Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 2/9/19

Woohoo! Good news everybody, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is awesome! Maybe not as surprisingly magical as the first film, but no less funny, touching, colorful and just plain fun. I need more comics to be exactly like the LEGO movies.

Instead, we get comics that are fun in their own rights, like Champions, X-23 and Young Justice. Comic Book of the Week goes to another stellar issue of The Green Lantern, a comic that is definitely living up to the hype.

GL Chooses Life 01

Spoken like a true wildcard

Meanwhile, I read the first proper issue of the Age of X-Man and it was fine. It was about the basic X-Men team and it was about what I expected. The twist of the universe has already been revealed, and we know these are our regular main characters living in a made-up fantasy. So there’s no real sense of permanence and stakes, as far as I’m concerned. They’ll tell whatever story they need to tell, and then we’ll move on.

Comic Reviews: Champions #2, The Green Lantern #4, Tony Stark – Iron Man #8, Uncanny X-Men #11, X-23 #9 and Young Justice #2.


Champions #2

Champions #2
Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Steven Cummings
Colorist: Marcio Menyz
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Fun fact, I’m actually going to see Jim Zub speak at a lecture at Hamilton College next Tuesday. So if he’s reading this, I hope to say hi!

We flash back to the rescue in Dubai, where something wonky happened to the core Champions. We find out that Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man, Brawn and Viv totally botched the fight against the Zzzax and both Ms. Marvel and Viv ended up dead. Then Mephisto showed up and offered Miles and Amadeus the chance to rewind time to try the battle again, with no strings attached. A distraught Miles accepts the offer, and this time they easily succeed in defeating the monster.

Except Spider-Man is too focused on using his future knowledge to stop the Zzzax that he forgot to rescue this one civilian woman again. He saved her the first time around, but the second time, she’s the one who dies…

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I like the moral conundrum Zub throws at his heroes in this issue. Though I think he could have drawn out the mystery of what happened in Dubai a bit longer than just the second issue. I also kinda miss the big team stuff, including my new favorite, The Locust. But that’s no big deal. This is the story he wants to tell, and I think it’s a good story going forward. It also explains why Miles was such a jerk in the previous issue, which I didn’t care for, but now the explanation retroactively makes it work a bit better. This was a solid issue that ups the stakes for what’s to come, putting a lot of pressure on the core of the Champions team, especially since only two of them know what’s happened. Should provide a lot of nice, enticing conflict going forward. And Mephisto better not mess with The Locust! That’s all I’m saying.

TL;DR: Second issue of the relaunch gets right to the point in setting up some drastic inner turmoil for the core of the new Champions.


The Green Lantern #4

The Green Lantern #4
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Liam Sharp
Colorist: Steve Oliff
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski

Man, we’re only four issues into this series? Each issue feels like a whole damn storyline!

Two figures sit in a bar on Rann and share stories, one is a multi-armed space cowboy, the other is a member of the Blackstars. The space cowboy tells the story of how Hal Jordan of the Green Lantern Corps repelled two royal class sun-eaters. He defeated the first one in part by delving inside it to rescue a trapped comrade, and then he tracked them back to the intergalactic animal black market dealer. Hal was supposed to be taken into custody by his fellow GLs for killing that slaver last issue, but Hal convinced them to help him stop the other sun-eater first. This involved three GLs teaming up to use their rings to create an artificial sun to draw the sun-eater’s attention, and then Hyperia-3, the Stellar A.I. Green Lantern, arrived to help subdue it. Hal did eventually return to Oa to face the wrath of the Guardians, who claimed that Hal ruined their ongoing negotiations with the slavers by killing that one. Hal was sent into protective custody while they figured out his punishment.

The Blackstar tells the story of how their leader, Countess Belzebeth, had one of her royal sun-eaters attack the star above the insectoid planet Weirwimm. They had refused to let her into their sacred vault to obtain the next piece of the Blackstar puzzle, but this new attack on their very sun was enough to get them to open the vault. The Countess also taught them how to cannibalize their weak in order to survive a bit longer without their sun — though she did eventually use her machines to suck the energy out of their planet anyway.

In the end, the Blackstar reveals that she is Countess Belzebeth in disguise, and that she knows the space cowboy is Hal Jordan! Hal comes clean, but says he’s there to join her as a Blackstar, and offers his GL ring as a down payment!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This comic is just plain neat. It’s a great mix of the police procedural stuff we were promised and Grant Morrison’s insane ideas. Set loose in the cosmic world of Green Lanterns, Morrison is going hog wild, and Liam Sharp is able to stay with him. The insectoid people of the planet Weirwimm look like desiccated wasps. It’s so freaky! Then there’s all the really artistic sun-eater stuff, the various other GLs, including the new Stellar A.I. Grant Morrison has used DC’s other living sun character, Solaris, in plenty of stories in the past, so it makes total sense that he’d create another sentient sun to be a Green Lantern! Why the heck not?

