Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 3/16/19
This was a good week. This was a very good week! I had another busy week at work, so I didn’t review everything I probably could have. But then I ended up cutting all of the comics I’m only lukewarm about! So we’ve got a week where I was in love with pretty much everything I read! How fun is that?
We’ve got really fun issues of Go Go Power Rangers, Tony Stark – Iron Man, Runaways and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, some of my current favorite comic books! We’ve got the first issue of the relaunched Magnificent Ms. Marvel, which is really neat! But Comic Book of the Week goes to my new super favorite series, Wonder Twins. It’s better than I could have ever hoped.
Meanwhile, the issues of Age of X-Man keep piling up and I keep ignoring them. Through basic internet osmosis, I’m not hearing anything too exciting or positive. So I really may just stick with X-Tremists. In better X-Men news, Sina Grace got a nice big wrap-up to his Iceman comic and it was really fun! Though I completely oppose the Iceman/Daken ‘ship, almost entirely because Daken is terrible.
Comic Reviews: Go Go Power Rangers #18, Magnificent Ms. Marvel #1, Runaways #19, Tony Stark – Iron Man #9, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #42 and Wonder Twins #2.
Go Go Power Rangers #18
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Eleonora Carlini
Colorist: Raul Angulo
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
The more we learn about Zordon’s past 10,000 years ago, the more excited I get! The Power Rangers stuff is cool too, but I’m really digging this deep dive into never-before-seen lore.
Alpha-1 helps the Rangers defeat the evil dinosaur monster, and the Rangers take him back to the Command Center. We learn through flashback that Alpha-1 was created by Zordon’s mentor, King Lexian, and was a mighty warrior — but he was nearly destroyed and lost in space following an ambush more than 10,000 years ago. Also, I probably should have known this from Power Rangers lore, but Rita’s dad is Master Vile. He was the big bad back in the day. This came up last issue, but I totally spaced on my lore. Zordon welcomes Alpha-1 back into the crew and most of the Rangers are excited to have him. Alpha-1 tries to convince Alpha-5 to become a warrior robot too, but Alpha-5 isn’t a fighter.
Trini has concerns with how Alpha-1 had been spying on the Rangers before introducing himself, but the others dismiss her concerns, including Jason. Trini goes to the guidance counselor for some advice, and she gets to the root of the problem that Trini is mostly concerned that her friends so easily dismissed her concerns, including Jason.
Meanwhile, on the moon, Rita lies to her mother’s ghsot to get information on how to unlock the Green Power Coin. Rita has to find a worthy holder, as Zordon would, and then she plans to sacrifice that person. Rita’s mother’s ghost learns of the deception and declares she must defeat Rita herself!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This issue was packed with material and all of it was really fun! Like the Power Rangers using their Pyramid Formation blast and commenting on how they don’t use it very often. Or the history between Zordon and this King Lexian guy. Also, I didn’t know Rita’s father in the previous issue, but now that they’ve mentioned his name, I remember that Master Vile was established as her father back in the show. Did you know she also has a son from the original show? Weird. Anyway, all that flashback stuff was great, as was Rita tricking her mother to release information to help with the Green Power Coin. The Rita Repulsa drama is just as much fun as the Power Rangers drama!
Speaking of Power Rangers drama, it’s still good! Alpha-1 is being set up as evil right now, but I have faith in Parrott to maybe do something more clever with it. As it stands, I like the characterization we’re getting out of Trini because of it. And I like the use of the guidance counselor to directly explore the Rangers’ personalities and feelings. Parrott is doing a great job juggling the Power Rangers drama and the interesting villain drama and flashbacks. This is a great companion series to the history of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. It’s so much fun!
Also, on a somewhat related note, I read the Soul of the Dragon graphic novel about Tommy, written by Kyle Higgins as part of his departure from the main Power Rangers comic. It was not good. Predictable, uninspired and lacking in everything that made Higgins’ main series so enjoyable. Consider it a hard pass.
TL;DR: Go Go Power Rangers continues to juggle a lot of fun drama, for both the good guys and the bad guys. The way it fleshes out Power Rangers lore is delightful to an old school fan like me.
