Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 11/16/19
Have you listened to my movie podcast yet? I can’t necessarily say if it’s any good, but it exists and I want it to be successful so…*shrug*. Don’t worry, I’m not about to start cramming it down your throats.
We had a lot of nice comics this week. Dawn of X gave us the final new series, Fallen Angels, which I both liked and couldn’t care less about. We also have the final issue of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl! It’s great and wins Comic Book of the Week for being so momentous!
Just don’t tell Far Sector #1, which is a truly standout comic starter and was the best comic I read this week.
Meanwhile, I owe a big apology to Black Cat writer Jed MacKay. I’ve missed the past two issues because Black Cat came out during busy weeks and it was at the bottom of my read pile. But in last week’s issue, MacKay sent Felicia on a date with Batroc the Leaper and delivered a truly phenomenal issue.!This is exactly what I want from comics. They go on a normal date, talk about work, then go out and do some burglary for the fun of it. Felicia is written so well, Batroc is written so well, their world is explored like we rarely see. MacKay delivered!
Though I still wish they got some better art on Black Cat.
Comic Reviews: Fallen Angels #1, Far Sector #1, Go Go Power Rangers #25, Runaways #27, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #50 and X-Men #2.
Fallen Angels #1
Writer: Bryan Hill
Artist: Szymon Kudranski
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
I mostly dig this issue, but I’m really on the fence. I don’t care about any of the characters and that’s always a bummer for me and X-Men comics.
The issue opens with a young girl putting on a mechanical device, which then drives her mad, gives her strength and causes her to crash a commuter train in Tokyo in the name of “Apoth”
On Krakoa, Psylocke (formerly Kwannon), is trying to find some semblance of peace after spending so long with Betsy Braddock in her body. Then she gets a vision from some ghostly figure telling her to go out and defeat Apoth. She goes to Magneto first, and he sends her to Mister Sinister, who approves her passage off the island (it’s on lockdown after Xavier was shot in X-Force). Psylocke recruits X-23 (she tried to recruit Kid Cable, but Laura nixed the idea) to go with her to Tokyo, where they visit a local kingpin and watch a video of the crash. Psylocke recognizes the young girl as the daughter that was taken from her years ago and she uses her psychic knife to force information from the kingpin’s head. They head to a farmhouse where they find Apoth mentally puppeting children. He tells them to leave him alone, then kills all the children. He’s involved in some new technological drug called Overclock, which is the device the young girl put on in the opening segment.
Psylocke and X-23 return to Krakoa, where Psylocke makes a deal with Sinister to keep her new team a secret. In exchange, he’ll get to play around with Apoth when she brings him in. Psylocke then recruits Kid Cable for real and tells him and Laura to find her more recruits.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This is a very straight forward story that gets a little weird, but definitley a manageable kind of weird (unlike a different Dawn of X comic this week). It’s well-written, the characters are explored to a quality degree, and the art is pretty good. Overall, it’s a solid, easy to handle new X-Men comic. The story makes sense, the use of these specific characters makes sense, and Hill finds a couple new avenues to explore in the Dawn of X status quo. I can’t say the story is particularly compelling so far. Psylocke, who isn’t the Psylocke we’ve been reading about for the past few decades, learns about some strange new villain out there in the world and she’s going to put a stop to them. Honestly, that’s pretty standard superhero stuff and I’m not sure why it deserves its own Dawn of X launch title. I think it’s another example of writers falling back on traditional comic book storytelling instead of finding new, Krakoa-specific stories to tell with Dawn of X.
I like the idea of a secret team operating on Krakoa…but is this really the best mission for that secret team? Why even need a secret team? In the story, the only reason Psylocke isn’t allowed to just go off and investigate Apoth is because Professor X was killed in last week’s X-Force, so the island is on lockdown. Magneto does one of those “I’m not listening—you should go see Sinister—I’m not listening!” wink and nods to send her to Mister Sinister and that’s why it’s a secret. But if the island hadn’t been put into lockdown…why would we need an entire new comic for Psylocke’s mission? Let alone a comic that resurrects the name “Fallen Angels” for the title?
And it’s just really weird that Apoth is specifically targeting Kwannon. Where has he been all this time? Was he patiently waiting until Kwannon was in control of her body again before he made his move?
