Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 11/24/18

Happy Thanksgiving, Henchies! As well as to you international readers, you’re welcome at Thanksgiving too! I had a nice time with my family, then woke up the next morning to below zero temperatures and a flat tire, so I guess I have plenty to be thankful for!

Definitely a lot of comics to be thankful for, like more Batman, more Uncanny X-Men and more Iron Man! Comic Book of the Week goes to the latest issue of Mr. & Mrs. X for being nicely romantic.

Rogue Gambit Rings 01

It’s too late now, Rogue!

Meanwhile, is anybody reading Infinity Warps? I’m curious about it, because of my love of the Amalgam Universe, but I still don’t want to buy into Marvel’s Big Event comics anymore.

Comic Reviews: Batman #59, Mr. & Mrs. X #5, Tony Stark – Iron Man #6, Uncanny X-Men #2 and West Coast Avengers #4.


Batman #59

Batman #59
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

A new wrinkle is added to Tom King’s ongoing Bane saga!

The Penguin reveals Bane’s entire conspiracy to Batman, about how Bane has taken complete control of Arkham Asylum. Penguin says he’s revealed this because Bane killed the love of his life, Penny, so Penguin is up for making crazy, suicidal actions.

So Batman storms into Arkham, right through the front door, orders the guards to either stand aside or get their asses kicked. Then he confronts Bane in his cell. Bane is whimpering and crying for his mommy, but Batman doesn’t buy it and beats the crap out of Bane. Commissioner Gordon shows up and demands Batman to get out of there, because Gordon has been overseeing Bane’s rehabilitation personally and Bane isn’t acting. Batman is so angry he punches Gordon, and that’s enough for Gordon to put his foot down and tell Batman to leave. Later, Batman tells Alfred he’s not sure if Bane was playing or not. Once he’s gone, and the paramedics get to work on Bane, the big man smirks.

Comic Review: 8/10 – Very Good.

I like the twist that the Penguin, out of all villains, has decided to betray Bane and reveal the truth to Batman. So I liked the scene of Batman confronting Penguin and the villain explaining his motives. This is a very simple issue, but it’s a solid, enjoyable entry in King’s ongoing saga. It makes fun use of the Penguin, adds a devious new layer to Bane’s plan and puts Batman in a lot of tight spots. That was an exciting punch. I may quibble a bit about why Jim Gordon doesn’t know to just trust Batman over Bane and his own eyes, but that’s not a huge quibble, and having Bane really funk Batman up like this is worth it. This is some real twisting of screws, and that makes for good storytelling. And it’s always fun to see Batman on a justified rampage.

Also, still no confirmation on whether or not Penny is a penguin, but she’s totally a penguin.

TL;DR: Tom King ups the stakes and makes some neat character choices as his overarching story moves along steadily.


Mr. and Mrs. X #5

Mr. & Mrs. X #5
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Oscar Bazaldua
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino

Just when you think you know a series, Kelly Thompson throws a curveball!

Last issue, it appeared that Rogue and Xandra died in an explosion when Rogue absorbed Xandra’s powers. Remy is distraught, and the death of Rogue is enough to stop the Starjammers and Imperial Guard from fighting, and they retreat. Once they’re gone, Rogue and Xandra show back up, revealing it was an illusion. Remy is angry at Rogue for taking such a risk without considering him…but their mini argument is interrupted by Rogue suddenly absorbing Gambit, Xandra and Cerise without needing to touch them. She quickly puts the collar on to shut off her powers.

Rogue is in shock afterwards, but Remy lies down with her to talk about how she’s going to try and push him away to protect him from this new form of her powers, but he’s not going anywhere. He presents to her wedding rings that Bling made for them, which weren’t ready for the ceremony. They kiss and make up, and Xandra and Cerise take them home to Remy’s apartment on Earth. But the sudden onset of domesticity is just so eerie…so they decide to throw a party!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This was a nice little issue that has some great moments between the titular characters, evolves Rogue’s powers in new and unique ways, and delivers a pretty solid, unexpected ending. The fake out that Rogue and Xandra aren’t really dead doesn’t work all that well. I mean, it works in terms of wrapping up the fight…but it’s not like any of us thought she was actually dead. And Thompson’s flashback to the end of last issue to show us how it developed from Rogue and Xandra’s perspective is entirely unnecessary. Definitely not anything that couldn’t be inferred or easily explained when they come back. Still, that it results in Rogue and Gambit having a fight over her way of doing things makes it all worthwhile, because character above plot, as far as I’m concerned!