Hyperia3 01

Mogo who?

Though I have noticed that each issue seems peppered with really beautiful alien babe GLs. I wonder if that’s something…

Hal Jordan remains a strong center to the story. From his badass heroics to his solid police work tracking down that animal dealer, to his plain awesome moments, like convincing his fellow Lanterns that the Guardians can wait, they need to save the day now. Hal Jordan is just plain cool in this comic. It’s all cool! Morrison and Sharp are doing some great work on this series, presenting both a straight forward story, but one that has wildly different adventures on an issue-by-issue basis. They especially use the whole GL Corps well, from Hal Jordan’s various fellow officers to the Guardians of the Universe in their oversight position. This is a full-bodied comic.

TL;DR: Another exciting and wildly imaginative issue of The Green Lantern drives home just how darn cool this comic is!


Iron Man #8

Tony Stark – Iron Man #8
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

The first major story in Tony Stark – Iron Man continues and it remains quite awesome.

The world is in chaos! All across the globe, jerkwads who think they’re playing around in the eScape are using real weaponry to attack and kill real people! Other superheroes and law enforcement officers are doing what they can to hold them back, while Iron Man, the Wasp and Rhodey take on the Controller directly. The Controller has been absorbing energy from all the people he’s controlling, turning him into a big, tough monster man. Our heroes do their best to do battle, but Friday reveals that she’s actually Motherboard, who killed Friday and was posing as her. Motherboard absorbs Tony Stark’s mind, bringing him into the secret room where she’s already holding Amanda captive. Tony has been reduced to some dapper 1960s version of himself, which Motherboard claims is his purest, most preferred form!

Meanwhile, Andy realizes that there must be Controller tech inside each of the eScape masks, which he thinks he’ll be able to spot and can create a fix for — but he explains all of this to Bethany, who is already under the Controller’s control, so she knocks him out.

Double meanwhile, Aaron Stack has agreed to help Jocasta, so he’s back-doored his way into the eScape to try and solve the crisis from there.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

There’s a lot going on and Dan Slott handles it all marvelously! This is a really engaging story, with all plates spinning being nearly equally as exciting. And Slott still finds way to surprise and entice us. The Motherboard mystery is interesting because it’s built on the groundwork Slott was laying down at the start of the series. I do hope Friday isn’t gone for good, but the idea that Tony’s efforts to create a less intelligent A.I. to help run his suit have backfired so wildly is pretty neat. It also gives Tony an extra layer of trouble on top of everything he’s dealing with against the Controller, which itself is really funny. I love the dialogue this issue where Tony has to explain to Janet and Rhodey that the Controller is just a chump who controls people to get buff, that he probably doesn’t have any greater scheme here.

Controller Sucks 01

Hashtag not all men

Slott is expertly juggling multiple villains, multiple angles and hopefully it’ll all come together in a great big, enjoyable finale. Like the Machine Man subplot that is cooking just under the surface. I’m expecting fun things with that one!

The art doesn’t slow down either, with Schiti easily juggling all these plots and characters like a total pro. Everything is clear and exciting, fully of energy. The giant-sized Controller is truly an epic foe, and Schiti perfectly nails the retro Iron Man look that adds an extra layer of mystery to the Motherboard program.

TL;DR: This comic looks great, this comic reads great, and Dan Slott is killing it on his first major Iron Man storyline.


Uncanny X-Men #11

Uncanny X-Men #11
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artists: Salvador Larroca, John McCrea and Juanan Ramirez
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg and Mike Spicer
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

I think Marvel has bit off more than they can chew with this new X-Men status quo. On the one hand, I’m fine with it if this is what they want to do. On the other hand, they have done next to nothing to actually establish that the the U.S. is now a place that either straight up murders or at the very least deports (to where?) any and all mutants. It’s like they’ve made the regular Marvel Universe into the Days of Future Past without any build-up, just telling us this is how it is now and not bothering to lay any sort of foundation.

