Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 10/12/19

What a great week for comics! I love a week where my favorites all come out at the same time, like Squirrel Girl, Wonder Twins and Go Go Power Rangers! To say nothing of more Gwenpool and the start of a nifty new Doctor Doom comic!

Comic Book of the Week goes, once again, to the big Powers of X/House of X series. The issue itself is really enjoyable, and the way it caps everything off and creates even more promise for the future is phenomenal. This has been a weird relaunch, but an exciting one!

Xavier Lose 01

Don’t look so sad about it

Meanwhile, Event Leviathan is still really good. I’m rather excited about the potential going forward…but I don’t know if this whole event will get wrapped up in the next issue, or if this is indeed the start of a whole new status quo for DC Comics. I suppose we’ll find out! And I’ll probably be fine with either.

Comic Reviews: Doctor Doom #1, Go Go Power Rangers #24, Gwenpool Strikes Back #3, Powers of X #6, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #49 and Wonder Twins #8.


DocDoom1

Doctor Doom #1

Doctor Doom #1
Writer: Christopher Cantwell
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Guru-eFX
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

I think I’d vaguely heard about this Doctor Doom comic coming out. I decided to check it out on a whim, and I rather like it.

This is something of a ‘day in the life’ story for Doctor Doom. It’s kind of quaint. Scientists have built the Antlion project on the moon, which will reduce carbon dioxide in the air on Earth and shove it into an artificial black hole on the moon. Doctor Doom goes on the news to decry this plan as foolhardy, but the reporters mock him (so Doom kidnaps one of them for torture in Latveria). Doom goes about the rest of his business, which includes strange visits from Kang the Conqueror, who keeps blipping in and out of time, as well as visions of a happy, healthy Victor Von Doom with a wife, family and a legacy of saving the world.

In a few weeks time, Antlion seems to be working as planned, but then the moon station is blown up by a surprise attack. Terrorists wielding the Latverian flag claim responsibility, and Doom starts to panic, having seen missiles launch on their own from his armory. He didn’t plan this, but the world thinks he did. All of the world’s governments, heroes and militaries turn against him, and both Union Jack and Agent Zero attack him at his castle. Doom fights them off and informs them both that he plans to surrender unconditionally.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I’ve been really into Doctor Doom recently due to the excellent Infamous Iron Man series. And I love the idea behind this new comic: looking at Doctor Doom through an everyday lens. It’s a lot of fun. Some parts of this issue work better than others, but I really like the overall energy and feel. I love the scenes of Doom sitting in his study writing in his diary late at night, or the scenes where he and one of his advisors go over the news/duties of the day. I love the idea that Kang the Conqueror sometimes just blinks into Doom’s life, confused and unsure of what’s happening, and that Doom has reluctantly grown used to it. That’s some smart world-building, and I’m sure it’s going somewhere fun. I also really like the overall plot here, that someone is setting Doom up and he has to respond as a world leader. He’s not just some hero or villain working on the street. He has to consider his entire country when making decisions and facing adversity.

Doctor Doom Study 01

I love the implications of this panel

There were parts of the issue I didn’t like. The visions of a normal-looking Victor with a family don’t make much sense, and we don’t get a proper introduction to them. Like, the comic doesn’t explain what we’re seeing. I thought this happy-looking white guy was the reporter that Doom kidnapped and Doom was being nice to him and his whole family, or he was some Doomstadt official who somehow had the freedom to bring his family into the castle for fun times. This could have all been handled better, maybe use the guy’s name earlier, or have Doom react to having such visions. Doom doesn’t seem phased at all. The opening news section also didn’t work for me, but I think that was more a matter of Cantwell being constrained on page space, like he didn’t want to linger too long.

I love the idea that Doom will be interviewed on news shows as a world leader, but the segment is so short. He basically gets, like, five seconds to just say that he doesn’t support this Antlion Project, then the reporters mock him. When the segment is over, the reporters point out that Doom is a tyrant and dictator. If that’s their view of him, why even have him on their show? He doesn’t seem to have any connection to Antlion other than just opposing the idea of it, so why even interview him?