Magnificent Ms. Marvel #1
Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Artist: Minkyu Jung
Inker: Juan Vlasco
Colorist: Ian Herring
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Here we go! I consider Ms. Marvel to be the best new comics character of the decade, if not the century so far. Can Saladin Ahmed, whose Exiles I did not like, carry the torch that G. Willow Wilson lit?
On a distant alien planet far into the future, an alien father tells his alien son a bedtime story about the “Destined One”, Ms. Marvel. His story is full of praise and celebration, whereas we actually see Ms. Marvel having a busy, stressful day.
First she fights a bad guy downtown, then has lunch with Nakia, then goes home to find out that her father knows she is Ms. Marvel! It’s a tense moment, especially when her father demands she stop immediately. Kamala storms off, responding to a text from Bruno that there are monsters at the Circle Q. Ms. Marvel defeats one monster, which turns to goo afterwards. Then they track another monster, which also turns to go when defeated. Then they track another monster to her home, and Kamala rushes in to find her parents in the shadows…and then they also turn to goo!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
The first issue of the Magnificent Ms. Marvel relaunch reads like exactly what you would expect from a new Ms. Marvel comic with a new writer. There’s a nice mix of superhero stuff and family drama, with solid comic book art. I saw another review that mentioned the issue didn’t possess that same unique spark, and I’ll agree that it might be missing. It’s as if this little, personal comic has been given the corporate touch. Ms. Marvel isn’t anybody’s pet project anymore. This comic is mainstream and important. So this relaunch is clean, cool and well-made. But I would probably agree that the homeyness is missing.
Not that Ahmed doesn’t try his very best.
This was still a fine issue. I’m not complaining. Kamala’s voice is spot on, and I especially enjoyed the fight with her parents. Having her father find out about her superheroics is a great way for Ahmed to kick off his run. It’s a plot point that was bound to happen eventually, and it’s a good way for him to keep the family at the focus of the Ms. Marvel comic. I also loved how Kamala completely rejected her father’s demand that she stop. That definitely jives with everything we know about her and everything she’s been through. The conversation hints that something is wrong with her father (he’s probably dying), so I’m looking forward to more drama. The superhero stuff and the monster stuff was fine, but Ahmed does the best work with the friends and family.
I also really enjoyed the art. It’s solid superhero artwork, while maintaining the looks of the characters. I especially noticed how Kamala hasn’t been transformed into a generic sexy woman. I’m also finally comfortable with the look of Bruno’s hair.
TL;DR: The new Ms. Marvel relaunch is off to a really good start, though the spark might be missing. C’est la vie.
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Andres Genolet
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
I’m disappointed. Check out that cover image and the “Best of 2018” grouping at the bottom. Hello! I picked Runaways as my favorite comic of 2018 too! Where’s the Henchman4Hire.com recognition?!
I’m the voice of my generation!
Molly has runaway to join Alex, because she misses her parents and thinks that she can break her grandmother out of Avengers custody, so that grandma can then clone both her mom and dad and those will be good enough for her. Alex doesn’t believe in that idea, but he lets Molly tag along anyway as he goes to set up shop in his parents’ old house. He gets her help to break into the Pride HQ hall inside the house and offers for Molly to stay — but when the other Runaways show up in full on the front law demanding Molly, she readily runs out and embraces them.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I’m not…sure what Rowell was going for here. Or maybe I do. I think the idea is that Molly, ever still so young, has this foolish idea to “save” her parents. She still misses them, even though she knows they were evil. And she’s got this plan…even though, as Alex points out, it’s not really what she wants. Then when she comes face-to-face with her parents’ gear inside the Pride HQ, she takes a long, hard look in the mirror and realizes she’s being foolish. So when her friends show up, she readily runs back to them. I think that’s what happened, and I rather like that ending. But it sort of…unmakes this issue? I suppose it’s solid character development for Molly and Alex, but then it doesn’t go anywhere…at least not yet. I dunno. That abrupt ending is throwing me off a bit. I thought Rowell was going somewhere with Molly’s decision-making here. It’s great character development, of that there is no doubt. And I really like the new artist. But the course-correct at the end of the issue takes some of the oomph out of the issue as a whole.
At least until we see what happens next.
TL;DR: A solid issue of unexpected character development seems to get undone right at the very end.
