resurrection queue like they’d promised. Mystique is quite angry. But Xavier and Magneto move on to the next part of their plan and go to visit Moira MacTaggert — who just so happens to be reading Destiny’s diaries!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This issue was more about moving the larger story along, and I’m down for that. But this was also a nice little Mystique story. I like Mystique. Who doesn’t? And she gets to go on a solid spy adventure, and gets to have a nice conversation with Forge to open the issue. I like Hickman’s dialogue, and I like the meta plot he’s been building in the background, so I liked a lot about this issue. He even made Nimrod pretty interesting and compelling, and I couldn’t give two shakes of a rat’s butt about Nimrod.

I am especially not into hot Nimrod makeout scenes

I only wish all of this stuff had been part of an actual ongoing comic, and that we were closely familiar with these characters and their struggles. But Hickman’s X-Men has been an anthology series, only touching base with a couple of things here and there. I’m just not as invested in Moira and Mystique and their stuff as I was back in the heart of House of X/Powers of X. A lot has happened since then. And while it’s still important to Mystique, when was the last time we even saw Mystique? These are great stories in the bigger picture, but we’re reading this comic on the small scale, issue-by-issue.

Still, it was a fun enough Mystique adventure.

TL;DR: Some pieces get moved around for the bigger picture story that Hickman has been telling, and he also delivers a fun little Mystique adventure.

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 May 29, 2021, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Great reviews.
    Thanks for reviewing Nightwing last week, that made me pick UP the issue, and man It was fun! All the batfamily members that I like in a good story, withoit Damians and hoodies..
    About X-Men, I didn’t quite understand Nimrod.. couldn’t Gregor send the copy to stop the bomb, and preserve the version with the memories??

    • Thanks for reading!

      As for X-Men, I understood it as either Gregor just not thinking that quickly or he was making a noble sacrifice to save his wife. It was a split second decision and he wanted to save her.

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