Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 12/10/22

I was pretty busy this week with day job stuff, but I managed to get some comics read and get this review list together. Is it my best ever? No. Whatever is? We’ve got new Batman, new Fantastic Four and even new Jessica Jones.

Comic Book of the Week goes to Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #7 for an all-around really good issue of character building. Though to be honest, this week was a real toss up.

It’s OK, Cap, you’ll be OK

Meanwhile, I had a pretty sad realization about comics. This week saw the release of, like, half a dozen different ongoing X-Men comics…but I’m not reading any of them. Judgement Day tuned me out of the titles I was reading, and I don’t know if I have the time, energy or inclination to get back on board. I still enjoy the idea of the Krakoa Era, just don’t really care about most of the individual comics. Oh well.

Comic Reviews: Batman #130, Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #7, Fantastic Four #2 and The Variants #5.

Batman #130

Batman #130
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

This comic is a strange beast for me. On the one hand, I think it’s getting a little out of control. On the other hand, hook these awesome Robin moments right into my veins!

Batman has been ejected into space from the destroyed Watchtower, so what does he do? He grabs a hunk of debris, an oxygen tank and uses the compressed air in his grappling gun to GUIDE HIMSELF BACK DOWN TO EARTH WITH SUCH PRECISION THAT HE LANDS WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE OF THE FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE! Look, I love Batman as much as the next guy, but surviving unprotected through re-entry from the Moon? That’s stretching it. Anyway, Bruce finds Tim and Clark at the Fortress, because I guess they haven’t moved in two weeks. Superman puts on some armor to hold off Failsafe, but he’s defeated within seconds, again. Then Batman and Robin suit up and take on Failsafe, injecting some new computer programming into his system to hopefully make him compassionate. It doesn’t work and Failsafe shoots Batman, disintegrating him.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

OK, let me address that elephant in the room right now. So Batman is floating out in space, and then the Batman, a human being dressed in long johns, manages to ride a piece of debris back down to Earth, surviving re-entry through sheer will power and “math.” On the one hand, that’s pretty metal, and a pretty Batman thing to do. On the other hand, that stretches credulity just a bit too much for even me. And my credulity can be stretched pretty far. Then there’s stuff like Superman being defeated within seconds, again. And the idea that Superman and Robin have just been chilling in the Fortress of Solitude for those two weeks that Batman was in a healing tank in Atlantis. It’s the little things that are just bugging me just a bit. The writing is still good, and the art remains phenomenal, but this deadly robot encounter is getting a little silly.

Then Zdarsky hits me with stuff like this.

How is this not a real, ongoing comic?!

And I’m putty in his hands. Though again, there hasn’t really been any time for any meaningful Batman and Robin bonding or teamwork. The comic has been too intense for that. So all we’ve gotten are these quick snippets of goodness. They’re good, and they’re the comic book equivalent of crack to me. But I would like more depth in exploring the Batman/Robin dynamic. But perhaps that’s just me.

Ultimately, nitpicks aside, this is still a fun comic. This is Batman pushed to his very limit, going to extremes to fight an unstoppable foe. And we’ve got fun little asides, like teaming up with Robin and Superman, to bolster the already exciting story. And a cliffhanger ending of Batman being blown to smithereens is always a hoot. So I’m enjoying this comic a lot, in spite of my personal misgivings.

TL;DR: The insanity of this comic gets even more extreme — perhaps even too extreme — but the story, characters and art continue to make for a fun read.

Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #7

Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #7
Writers: Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly
Artist: Carmen Carnero
Colorist: Nolan Woodard
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

This series is still going strong, even if there’s a lot of story to swallow.

Steve Rogers is very mopey that Bucky betrayed him, and he catches up with Namor and Sharon Carter to lift his spirits. Sharon recommends they get organized, so they call in Nick Fury Jr., Hawkeye, Black Widow, Peggy Carter, Old Dynamite and the Redacted to meet up and get filled in on the conspiracy. They make some plans to set a trap on Wednesday…but then a groggy Steve suddenly finds himself waking up in a wheat field in Kansas, and it’s Friday!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I’m not fully on board, still, with the scope of this villain retcon. It feels too big, too all-encompassing. I’m all for making the villains bad guys, but this one is really, really big. So I’m still having some difficulty accepting it as fact. Fortunately, the smaller stuff, like the character stuff, is so damn good that I can easily ignore my hang-ups. The opening scene with Steve and Namor talking it out like the old warriors they are is really delightful. Namor is a total jerk, but who doesn’t love call backs to the time he and Captain America fought together in World War II? And the character stuff only builds from there, with some great Sharon Carter scenes, and then a big scene of getting the team together.

