Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 3/11/23

Comic books, comic books, radioactive comic books. Were they read? Yes they were. I gave them all the looks. Like Batman, Fantastic Four and even new issue of X-Men!

Comic Book of the Week goes to Scarlet Witch #3 for another really enjoyable issue in this solo series. This is the sort of clean, uncluttered storytelling I want to see in a new solo series.

Shared without context

Meanwhile, we’re finally learning what happened between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson in the new Amazing Spider-Man this week, but the issue was all set-up, so I didn’t feel like doing a full review. I also dropped the ball with Tom Taylor’s new Jon Kent series. That one is on me. But if you come back tomorrow, I’m gonna run down my thoughts on all the Best Picture nominees at the Oscars! I watched all 10! Like it’s some kind of accomplishment!

Comic Reviews: Batman #133, Fantastic Four #5, Scarlet Witch #3 and X-Men #20.

Batman #133

Batman #133
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Mike Hawthorne
Inker: Adriano Di Benedetto
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

If you told me this is where Chip Zdarsky’s story was going, I probably would have believed you, but it’s weird nonetheless.

Bruce Wayne has cobbled together a Batman costume and gear and he goes on a crime-fighting rampage through Gotham, including beating up this world’s Riddler. He eventually digs up the corpse of this world’s Bruce Wayne and tests confirm he’s got multiversal energy about him. Batman then goes after Harvey Dent to get answers, but it’s Selina Kyle who might actually provide. She leads him underground to the Arkham Caves.

Meanwhile, Tim Drake saves all the innocent people from the weird Toyman pocket reality.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

Honestly, this alternate reality Batman story just isn’t doing much for me personally. It’s written well, with strong art. It’s a fine read. But there’s nothing really unique or special about it to make it really stand out. It’s still Bruce Wayne as Batman, and he’s still surrounded by the usual supporting characters. He apparently had no problem putting together a legitimate Batman costume, complete with gadgets, despite having no resources. And the bad guys immediately know everything about him, so there’s no mystery to his actions. And then it’s just a matter of fighting a bad guy on Venom, and dealing with Selina Kyle. The overall big bad guy, Red Mask, isn’t anyone special. He’s just another goober. So I dunno. None of this is capturing me as strongly as Zdarsky’s opening story.

Did he just find all this stuff in the right colors?

I guess I just wish there was more to this world to sink my teeth into. Some real twist that makes this world special and interesting. Instead, it’s the same characters, dealing with Arkham Asylum, and even the Wayne Family and Alfred are the same. And, again, there’s no real effort put into building up a new Batman. He just does it off-panel. So we don’t even get the fun of seeing what Bruce can do when he doesn’t have any resources whatsoever. That could have made for a very scrappy story, but we don’t get that story.

Likewise, the Tim Drake backup wasn’t much. It was a fun little short story, but feels so inconsequential. In his efforts to find Batman in the multiverse, Robin randomly has a mini-adventure saving people from a random Toyman universe. Goodish times.

TL;DR: This alternate reality storyline isn’t as unique and special as I would like. It doesn’t have anything alternate enough to sink my teeth into.

Fantastic Four #5

Fantastic Four #5
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Ivan Fiorelli
Colorist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

It feels weird that the team started split up and mad at each other if it was going to be settled so quickly.

The Fantastic Four are driving to Aunt Petunia’s house, but they get intercepted by Nicholas Scratch and Salem’s Seven. He casts some kind of warping spell on the team and then takes off back to the Dark Dimension, with the Four unsure if he’d done anything at all. After stopping for lunch, they soon learn that their DNA, RNA and amino acids have been mirrored through fourth dimensional space, which makes them incompatible with the world, especially food. So they portal to the Dark Dimension themselves and Reed stretches his body and mind through fourth dimensional space to revert them back to normal. Buuuuut it seems like they may have brought some fourth dimensionally-mirrored bacteria with them, and that will collapse the global food chain.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I love some fun and inventive science fiction as much as the next person, but it loses some of its charm when it takes half the issue to give the audience a boring science lecture to explain what’s happening. And even when the characters ask Reed to explain it like we’re children, I still don’t really get it. No amount of Johnny Storm has a mustache now jokes can make up for the hard science, hard lecture that this issue gives us. Something about being mirrored in fourth dimensional space. It makes some amount of sense, to a degree that I still followed the issue, but it’s still weird. Especially since it’s delivered by a quick cameo by eight super-villains, who show up just to cast that one spell. Though I suppose there would have been far more boring ways for this to happen to the Fantastic Four. I do admire North’s chutzpah.

