Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 6/29/19
In only a few short days, we’ll get to watch Spider-Man: Far From Home! I’m quite jazzed, as the movie has been getting rave reviews, with a lot of people really hyping up the post-credits scenes. I’ve done fairly well at avoiding spoilers for Marvel movies recently, so I’m excited for next week! Got my ticket for opening night on Tuesday!
No Spider-Man comics this week, because I’m just not reading any. I keep meaning to fix that. But we do have a couple issues of Ms. Marvel and Runaways! In terms of big issues, we’ve got the finale of War of the Realms, which is solid, and the finale of Mr. & Mrs. X, which is nice, but the fanboy in me is giving Comic Book of the Week to the next big Mighty Morphin Power Rangers kick-off!
BOOM! Studios and their Power Rangers creative teams have been injecting pure fanboy nostalgia into my veins for nearly the entire length of their comics. It’s insane.
Meanwhile, X-Tremists wrapped up this week with a nice send-off for the only Age of X-Man comic worth reading. Hopefully we get some better closure with the Omega issue, because I want to see what happens to Blob when he has to weigh his old, evil life against the good-ish person he was in Age of X-Man. I fear we’re never going to get that closure.
Comic Reviews: Magnificent Ms. Marvel #4, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #40, Mr. & Mrs. X #12, Runaways #22 and War of the Realms #6.
The Magnificent Ms. Marvel #4
Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Artist: Minkyu Jung
Inker: Juan Vlasco
Colorist: Ian Herring
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Oy, my patience is getting stretched pretty thin with this one. It’s as if Ahmed opened up The Big Book of Space Adventure Cliches and just went with that.
Kamala saved everybody from the crashing spaceship, and then the handsome young rebel leader leads her and her parents to the rebel base. Along the way, we find out he’s the son of the evil ruler, because of course he is. He and Kamala do some surface level bonding, while her parents do some surface level tut-tutting. He has a name, but I can’t be bothered to look it up, because everybody and every thing has a weird alien name. Everybody except for the prince’s big-sized old buddy, who is named “Knuckle”, and is clearly the Little John type of sidekick. Also, at one point, Kamala rushes to the aid of some random villager who is being needlessly harassed by the ruler’s security forces, because that’s how cliches work.
No sooner do they arrive at the hidden rebel base than the evil emperor and his troops attack, leading to a big fight. The ruler lords over all of it…and then a big portal opens up and the ancient evil beasts arrive, much to everyone’s shock.
Also, in a flashback, we see that Kamala and Bruno were in the middle of declaring their feelings for one another when they randomly spotted Kamala’s dad walking through town with a strange woman. We also learn that something happened between Kamala and Bruno that led to them not becoming a couple.
Comic Rating: 4/10 – Pretty Bad.
Ugh, I just can’t with this comic. I’m ready to start tearing out my hair with how boringly generic it all is. The rebel hero is really the son of the evil emperor? The emperor’s goon security forces go around terrorizing innocent peasants? The handsome, heroic rebel leader has a big-sized sidekick with a simple, meaty name? This entire planet’s political structure can be summed up as evil empire vs. peasant rebels? Even though they have advanced, space age technology? Is this really all this comic is about? Part of me is holding out hope that Ahmed is going to pull the rug out from under us soon and reveal some Matrix-like twist, but if so, he’s not doing anything to set it up. He’s just created the most boring and generic of alien planets and plopped Kamala Kahn in the middle of it, even though she has zero connection to it on a personal or emotional level. This is an issue spent just info-dumping all the various details to Kamala, and she just nods along like it’s all no big deal. Neither she nor her parents are excited anymore about being on an alien planet. Her parents don’t get to do as much as they did last issue, providing only some comedy relief. This whole story is frustratingly unimaginative.
The art is great, at least.
TL;DR: This feels like a comic written for and by fifth-graders. As if some young fan-fiction writer plopped their Mary Sue hero into their own beginner attempt at world-building a Star Wars.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #40
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Daniele Di Nicuolo
Colorist: Walter Baiamonte, with assists from Daniele Ienuso
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
I’m glad to be back reading the regular Mighty Morphin series. I dropped out of the weird, inter-dimensional adventure from the past few issues. It wasn’t for me. Now we’re back to exploring the inner workings of a more established Power Rangers team, jumping ahead in time to beyond the original squad. I love it!
We pick up shortly after new Rangers Adam, Rocky and Aisha joined the team, when Trini, Jason and Zach went off to a peace conference. Tommy is also the new team leader as the White Ranger. But the transition isn’t easy. Kimberly, especially, seems to be having trouble accepting the new, less-experienced Rangers to the team, and the new trio are indeed feeling a bit overwhelmed. They’re at a new school, they’re responsible for saving the universe, and they’re stepping into someone else’s well-worn shoes. Meanwhile, Lord Zedd is now the villain, and he’s brought in the alien bad guy Dayne to help him out.
