Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 5/19/18
Anybody else see Deadpool 2 this weekend? That was a fun movie! Anybody want to take bets until Firefist shows up in comics? I’d say it’s about as inevitable as Negasonic Teenage Warhead getting the movie makeover after the last Deadpool movie…
Speaking of comics, we had some fine ones this week! Power Rangers continues their big Shattered Grid event. The final issue of All-New Wolverine drops a nice little finale. And the Avengers and Justice League face off to win my favor…and Comic Book of the Week goes to the second issue of Justice League: No Justice!
Meanwhile, I’ve decided to drop X-Men Red. It’s not what I thought it would be and, despite my being a big fan of writer Tom Taylor, I’m just not really digging it. I’d rather drop books I’m not enjoying than keep giving them crummy reviews. This week’s issue was fine, but just no what I’m looking for in an X-Men comic these days.
Also new this week, I’ve decided to start listing more creatives in the credits section of my reviews. A letterer friend of mine pointed out that reviewers should credit everybody, and he’s right. The only reason I wasn’t was because I’m lazy. So from now on, inkers, colorists and letterers!
Comic Reviews: All-New Wolverine #35, Avengers #2, Batman #47, Justice League: No Justice #2 and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #27.
All-New Wolverine #35
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Ramon Rosanas
Colorist: Nolan Woodard
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Sadly, this is the end of Laura’s time as Wolverine. She’s going to get relaunched in a couple months as X-23 all over again, as if that’s a proper codename. I don’t think Marvel ever truly let her embrace the role and legacy of Wolverine, and that’s a damn shame.
Old Woman Laura and her squad split up in their assault on Latveria. Laura and Carol take on Doom directly, while Gabby and the others sneak into the prison cells to rescue Bellonna and the other captured (believed to be dead) superheroes. After battling a bunch of Doombots, Laura is confronted by an aging, decrepit Doctor Doom. Medical science and magic have been unsuccessful in extending his life, so he lured Laura to Latvia to take over her young, self-healing body. But once Doom connects their minds via wires, Laura and her dying body overcome Doom and chase him back into his own body, which Laura has already skewered with her claws. So Doom is dead, the heroes are saved and the people of Latveria are free.
Laura is ready to lay down her life and die, but Gabby tells her that’s not going to happen. She picks her sister up and tells her they’re going to figure out a way to cure her so that Laura can enjoy this world she helped create.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
If I can just get a quick nitpick out of the way: Doctor Doom just said he couldn’t find a way through science or magic to extend his life. So why does the issue end with Gabby suggesting they’ll just figure out some way to save Laura’s life? I realize curing her clone degeneration is different from Doom’s quest for immortality, but it’s still a weird contrast to put only a couple pages apart. Like, “Doctor Doom couldn’t figure it out, but I’m sure we’ll find a way, just you wait and see!”
Anyway, nitpick aside, this was another fine issue of the Old Woman Laura storyline. It climaxes and ends as warmly as it came in. I really think it’s just a pleasant farewell lap for Tom Taylor, and I’m fine with him taking such a lap. I am probably a bit disconnected with Laura as a character. I’ve never really been interested in X-23. So I can’t really comment if this story felt true to her character or was a proper farewell (for now). Honestly, I’m not really sure what Laura’s character is in this comic. She’s kind of just a generally well-meaning and standoffishly friendly person. And she’s definitely that in this issue, so…good? I think?
I dunno. This storyline was fine, and this issue was fine. If you’ve been enjoying the story so far, this issue is probably a nice capper. If you miss the series already, Taylor is still writing both Laura and Gabby over in X-Men Red. I don’t know if I’ll pick up the X-23 relaunch in a couple weeks. Maybe an issue or two, to give it a chance.
TL;DR: Tom Taylor’s All-New Wolverine ends on a perfectly adequate victory lap of a final story and issue.
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Ed McGuinness
Inkers: Mark Morales with Jay Leisten
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Two issues in and the back-to-basics approach is already starting to annoy me.