I still don’t get it

At least the other half of the comic is still enjoyable. North does a great job on team dynamics and action. Everybody bounces off of each other very well, whether they’re just sitting down for lunch or they’re engaged in superhero fisticuffs. I also really enjoyed having Reed “stretch” his mind and body through dimensional space. That was a hoot, and exactly the kind of big thing I want to see in this comic. But, again, that also came with a lot of explaining to do. Not that I have any idea how to cut back on the explaining. And it’s a sad reminder that I should probably never write a Fantastic Four comic. Some of us never took quantum physics in college!

TL;DR: An otherwise enjoyable issue of the Fantastic Four is bogged down a bit with long-winded science explanations for what exactly is going on.

Scarlet Witch #3

Scarlet Witch #3
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Sara Pichelli
Inking Assist: Elisabetta D’Amico
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

I’m definitely enjoying this series a ton. Clean, fun, full of character and great art. This is exactly the sort of thing I like to see in a new, solo character ongoing series.

Polaris stops by to give some info about that magic stone Wanda got in the first issue, but then their chat is interrupted by the tiny arrival of Mardj, a warrior from Sub-Atomica. Her world has been invaded by some bad guys and she needs help reclaiming it. So Mardj, Wanda and Lorna go on a quest to reclaim a mythical sword and help Mardj inspire her people to fight off the invaders and win the day. Huzzah! Afterwards, Wanda returns to her shop to find it on fire, with Darcy kidnapped by Scythia, Champion of the Bacchae.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This issue makes one really big, bold choice, and I mostly like it. Part of me feels like it’s a little too bold for only the third issue, but it works and definitely gets the point across. Again, admirable chutzpah. Basically, when our heroes set off on their quest, the comic switches from a traditional comic book and turns into a narrated montage. A huge chunk of this issue is big spreads with flowery narration over the top. It means we can cover the entire quest and the battles in only a single issue, and it’s definitely not something we’d want to see drawn out. But it’s still a big choice. And by my high rating of this issue, I think it totally works. It worked for me. I was engaged with the story and was satisfied with how it all played out.

Montage example

And it’s a fun, if straight forward story, so that’s nice. I’m loving this Last Door concept. I love the whole concept of this series. Wanda, in light of all her baggage, has just opened a quaint little shop, with a magic door that brings people in need right to her so she can help immediately. It’s fun, and has led to fun stories so far. Couple that with gorgeous art by Sara Pichelli, and some high quality character interactions, and you’ve got a good series. I hope Lorna and Pietro remain supporting characters, popping in for family cameos. And Darcy Lewis is fun. I look forward to her story being expanded with that cliffhanger.

TL;DR: Some bold storytelling choices are made in this issue, and they totally work for me. It helps that the overall series around these bold choices remains strong and engaging.

X-Men #20

X-Men #20
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Colorist: Federico Blee
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

You think you’re reading one comic and then BAM! Cliffhanger outta nowhere, baby!

While the X-Men fight off the Brood and flee the planet with some refugees, Jean and Magik check in with Broo, who insists he’s still in complete control of the Brood hivemind. Jean deduces that something is happening while Broo is asleep, and sure enough, it’s Nightmare, seeking his revenge. He has taken control of the Brood and will use Krakoan gates, and those refugees, to inflict horror across the cosmos.

Meanwhile, Typhoid Mary, a mutant, finally arrives on Krakoa, and her legal husband claims citizenship: Wilson Fisk!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I love everything about that cliffhanger. It really speaks to the coolness of Krakoa as a whole. I love how a lot of writers are exploring the wider world of mutants and how they can interact with Krakoa. Typhoid Mary has always been a mutant, but she stuck to her Daredevil comics and everybody was fine with that. Same with Whirlwind. It’s a neat concept to explore, especially with the added wrinkle of Wilson Fisk trying to claim citizenship through marriage. I’m sure Duggan and Marvel has something fun cooked up, even if denying him citizenship should be fairly easy because he’s not a mutant. Nobody said Krakoa had to abide by citizenship marriage rules. Those rules aren’t universal, right? I have no idea. But I look forward to Duggan exploring this idea and writing stories about it!

Iceman is always cool

Weirdly, said cliffhanger doesn’t have anything to do with the rest of the issue, which mostly sees the X-Men battling the Brood and confronting Nightmare. It’s a pretty solid, pretty standard superhero threat, and I like what Duggan does with it. Iceman gets a scene to be a kickass hero, which is always good in my book. And we’ve got a sufficiently dangerous problem, with Nightmare in control of the Brood. I still think Nightmare is an odd choice of villain for an X-Men comic, but who am I to judge?

TL;DR: Some quality X-Men and superhero action is capped of with a truly outrageous cliffhanger that promises some exciting stories going forward.

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 March 11, 2023, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin, X-Men and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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