Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 4/20/19

By this time next week, I will have seen Avengers: Endgame and all will be right in the world. I can’t wait. I’m very excited. Let’s hope I’m not too excited!

Until then, we’ve got to read some fun comics, like Guardians of the Galaxy and the final issue of West Coast Avengers! The War of the Realms also continued this week! But Comic Book of the Week goes to the big, climactic issue of Tony Stark – Iron Man for a solid, enjoyable story.

Iron Man Rules 04

Kids are jerks

Meanwhile, my skimming of new Uncanny X-Men issues reaffirms my correct decision to drop them. More characters I like are dead. Though if my brother is reading this, he might be slightly pleased to know that the original Pyro has been stealth returned to the living…though apparently as a one-note bad guy. I’m working on a larger Pyro article, I promise.

Comic Reviews: Guardians of the Galaxy #4, Magnificent Ms. Marvel #2, Tony Stark – Iron Man #10, War of the Realms #2 and West Coast Avengers #10. 


Guardians of the Galaxy #4

Guardians of the Galaxy #4
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Geoff Shaw
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

While it’s nice that Beta Ray Bill is getting a prominent role in the popular Guardians of the Galaxy, I’m sad that he’s not helping out his buddy Thor in War of the Realms! Though I suppose if he was in the War, it would be too tempting for Marvel to kill him for a shock death. So I’ll take what I can get.

The Guardians attempt to rescue Gamora, but she assumes they’re here to stop her from killing Rocket Raccoon, so she fights back. Eventually, she and Groot reconcile and calm everything down. When they return to the ship, Nova arrives, unintentionally bringing the Dark Guardians with him. Everybody fights until Peter takes a blast meant for Gamora, seemingly dying in her arms.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Finally adding Gamora to a story that was 100% about her definitely helps kick things up a notch for this issue. She’s instantly a very compelling and cool character, and Cates gets a lot of strong character moments out of everybody. He even makes a solid joke how the likes of Beta Ray Bill, Moondragon and Phyla are just hangers-on to the real Guardians’ ongoing drama. Plus Gamora is just plain cool as she fights off the others and then everybody gets into a bigger fight. That was a good fight, but there were a couple moments where I wasn’t sure what had just happened or what was going on. I haven’t been too thrilled with Shaw’s art, and the fight panels do get a bit overly complicated or hard to decipher at points. But I managed to hold on to the gist of what was happening, so it wasn’t too bad.

TL;DR: The new issue features strong character work now that the story is coalescing, but the art is a tad problematic during a big, hectic fight scene.


Ms. Marvel #2

Magnificent Ms. Marvel #2
Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Penciler: Minkyu Jung
Inker: Juan Vlasco
Colorist: Ian Herring
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

This second issue is a bit better than Ahmed’s first on the title, but the new cliffhanger ending is the total opposite of what I want from Ms. Marvel comics. But maybe that’s just me.

Kamala is devastated as her parents turn to goo in front of her, but Bruno is quick on the scene to reassure her that something funky is going on with all of these monsters. They backtrack to study the leftover monster goo, with Bruno reassuring Kamala that those weren’t really her parents. After an encounter with Discord (former classmate Josh) and the quick defeat of another monster, Kamala finds her parents in a strange box. She is then approached by three wizened old alien clerics who are praising her awesomeness. They reveal that she is the destined Chosen One of their planet, and she must come back to live with them.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

Yeah, the last thing I really want to see is Kamala Khan going into outer space to get involved in some generic intergalactic adventure. Let alone an adventure where she’s the Chosen One. She works best when she’s at home and grounded — though I still think Ahmed’s streetwork so far lacks the spark of the original series. He’s trying his best, and he’s doing an OK job, but that spark was the key to Kamala’s appeal. It doesn’t help that she spends the issue wallowing over the “deaths” of her parents, even though the reader automatically knows that their turning into goo is clearly part of whatever larger issue is going on. That Kamala doesn’t also realize that immediately is disappointing. She’s seasoned enough to put the obvious 2 and 2 together.

