Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 3/5/22

Good news and bad news, everybody! The good news is I’ll be going to see The Batman today and I’m expecting to have a good time! The bad news there might not be reviews next week, as I will be out of state attending my sister’s wedding! That’s good news for her! But we’ll see if I have any time before I leave to read and review some comics.

Comic Book of the Week goes to Static: Season One #6 for an awesome, heroic finale to this first storyline. Not sure why this comic needs seasons, but this season finale was cool as heck.

One opportunity…to seize everything you wanted…

Meanwhile, I beat Pokemon Legends: Arceus and now I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to splurge on Horizon Forbidden West yet, at least not until after I get back from my sister’s wedding next weekend. So maybe I’ll take up reading for the next week? We’ll see.

Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #91, Batman #121, One-Star Squadron #4, She-Hulk #2, Static: Season One #6 and X-Men #9.


Amazing Spider-Man #91

Amazing Spider-Man #91
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artists: Sara Pichelli and Fran Galan
Colorist: Brian Reber
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

I have no idea how the story is going to end, but we’re definitely building up something cool with Ben Reilly.

Peter and Ben assault Beyond’s Staten Island project, which is full of silly monsters. Ben is having one existential crisis after another, and Peter tries to help him keep it together. Misty Knight and Colleen Wing show up and join the fight. Ben eventually tries to hack into the system and gets a message from Maxine Danger. She wants him to come back into the fold, but Ben says he’s coming for her. He opens the mysterious Door Z and then takes off, leaving Spider-Man, Misty and Colleen to deal with a monstrous version of the Lizard.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

My one and only complaint about this issue is that, after building up Door Z for the entire issue as something crazy, it’s just a big version of the Lizard. He’s more monstrous this time around, but it’s still just the Lizard. Spider-Man and the Daughters of the Dragon can totally defeat a monster Lizard. Everything else in this issue continues the excellent storytelling we’ve seen so far. I love watching Ben and Peter work together, and I especially love how Ben is struggling and how that impacts everything around him. This issue really drives home the central conflict of this whole storyline, and I’m very much enjoying watching Ben be put through his paces and pushed into a corner by Beyond. Plus, we get a lot of fun character banter between the Daughters and the Spiders. That stuff is a hoot!

TL;DR: The excellent character drama continues to build as we near the end of this storyline, and it’s aided by some really fun character banter.


Batman #121

Batman #121
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artists: Jorge Molina and Mikel Janin
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

Chip Zdarsky has been announced as the new ongoing Batman writer and I am here for that! I’ve never read an ongoing Zdarsky comic before, so this is my chance.

Hopefully he’s as excited about Maps Mizoguchi as the new Robin as I am!

It’s Batman and Lex Luthor vs. Abyss and Batman Inc.! Except it’s not. As soon as the fight starts, Batman reveals that the Club of Heroes is totally still on his side, and this was all an undercover operation. And then Det. Cayha shows up with some police helicopters. Abyss gets away, but Batman steals some light tech from Luthor and goes after him to fight. Abyss eventually gets away for real.

When everything is laid on the table, we find out that Lex Luthor created Abyss and possibly others like him. When Abyss got out of control, Lex hired Batman Inc. to stop him, and they joined up in a secret effort to find out all of Lex’s evil plans. Then they appeared to join Abyss in a secret effort to find out Abyss’s evil plans. Both secret efforts worked, though Luthor gets off scot-free. Batman thanks them for their work and heads back to Gotham City.

In Karl Kerschl’s Maps Mizoguchi back-up, she doesn’t become Robin…but man, it’s close! The day is saved, but Maps figures out a bit more mystery. She almost gets killed, but Batman saves the day. Is the danger worth it to be Robin? You’re damn right!

Batman Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Robin Back-Up Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This was a strong finish to Williamson’s story though the amount of twists had me giggling a bit. I was already surprised at last issue’s twist that the Club of Heroes was working for Abyss, only for that to be triple twisted in this issue right off the bat. It was funny, but was also fine for the story. I’m glad the Club of Heroes aren’t murderous villains in the end. They’re a nifty part of the wider Batman world, and I’m glad they teamed up with the Dark Knight to fight bad guys in the end. There’s a bunch of cool action and some strong character writing throughout the issue, so it all comes together very well. The artwork is, likewise, phenomenal, so this is all good Batman storytelling.

Batman’s second family

My only real gripe is that there’s no real lasting impact. Lex Luthor goes free and the Club of Heroes remark about how that’s not fair. But such is comics, I guess. I’m especially disappointed that Abyss escaped in the end. Abyss should have been caught and imprisoned. He’s not so great of a villain that he needs to be free and out in the ether somewhere. This issue really made him pretty pathetic, in my opinion. Just a failed Luthor experiment who is desperate to lean into his Batman aesthetic. He’s not interesting enough to avoid getting beaten and arrested by Batman.