We also check in with Trini, Jason and Zach, who…didn’t actually end up at a peace conference in Switzerland. Instead, they seem to be on some secret Rangers mission to either an alien planet or into the Morphin Grid itself!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Once again, the BOOM! Studios’ Power Rangers comics prove their worth by delivering that sweet, sweet character drama I love. They read-between-the-lines of what life surely would have been like to the characters on the TV show to really delve into the situation with charm and attention to detail. Of course it would have been weird for everyone involved for Rocky, Adam and Aisha to suddenly show up and take over for three original Rangers! And I love the ways Parrott plays with that, from the three of them being weirded out at being Rangers, to having Kimberly be off-puttingly aggressive towards the change. Likewise, we’ve got Tommy feeling a little bitter that three of his best friends left the team for some civilian “peace conference”, leaving the Rangers to fight a war.
This issue was full of wonderful character drama that really delved deep into these characters and their situation, which is exactly what I want from these BOOM! Studios’ Power Rangers comics.
Parrott also finds a lot of great ways to tie this drama into what they’re doing as Rangers, from the old guard unable to fully rely on the new guard to pull off their coordinated maneuvers, to stuff like Tommy struggling with the awesome new White Light power. This issue succeeds in feeling like a normal part of the tapestry while simultaneously setting up new storylines and dramatic character arcs going forward.
And, obviously, I am 100% in favor of Parrott and BOOM! coming up with a retconned adventure for Jason, Zach and Trini! We know in real life that those three were sent to a “peace conference” because of contract disputes. It will be far more exciting to send them on an awesome Power Rangers adventure!
TL;DR: The new Power Rangers storyline kicks everything off in a big new way, from new character drama to exciting retcons of classic TV show storylines.
Mr. & Mrs. X #12
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Javier Pina
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
This is the end of Mr. & Mrs. X, and that’s fine. This was a really good comic, but the X-Men are in need of a Hickman-level rebooting. And that title has always been too much of a mouthful.
Candra makes Gambit choose to sacrifice either Rogue or Bella Donna so that Candra can regain her powers. Gambit somehow overcomes his power-negating collar to explode some ball bearings he’d secreted away. So he escapes, he busts Rogue out, she busts Bella Donna out, everybody fights, Gambit’s dad shows up and the good guys win. Gambit declares that he will remain the King of the Thieves, but his dad will act as his proxy while he is away. Gambit, Rogue and his dad all go visit Tante Mattie, who asks when they’ll have kids. Gambit and Rogue then return home to their lives in New York, the thought of children left a tantalizing tease.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Yeah, this was a good, solid, enjoyable action issue as the current storyline is wrapped up and Thompson gets a couple of pages to say goodbye to the two lead characters. I’m most disappointed that she never had time to really delve into the drama between Gambit and Rogue. This comic always hinted at some really strong character drama just below the surface, but then it spent all its time on one crazy adventure after another. Thompson rarely had the chance, or gave herself the chance, to have the characters stop and smell the roses. That’s disappointing, and would have really elevated this series as a whole. But for a fun, adventurous comic starring two strong characters, Mr. & Mrs. X succeeds.
This issue is good, for what it is. Aside from not explaining how Gambit is able to use his powers (a story beat I admit I may have missed), it’s all fun. He busts out, Rogue gets in on the action, Bella Donna has some solid moments, then his dad shows up; it’s all fun. It’s all fighting and adventure and some swashbuckling. Then the ending is nice. I’d never heard of Tante Mattie, but she’s been part of Gambit’s supporting cast since the 90s, and it’s a fun, if short, scene of Gambit and Rogue getting to act like real people with a real family. I enjoyed that. And the ending is sweet, as they prepare for their lives ahead, while considering children and wanting to support their fur babies. It’s all just pleasant, and that’s a good way to bring this comic to an end.
TL;DR: Filled with both cool action and pleasant character moments, the final issue of this short series ends on a high note. Mr. & Mrs. X is a delightful comic that really knows what to do with its lead characters.
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Andres Genolet
Colorist: Michael Garland
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
I’m glad that Runaways remains reliably enjoyable.
After rescuing that little girl in a previous issue, Karolina has taken to flying around town in a mask trying to help people. She saves a guy whose window-washing gear malfunctioned, leaving him hanging, but she has a bit of trouble with the rescue. Still, she’s in a great mood when she gets back home. She has a nice flirty scene with Nico, who is both confused and pleased with her girlfriend’s upbeat demeanor.
