Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 8/28/21
In one week, I will have seen Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The wait is excruciating! So let’s read some comics to pass the time! Like Superman: Son of Kal-El and something to do with Thor!
Comic Book of the Week goes to Darkhawk #1 for a solid, enjoyable introduction to the new Darkhawk — even if the world wasn’t calling out for a new Darkhawk.
Meanwhile, I just finished the zombie show Kingdom on Netflix and it was amazing! I love me a good zombie show, but couldn’t care less about The Walking Dead anymore. But Kingdom was some epic stuff and highly recommended. It’s a zombie show set in feudal Korea. So we’re talking ancient weaponry, ancient defenses, when dealing with a zombie horde, plus a ton of political intrigue and fun characters. This was a good show and gets my highest recommendation.
Comic Reviews: Darkhawk #1, Strange Academy #12, Superman: Son of Kal-El #2, and Thor #16.
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Juanan Ramirez
Colorist: Erick Arciniega
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Darkhawk is one of those characters that I wish I liked. I first met the character in one of those early 90s trading card sets and I thought he looked cool as hell! I even own a copy of the original Darkhawk #1! But I’ve simply never been able to get into the character. So I’m ultimately fine with a reboot/new character, though part of me will always yearn to like Chris Powell.
We are introduced to Connor Young, a basketball superstar at Woodlawn High in the Bronx. He’s leading his team to another championship, and he’s got a scholarship to ESU. And Connor soon learns that he’s also got Multiple Sclerosis. He talks it out with his dad, his coach and his best friend, Derek, and they try to keep him positive as Connor begins to worry that he’s going to lose everything. But they take it slow, even if the pressure of not being able to play in the next big game starts weighing on him and Connor goes for a walk.
The neighborhood has recently come under attack from a gang of thieves using high-tech weaponry, and they hit a warehouse with a big explosion near where Connor is walking. He rushes in to help people get out and suffers another medical issue…his only hope being the amulet lying nearby calling his name. Connor grabs it, becomes the new Darkhawk, saves a dude and then fights off the thieves. Connor returns home to his dad feeling more confident, and we learn that the thieves are led by a guy Connor met previously in the issue, and that Derek is their newest member!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This was a good, solid, enjoyable first issue. Everything is set up nicely, and the Multiple Sclerosis plot is exactly the sort of shot in the arm I want in a new series like this. If Connor Young had just been a new Darkhawk, simple as that, this issue would have been boring as hell. But including that real world issue makes a whale of a difference and makes this mini-series worth reading. Now he’s a character with real conflict, with real stakes, and him becoming a superhero holds a lot more weight. I love a story where the secret identity has something debilitating and becoming the superhero alters that. I loved it with Hornet in Slingers and I loved it with Jane Foster in Thor. I look forward to that aspect of his character being explored as Darkhawk continues. And based on his issue, I’m confident Marvel and Higgins are going to treat Multiple Sclerosis with the weight it deserves. This isn’t just thrown off as some dart board trait. It’s baked into the character, and I think that will make for good reading.
Beyond that, the rest of the issue is solid. Young has got some good character traits that make for a solid foundation. He’s got a good supporting cast, and that twist with his best friend at the end is good enough to keep the story going. The villains aren’t anything yet, but enough groundwork is laid to also keep the story going. The Darkhawk part of it all feels almost tacked on. Connor Young could have received any sort of super-power and the issue would be the same. He could have picked up a Green Lantern ring or a Nova helmet or the Thing Rings and the issue would play out pretty much the exact same way. So hopefully Higgins has some plan for making the Darkhawk of all of this important. I love the new design of Darkhawk, at least. And the rest of the art is good, solid art as well.
TL;DR: There are enough interesting hooks in this issue to keep me reading, though this first issue doesn’t do much with the whole Darkhawk of it all.
Strange Academy #12
Writer: Skottie Young
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
This is still a fun enough comic. I don’t think, on its own, it’s anything truly special. It’s just a fun little comic having magical adventures.
Everybody fights Evil Calvin, who is revealed to be controlled by Mister Misery. It’s a tough fight, until Dessy comes up with the plan to overload the villain with misery. She goes full demon and just overstuffs him with misery and despair, aided by her classmates pouring on the teen angst and whatnot. They eventually separate Calvin from Mister Misery and Dessy eats up the villain. The day is saved, Toth is repaired and everybody group hugs a sad Calvin.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I would have given this a higher grade had the issue ended with Calvin having to leave the school. It would have been a much darker ending, I’ll admit, but it would have been real stakes. Otherwise, this is just an issue where everybody blasts at and banters with Mister Misery, with some truly phenomenal art. Humberto Ramos knows how to draw a giant tentacle goo monster covered in eyes and teeth, so this issue looks remarkable. The story is very straight forward, and it again suffers from my one major complaint for this series: too many main characters. Dessy steps up and gets a cool moment to defeat the monster, but what’s Dessy ever done? Who even is she? Various other characters get moments where they take a shot at the monster and get defeated, and they’re well-written moments, but I just don’t think the emotional weight is there with so many characters. And maybe this is just me, but I don’t really care about Toth. It’s nice that he’s repaired and he forgives Calvin, it’s a nice moment, but I’m just not invested. It is probably just me.
