Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 8/31/19

Vacation! All I ever wanted! I’m on break from work for the next week and will be heading to a cousin’s wedding in Ocean City, Maryland next weekend. Anybody have any good memories of the place? I’ll still post throughout the week, though, because I’m mostly staying home for my week off. Should be great.

Plenty of good comics this week, from House of X to Power Rangers to the last regular issue in Jason Aaron’s now-legendary Thor run. But Comic Book of the Week goes to the new issue of Runaways for just a delightful issue about teenage crimefighting.

Karo Nico Fries 01

Costumes look great!

Meanwhile, Absolute Carnage is still a pretty cool comic. The second issue is more subdued than the first, but still a quality read. The tie-ins are OK so far. It’s fun seeing the Life Foundation symbiotes active again. Maybe we’ll get a new Hybrid out of this…

Comic Reviews: Captain America #13, House of X #3, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #42, Runaways #24 and Thor #16.


Captain America #13

Captain America #13
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artists: Jason Masters and Sean Izaakse
Colorist: Matt Milla
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

There is some good rebranding in this issue, but it’s not Steve Rogers…

The newly rebranded Steve Rogers teams up with White Tiger to take on the Watchdogs militia group, who are targeting immigrants crossing the southern border. Steve isn’t sure about this, considering they’re crossing illegally, but White Tiger and Sharon Carter convince him to go through with it. The Watchdogs, who now wear the Confederate flag as a symbol, are able to teleport away with some of the immigrants.

Meanwhile, Dryad ambushes the SHIELD officers who are attempting to ambush her. She captures Nick Fury Jr. for a talk.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

While I like the idea of Captain America tackling modern day political matters, I don’t think this issue did it particularly well. It was fine. It’s still a good read. I liked that Cap at least broached the other side of the argument before finally settling on the good guys side, that aided some weight to the whole thing. And using White Tiger to take on the immigration issue is a good choice, so kudos there. I also like the idea that everybody knows straight up that Steve Rogers in action is a PR move. These are some quality layers to this comic. But the art is a step down from what we’ve been getting, neither of the artists is very strong. And not even the reveal that Dyrad is Peggy Carter makes her storyline any less boring than it has been.

But I do like the rebranding of the Watchdogs.

Watchdogs Mask 01

That’s some good, quality evil rebranding

The Watchdogs used to wear more generic outfits in past comics, but they totally line up with the alt-right and conservative extremist groups operating today. So using the Confederate flag as their symbol is perfect, and I want to see both Coates and Captain America follow up on this matter. That is some good, modern-day villain rebranding. Plus, it’s a good design. Only going for the Stars and Bars on half the face mask? The Watchdogs have some good designers in their ranks.

Also, why has this never been done before? Was Marvel afraid of alienating their Southern readership? But Captain America, draped in the American flag, taking on a villain draped in the Confederate flag sounds really cool!

TL;DR: A pretty straight forward issue doesn’t do enough to capitalize on the big changes in Cap’s life, but is still a quality read. I look forward to more from the villains.


House of X #3

House of X #3
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

A less mind-blowing, but nonetheless fun, issue in this ongoing saga.

Cyclops leads a strike team of X-Men up to the Orchis to destroy the Mother Mold (Cyke, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Jean, Archangel, Monet, Mystique and Husk). They’re not teleporting to the station in order to keep Krakoa plants out of enemy hands, so they’re taking a spaceship. The humans did not expect the X-Men to discover them so soon, so their defenses are not up to snuff. The X-Men land and begin their incursion, and the head of security realizes that they have thought of everything and are capable of overcoming all of his efforts — so he does something unexpected and builds a quickie suicide bomb. He blows up himself, a chunk of the station and the X-Men’s ship, with the X-Men, theoretically, still on board.

Meanwhile, when Sabretooth goes to court on Earth, Emma Frost walks in and declares that he is a sovereign citizen of Krakoa and no longer under human jurisdiction. She has the proper paperwork and simply walks out with him as her prisoner.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Nothing too mind-blowing or all that memorable in this issue, nothing to really juice the gears. This is just a tightly written, rather exciting X-Men adventure. I really enjoyed the strike team, which operated with precision and character. Nightcrawler gets a cool moment where he teleports into the station for recon and runs into Karima. Hickman is still doing quite well with the character-based stuff. These characters feel like themselves, and the overall operation is fun to read. Even the human characters get real depth. I liked the idea that the station’s defenses weren’t ready yet, and that the security chief was capable of enough depth of thought to realize when he’d been beat. It was a nice twist from having the X-Men fight random, faceless security guards.

