Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 2/16/19
These are the best comic book weeks! Sometimes I’ll get a couple of comics on my Buy Pile to pick through, see what I like or don’t like. But weeks like this one was stuffed with my favorite comics! We’ve got Runaways, we’ve got Mr. & Mrs. X, we’ve got Go Go Power Rangers! It’s like I’m being spoiled!
We’ve also got G. Willow Wilson’s final issue of Ms. Marvel, a bittersweet but otherwise wonderful moment! I wanted to give it Comic Book of the Week to mark the occasion, but it had to go up against the first issue of Mark Russell’s Wonder Twins comic. I can now die a happy man for having read Wonder Twins #1.
That’s not to say Wilson’s final Ms. Marvel isn’t fun! Read that too!
Comic Book Reviews: Captain Marvel #2, Go Go Power Rangers #17, Mr. & Mrs. X #8, Ms. Marvel #38, Runaways #18, Wonder Twins #1 and Wonder Woman #64.
Captain Marvel #2
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Carmen Carnero
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Thompson’s post-apocalypstic Captain Marvel story finally kicks into gear, and it’s a pretty solid start.
Nuclear Man has apparently take all of Roosevelt Island prisoner, turning the island into a post-apocalyptic city trapped under an invisible, impenetrable dome. From the outside it looks normal, but nobody can get in, especially not the Avengers. Time also moves faster inside the dome. It feels like it’s been 50 days for the people inside, but possibly only a couple of hours for the people on the outside. When Carol arrives inside, she hooks up with Jessica Drew and Hazmat, who have been there 25 days, relatively speaking. They give Carol a tour of the rebellion.
Nuclear Man rules the island with an army of robot warriors. He’s taken all of the men prisoner, while all of the women are hunkered down with the rebellion. Echo lived on Roosevelt Island, so she’s been there since the beginning. There’s also one man with the rebellion, Som, who claims he managed to escape Nuclear man, but Carol doesn’t trust him. Then the rebel base is attacked by an army of metal men and the rebellion fights back, with Carol in the lead. She’s almost captured when She-Hulk suddenly bursts through the barrier to join them all — only for her powers to cut out in mid air, so Jennifer Walters is falling!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I’m not quite sure what point Thompson is trying to make, but she sets up her new status quo quite well. Maybe this will be a larger story on the plight of women? It’s definitely set up like that, and by all means, bring it on. This issue has a lot more heft to it than the previous issue, if only because we’re finally into the thick of the crazy new battleground. Thompson introduced most of the important characters last issue, so this issue is spent introducing the world. It’s a lot of exposition, but good exposition that never gets boring. Thompson sets up the world, introduces some new characters, adds some suspicion and mystery, and gets the ball rolling onwards to adventure! And I’m on board! Seeing Captain Marvel and her pals engage in some Mad Max nuts and bolts battle stuff should be fun!
My only real issue is how flimsy the Roosevelt Island world seems. Nuclear Man isn’t exactly a big threat, and so far he’s completely one note. Yet he’s somehow able to transform the entire island into a hellscrape? With an invisible, impenetrable dome over the top? A dome that can only be accessed by women? And alters time to an insane degree? And then he’s able to get a castle going on the island, and an army of robots so powerful that they can match the strength of Captain Marvel and the other superheroes, even if some of their powers are waning? It all just seems a bit forced. But that’s not a deal breaker.
Also, for anyone as curious as I am, we do get a little confirmation that Spider-Woman and Roger are still a couple! So that’s good. Their comic book love sustains me on this Valentine’s Day weekend.
TL;DR: Now that the crazy new status quo is upon us, the second issue of the new relaunch provides a proper set-up.
Go Go Power Rangers #17
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Eleonora Carlini
Ink Assist: Simona Di Gianfelice
Colorist: Raul Angulo
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
I had no idea how excited I would be to get deep Power Rangers lore. I even know that it’s not like this is original stuff from the show, that Parrott and BOOM! Studios are probably making it up as they go along, with all the proper permissions, but that doesn’t matter. It’s just so good!
The Power Rangers return to their normal lives as best they can. Trini and Jason flirt in secret while she insists he should sign up for a karate expo. Kimberly has lunch with her dad, awkwardly trying to avoid the topic of divorce. Zach unloads to a guidance counselor, but mostly decides to just suck it up. And Zach and Billy continue to investigate the mystery Ghost in the Machine — who turns out to be Alpha 1, who arrives on the scene to help the Rangers fight Finster’s latest monster, Stabasaurus Rex!