Chills

Also, the Maps back-up story is to die for. Who needs Damian Wayne? We’ve got Maps Mizoguchi being an awesome Robin, helping Batman, fighting monsters and not wanting to give up in the face of danger. Kerschl put together a phenomenal little story keeping this character in the existing sphere and I would love so much more!

TL;DR: A solid, enjoyable wrap-up to Batman’s international adventure, though there might be one too many triple crosses to be taken completely seriously. And the Maps Mizoguchi back-up feature is worth the price of admission alone for the entire comic, in my opinion.


One-Star Squadron #4

One-Star Squadron #4
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Steve Lieber
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Dave Sharpe

This is a tough little comic to chew on, but I feel like it’s building to a strong finish.

Red Tornado has been ordered by the board of directors to lay off half the staff of Heroz4U, so he brings everyone into the conference room and tells them the bad news…but doesn’t get around to laying anybody off just yet. Power Girl makes a call to the board and they fire her over the phone. She’s in a bad place. Red then deals with a sad sack parade of heroes who don’t want to lose their jobs, so he convinces himself that he’ll return to the board and refuse. He’s nervous as heck but goes through with it…only to be interrupted and told that the board successfully sold the company, so nothing he’s saying matters. Red heads back to the office, his mind racing with complications. If he’d gone through with the lay offs, it wouldn’t have mattered at all to the board and their sale, but a bunch of people would be out of work. It’s a head scratcher, to be sure. Though when he gets to the office, the building is on fire.

Meanwhile, Gangbuster gets spooked by some Trick or Treaters (it’s Halloween) and he gets into a fight with some locals.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

The satire is very in your face in this issue, as the board of directors continues to just go off the rails in how silly and madness-inducing they are. But they’re not the focus of the story. The real meat of this comic is the mental struggle of Red Tornado, and Russell and Lieber are nailing it. His drive back to the office started to really lay down the themes and worries of this comic, and I could feel it coming into its own at long last — at least for me. We’ve got two issues left before the end, and I feel like we’re building to something really good. Otherwise, the issue and this series as a whole mostly feels like a bunch of really pathetic scenes hammering home how sad this whole idea is. I feel bad for Flying Fox. But then he is Flying Fox. Still, the humor is good, the character bits are definitely interesting and I like the whole theme overall. I feel like this will be one of the good ones by the end.

TL;DR: The themes begin to solidify and the satire is stronger than ever as we gear up for the end of One-Star Squadron.


She-Hulk #2

She-Hulk #2
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Rogê Antônio
Colorist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

I think this is my most anticipated comic each month. I cannot wait to see what Rainbow Rowell does with She-Hulk! And I can’t wait for that She-Hulk TV show!

Jack of Hearts has crashed into Jen’s new apartment, which is strange, because he’s supposed to be dead. Jack tells her the whole story about how he died and then woke up again in some containment tube, managed to break out and flew to Earth specifically looking for her, though he can’t remember why. As he recovers, he learns that he can get hungry and thirsty again, something he didn’t need to do before, and he can sleep, which is also new. He passes out on Jen’s couch. The next morning, she leaves him sleeping while she heads into work.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

I can sum up this entire issue with one sentence: “Jack of Hearts is back and we’re not gonna tell you how/why yet.” That’s cool for Jack of Hearts fans, but this is a She-Hulk comic and she barely factors into this story. We’re only issue #2. After all that great character set up in issue #1, I would have liked to have seen that continue. Instead, this whole issue is just a vague explanation of how Jack of Hearts is back, while purposefully keeping all the details a mystery. There’s nothing to latch onto as a reader. There’s nothing unique or interesting revealed about his return. He’s never been a particularly popular character, let alone a character important to She-Hulk. So I dunno.

Got a cup of sugar?

Don’t get me wrong, I trust in Rainbow Rowell’s use of Jack of Hearts, if that’s the character she wants to use. If I ever get lucky enough to write a Marvel comic, you best believe I’m gonna find some way to use the Mimic. But the trick is to write the story in a way that the reader can love your chosen obscure character as much as you do, and I don’t think this issue succeeds. The parts that focus on She-Hulk definitely succeed, like her eventful walk to work the following morning. I loved that stuff. But the majority of this issue trades in fun She-Hulk stuff for vague, mystery box Jack of Hearts stuff. Maybe it will pay off once the whole story is told, but this first issue introducing the mystery fails to capture my interest.

TL;DR: Most of the momentum from the first issue is bled dry when this issue spends almost its entire time establishing a very boring mystery. We already know that Jack of Hearts is back under mysterious circumstances. We don’t need an entire issue, especially not a second issue, that just heavily underlines the “mysterious circumstances” part.


Static: Season One #6

Static: Season One #6
Writer: Vita Ayala
Artist: Nikolas Draper-Ivey
Letterer: Andworld Design

Season Two has been announced for this summer, which is just weird to me. Why did this series need to be broken down into “seasons” when they’re only six issues long? It just makes the title of the comic a bit cumbersome.