Doctor Doom News 01

Always safe to mock Doctor Doom

Beyond that, Doom tells his officer to “bring me the newsman named Steve”. Does Doom not know the guy’s full name? He doesn’t know the name of the reporters when he goes on the news? And then Doom just kidnaps the guy and tortures him in the castle. If you’re going to write a grounded-in-reality take on Doctor Doom’s leadership, you can’t gloss over the idea of Doom kidnapping and torturing an American citizen and, likely, a well-known news anchor. That sort of thing would carry some pretty serious repercussions.

Still, overall, I enjoyed the writing and plotting on this issue, and I enjoyed Doom’s characterization. Even Larroca’s art was really good. I didn’t care for his recent stint on Uncanny X-Men, but the art was very good here.

TL;DR: An interesting, grounded take on Doctor Doom as a world leader easily carries a curious and enjoyable opening issue.


GGPR24

Go Go Power Rangers #24

Go Go Power Rangers #24
Writers: Ryan Parrott and Sina Grace
Artist: Daniel Bayliss
Colorist: Raul Angulo
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire

I have honestly forgotten where in the timeline Go Go Power Rangers takes place…I think pre-White Ranger.

Bulk and Skull spend the issue trying to get up close footage of a Zord fight for their Ranger Station…blog? Podcast? Vlog? They get the perfect shots from a rooftop, but have to go back down to the street to save some people trapped in an alley. Their camera gets destroyed while they’re gone, so they lose all the footage. Meanwhile, those rival kids over at The Ranger Report got some OK shots, which end up on the news, so they get all the glory. But Ernie heard about what Bulk and Skull did, so he names a new milkshake after Bulk. And a pretty girl from the group of people they saved introduces herself to Skull, so there’s that.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

What a boring and predictable issue. I expect so much more from this creative team and this line of comics. The issue is fine, but this is as basic and banal a Bulk and Skull story as one can get. There’s nothing unique or personal to these characters, nothing that informs their journey or establishes anything worth knowing. This is as basic as storytelling gets. Two characters sacrifice personal achievement to help others, and though they give up glory, they are justly rewarded in the end. How utterly boring! This is clearly just a filler issue killing some time while we get to…I dunno, whatever comes next. Bulk and Skull have barely been characters in these Power Rangers comics, and if you’re going to use them, the last thing you need to do is give them a treacly Christmas Special of blandness. They’re bullies! I know they’re good at heart, but that goodness was revealed over years and multi-seasons of the original show. In this timeline, they’re still mostly bullies, I think. Give them some menace. Give them some edge. Give them some depth. This is practically an after-school special.

TL;DR: While not outwardly bad, this is as basic and banal a story as one can conceive. Go Go Power Rangers is better than this.


GwenpoolSB3

Gwenpool #3

Gwenpool Strikes Back #3
Writer: Leah Williams
Artist: David Baldeon
Colorist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

I think it’s time for Gwenpool to go away. I mean that in a nice way.

Gwenpool and Deadpool escape the Fantastic Four and Gwen goes off to try a new tactic: Marvel swimsuit special edition! Gwen builds a booby-trapped island and tricks a bunch of Marvel superheroes into showing up to play volleyball in their swimwear, making them think it’s a Make-A-Wish thing for a sick kid. Gwen gets up on stage and explains that they all have to fight each other so that she can win in the end, thereby becoming the greatest villain ever (since readers like it more when she’s bad). All losers are magically teleported to a saferoom with snacks where they can watch over the fights. Part of her plan also involved kidnapping Bruce Banner, and she shoots him in the head in front of everybody. Bruce is the Immortal Hulk now, so he survives and comes after her to kill her.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

This was another generally fun issue of Gwenpool Strikes Back, though she once again doesn’t have anybody worthwhile to bounce off of. She and Deadpool made a great team, but now she spends the issue talking at a bunch of other serious Marvel superheroes and few of them have time for her schtick. I also wasn’t even entirely sure what was happening. I like the idea of Gwen trying to use a Marvel Swimsuit Special to drum up readership, but nothing she did really made much sense. She’s apparently now got the resources to just create a perfect island for the battle, complete with viewing room where her friends can hang out. And she’s able to convince all of these superheroes to come to the island for a fake Make-A-Wish thing…yet not all of them come in swimwear? For some reason, the younger characters don’t have to participate in that part. Then she shoots the Hulk in the head? I’m not sure what that was for. I dunno. It’s weird and mostly just generally fine. Williams makes a couple attempts to get at that earnest core of Gwenpool, but those are overshadowed by the craziness.