Meanwhile, we flashback to the planet Iutus, where Rita was born 10,000 years ago. Zordon was there at the time of her birth, seeing as how he was friends with her mother, Fienna, and both of them were worried about Rita’s father. In the present, Rita returns to Iutus seeking answers about the Green Power Coin. The planet is long abandoned now, and she searches through her old nursery to find the gift Zordon gave her at birth. Once back on the moon, she uses the gift to summon the spirit of her mother.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Man, that stuff about Rita’s birth, and Zordon being there, was like comic book crack! There’s so much potential lore to play with, and Parrott presents it so well! What was so wrong with Rita’s father? How did Zordon know her mother? How did Rita go bad? What was Zordon’s relationship like with Rita that he eventually imprisoned her on the moon? I’m dying to know! And it helps that we’re finding out while Rita works on the Green Power Coin.
Beyond that lore stuff, this issue is great with the Power Rangers as people stuff. All five get a couple of scenes or bits where they’re just normal teenagers, while also struggling with Power Rangers stuff. It’s the life essence of comics for me, this grounded human stuff. And it’s even more fun because of my nostalgic love for the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers! Then they get involved in a classic monster fight, which feels so weird, considering how this series expands beyond the normal routine of the classic episodes. Then Alpha 1? Why the hell not! Just add him on top and lets have fun with that too!
TL;DR: Go Go Power Rangers is the best its ever been, delivering some long-awaited lore, balanced with slice-of-life stories for the Rangers.
Mr. & Mrs. X #8
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Oscar Bazaldua
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
I’m rather enjoying this take on a classic Mojo story.
No matter what type of TV show Mojo puts them in, Rogue always seems to have a meltdown, causing her powers to kill Gambit. So Spiral goes into the next program to try and figure out what’s wrong…while also concocting a plan of her own. She grabs Gambit first, talking to him outside of Mojo’s sight. She recruits him to steal something for her from the real Mojoverse outside the studios, and she promises to help Rogue figure out what’s gone wrong. Spiral meets with Rogue and reveals that Rogue’s new powers only kicked in when she had the meltdown, which means she was somehow subconsciously keeping that power in check all on her own. Mojo didn’t know about the new deadly power, so he wasn’t dampening it in any way. So Rogue is going to go on a journey through her subconscious to figure out what causes her to lose/gain control, while Gambit heads into the Mojoverse to steal something.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Just when you think you’re getting a run-of-the-mill story, Thompson pulls some neat tricks! I like the idea that Mojo intended to do a classic Mojo story involving classic X-Men romance Rogue and Gambit…only for Mojo and his team to have no idea that Rogue’s powers were weirder and deadlier now, and that kept causing problems. That’s a neat use of Thompson’s own storyline against a classic element. It also adds some really interesting stakes going forward for Rogue. Will she figure out what’s going on? And then Gambit gets wrapped up in a heist on Mojoworld! That should be a hoot. I also really like Spiral as a supporting character. She’s always fun, and works well in this situation. Not that Gambit and Spiral or Rogue and Spiral ever had any sparks, but Spiral is still an awesome and sexy space alien person. She could be a neat foil.
TL;DR: An already nifty story gets a bit niftier as the plot thickens.
Ms. Marvel #38
Writers: G. Willow Wilson, Devin Grayson, Eve L. Ewing, Jim Zub and Saladin Ahmed
Artists: Nico Leon, Takeshi Miyazawa, Joey Vazquez, Kevin Libranda, Minkyu Jung and Juan Vlasco
Colorist: Ian Herring
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
And so we arrive, at last, to the end of G. Willow Wilson’s glorious 5-year run on Ms. Marvel. This has been the best comic of the past five years, and Kamala is easily the best new character of the past decade, largely thanks to Wilson.
Kamala is in a bummer of a mood as she heads to the Circle Q, where most of her friends are gathered (specifically Bruno, Nakia and Zoe). Then an interdimensional portal opens in the freezer and everybody gets sucked inside. Ms. Marvel quickly realizes she’s in a video game and sets about taking on her friends as boss monsters at each level, with occasional cameos from Gabe and Mike. Once she figures out what’s troubling her friend/smashes the world nodes, they revert back to themselves and join her on the adventure. The last level finds the four of them looking back on when they were in grade school together and reflecting on how they’ve grown up and changed. Then they go home and hug, because friends are the best.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This was nice. It was a little simple, and I would have liked more oomph from Wilson’s finale, but it was nice nonetheless. I’m rather disappointed that she only wrote the first nine pages. This means the previous issue (which I enjoyed) was truly her final issue. I guess that’s fine. But I would have liked Wilson to really go out with a bang. Instead, she goes out with a nice collaboration with a bunch of people, telling a nice little story about Kamala and her friends. All of the art works, all of the writers keep the same tone and flow. It’s a nice message in the end. Really, this is all just nice.
