Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 10/13/18
Holy guacamole, people! It’s another week where all of my favorite comics come out at once, delivering another 8 comics in need of review! And that’s if I willingly cut down on some, like finally dropping Superman, and taking a pause on Amazing Spider-Man.
But that just means I can take more time to enjoy the likes of Ms. Marvel, Iceman, Captain America, Power Rangers, Domino and more! Seriously, there are so many more! Comic Book of the Week goes to a hilarious Unbeatable Squirrel Girl for the laugh-out-loud funny funeral. You heard me right.
Meanwhile, the next big comic book event story that I’m skipping is Spider-Geddon. I liked Spider-Verse well enough, but I definitely don’t have any interest in an identical sequel. I realize Spider-Man is hot right now, what with that new video game, and the upcoming animated movie, but this was not the way to capitalize on that. Comic blogs were really hyped this week for what random alternate reality Spider-Men die in the first issue, but oh my god, who the hell cares?!
Comic Reviews: Captain America #4, Catwoman #4, Domino #7, Go Go Power Rangers #13, Iceman #2, Ms. Marvel #35, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #37 and X-23 #5.
Captain America #4
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artist: Leinil Francis Yu
Inker: Gerry Alanguilan
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
This comic is still fine, but I really wish Coates would hurry up already.
Sharon Carter is being held prisoner in an abandoned military base in Albania, betrayed by General Ross and turned over to the bad guy: who reveals herself to be the widow of the late Aleksander Lukin, who I believe was the villain in the original Winter Soldier comic. She’s working with Selene to take over America in the name of Russia.
Meanwhile, Captain America parachutes in and starts fighting his way through the facility. He’s also figured out that Ross is the traitor (or at least that’s what they believe), and he’s annoyed that a man’s word isn’t as good as it used to be. Cap eventually comes up against the Taskmaster, who puts up a damn good fight.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
The big villain reveal, that she’s the wife of Aleksander Lukin, would have more of an impact if I remembered the woman at all from previous issues. She’s just been a generic white woman in a white outfit, standing beside Selene. I’m pretty sure, in that situation, the only one anybody is going to care about is Selene. So the villain has been completely overshadowed up to this point, and her reveal here just doesn’t have any weight. It also doesn’t serve her very well to just explain her plan to the captive hero. Sharon got this woman monologuing! And there’s no real explanation for what Selene has to do with any of it. I also feel like Ross being a traitor is a red herring.
The only thing really keeping this comic afloat is Coates’ take on Captain America and his inner monologue, how he’s struggling with finding his place in today’s chaotic political world. That’s good stuff, so it’s a shame it’s reduced to just a couple narration boxes throughout the issue. Otherwise, this is just an issue of Cap parachuting into a military base, beating up some guards and then fighting Taskmaster. He’s fought Taskmaster a million times, and I don’t think Tasky gets any dialogue. So why bother? What does that add to the story at all, other than delaying Cap so that the villain can monologue some more?
TL;DR: Despite a solid, interesting take on Captain America in today’s world, the rest of the story leaves a lot to be desired.
Writer and Artist: Joelle Jones
Artist: Fernando Blanco
Colorists: Laura Allred and John Kalisz
Letterer: Josh Reed
Jeez louise, comics can get dark. Not this issue, but did you know that back in the early 2000s, Ed Brubaker wrote a Catwoman comic where Black Mask kidnaps her sister and her sister’s husband, tortures the guy and then makes Catwoman’s sister eat her own husband’s eyeballs? WHY WAS THAT A THING?!
Catwoman visits her catatonic sister Maggie in the hospital (catatonic after that whole eyeball-eating thing). She recounts a few memories of Selina’s life as Catwoman always getting Maggie in trouble, like the time she pulled a gun on some bullies on Halloween, or the time Black Mask kidnapped Maggie and her husband, tortured the husband to death and then forced Maggie to eat his eyeballs. Those Kyle sisters…
Anyway, a doctor later shows up working for the Creel family, intending to do something mean to Maggie.
Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.