Gwenpool Bikini 01

Marvel Swimsuit Specials are classic!

Honestly, I think it’s time for Gwenpool to go away for real. Reading this issue, I couldn’t help but feel that Gwenpool, as a character, is now just spinning her wheels. I love the fourth-wall breaking nature of her character, and her knowledge of how the comic book industry works. And I think that needs to be taken to its logical conclusion. I think Marvel needs to permanently retire the character. The joke is over. There’s no need to beat this dead horse. And in doing so, do a Gwenpool story where she knows it’s over. Where she actually has to confront permanent cancellation. Where her very survival depends on escaping the Marvel Universe. Let her go full-on meta, commenting on everything from sales numbers to the very joke of her existence. No more of this silly, light-hearted fare that just goes and goes and goes. Tell the last Gwenpool story and get really crazy, really deep with it.

Give me Gwenpool: Requiem!

TL;DR: A fine and relatively fun issue that reinforces the idea that this character has probably worn out her welcome and is now just running in place.


PowersofX6

Powers of X #6

Powers of X #6
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artists: R.B. Silva and Pepe Larraz
Colorists: Marte Gracia and David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

I’m pleased to say that Powers of X does not undo anything that we’ve seen so far. Instead, it adds some more detail and sets up some more potential conflicts and storylines going forward.

In Year One Thousand, the Librarian visits the nature preserve, where it is revealed that Wolverine and Moira are the last two remaining sentient beings that we saw in shadow at the start of the story. The Librarian informs them that the world is going to end when they Ascend to be with the Phalanx. Then he reveals that it was humans who defeated mutants after all, not the machines. Mutants are an evolutionary response. So what happens when humans get smart enough to transcend their environment and control things like genetic engineering? What need is there for evolution when humans have mastered their own biology? The Librarian reveals that the Sentinels and the Nimrods were just stalling for time so that humans could unlock this power and finally overcome the mutants.

Wolverine promptly kills the Librarian and then Moira has him kill her — thus ending the mysterious sixth life of Moira X.

We flashback to Year Zero and the park bench, wherein Moira introduced herself to Professor X and had him read her mind to learn everything about her previous nine or so lives. The hard truth is that they always lose, time and again, so Xavier needs a new dream. This leads us to the House of X.

In Year Ten, we see Magneto and Professor X visiting Moira the day before the Quiet Council meeting, wherein they explain why they included the various members. We do not learn the identity of Emma’s Red King, but we find out that Mystique’s request is for them to resurrect Destiny. Moira is against this request because they cannot have mutants who see the future, because that mutant will learn too much about what’s going on and how they always lose. Plus Destiny already has it out for Moira. Xavier knows all of this and says they’ll put off resurrecting Destiny for as long as they can, but someday all of the X-Men should learn the truth.

Then we jump  to the post-meeting party, where Magneto and Xavier expand a bit more on their conversation and how Magneto is so damn proud of all of this. To anyone out there seeking to stop what they have built: let them try!

Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.

I loved this whole series, and the grade reflects everything, not just this individual issue — which really is good. Powers of X continues to be largely text book instead of soap opera, but when it’s this interesting, well-written and well-drawn, I’m not going to complain. This issue was another triumph of twists, revelations and teases for the future. Of course Mystique would want Destiny resurrected like every other dead mutant…and of course that would pose a problem for Moira. I loved that whole seed of an ongoing subplot for Mystique going forward. And I loved the revelation that humans defeat mutants by making evolution obsolete. That’s so perfect! It makes so much sense and sounds like an excellent conflict for the X-Men to face.

Maybe it’s all a little blunt to just explain this stuff, but I do not care. The X-Men comics were in dire need of this sort of shake-up, and every single issue of Powers of X and House of X was fun to read. Rather than find simple, organic ways to infuse all of this stuff into the old stories, Marvel and Hickman have thrown a big awesome party instead and I am so very excited for the X-Men again.