Kurt Karima 01

She was X-Men, once

The Sabretooth scene is another example of interesting plot stuff driven by solid character work. It feels like Sabretooth and the White Queen, with phenomenal art. Even without all of the other-worldly craziness of the overall Hickman plot, he’s still writing a fun X-Men story with multiple levels and plotlines. The big explosion at the end would normally feel quaint, but considering everything Hickman is doing…maybe all those X-Men on the ship really are dead! Who knows? Anything can happen in this event and it feels like it. So consider this a solid chapter as we move right along.

TL;DR: A more character and story-based issue drives things forward with really good character and story work.


Power Rangers #42

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #42
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Daniele Di Nicuolo
Colorist: Walter Baiamonte, with Katia Ranalli
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire

Heh, I’m having trouble remembering which Power Rangers comic has which plot, considering how close they are nowadays.

We open with the Power Rangers defeating a squadron of Spider Putties, but really it was a chance for new villain Dayne to spy on them from a distance and watch how they work. Later, Dayne draws out the Rangers for a head-to-head confrontation.

Out in space, the Omega Rangers attempt to recruit Garrison Vox to the team, but he turns them down, laughing at the attempt. We learn a bit more about Kiya’s backstory, in that she wiped out her home and whole family when the Morphin Grid energy exploded within her. She’s doing her best to handle the grief. The Rangers are sent to Breel, which is where Rita was hiding the Green Power Coin and weaponry. The Rangers crash a party hosted by Queen Adriyel because they have sensed a Level 6 Morphin Grid power surge at the party. Adriyel reveals that she’s got a planet-destroyer weapon, and she uses it to destroy the ships of all the bad guys who have come to her party. She says they must all bow down and declare allegiance to her, including the Power Rangers!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This was a nice bread-and-butter issue, one that touched on all of the various plot lines and moved them forward nicely. It bounced from one plot to the next, though they don’t seem at all connected. But Parrott has got all of the character voices down, and the art is great, so I’m not complaining too much. The Rangers are all nice characters, and we get more from Garrison Vox, Dayne and Kiya, so that’s cool. All three have been good additions to the cast. All the characters continue to juggle Power Rangers stuff and real life stuff, even those Rangers out in space. Parrott wisely makes the Breel mission a party, because it allows the Rangers to go in disguise in formal wear, adding an extra layer of flavor to the whole experience. It’s far more fun than if they’d just snuck into a boring, old fortress.

Power Rangers Party 01

Kick stab!

This was just a very good issue of this particular comic series. Everybody is written well, the stories are creative and clever, progressing forward at a nice pace. Parrott has a lot of surprises up his sleeve, and I really enjoyed that cliffhanger where Dayne showed up and told the Rangers this wasn’t going to be an easy fight. The Power Rangers comics are in very good hands.

Also, this just occurred to me…if they do recruit the big, burly Garrison Vox onto the Omega Rangers, the only remaining color is…pink! Man, I really want Garrison Vox to become the Pink Omega Ranger!

TL;DR: Another solid, well-written, well-drawn, well-paced and well-plotted issue of the main Power Rangers comic. Parrott and Di Nicuolo are making this look easy!


Runaways #24

Runaways #24
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Andres Genolet
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Doc Justice and the J-Team begins here! Stay tuned later for a proper rant on the subject.

Nico and Karolina sneak out of the Hostel to go be superheroes, complete with cool new costumes! They have an SUV and a police scanner app, but all they seem to find are fender benders and false alarms. It’s a funny montage though, a very realistic look at what “patrolling” a city for crime might actually entail. They end up at a cafe, where Karolina is embarrassed that she wasted Nico’s day, but Nico insists she only really wanted to spend time with her girlfriend, so mission accomplished!

But then Karolina spies some guys in super-villain costumes heading into an alley, so they follow them and find a lizard-headed boss type. There’s a magical dance off and a fight, and the bad guys seem to win — until Doc Justice lands in the alley all heroic like!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

I will get to the proper review in a moment (loved this issue!), but first I want to rant about this Doc Justice nonsense. Not the character or the storyline, I’m sure those will be fine. I want to rant about Marvel’s dunderheaded marketing strategies. If you’re not familiar, there was a whole day or so last week where Marvel announced a brand new superhero team: Doc Justice and the J-Team! It was clearly a picture of the Runaways all wearing new superhero costumes, and Marvel wasn’t too subtle about the Runaways hints, but the actual marketing strategy involved trying to pretend that this was a legit new superhero team composed of new characters. I didn’t post anything on this blog because I find Marvel’s marketing campaigns really stupid, but every other comic book news site I frequent was stumbling over themselves to post about the new team. I get it, they have click quotas, probably.

