Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 12/15/18
Have you heard the sad news? The beloved G. Willow Wilson will finally be leaving Ms. Marvel early next year! It’s a sad shame. She wrote a great comic! And I haven’t been all that wowed with her Wonder Woman…
But we’ve got some goodies this week, including Unstoppable Wasp, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and Uncanny X-Men! How’s that for alliteration? Comic Book of the Week goes to the latest issue of Go Go Power Rangers, because I’m feeling generous and really enjoyed the issue-ending cliffhanger.
Meanwhile, as per friend-of-the-site xmenxpert’s request, I went back and read the first issue of Ironheart. It was fine, with some parts stronger than others. Generally well-written all around, with fantastic art. But it only emphasized the things I don’t particularly like about Riri Williams. And that’s on me. I’ll give it a few more tries to see if I stick with it or not.
In related news, I also skipped the first issue of the new Miles Morales comic this week. I was meaning to read it and add it to my review pile, but this was a busier week than I’d planned. I’ll get around to reading it.
Comic Reviews: Go Go Power Rangers #15, Mr. & Mrs. X #6, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #39, Uncanny X-Men #5, Unstoppable Wasp #3, Wonder Woman #60 and X-23 #7.
Go Go Power Rangers #15
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Eleonora Carlini, with ink assistance by Simona Di Gianfelice
Colorist: Raul Angulo
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
I’m debating whether or not to pick up the early tpbs of this series…
Trini and Jason evade some of the native soldiers, then follow them back to the temple that Rita and her warrior queen sidekick are trekking through. Also, this power switch has also melded Jason and Trini’s minds, so they’re sharing some thoughts and memories — including Trini’s crush on Jason, and Jason’s mountain of stresses. The two open up to one another slowly over the course of the issue, until they really lay things bare and share a comforting kiss.
Meanwhile, Rita and her sidekick fight their way through the temple’s defenses to the treasure within — the Dragon power coin and dagger!
Double meanwhile, Kimberly goes on that date with Skull to the fair and she has a wonderful time. But Skull can see that she’s definitely not over Matt and is only pretending, so he rejects her kiss and tries to get her to open up. But Kimberly just wants to go home.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Quick aside, I really think Skull would have taken that kiss. I get what Parrott is going for here. He has Skull explain that Kim has the same look that Skull’s mom had when his dad left, and his mom kept trying to assure him that everything was fine. And I totally get that Bulk and Skull possess more depth than their surface bully tendencies let on. But they’re not saints. They’re still jerks and bullies, especially at this young age. And while I don’t think Skull would take advantage of Kim, he’s definitely selfish enough to want that kiss if she so freely offered. I could see him stopping their making out from going too far. But there’s a level of jerk that Bulk and Skull should still be so that they’re not a pair of goody-two-shoes.
Another quick aside, considering I love the Green Ranger, I’m thrilled at that final cliffhanger. I was wondering if this series would ever touch upon it, and I guess now we know! I look forward to what Parrott does with the storyline.
As for the rest of the issue, it was great. It’s got a strong character focus, which I love, with some wild action. The idea that Jason and Trini are also sharing some thoughts and memories came out of nowhere, but Parrott uses it well to work on both characters. Their kiss is well earned and I look forward to how this storyline is pursued. Likewise, despite my reservations above about Skull, his scene with Kimberly is also strong, character-wise. Kim has a lot going on and the date is used well to elaborate on it.
Rita and her new sidekick provide some solid action, while a scene I forgot to mention between Baboo and Goldar gives some depth to the former and adds some intrigue in the court of evil. Parrott also brings back Montaur for a quick cameo, a monster he used in previous Rita flashbacks, so that was a nice callback — and a strong hint that this series might be great when read via trades.
TL;DR: This issue of Go Go Power Rangers is the series firing on all cylinders, keeping many pots bubbling, providing strong character work and really fleshing out early Power Rangers lore.
Mr. & Mrs. X #6
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: David Lopez
Colorist: Nayoung Kim
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
As always, I would like to point out that I probably would have been perfectly happy with an entire issue devoted to the party. But we do get plenty of action.
