Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 6/22/19
New comics! They’ve come out! And I’ve read a couple! Like Batman! And Guardians of the Galaxy! And even Captain America! What a time to be alive.
Comic Book of the Week goes to Go Go Power Rangers: Forever Rangers #1, an oversized issue that didn’t need to be that at all. But here we are. It’s a fun, action-packed issue that promises to kick off more to come!
Meanwhile, I dunno, I don’t have much else going on at the moment. What about you peeps? Any new comic recommendations for me?
Comic Reviews: Batman #73, Captain America #11, Guardians of the Galaxy #6, Go Go Power Rangers: Forever Rangers #1, Unstoppable Wasp #9.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Tom King’s work is so difficult to judge. This issue is well-crafted and I suppose entertaining…but, man, is it light on content. Unless, as always, I can safely assume I’m missing all of the subtext.
Batman’s dad takes an unconscious Bruce on a ride out into the desert. Batman’s dad repeatedly sings “Home on the Range” (including the verses that nobody knows) while fighting off attack squads from Ra’s al Ghul. When Bruce wakes up, Batman’s dad comforts him and explains they’re on the road to Khadym. Bruce eventually deduces that the coffin they’ve been carting around contains the body of his mother, and Batman’s dad is going to use the Super Lazarus Pit to resurrect her so that they can become a family again. They don’t say if it’s Bruce’s mom or if it’s Batman’s dad’s wife from the alternate dimension. Probably the latter.
Bruce seems pretty chill with this plan and he digs his own Batman cowl out of the saddlebag. He wonders where his life has led him, and Batman’s dad says it has led to this, where they will be a happy family again.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This is a perfectly fine and entertaining issue that moves the already interesting story along nicely, but man oh man, this is a bare bones issue. The bulk of the issue is just Batman’s dad riding on a horse through a very empty desert, casually singing “Home on the Range” to himself, with an unconscious Bruce on the back of his horse and the coffin dragging behind. Occasionally he fits a couple of nondescript ninjas. When Bruce does wake up, I found those parts enjoyable. As much as I dislike the idea of this Flashpoint Batman character being any sort of major player in a regular universe story, I will say that having Bruce get to casually interact with a version of his father was pretty neat. Has that ever been done before? Alternate reality father, sure, but still a version of his father. Their scenes are brief and kind of sparse, but there’s a subtle energy to them, of something new and interesting. And then the issue ends before it can really get going.
Also, I love Mikel Janin on this comic, so nothing but high praise for the art.
TL;DR: A lonely, sparse issue keeps the story moving well enough, with some new ideas. But mostly this feels like a bare bones issue, relying more on tone than content.
Captain America #11
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artists: Adam Kubert
Colorist: Matt Milla
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Things are heating up and are very exciting!
Captain America, the Wrecking Crew and the other criminals fight their way out of prison, taking on guards and Americops. Meanwhile, the Daughters of Liberty are running two ops: 1.) Seize the Foreigner, and 2.) Rescue Cap. The fight between Dryad and Foreigner ends poorly when Crossbones kills the Foreigner. But the other team handily captures Von Strucker and rescues Cap (after the villains betray him to make their own getaway).
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Pretty cool prison riot fight. If I can be nitpicky, I wish Coates and Kubert had picked some more interesting and/or visually cool villains to team up with Cap in his prison break riot, but it’s not that big of a deal. Coates has built up the Wrecking Crew rather well since Cap went into lockup, and all the villains are used well in this issue. I especially enjoyed the betrayal in the end, and Cap’s resignation that it was obvious. There’s also a fun moment that feels ripped straight from the first Avengers movie. Cap tries giving orders, but the villains don’t want to listen, then he pulls off some insane shield stunt and everybody is in awe. Wrecker quickly steps in and issues the same orders and everybody quickly falls in line. It was fun.
The Daughters of Liberty remain a really weird fit for this comic. There’s no real thematic feel to Invisible Woman being the one to help Cap escape the prison. Those two characters have never been close. Why not let it all come down to Cap rallying a team of villains on his own to make this getaway? Though I suppose it does all come together when Cap’s confidence in his allies pays off at the end. The villains betray him in the escape, as they are wont to do, but Cap’s friends are there to save him. So I guess that’s good.
But the second storyline is far weaker. We still know so very little about the Dryad, and nothing we’ve seen so far gives me any reason to care. And yet she’s the one with the badass fight against the Foreigner. Why not use Spider-Woman? Or flesh out the Dryad into a better character? And then that fight ends with Crossbones killing the Foreigner, which is hugely disappointing. The Foreigner is a little used character with a pretty cool and unique M.O. Whereas Crossbones is used in pretty much every Captain America story. Why trade this awesome, unique villain you’ve brought into your comic for the second most overused villain Captain America has? But perhaps the Foreigner is still alive and Coates will surprise me.
TL;DR: The action picks up and pays off in a really cool issue of Captain America, though it’s not without its nitpicks.
