Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 9/10/22
What a gorram week. It was my birthday this past Tuesday, and what did I get? A real nasty cold! The worst cold I’ve had in years. Was it COVID? I don’t know, because I don’t have any at-home tests lying around, and I barely left my apartment. Just went out to get stronger meds and didn’t find any tests at the drug store. Ugh.
Comic Book of the Week goes to Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #4 for a truly exceptional issue that works on multiple levels, while keeping the focus squarely on Steve Rogers the man.
Meanwhile, ugh, this cold really sucked! I didn’t do much else. I watched Paper Girls on Amazon Prime and that was a let down. It was like an early 2000s Nickelodeon attempt to do Paper Girls, with no real budget. The Sandman was great on Netflix. And Total War: Warhammer 3 is living up to the years of hype. So other than the cold, I’m good.
Comic Reviews: Batman #127, Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #4 and She-Hulk #6.
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Welp, this is definitely the Tim Drake as Robin comic book of my dreams right here. I can only hope his upcoming solo series is this cool.
The Batman of Zur-En-Arrh takes on Failsafe with Robin’s help. We learn that Failsafe was created by Zur-En-Arrh as the ultimate means to take out Batman, in the wake of the Tower of Babel storyline. The fight is as nasty as they’ve all been so far, with Bruce snapping out of his Zur-En-Arrh mindset when that guy insists that Robin is just a soldier, whereas Bruce regards Tim as his son. He gets Tim to safety and seems prepared to sacrifice himself to Failsare…but then Superman shows up!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Hot damn, another burner of an issue here. Zur-En-Arrh lives up to his reputation and kicks butt. And the idea of Failsafe being created by him to stop Batman, that’s pretty neat. Definitely an acceptable escalation after I was a little worried that using him at all was a bit too unoriginal. This works for me. Heck, Zdarsky even teased Robin of Zur-En-Arrh! Shame we didn’t get to see that. Still, Zur-En-Arrh and Tim Drake armed with lightsabers fighting Failsafe like there’s no tomorrow makes for one hell of a comic. This is Batman and Robin action at its finest!
The whole story has been working very well at putting Batman up against a wall. He’s beaten, he’s bloodied; even his own mind is betraying him. But he clings to what he can, stands up for those he loves, and we get some great character stuff out of it. That’s what matters to me when reading a comic like this. I’m just having a ton of fun with these great character scenes and moments. Both Batman and Robin are written well and true to themselves, with some career-defining artwork from Jimenez and crew.
TL;DR: This comic is pure fun Batman and Robin goodness, the exact sort of thing I love to read. Zdarsky takes some classic ideas and adds some new twists on top of them, and it totally works for me here.
Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #4
Writers: Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly
Artist: Carmen Carnaro
Colorist: Nolan Woodard
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
This issue is a finely tuned machine.
Steve Rogers has returned home to digest everything he’s learned about the Outer Ring, and the new villain, Redacted, watches him from stealth mode. Steve checks in with Bucky and all his new supporting cast friends, talking to them about life, the shield, the American Dream and a bunch of other topics. Then Steve heads into a dark alley and reveals that he knows Redacted is following, and he notes that Redacted didn’t attack throughout the day, but was obviously listening — which is good, because all those conversations were for his benefit.
Redacted attacks now, but Steve talks to them about their place in this whole thing, and how it doesn’t have to be at the whims of the Outer Circle. In the end, Redacted switches sides and agrees to join Steve’s fight.
Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.
I’ve said it in these reviews a hundred times before, and I’ll say it again here: I love it when characters get to be people first and superheroes second. And this issue is all about Steve Rogers being a human being, confronting this new threat like a human being. He isn’t summoning his Secret Avengers to go fight the bad guys. He’s letting it stew over in his brain, sharing ideas and conversation with real people in his life to get a better understanding of what he’s up against and what he’s going to have to do. And then the coup de grace is that all of these conversations were also an attempt to sway Redacted onto his side. He doesn’t just suit up and punch the villain, like any other comic. He studies the villain from afar and then turns the tables on him! It’s a brilliant set-up and pay-off, and exactly what this comic has been about since the beginning.
That kind of creative writing is what I really enjoy in a good comic. The writing team told a perfectly awesome story in their own right, about Steve connecting with his supporting cast, and then they added a whole different level by the end to help explore the new character they’ve introduced. All with continually stunning artwork by the whole art team. They do another stellar job with the double-page fight scenes, while also easily handling the human side of the story, too. This comic is the whole deal.
My only gripe is that Redacted has a terrible design. This issue is all about connecting with his human side and convincing him to switch sides…but Redacted is this big, amorphous robot thing. It has no real design to it, all just one gray color. And it’s so robotic that I didn’t think it had a human side to reason with. If this villain had been more human, with a cool comic book design, that would have been far far sweeter.
TL;DR: Some very creative, clever writing raises this issue up a few notches, and it’s already a pretty great exploration of the human side of Steve Rogers in the face of the new, big threat.
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Luca Maresca
Colorist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
This comic is making me rethink my future goal of shoving my own pet characters into whatever Marvel Comics I’m eventually hired to write someday.
She-Hulk meets Patsy Walker for Eat Cake in Fancy Dresses Wednesday, and they have a lovely time as Patsy hands over the Avengers’ case file on Jack of Hearts. Jen then heads into work and takes a meeting with Nightcrawler, where Kurt hires her to be legal liaison for all of Krakoa. Mallory Book is angry at the superhuman clients, but when she finds out about Krakoa, she’s fully on board. Also, Mallory and Awesome Andy are dating, and Jen checks in with Andy to make sure it’s all above board.
When she returns home, the comic grinds to a halt as Jen once again just hangs out and has a bland conversation with Jack of Hearts. Only this time, the issue stops beating around the bush and finally has the two of them kiss and hook up.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This comic is night and frickin’ day. And I’m like a broken record. Everything in this issue not about Jack of Hearts is pure gold. Jen and Patsy wearing fancy dresses and eating cake while they gossip? Glorious! Nightcrawler showing up in civilian clothing to hire Jen to be the legal liaison for all of Krakoa, dealing with such minor things as American drivers licenses? I eat that stuff up! The work drama of Book, Jen and Andy? Yes, please! Superhero and supernatural legal issues in general? Yes, make that the damn comic! That’s the TV show and it’s a great TV show! Seriously, every fun idea and every well-written character in most of this comic is 110% what I was hoping we’d get from Rowell on She-Hulk. It’s full of energy, personality and style, with artwork that easily keeps up and enhances the whole experience. This is great comics.
Until we get to Jack of Hearts and the whole dang thing grinds to a halt. I wouldn’t have a problem with the Jack of Hearts stuff if there was any indication that it was going anywhere. Nearly every single issue of this comic — six issues in total — has featured a long, drawn out conversation between Jen and Jack. And yet we are not one iota closer to solving the mystery of his return. They have done less than nothing to solve or explore this mystery, which was clearly set up as mysterious at the start of the series. Instead, it’s just been them talking about Jack of Hearts’s house in Connecticut or his inability to be a worthwhile superhero. And when the two of them kiss and hook up at the end of this issue, it’s not some glorious release valve. It’s the most obvious moment of the entire series so far.
There was no drama, no magic to this romance. A hot dude just showed up in Jen’s life and, after several long conversations about nothing, she kisses him.
TL;DR: This comic is all about teasing the really interesting legal superhero stuff, only to reveal that it’s really all about long, boring conversations with Jack of Hearts. It’s like a broken record at this point.
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.
Posted on September 10, 2022, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin and tagged Batman, Captain America, Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty, Robin, She-Hulk, Tim Drake. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.