I just can’t get over the fact that this comic, while artistically gorgeous, doesn’t have much in the way of story. Apparently, a lot of the flashback scenes in this issue are direct references to past Catwoman/Maggie moments, which is neat. But this issue really only serves as a primer on Catwoman and her sister. I’ll grant you, I probably needed a primer on their relationship, but it comes at a weird point in the story. This thing with the Creels is so oddly half-baked already, and now we get an entire issue without those villains. Like, why doesn’t Catwoman just move her sister to a different city for her rehabilitation? She’s apparently in such a catatonic state that she doesn’t move or speak. Not to be too cruel to people in such situations, but couldn’t she sit in a wheelchair in a different hospital? One not located in a city controlled by evil criminals who want to kill Catwoman and her sister just for being in the city?
TL;DR: Catwoman takes a break from it’s already underdeveloped story to give us a bunch of backstory on a new character in the tale. It’ll probably be important later, but for now, it’s sucking what little excitement remains from the story.
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: David Baldeon
Colorist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Sadly, the new Domino storyline does not pick up where that mutant support group from the Annual left off…
Domino, Outlaw and Diamondback are hired by a Wakandan child to pick up a box in Norway, so they head out into the snow and chase a mysterious, feral girl into the woods. Diamondback recalls old stories her grandmother used to tell her about these spooky woods, and sure enough, they’re attacked by a vampire wedding party. Some quick thinking and some luck powers win the day, and the trio recover and open the box. Morbius is inside. The vampires said he was uniting all the vampires in the world into a revolution.
Meanwhile, a guy with binoculars peeps on the girls from afar. When he spots Domino’s white skin, he takes her for a vampire and tells his compatriot over the radio to call in all the famous Marvel vampire-hunters.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
Honestly, if I were allowed to write a solo X-Men comic…this is probably close to what I’d do. Take the main character, attach a couple random supporting characters from elsewhere in Marvel lore, and then just send them on international adventures around the Marvel Universe! Start off with one of those ‘rewrite her origin story’ big reveal stories. Now let’s come up with something clever involving Morbius and vampires! Everybody loves vampires! All the while, keep the focus on the fun main character, her equally fun supporting characters and her unique powerset. Boom, there’s your comic.
And Gail Simone does a pretty stellar job with that basic set-up.
So the issue is fine, and pretty fun. The dialogue can be a hoot at times, with Simone riffing nicely between the trio. She’s also having fun with Domino directly, like an extended bit on how glorified, comic book art makes women look, and what women really look and dress like in real life. It’s funny. And I’ve finally figured out why Baldeon draws men’s faces so long, especially between the nose and upper lip: he was building up to Morbius. It looks good on that living vampire. And beyond that, Baldeon does a fine job still on the female characters. His ‘at home casual’ Domino is both funny and wonderfully true-to-life. We need that action figure variant.
TL;DR: Domino is still a fun, enjoyable comic, though parts of it feel a little too broad and a little too generic to make it really stand out.
Go Go Power Rangers #13
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Eleonora Carlini
Colorist: Raul Angulo
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Maybe I am more interested in stories about the classic Mighty Morphin team than I am in general Power Rangers comics…
With Shattered Grid behind us, the Power Rangers get back to their normal high school drama and monster-killing. Trini is nursing a pretty big crush on Jason, and Matt still won’t talk to anybody, much to Zack’s dismay and Kimberly’s misplaced anger. Then Rita and her whole palace crew attack a mini-golf course, which is just a distraction so that Rita can open a portal to a dark dimension. Jason and Trini get sucked into the dimension with her, and that somehow causes them to switch colors.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I liked it! We’re back to business at hand, and Parrott continues to do a good job of keeping the focus on the characters, which I love. He dives a bit into the silliness of the Power Rangers this issue, which was rather fun. He replays that classic scene where Pudgy Pig ate the Power Rangers weapons, and when they get them back and kill him with a combined laser blast, one of the Rangers mentions how they should use the weapons more often. That’s some fun lampshading. And the rest of the school drama is fun too. I’m dying to find out Matt’s ultimate fate, but they’re really drawing that out. And the Jason/Trini stuff is adorable.
One thing I’ve come to realize about these BOOM! Power Rangers comics: sometimes it seems like a struggle to make Rita Repulsa into a badass. The comics are clearly portraying Rita as a scheming, manipulative badass with plans inside of plans. But that is in contrast with Rita from the show, a quick-to-anger shrew whose only plan was sending one monster after another at the Rangers and getting defeated every time. That doesn’t make for a very menacing villain for an ongoing, escalating story like these comics. Not that there’s anything wrong with the comic/show Rita contrast, just something curious I realized while reading this issue.