Guardians of the Galaxy #6
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Geoff Shaw
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Consider me pleasantly surprised!
The Guardians and the remaining Dark Guardians team up and take the fight directly to Hela, the Black Order and their attempts to resurrect Thanos. It’s a nasty fight, with Cosmic Ghost Rider getting taken out (and transferred to the Avengers comic for some reason). Gamora fights her way up to Eros and kills him before the psychic transfer is complete, much to Peter’s disappointment that killing was her plan. Enough of the transfer went through that Thanos is reborn, but he’s pretty far from 100%. Hela gets pissed and tries to blast them all with another black hole bomb, but Beta Ray Bill deflects the bomb into Thanos. Lockjaw teleports everybody away and the bad guys all die in a new black hole.
In the aftermath and recovery, Quill admits to Gamora that he loves her, but she doesn’t know what to do with that. Then everybody goes out for congratulatory drinks, with all the hangers-on finding excuses to leave. The remaining Guardians, new and old, now need to figure out what to do about Rocket Raccoon.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
How nice is it that they didn’t just bring back Thanos? I thought for sure that was the entire point! But nope, it’s just this fun storyline, which ends with a solid battle sequence and some good aftermath stuff. Cates’ enjoyable grasp on all of these characters serves him well as we enter battle, with a lot of nice standout moments from most of the characters. Beta Ray Bill gets a couple of great moments in this issue, so you know I’m happy.
Cates also brings the storyline itself to a really good conclusion, with Gamora killing Starfox. Not just that, but she does so by telling Quill that he was wrong to try and save her, that she would have killed herself in a heartbeat had the threat been real. And then Starfox gets a moment before death to reluctantly accept that he was the true target of Thanos. It’s a really nice ending to the specific storyline in this opening chapter, rather than everybody just fighting to end it. And the epilogue, from Peter telling Gamora he loves her, to everybody getting together at the bar, is again full of enjoyable character moments. I’ve had my doubts about this series — and I still don’t particularly like the garish art — but Cates brings it all together for a strong ending.
TL;DR: The opening storyline ends well, with a nice fight, a few twists and strong character work throughout.
Go Go Power Rangers: Forever Rangers #1
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artists: Eleonora Carlini and Francesco Mortarino
Colorist: Raul Angulo, with assistance from Katherine Lobo
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
I didn’t really know this going in, but this is a big wrap-up issue for everything we’ve read so far. It feels a little rushed, if I’m being honest. After this, Parrott is going to also take on the main Mighty Morphin series, with help from Sina Grace on Go Go. There’s going to be another crossover, focused on the White Ranger, while Go Go will move on to its own re-interpretation of the Green Ranger Saga.
Considering the Green Power Ranger is one of my all-time favorite characters in all of pop culture, you best believe I’m excited to see what Parrott does with that story in Go Go Power Rangers. But for now, let’s see how this all wraps up.
We open with a brief flashback to when Zordon first came online in his tube thingy. It’s a cool moment, but is over too quickly.
In the present day, Alpha-1 traps the Rangers in an energy dome and flies off to confront Zordon directly at the Command Center. Goldar breaks the Rangers out, because he doesn’t want that stupid machine stealing his victory. The Rangers summon their Zords and take on Giant Alpha-1, but he handles them easily. Not even the Megazord is any help, as Alpha-1 grabs their Power Sword and runs them through! The Rangers are forced to turn into the Tank form, but that isn’t much help either.
So Zordon sends out Alpha-5 dressed in the new armor Billy was building! Alpha-5 is enough of a distraction for the Rangers to get the upper hand and destroy Alpha-1. They head down into the wreckage afterwards to find him, but Alpha-1 self destructs his body, letting his consciousness download into some backup location.
Meanwhile, Rita decides to use her mother’s ghost to unlock the Green Power Coin, even as her mother insists Rita will be redeemed someday.
In the aftermath, the Rangers return to school and deal with some of their outstanding issues. Trini and Jason decide that they can’t be a couple, because the distraction would interfere with their work as Rangers. We see the before and after events of the new continuity that Rita kidnapped Zach to offer him the Green Power Coin, but no new details are added. Jason goes to a karate tournament, where he takes on a new kid in a green shirt.
And Kimberly sits down with the school counselor, who tries to get Kim to open up about her parents’ divorce. Kim isn’t having it, still upset that her parents won’t talk to her like an adult. The counselor insists that sometimes people can’t find the words in an emotional situation, which clicks for Kim as being exactly what’s happened to her and Matt. The next time she sees him, she gives him a hug and an apology. Matt returns it and they go their separate ways.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
If I’m being honest, real quick, this didn’t feel like a big wrap-up issue. It didn’t need to be oversized. Alpha-1 has only been around for a couple of issues now, and defeating him wasn’t too hard or emotionally taxing. It feels like BOOM! wanted to rush through this story to get to the new stuff. Which is fine. I’m excited for the new stuff as well. And this was still an enjoyable issue. The Rangers use all of their tricks to win an epic battle, with some quality character stuff throughout. I enjoyed the lore-rich flashback at the beginning, and Goldar helping the Rangers escape is always a fun little twist.
