Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 4/29/23

I’m back. I’m still reading comics and still writing reviews for them. Sometimes we get a week like last week, where all my favorites come out. And sometimes we get a week like this one, where some of my side comics are piled up. We’ve got a brand new relaunch for Green Arrow, which I decided to check out, along with more Captain American and Iron Man. I even went back to Tim Drake: Robin to check in and see how things are going.

Comic Book of the Week goes to Wasp #4 for an excellent wrap up to a wonderful little series. This comic has it all, and should be a big hit with Wasp fans. Characters are treated well, the ending ties everything together nicely and it’s all quite pleasant.

When is Mother’s Day?

Meanwhile, I did not buy Star Wars Jedi: Survivor this weekend because I’m saving my money for Legend of Zelda in a couple of weeks. So I’m missing out on that game. But I did get the new DLC for Horizon: Forbidden West, so at least that’s something. I beat Gotham Knights and put it down, content that I had experienced everything I needed to experience with that game. I fully understand why it crashed and burned, which is a darn shame.

Comic Reviews: Captain America: Symbol of Truth #12, Green Arrow #1, Invincible Iron Man #5, Strange Academy: Finals #6, Tim Drake: Robin #8 and Wasp #4.

Captain America #12

Captain America: Symbol of Truth #12
Writer: Tochie Onyebuchi
Artist: R.B. Silva
Colorist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

I definitely should have taken the time to get caught up on Symbol of Truth before this crossover.

Captain America, Captain America, Misty Knight and Sharon Carter fight a combination of monsters from Dimension Z and Tithe soldiers, before they all wind up down a mind shaft. They run into some townsfolk who have been hiding, and come to the conclusion that they need to go to Dimension Z to stop this at the heart. Meanwhile, in Dimension Z, Bucky taunts Ian for a bit before he’s ambushed by the Black Widow.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

Perhaps being more in tune with Symbol of Truth would help me with this crossover. I’m just not all that invested in Dimension Z or Ian, and they are big, important parts of this story. I also didn’t read the original story where those were a factor. So this crossover feels at arms length for me, and that’s on just me. So I’m not as invested so far, but that could change. Beyond that stuff, the character work, and especially the artwork, are top notch. I enjoy the back-and-forth between Steve and Sam, with Misty and Sharon providing backup to that. And the action is awesome. Cool hero moments, big shield-focused battles, Sam on his wings adding an extra dimension. It’s all cool as hell, and helps to carry the story along.

TL;DR: The interdimensional stuff kept me a bit removed from the overall story, but the character writing and the artwork keep this crossover strong.

Green Arrow #1

Green Arrow #1
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Sean Izaakse
Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letterer: Troy Peteri

So Dawn of DC has started, and I’m game for trying out all of these new #1 issues. I’ve never been much of a Green Arrow fan, but I like Joshua Williamson’s Superman comic a lot, and I’m open to trying anything.

Oliver Queen is missing in the multiverse after the events of Dark Crisis, and Black Canary, Roy Harper and Connor Hawke have tracked a lead on his whereabouts to Gotham City. They face off against a van full of hench-goons and are aided by teen vigilante Cheshire Cat, a former sidekick of Catwoman’s. Before she can slip away however, Roy reveals that he knows Cheshire Cat is his daughter, Lian, and they have a heartfelt reunion. The reunion is cut short when she and Connor are teleported elsewhere.

Lian wakes up in some weird future alien world, where she’s being hunted by the Manhunters. A tricked-out, future punk Oliver Queen rescues her and takes her to a teleporter, which he promptly destroys.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This was not what I was expecting in a first issue, for both good and ill. On the one hand, it’s a fun story, makes good use of its characters and has some phenomenal art. On the other hand, it’s definitely not the clean cut jumping on point I was hoping for. Oliver’s in some other dimension, with a weird future look. I have no idea what Roy Harper has been up to through all the various reboots and revamps. And I definitely had to do a deep Google dive on what Lian Harper has been up to. It’s all pretty wild. The big emotional reunion between father and daughter is the key moment of the issue, but it lacks a lot of oomph if you’re not fully up to speed on a million different things. And even if you are, it’s still tricky, since Lian was apparently written out of continuity with the New 52, but all the various multiverse weirdness at DC over the past few years have put her back in…but she had amnesia after her “death” and recently showed up in the Catwoman comic, but she wasn’t revealed to be Lian until one of those special issues celebrating Asian superheroes. Like I said, it’s a wild Google ride.