Rogue and Gambit throw a party and invite all their X-friends — but first they are attacked by a bunch of strange members of the Thieves Guild. Rogue uses her new powers to knock them all out and toss them in the river, then they enjoy the party. Gambit has a secret meeting with his first wife, Bella Donna, and she warns him that the Thieves Guild is angry that their king married Rogue, so others might make a play for Remy’s crown. And Rogue has a secret meeting with Magneto where he gives her some solid advice about trusting in Gambit. Then the party is over and everyone goes home. The happy couple open one last forgotten present…and they are suddenly transported to what appears to be the Mojoverse, hanging upside down over a pit of crocodiles, wearing their 1990s era costumes!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
The party scenes in this issue are really fun. In my opinion, the X-Men thrive on interpersonal moments, and having everybody just hang out at a party in Gambit and Rogue’s apartment sounds fantastic. The little jokes here and there as the friends banter with one another are delightful, and Thompson writes everybody so well. She’s great with Iceman, who is really making the most of his time in the spotlight. I also enjoyed the quiet scenes with Remy’s dad, who showed up to warn him about the attack, and then Bella Donna and Magneto. They’re really nice scenes that flesh out the main characters more, separate from each other, while laying the groundwork for more stories to come. And the fight with the nobody Guild members is fine. It’s unnecessary to the issue, but it’s fine.
TL;DR: The new issue is a nice showcase of Thompson’s character-writing skills.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #39
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Derek Charm
Colorist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: Travis Lanham
The issue in which I’m pretty sure Ryan North actually calls me out…though not directly. I’ll get to that in a second.
Nancy and Doreen do battle with Fake Iron Man. First they overload Databus’ systems by making it do complex math equations. Then they deduce that Fake Iron Man isn’t really wearing armor, so Doreen imagines what her friends would do and grabs a nearby welding torch to threaten Fake Iron Man with. It works, and Fake Iron Man reveals herself to be a young Skrull girl, who promptly makes her escape.
Our heroes regroup and once again try to figure out what’s going on with this Skrull invasion and where Tony Stark might be. They do a hacking montage and find a complex mathematical/electronic dead man’s switch that Tony likely left. It’s really complex stuff and explaining it gets really detailed and tough to follow for idiots like me, but I trust it’s legit. Anyway, they search the area but find nothing, until Koi Boi goes underwater, talks with some fish and finds a Skrull prison. He chases it onto land and the prison transforms into the young Skrull girl, who is holding Tony prisoner. She immediately releases Tony and surrenders, then reveals to everyone that there is no invasion, it’s just her. And if they don’t listen to her, then the entire planet is doomed!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
How does Ryan North call me out? Check this out and you tell me. While fighting Fake Tony Stark, Doreen runs through a bunch of ‘what would my friends do’ thinking. She settles on Mary, who helps her come up with the blow torch idea. On the page, North finally gives Mary a last name: Mary Mahajan. And that reveal comes with a specific North notation at the bottom of the page.
Mary is more easily searched on the Internet, you say? Where would he get that concern from?
Perhaps this Squirrel Girl-based blog post by me, which calls out the fact that I can never remember Mary’s name, and can’t Google it to find out. Scroll down to the second paragraph in the #2 entry. So there I go complaining about not being able to look up Mary online, and North comes back several months later with a comment about looking her up online? I’m just egotistical enough to assume this is about me! Awesome!
Also, Googling “Squirrel Girl Mary Mahajan” doesn’t come up with a lot…
Anyway, this was a great issue packed to the gills (pun intended) with uniquely Squirrel Girl action and excitement. From Doreen and Nancy confusing Databus with complex math, to Mary finding Tony Stark via complex computer programming languages, to the callback panel on hacking montages in comics, to an extended bit where Koi Boi is in his element, this is all golden. And all uniquely Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.
I’m leaving parts out, too. This issue is just that full. And all of it is enjoyable in that special Squirrel Girl way. I even like where North has gone with the supposed Skrull invasion, by coming up with something new and far more interesting with this young Skrull girl. Definitely sounds like something for Squirrel Girl and friends to handle!
TL;DR: This issue is packed to the gills (pun intended) with so much original and unique Squirrel Girl wonderfulness!
Uncanny X-Men #5
Writers: Matthew Rosenberg, Kelly Thompson and Ed Brisson
Artist: R.B. Silva
Inker: Adriano Di Benedetto
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Chris Eliopoulos
I’m starting to get the sense that the creative team and Marvel came up with the Age of X-Man idea first, and then just cobbled this together afterwards.