TL;DR: Really strong, really fine issue as our heroes take on a monster and win the day, with a nice happy ending. I still think the huge pile of main characters takes away from some of the emotional investment as a whole, but perhaps that’s just me.
Superman: Son of Kal-El #2
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: John Timms
Colorist: Gabe Eltaeb
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
We’re still in set-up mode and I’m fine with that. Nice little comic right here.
Jon Kent has a new fake identity as Finn Connors, and he’s ready for his first day at Metropolis College — until a gunman shows up, and Jon is forced to reveal himself in order to save everybody. He heads to the Moon to sulk about losing the secret identity, and his dad shows up to talk. They discuss the great injustices in the world and why Superman does nothing to stop them, and how Clark feels it might be Jon’s job, since Earth is Jon’s home planet. Clark then gives Jon the key to the Fortress of Solitude and a new costume.
Later that day, Jon is watching The Truth on YouTube and learns about a boat of refugees from Gamorra sinking in the Atlantic. So he suits up and saves the boat, taking it to Metropolis. The cops show up to take everybody into custody for processing, but Jon heat visions their hand-cuffs. He then goes to a rooftop to watch, and he’s greeted by the masked anchor from The Truth…who reveals himself to be one of the kids he’d met at college before the shooting started. The kid, Jay Nakamura, wants to help Jon, but first has to give him a crash course on Gamorra and its leader: Henry Bendix from Wildstorm.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This comic is fine. It’s all pretty good. It just might not be for me, largely because I’ve just never been a Superman guy, let alone a Jon Kent guy. I feel like this comic is doing everything it needs to do, just none of it is sticking for me. Jon is written well and pretty clearly. He’s a kid looking to find himself and define himself out of his father’s shadow, while not fully ready to rebel against the idea of Superman. Instead, Jon is looking to embrace some new avenues of being Superman, and I’m down with that. I’m interested to see where Taylor goes with it. I’m a little disappointed that Jon doesn’t get to have a secret identity, but I’m also willing to see where Taylor goes with that. Everything is set up pretty nicely.
The art is also really good. It’s solid comic book art, with Timms easily handling the big moments. I am naturally untrusting of some internet news agency telling Superman what to do. Between the name “The Truth” and the dude’s mask, I wouldn’t trust his reports as far as I could throw them. Has Taylor been on the internet? That sort of set up is far more likely to be some insane, right wing, anti-vax madhouse than some truth and justice young person just trying to do the right thing. So we shall see. But Taylor and Timms have done a fine job setting up this series and presenting Jon with some unique issues to tackle. I’ll see where this one goes.
TL;DR: Nothing in this series so far has lit a fire under me to keep reading, but everything is set up and handled nicely to make for a solid series debut.
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Michele Bandini
Inkers: Bandini and Elisabetta D’Amico
Colorist: Matt Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
I’m still hanging in with Donny Cates’ Thor. I like it well enough. But then Thor is just one of those characters I don’t particularly care about, so we’ll see where all of this is going.
Thor visits Jane Foster in New York to talk about all the recent stuff that’s been going on, though mostly Thor seems to be dodging all the serious topics. They stumble into a fight with the Wrecking Crew and kick butt, obviously. Thor then gets summoned to see his mom. She and Angela have summoned Thor and Odin both to talk.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
I dunno, this one is fine. But it’s also a whole lot of nothing. Thor and Jane have a nice talk, and the dialogue is solid, with some good scenes, but they don’t really talk about anything of consequence. It seems Thor just caught Jane up to speed on his current issues, and then he dodges any attempt by her to talk about those issues. There’s a funny scene where Thor reveals he’s more of a New Yorker than anyone alive considering he was around when it was New Amsterdam, but that scene is more just a clever bit than an actual scene. The fight with the Wrecking Crew is pretty standard. Cates doesn’t do anything with the fact that the Wrecker also has an Asgardian-powered weapon, but perhaps this is setting up something in the future. That would be fun. Thankfully, the cliffhanger with Freyja and Angela sounds pretty awesome, so I’m definitely still on board.
TL;DR: This issue is a bunch of pleasant conversations with a nice little fight scene. Nothing amazing, just a fine continuation of the story.
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!