Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 2/26/22
We’re one week away from The Batman movie and two weeks away from my sister’s wedding! I’m gonna have a pretty busy March. Thankfully, this week had some nice, enjoyable comics, including Spider-Man and Saga.
Comic Book of the Week goes to Strange Academy #16 for a truly heartbreaking story.
Meanwhile, I’m finally watching the third season of Doom Patrol and it’s pretty darn good. This series seems to have fallen off a lot of radars, but it’s still great! I’ve also entered the endgame of Pokemon Legends: Arceus. Hopefully I’ll be able to entertain myself catching all the Pokemon, to stave off that desire to spend $60 on Horizon Forbidden West.
Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #90, Saga #56 and Strange Academy #16.
Amazing Spider-Man #90
Writer: Patrick Gleason
Artist: Mark Bagley
Inkers: Andrew Hennessy, John Dell, Andy Owens, Wayne Faucher and Victor Olazaba
Colorists: Bryan Valenza, Dijjo Lima and Andrew Crossley
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Honestly, this has all been just plain quality comics. I rarely have much to say about the Beyond storyline other than it’s all generally good stuff!
Spider-Man battles the Queen Goblin and he’s mostly getting his butt-whooped, since she’s using all the data Beyond has gathered on how Spider-Man operates. She’s able to hit him with her Goblin Stare, which opens all his mental wounds and Peter sinks to the bottom of the East River. But a visit from Mind Ben snaps him out of it and he returns the attack, disabling the Queen Goblin enough to get her to flee. Peter is fished out of the river by the Coast Guard and he, Mary Jane and Black Cat figure out that Beyond is falling back to their Staten Island operation, which is where Ben is headed.
Peter reunites with Ben and together they suit up and head out to take down Beyond for good!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Seeing Peter Parker dig down deep and come up with the strength, courage and power to fight a bad guy is always fun. And with Bagley on art, the action easily keeps up with the super heroic drama. I liked that Ben Reilly was the voice that helped Peter find the strength he needed at the bottom of the river. Ben is the focus of this whole storyline, so it’s good that he’s important here. It’s still a little weird that Ben Reilly is a supporting character in Spider-Man comics these days, but I can roll with it. I’m a little disappointed that we never saw Kaine in this whole series.
I don’t think this Beyond arc is going to go down as some all-time Spider-Man classic, but the various creators and artists rotating in and out of Amazing Spider-Man these days are turning out good, fun comics. No fuss, no muss, just Peter Parker and his allies going through a whole thing with humor, great action, great use of classic characters and all around general quality. This issue heavily features a nifty new villain and really pushes all those classic Spider-Man buttons. It’s good stuff.
TL;DR: Good, quality Spider-Man issue that keeps the story closely tied to the characters and makes good use of a nifty new villain.
Writer: Brian K. Vaughn
Artist: Fiona Staples
I don’t know how long I’ll keep reviewing Saga. I’m pretty sure it’s going to fall into the same cycle it did last time. If you readers want me to keep reviewing Saga, let me know in the comments.
Turns out, Alanna and her crew get along pretty well with the pirates that hijacked them last issue. In fact, they want Alanna to do a job for them…until we find out that the leader doesn’t like people with wings, and he gets pretty violent and evil when Alanna refuses to reveal herself. Meanwhile, the Robot Kingdom reacts to the death of Prince Robot IV.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
As always, Saga remains an all-around genuinely fun comic book. The characters are superb and written with such care and joy. The artwork is stellar, with everyone full of emotion and life. And Vaughn continues to find cute and fun ways to stick in little bits of charm, like Hazel not knowing what a guitar is. He also dropped one of this series’ classic teases, that Hazel and Squire are going to spend a lot of great time on this pirate ship going forward, in spite of that crazy ending when the pirate skipper reveals his violent side. I love these little teases, it’s such a weird/fun choice for the narrator.
The issue itself contains a lot of fun moments. I really liked the pirate skipper when he, at first, revealed himself to be a cool dude who was more than willing to work with some fellow smugglers. That was a fun twist…until it twisted back to him being violent and evil. That sucked. But the scene where the rest of the pirate crew introduce Hazel to their massive music library was radical. This universe is full of surprises and I look forward to exploring these news ones. Though, again, I do worry that Saga is just gonna fall back into the cycle of some random adventures with random people before moving on to something completely different, where Hazel gets incrementally older.
TL;DR: Another character and craziness-filled issue of Saga. Always full of twists and surprises that feel natural and work so well for the story. Always full of strange new ideas that work perfectly for Saga.
Strange Academy #16
Writer: Skottie Young
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Calvin might be the character I hate most in all of comics now. And I still worry that they’re trying to make him sympathetic.
It’s the day of the Winter Formal and the students are decorating the lakehouse. There’s a new rule that they’re not supposed to use magic outside of class because of some problems with the source. Calvin is caught dealing drug magic to other students and he’s promptly expelled. Doyle is having a hard time working up the courage to ask Emily to the dance, but he finally succeeds after a bunch of adorable awkwardness.
But the night of the dance, Emily is running late, and she bumps into a bitter Calvin packing up his stuff. She’s shocked that he’s being expelled and she wants to help him, deciding Calvin is more important than some silly dance. Little does she know that she’s utterly breaking Doyle’s heart by being a no-show.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
As I’ve said all along, I’m here for the fun teen drama. I could care less about the actual magic classes or any of the silly field trips. Give me gripping character drama! And that’s exactly what this issue is about, so I rather enjoyed it. And I like that Young isn’t being too predictable. Having Calvin discovered by the faculty immediately and then expelled is not what I thought would happen. I definitely think the character is a twerp, though. Part of me thinks we’re supposed to identify with him or feel sorry for him, but that’s not happening for me. He stumbled into some dark magic, it got rightfully taken away and then the whole school decided to both pity him and expect him to be great; and all the while he proved himself to be a total goon. Now he’s a drug dealer with an attitude problem. I’m glad he’s expelled!
And using that expulsion to impact the adorableness that is Emily and Doyle is some great storytelling.
It’s great because it absolutely fits the characters involved. Calvin is bitter about it and believes his expulsion is unfair. Emily has been anti-establishment for a while, so it makes total sense that she would immediately jump to Calvin’s defense. She doesn’t know the whole story and Calvin isn’t about to tell her. And then it’s utterly sad but completely understandable that Emily would think it no big deal that she’s missing the dance. I’m sure she thinks Doyle is hanging out with everybody else and having fun. And seeing poor Doyle with his heartbroken…my poor boy! It’s all great character drama, with some great art to boot. I love a school dance story like this.
My only concern is…Emily couldn’t shoot Doyle a text? She’s seen holding her phone to check the time when she realizes she’s late. And don’t kids today do a lot of texting? I realize the magic of cell phones can get in the way of classic character drama, but it needs to be considered, especially when you’re writing about teenagers.
TL;DR: Some really fun, really well-done character drama makes for a super swell winter formal issue. I love a good school dance storyline, and this one does not disappoint.
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.