Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 4/27/19
Avengers: Endgame was great! I’m not even going to beat around the bush. It was great, it was fantastic, it was everything I could have wanted. It’s the real deal, a true grand finale. Go watch it!
Comics this week almost pale in comparison. Action Comics and Runaways are pretty fun, while Fantastic Four and Heroes in Crisis disappoint. And Comic Book of the Week goes to Mr & Mrs X!
Meanwhile, X-Tremists is still the only comic I’m reading from Age of X-Man and it remains pretty darn good. At least when it comes to character development for the Blob, and now Psylocke, too! Honestly, I will consider Age of X-Man a win as a whole if this leads to a Blob renaissance.
Comic Reviews: Action Comics #1010, Fantastic Four #9, Heroes in Crisis #8, Mr. & Mrs. X #10 and Runaways #20.
Action Comics #1010
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Steve Epting
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Josh Reed
What’s happening elsewhere in Bendis’ Superman comics? Are Action Comics and Superman telling a parallel story or are they doing their own thing? I’m only paying attention to this one.
Director Bones is attacked by the woman behind this mess, who is posing as a lawyer in order to get close to him. The woman possibly succeeds in killing Bones and makes her escape.
Meanwhile, Clark and Lois go in disguise to meet with their Spyral contact, Tiger (from the Grayson comic). It’s a tense standoff because Tiger doesn’t trust Chaz and his partner showing up out of the blue like this. Tiger also reveals that not only was Spyral created to spy on superheroes (which they already knew), but Leviathan was created by the same person to give Spyral something to do when they weren’t spying on superheroes. Did we know that already? I don’t remember all of my Spyral and Leviathan facts. Also, Kate Kane is apparently the director of Spyral? Did we know that?
Anyway, one of those big mysterious golems shows up outside and Superman flies it into outer space before it explodes. He learns an important clue, but when he returns to Earth, both Lois and Tiger are gone.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I am really enjoying the combination of serious, potentially epic story and the more grounded, entertaining character work. Bendis is nailing it with these characters. From Bones’ tired bitterness to Amanda Waller’s exasperation to Lois Lane’s giddiness at playing undercover spy. I even love Superman’s straightforward goodness in the face of all things, whether its humoring Lois or trusting that Waller and Jimmy Olsen will be fine when left in the Fortress of Solitude. It’s just fun writing. And compared to my review of Heroes in Crisis later on in this article, fun writing is what I want most from comics.
The story, as a whole, isn’t as well constructed as I would like. I’m still at a bit of a loss at just what’s happening and how Spyral and Leviathan factor into it. Those aren’t exactly set-in-stone evil organizations, where we automatically know and understand them to the degree that we need to. But Bendis does succeed in making the stakes feel important. I feel like something important is going on, and it’s fun watching Superman and Lois Lane navigate their way through it. The story feels like it could be bigger and involve more characters on different levels. Like, it’s a little weird that ol’ indestructible Superman is the one just sashaying his way through this epic spy story. But the fun character work and the great art more than make up for some slight disconnect with the spy organizations.
TL;DR: Strong character work and an interesting overall premise keep this story very enjoyable.
Fantastic Four #9
Writer: Dan Slott
Artists: Aaron Kuder, Stefano Caselli and Paco Medina
Colorist: Erick Arciniega
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
My bad. Invisible Woman didn’t make Doctor Doom naked to the whole world. Lame.
The Fantastic Four quickly break free from Doctor Doom’s traps, sending him fleeing. Reed then calculates how to use all of Doom’s tech to save Victorious and free Galactus, who takes off for the cosmos. When Doom returns to kill our heroes, the B-plot crosses into the A-plot. Valeria uses her teleporter to teleport Wendy’s friends to Latveria. The distraction allows her to then teleport her family home and everybody is happily reunited.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
This whole storyline felt rushed and shallow, especially this issue. The Fantastic Four immediately break out of their death traps. Doctor Doom wasn’t exposed from the waist down, just his face and torso. Everything wraps up super quickly. Galactus just takes off. That thing with Wendy and her friends is over in mere seconds. Doom is paper thin, character-wise. And Slott continues to be really, really heavy-handed in terms of Johnny Storm being interested in Victorious. It’s all generally fine. None of it is bad. But I have come to expect more from Dan Slott. It’s like he found himself overworked and half-assed a big F4 story about Doctor Doom and Galactus. It’s especially troubling with how one-note he writes Doctor Doom, undoing and ignoring all of the great Doom stuff that happened prior to Slott’s arrival, stuff that I personally loved a great deal. I’m even disappointed in how Slott handled this Wendy character. Rather than dredge up an old, obscure F4 character to act as a foil for Franklin, she’s just an easy excuse to end things quickly. Franklin could use a good, solid foil, especially a girl (if he’s interested in girls, that is).
