Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 8/17/19
Pretty solid week for comics this week, everybody! Some of my favorites, like Go Go Power Rangers and Fantastic Four drop, with Powers of X rolling right along. The new issue this week is Gwenpool Strikes Back, which I have high hopes for — though it might not compare with the original series.
At any rate, Comic Book of the Week goes to Unbeatable Squirrel Girl as it kicks off its final storyline with real style and real stakes! Ryan North apparently isn’t going to mess around this time. Shit just got real!
Meanwhile, I was thinking of reviewing the Scream tie-in to Absolute Carnage, but it wasn’t much of an issue, so I’ll just sum it up here: It was fine. It was a little confusing, but it was fine. Far more exciting was the third issue of Event Leviathan from DC Comics! Bendis is killing it with this event, which features some phenomenal character work. I haven’t enjoyed the Red Hood this much in years, and the cliffhanger ending is a spine-tinglingly cool Superman moment!
Comic Reviews: Fantastic Four #13, Go Go Power Rangers #22, Gwenpool Strikes Back #1, Powers of X #2 and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #47.
Fantastic Four #13
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Sean Izaakse
Colorist: Marcio Menyz
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Curse you, Dan Slott! Teasing us with some Ben and Alicia happiness and then taking it away for seemingly no good reason.
So the Thing fights the Hulk on a tropical island, with the Hulk being controlled by the Pupper Master. Thing tries to get through to the Hulk, but this is Immortal Hulk now and he’s kind of an asshole, so he doesn’t mind being mind-controlled into fighting the Thing. The essentially just trade blows instead of anything too dynamic, with the Hulk mopping the floor with the ever-lovin’, blue-eyed Thing. Then Alicia gives him a pep talk that the Thing has more heart, so Ben gets back to his feet and delivers a haymaker to end all haymakers, knocking out the Hulk! It’s so powerful that it causes the rocks on Ben Grimm’s arm to shatter off! He then reverts to human form and falls down, kaput.
Ben wakes up a week later, having been recovered by the F4 and brought to the infirmary. He’s back to being the Thing, with a Vibranium cast on his arm to help it recover. Ben is sad that he missed his honeymoon as a human, but he’s thrilled at finally having beaten the Hulk in a fight. Meanwhile, the Hulk breaks into the Raft and puts the wallop on Pupper Master.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
It’s a fine issue. It’s all well and good. The fight is fine. Nothing too crazy or memorable, just a bunch of punching. The only really new and interesting thing is how the Thing’s rocky skin can be broken off when hit hard enough (or when he hits hard enough). That’s neat. But he heals right up, so no big exploration there. The Hulk doesn’t have much character to him, and the Thing is the same Thing as always. The pep talk from Alicia is a nice moment, and the victory is well earned. A bunch of comic book news sites on the internet turned this fight into an apparent “definitive” answer to which character is stronger, and all of them say it’s the Thing, despite that conclusion missing the entire god damned point of the issue. The Thing is not stronger than the Hulk, the Thing says so himself at the very start of the issue. The Thing is just able to get in a really good punch to win this single fight. But comic book news sites gotta have their clickbait headlines. I will continue to try to not be that.
Anyway, as I’ve been saying, it’s a fine issue and everything goes along nicely…until the very end, when the Thing is recovering and reveals that he and Alicia planned to start a family while he was human. So now I’m even more upset that Slott chose to do just another superhero slobberknocker instead of a good, character-defining honeymoon story with Ben and Alicia. Did he only get permission that the Thing could get married? How cool a story would it be to have the Thing and Alicia start a family?! The Fantastic Four has always been about forward progress, and now Franklin and Valeria are teenagers! Let’s get some new kids in the mix! Ben Grimm would be an awesome dad and I want to see that! And he deserved to have a nice honeymoon story where Slott shows off his awesome character-writing chops.
TL;DR: A fine, if unmemorable, battle for the ages.
Go Go Power Rangers #22
Writers: Ryan Parrott and Sina Grace
Artist: Francesco Mortarino
Colorist: Raul Angulo
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Good times are still being had in Go Go Power Rangers!
The issue opens with a scene from during the original Green Ranger Saga, with the rangers sitting around a table debating whether or not they even want Tommy to join the team, should they successfully free him from Rita. Billy suggests Jason make the call, since he’s the leader, but Jason bristles at the responsibility.
Which takes us to the present day, with Jason approached by the Blue Emissary looking for help. The Emissary tries to explain what happened during Shattered Grid, but Jason is having a little trouble fathoming the whole story, so the Emissary appears to give him a mental crash course.
Meanwhile, the other Rangers are taking some downtime. Kimberly is doing acrobatics in the park and runs into Matt, who takes her for a walk to try and be chummy. But Kimberly’s mind is too distracted. Billy is in the Command Center, seemingly obsessed with repairing Tommy’s Power Coin, because if Tommy can lose his powers, then any of them could, and Billy isn’t ready to stop being a Power Ranger. Trini and Zack are at a community center, where Trini volunteers in order to find peace of mind. She and Zack talk about the benefits of that, while Lord Zedd turns the community center bunny rabbit into Warbunny!