Chase is in a terrible mood now that he knows Victor and Gert are a couple. Chase went back in time to save Gert because he loved her…but now they can’t be together, because not only has Gert moved on, and she’s only 16, while Chase is 20. Such are the dangers of time travel! Chase is also rebuilding Doombot, and when Victor comes in to help, Chase snaps at him for stealing Gert. Victor helps turn Doombot back on, except that Chase inadvertently removed the device that kept him from going full Doctor Doom. Sure enough, when Doombot wakes up, he’s full Doctor Doom and starts fighting everybody. So Victor plugs in, shocks them both and confronts Doombot inside the programming.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
I was delightfully pleased when Rowell made the connection between Chase’s jealousy and the story that started this comic, with him going back in time to save Gert. I’d forgotten all about that part. It adds a really great wrinkle to the Gert/Victory storyline that I hadn’t considered, and Rowell does such good work with it! Even though Chase went to all that trouble to save Gert, there are so many complicating factors! He just wanted to save the woman he loves, with the hopes of having a future with her again. But there’s so much trouble involved! I love how their age difference is an issue. She’s 16 and he’s grown up to be 20. That’s a definite no-no. But in five years, she’ll be 21 and he’ll be 25, which isn’t a problem at all! But at the same time, Chase isn’t waiting for that to happen, that would be creepy.
All Chase wanted to do was save his girlfriend, but there are so many logical problems that life now sucks! It’s great drama!
Karolina also gets some quality storytelling this issue — though considering this is the Marvel Universe, I feel like she’d do a better job of coming up with a superhero identity and costume. Minor quibble. It’s a nice switch to Karolina’s storyline, as she’s dealt with anxiety and depression. I’m a little disappointed that she’s dropped out of college to be a Runaway full-time, but I can live with it. And the cute moment she gets with a curious/suspicious Nico is great.
The meat of the issue is this fight with Doombot, which is solid action. It’s nestled in the sweet idea that everyone is excited for Doombot to come back, especially Molly, making the fight a lot more complex. That’s what is so great about Runaways: everything is so delightfully complex!
TL;DR: Runaways continues to find delightfulness in all of its stories, both the character-driven drama and the character-driven action!
The War of the Realms #6
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
I will be kind to this finale. War of the Realms never surprised me or delivered any big twists or reveals. It really was just one big fight. And here at the end, I’m fine with that.
After chaining himself to the new World Tree growing out of the Sun and sacrificing an eye, Thor learns that the best way to defeat Malekith is another team up with Old Thor and Young Thor. Jane Foster joins the party with Ultimate Mjolnir and the lot of them head out to Stonehenge to fight Malekith. It’s a fun little slobber-knocker, and Thor wins when Mjolnir comes back and he’s worthy enough to lift it again. Then a crazed Malekith is torn apart by his own war dogs.
Elsewhere, the rest of the heroes fight against Laufey, who is finally defeated when Jane smacks him with Ultimate Mjolnir (destroying it at last), and Loki cuts himself out of Laufey’s gullet after Daredevil tricked the frost giant into swallowing Heimdall’s sword.
In the end, all of the Ten Realms begin to recover. And Odin bows down to his son, passing on leadership to the new All-Father Thor!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
It was fine. I remain disappointed that there were no great truths or surprises or reveals throughout The War of the Realms. The years of storytelling and build-up all led to Thor just smacking Malekith with Mjolnir, with Malekith being little more than evil for evil’s sake. The stakes never felt very serious in this event. A threat came to Earth, the heroes were pushed back initially, but they immediately rallied and fought back and won. And Thor was held just slightly out of action until it was time for him to enter the action smack Malekith with his hammer. It’s all so frustratingly simple.
But it was also still big and exciting and extremely well-drawn, with enough small moments to be worthwhile.
I liked the return of Mjolnir, even though it was obvious. I liked Thor accepting the hammer by declaring him the “God of the unworthy”, which was fun. I liked Odin passing on the title of “All-Father” to Thor at the end. That’s a great change to move the character forward. I liked Jane returning to battle wielding the hammer of the War Thor, though it didn’t have much of an effect on her. She was just normal Jane Thor instead of some crazy Jane War Thor version, which would have been more fun.
Dauterman was the real star of The War of the Realms. While the story left something to be desired, Dauterman delivered some career-high work. I’m now grateful that they took him off the regular series so that he could do this whole event like the total amazing pro that he is. The art is phenomenal.
TL;DR: The finale of War of the Realms is big and cool, with a lot of neat moments, but I feel it was a surface-level event overall.
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 29, 2019, in Comics, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged Boom!, Gambit, Kamala Khan, Magnificent Ms. Marvel, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Mr. & Mrs. X, Ms. Marvel, Power Rangers, Rogue, Runaways, Thor, War of the Realms. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.