Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 4/8/23

Happy Easter, everyone! I’ll be heading home to get a meal with the parents and whatever extended family show up. That’s always fun. Even if it comes right in the middle of my 3-day weekend. Oh well. It’s always nice to have Monday off. And it’s always nice to get some quality, generally good comics this week, like Batman, Captain America and even more Saga.

Comic Book of the Week goes to Scarlet Witch #4, which remains a really fun, engaging and magical comic.

One and a half, maybe

Meanwhile, I’m still chugging through Gotham Knights. The fights are a real chore, so I’m not all that attached to the game. But I’m gonna make it through, I’m gonna do all the good Robin stuff! And I’m eagerly awaiting the new Chaos Dwarves DLC to Total War: Warhammer 3, my game of the year from last year. And I liked the Super Mario Bros. Movie, even if it was pretty basic. No Sonic the Hedgehog cameo, like I was hoping for.

Comic Reviews: Batman #134, Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #11, Saga #63 and Scarlet Witch #4.

Batman #134

Batman #134
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Mike Hawthorne
Inker: Adriano Di Benedetto
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

The Tim Drake Robin back-ups have definitely eclipsed by interest in the main Batman story, if only because I’m finally getting a comic where Tim Drake actually embraces being the Robin I want him to be.

Selina leads Batman into the Arkham Caves, where Halliday has been performing cruel experiments on people, including superheroes from Bruce’s world. Bruce tracks him down and gets Halliday talking. The villain reveals that he managed to tap into the multiverse and see his other selves: Joker, and he wants to be like them, hence all the experimenting. Halliday releases a gas on Gotham City to something something multiverse, and Batman has to fight through this world’s Ghost-Maker and Superman in order to reach the shutdown valve. But Halliday has a backup plan: Man-Bats with gas-spewing tanks on their backs.

Meanwhile, in the backup, Robin, Mr. Terrific and Toyman have made the multiverse portal better, but Robin uses it to go visit an alternate version of his mom for some emotional healing. Then he totally gets on that mission to save Batman.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

It’s fine. But this storyline has definitely run its course for me. I was looking forward to the idea of Bruce Wayne taking on an entirely new and hero-less Gotham City, but the execution hasn’t been anything special. He just immediately put together a new Batman costume and is fighting all his traditional bad guys. There’s no greater depth to anything about this alternate reality. Just that some people are on Venom now. There’s no deeper look into how introducing Batman might change the city. No deeper look at Bruce’s character. The alternate takes on the other characters aren’t particularly interesting. The new Joker was for a second, but now it seems he just wants to become the regular Joker instead of being his own character. That was a disappointing character twist.

At least Zdarsky’s Robin is awesome

It’s also a little too convenient that Batman gets trapped in an alternate reality that just so happens to have a bad guy who is obsessed with the multiverse and has been conducting the exact sort of experiments that could get him home. And somehow the multiverse has been condensed into a gas? That was a little confusing. The fight with Ghost-Breaker was pretty fun, and it’s nice to see a writer using someone else’s pet character. But the fight ended with Bruce getting his hand chopped off, which just feels weak at this point. Who hasn’t had their hand chopped off?

But like I said, the Tim Drake story is pretty great. Zdarsky actually explores him as a person, in wanting to visit with his mom, and then as Robin. I loved the idea that he redesigned his multiverse suit to specifically be a symbol that Bruce could instantly recognize and flock to. Honestly, I really hope it is Tim that saves Bruce in this story.

TL;DR: This alternate reality story hasn’t really done anything for me, and some of the character and story choices aren’t helping matters. Cool fight scene, though.

Captain America #11

Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #11
Writers: Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly
Artist: Carmen Carnero
Colorist: Nolan Woodard
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

I’ve run out of time! Cold War comes next, so I need to get caught up on the Sam Wilson comics!

Destroyer is dead and everybody is hopping mad. So Captain America takes on the Power, while the others take on MODOK. It’s a big, ol’ climactic fight and the good guys win. Steve tries to appeal to Bucky to come back into the fold, but Bucky takes off to do Century Game stuff. A week later, everybody is hanging out for a cookout on the roof, and we get some nice character moments. Redacted is badly injured and probably out of the game. Peggy Carter is still in play. Steve invites Sharon to move in with him. And then Steve’s adopted son from previous comics, Ian, comes to visit.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

It’s fine. This storyline didn’t strike me as strongly as the first one. I think the scale of the story got too big too quickly, while the scale of the characters did not. Like, the Outer Ring have fully revealed themselves and took over a large portion of Manhattan. But it was still just Steve and his pals, including his new civilian friends, doing a lot of punching until the day was saved. Roger came and went too quickly and too weirdly for his death to matter. He never should have put the costume on again. Just keep him as this old man who’s helping out from the sidelines. And the Power just sucks as a villain. They all do, really. We just don’t know them. The dude makes some crack about Doctor Doom this issue and I’m just like, “You’re not even a fraction of the villain Doctor Doom is, you loser.”