Only four of the Rangers morph and fight Warbunny to a standstill…but Jason is still getting his brain walloped by the Blue Emissary!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
I love downtime in my superhero comics, and this issue delivers in spades! Treating the Power Rangers like people first has always been the strong point of these BOOM! comics and this issue is a perfect example. I loved all of the character scenes, from Zack and Trini bonding and growing closer, to Billy’s anger and fear in trying to re-power the Green Point Coin. It’s really human, and really makes this series stand out as something truly special. More superhero team comics need issues like this one, with a hefty dose of humanizing its lead characters. We also get some insight into Lord Zedd, with a brief scene of him dismissing Finster’s clay monsters in favor of Zedd’s preferred monster method: turning the Rangers’ possessions and beloved things into monsters. Everybody got a moment to shine in this issue.
For me, personally, I was very glad to see Matt again. As longtime readers of my Power Rangers reviews know, I am clinging to the hope that there is some greater plan for Matt in the long run. I don’t know what it will be, and I don’t even know if I’m right, but surely he’s not just going to tag along for no good reason. After all this time, I want something exciting to happen with Matt. His scene with Kimberly is a fun reminder that he’s still there, still hanging around, still fully aware of their secrets. Don’t let me down, Parrott and Grace! I’m counting on you!
The art is also morphenominal! Such clear characters, such clear and awesome action. Everybody looks distinct. Great writing. Great art.
TL;DR: Another great issue of Go Go Power Rangers puts the focus on character, which I love, while also adding some solid drama and action.
Gwenpool Strikes Back #1
Writer: Leah Williams
Artist: David Baldeon
Colorist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Gwenpool is back, baby! I am a big fan of the original Unbelievable Gwenpool series, which has one of the coolest, strongest endings in recent comics. So I’m excited to see her get another series, especially with Leah Williams on the pen.
Gwenpool is robbing a bank, while getting used to the idea that she’s back in her own comic, and while getting readers up to speed as to her whole deal. When Spider-Man shows up to stop her, she tries to convince him that she’s at the bank to clean it of radioactive materials, but really she wants him to bite her so that she’ll get spider powers. Gwen has decided that the best way to stay a relevant character is to finally get super-powers of her own. Spider-Man turns her down and webs her up. I’m speeding through a lot of additional dialogue and exposition and minor plot details.
Gwenpool is then rescued by a new Gwenpool who appears to be in the late stages of dying of radiation poisoning. The new Gwenpool frees Gwen and takes her place, and our Gwen then escapes in the comic white space — where she discovers that her new one shot is almost at an end! In a panic, Gwen discovers that she can alter reality by manipulating offscreen events, so she pays a visit to the Radioactive Man and doses herself. Gwenpool becomes the dying of radiation poisoning Gwenpool, and she goes back to the previous page to save her past self. Gwen takes the place of her past self and is arrested by the cops.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I’m excited to have Gwenpool somewhat back to normal, especially with this excellent creative team at the helm. Gwen herself jokes in this issue that she was nerfed as part of the West Coast Avengers, but now she can go back to breaking the Fourth Wall and using her weird comic-based powers. It’s a much more fun Gwen. I really enjoy the self-awareness of being a very minor, very weird comic book character whose very existence is dependent on either fans or writers liking her enough to keep reading. It’s a great concept for a minor character like this, and was used to great effect in her previous series. Whether or not Leah Williams can pull off the same magic remains to be seen, but she’s off to a good start here.
Though Gwenpool can apparently be a little bit much.
Oy, her chatter is constant. Whether she’s talking to herself, talking to the audience, talking to other characters or having thought bubbles, Gwenpool never lets up in this issue. It’s exhausting. Right now she’s at a 10, maybe she could dial that back to an 8 or a 7? But Baldeon easily keeps pace on art and readily handles the out-of-panel stuff. And Gwenpool is mildly funny. I’ve always liked the sweeter aspects to the character than the silly aspects, and hopefully Williams will get there eventually. But for this issue, it’s all crazy Gwenpool all the time, and that can be fun in its own right.
And I need to be careful not to judge this comic too much against the original, Unbelievable Gwenpool. But previous writer Christopher Hastings and artists Gurihiru knew the value of a good sight gag. Just sayin’.
TL;DR: Gwenpool is back to normal and in good hands with Williams and Baldeon, debuting with a strong and interesting first issue. But the character is also pretty exhausting in this opening chapter.
Powers of X #2
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: R.B. Silva
Inkers: Silva and Adriano Di Benedetto
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Claytown Cowles
Okay, it’s all still weird, and it’s all still mostly good weird. I haven’t yet been thrown off this bucking bronco. If nothing else, Cyclops is badass again.
In Year Zero, Professor X and Moira visit Magneto and fill him in on all of Moira’s memories, adding him to their cause.
In Year Ten, the information that Mystique stole reveals the existence of a Mother Master Mold in orbit around the sun, which is designed to build other Master Molds. Xavier and Magneto brief Cyclops on this thing, which they believe is where ordinary Sentinels kick over into NIMRODs. The plan is for Cyke to lead an attack on the Mother Mold.