But sheesh, I can’t stand Marvel’s marketing decisions. Rather than come up with a fun way to promote the already excellent Runaways comic, they have to do this whole dog and pony show where they lie to their fans and try to trick them into thinking this is real. Most reactions I saw (and I know it’s never a good idea to read internet comments) were people rolling their eyes that Marvel was launching a new team of heroes. I just don’t see the benefit of advertising this storyline with a ruse. Is that what’s required for something to get any social media traction? Would the various comic news sites not have picked up the story if it was just Marvel advertising their next big Runaways storyline? This is an amazing comic! Why do they feel the need to lie and obfuscate in order to market?

Sigh. I just thought it was all really dumb. Thankfully, this is a wonderful comic.

Karo Nico Flying 01

She’s got you there!

Seriously. Nico and Karolina on a grounded superhero date where they struggle to apply hero cliches to everyday life? Just hook it to my veins! This issue is as cute as superhero comics get! We do get a little bit of the other Runaways in funny/important scenes, like Molly and Gert trying to figure out how to feed Gib (which is still funny) and Victor and Doombot arguing about where Doombot’s going to live. But thankfully, the whole rest of the issue is devoted to Nico and Karolina and it is marvelous, with wonderfully expressive art! I’ve wanted to see more of these two ever since Rowell made them an official couple, but it’s hard to get the spotlight in such a great ensemble. So I’m so very glad we got this issue! They’re adorable! From getting giddy over superhero costumes to struggling to actually do the job, but not losing hope or spirit.

I halfway wanted the bad guys in the alley to turn out to be other superheroes just to rub it in their faces that they hadn’t thwarted anything. But it works as an OK way to introduce Doc Justice. It’s just too bad his weird, surprising arrival was ruined by all of Marvel’s marketing efforts. Though I suppose I would have been spoiled by the advance solicitations anyway. I should stop reading those.

TL;DR: A fun and focused issue gets about as adorable and heart-warming as modern comics get, and I love it!


Thor #16

Thor #16
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mike Del Mundo
Colorists: Del Mundo and Marco D’Alfonso
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino

This is an unexpected ending! I knew Jason Aaron was moving on to a King Thor series to finish off his legendary run, but I didn’t know the regular Thor comic was ending with issue #16!

It is King Thor’s coronation day, and everybody is busy preparing in Asgard! The trolls are rebuilding the foundations for a seat at the table. Volstagg is showing off a new World Tree planted at the heart of the Rainbow Bridge, with the various War of the Realms villains imprisoned in its roots. The League of Realms is off cleaning up the last lingering messes. The young and old Thors wish everyone well and return to their own times. Beta Ray Bill is there. Loki revives the goat that was killed, before he’s chased off. And Odin is freaking out because Thor is late to his own coronation! But this wife decides to distract him from the worry…

Thor is busy helping people on Earth and around the Ten Realms, distracting himself from the coronation.

When Old Thor returns home, he’s attacked by Old Loki!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This is more of a victory lap than a true conclusion, but Jason Aaron has earned his victory lap and this is a fun one. It’s really just a journey through all the various characters and concepts and where they stand currently at the end of Aaron’s run. Thor is now king of Asgard and he’s off doing good, shirking his duties as expected. Various villains are here and there, various heroes are here and there. It’s a nice journey through some of Aaron’s characters and other classic Thor characters. Everybody is fun, there is plenty of good humor, Beta Ray Bill finally makes a proper cameo appearance; it’s a really enjoyable issue to wrap up Aaron’s main stories. I like it a lot. It’s just too bad I’m still not a major fan of Del Mundo’s artwork, but that’s on me and not a knock against this issue at all.

TL;DR: Jason Aaron’s main Thor stories come to an end with a nice victory lap issue that checks in on everybody and every new aspect of Thor continuity.

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!


About Sean Ian Mills

Hello, this is Sean, the Henchman-4-Hire! By day I am a mild-mannered newspaper reporter in Central New York, and by the rest of the day I'm a pretty big geek when it comes to video games, comic books, movies, cartoons and more.

Posted on August 31, 2019, in Avengers, Comics, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I don’t often comment, but I always enjoy your reviews. There isn’t much for an independent fan in what you cover, but it’s good stuff. Thanks.

    • Hey thanks! I’m always glad to hear somebody is reading this stuff. What independent recommendations do you have? I always mean to do more indie stuff…but the superhero stuff has always been my bread and butter.

  2. Captain America’s good, nice to see it get topical, though Steve’s reluctance to help the immigrants is weird. But hey, White Tiger. I love Ava. She’s awesome.

    House of X is fine. I would’ve liked more character beats with the assault team. Paige doesn’t even get to be named. On the other hand, Emma. Hell yeah. Walks in and lets everyone know she’s not just That Bitch, she’s Queen Bitch. So cool.

    • I also thought that was an odd line of thought for Captain America…and also thought that was a total badass scene for Emma Frost. Getting her back in her rightful place as queen of the X-Men is another good fix in the Hickboot.

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