Moira Destiny Xavier 01

They’ve been over this

Big ideas aside, this was another stellar issue. Solid characterizations from everyone involved, especially Moira. I really like the dynamic between her, Xavier and Magneto. And I like the explanation for why Xavier has seemed different: this is a Charles Xavier who has known from the very beginning that his dream of mutant/human co-habitation was never going to work. This is a radicalized Xavier and it works.

And I’m so glad that this issue didn’t undo everything that we’ve seen so far. I want this as the new status quo for the X-Men. I love this as a new foundation. No longer do I have to fear when my favorite minor characters appear because I just know they’re going to be used for cannon fodder. No longer are we going to be stuck with the same stories over and over again. I fully believe this is the start of something new and exciting, and I can’t wait to dive into the actual meat of the upcoming comics!

The only real gripe I might have is the implication that Xavier came up with the idea for resurrection very early in his new partnership with Moira. I know she had the benefit of living through several iterations of the X-Men, but were they really predicting Goldballs that early in the lifespan of the X-Men? Though I do like the idea that Moira and Xavier were purposefully trying to create powerful mutants by giving birth to Legion and Proteus. That’s a neat twist.

TL;DR: Powers of X ends as boldly as it began and I couldn’t be more excited to see what actually comes of all this.


Squirrel49

Squirrel Girl #49

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #49
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Derek Charm
Colorist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: Travis Lanham

The penultimate issue! The end is nigh! I’m not ready!

Squirrel Girl and her friends fight Iron Ring and her evil allies, with the help of an entire army of squirrels! But then Baron Mordo counters with a spell that makes all the squirrels sick! Tippy is able to cut Brain Drain free of the robot scorpion tank and Chipmunk Hunk throws him into the sky to safety. Then the Avengers arrive to even the score! Then Melissa summons the rest of Tony Stark’s armory, giving all of her villain allies (except Doctor Doom) their own armor! And Squirrel Girl gets blasted! She can barely stand…so she gets a hand from Kraven the Hunter! And all of her other hero and villain allies from the series, like Rhino and Hippo and that Skrull girl and that librarian ghost and Ratatoskr and Mole Man and the bear and rooster and Sentinel #X-42903-22! And then Mary starts piloting the robot scorpion tank!

Then Doctor Doom reveals his Plan B, which is obviously superior to everybody else’s Plan As: he’s got a quantum inversion bomb that he hides somewhere in the park, set to go off in 10 seconds! Everybody, hero and villain alike, starts searching for the bomb! Squirrel Girl finds it with only 1 second left…so she throws herself onto the bomb as it explodes!

Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.

In first reading this issue, I was a little disappointed that it didn’t seem as tightly written or as humorous as I’ve come to expect. And the art started to get a little loopy here and there. But when Kraven showed up with a whole army of past characters, I threw all concern out the window and embraced the madcap, over-the-top, go-for-broke nature of this final story. North and his creative team are holding nothing back! This is an epic battle between Squirrel Girl and her greatest enemies, her greatest allies and all of the best supporting characters from over the course of the series! Obviously Derek Charm is going to lose a little definition in his art drawing so many characters and drawing them so well! And there’s no need for tightly scripted humor when the whole point is to just go nuts!

Pun very much intended.

Eat Nuts Kick Butts 01

A truly marvelous army!

They even included the Sentinel from one of my favorite jokes in all of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.

This issue is just so much fun and so crazy! The back and forth from hero to villain success is great, though I think the little meter at the bottom of each panel showing which side has the better chance of winning was a bit much. The joke didn’t have much to say, and the action said everything that needed to be said.

This is Unbeatable Squirrel Girl turned up to 11. This is the big, crazy battle at the end of the movie. This is everything going crazy and being awesome, while also staying true to the characters involved. Like Mary taking the robot scorpion tank, that was fun. And I liked how Doctor Doom still held himself above all the other villains in this fight. I also like the idea that this series comes down to Squirrel Girl vs. Doctor Doom, the fight that started it all way back in the day. And Iron Man is there too!

TL;DR: I don’t know what the finale is going to feature, but this penultimate issue is a crazy, awesome, no-holds-barred battle of greatness!


WonderTwins8

Wonder Twins #8

Wonder Twins #8
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Mike Norton
Colorist: Cris Peters
Letterer: Dave Sharpe

Awww, there’s a new artist on this series. They couldn’t have kept Stephen Byrne on the whole maxi-series? For consistency’s sake? Norton and Peters do a fine job, at least.