Captain America, Iron Man and Thor do battle against the new Final Host evil Celestials, though they are like gnats to the giants. I think one of the dead Celestials gets up to lend a hand, but he gets his head lopped off. Meanwhile, some dark, smarmy force is watching from the wings and narrating. See if you can guess who it is based on context clues I’ve given so far.
Captain Marvel helps out with the Avengers, while said dark, smarmy force teleports a wild She-Hulk out to Ghost Rider, and the two of them get into a scrape.
Have you guessed who it is yet? Sigh, yeah, it’s Loki.
Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.
I think Jason Aaron has done some amazing things with Loki in his ongoing Thor/War of the Realms Saga. But a smarmy, return-to-form Loki is the last possible character I wanted to show up in this comic as the mastermind. My mind actively tried to rebel each time we got a bit of mysterious narration. I tried to convince myself that some new force was at play. But nope, it’s the most obvious and least interesting choice for villain. Hey, did you know that Loki was the villain who originally united the Avengers?! What better character to use in this relaunch! Surely that hasn’t been done before, right? Surely a story about an evil Celestial army needs Loki to pop up and spout some gobbledegook about how all of this was foretold or “already in motion” or some nonsense.
The rest is fine, I guess. There’s some more solid, if generic, character work on the main three characters as they try to fistfight the Dark Celestials. And Captain Marvel makes a nice fourth. The art, of course, is great. And I liked the new, more savage She-Hulk. I never did get around to reading the end of her last series. Did she get fixed? Did she get partially fixed? She’s like a regular Hulk now, it seems. Ghost Rider is massively overwritten in this issue. Like someone told Aaron that his primary audience for a new Avengers #1 at the time of Avengers: Infinity War was surely going to be people who don’t really read comics normally, and don’t watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so they’re not going to understand Ghost Rider at all. Make sure Robbie Reyes’ dialogue is that weird stilted casual exposition.
I like Robbie Reyes as much as the next person, but his dialogue was horrendous in this issue. There’s no subtlety whatsoever. It’s painful.
Also, Captain America casually namedrops The Eternals in this issue, and it’s as jarring as you might expect. Have you heard the rumor that Marvel might make The Eternals into their next movie franchise? Could that be why they get a namedrop in this very important new series?
DID THEY LEARN NOTHING FROM THE FAILURE OF THE INHUMANS?!
TL;DR: The character fun at the heart of the first issue is mostly gone as action and massive set pieces take over. Now it’s just about crashing the characters and villains into one another, including a surprise villain that is way too overused in this capacity.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Tony S. Daniel
Inkers: Tony S. Daniel, Danny Miki and Sandu Florea
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Whatever King was going for here it definitely went over my head. Not in the same way that Mister Miracle goes over my head, more in an “I have no idea what the point is” kind of going over my head.
Another year has passed since Catwoman and Evil Batman killed Thomas and Martha Wayne at their anniversary party. Bruce Wayne has kept Booster Gold in chains, and he’s used his wealth to repair Skeets and the time machine. The time machine is voice-activated, though, so Bruce has to team up with the insane Booster Gold to go back to before his parents were killed — which Booster uses as an excuse to go back to before his parents were killed originally. Bruce is confused and ready to kill Booster, until original time-traveling Booster Gold (the one who started this whole mess) shows up and quickly susses out what’s happening. Together, they stop Bruce from killing Booster Gold, and Thomas and Martha Wayne get shot in the alley like they were supposed to (and the commotion from the fight sent the Wayne family down the alley in the first place, dun dun dun!)
Upon seeing his parents gunned down, adult Bruce shoots himself in the head. Back in the present day, Booster has told this story to Batman and Catwoman, who stand silent and dumbfounded. Booster is still a little crazy, obsessed with being unable to wipe what he sees as the last bits of Bruce Wayne blood off his goggles.
Comic Rating: 4/10 – Pretty Bad.