Rogue Gambit Tongue Massage 01

Oh Cerise…

Then we get this crazy new evolution of Rogue’s powers, which comes about naturally when she absorbs the powers of Xandra. I did not see that coming! Create a strange and unique new character in Xandra, sure; I’m down. Then use Rogue’s natural powers in conjunction with Xandra to do something new and crazy huge for Rogue? Awesome! And then use that to reinforce all the great character stuff between Rogue and Gambit that makes them perfect to headline their own series? Perfect! This is some great plotting and I’m quite pleased at how this opening story led to these moments — though I’m a little confused as to where Xandra goes at the end. I thought she’d stick around somehow…

Anyway, I especially loved that last page or two back on Earth. They arrive in Gambit’s simple apartment in Tribeca. It looks like a nice, normal apartment. He introduces Rogue to his cats. He’s wearing khakis. There’s this underlying current of frightening normalcy, and I love it!

Rogue Gambit Normal 01

Remy LeBeau: Manhattanite

After a rush proposal and wedding, followed by a wild honeymoon in outer space, interrupted by a crazy space mission, Rogue and Gambit now have to settle down on Earth into married life. That means apartments and pets and domesticity. That it’s so awkward right away is hilariously entertaining!

TL;DR: The first story ends with some real heart and some very interesting hints about the future.


Iron Man #6

Tony Stark – Iron Man #6
Writers: Dan Slott and Jeremy Whitley
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Jeremy Whitley has been brought on to help with the script? I’ll take “surefire ways to make your comic better” for $200, Alec.

It’s the worldwide launch day for eScape, Tony Stark’s Oasis-like digital playground. Everybody in the entire world is grabbing a copy and logging on. Iron Man, Wasp and Rhodey stop a team of hijackers from stealing a truck full of valuable eScape swag, and then Tony settles into HQ to monitor launch day — and, of course, there are problems.

An unusually large number of people are getting banned. Though considering the people who use the Internet, this doesn’t sound too weird for Day One. The safety and community features are banning racists, terrorists, provocateurs and the like. And when you get banned, an actual digital sentry shows up in the play area and deletes your digital avatar. Tony logs in to find out what’s going on — and he’s followed by his mother, who wants to talk to Tony about their relationship, and she believes the only way to get his attention is in the digital world.

But annoying Tony Stark is a surefire way for the sentry to show up and ban you, since he’s top admin. Tony tries to cancel the order, but the sentry goes ahead and deletes Amanda’s avatar, which harms her in the real world, too. Turns out the Controller has hacked the system and shut down the safety features, so everybody in the eScape can now feel pain. And the Controller also lets all the violent, banned members back online.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

OK, first of all, I’m totally against Amanda Armstrong on this one. It’s launch day, lady! Of the biggest release of Tony Stark’s professional career! A release that is clearly already drawing super-villain attention. And your son is a hands-on executive who wants to personally guarantee that everybody IN THE ENTIRE WORLD not only has access but has safe access. He’s also freakin’ Iron Man! And it’s not like he’s hurt your feelings or done anything to upset you. Amanda is just a little worried that she and Tony aren’t that close. You couldn’t wait a day to talk to Tony about this? Or a week?! You have to force this conversation on launch day of eScape, right in the middle of a possible security threat?

Tony Stark Mom 01

Calm down, you walking retcon

Look, you’re not his mother. Not really. Sure, you biologically gave birth to him, but you didn’t raise him. You’re not his “mom”, colloquially speaking. And providing the egg to allow for his birth does not give you any rights over him when you show up in his adult life. Nor does that place any expectations on Tony that he owes you his time or his love or his attention. He says over and over again that you can talk later. It’s not a pressing conversation to have. You should be grateful that he’s including you in his life at all.