The multitude of artists didn’t help either.
TL;DR: The issue feels rushed and shallow, despite the seemingly major stakes involved.
Heroes in Crisis #8
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Mitch Gerads and Travis Moore
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Sigh. It’s the penultimate issue. It teases something big in the finale. But on it’s own, and as something approaching the culmination of this whole mess, I’m both let down and appeased. Appeased in that I like the answer to the mystery. Let down in that I don’t like how King just lays it all out here, and how it just doesn’t work for me in the long run.
But I’m willing to let the final issue change my opinion.
Wally West gives one final confessional, during which he just talks his way through everything that happened at Sanctuary, answering every question and laying it all out in black and white. Wally confesses that he felt so alone without his family that he got paranoid that Sanctuary only existed for him, that all the other heroes were lying to make him feel better. So he uses his super speed to piece together all of the anonymous confessional data — but viewing all of those confessions at once causes a mental breakdown and he heads out into the field to get some air. The computer tampering causes the alarm that emptied the facility, and when everybody got outside, they went to help Wally.
Wally then reveals that the Speed Force is something he’s always had to keep control of inside his body. He’s always had to work to keep it tramped down. But this mental break causes it to explode out of him, killing everybody. So a retcon to the Speed Force is the real murderer.
Wally says he then went back inside Sanctuary and saw that Booster Gold and Harley Quinn hadn’t come outside yet. So he uses his control over the computer systems to make them think they watched the other murder Wally. Then he traveled 5 days into the future to meet his future self and the revived Poison Ivy, as we saw at the end of last issue. His future self gives him some instructions, then Wally snaps his neck and brings the body back 5 days to the crime scene. He positions the bodies and lays down all the forensic evidence necessary to confuse Barry Allen and Batman, then positions Booster and Harley into position for the start of the series.
Wally then tells the camera that he had now given himself five days to do something good for the world.
Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.
Let’s start with the things I liked. I liked the whole general idea of how and why Wally was the killer. I like that King has taken all of the crap DC Comics has done to the character of Wally West and turned it into solid character development for him in canon. Having that happen to a person and their family would definitely be soul-crushing. So I like that whole concept.
What I didn’t like is pretty much everything else.
I don’t like how this issue is just Wally explaining everything to the camera/reader. I’m too lazy to look back over all my reviews to previous Heroes in Crisis issues, but I’m pretty sure I called this happening. That the mystery in this comic would remain a mystery until we reached the point where King just told us what happened. We’ve reached that point, but I didn’t think he was going to be so blunt in the retelling. There’s no cleverness, so actual sense of solving the mystery. We’ve just reached the point in the story where King tells us what happened. That feels anti-climactic.
I also don’t like how King used a retcon to the Speed Force as the killer. Wally didn’t snap after what DC Comics did to him. King just came up with a new facet of the Speed Force and introduced us to it immediately before using it to kill everybody. That seems like solid bullshit to me.
I also don’t like how none of this justifies all of the character slaughter. Nothing has happened in Heroes in Crisis to justify Heroes in Crisis. Granted, this comic may be going over my head. That happens a lot with Tom King comics. There are a lot of King comics that are praised as the greatest thing ever, but I just don’t see it. So maybe Tom King comics just aren’t for me. I like his work when he sticks true to the heroes and comes up with something fun and clever for them to do. I don’t like his work when he’s toying with heady, poetic, philosophical concepts. Heroes in Crisis is probably that and perhaps I just don’t get it.
Still, I’m willing to let the final issue prove me wrong. I’m also prepared for it to solve nothing.
TL;DR: The artistry is on point, and some of the ideas work, but the penultimate issue of Heroes in Crisis does little more than just explain what happened.
Mr. & Mrs. X #10
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Oscar Bazaldua
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
The one Kelly Thompson comic that hasn’t been cancelled yet remains as strong as ever!
Gambit, Rogue and Spiral fight off Mojo, with help from the Mojoworld rebels. Rogue cuts loose with her new powers to hold Mojo back while Gambit retrieves the baby he kidnapped for Spiral — who reveals that it’s not a baby, it’s a piece of her soul that Mojo has been holding prisoner and people see different things when they look at it. So Spiral gets her full soul back. Then everybody sets it up so that Rogue and Spiral distract Mojo while Gambit makes the whole palace explode!