That niceness keeps the issue from being a true classic or a major release, in my opinion. The video game stuff is really weird and out there, but it fits Kamala’s character. And the previous issue was very grounded in street-level stuff, so why not get a little weird in the finale? But the adventure doesn’t offer too much new about the friends — other than the final part, where they see themselves as kids. That was interesting. I think Ahmed wrote that part, and if he wants to explore what Kamala, Bruno, Nakia and Zoe were like when they were young kids at school together, I will be totally on board for that! It was a really interesting perspective.
I wish G. Willow Wilson all the best in her future writing endeavors. She’s still writing Wonder Woman, which I’ve got a review for further down this list.
TL;DR: The final issue of G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel comic is a nice little tale that gets a little weird and unfocused, but is strong by the end.
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Kris Anka
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
I just finished the second season of the Runaways TV show and it was great! Huge improvement over season 1! Highly recommended.
Alex threatens to kill Victor to complete the Ritual of Thunder and feed the Gibborim, who readily welcome the sacrifice — though Gib keeps trying to talk them out of it. Then Gert summons her time machine and sends the evil Gibborim 999 years into the future where they’ll be someone else’s problem. With the day saved, Gib lets everybody know he broke Doombot, so they rush out and grab him, with Chase promising to repair him. Then they decide to get burritos, inviting Gib along, but he’s pretty broken-hearted about losing his people. Gert wants to make peace with Alex, against Chase and Nico’s wishes, but she discovers that Alex has already fled.
As he takes off through the woods, someone asks Alex if they can go with him!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
As strong as this story was, the ending felt rather abrupt. We’ve had all this build-up about the Gibborim Kids, only for Gert to press a button and get rid of them rather early into this issue. And the solution takes away the even cooler idea of Gert going two years into the past to live out those years learning ways to defeat the Gibborim. Way to put that idea into our brains and then take it away, Rainbow Rowell! Anyway, the rest of the issue is nice, with Gib telling the Runaways about Doombot so that they can help him, and everybody being cool towards Gib. It’s some solid aftermath segment following the big fight, but again, after all these issues of build-up, the climax felt really anti-climactic. And Gert being willing to forgive Alex so easily is dumb…unless her attitude is based on the possibly new-to-her revelation that Victor and Nico were once a thing. Seems like something she’d be stung by, leading her to show pity on Alex.
Also, that’s totally Molly asking to go with Alex.
TL;DR: The big story comes to a rather abrupt conclusion, but still a good read.
Wonder Twins #1
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Stephen Byrne
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
I have been waiting for a proper Wonder Twins comic for a long time now. It’s brilliant, hilarious and everything I could have ever wanted.
Zan and Jayna are living on Earth after their dad asked his old pal Superman to take them in, after something mysterious happened on their home planet of Exxor. The two of them are enrolled in the local high school, while also interning at the Hall of Justice. Zan is cocky and confident, intent on becoming the big man on campus. While Jayna is more shy and reserved, but whip smart.
On their first day at the Hall, their tour is interrupted when Mxyzptlk attacks downtown and Superman and the other heroes race off to stop him. Zan and Jayna are left in the control room with the old Supercomputer, whom they befriend. The next day at school, there’s a 5th-dimensional thunderstorm, which causes Zan to undergo his first Thunderlust, a biological passage into adulthood for Exxorians. He does this in the middle of all his classmates, earning him an embarrassing nickname. Later at the Hall, Batman and Superman share embarrassing stories from their own time in high school to make him feel better. Then the League has to rush off again to use their Tachyon Trap to try and stop Mxyzptlk.
But instead, Mxyzptlk arrives at the Hall to taunt Zan and Jayna, declaring his name. Jayna then asks the Supercomputer to repeat Mxyzptlk’s name backwards, causing him to disappear. Day saved and the Wonder Twins are pretty chill about it.
Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.
Wonder Twins is comic books perfected.
Oh, to live in a world where Mark Russell, the genius writer behind The Flintstones comic, is writing an absolute perfect Wonder Twins. I’m both disappointed and pleased that it’s only going to be a 6 issue mini-series. Disappointed, because I want this to last forever. Pleased, because all good things must come to an end, and having a single trade paperback of what will hopefully be six equally amazing issues should be pretty joyful.
