Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 11/19/22

Oof, what a week! You ever take an entire week off from work, get plenty of rest and rejuvenation, but then the first week back is a real killer? It didn’t help that we had the first snow storm of the season this week, making everything just that much crappier. All this means is I didn’t have enough energy to get to all the comics I wanted this week, but I got to a few.

Comic Book of the Week goes to Nightwing #98 for a truly excellent and enjoyable issue where Nightwing gets his own fifth dimension imp!

The character find of 2022

Meanwhile, I picked up Pokemon Violet and am looking to dive into it this weekend! Everybody has been complaining about performance issues, but that sort of thing rarely really bothers me. I’ve settled on Fuecoco as my starter after finally getting spoiled on the final evolutions. Beyond Pokemon, I’m also spending today picking up a new computer chair for home after my previous one broke. That one was a good chair, so hopefully this new one can live up to its legacy.

Comic Reviews: Nightwing #98, She-Hulk #8 and Thunderbolts #4.

Nightwing #98

Nightwing #98
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Daniele Di Nicuolo
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Letterer: Wes Abbott

So Nightwing has been great and all, but what if they decided to make it super great?

Nightwing and Batgirl have a villainous crime boss held prisoner…but their hideout is interrupted by a fifth dimension imp named Nite-Mite, who is Nightwing’s biggest fan! He causes all sorts of mischief, but he really just wants to help. In fact, he knows all about how Blockbuster traded the soul of his first born child to Neron, and those demons are coming to collect. So Nite-Mite gives Nightwing some enchanted escrima sticks, and turns Haley into a talking dog superhero, so that they can go and fight demons and save Olivia. Out heroes win the day and Olivia, who has some super strength, goes off with Raven in order to protect her from the forces of Hell. And Nightwing and Nite-Mite part ways as friends.

Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.

I loved it! I love the creativity, the wackiness, the heart; this is a complete diversion from the actual ongoing storyline, but that is part of the point. Taylor takes an established DC problem — the 5th dimensional imp — and just has fun with it for a single issue. That’s perfect! It’s just plain fun, and he has simple, plain fun with it. I think he could have found a way to incorporate it with the current imprisoned mob boss storyline — like maybe have the mob boss get one remark about how weird this is — but being a stand alone is fine. It’s a good stand alone, it’s a funny stand alone, and Nite-Mite is used so darn well. I especially love the fact that imps are well-known issue in the DCU, and everybody teases Nightwing that now he’s got one of his own.

I do too

The Nite-Mite stuff then led into a strong story on its own. I also loved everything about the actual conflict in this issue. Blockbuster bargains with Neron for greater intellect, which explains how he became such a prominent mob boss to begin with. And then he renegotiated and sold his young daughter’s soul in place of his own; that’s perfect Blockbuster thinking. Totally works for me. And Nightwing fighting the demons of Hell to save Blockbuster’s daughter is good stuff all on its own. But to add magical escrima sticks and a talking, superheroic Bite-Wing? Brilliant choice, great scenes. It’s clear Taylor and his art team had a lot of fun with this issue, and I had that same fun right along with them.

TL;DR: Whether he’s telling serious Nightwing stories, lighthearted Nightwing stories or super fun and wacky Nightwing stories, Tom Taylor is doing genre-defining work here. Every superhero comic should aspire to be as fun, creative and impactful as Tom Taylor’s Nightwing.

She-Hulk #8

She-Hulk #8
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa
Colorist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

This is such a frustrating series. It’s a well-made comic, but I think Rowell has been given way too much freedom. First it was all the Jack of Hearts conversations that went nowhere, and now it’s an entire issue that could have been summed up in a single page.

So our villains, Mark and April, were super smart science nerds who wanted Hulk powers, so they stole some of Jennifer Walters’s blood and made a serum, but it didn’t work right and now they are the way they are.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

I understand the importance of taking time to flesh out your villains, but this issue does so little in that regard. There’s nothing particularly unique or interesting about Mark and April as people. There’s nothing particularly interesting about their experiment. There’s nothing particularly unique or interesting about this issue. They’re just two smart people who decided they wanted super-powers, settled on She-Hulk for arbitrary reasons, just happened to get some of her blood and then turned it into a serum that predictably failed. They have no real character beyond being told they’re really smart and they wanted super-powers. And it takes an entire issue of them having bland conversations to apparently get that point across. And they apparently settled on resurrecting Jack of Hearts because he, at one point, I guess, absorbed She-Hulk’s radiation? So they’re good enough scientists to reassemble Jack of Hearts and his insane powers, but they can’t make a Hulk serum? Or any other possible science origin for super-powers? It beggars belief.

TL;DR: It takes an entire issue to tell the very bland origin story of our villains, sapping any remaining interest they possessed.

Thunderbolts #4

Thunderbolts #4
Writer: Jim Zub
Artists: Sean Izaakse and Netho Diaz
Inkers: Izaakse and Victor Olazaba
Colorist: Java Tartaglia
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino

Five issues definitely wasn’t enough for this series. Give Zub and company a Thunderbolts ongoing!

So this is all one big hallucination issue. It seems to focus around Hawkeye, as he imagines the team taking on all sorts of bad guys and having a bunch of success. But we know it’s a hallucination because they’re all dressed in classic costumes, like Power Man is wearing Luke Cage’s original yellow outfit. And he hallucinates a giant monster coming down from space to lay waste to the city and the team. And the issue ends with one of his handlers finding him in his apartment under some kind of spell.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

Let me start this review by saying that I simply don’t care for hallucination stories. Maybe there was something to learn in the subtext, but I don’t think it was worth using up one issue out of the five this comic gets. It’s especially disappointing when I don’t think anything from the prior three issues set up this issue at all. According to the preview text for the final issue, there is maybe some big bad guy behind all of this? Why? Thunderbolts was going gangbusters telling done-in-one stories where the team fights some bad guys and messes up a bit. I was having a blast! This new issue is still a bit of a blast, especially the use of classic 70s and 80s costumes. But the issue is not better than the sum of its parts.

Those were the days

Man, I really wish this had been an ongoing. I think all the issues so far have been written like they hoped it would be an ongoing. And Zub would have killed it as an ongoing. Really delve into the characters and their relationships. Really tackle the ideas behind this Thunderbolts team. Give us some wacky one-off adversaries. Just have fun with it all. And both Zub and the art team are clearly having fun with this issue. It’s a bit wacky, with classic throwback artwork. So I like that part of it. But I don’t think anything really happens in the narrative to justify this use of the penultimate issue. Fortunately, I’m very confident in the creative team to knock it out of the park with the finale.

TL;DR: An issue spent on wacky hallucinations doesn’t have a strong enough impact when it’s the penultimate issue of a sadly short series.

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 November 19, 2022, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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