Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews -7/27/19
Comic books were on fire this week! A bunch of my favorites came out, including previous favorites that I no longer like! Magnificent Ms. Marvel was another terrible issue, while Tony Stark – Iron Man was another great issue! And we’ve got a strong first issue for the new Jane Foster Valkyrie comic!
This week also saw the big kick-off to Jonathan Hickman’s revamp of the X-Men with House of X #1. I had high hopes for this relaunch…and the first issue delivers in spades! Easily Comic Book of the Week as it ushers in a crazy new X-Men status quo!
Meanwhile, sad news for Champions fans as it has been cancelled. Writer Jim Zub is a stand-up guy, so I’m sad to see his plans fall apart. But count me among the readers that just didn’t connect with the title. Sorry Jim!
Comic Reviews: Guardians of the Galaxy #7, House of X #1, Magnificent Ms. Marvel #5, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #41, Tony Stark – Iron Man #14 and Valkyrie #1.
Guardians of the Galaxy #7
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Cory Smith
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
I remain mostly unimpressed with this Guardians of the Galaxy comic, but that’s not saying much. I haven’t liked any of the Guardians comics I’ve read since the movie came out. But it’s a generally fine comic.
A new mothership for the Universal Church of Truth has mysteriously arrived in space, possibly from the future. A ton of Nova Corps show up to investigate, but they’re seemingly wiped out. The Guardians get a message from Peter’s dad that his people went to investigate and also got wiped out mid-message. Peter tells the team to suit up, they’re going to investigate. Half the crew teleport on board the ship and are captured, while Moondragon and Groot flee in their new spaceship. The leader of the Universal Church of Truth reveals himself to be Peter’s dad, and he uses the ship’s mysterious new powers to mind control most of the team. Only Peter is spared.
Moondragon and Groot, meanwhile, have found Rocket Raccoon for help. But Rocket looks like he’s dying from intense space cancer.
Also, Peter and Gamora slept together, if you’re into the drama.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This issue is a good, solid kick-off to the next Guardians of the Galaxy storyline. It’s got classic cosmic elements, like the Universal Church of Truth, along with fun action and high stakes. I’m a little annoyed at them wiping out the Nova Corps again, because that seems to happen every week, but I can get over it. The threat of the villains is firmly established, with a twist at the end to reveal it’s personal for the Guardians. Our heroes ride into battle with a bit of character development, and things look dire at the end. Then we get the twist about Rocket being sick and this all makes for a solid, enjoyable, and pretty standard comic book. There’s really not much to praise or nitpick. Beta Ray Bill doesn’t get much to do. I don’t particularly care for Peter and Gamora hooking up (I’m a big Nova/Gamora ‘shipper from the Annihilation days), but I enjoyed their banter as Gamora insisted on naming their new ship after a sexy male human instead of yet another sexy female from Peter’s past pop culture loves. It’s good, solid stuff.
TL;DR: Guardians of the Galaxy kicks off a new story with some neat surprises and some good, solid storytelling.
House of X #1
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Claytown Cowles
Brace yourselves. There’s a lot to take in and all of it is either good or crazy. Or crazy good.
So basically, Charles Xavier is back in charge and he has created a new mutant world. The island of Krakoa is situated in the Pacific Ocean, and it is a new mutant homeland (think Genosha and/or Utopia). There are embassies and portals all over the world, because Xavier and all the mutants haven’t been shy about letting normal humans know that they are now going to be this big, international agency. In fact, the mutants have come up with three new pills to offer humanity in exchange for sovereignty: a pill that extends the human life by 5 years, a pill that works as a super-antibiotic and a pill that cures all mental illnesses. These pills are all grown from Krakoa-native plants, and Krakoa also provides the portals.
Now let’s get into the actual issue.
We open with the new Xavier looking up a tree covered in pods. People emerge from these pods like Neo from the Matrix. So it looks like Xavier is somehow growing the X-Men out of these pods. One of the people appears to be Cyclops. I dunno. This is just the cold open and we don’t come back to it.
In one story, Magneto and the Stepford Cuckoos show a group of human ambassadors around some of the various embassies. It gives everybody a quick primer on what the scope of this new status quo looks like. In the end, the Cuckoos reveal that most of the ambassadors are spies from their governments to gain more info. Magneto tells them this whole tour was just for show anyway. Mutants are their new gods now.