So cool your jets and maybe don’t add to the alarming, world-threatening security threat.

Also, when banning somebody from the eScape, why does it require an actual digital sentry robot to ‘physically’ walk over to them and delete their avatar? It’s all digital. We mastered banning people from websites and message boards on the Internet a long time ago, and it doesn’t involve this — even if it’s visually appealing as part of a comic book.

Those nitpicks aside, this was an excellent issue, firing on all cylinders. The launch of a big product is a uniquely Tony Stark event, and the sort of original idea I want to see in my comics. Granted, there’s a lot of typical superhero stuff in this issue, but a company-focused product launch is still pretty unique, and Slott handles it quite well by putting Tony right in the middle of the launch. It’s fun stuff and is a great way to explore the characters.

eScape Madness 01

This seems like a solid representation of the Internet

On top of that, the issue also delivers an exciting action scene, as Iron Man, the Wasp and Rhodey fight some bad guys in a big rig robbery. it’s fun and exciting, with a lot of great banter and dialogue. I’m still not really fond of Tony and Janet suddenly being all lovey dovey, but I’ll roll with it when the dialogue is this much fun.

And the super-villain set-up of the Controller weaponizing asshole Internet users to ruin the eScape sounds funny and awesome.

TL;DR: ‘Firing on all cylinders’ is a totally apt metaphor for industrialist Tony Stark and his comic. This issue is full of energy and excitement unique to this series.


Uncanny X-Men #2

Uncanny X-Men #2
Writers: Ed Brisson, Matthew Rosenberg and Kelly Thompson
Artist: R.B. Silva
Inker: Adriano Di Benedetto
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

So for those curious, I have not yet settled into this being the “real” Multiple Man again. Just not feeling it, especially when he remains so out-of-control.

The X-Men sit around and lay out the various cryptic clues that popped up last issue, including a new one: a bunch of extinct creatures have come back and are causing trouble. A squad of X-Men head to Montana to save a town from some dinosaurs, while another squad heads to Kansas, where Jamie Madrox has created so many duplicates that the mass of bodies is visible from space. The Madroxes’ minds remain too confusing and wild for telepaths to get a lock on him, and they’re exhibiting strange new powers. They also keep ranting about being too late to save everybody. It’s a mess. And the dinosaurs are no fun either.

Meanwhile, the Young X-Men were left behind at the mansion, and they’re annoyed. There’s a crowd of protestors on the front lawn, and they debate how to handle them — until a nicely dressed, normal-haired Legion shows up at the front door, offering to help.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

This issue isn’t as cryptic as the last one, if only because all of the cryptic clues have been delivered already. But we still don’t get any answers. I’m rating it higher than the previous issue based solely on the fun dialogue and character work. As much as the story leaves to be desired, the creators are killing it with characterization. Everybody reads well, and the X-Men come off like a quality superhero team. Granted, there are a lot of members to juggle, and not everybody gets a moment to really shine, but those that do are really fun to read. Jean and Bobby get some nice bits this issue. But I was personally let down that Polaris didn’t get a moment with Madrox, given their history. But that’s me. Don’t worry about that.

X23 Eaten 01

Jean and Bobby are great in this issue

I also think the creators are purposefully setting up these standard events as a red herring. Last issue, Jubilee commented on how repetitive it was for the X-Men to be watching a politician talk about outlawing mutants. This issue sees Bishop remark on how routine it is to fight dinosaurs. So I definitely think the writers are working an angle…but until that angle actually pays off, we’re left just waiting to see what happens. The degree to which the creators are keeping the reader as in the dark as the X-Men isn’t as entertaining as they probably think. There’s no mystery involved. Nothing that can be sussed out. It’s just a bunch of weird, crazy comic book stuff. They’re doing nothing to amp up the mystery and the curiosity. They’re just throwing weird stuff at the reader with the promise that they’ll get around to explaining it eventually. And I’m sure they will, and perhaps the explanation will be awesome and retroactively make all of this better. But for now, it’s still just the X-Men doing mindless, routine things until whatever issue contains the reveal.