I like when Roy is doing well

Wild, but not wholly unlikable. I like Roy Harper. I like when kid sidekicks turn out OK. So it’s still a nice scene to have father and daughter reunited, even if I’m not personally up to speed on all the larger stories. And beyond that, the rest of the issue is pretty fun. Oliver Queen does some great narration setting everything up and introducing our characters. That was fun. And having him and his “granddaughter” Lian on an adventure could be cool. And like I said, the artwork is fantastic. Really strong, traditional superhero artwork, of which I will always be a fan. So we’ve got a lot of good things working in this comic’s favor, even if the continuity and weird ideas are slightly off-putting.

TL;DR: Not a clean slate, fresh start #1 issue, but strong writing and art make it an engaging issue nonetheless.

Iron Man #5

Invincible Iron Man #5
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Juan Frigeri
Colorist: Bryan Valenza
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

I am 100% on board for this upcoming X-Men and Iron Man crossover, and this is a fine starting point.

Despite her appearance on the cover, Tony doesn’t actually go to Krakoa to get help from Emma Frost, he goes there to learn about the encounter Sunfire had with Feilong in X-Men #6, when Feilong revealed he had super-powers. Speaking of Feilong, he now has control of the Stark company and starts researching all of Tony’s files. He finds out about some physical objects that Howard left to Tony at a hangar in Texas, and he goes to investigate. He finds some film reels hidden inside a painting, in which Howard instructs Tony about a magical space metal that’s super awesome. Tony eventually visits that same hangar and is surprised to see a Stark Sentinel, a Sentinel built with Iron Man technology. Then Feilong shows up, burns the film reels and beats up Tony, all while doing a lot of gloating. Feilong then has the Sentinel beat up Iron Man, and Tony barely escapes.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

Honestly, I just don’t care about Feilong as a villain. He’s not that interesting and not that impressive. He’s just another smarmy, rich, business suit-wearing villain. And the idea that he “magically” find some long lost recordings from Howard Stark to Tony doesn’t do anything for me. It’s a little too convenient. As is the idea that these recordings are all about informing Tony about a special new metal. So a metal even cooler than Adamantium or Vibranium, or any other knock-off special metal that’s been introduced over the years? Not a very strong tease, in my opinion. And now we have Feilong beating up Iron Man, just like Iron Man beat him up last issue. Doesn’t do anything for me. But I enjoyed the brief visit Tony had with the X-Men, and I loooove the idea of a villain getting control of Stark Tech and using it to make improved Sentinels. That’s a genius idea and should be a ton of fun! So the debut of the Stark Sentinel keeps this issue afloat.

TL;DR: I am looking forward to the upcoming crossover with the X-Men, and this issue does a fine job setting up the foundation for that event. Other parts of the issue leave a lot to be desired.

Strange Academy: Finals #6

Strange Academy: Finals #6
Writer: Skottie Young
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

This is it! The final issue! For now? I have no idea.

I’m greatly disappointed to say that this issue starts by revealing that Emily’s parents are just illusions created by Zelma. I don’t remember Emily’s origin story. Are her parents dead? Why couldn’t her parents really show up? Anyway, the battle is still on, and Iric takes a blast meant for Doyle, killing him. Emily goes full Dormammu and everybody tries to get in some licks. It all comes down to Doyle and Emily, who really go at it, until Doyle reveals that he can re-absorb the dark energy that Emily once took from him. She makes her escape and Doyle is about to go full Dormammu, but Doctor Voodoo shows up with Hoggoth, who absorbs all the excess dark magic. The day is saved…but Iric is dead.

The issue (and series, I think?) ends with Doyle dedicating a statue to Iric and Doctor Voodoo opening the gates to the next class of new students.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Shoulda gone full Super Saiyan. The fight between Emily and Doyle is epic and very entertaining. But I kept waiting for the battle to just explode into Super Saiyan awesomeness. Like, when Voodoo touches base with Hoggoth about helping, and the giant tiger god spirit says he’s game, I kept hoping he’d show up and turn Doyle into his champion or something, and then Doyle and Emily would have this epic, blazing battle. What we got was still pretty fun, and made sense narratively speaking, but I guess I let my imagination get the better of me. Doyle had some great moments, our villain was properly vanquished, and a lot of characters had a moment or two to shine. I really hope Young and Ramos have a chance to continue with these characters somewhere down the line, and hopefully not just in Strange Arena where they all get killed.

And yet…

I will also express my disappointment that Emily’s parents weren’t real and it was just Zelda trying to trick her. Why couldn’t they show up? I Googled Emily Bright and it doesn’t say her parents are dead. I may have forgotten if they were killed. But having her parents show up was a great twist! Ah well. Like I said, the issue we did get was more than exciting and a really good finale to this chapter of Strange Academy. It’s a big, awesome fight that does a lot with our favorite characters, and leaves things in a nice place for the whole enterprise to keep going. I very much enjoyed this series, in both of its parts. It did right by its characters and came to a fitting, entertaining end.