In another story, Mystique, Sabretooth and Toad break into Damage Control to download all of the data they have on Reed Richards and Tony Stark. A short time ago, Reed was missing and Tony was dead, so Damage Control took control of their various outstanding technological whatnots, as that is a secret function of the company: to hold onto superhero/villain technology. The Fantastic Four arrive to stop them and manage to capture Sabretooth (Mystique and Toad escape through a portal). Cyclops then arrives through the same portal to request the F4 hand over Sabretooth. Reed is none too happy with the people Sabretooth just killed, so after a tense stand-off, Cyclops relents and lets them take Sabretooth into custody. Cyclops leaves, but not before letting the F4 know that mutants are serious about this, and their son, Franklin, is welcome to join them when he’s ready.
In another story, we find out that various secret agent organizations are working together to use Master Mold to create a human race escape plan. They’re already building Orchid stations in space to escape. Current science predicts mutants will take over the world within 20 years. Karima Shapandar is working with them.
Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.
This is exactly what I wanted for the X-Men. House of X #1 is the real deal. This is a big, sweeping relaunch that provides so much new and interesting material that I’m actually hopeful once again for the X-Men as a franchise. This issue is big and crazy in all the best ways, while staying grounded in the individual identities of the X-Men. Magneto is still Magneto, the Cuckoos are still the Cuckoos, and I absolutely loved that Cyclops scene. These are still the same characters, Hickman has just given them a grand revival into something new.
And he’s created a lot of different threads to follow. From the overall idea of Krakoa and the new mutant nation, to smaller stories like whatever black ops team the evil mutants are on, or the human Master Mold response. This first issue is mostly concerned with world-building and it does a phenomenal job. The issue feels momentous. It feels big and almost scary. But that’s exactly what I want. I grew so bored and disillusioned by the constant reshuffling of mutants and X-teams over the past few years. This issue feels important, and that was key in selling this entire Hickboot to begin with.
Granted, all of this could be some weird swerve. That opening scene, with Xavier welcoming a bunch of pod X-Men, could reveal this all to be some sham. But I hope not. I want something this big and grand to happen to the X-Men, to give them new direction and purpose. This comic delivers on that hype better than I could have hoped.
I want this to be the X-Men.
And on a personal note, there are no signs of Multiple Man, Strong Guy, Mimic, Blob, Maggott, Stacy X or any other of my favorite mutants. I will continue to hold onto hope.
TL;DR: House of X #1 delivers everything I hoped it would and more. It’s the real deal in terms of revamping the X-Men into something bigger and hopefully better.
Magnificent Ms. Marvel #5
Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Artist: Minkyu Jung
Inkers: Juan Vlasco and Jung
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Ms. Marvel finally gets that uglier costume that Marvel promised us a couple of months ago. Thanks, I hate it.
And I hate the ending to this story as much as I hated the story itself. Ugh.
Ms. Marvel and the aliens fight off the beast monsters, with the evil king agreeing to team up with the rebels. The aliens then take Kamala to the Great Machine, with the evil king sacrificing himself to hold off the monsters. Kamala is the only one who can approach the Great Machine and she learns why: it was fixed up by the original Destined One, a Kree soldier who looked like Kamala, who just happened to be passing by and used the Great Machine to stop an invasion of this planet. She also left behind her nano-suit, which finds Kamala and gives her the new costume.
Kamala then uses the Great Machine to blow up the beast monsters’ control ship, and they flee the planet. The day is saved and Kamala is indeed a great hero. Then the aliens teleport her back home, and they make her parents forget the whole thing (as well as her superhero secret). Kamala’s dad then sits her down to let her know he’s sick and dying (called it).
Comic Rating: 3/10 – Bad.
I hated pretty much everything about this issue, but I cannot deny that it’s competently made, and other people probably enjoyed it. But this issue, and this whole opening storyline, are pretty much everything I dislike in comics. It’s tripe. It’s useless, meaningless, space gobbledygook with no bearing on the characters involved and no greater depth to make it worthwhile. This issue represents a fundamental misunderstanding of what made Ms. Marvel such a fun and exciting new character. Nothing matters here. The skin-deep alien conflict is quickly solved with the barest of character development for the evil king, and nothing for the prince. The beast monsters are barely a thing before a magical god machine fixes the problem, with Kamala given a cheat victory by being able to destroy a heretofore unmentioned command ship rather than having to actually shoot monsters.