TL;DR: Uncanny X-Men seems to confuse throwing crazy crap at the reader with legitimate mystery. It’s somewhat entertaining crazy crap, but the lack of even a hint of answers is more detriment than excitement.


West Coast Avengers #4

West Coast Avengers #4
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

I think there’s a level of silliness to West Coast Avengers that I wasn’t expecting, given Thompson’s Hawkeye series. I’m not 100% on board with it just yet. We’ll see.

The West Coast Avengers continue to battle against the giant, transformed women, only now a giant hawk-person version of Kate Bishop arrives on the scene. Regular-person version of Clint Barton finds a reversal ray in BRODOK’S lab, and he uses it to turn BRODOK back into MODOK. Then hawk-Kate, who is a good guy again, hurls MODOK away. The Avengers use the ray to turn everybody back to normal, except for Bridgette, who likes being a dragon and wants to stay that way. Also, during the rescue efforts, America ran into Fuse’s sister, Ramone, and sparks immediately fly.

Later, everybody appears on Jimmy Kimmel Live! for a single page of…hijinks? I guess. I dunno, it’s an awkward cameo. Not as awkward as this skit, but still pretty bad.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I don’t really know how to explain it, but there’s just this level of extra silliness that I’m still getting used to with West Coast Avengers. It ties into my rants at the start of the series about how some things just don’t line up, like the need to pay the members of the team, or that they all must live in a single HQ. Those are just facts at this point, even if they don’t fully register for me. Same with Quentin and Gwen doing that whole ‘hate each other/can’t stop making out’ trope. That still bugs me. Or the way Thompson handled sparks flying between America and Ramone and how people respond. Or a one-page cameo where the team appears on Jimmy Kimmel Live! It’s a subtle silliness that I didn’t expect, don’t actually dislike, and just need to wrap my head around. I’ll get there, and until then, it’s still a wonderfully fun comic with amazing art. And Thompson is full of inventive ideas! Like one of the women choosing to stay as a dragon? That’s neat! And the Tigra cameo was really fun. I kind of wish she’d taken Clint up on his offer to stick around. She’d be a great addition to the already crowded series!

TL;DR: West Coast Avengers is a really fun, really creative comic! I just need to wrap my head around parts of it a bit more.

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!


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 November 24, 2018, in Avengers, Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Multiple Man, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I also thought the lack of interaction between Lorna and Jamie was a lost opportunity. Great review.

  2. Mr. and Mrs. X is really good. Some really good drama. Fun stuff, too, but mostly it’s the drama, and Gambit being a goody hubby. Also, Cerise’s “tongue massage” bit is a fantastic callback. (Though she actually called it a “lip massage” in Excalibur.) And hey! Cats!

    Iron Man is fun. Aaron pulling a “Say Anything” with (apparently) Janelle Monae is pretty great.

    UXM is OK, but I have complaints. First, I am so damn tired of “every single human on the planet hates mutants.” I’ve been over that for so long, and yet writers keep doing it. X-Men Red at least tried to show humans who were fine with mutants, but now UXM is back to pretending those people don’t exist. Beyond that, this issue has zero plot development, and while there are enjoyable character moments, none of them are of the sort that leads to character development. The one exception is the New X-Men, whose development is bitching about not getting to be real X-Men, and that character arc only actually matters if it leads to them actually getting to be full-fledged X-Men, rather than immediately turning back into wallpaper as soon as this story ends. ALSO! Laura claws her way out of a dinosaur and is still that clean? Shenanigans! Cover that lady in gore and entrails!

    WCA is ridiculous fun. Over-the-top and not at all ashamed. Also, every writer wants to give America a girlfriend. This is her third one now.

    • I agree with everything you said about Uncanny X-Men.

      And really? Third girlfriend? To be fair, if I were writing America Chavez, I’d try to get her into a relationship too. Those are fun to write. And it’s fine if it’s her third. It’s unintentionally building character for her that she doesn’t settle into long term relationships. And it’s fun to tease America/Kate.

      • Al Ewing, in Ultimates, had her dating a nurse. They broke up at the start of America’s solo, and then her ex was brought in, and they definitely seemed to be rekindling something. And now, Ramone.

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