The really enjoyable parts of the issue are, as always, the character stuff…but this issue loses some of its energy because of existing continuity. Like, we know Trini and Jason can’t be a couple, so it’s disappointing that they call it off. And we’ve already seen the moment where Rita offers Zach the Green Power Coin, so there’s no reason to replay the whole thing here. It’s a cool moment, but Parrott can’t fully explore it. And then there’s nothing really for Billy to wrap-up. They are all well-written scenes, but they do feel cut off at the knees.
The best and possibly worst moment comes for Kimberly.
On the one hand, I love her scene with the counselor and how Parrott expertly connects the ongoing divorce storyline with Kimberly’s own love life problems. I didn’t see that parallel coming, so that reveal was a great part of the epilogue. Everything fell into place nicely.
On the other hand, if a quick hug and a “sorry” is the end of the Matt storyline, man…that is hugely disappointing. For now, I’m going to reserve judgement that Parrott has more planned for Matt. His very existence and how that might impact the history of the Power Rangers has been one of the strongest stories in Go Go. His existence justified retelling the early days of the Rangers, as if there was some great secret he could be part of. But it’s going to be HUGELY disappointing if Matt’s story ends with him just going off with some other friends and the Rangers gladly putting him behind them.
But like I said, I’m going to reserve judgement.
Also, having Tommy cameo at the end, an obvious move, is always a treat. No fault there.
The art feels a little rushed, especially at the end. You’ll notice the blank backgrounds in the two pictures I just posted. The credits obviously show some artistic help, which does make me wonder if this issue was indeed rushed to get to the end. Perhaps it was supposed to be two separate issues, the fight and the aftermath, but BOOM! wanted it over and done with so they rushed the art and made it a single, oversized issue. The sloppy art isn’t a deal breaker, but it’s definitely noticeable.
TL;DR: An era of Go Go Power Rangers apparently comes to an end with a solid, enjoyable, action-packed issue. Good fight and strong character work, though the whole thing feels a little rushed, as if it was meant to just be two normal issues of the regular series.
Unstoppable Wasp #9
Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
I think I’m just going to have to accept that Unstoppable Wasp is merely a nice, pleasant comic instead of the deep character revolution I’d hoped we’d get.
The problem might be me. I’ve been looking for deep character revolutions in all my media, and everything comes up lacking. I don’t know what I’m necessarily looking for or missing…
Everybody fights the bad guys, with a couple of fun character moments throughout. More specifically, the new villain is named Fantasma, and she can both hologram to look like anybody, and phase. She mocks Nadia for a bit, phasing through her attacks, but Nadia eventually short-circuits some of her gear. Fantasma escapes and runs into Janet and Taina, who have just taken down Whirlwind. Fantasma uses her holograms to get close and knock them both out. Meanwhile, Monica and her AIM goons are rounding up all the girl geniuses, including the rest of the cast — through Priya does get to briefly use her new plant powers to take out some bad guys.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This is an overall fun issue, with a lot of nice individual scenes, but the series remains unfortunately skin deep. Maybe I’m expecting too much from comics these days. This should be perfectly fine. Nadia and her various friends face off against various bad guys, with great art and solid character work. The tension ratchets up for the big conclusion,and everybody gets at little moment or two to shine. It’s quite enjoyable. Whitley has a lot for these characters to do and he pulls it off splendidly, giving even minor characters their own subplots. He’s been low key telling a weird/creepy story about the Wasp and Whirlwind since Volume 1, and it gets even weirder and creepier here. One almost feels sorry for the guy. And Priya has fun with her new plant-based powers, even if the “Evil Priya” subplot didn’t amount to much.
I’m not big on the new villain, Fantasma. The design is cool, looking like a wacky, digital motion-capture suit. But Whitley hasn’t had time to really flesh out the character, and he doesn’t really use this issue to flesh them out much at all. A lot of the issue is taken up by Fantasma taunting/fighting Nadia, but the only kernel of information about her is that she wants to tarnish Hank Pym’s legacy? That’s not much of a villain. I would have liked a bit more depth to the character considering how much of the series has been building to them.
I would have liked a bit more depth to everything, honestly. On the surface, Unstoppable Wasp is a fun and enjoyable comic. But there’s little to no real drama between the characters, good or evil. And that’s just plain disappointing.
TL;DR: Enjoyable, action-packed issue that doesn’t have much bite, but is nonetheless more quality Unstoppable Wasp content.
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 June 22, 2019, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews and tagged Beta Ray Bill, Boom!, Captain America, Go Go Power Rangers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Power Rangers, Unstoppable Wasp, Wasp. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.