Then the original Destined One is revealed to be some ancient Kree warrior who looks suspiciously like Kamala, as if Ahmed is setting up some huge reveal down the line that she’s not just your average, ordinary Jersey Girl. If that does indeed prove to be the case, god help us all. Then the new costume is just some nano-bot rubbish that can just magically appear on her at will and do whatever she needs. It’s ugly and unnecessary. Kamala’s original costume looked great and was uniquely tied to the character. Not every superhero is improved by a nano-bot costume.
Kamala’s parents were the only redeeming part of previous issues, but they are reduced to window dressing in this issue. And then, an even bigger indignity, the aliens just wave their hands and the parents FORGET THE WHOLE GORRAM ADVENTURE! What was the fucking point of all of this then?! Kamala’s relationship with her parents is a HUGE part of the drama, and this big leap forward in relationship development is wiped away?! Replaced by the weak, utterly predictable drama that her dad is dying?! HOW IS THAT BETTER?!
TL;DR: This story was the worst Ms. Marvel story I’ve ever read.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #41
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Daniele Di Nicuolo
Colorist: Walter Baiamonte
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
The saga of the Omega Rangers truly begins here!
Jason, Trini and Zack are the Omega Rangers, tasked by the Blue Emissary with helping clean up cracks in the Morphin Grid. They operate out of the planet Safehaven, and they go around finding individuals who have somehow tapped into the Grid following the Shattering. Sometime they recruit these individuals, like Kiya, who has become the Blue Omega Ranger. And sometimes, like in this issue, they come up against someone like Garrison Vox, a ruthless jerk who uses his Grid powers to subjugate others. The Rangers kick his butt and trap him in a stasis vial. Back on Safehaven, the Rangers chat about missing home, but they also feel like they’re right where they need to be.
And we find out that Emissary and his robot partner Xi sure do have a lot of stasis vials hidden away…
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This is a solid, enjoyable kick-off issue to this new Omega Rangers plotline. I’m not sure to what extent we’re going to follow this story in place of the regular Rangers, but I’m on board for now. Parrott sets up most of the typical Ranger aesthetics, from costumes to morphing sequence, and it’s all pretty cool. The Omega Rangers are a strong design, and they kick a ton of butt, which I enjoyed. Kiya seems cool, and this Garrison Vox guy is set up for future stories. Hopefully he’s more than just a generic space villain. Kiya hints at a possible face turn? We’ll see. Like I said, I’m on board with everything Parrott and his team set up with this issue.
More specifically, it’s just another well-written issue of the Power Rangers comic. All of the characters are on point, the new characters are smoothly added to the comic, and Parrott is clearly having a lot of fun setting up his own Power Rangers franchise. There’s also the mystery of the growing prison, which the main Rangers might not know about. The only nitpick I have at this point is that Parrott hasn’t explained why Jason, Trini and Zack can’t tell their old friends about this. Considering the Omega Rangers will also be a part of Go Go Power Rangers, I assume an answer is coming. But I would have liked the answer in this issue, considering there’s an extended sequence of our heroes talking to Billy and Kimberly.
I hope it’s a darn good explanation.
TL;DR: Rewriting Power Rangers history is a daunting task, but the creative team knocks it out of the park with an excellent and entertaining introduction to the Omega Rangers.
Tony Stark – Iron Man #14
Writers: Dan Slott and Jim Zub
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
After a short break for War of the Realms, I’m back reading Iron Man and it sure is great!
Tony Stark has been struggling ever since he took a virtual drink in the eScape…so he simply deletes the past two weeks of memories from his head as if that will solve anything. He invites Captain Marvel over, and while she’s there getting up to speed alongside Tony, the hard drive he stored his memories on is stolen by Spymaster. Tony and Carol head out to fight him in the commandeered Manticore, and it’s a big brawl as Spymaster uses Tony’s memories to activate all 42 of the Iron Man armors. Carol convinces Tony that hiding from his memories is no solution, and Tony gets the motivation he needs to take out Spymaster. He later restores his memories, and everybody realizes it was probably Baintronics that arranged the theft.
