Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 9/4/21

Boy howdy, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was a lot of fun and it’s good to have another Marvel movie under our belts! Expect my review/thoughts on Wednesday, like usual! Other than that, this was an oddly light week for me, with only a couple of DC Comics to enjoy.

Comic Book of the Week goes to Static: Season One #3 for an all-around really good comic book.

Needs a coat?

Meanwhile, to reiterate, I really enjoyed Shang-Chi and look forward to going again in a couple of weeks when the theater will be less crowded. That should be fun! And not that you have to do anything, but my birthday is on Monday. Just letting you know.

Comic Reviews: Batman: Fear State Alpha #1, Static: Season One #3 and Wonder Girl #3.

Fear State Alpha

Batman: Fear State Alpha #1
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Riccardo Federici
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

To give some more oomph to Tynion’s big Scarecrow story, here comes a little one-shot to really set up all the pieces.

We open with a flashback to Simon Saint recruiting Jonathan Crane out of Arkham. Crane wrote some graduate papers once about a “Fear State”, how pushing an entire society through a massive fear event could make them malleable for control. Saint has the resources to make this happen, and so the plan is hatched. Among the events of this issue, Sean Mahoney is doped up on fear toxin and is in the weeds. Saint sends the Peacekeepers into Alleytown as a show of force, which is where Catwoman and Poison Ivy are hiding. Scarecrow takes over Oracle’s computer and sends a message to Gotham citizens as “Oracle” to make them more afraid. Harley, Gardener, Ghost-Maker and the Unsanity Collective meet with Queen Ivy in her lair to request sanctuary. And Batman, who was the Scarecrow’s prisoner, escapes.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I’ve been enjoying Tynion’s Batman and this issue was a nice escalation of events. This is a nice table-setting issue to make sure all of our pieces are in place and the event itself can kick off. And it works splendidly in that regard. The tension builds, the threats feel real, the various characters all have their own little stories and parts to play. It all simply works. With some really strong art from Federici and his team. I especially enjoyed that opening flashback and how it nicely lays out what Fear State is about, where it comes from and what it will mean. So I understand the scope on a big picture scale, and then I enjoy the little picture stuff for each character. It’s all solid. I can’t say I’m blown away or in love or anything like that. I’m just enjoying a good, strong Batman comic book story. And I look forward to diving into the circus when it kicks off.

TL;DR: Tynion and his team do a mighty fine job setting up all of the pieces for Fear State, both big and small.

Static #3

Static: Season One #3
Writer: Vita Ayala
Artists: ChrisCross and Nikolas Draper-Ivey
Colorists: Draper-Ivey and Wil Quintana
Letterer: Andworld Design

This Static revival remains good, solid comic book storytelling. Simple as that.

Virgil is trapped in Curtis Metcalf’s storage locker with a lot of angry police outside. He grabs a protective suit and stuffs a bunch of science gizmos in a duffle bag and makes his escape, quickly learning that he can stop bullets with his lightning and move metal, including his signature manhole cover. Virgil flees back home and starts looking through the stuff he grabbed. He decides to make himself a costume, because he likes the idea of being a superhero. Looks damn cool. Then he goes up onto the roof to have a heart-to-heart with his dad, and it’s really nice.

Richie and Frieda show up to help with home repairs and they quickly bury the hatchet with Virgil. Everybody feels good. But in school the next day, it seems Hotstreak is now working with the feds to round up Bang Babies, and he leads them straight into the classroom to grab the likes of Derek Barnett and Daisy Watkins. Both Darius and Virgil are running late to class, and Darius is able to pull Virgil aside to hide from the round up.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I’m still not entirely invested in this series, but that could just be me. Everything is coming off very well, especially Virgil. I really liked his growth this issue, and I especially enjoyed the scene where he sews his own costume. Part of me feels like it’s a bit of a leap. Yes, he’s got super-powers, but it’s only in this issue that we’re introduced to the idea that he’s always wanted to be a superhero ever since he was a little kid, and we only get that nugget of info when he’s already making his costume. I feel like, maybe, that all could have been a bit smoother with a bit more overall progression. Like, the scene at the end, where it’s clear that Hotspot has joined the feds and is rounding up his friends; I think that would make for a perfect call to action for Virgil to make a costume and become a superhero. So perhaps the sewing scene could have waited an issue?

And a star is bone

But that’s not a major gripe and it does not detract from the quality of the issue. I’m perfectly fine with the idea of Virgil raiding a mentor’s secret storage unit to get a bunch of supplies. And I liked his showdown with the crooked cops, where he had to get creative with his powers to make his escape. That all worked great. As does the growing threat of the feds rounding up Bang Babies. There’s a palpable fear in the air for these kids. It’s all coming together very nicely. I also really enjoyed the chat between Virgil and his dad. Not enough comics these days slow down long enough for a real heart-to-heart conversation. That scene was very much appreciated.