In Year One Hundred, we find out that the few remaining X-Men are led by Apocalypse, and the data that the new characters recovered is an indexing machine. They unlock its code, find whatever it is they’re looking for and decide to launch their own attack. Also, the character I thought was Groot in the previous issue is instead Krakoa, having long since taken over the body of Cypher.
In Year One Thousand, we learn that scientists turned a gas giant planet outside of the solar system into a Worldmind called Nimbus. This Worldmind has attracted a Phalanx from beyond the galaxy, and the denizens of Earth ask for Ascension. In the supplemental materials, Hickman explains the various stages of an intergalactic society, with Phalanxes at the very top, a society that has total control of an entire galaxy. Phalanxes travel around seeking other civilizations, wherein either we get an Ascension and they are added to the Phalanx, or they are wiped out.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I’m not pumping the breaks just yet, because a lot of this is really good still. And the scene with Cyclops getting briefed for battle is hella cool. But four issues in and we are still mostly in set-up mode. Hickman apparently has a lot to set up, and a lot of it is really neat, but we’re still at a point where it’s mostly Hickman telling us his ideas. And sometimes they’re easy to understand, like a Mother Mold, and sometimes they’re difficult to understand, like whatever is happening in Year One Hundred and Year One Thousand. When Hickman has a character-based scene, like in Year Zero and in Year Ten, the writing is sharp and the characters are really damn cool. I can’t wait to have Hickman write normal stories with these characters. But when Hickman writes idea-based scenes, like everything else, he gets really, really spacey and it can be hard to keep track. But the forward momentum is strong, and the character stuff is great, so I’m still buckled in and have no desire — yet — to stop this crazy thing.
TL;DR: This issue is a nice blend of strong character work and crazy, spacey ideas. I like the former more than the latter, but the whole project continues to hum along rather nicely.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #47
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Derek Charm
Colorist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: Travis Lanham
I didn’t know what to expect with the final storyline in Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, but Ryan North still managed to surprise me!
Squirrel Girl, Chipmunk Hunk and Koi Boi beat up the Leader. When they get home and join their friends, they all realize that Brain Drain has been missing for a few days. They check his favorite haunts, but no luck. Then Doreen gets another message that’s just a blank black image. She thinks her phone is broken, but now that they know Brain Drain is missing, they suss out that he’s been sending her encoded messages! We get another patented Ryan North numbers lecture — this time on steganography — and they discover that Brain Drain has been trying to tell them that the villainous Melissa Morbek has escaped and is involved in this some how!
Before the team can rush off to save Brain Drain, they turn on the news and discover that Melissa has leaked Squirrel Girl’s secret identity to the press! She’s been outed! And then Melissa blows up her apartment! Doreen is devastated, but her friends try to cheer her up — and then a bunch of low level super-villains storm the place to get their revenge on her.
Meanwhile, Melissa Morbek has gathered the likes of Doctor Doom, Baron Mordo, Fin Fang Foom and a bunch of other heavy hitter villains in order to unite and kill Squirrel Girl once and for all!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
First of all, my hat is off to Ryan North and Derek Charm for nailing the moment where Doreen realizes her identity has been exposed. That really caught me by surprise, and they get really touching with it. The stakes immediately become real, possibly more real than they’ve ever been in this Squirrel Girl comic. I loved it! And I will love it even more if North gets really personal and really in depth with this final story. We’re all still waiting to see what happens between Doreen and Nancy by the end. I am fully prepared to plotz with excitement! But for now, the trouble feels very, very real.
It feels a little sillier with the final page reveal of all these big bad guys, but I’ll let that slide, because it also feels awesome! Like North is pulling out all of the damn stops for this final story! He’s going to go for broke and force Squirrel Girl to face off against not just her greatest enemies, but all of the greatest enemies of the entire Marvel Universe! This finale is going to be epic, and I can’t wait to see this comic really swing for the fences with nothing left to lose!
Beyond those two major points, this is still a delightful issue. We get a lot of really good scenes of Doreen hanging out with her friends, including some awesome comedy bits for Mary, the most forgotten of the friends. And we get another patented Ryan North explanation for a new math-based thing! I can’t say this one was as much fun or as easy to understand as using binary to count on one hand, but it was still neat…though I don’t think I fully understand what happened. But that’s on me.
TL;DR: The beginning of the end for Unbeatable Squirrel Girl delivers in spades! The stakes are heartfelt and the trouble is bigger than we’ve ever seen!
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 August 17, 2019, in Comics, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged Boom!, Fantastic Four, Go Go Power Rangers, Gwenpool, Gwenpool Strikes Back, House of X, Hulk, Power Rangers, Powers of X, Squirrel Girl, The Thing, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.
Gwenpool is really fun. The comic equivalent of shit-posting. I dig it.
Powers of X is at least getting to plot, but I’m still feeling kinda cold on it.
Squirrel Girl is great. Really ramps up the drama and tension. North and charm clearly want to go out with a bang.