Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 10/8/22
What a week! What a week! Daredevil shows up in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law! Werewolf By Night debuts for the MCU! New Black Panther: Wakanda Forever trailer! Life is good for us comic book geeks! Made even better by some excellent comics, like Ant-Man and Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty.
Comic Book of the Week goes to Batman #128 because I am a sucker for good Batman and Robin writing, and a sucker for amazing, action-packed comics!
Meanwhile, that Daredevil episode was definitely the best episode of She-Hulk yet! And we’ve seen so little from the finale that I have no idea what’s coming next! Should be great! The whole show has been perfect! And I started playing TemTem because I needed something to play, and it’s pretty fun, if low key, so far. I’m also on the hunt for a Playstation 5 ahead of some upcoming games. Wish me luck!
Comic Reviews: Ant-Man #4, Batman #128, Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #5.
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Tom Reilly
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
The Ant-Man anniversary story comes to a very fun and satisfying conclusion.
The Ant-Man of the future is Zayn Asghar, a guy who studied Ant-Man legacy long after the world became post-apocalyptic. He was traveling back in time to study how the various historical Ant-Men controlled ants, so that he could clone them in his future time period…but his messing with time freed All-Father Ultron from his time prison! And that’s why he summons those Ant-Man to his period to fight this bad guy, with the lot of them eventually repairing the aging ray and flipping it into reverse. It works and the day is saved!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This issue was a good, quality finale to an excellent overall story. We finally get all the details on the Ant-Man of the Future, and they’re fine. Seems like a cool guy. We get explanations for what he’s been up to. And we get a big bad worthy of being taken down by the combined Ant-Men. Then everybody shows up and they are so much fun together. And that’s what we want to see in a fun comic like this. Take some classic, awesome characters and whip them all up together into a nifty superhero adventure! It doesn’t need to take itself too seriously.
And it’s all been a good, solid story all along. Take that aging ray from the first issue and weave it through the story until the end. That’s good storytelling. And the art is, once again, so wonderfully unique. Obviously they didn’t have any classic comics to draw upon this time, so Reilly and his art team invented a whole new visual style for the future Ant-Man and his world. I loved it and highly approve of the look of this issue.
TL;DR: For an anniversary mini-series, this whole story was super fun, and this final issue caps everything off nicely with a team-up for the ages!
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Welp, things get kicked up a notch I didn’t expect, and I am here for it.
Superman has arrived to take on Failsafe, but since Batman built it, this robot is decked out in a ton of Kryptonite and Superman is quickly dispatched. The Justice League arrive to help out, while Robin returns and gets Batman and Superman onto a JL ship headed to the Fortress of Solitude. Batman realizes he makes them a target, so he gives Tim a damn fine pep talk and then jumps into the ocean — where Aquaman saves him and brings him to Atlantis.
Fast forward two weeks…
When Bruce finally wakes up in the healing tank, Aquaman gets him up to speed: Failsafe has taken over Gotham City and captured most of the Bat-Family (some are still running free). Failsafe has created robot minions to patrol the streets while he waits for Batman to come back to save Gotham.
Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.
I didn’t know where this story was going, but I definitely did not suspect that Failsafe would take over all of Gotham City and challenge Batman to come back and take it from them. That’s pretty badass…even if most Batman stories these days involve Gotham City being taken over to some degree or another. Remember when Batman would stop muggers in alleys? Anyway, that’s not a nitpick, it’s just me saying. I thought this issue was pretty amazing, both in terms of character work and overall shifting the story into a higher gear. The fight has escalated to involve the Justice League, and Zdarsky makes great work of these character cameos, from Green Arrow being flippant to Superman getting his butt handed to him in smart and clever ways. Great use of the characters.
And hey, what can I say, I’ll always be a sucker for scenes like this between Batman and Robin.
I always love a story where Robin plays such an important role. It’s like Zdarsky asked me specifically what I wanted from his Batman run: Tim Drake as a capable and important Robin, who actually has stakes in the story. And it’s everything I could have hoped it would be.
Zdarsky, Jimenez and the whole team absolutely nail the energy, tension and escalation of this story. Failsafe is clearly a dangerous threat, and every single page and panel is bursting with the chaotic energy of everyone struggling. It’s a hyperactive issue that is perfectly paced and delivers all the excitement one could want from a Batman comic. This is high octane comics done perfectly.
TL;DR: Great character moments and an escalating threat that gets bigger and more exciting than I realized all make for a truly amazing Batman comic book.
Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #5
Writers: Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly
Artist: Carmen Carnero
Colorist: Nolan Woodard
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
That’s the problem with world-altering retcons: Are we really supposed to care after only 5 issues?
Captain America, Bucky and Redacted take a flight out and parachute down into the airship of the Outer Circle. Redacted goes to lay waste to the infrastructure, while Cap and Bucky watch a big hologram presentation from the members of the Circle, pontificating about their whole deal. When they’re finished, Cap and Bucky fight a bunch of soldiers, and Cap convinces them to lay down their arms, since Redacted has destroyed the control center that would have blown them up for disobeying.
Our heroes head inside the main chamber and find that only one of the Circle, The Revolution, has stayed behind. He taunts Bucky, and it’s revealed that the Outer Circle apparently orchestrated Bucky’s entire life in order to position him next to Steve. And now they want Bucky to shoot and kill The Revolution? Because that will be a betrayal of Cap? I think? Anyway, Cap tells him to stop, but Bucky just shoots through Steve to hit The Revolution.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
Here’s the thing. I have praised this series from the very beginning. It’s great and it’s so much fun. But we’re only five issues in, and now I’m supposed to swallow the idea that not only has this Outer Circle existed for the last century, but they arranged Bucky’s entire life, from childhood to now? Yawn. It’s only been five issues. I am not nearly invested enough in these bad guys and their whole deal to buy into these types of reveals. It doesn’t help that they’re all really generic characters. None of them stand out as particularly interesting. They’re boring villains doing not much of anything, and now we need to believe they’ve been controlling everything.
Remember Wolverine: Origins? When Marvel took, like, 50 issues to reveal that there was this dude, Romulus, who had secretly always been behind everything in Wolverine’s life? And then it was revealed that he had 4 claws on each hand or something dumb like that? The Outer Circle is Captain America’s Romulus, crammed into five issues.
Griping aside, I can’t fault this individual issue being fun. The art remains amazing, and the character writing is top notch. This is Cap, Bucky and a mysterious third ally infiltrating a villain base and kicking butt. It’s full of cool moments, like Cap asking the henchman to trust him, knowing that Redacted has smashed the controls. And that’s an awesome cliffhanger, of Bucky shooting the bad guy through Steve. I don’t really consider Captain America or Bucky to be the sorts of heroes who never kill, so I have no problem with this cliffhanger in that regard. This bad guy, The Revolution, means nothing. So let Bucky kill him, who cares?
Hey Marvel, I’ve got an idea for a new villain: Super Spider. He’s this diabolical villain who killed Peter Parker’s parents, funded the radioactivity experiment at the high school science fair, owned that amateur wrestling operation, and hired that burglary to kill Uncle Ben, but he’s been waiting in the shadows for decades…until now!
TL;DR: The writing, art and general story of Sentinel of Liberty remain pretty amazing, but at only five issues in, we sure are being asked to swallow a lot of giant retcons to make these pretty generic villains actually work.
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.