Just like last issue, this one was a bit too screwy for my tastes. King’s Booster Gold is intentionally off his rocker, but I’m not sure why. Did he get Jokerized, like was hinted at in this alternate timeline? Does simple time travel make him go crazy? Is it the degree of his failure? I’m just no sure and it’s really off-putting. I’m just not sure what King was trying to accomplish with Booster Gold in this storyline. He has Booster recount his origin story at one point for some reason, and Booster ends the issue still crazy. And I’m just not sure what the take away is. That Booster is one wacky character? That even the best intentions can go awry? Don’t get me wrong, the story has a neat premise, but the execution was pretty bad. The alternate timeline felt half-baked and the climax seems to exist just to crap on Booster Gold. It’s as if King really hates Booster Gold, so he used his position as critically acclaimed writer of Batman to tell a really embarrassing Booster Gold story. And it’s not a very intricate or illuminating re-do of Batman’s origin either, which has already been covered ad nauseam.
TL;DR: This issue was weird in a really off-putting way, as if the creators had an ax to grind against Booster Gold and wanted to humiliate him. The time travel/alternate timeline stuff felt half-baked for very little pay-off.
Justice League: No Justice #2
Writers: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV and Joshua Williamson
Artists: Francis Manapul and Marcus To
Letters: Andworld Design
Of the two Big Team relaunches at Marvel and DC, at only two issues in a piece, I’m definitely enjoying Justice League: No Justice more. The Avengers is a simpler story with a stronger character focus, but it’s dripping in editorial mandates that hold it back. Justice League: No Justice is a wild and crazy comic book story that’s chock full of new and interesting character interactions, and it’s clearly the brainchild of the creators involved, but it’s a little too stuffed for its own good.
The various heroes and villains continue to butt heads on how best to save the planet Colu before Lex Luthor gives a big speech about trusting in Brainiac’s intelligence. So they split off into their chosen teams and head to different corners of the planet. Each one has to re-ignite a brain tree by performing a certain task associated with their chosen Concept. They continue to butt heads as they try to figure out their tasks.
Team Entropy (Batman, Luthor, Beast Boy, Deathstroke and Lobo) are in a prison and decide they need to break down deep to free a really gnarly prisoner. When they arrived, they discover Vril Dox, Brainiac 2.0! Dun dun dun, apparently.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, Amanda Waller heads to the Arctic Circle to try and find the World Seed. When her team of psychics accidentally killed Brainiac, they did manage to uncover his plan, and she wants to find the Seed. She’s confronted by Green Arrow, who informs her that all other superheroes on Earth have gone into stasis…though he doesn’t explain why he didn’t also go into stasis. I guess only superheroes who were on one of the four major teams went into stasis? Yet Arrows says “there are no other superheroes”…so I guess the definition of a superhero is very strict in the DCU? I dunno. Anyway, Waller and Arrow find the seed and its active, so the Four Brothers are totally gonna make their way to Earth eventually, y’all.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
As much as I’m enjoying the various weird character interactions in this series so far, the creative team is a little too stuffed to really get in deep with any of them. There are little flits and flourishes here and there between interesting characters, but the most that most characters get is a single panel or a single zinger, like the sudden rivalry between Sinestro and Starfire. There are some definite standouts, like the callously chill Starro, and the in-over-his-head Beast Boy, but those great bits are fleeting. And there’s not enough room to really explore what’s happening. Like, everybody is super fine with teaming up with Starro, like it ain’t no thang. And Starro seems legit interested in being considered a member of the Justice League. That’s kind of hilarious.
Also, I would kill for Snyder and Co. to build on this Lex Luthor/Martian Manhunter friendship. Is this brand new to this comic? Or have I been missing a great understated friendship elsewhere?
It’s like Lex Luthor found an alien he respects and treats almost like an equal, and J’onn is just rolling with it because he’s a cool, noble guy who can also respect Luthor’s intellect. More of them, please!
Anyway, the story goes really off the rails with this issue in such a weird, forced way. Like, I thought they were all screwed when Brainiac was killed last issue, but everybody figures out pretty quickly that they need to go re-power some dead trees, and that they need to perform weirdly specific tasks to do so. And it helps that their Brainiac suits are pulling them towards their goals.