Marvel Discord 01

That costume and the name “Discord” are both far far too generic for this character

Ahmed gets most of the little things right this issue. He nails the Kamala/Bruno team-up, and there’s a nice little scene with Josh. The scene goes nowhere, but it’s still a fun scene as Kamala and Bruno respond to their high school classmate playing super-villain, and Josh responds to the lovely Khan family being kidnapped. So the character stuff is pretty good, I just have hope that Ahmed will get better. The comic is just sort of generically fine for now.

But we’ll see how I feel if Kamala goes into space.

TL;DR: The new issue is a solid comic and is largely enjoyable to read, but the new creative team is still missing that special spark.


Iron Man #10

Tony Stark – Iron Man #10
Writers: Dan Slott and Jim Zub
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

This comic should be getting more praise and attention.

The battle all up in the eScape continues! Superheroes around the world are fighting the violent puppet-controlled people. Rhodey, Wasp and Gauntlet are fighting the giant Controller. And Tony and Amanda are fighting the Motherboard programming, with Aaron Stack getting his butt whooped by the Howard Stark program. Motherboard senses Tony struggling, so she starts remaking reality to get him to come around. When she makes him back into a child, Tony dismisses Amanda (thanks to Andy Bhang finalizing his device to break the Controller’s puppet controls). But child Tony also dismisses his parents, revealing that they were programs Howard Stark had made and Tony uncovered. Tony stands triumphant as the Invincible Iron Man, banishing Motherboard and shutting down the eScape.

Too bad his physical body was shot into space and he’s running out of oxygen!

Also, Sunset Bain and Arno Stark use their trickery to get access to the Stark network under the promise they wanted to help. While inside, they start stealing Stark security secrets, and Arno watches the final confrontation between Tony and the Starks, who are Arno’s real parents.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This is pretty stellar comic book storytelling. I’m almost overwhelmed at how well-crafted this whole thing is. So much is going on, there are so many angles, and the issue does a fine job of juggling them all and wrapping a lot of them up. It’s a big, audacious climax, and I really enjoyed it. Tony remains the central focal point, and both Slott and Zub write him well. The heroic moment when he finally takes command of himself and declares his status as the Invincible Iron Man — complete with cool new armor — is pretty great. As are all the ways all of the other characters aid in the fight. Seriously, this would be one confusing mess if it wasn’t handled so well and if the ongoing story wasn’t so much fun.

Iron Man Rules 03

He buys into his own adjective hype

This whole eScape storyline has been great and the climax here really ties everything together nicely. The art doesn’t suffer, the character work remains strong; this is really just an all-around entertaining comic and story wrap-up. I don’t have any complaints. It feels very much like an Iron Man comic. Tony Stark is the star. And even when he’s wrapping up this one story, Slott is seeding the next story with Bain and Arno in a way that fits perfectly with everything we’ve seen so far. This is really masterful story construction and execution.

TL;DR: The current storyline comes to a big, exciting conclusion, using all of the characters well, while firmly solidifying Tony Stark as a hero to root for.


War of the Realms #2

The War of the Realms #2
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino

Just FYI, I’m probably not going to review very many of the tie-ins, but I’ll probably read a couple. The new issue of Thor, for example, is about Loki going on a trip to his past, present and future. Not all that relevant.

As for the main series, it continues to be pretty cool.

The battle in Manhattan continues, with everybody smashing and trading quips and all manner of craziness. Odin comes charging in with an army of Valkyries, but he gets smashed pretty quickly. Doctor Strange then summons a giant portal to teleport civilians to safety, but it’s too strong and all the superheroes are taken as well. They regroup at Avengers Mountain and start picking missions, such as going to rescue Thor or marshaling the Midgard war effort. Then they see on the news that Malekith’s forces devastated New York after they left, including killing Valkyrie herself. And his armies have also taken over the rest of the world, too.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Two issues in and this whole event is still pretty surface level. Which means it’s fine, and still pretty enjoyable, but I would like a little more chutzpah. This issue was especially troublesome in that a big chunk of time was spent sending characters off on individual missions (i.e. the tie-in comics). Though I suppose I’ll give the comic credit that there weren’t little editorial notes telling you to pick up said tie-ins. The comic itself is strong. The fighting is intense, though everybody is a little too quippy and chill for what the stakes are supposed to be. All of the heroes treat this like any other big battle…and I suppose it would be for them. There have been so many such battles in the heart of New York City. At least the battle has plenty of cool moments, like Odin showing up with an army of Valkyrie.