So yeah, when a couple dozen X-Men simply disappear in a big fight, the entirety of the United States turns so anti-mutant that they’re either outright slaughtered, deported or locked up. Soldiers even went into the sewers to flush out the Morlocks, though some X-Men did go down there to hide. Cyclops is a dour fellow struggling to make sense of all of this. He gets some cryptic warnings from Blindfold (who eventually kills herself), he gets a couple visits from Madrox, gets told off by Chamber and Callisto, and nearly gets beaten up when he gets confrontational at a political hate rally for some new anti-mutant politician. But apparently Captain America, Winter Soldier and Black Widow are hanging out at the rally to make sure it stays peaceful. Really? Those three major superheroes are pulling crowd control duty at a hate rally? Also, vicious hate rallies are an open thing now? Is this an unsubtle jab at the Trump Administration? Those bigots are a little more subtle than what we get here.

Eventually Cyclops declares to any mutants watching the live news broadcast that he needs their help to reform the X-Men and save mutants! He pulls an MCU Tony Stark and tells them where he’ll be and when — and he’s promptly ambushed by a bunch of different hate groups, like the Purifiers and the Reavers. But Wolverine jumps in and the two of them kick butt and take names, then decided to get down to business.

There are two back-up stories telling Wolverine and Blindfold’s adventures at the same time, but nothing particularly new or interesting is revealed. Both also had run-ins with one another, and with Madrox, before Blindfold decides to kill herself and Wolverine decides to help Cyclops, despite his reluctance.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

I like it, but I don’t like it.

As I mentioned above, I don’t like how Marvel is just forcing this new status quo down our throats without any proper build-up. Those 10 previous issues were not a build-up to this status quo, they were a prologue for Age of X-Man. Nothing we have seen in any of these X-Men comics is going to make me believe that the world has suddenly turned into what’s presented here. If Marvel is trying to satirize the Trump Administration, they’re being way way too subtle about it. If they’re being legitimate, they’re doing way way too little to establish this new status quo. Maybe instead of a giant, triple-sized issue about how Cyclops, Wolverine and Blindfold are all really dour, they could have used this giant issue to really establish what’s going on and how it happened. As such, the strong character work this issue is trying to push just doesn’t mean as much.

Madrox Family 01

Further confirmation that Marvel knows this is just a dupe of Jamie Madrox, and not really Jamie Madrox

The character work is fine. Though it continues to strike me how silly character resurrections are. Jean Grey, Cyclops and Wolverine all come back from the freakin’ dead and everybody just shrugs their shoulders and we pick up wherever they left off. Cyclops and Wolverine’s big reunion involves basically nodding at each other and moving on to business. It’s a fine moment, but there’s so little oomph. Especially when so many weird hoops are jumped through to get to the moment. Like all those different anti-mutant groups cooperate to the extent that they all spring a simultaneous ambush on Cyclops. Or Captain America, Bucky and Black Widow all just hanging out to keep the peace at an obvious hate rally? Is that what they do with their free time?

Rosenberg posted on Twitter how this issue was about mental health, specifically the Blindfold spots. But they came off more as confusing Blindfold stuff, wherein she sees the future and talks in riddles, and then she’s dead. I don’t think it came off as her struggling with mental illness at all, and now yet another character is dead. As is Loa, who is killed off screen. I’m sure she had her fans.

Overall, the issue reads fine and should move us into new storylines. But at the same time, it feels like a waste as its just Cyclops and Wolverine stumbling around in the dark, with only hints towards the strange new status quo. And the art is not very good. Normally I like Salvador Larroca, but his character anatomy and detail is really weird here. And the back-up artists are pretty rough.

TL;DR: The new X-Men direction is a little hard to swallow, and the art is low tier, but at least the characters are pretty strong going forward.


X-23 #9

X-23 #9
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Diego Olortegui
Inkers: Walden Wong, JP Mayer and Scott Hanna
Colorist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

This just keeps rolling right along.

While Laura goes to Medi-X-Tronics to investigate the cyborg clone’s origins, Gabby continues to try and bond with it. Laura gets attacked by a bunch of robots, with a mysterious person in charge calling out to her. Laura tells Gabby she needs back-up, and Gabby has made enough of a friend of the cyborg that they both go!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

The art is the real star of this issue. Olortegui practically explodes with action, as Laura fights her way through a squad of robot assassins. Olortegui also handles the normal stuff very well, with a very cheery Gabby, and a well-designed new clone cyborg. Everybody looks great, the action looks great, the settings are big and vast. X-23 is a very good-looking book. The story is fine, too. I’m finding that a lot of Tamaki’s stories are light on too much happening per issue. They’re quick reads. Gabby is still as fun as ever, but the cyborg doesn’t talk back. Laura is as blank slate as ever. And the cyborg is a quiet nothing. So this issue was a breeze. But the art is great, the ongoing story is OK, and overall it’s a fine continuation of what Tamaki has been working on.