For example, Team Mystery discovers an evil library where the people of Colu collect and store entire bottled planets, not just bottled cities. The heroes all want to immediately free the planets, because that seems like a good guy thing to do. Sinestro points out how insane it would be to suddenly unleash a galaxy’s worth of strange, ancient alien planets on the universe. But nah, Superman and everybody else feels like it would somehow qualify as ‘Mystery’ to unleash these planets, and that should re-ignite the tree. This comic goes to some really strange lengths to try and make all its weird pieces fit together.
Then the big cliffhanger ending is the arrival of Vril Dox. Pardon me for not knowing every facet of DC continuity, but I immediately had to Google him. That’s not a good thing, when your entire cliffhanger rests on a character’s sudden, unexpected arrival.
Still, enjoyable comic with a lot of fun craziness going on.
TL;DR: Justice League: No Justice is getting a little too packed for its own good, with a lot of added complications to the story, but it’s still a fun ride.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #27
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Daniele Di Nicuolo
Colorist: Walter Baiamonte
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
I dunno, you guys, I’m just not feeling Shattered Grid as much as I’d like. Higgins tries to keep his strong character work flowing, but this event is just too big, and it doesn’t slow down. Those are good qualities, but not really what I’ve enjoyed most about Power Rangers.
Lord Drakkon’s assault on all the different Power Rangers brands continues, with the Power Rangers scrambling to keep track of everything. Zordon sends a warning out to every universe and they get a response from Dr. K from Power Rangers RPM, who has figured out a way to counteract the Black Dragon weapon technology. They also get a response from the Coinless who have their own plan in motion. So the Rangers split up.
Kimberly and Time Force Pink Ranger head out into the multiverse to help whomever they can. Billy, Zach and Trini meet up with the Coinless, who have a plan to rescue Ninjor and use him to stop Drakkon. And Jason and Samurai Red Ranger travel to the RPM Universe to save Dr. K and recruit her to the larger fight. But no sooner do they arrive then a newly empowered Drakkon launches a full force assault!
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
I think there’s a tipping point in the Power Rangers comic book between action and characters. So far, the series has tipped heavily towards strong character work, making the comic one of my absolute favorites. Higgins is amazing with these characters. But Shattered Grid has been tipping more towards non-stop action, with the Power Rangers constantly on the move, either getting into fights or worrying about those fights. And while that’s fine, and a solid way to do this event, for me, personally, it leads to me losing interest. I don’t usually read comic book adaptations of existing properties. I love writer Ryan North on Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, and I love the cartoon show Adventure Time, but I have no interest in reading Ryan North’s no-doubt awesome Adventure Time comic. It’s just not what I want from comics. And a Power Rangers comic that’s all action feels like a simple adaptation rather than its own thing.
So I’m grateful that Higgins is plugging in some strong character stuff where he can in this big, crazy adventure.
Though I’m also a little disappointed that, since everything is moving so quickly, nobody really has time to slow down and react to the fact that there are other Power Rangers teams. Like, everybody is just rolling with it as perfectly normal and natural. I guess that’s fine, but I feel like the Mighty Morphin team should be a little more surprised.
It also doesn’t help that I’m a strict Mighty Morphin-era fan. I watched Zeo-era, too. But nothing beyond the early Power Rangers in Space stuff. So maybe I’m just not all that interested in the Red Samurai Ranger.
The issue and the event are still fine and enjoyable. It’s not that I’m not entertained. The characters are cool, the mixing and matching of different Ranger teams is neat, I’ve still never liked Drakkon as a villain, but at least Higgins is now trying to add some depth to him, which is a welcome addition.
TL;DR: Shattered Grid is getting a little too big for my tastes, since the joy of the Power Rangers comic so far has been the smaller, intimate moments. But big and action-packed is still pretty fun.
The comics I review in my Hench-Sized reviews are just the usual comics I pick up from my local shop 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!
Posted on May 19, 2018, in Avengers, Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged All-New Wolverine, Justice League, Justice League: No Justice, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Power Rangers, Wolverine. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.