Tony Stark – Iron Man #9
Writers: Dan Slott and Jim Zub
Artists: Valerio Schiti and Paolo Rivera
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Jim Zub is stepping in to help Dan Slott. I hope Slott is OK. He worked a lot with Christos Gage on Amazing Spider-Man, so perhaps he just needs help from time to time.
The Avengers are struggling with Controlled people all across the country, so they can’t come help Rhodey and the Wasp as they take on the super-powered Controller. Fortunately, Sunset Bain sends in the Gauntlet and her security forces to help put a stop to him, to show that her company had no part in this scheme. Rhodey and Wasp also figure out that the Controller is controlling just one person, so they zap him in the eye to break the connection. We know that he’s controlling Bethany Cabe, and the zap gives her enough time to warn Andy what’s going on, and he zaps her with a TASER while still working on shutting all this down.
Meanwhile, Tony Stark is trapped in a glorious 1950s virtual reality prison by Motherboard. Amanda gets an assist from Machine Man to stay hidden in the system, then she tries to use her music to get through to Tony — and it works, but Motherboard has one more power play. She reveals that she used her connection to the Iron Man armor to scan Tony’s body and discovered that there’s no biological evidence of the original Tony Stark left. It’s the one thing Stark has been worrying about lately, after fiddling with his brain and cloning a new body. And this existential dread might waylay Tony Stark for good!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Tony Stark – Iron Man is consistently good. And this storyline in particular has reached the point of being so consistently good that I’m kind of at a loss as to how to praise it. I love the battles, especially with Slott using the Gauntlet again. I love the idea that Sunset Bain is going to keep playing a wildcard role in this comic. And I liked how the Bethany Cabe storyline has panned out, with that subplot finally coming to a head. I love the idea of Machine Man as the spanner in the works. And the retro look to the art, and all the trappings of retro Iron Man, are really fun! The art style is definitely something special added to this issue to really sell the virtual reality of it all. If I have any complaints, it’s that this storyline is getting a little long in the tooth already…but that isn’t really hurting the quality of the storytelling at all.
TL;DR: The Iron Man story gets deeper and crazier, and that’s just more fun for everybody!
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #42
Writer: Ryan North
Artists: Naomi Franquiz, Derek Charm and Erica Henderson
Colorist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Check it out! It’s the 50th issue of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, chronologically! That’s the bee’s knees! I love this comic, and this celebration issue is no different.
In the far future, Old Lady Doreen runs afoul of Kang the Conqueror, who has decided he needs to kill her so that she can’t stop his plans. He sets up a booby trap for her…but it doesn’t go off. So he goes back in time to see what happened to his booby trap and discovers that modern day Squirrel Girl is fixing the trap without knowing what it is. Kang attacks and tries to defeat her with another pre-established booby trap for her…but it doesn’t go off. So he goes back in time to see what happened to his booby trap and discovers that 10-year-old Squirrel Girl is fixing the trap without knowing what it is!
Kang attempts to take her on, but when he reveals the inner workings of his time travel device to young Doreen, she remembers how it works…allowing Old Lady Doreen to make her own time machine, travel back in time to pick up modern day Squirrel Girl, so that they can then aid 10-year-old Squirrel Girl in stopping Kang! They kick his butt, and then Old Man Kang shows up to deal with his younger self. He then takes the various Squirrel Girls back to their correct time periods, while making it so they’ll think this adventure was only a dream. When they say their heartfelt goodbyes to each other, Old Lady Doreen uses a bit of a trick to give modern day Squirrel Girl her acorn necklace.
Back in the present day, Doreen discovers that the acorn necklace is the gift that Nancy had already bought for her, but hadn’t given it yet. A note inside from Old Lady Doreen reveals that since the necklace Doreen has is from the future, and the one Nancy bought is from the present, then any message Nancy puts into her necklace will instantly appear in Doreen’s necklace! That way they can keep in touch wherever they are and hopefully prevent some vaguely bad things from happening.
Back in the future, Old Lady Doreen wakes up to discover that Nancy Whitehead is now alive and well in the future, and they’re still crime-fighting partners. As opposed to what her future had been like prior to this adventure, wherein Nancy had died some time prior.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Man, whatever Ryan North is building towards with his Doreen/Nancy will they/won’t they subplot is going to be killer. What was in that letter they wrote to themselves when they spent several decades traveling at super speed?! Did I see them holding hands this issue? How great is it that Old Lady Doreen used this time travel gimmick to save Nancy’s life?! You’re killing me, North!