Zan and Jayna are on the school’s Reunion Committee, and they’re organizing the 30 year reunion for the Class of 1989 (for some reason…). Principal Turner is from that class, as is Terri the Librarian. They were in love once, but Turner threw it all away and has regretted it these past 30 years. Now he’s a lonely adult. Jayna works her magic to convince both of them to go the reunion to apologize and make up, while simultaneously trying to get in to prison to see Polly Math so she can apologize. Meanwhile, Zan is tasked with running the casino at the reunion. When Jayna asks him to be an adult for once and take this seriously, Zan takes it way too seriously and runs the reunion casino like a Vegas mobster — at least until he has a change of heart while shaking down a cheater.

Double meanwhile, Polly Math has escaped from juvie and she’s brought some of her criminal pals to the school to collect her stuff. Jayna is there to stop her, and with Zan’s help, they detain the trio of crooks. Jayna gets her chance to apologize, because it’s never too late to own up to your mistakes. She also tells Polly that she believes Polly’s dad is alive, and Jayna has a plan to rescue him.

Also, Principal Turner apologizes to Terri for how he treated her all those years ago. She tells him it’s too late to pick up where they left off, but the sentiment was still nice.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Uh, first things first…current students don’t plan high school reunions. Right? That’s not happening at other schools, is it? How would that even work? It’s up to current high school students to track down everyone from the Class of 1989 and invite them? That’s insane! I imagine Mark Russell is a smart guy, but I don’t think he understands how class reunions work…

Thankfully, this bit of weirdness doesn’t ruin the story. It’s not as strong a story as previous issues, but it’s still a solid comic. Obviously we’ve got the principal/librarian story running parallel with the Jayna/Polly story, and they work well together in terms of the importance of apologizing. Though we never really get a reason from Principal Turner as to why he broke up with Terri when they were younger. He just says he instantly regretted it, maybe something about pride? I don’t know. Jayna’s story is obviously more compelling because we have been a part of that story, and it works well. Though Polly is a little too super-villainy for my tastes. She was supposed to just be a normal student, not a super-villain in training like she seems here.

Zan Casino Boss 01

Yes, that is Spuds MacKenzie Spuds McDoggy

Zan gets the best bits of the issue, though it’s pure silliness. He wears a fake mustache and a coat over his superhero costume to run this little casino. It’s funny and silly, just how it’s expected to be. But rather than really play up the idea that he was being way too serious running a fun casino at a high school reunion, there’s actually a shady-looking guy who legitimately cheats at the casino games that Zan has to deal with. The guy seems way too detailed to just be another reunion attendee, so I think we might see him again.

Also, we know that Polly’s dad is alive, but I wish Russell had shown us why Jayna thinks he’s still alive. If that whole thing is going to be the overarching narrative of this whole maxi-series, I think that bit should have had more focus.

The art is good this issue, but not as good as it has been with Stephen Byrne. I’m disappointed that Byrne hasn’t drawn the entire series, but the new art team does a good enough job. But the different art adds to the overall sense that something is just slightly off. Like this issue isn’t as sharp or as well-plotted as previous issues, and the different art team adds to that sensation. None of this ruins the issue, just knocks it down a couple grades.

TL;DR: A new art team and a weaker story add to a sense that this is an off-issue, but it’s still funnier, sillier and better told than most comics.


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 October 12, 2019, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. RE: Powers of X: I agree that it is a great series, but the implications of it are quite profound. Does this mean that mutants will deliberately do all they can to keep humans from advancing and bettering themselves in order to ensure their evolutionary survival? It makes you wonder what is in those drugs the X-Men are dispensing. And are they going to murder people who may be making advances in things like genetic engineering? It’s ironic: the X-Men have adopted mutant supremacism with the justification that their ascendence is inevitable. Yet, what Moira sees is that human ascendence is actually what is inevitable. If that’s the case, then why don’t the X-Men/mutants just accept their fate -the way they keep telling the humans to?

    • All good questions! And questions that I hope the various writers and editors have thought of and plan to address in time. Nobody lies back and accepts their fate when their fate is to be doomed! They always stand tall and fight! At least when it comes to superheroes.

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