Redacted is bad at making new friends

Who doesn’t love a good scene of getting a team together? I like the idea of Cap having a whole squad with him to tackle the upcoming threat, and there is a ton of fun to be head as everybody puts their heads together to talk this one. The biggest strength of this series so far has been the character writing, and adding more fun characters is a good boost. Lanzing and Kelly are doing a phenomenal job really humanizing Steve Rogers in all of this, with Carnero providing nice, down-to-Earth style art. This comic is the whole package.

One more nitpick: I still don’t really like the design of The Redacted. He’s too bland, too mechanical. But I love that Cap’s squad includes a former villain that he was able to talk into turning against The Outer Circle. I just wish he had more personality, so that the writing could really sing with him.

TL;DR: This already excellent ongoing story takes a big step into its next phase, while still keeping characters front and center to the storytelling. That’s my kind of comic.

Fantastic Four #2

Fantastic Four #2
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Iban Coello
Colorist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Ryan North’s Fantastic Four has only just begun, so I’m not going anywhere!

The Fantastic Four are spilt up after something major happened, leaving their HQ a big crater in the middle of New York City. We check in with Reed and Sue, who have stopped in a little cafe in some random town to decompress. Turns out the town is all Doombots posing as real people. And then it turns out they exist to help a little old lady who was kind to Victor Von Doom when he was younger. And then it turns out the little old lady died years ago, and a Doombot has taken over for her. And then all the Doombots want to kill our heroes! But Reed figures out a way to reprogram them to just keep living their fake townsfolk lives.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Just like the first issue, this is another really fun done-in-one tale that gets really creative and sci-fi, while keeping things grounded around two members of the Fantastic Four. And this has been a great way to start this Fantastic Four series. Obviously there’s this bigger mystery in the background, and I’m all for getting to it eventually. But Ryan North is stretching his legs and flexing his muscles in some easy build-up issues that are fun to read, while being true to the characters and the comic. That’s good stuff. That’s all good, all fun, all creative stuff. The art easily keeps up, while maintaining that classic F4 look. So it’s all gold in my book so far.

Doombot Greasy Spoon

The issue itself was a great little mystery that built to a stunning reveal that the little old lady was dead and her bones were inside a Doombot! That was pretty damn shocking, and I didn’t see it coming. So kudos on that twist. I especially liked the focus on Reed and Sue in this issue. The comic is narrated by Sue in a letter to Jennifer Walters, and just the way Sue writes about Reed and how they balance each other so well, is a really nice touch. The heart is in this comic so far, as are the creative ideas. So I can’t wait to see North tackle the team as a whole!

TL;DR: Another fun, done-in-one tale shows off the heart and creativity already at work in this new volume.

The Variants #5

The Variants #5
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Phil Noto
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

And so this fun little story comes to a fun little end.

Jessica Jones and her variant allies face off against Jewel and her variant allies. Jessica gets Jewel to monologue, and she tells her whole story. She’s a psychopath is Rogue-like powers who goes around just murdering superheroes on some love quest, and she wants Jessica’s life. But she gets punched instead and the fight is on. Then Luke Cage shows up and helps Jess beat Jewel. The day is saved and the good guys hug and go home.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

Honestly, the ending wasn’t as exciting as I would have liked. The villain is revealed to not really have much of anything to do with Jessica Jones as a character, and is just some crazy person with wild powers. And the variants she pulled in to help her aren’t really anybody either. Throw in a bunch of rushed exposition laying out her backstory, and Luke Cage having the ninja-like ability to just show up in the middle of the fight without warning, and this final issue isn’t as strong as I would have liked. It’s fine. It gets the job done, and the art is still incredible. But it could have been stronger. And what became of the Purple Man stuff from the beginning? The time bomb that Jessica was worried about in her brain? What did that have to do with the variants or the story at all? Eh. I guess I’m pretty lukewarm on this ending.

TL;DR: This was a fun little story but the ending is only lukewarm, as it tries to cream the villain’s entire deal into a single issue, without much obvious connection to the story that came before it.

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 December 10, 2022, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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