TL;DR: There are a few minor nitpicks I might have, but otherwise this comic is coming along nicely, with solid growth for both our hero and the threat around him.

Wonder Girl #3

Wonder Girl #3
Writer and Artist: Joelle Jones
Artist: Adriana Melo
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

I am just not vibing with what this comic is putting out. There’s just something off the wavelength about everything Jones is throwing at us in Yara Flor’s story.

So a passenger plane full of people has just crashed in the rain forest and Yara wanders off. João rushes to her side, because he only exists to be in love with her. He wraps his arms around her and they start making out. Then Eros tries to shoot them with his arrow but he misses an easy shot. Then he’s chased off by some jungle spirits and Yara thinks he needs her help, so she chases after Eros, with João chasing after her. They get lost in the jungle and are suddenly surrounded by spirits, led by a witch doctor-esque crocodile woman who knows Yara’s name. Yara pulls out the bolo weapon she got from the mermaid and prepares to fight, but she doesn’t know what she’s doing and the weapon just slumps to the ground.

Eros shows back up and stabs her in the stomach with one of his magic arrows. Yara starts to feel funky and she goes with Eros, but then João, the crocodile lady and all of the spirits, including the arrival of Caipora from the Future State issues, try to get Yara to stay with them. But nah, Yara goes with Eros, with tears in her eyes and she promises to come back. Eros takes her straight up to Mount Olympus to meet Hera.

Meanwhile, Wonder Girl and Artemis fight off the assassins and team up to search for Yara. When they arrive at Iguazu Falls, they find a warrior who appears to be from Yara’s original tribe.

Comic Rating: 4/10 – Pretty Bad.

This issue is all over the place and I mostly felt confused and bothered by what was happening. It’s frustrating, because I really want to like this comic. I loved Jones’ Yara Flor Future State two-parter, and I really liked the first issue. But I am just not vibing with the story choices being made and presented. I feel like this series, and especially this issue, is just rushing through a bunch of crazy story beats instead of letting us get to know our new protagonist and her world. And then there are plenty of teases of that stuff, and I just want to focus on that! The mysterious and awesome-looking crocodile witch doctor lady shows up in this issue and she already seems really cool — but then the comic whisks us away to Hera and Mount Olympus, who we’ve encountered a bajillion times in comics, movies, TV shows and everything else. Hera and Mount Olympus are old news. Original, inventive, crocodile witch doctor ladies and their connection to Brazilian mythology seems far more interesting!

Yes, please embrace your destiny!

But it’s not just the comic whisking us away to Mount Olympus, it’s how the comic does it: with a bunch of cut and jumpy panels that spin around between Yara, João, Eros, crocodile lady, jungle spirits and more, without much explanation for what’s going on. Nothing feels permanent or real. Everything is so jumbled. Last issue, Yara was on an airplane and she immediately wanted to fight some random strangers who showed up in the aisle. Then the plane freakin’ crashes, but Yara doesn’t seem to care. She abandons all those people to go wandering in the jungle. Then she’s making out with João — which, again, eww — and then Eros is running from some jungle spirits? But the jungle spirits look like the West Wind, who was Eros’ ally at the end of last issue. Then Yara randomly decides she needs to chase after Eros to help him? What about helping all the people in the plane crash?

Then it’s a whirlwind of jungle spirits, Yara getting stabbed by a love arrow, Caipora showing up without any fanfare, and then Yara bidding a tearful goodbye as she goes with Eros. Why is it a tearful goodbye? Is that not a magic love arrow? Shouldn’t she be gladly and willingly going with Eros?

I haven’t even really mentioned the B-story with Wonder Girl and Artemis. That story feels a lot more structured and straight forward. But it’s also more meaningless. The two characters are searching for Yara…but the reader knows exactly where Yara is, and she’s completely unaware that she’s being hunted. So that story rests entirely on the shoulders of the two characters bantering…and that part is fine. It’s good enough to sustain interest. Though the guest art in those bits took a bit of a dive this issue. For some reason the backgrounds weren’t colored. They were just a flat color, even though we’re supposed to be in lush surroundings. That bit was a little annoying.

TL;DR: I’m just not enjoying the rushed, helter skelter storytelling, and this issue especially feels all over the place with characters, concepts and weirdness.

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 September 4, 2021, in Batman, Comics, DC, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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