Meanwhile, Arno Stark has been reviewing Tony’s memories on how he re-activated and then destroyed their parents’ mind programs. And Jocasta has been struggling with her newfound freedom. She arrives at Baintraonics looking for Arno’s help to upgrade her humanity.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
One should never downplay the serious quality of a well-made, entertaining, almost bread and butter comic. Tony Stark – Iron Man isn’t doing anything that pushes the envelope of comics. It doesn’t have any single thing I would point to as being revolutionary. It’s just a really well-done, wickedly creative comic with a great cast and a lot of neat ideas. Dan Slott has done more for comic book robots in this series than five decades of Vision and Red Tornado comics. And that’s just one of his neat ideas. Everything about Tony questioning his very humanity, including the silly idea of him just deleting memories, is nifty storytelling. It really makes Tony Stark a unique and fascinating character, at a time when he’s already king of the pop culture world. This is a creative, enjoyable, charming comic full of really fun characters and plotlines rooted in those characters.
TL;DR: Wild creativity and fun characters are the norm in Tony Stark – Iron Man.
Writers: Jason Aaron and Al Ewing
Colorist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
I’m excited by the news that Natalie Portman will return to the MCU as Jane Foster. And I marginally enjoyed War of the Realms. So let’s give this new Jane Foster spin-off a try!
Jane Foster is now the last of the Valkyrie in the wake of the War of the Realms. She’s got wings, she’s got the All-Weapon and she’s got various godly powers. She stops Blue Streak and the Fast Five from hijacking a shipment of War weaponry, though Gold Rush manages to escape with Dragonfang, the previous Valkyrie’s personal sword (though he’s killed by a mysterious assailant in the alley, who takes the sword). Once the battle is done, Jane is late for work at the hospital, as she’s trying to maintain a secret identity. For being so troublesome, the hospital administrator bumps her down to morgue assistant.
In the morgue, she finds the body of Gold Rush and the obvious sword wound that killed him. So she knows somebody took Dragonfang. She uses her lunch break to visit the previous Valkyrie in Valhalla to get some info on the sword, then recruits Heimdall to come to Earth to help her look for it. Heimdall teaches her how to use Valkyrie-Vision, which allows her to see how long it will be until someone days.
And Hemidall is about to die immediately!
Sure enough, he’s stabbed from behind by Dragonfang. The thief/killer is revealed to be Bullseye, who can also use the sword to summon a Pegasus mount!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This is a very good kick-off to the new comic, and a little by-the-numbers. I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s just rather obvious what’s happening here. The new Valkyrie’s actual origin occurred in other comics, so we don’t need to spend time on origins. Instead, we jump right into a fight scene with some jobber villain(s), include bits of both personal life stuff and superhero stuff, and end with a surprise twist and villain reveal. It feels standard, but Aaron, Ewing and Cafu easily rise above that feeling. The writing is fun and strong, presenting a clear depiction of Jane and her knew status quo. She’s heroic, with some softer side personal issues. Couple that with legit creativity and you’ve got the start of a fun comic.
Seriously, taking classic villain Blue Streak and turning him into an entire team of color-coded people searching for viral internet fame is just plain fun comic book writing.
I’m not particularly excited with Bullseye as the villain because he doesn’t really mean anything to Jane or the comic. His selection seems really random, and he just looks weird perched atop a Pegasus wielding a sword. But I like the journey the comic took in the mystery around him, from his shadowy reveal killing Gold Rush, to the coincidental way Jane came upon the mystery. I liked the random trip to Valhalla and the implication that Jane has a job to do as a Valkyrie, that she’s not just a superhero. I do hope we get to see her ferrying the worthy dead to Valhalla. I want to see her have actual duties instead of just being, as the bad guys call her, “Thor Lite”.
TL;DR: Valkyrie is off to a really good start, with a strong issue that features everything you could want from a first issue.
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 July 27, 2019, in Comics, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged Boom!, Guardians of the Galaxy, House of X, Iron Man, Jane Foster, Jonathan Hickman, Magnificent Ms. Marvel, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Ms. Marvel, Omega Rangers, Power Rangers, Powers of X, Tony Stark, Tony Stark - Iron Man, Valkyrie. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.