Looks cozy

But hey, it’s all still overall solid. The good guys defeat the bad guys and save the day. There are a bunch of cool moments throughout, with some nice set-up. The artwork remains stellar. That has never let me down. And I love a good rooftop cookout scene with all the characters as much as the next person. So it’s still an overall good comic, it’s just that this story didn’t do it for me as much as the last one. And now I’m definitely looking forward to the crossover. Just gotta get caught up…

TL;DR: This second storyline wasn’t as strong as the first, but at least it has a strong ending.

Saga #63

Saga #63
Writer: Brian K. Vaughn
Artist: Fiona Staples
Letterer: Fonografiks

Saga is as Saga does.

Hazel and Squire visit the witch about resurrecting their dads, and she explains that she can’t bring back the dead, but she does have a special compound that can reverse time for a person. It’s expensive, though, and our heroes agree to steal something valuable to help pay for it. They sneak into a place and are almost killed by a lying cat (not the Lying Cat) before Squire blasts its head off. Meanwhile, Petrichor is still hunting The Will, Alana chats with a co-worker at the fulfillment plant and learns that some of the scummier spaceships will take on child laborers, and Gwen and Sophie meet with a representative of King Robot to suggest they sign a peace treaty with Wreath.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

My commentary is probably just gonna sound like a broken record for Saga at this point. The story moves along at a leisurely place, checking in on various characters throughout the galaxy. The writing and art remain S-tier, but the story just isn’t really going anywhere all that great — which I’ve come to assume is the point. This is a saga about life. So we’re gonna get a lot of stories where the characters are just living their lives. Hazel and Squire get up to some mischief. Alana does some other random job. Politics here and there. This and that. The usual Saga stuff.

TL;DR: Nothing too awesome or special or heartbreaking happens in this issue. Everything just moves along nicely.

Scarlet Witch #4

Scarlet Witch #4
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Sara Pichelli
Inking Assistant: Elisabetta D’Amico
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

Steve Orlando is going to write a new Iceman mini-series this summer! I’m very excited.

Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, is the founder/leader of the Bacchae, an ancient group of warrior women who fight evil men. As she faces off against Wanda, she explains that Darcy Lewis tricked her way into joining one of their sect, the Daughters of Enyo, and killed one of the sisters. So Hippolyta is duty-bound to kill Darcy. Wanda disagrees and we get a fun magic vs. brawn battle. During the fight, we learn that the little magic-proof jewel that Wanda has been investigating can breach her spells. Wanda wins by teleporting Hippolyta out of town and erecting a protective dome.

When the dust settles, Darcy gives her backstory: She’s a failed journalist who was too reckless who kept getting fired, so she tried to sneak into the Daughters of Enyo to expose them as murderers. They found her notes and were going to kill her before she fought back and killed one of them. Wanda forgives her.

Meanwhile, in her attempts to tunnel underneath the protective dome, Hippolyta finds a whole ore vein of that magic-proof jewel metal and uses it to make armor and weapons.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Darcy Lewis kinda sucks. A crappy journalist who seems to have gotten it into her head that she needs to crusade and put her life at risk for a story, so she ends up killing somebody. I’m not saying she deserves to die by Hippolyta’s hand, but she doesn’t come across as very sympathetic. But perhaps she doesn’t need to be. Perhaps she can be a flawed sidekick. That’s OK too. And it brings us to another excellent issue of a very charming, very personable Wanda Maximoff using some cool magic to take down a classic comic book villain. The fights, writing and artwork remain just phenomenal in this series. This is such a fun, well-rounded comic.

Magic is fun

I don’t have any idea where the Scarlet Witch series is going, and I suppose that doesn’t matter. The mystery of the bauble remains interesting enough to let it keep simmering under the surface. Each of the villains Orlando has brought forth has been a hoot. And I’d be cool with Hippolyta becoming a reoccurring villain. She’s clearly prepared for it. And mixing the villain and the mystery bauble metal works nicely to bridge both stories and make for a bigger threat. So yeah, good things are ahead. Good things all around with this comic!

TL;DR: Another delightful issue of Scarlet Witch has good characters, great writing, awesome art, cool magic and some good ongoing tales. This is a very well-rounded 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 April 8, 2023, in Avengers, Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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