Or maybe it’s just that they truly are Best Friends Forever and I should be happy for them for that.
The issue itself is a pure delight for a stand alone event! North uses time travel exactly how Ryan North should use time travel, and it’s fun and hilarious both times. And seeing the Doreens of different time periods team up and work together to take on Kang the Conqueror is just fun! It’s an inventive idea and North and his artists execute the story to the nines! I especially enjoyed how they brought back Erica Henderson to do the 10-year-old Doreen segments. Now all they need is to have Naomi Franquiz, who did the Old Lady Doreen segments, be the eventual series replacement for Derek Charm and this book will predict the future. I know Ryan North and Marvel have thought of that and I hope it happens — though I’m perfectly happy with Charm’s work, so I don’t want to see him kicked off the book to make future events happen…or do I?
Anyway, delightful story, delightful characters, a bunch of fun twists and more than enough heartfelt Doreen/Nancy stuff. I especially enjoyed when the Doreens said goodbye to one another. It was very touching.
TL;DR: Unbeatable Squirrel Girl throws a standalone celebration of the series and its everything one could hope it would be!
Wonder Twins #2
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Stephen Byrne
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
OK, look, every other comic book in the market today is just going to have to go on pause for the next couple of months, because Wonder Twins is phenomenal.
The Scrambler uses his powers to trick his way out of prison — or more specifically, the Lexicon Prison and Call Center, where Lex is using inmates to operate a call center. Zan and Jayna’s high school just so happens to be taking them to tour the prison, and Jayna is appalled at how humanity treats their criminals. They didn’t have prisons on Exxor. Later, Superman takes the Twins to meet Beast Boy for some teen superhero counseling, and Beast Boy assigns them to take on the League of Annoyance!
Which is where Lex sent the Scrambler after he escaped. We meet the League of Annoyance at their next meeting, where they’re discussing their annoying new crime ideas. One member, Drunkula (real name Baron Nightblood), has an idea to troll the Justice League on social media…but everybody thinks he should just go bite people because he’s a vampire. He insists he’s 30 days sober, and if he sucks the blood of another intoxicated person, he’ll fall off the wagon. But they insist and he goes out, and the Wonder Twins arrive to stop him…but they don’t feel good about locking up this guy in Lexicon when he didn’t even want to be biting people.
Lexicon is so inept that they put Drunkula in the drunk tank for the night. When the Wonder Twins arrive to check on him, he’s fallen off the wagon and everybody’s dead.
Also, Zan orders a mail-order monkey!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
So good, you guys. So good. Wonder Twins continues its debut hot streak with another funny, charming and way too clever second issue! Zan and Jayna remain hilarious, from his aloof silliness to her pragmatic doubt. They work really well together, and even better when plopped into the middle of the world of superheroes. I love their takedown of the private prison system, especially how a prison would work in a superhero universe. It makes for a really nice continuation of the Wonder Twins acclimating to life as superheroes, when this is what they have to deal with.
But the real star of this comic is Mark Russell’s wondrously clever sense of humor.
I don’t even know where to begin! The issue opens with a clever prison escape by the Scrambler (who’s got a scrambled egg for a logo). Then there’s the whole Drunkula character, who doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed into just biting people, and whose running commentary against the superhero industrial complex is funny.
There’s a Beast Boy cameo where he’s filming a commercial for Fruity Pies, a callback to the classic Hostess Fruit Pies days of old! And even if that already funny concept, Russell’s dialogue takes it one step further.
I love Mark Russell’s writing on this comic. I love Stephen Byrne’s clean and funny art on this comic, especially the sharp purples of the Wonder Twins themselves. This comic is exceeding my already high expectations for a Wonder Twins comic book. I am in Heaven.
TL;DR: Wonder Twins is why comic books exist. Fun, colorful and creative characters going on visually appealing and wickedly clever adventures. Wonder Twins is perfect.
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 March 16, 2019, in Reviews, Comics, Marvel, DC and tagged Runaways, Iron Man, Wonder Twins, Ms. Marvel, Power Rangers, Squirrel Girl, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Tony Stark, Go Go Power Rangers, Tony Stark - Iron Man, Magnificent Ms. Marvel. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.