Static faces off against the freed Bang Babies who work for the government, but he holds his own in his fight and shows compassion. He convinces them to be people instead of selling themselves to the G-Men. When one of the bad guys gets on the speaker to order them all to surrender, Virgil takes the last of the power pills and uses all of his energy to destroy the servers in the basement. It’s pretty damn badass.

Everyone gets away and Static is in business. His family approves of what he’s doing, and he and his friends are setting up networks and social media alerts to know about Bang Baby appearances going forward. Meanwhile, various bad guys continue to conspire in the shadows.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Virgil comes into his own with a couple really awesome hero moments in this issue, underlining the strength of his character and this series. And that’s what you want in superhero comics, right? Static proves his hero bonafides and makes his stand. We’ve got this great fight with a bunch of different bang babies, and I loved how Virgil spent most of the fight trying to talk to them. He recognizes at least one of them and tries to talk to him like a person, about how this isn’t what his family would want. It’s a cool moment. As is the moment where Virgil knocks one of the bad guys down and then offers him a hand up instead of finishing him off. It’s a very strong statement on the type of hero Virgil is going to be.

I know you’re a giant, walking blob of light…but be better

Then those cool, personal moments lead to a really cool super-powers moment, as Virgil pushes everything to the limit to show what he can do. These are great moments and a great way to establish him as a new superhero. The artwork also goes out of its way to be extreme in this big scene, and I especially enjoyed the moment afterwards, where Virgil is out of power but doesn’t want to show it. So he just lights up one finger to make some subtle threats to the remaining feds, it’s cool, it gets his message across, and the reader knows that it’s actually all he’s capable of anymore. Very cool moment.

Part of me still thinks the art is a little too wild, but that’s the style and it works where it needs to work.

TL;DR: The first season of Static ends on a very high note, with some great character and superhero moments to solidify this version of Static. Not sure why the series needs to be broken down into seasons, though.


X-Men #9

X-Men #9
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: C.F. Villa
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Apparently a bunch of stuff is happening elsewhere in the Marvel Universe and then it gets casually mentioned in this new issue of X-Men. It’s slightly confusing.

This issue is all over the place and almost none of it has to do with any of the ongoing X-Men storylines from this specific comic. I’ll see if I can sum everything up. Orchis breaks MODOK out of jail and brings him on board (Also, Abigail Brand apparently joined Orchis at the end of SWORD?). The Quiet Council votes against taking the war to Orchis. An Arakki mutant named Redroot became trapped in Otherworld during X of Swords, and Storm recruits Sunfire to, I guess, go on a rescue mission with her. We do get a nice little scene of Sunfire building a house on Mars, with Storm paying him a visit.

Also, apparently Knowhere was destroyed? So now Cosmo lives on Oblitus, a patchwork space station where pirates hang out? Rogue and Gambit go there to get info on Gameworld, only to find that Destiny is already there. Rogue and Gambit get into a bar brawl with the scoundrels, all while Destiny and Gambit bicker and banter. Our heroes learn nothing at the end of the fight.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

So this issue can be split cleanly down the middle around two very different avenues: really great character interactions and wild, untethered plot moments. I loved the former a hell of a lot more than the latter, and the former easily makes the issue worthwhile. There’s a fun but brief scene between MODOK and Dr. Stasis that reveals Stasis is a bit flamboyant. Did we know that already? Still good. There’s also a gorgeous scene between Storm and Sunfire, providing a ton of Sunfire character development that has been regrettably missing so far. There has to be a reason he was chosen for this X-Men team, and I want to see more scenes like this. But the biggest and best scene of them all is the extended bar brawl, wherein Gambit and Destiny bicker and banter with one another now that he’s her son-in-law. It’s wonderful!

Mothers-in-law, amiright?

But all those great character interactions are offset by some otherwise confusing and random plot developments. I didn’t know Abigail Brand worked for Orchis now, but she’s on board with Stasis recruiting MODOK for whatever. I didn’t know Knowhere had been destroyed, but it’s brought up when we visit Oblitus, because Gambit and Rogue are all of a sudden investigating Gameworld. I know the X-Men know about Gameworld, but I didn’t know this was how they were approaching it. Feels random. And then we’ve got an extended scene of Storm trying to put together a rescue mission for Redroot. Were we supposed to remember Redroot? X of Swords came out a year and a half ago, and we’re supposed to remember what happened to that character? And care enough to warrant a rescue mission? Storm isn’t even a member of the X-Men. Neither is Gambit. To say nothing of my own personal distaste for all things Arakki.

TL;DR: The writing, art and character work of this X-Men comic remain top notch and make it a truly enjoyable read, but this issue seems to throw a lot of random, arbitrary, disconnected plot elements into the mix for some reason.


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.

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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 March 5, 2022, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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