TL;DR: Another quick X-23 issue at least has some engaging characters and a solid story.


Young Justice #2

Young Justice #2
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Patrick Gleason and Emanuela Lupacchino
Inker: Ray McCarthy
Colorist: Alejandro Sanchez
Letterer: Josh Reed

I liked the first issue well enough, Tim Drake is still Robin, so let’s check out the second issue, shall we?

Everybody  has been split up on Gemworld, which is going through all manner of political turmoil these days. Wonder Girl hooks up with Teen Lantern and Jinny Hex, and we get a flashback to a couple weeks ago, when Wonder Girl turned down an amulet from her grandfather Zeus. He was claiming that he wanted to repair their non-existent relationship by giving her another godly gift, but Cassie rejected it in her efforts to find and earn her own path. In Gemworld, the three heroes take flight to get the lay of the land, only to collide in the air with Robin’s Pegasus. Robin has teamed up with Amethyst, and everybody starts introducing themselves, when they’re ambushed by the evil ruler of this land, Lord Opal.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I’m still a little bothered by how quickly Bendis is slapping this team together, but he actually handles that nicely. There’s a fun scene in this issue where Wonder Girl introduces herself to Jinny Hex and asks what superhero team she’s from, because Wonder Girl can’t quite place her. I like the slice of life/everyday business angle that takes, like WG just assumes this strange new girl is already a superhero instead of just a random passerby. Granted, she’s descended from Jonah Hex (I think?) so she has a special pedigree, but she’s still just a random civilian as far as the bigger picture is concern. And Bendis handles the dialogue around that well.

Though nobody seems to have any concern at a new, teen-aged Green Lantern who just happens to be there. One would think she’d raise a few more eyebrows than she does.

Jinny Beast Boy 01

She’s that new female Lobo daughter

Bendis also not doing as good a job with the dialogue around Gemworld, though. There’s a very forced Game of Thrones-style thing going with the various houses of Gemworld, but we’re only seeing it via dialogue both last issue and this one. And that’s just not enough to sell the stakes, especially when our focus is on the members of Young Justice. Bendis likewise misses the mark by making this issue about Wonder Girl, when there’s still so much we don’t know about Amethyst or Gemworld. That backstory and those flashbacks would have better served our reading than finding out Wonder Girl turned down some random, newly introduced thing from Zeus. Granted, a Wonder Girl continuity refresher would be necessary at some point, but not as the focus for issue #2.

At least the art remains super strong, from both artists. This is a very visually engaging and energetic comic. It’s bright and colorful in all the best ways.

TL;DR: The story and the energy of Young Justice remain engaging, and the writing is still strong, but the focus gets a little sloppy in this second issue.

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 February 9, 2019, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Multiple Man, Reviews, Robin, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Champions was good. Reasonably intriguing. It’s good they didn’t drag the mystery out, and got right to the point.

    Iron Man, I wasn’t able to get a digital code for this week. I’m sure it’s fine.

    UXM pissed me off. The dialogue’s fine. The art’s fine. It’s a well-made comic. And it infuriated me from literally the first damn page. “Every X-Men story is the same.” Yeah, so maybe try telling a different one. Just a thought, but has the X-office considered NOT doing YET A-GODDAMN-NOTHER genocide plot? Like, has it ever occurred to them that they can do other shit? On top of that, killing off Blindfold and Loa pissed me off. Scott and Logan, arguably the two most over-used X-Men characters, get dragged back, while two under-utilized characters get killed off. And since they’re student characters created after 1990, it’s safe to assume they’re NEVER coming back. They won’t even get referenced after this shit is over. Synch’s been dead for 18 years, Skin almost as long, all the New X-Men killed on and after M-Day are still dead, but hey, at least we get yet another round of Scott and Logan having a grudging respect for each other, because it’s not like we haven’t seen that before, right?

    X-23 is good. It’s not blowing me away, but there’s some good stuff, and I’m enjoying it.

    • You’re darn right about those deaths. Marvel’s just going to slowly pick off all of the post-2000s students one-by-one, until there aren’t any left to kill. And then they’ll just make more. This issue also got rid of Veliciodad. And does anybody even remember Veliciodad? I tried to Google the name “Gabriel” which is what they called him for most of the issue, and all that came up was Gabriel Summers.

      • I remember Velocidad. I really enjoyed Generation Hope. But I’ll give his near-death a pass, because the way his power works always meant he would have a short life.

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