This comic is amazing. Not only does it weave magic in how it succinctly introduces our two main characters, but then we’ve got some fun with the Justice League and some behind-the-scenes Hall of Justice stuff too! And on top of all that, it’s gorram hilarious! Russell specializes in quick little one-off gags, alongside normal dialogue-based humor. Like when Zan and Jayna use their powers to race to school, Zan gets lost in the sewers because that’s where he was going to use his water powers. Then there’s the bit about Zan and hockey.
And the Thunderlust stuff is just amazing. I nominate Russell for the Justice League comic based on this exchange alone.
As longtime readers of my reviews know, my driving thought on comics is “people first, superheroes second” and Wonder Twins #1 nails that perfectly. These are real people, with real thoughts, feelings, personalities and problems. And it’s not just the Wonder Twins. Russell does it perfectly for the likes of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman as well. And I love the grounded look at the Hall of Justice operations, of the League members just standing around or walking the halls like real people. It’s a really neat look into the Justice League.
The Wonder Twins themselves are so endearing. From Zan’s playful confidence to Jayna’s no-nonsense style and humor. They make a great team and a great set of protagonists. The art is also to die for. It’s homey and detailed, feeling very warm and inviting. Everybody looks like people instead of comic book pin-ups. And the coloring is top notch. The Wonder Twins’ purple is very distinctive, giving this pair a unique look in the world of superheroes. I love it.
TL;DR: I loved everything about this perfect comic. The characters, the world, the humor; this is a fun little masterpiece of an issue.
Wonder Woman #64
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Jesus Merino
Inker: Andy Owens
Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
It really bothers me how mediocre this comic is. Great art, at least.
The Pegasus fetches Wonder Woman to help out in Washington DC after something crashed in the middle of the city, creating a giant crater. Wonder Woman heads down and finds the goddess Nemesis, who we last saw as a prisoner of Veronica Cale. The two fight for a bit before Wonder Woman lassos her up and tries to get info on what Nemesis is doing and what happened to the gods, and what Cale wants. What Cale wants is to get a picture of Wonder Woman fighting Nemesis, then she’ll start blathering on to the police that Wonder Woman is attacking a Cale Industries employee who was just trying to help out in the crater as well…despite Nemesis looking and talking like the mythical monster she is. But Cale’s blathering is enough to convince the nearby cops to at least ask Wonder Woman if she wouldn’t mind leaving.
Before she goes, Cale says that she’s figured out what happened to Olympus and Themyscira: it’s all disappeared, including Cale’s daughter and Diana’s family. Diana flies away crying.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
Oh my God, when Veronica Cale revealed that her ‘big plan’ this issue was to get a picture of Wonder Woman fighting a monster and then claim that the monster was entirely innocent and that Wonder freakin’ Woman was therefore some evil villain, I wanted to plotz. That has to be the most inane thing I’ve read in comics in a long time. How is that her plan? How is that a plan at all? Even the police officers who ask Wonder Woman to leave are perplexed. It’s ridiculous! All of the build up to that moment is fine. Wonder Woman gets a nice scene at home with Steve Trevor, then that Pegasus proves useful for something, and then Wonder Woman faces off against a monster goddess. All good stuff. But then Veronica Cale goes and pulls a big ole blunder of idiocy.
Also, I can’t get invested in the disappearance of Mount Olympus and/or Themyscira, at least not to the degree that Wilson wants. Diana is crying over this, and while I understand it would be a sad thing, how many times has Themyscira gone missing? Or Diana been banished from it? How many times has that exact plot happened in the past couple of years alone? I don’t have exact numbers, but that’s the problem with all these reboots and relaunches DC has gone through in the past few years: I have no idea if this should really matter or not. When it’s been done a dozen times before, I just can’t get emotionally invested in Wonder Woman’s emotions. There’s also the fact that it’ll be fine in the end. This is comics. Themyscira has had so many incarnations and status quos that there’s simply no stakes in the idea that something is different this time — especially since Veronica Cale is an unreliable narrator, and her assessment of the situation is flawed at best.
At least the art is fantastic. Very detailed, very cool looking. And the characters are largely written well. But Wilson is throwing some weird plots at us.
TL;DR: Weird plots and plot points keep stacking up in an otherwise well-drawn Wonder Woman 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 February 16, 2019, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged Boom!, Captain Marvel, Gambit, Go Go Power Rangers, Kamala Khan, Mr. &, Ms. Marvel, Power Rangers, Rogue, Runaways, Spider-Woman, Wonder Twins, Wonder Woman. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.