TL;DR: Back to business and ain’t it grand? Let the Power Rangers good times roll!
Writer: Sina Grace
Artist: Nathan Stockman
Colorist: Federico Blee
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Oh yeah, Grace is definitely going for a funnier, wackier comic here. It’s still a little shaky, but nonetheless entertaining.
It helps that he spends this issue rehabilitating Emma Frost after the past few years have seen her go full villain. I think. I stopped following her after Marvel butchered her character in Inhumans vs. X-Men.
For those who don’t know, way back in the 90s, Iceman and Emma had a big storyline where she possessed his mind/body and used his powers in bigger and better ways, ways that he never knew he was even capable of. Since then, they’ve had a frenemy relationship.
Emma recruits Bobby to help clean up a dangling plot thread from her solo comic in the early 2000s. Emma has a gay brother, and their strict, conservative father disagrees with everything about him, and sent the brother, Christian, to both conversion therapy and an insane asylum. Now Christian is out and Emma wants to check to make sure their father isn’t hurting him any further, especially since she recently discovered her father’s powerful telepathic abilities.
When they arrive at Frost Manor, they find only Christian, who is acting rather weird. Then they find the murdered body of the Frost father, and it’s revealed that Christian is the one with the psionic abilities, and he’s projecting a violent simulation of their father. Emma grabs Christian’s consciousness and takes everyone deep into Bobby’s subconscious mind. Once there, amidst a big fight, Emma reveals why she brought Bobby along: she wants to use his memories of both a strict father and a loving X-Men family to show Christian that there is hope for him.
It works! Christian surrenders and Emma decides to stay behind and help her brother learn about his new powers, as well as take over the family company now that father is dead. Bobby heads home alone.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I think Sina Grace is going for cheesy. It’s an interesting choice, and quite different from the previous Iceman comic. I like it, for the most part. It’s definitely a unique choice, as there aren’t any other comics like it (that I’m reading, at least). And it definitely works for the character. Iceman’s sense of humor has always been a little cheesy. I wish I knew a better way to describe it, but it’s one of those humorous things you need to experience to understand. Basically, it’s just a series of cheesy one-liners while an actual, legitimate story is taking place.
And this issue told a really great story! I remain firmly in the camp that Emma Frost is a much better and far more interesting character than the psycho villain Marvel turned her into, and I liked this issue for having her come off as a legitimate human being, one capable of being friendly and heroic. Her relationship with Bobby has always been one of those weird, neat little corners of comicbookdom, and I loved Grace’s take on it. He also uses it to great effect to showcase Iceman as a person, through the eyes of someone semi-close to him, and that worked great.
Plus, like I said, Grace and Stockman both had a lot of cheesy fun with this one.
TL;DR: The cheesiness is strong in the revived Iceman comic, making it really stand out in a crowded comic book market. Could use a touch more cheese polish, though.
Ms. Marvel #35
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Nico Leon
Colorist: Ian Herring
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Ms. Marvel vs. Shocker comes to a shocking conclusion! If you can believe that!
In their efforts to avoid the Shocker, Kamala and Bruno wind up back in the weird interdimensional void, and Bruno explains to Kamala the mechanics of her powers. They bounce back out and Kamala takes on the Shocker, while Bruno goes to shut down the wormhole experiment. Kamala and Shocker wind up back in the other dimension again, with Shocker trying to convince Ms. Marvel to go against her pre-conceived superhero notions and join him in pushing through the void to something bigger and better! With Singularity’s help, Kamala defeats the Shocker and sends him portaling back to Brooklyn. Then she rejoins Bruno before he shuts down the wormholes, and they go out to grab a bite to eat.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
This issue wins on sentimentality, on taking things deeper than I was expecting from this story. I still think Shocker was a weird choice of villain, but Wilson brings me around in his final spiel to Kamala. Here is a man trying to better himself (albeit as a criminal), but he’s not some evil psychopath. Herman remains the grounded, realistic person he’s always been. His conversations with Kamala are fascinating, and I almost wish they came from an adversary that had a personal connection to Kamala in some way. Instead, Kamala and Singularity essentially just shrug off the Shocker’s speeches and kick him to the curb without any seemingly deeper consideration on Kamala’s part.