Everybody keeps fighting, essentially. Jean Grey’s team saved an oil rig last issue, but chose to save the workers and turn the rig over to Blob and Omega Red, who turn the whole thing into a beautiful, wilderness wonderland. Storm’s team went after Magneto and Angel, who went to an unstable foreign country and took away the soldiers’ weapons, which caused the downtrodden civilians to fight the soldiers. The X-Men try to stop both sides from killing one another, with Polaris taking on Magneto and Psylocke going after Warren to try and snap him out of this, but he’s as brain-washed as everybody else — so she slashes him with her psionic sword and causes a very angry Archangel to come out.
Meanwhile, Madrox joins the X-Students and they clear enough rubble to allow Legion to use Cerebro, and he locates X-Man. And X-Man is taking advice from the three he has captive. Apocalypse suggests cleansing the Earth of houses of worship, so X-Man erases a couple major holy sites on the planet, like the Vatican. Kitty Pryde is pretty displeased with this move, but X-Man tells her that all three of his captives have equal council to suggest ideas to make the world better.
Double meanwhile, Beast discovers that the mutant vaccine from issue #1 was stolen out of his lab, and he’s hot on the trail of the thief.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
This issue really just keeps the ball rolling in terms of churning out the various plotlines in this comic. There are some interesting bits here and there — like the idea that X-Man is just going to willy nilly take advice from the three people he’s kidnapped — but it’s mostly business as usual. The X-Men exchange mildly entertaining banter while fighting the ordinary threats from X-Man. As has been pointed out in this series, it’s the X-Men fighting the symptoms, not the cause. And when the symptoms are all brain-washed, that loses any stakes. A big deal is made about how Archangel is super angry that Psylocke would cut Warren free from knowing true peace, but it was still brain-washed peace, so Archangel can just go whine in a corner. All of the X-Men know what they did was right, so there’s no real oomph from the other side. Everything X-Man is doing is wrong. There’s no moral argument to be had. It’s just various groups of X-Men and X-characters scrambling to fill all of the planned issues with busywork.
TL;DR: This weekly Uncanny X-Men run feels more like superheroic busywork to explain the far more important Age of X-Man stuff coming up.
Unstoppable Wasp #3
Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Hooray Unstoppable Wasp issue focusing on all of the great characters!
AIM is attacking the lab, and Nadia and Ying rush inside to save their friends, while Janet and Bobbi head to the roof — to chase after the girls, but they mostly end up fighting AIM goons on the roof. Inside, Nadia runs into Finesse attacking Alexis and Taina, and Nadia gets her butt whooped by her father’s former protege. Finesse escapes with a pair of science gloves by shrinking Taina, forcing Nadia to shrink down and save her. Elsewhere, Seeker has taken Lashayla hostage to get her to give up portal technology, but Ying confronts them in a stairwell. She keeps Seeker talking while Lashayla secretly activates Seeker’s jetpack, sending her to the roof (Ying also uses the “girlfriend” word and it’s quite adorable).
Seeker and Finesse are joined by another bad girl, Brilliance, and they all flee to the roof and escape by distracting Janet and Bobbi with a giant goo monster. Priya escapes with them! But downstairs, the other girls also find Priya passed out in her greenhouse, which has been filled with gas. So which one is the real Priya?
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Unstoppable Wasp has a really fun cast. Nadia is great in the lead, and then you’ve got her Agents of G.I.R.L. and the older mentor heroes. They’re a great group, and everybody gets time to shine in this big issue — while still giving Whitley time to introduce his all-girl bad guy team! What a great idea! Use the power of the premise against the heroes! Nadia wants to start a lab of all female scientists? Well there are girl super-villains too! So I really liked that aspect of the issue, especially with Whitley making use of a forgotten character like Finesse. Solid comic book work right there.
Beyond the villains, everybody else is just as great! Nadia kicks butt as a superhero and really shines. Ying gets an equally awesome and adorable scene against Seeker in the stairwell. Everybody gets something to do, even if it’s something small. I especially enjoy the idea that Priya might be jumping ship to the bad guys. That’s some good character growth and drama potential. This is Unstoppable Wasp firing on all cylinders. It’s using its characters well, it’s setting up future drama, the action is important to the story and the characters. The art, as always, is phenomenal. It actively incorporates the hero’s identity and powers. It’s great to have this series back!