Spiral then teleports the two of them home and Rogue and Remy enjoy some quality time together. They eventually check their texts and voice mails to see what they missed, and Rogue rushes off to help Carol Danvers in the current Captain Marvel storyline…even though her explanation here doesn’t line up at all with what actually happens over in the Captain Marvel comic. Which is super weird, since Thompson is writing them both.
When Rogue is game, Gambit’s father steps out of the shadows and declares that his son needs to return to New Orleans for a new problem.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Just a quick note, because this is bugging me: the ending here with Rogue going off to help Captain Marvel does not line up with Rogue’s actual cameo in Captain Marvel. In this comic, Rogue says that Carol reached out to her to help with something on Roosevelt Island, which is strange, because Carol would never reach out to Rogue for help. But Rogue goes anyway, assuming it’s important. Whereas in the actual Captain Marvel comic, Carol is surprised to see Rogue (under the sway of the villain), and there was no time for Carol to call anyone for help, let alone Rogue. The only idea I can think of is that the villain somehow spoofed Carol’s phone number and/or voice to leave Rogue a voice mail or text to come to Roosevelt Island for an ambush. I guess that works, but it’s not very clear.
Anyway, that aside, this was another super fun and enjoyable issue of the Gambit and Rogue ongoing adventures! Thompson continues to excel at writing both characters, giving them plenty of excitement to deal with. Seeing Rogue actually go toe-to-toe with Mojo was a blast, as was seeing Rogue absorb both Mojo and Spiral. It’s always fun to see Rogue’s body start to change when she’s absorbing someone, and Thompson and Bazaldua knock it out of the park. It’s an energetic and lively fight.
The real strength of the issue is the fun character work. Gambit and Rogue have such a natural, charming chemistry with one another. It’s light and positive and really enjoyable to read. They work so well as a team, having each other’s backs. Spiral is a great third party. She’s just as fun to read, with a bit of a harder edge that cuts nicely across the friendly/romantic banter of the main characters. Spiral was a great addition to the storyline and I’m sad to see the comic moving on with out her.
TL;DR: The strong character work and the energetic artwork keep making Mr. & Mrs. X the best X-Men comic.
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Andres Genolet
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
The new artist is great. Runaways remains awesome. Fun for everybody!
The Runaways go about their daily routines, set against the backdrop of Victor Mancha having nightmares that he couldn’t help Gert when they were being attacked. Karolina returns to her college to own up to the fact that she’s been skipping classes and missing finals. Chase and Nico go to work. Molly doesn’t want to go to school anymore and nobody is quite sure how to parent that, so they just give her space. Gib hungers, but they can’t get him to eat human food. Nobody knows how to properly repair Doombot. Victor feels especially helpless.
So at the end of the issue, Victor drops his head into a bathtub full of water and starts growing a spine and veins from out of his neck!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
This was another delightful issue of Runaways fun. I love when this series treats these characters and their lives as routine. Not every issue of every comic book needs a super-villain to fight. The Runaways, especially, need grounded, real-life adventures to make them standout. I love checking back in on Karolina’s college (and I hope she doesn’t drop out! Honestly, she should be living in the dorm and visiting the team regularly). I love the struggle of trying to parent Molly when none of them know how to do it. I love the idea that they’re juggling normal stuff like their day jobs with having to fix Doctor Doom-designed robots. I love everything about this issue.
The scenes where everybody, including Old Lace, struggle with figure out what to do with Gib are a real treat. Rowell excels in finding the cute and fun moments in these characters’ daily lives, and that’s what makes Runaways such an enjoyable comic every single issue. The ongoing storylines also don’t fail to disappoint, and I’m excited to see where this goes for Victor. There are a lot of lingering stories for him that Rowell has been teasing since the very beginning. I look forward to seeing that stuff come to fruition.
And as I said, I really like the new artist. He keeps the look shockingly close to what Kris Anka was doing. The faces of the characters look nearly identical to Anka. It felt like a simple filter had been put over the artwork. That’s pretty cool.
TL;DR: Another fun, at-home issue of Runaways finds time to give all of the characters either something delightful to do or something serious to stew about.
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 April 27, 2019, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Superman, X-Men and tagged Action Comics, Doctor Doom, Fantastic Four, Flash, Gambit, Heroes in Crisis, Lois Lane, Mojo, Mr. & Mrs. X, Rogue, Runaways, The Flash, Wally West. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.