TL;DR: Strange Academy: Finals ends with an epic showdown of a battle, just the way it was meant to be. Heroes rise, villains fall and all good things come to an end.

Tim Drake: Robin #8

Tim Drake: Robin #8
Writer: Meghan Fitzmartin
Artist: Nikola Čižmešija
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Tom Napolitano

I gave up on this comic several issues ago because, even though Tim Drake is my favorite Robin, the series just wasn’t working for me. The writing was good, but I didn’t like the art, I didn’t like some of the story choices and I didn’t like Bernard, the love interest. He just sucks. But this issue features Batwoman as a guest star, and a new fill-in artist, so I decided to try again.

Tim, Bernard and Darcy are hanging out on his boat when Batwoman crashes onto the deck. They get Bernard out of there (thankfully) and costume up, in order to figure out what happened to Batwoman. She’s lost her memory of the past few months and had a lot of blood on her gloves. They head into the city and come upon a riot by the Chaos Monsters, which leads to a big fight. Robin spots the leader on a nearby rooftop and goes after him, but Batwoman does as well, figuring this guy has answers. The leader gets the drop on Batwoman and grabs her, declaring her to be a child murderer. Speaking of which, Sparrow has been stabbed.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

Let’s get this out of the elephant out of the room first: the regular artwork on this comic just wasn’t working for me. It was great artwork, I just don’t think it worked for this series and these characters. It was too wildly stylized for this largely traditional superhero comic. All that being said, the new, fill-in art by Čižmešija is quite excellent and fits this comic very well. The character moments, the costumes, the chaotic action, it’s all phenomenally done. The issue looks great, and the art is just more fitting for this comic. The dramatic scene where Sparrow gets stabbed — though I’m not sure by who…— is equally well done and very dramatic.

Sparrow definitely should have put together a costume by now

And the other elephant in the room: no Bernard! He’s in the issue at the beginning and they rush him out when Batwoman crashes in, and he’s thankfully gone for the rest of the issue! Awesome! Such an albatross. The previous issue revealed that Bernard knows Tim is Robin, so at least that was taken into consideration. But the issue did nothing to endear Bernard to me. He still sucks, and his absence is much appreciated in this issue. Instead, it’s Tim Drake being a good superhero, being a good detective, hanging out with characters who don’t suck. It’s Robin being awesome. I don’t know anything about the Chaos Monsters, but I assume they came from one of those earlier stories Fitzmartin wrote. That’s fine. The ending stinger with the villain grabbing Batwoman is more than enough to bring me back for the next issue.

TL;DR: A new artist and a new story breathe some stronger life into this Robin comic, even as it nears an unfortunate cancellation.

Wasp #4

Wasp #4
Writer: Al Ewing
Artists: Kasia Nie, with Carola Borelli
Colorist: KJ Diaz
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

Just like the Ant-Man anniversary series before it, Wasp comes to a fitting conclusion that celebrates the characters and wraps everything up nicely.

The Wasps and Jarvis are trapped in a fake reality created by the Creature from Kosmos, but Jarvis has figured it out, and the Wasps do too, with his help. Once they figure it out, they’re spit back into the real world, where they are face-to-face with the monster. Janet figures out a way to repel his particular acidic nature. Nadia heads out and defeats Fantasma, and grabs part of her tech to make this work. They combine Pym Particles with some other stuff and defeat Kosmos in grand fashion. And that frees Nadia’s grandfather from the creature’s clutches, so they have a nice reunion and some exposition. The day is saved!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This mini-series is the whole package, and this final issue wraps it up nicely with a bow. Our heroes and their allies reach deep down into themselves to overcome the villain’s fake world. Then once they’re back in their regular bodies, they use their smarts, their skills, their powers and their awesomeness to come up with a way to finish off the monstrous villain at long last. It’s great stuff. And it ties in all the important bits of Wasp lore. We get a final showdown between Nadia and Fantasma, so she gets to face off specifically against the foe from her series. They use science, and Pym Particles in particular, to finish off the bad guy. I loved all of that, acknowledging the role Hank Pym had in their lives, while standing on their own without him.

Unstoppable Wasp spiritual sequel!

These Ant-Man and Wasp mini-series were a fun idea and they were executed flawlessly. Clearly a lot of thought and heart went into coming up with a 4-issue Wasp story that not only touched upon the current characters using that name, but also their history, their supporting cast and what makes them special. Couple all of that with fantastic character writing and some wonderful, detailed comic book art and you’ve got an excellent little comic on your hands. Great work by the whole creative team.

The end of the comic promises that Wasp will return, and I look forward to that.

TL;DR: Everything wraps up very nicely, tying off the story after only four issues. The characters are treated well, they all get moments to shine and there really is a strong focus on all things Wasp.

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 29, 2023, in Avengers, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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