TL;DR: The new issue showcases everything there is to love about Unstoppable Wasp, from meaningful action to awesome character moments!
Wonder Woman #60
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Cary Nord
Inker: Mick Gray
Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
I’m just not feeling it. G. Willow Wilson dove right into the deep end with her Wonder Woman comic, and it’s too much too soon.
Wonder Woman deflects Ares’ attack, and their battle is interrupted by the cries of a nearby baby. The two of them rush out and pull the child from the rubble that Ares caused with his missile, which prompts him to immediately regret what he did. Ares realizes that the only true justice is blind, so he opts out of the fight entirely. Wonder Woman comes under fire from some more of the rebels, but they won’t listen to reason, and none of them have Steve Trevor. She seeks out Ares to try and convince him that, since he started this mess, he owes it to these people to finish it. But Ares tells her he’s done waging war on or with humanity.
Meanwhile, the mythical creatures lead Steve Trevor to a hidden grotto, where Aphrodite is chilling.
Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.
In each of Wilson’s three issues so far, Ares has been someplace new, and it’s giving this fledgling relaunch whiplash. First he was the interesting new idea of a righteous Ares. Then he immediately went back to being a bad guy again fighting Wonder Woman. Now he’s somewhere in the middle? It’s frustrating because it repeatedly undercuts the stakes that Wilson is trying to build. The very first page of this issue, with Wonder Woman facing Ares, has her say, “I have never faced anger this raw” and it just doesn’t work. There’s nothing about this encounter, especially not in the build up, that establishes this fight as either angry or raw. It’s just Wonder Woman and Ares for the millionth time. And considering how screwy DC is with continuity these days, there’s no history to build on. Ares says he’s been imprisoned for centuries…but haven’t we seen half a dozen different versions of Ares over the past few years, as each new writer gives him a new personality? It’s so uninspired. And the issue is mostly Wonder Woman reacting to this wonky Ares, so there’s just no foundation from which Wilson can build. It’s all just wild war-themed flailing.
TL;DR: The new Wonder Woman relaunch is going nowhere fast.
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Diego Olortegui
Inker: Walden Wong
Colorist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
I read Tamaki’s Supergirl: Being Super tpb this past week and I didn’t care for it. She’s great when it comes to smaller character stuff, but I just don’t like Tamaki’s handling of bigger picture plotting.
Three scientists have been recently murdered, and X-23 and Honey Badger are brought in by the NYPD to help investigate. Because of course they were. Anyway, they narrow down the next possible target to a fourth scientist, then lie in wait for some sneaky android killer to bust in. X-23 and Honey Badger subdue the android and take off its helmet to reveal another X-23 clone, this one hard-wired into an android body and seemingly unresponsive and unemotional. A killing machine.
The clone gets locked up in a secure facility, with X-23 and Honey Badger keeping watch. Gabby feels an immediate bond to the new clone and doesn’t see a difference between her and what they are, while Laura is more pragmatic about the whole thing. But then some bad guys bust into the facility, and Gabby insists they save their new clone.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This story at least feels important. Tamaki is finally following up on the cloning stuff, with the introduction of this new evil clone. Tamaki nails the character stuff, with Gabby feeling really emotional about what’s happening. Laura remains a bit of a tough read, but it works. Laura and Gabby make a great team, and Tamaki writes both of them really well. That remains the highlight of this comic. And the plot should provide some real stakes for the two of them. I want to see Tamaki dig deeper with both characters, and this is the plotline to do it. But too much of the series still feels surface-level. Stuff like the NYPD randomly calling on X-23 and Gabby for a murder investigation? There was no more logical way to get the pair of them involved in this investigation? Heck, the NYPD is only in a panel or two, why even include them? X-23 and Gabby are already investigating clone stuff. But this is a nitpick that doesn’t really have a point, other than I wish there was more overall depth to X-23.
TL;DR: A promising new storyline will hopefully give me the depth I want in this consistently good comic.
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 December 15, 2018, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Multiple Man, Reviews, X-Men and tagged Boom!, Gabby, Go Go Power Rangers, Honey Badger, Mr. & Mrs. X, Power Rangers, Squirrel Girl, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Uncanny X-Men, Unstoppable Wasp, Wasp, Wonder Woman, X-23. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.