That final scene between Kamala and Shocker really sold me on the issue. It is a solid, enjoyable Ms. Marvel outing, as she takes down a villain and goes on a wacky adventure. The mechanics of her powers are pretty neat and Wilson made it easy to understand.
Though I stand by my decision not to ‘ship Kamala and Bruno. Maybe if he cut his hair…
TL;DR: Ms. Marvel gets deep in the final issue of this wacky storyline, at least deep enough to make this more than a casual adventure.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #37
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Derek Charm
Colorist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Leave it to Unbeatable Squirrel Girl to be absolutely hilarious in whatever it does!
Squirrel Girl is dead! And heroes and villains alike pay their respects at her funeral, including the conspicuous Bass Lass and Fish Miss, who are really Squirrel Girl and Nancy Whitehead in disguise. Apparently someone was posing as Squirrel Girl, complete with powers, but they had no clue until this funeral. They’re in disguise to try and gather clues — which includes a pretty convincing video of Squirrel Girl getting killed while fighting the evil Octobliterator alongside the Avengers.
After the funeral, our heroes and their friends deduce that the villain impersonating Squirrel Girl was a living breathing person, was capable of reproducing her powers and yet did not also replace Doreen Green, so they don’t know her secret identity. So this can only mean…Skrulls!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Honestly, I was hoping for something a bit more interesting than Skrulls. I’m sure North has plenty of plans to make them funny, but eh. Aren’t we all a little Skrulled out? Didn’t Secret Invasion —from 10 years ago! — wear us all out on Skrulls?
Anyway, ignore that, I’m just grousing because that cliffhanger reveal did not live up to the utter hilariousness of the preceding funeral scene. Ryan North is at his absolute best in that scene, whether he’s giving mini-euologies to a who’s who of hilarious cameos, or he’s having Nancy and Doreen try their darndest to stay in character as the ridiculous fish-headed superheroes while attending Doreen’s funeral.
That whole scene is laugh-out-loud funny, from Great Lakes Avengers Doorman working as the actual doorman of the funeral parlor, to an extended gag about The Walrus, this was all North proving he is the best at what he does.
Watching Doreen and her crew try to piece together the clues and solve the mystery is fun too! Granted, I was a bit let down by their eventual decision, but eh, I’ll get over it. I’m sure North has plenty planned to make the Skrulls as funny and as entertaining as can be!
TL;DR: Writer Ryan North kills with a hilarious funeral scene, proving that this comic is never not funny.
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artists: Juann Cabal & Marcio Fiorito
Colorist: Nolan Woodard
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
I dunno. This whole storyline was weirdly light, in ways comic books just aren’t anymore. Still fun, at least.
Esme, now in control of Gabby’s body, heads to the X-Mansion to take control of Cerebro. But Laura, Mindee and Ghost Sophie head her off, with Sophie revealing to Celeste and Phoebe that Esme murdered her. Everybody turns on Esme and they duke it out, while Mindee slips away to Cerebro and uses its power to pull Esme’s consciousness from Gabby’s body. Then the Cuckoos take off to parts unknown, while Laura, Gabby and the X-Men have birthday cake to celebrate Esme’s new death.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
As much as I’ve enjoyed Tamaki’s X-23, this has been a weirdly light comic, in that there just hasn’t been much depth at all to the story or the characters. There was in the beginning, we had some really great scenes with Laura and Gabby and concerns about their clone origins. But the past few issues, including this one, have been one really quick, lightweight story. Bad guy shows up, bad guy does a thing, Laura reverses thing and day is saved. No contemplation, no real character exploration, no real anything. Just straight forward story, with great art. It leans into my criticism that X-23, as a character, doesn’t have much depth to begin with. I was hoping Tamaki could fix that, but this opening storyline doesn’t come close. This is the comic book equivalent of a Nilla wafer. It’s delicious and yummy, and I could go through a whole box of them, but in the end, what even happened? I suppose the Stepford Cuckoos are off the table for a little bit, but not in any way that really changes them. They could just as easily be reverted back to their status quo the next time they appear.
TL;DR: The new series closes out its opening storyline with little to no depth, but an enjoyable adventure nonetheless.
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 October 13, 2018, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged Boom!, Captain America, Catwoman, Domino, Emma Frost, Go Go Power Rangers, Iceman, Kamala Khan, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Ms. Marvel, Power Rangers, Squirrel Girl, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, X-23. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.