Odin Arrives 01

Odin does occasionally get to be cool

And the ending reveal that the fight wasn’t nearly as fun and frivolous as everyone thought is pretty strong. I’m glad to see that the war clearly extended across the entire world while the heroes were busy taunting trolls in Manhattan. And the death of all the Valkyrie is tough (of course, Marvel has already announced how that’s spinning off into a new comic soon enough).

Two issues deep, War of the Realms is a pretty entertaining brawl of a story, one that is having a lot of fun with all of the Marvel superheroes. But it has yet to show us that there’s more to the story than just a big fight, and a lot of effort is being spent getting us to read various other related comics.

TL;DR: The titular War of the Realms progresses nicely into a bigger and more entertaining mess, but the comic overall is missing that extra something special to make it a truly great event.


West Coast Avengers #10

West Coast Avengers #10
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Moy R.
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

And so we come to the end of West Coast Avengers. Overall, I thought the series was pretty OK, but it mostly didn’t work for me for personal reason. I just wasn’t fully on board with some of the characters and the pairings. That’s on me. It was still written and drawn well.

Last issue ended with Kate’s mom revealing herself to be a vampire and biting America. Kate freaks out and her mom explains that she’s only a half-vampire, and different from these cult vampires. She only bit America to prove to the cultists that America isn’t the chosen one. This all goes over about as well as you’d expect and Kate leaves her mom to help her friends fight off the bad guys. There are some nice character moments throughout the fight, like Quentin being annoyed at how everybody keeps shouting his name to get him to help with something, or Ramone giving Quentin a solid talking-to about how he’s valued. The fight is won when Ramone goes wild with her new powers and America wakes up enough to teleport all of the cultists to the shrimp dimension, which I believe is a America Chavez running gag.

Once the day is saved, the West Coast Avengers head home to find their headquarters finally complete. They each sit down for interviews with the camera. Quentin and Gwen are more domesticated than ever. And both Fuse and Noh-Varr are a little bisexual and think the other one is hot. Kate is shocked to learn that everybody she dates is a little bit gay.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

The issue lost me right at the very beginning. I’ve been following Kate Bishop’s story closely since she was a main character in Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye comic, and there has been some really compelling stuff written about Kate dealing with her father and her “dead” mom. So when we arrived at a scene where Kate’s mom is explaining that she’s a half-vampire and is not connected to the full vampires in this cheap Scientology-knock-off cult, Thompson lost me. Really? We’re at a point in Kate Bishop’s story where her long-thought-dead mother has to explain how she’s only a half-vampire?! Really?!

Fortunately, that moment passed quickly and we moved on to some far more entertaining and meaningful character moments. I liked Kate and Clint bantering during the fight. I liked Ramone stepping up and would have enjoyed seeing her come into her own as a hero. I liked what was happening with Quentin this issue, even if I still don’t like Quentin.

Kate Mom Explains Too Much 01

Don’t let this transfer to the MCU Kate Bishop

Thompson clearly knew cancellation was upon them when she penned this issue, so she clearly went for broke and had some fun with all of the characters. Good on her, go out with some charm. In a perfect world, Thompson would have been allowed to create a real ongoing West Coast Avengers comic. It could have been nice, even if she’s so foolishly insistent on hooking up Quentin Quire and Gwenpool.

The art also grew on me over the course of the issue.

TL;DR: West Coast Avengers bows out with a sweet farewell, as the creative team is able to scramble a nice goodbye into the overly complex ongoing story.

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 April 20, 2019, in Avengers, Comics, Marvel, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Ms. Marvel was pretty good.

    WCA was a lot of fun. I’ll miss this book. Especially since we were right on the verge of Marvel’s first canonical polyamourous relationship. We all know that’s where the love triangle was going.

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