I’m all for Marvel separating Betsy Braddock and Kwannon. It’s always been weird, especially for 2019. So it’s definitely going to be interesting to explore Kwannon as she attempts to start over and find her purpose. And having a mission is a good way to do that. I just think the particulars of Fallen Angels are a little weird, and it dilutes the excitement a little. There’s nothing really new or unique about Psylocke in this issue to rally behind her. She’s just a strong ninja type with a semi-mysterious past who is looking to do some punching. And she has no connection to X-23 or Kid Cable, so the team-up is pretty shallow.
Just overall, it’s a well-written, well-drawn comic with a solid enough lead character and story…it just doesn’t make an impact in the Dawn of X. Nothing in this issue is, in and of itself, catchy or enticing. Not to mention the fact that we’ve already had Marauders and Excalibur focused on strong female characters struggling with their place on Krakoa and looking to do some punching. And we’ve already had Marauders, Excalibur and New Mutants focused on characters leaving Krakoa. So what really sets Fallen Angels apart?
TL;DR: This is a well-made first issue with a good enough plot, but there’s nothing particularly enticing or unique about it to warrant a whole comic on its own.
Far Sector #1
Writer: N.K. Jemisin
Artist: Jamal Campbell
Letterer: Deron Bennett
With Grant Morrison hogging the Green Lantern franchise for awhile now, DC has decided to branch out with an entirely different and much more fun GL tale!
And this one actually is a Green Lantern police procedural! Morrison’s comic didn’t actually end up like he’d promised.
Lantern Mullein is a Green Lantern from Earth who has been assigned to a planet called The City Enduring out in the farthest sector of the galaxy. There’s been a murder, the first murder in 500ish years, and their version of the police need help investigating. Once upon a time, the three races that make up The City Enduring — the normalish Nah, the dark and mysterious keh-Topli, and the computer-like @At (collectively known as The Trilogy) — were tricked into a devastating war. When it was over, they picked up the pieces of their two original planets and built the mostly manufactured City Enduring, including an Emotion Exploit to keep the wilder emotions in check.
After visiting the crime scene, Lantern Mullein realizes that nobody on this planet knows how to conduct a detailed murder investigation, and neither does she. So it’s going to be tough and improvisational. She visits with the Full Trilogy Council, the representatives of each race, to give them a rundown. She says they have a suspect in custody, a keh-Topli, but Mullein is more concerned with the “why” of the murder. She believes someone has gotten around the Emotion Exploit and there’s going to be a lot more violent crime to come. She says the Council knew this, and it’s why they requested a Green Lantern. It’s definitely going to be a tough investigation. Also, Marth, the Nah representative, is that special kind of aggressively charming that makes him totally suspicious.
Lantern Mullein goes to the local police station to interrogate the killer, only to find her body ripped open! A shadowy figure is spotted trying to flee the cell and Mullein is in hot pursuit!
Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.
Two quick things about Far Sector before I delve into my deeper review: 1.) This is exactly the sort of Green Lantern police procedural I wanted from Grant Morrison’s comic, and 2.) I wish Mullein wasn’t a human from Earth.
This was a great debut issue for this new series. I haven’t heard too much about it, and I don’t know Jemisin from any of her previous work, but I wanted a DC comic to review this week and I like Green Lanterns, so here I am! And I’m glad! This is a phenomenal dive into a Green Lantern doing her job, investigating a crime on a distant planet. Jemisin makes world-building look easy, with Campbell perfectly capturing all of the crazy ideas that go into City Enduring and its population. Campbell’s art is amazing! This feels like a real sci-fi planet in all the best ways, and they easily get the reader up to speed on what’s at play. I was never lost, always interested. And the story itself is good! The first murder in centuries, a police force that doesn’t actually know how to investigate murders, a council of politicians with their own goals and personalities, a planet and a society with a lot of unique styles and mysteries of its own; all of it works and it works well!
This is a perfect introduction to what seems to be a Green Lantern story brought down to basics. We don’t need to know about Hal Jordan or Guy Gardner or the Justice League. We don’t need to worry about Quasi-Men or Red Lanterns or what Sinestro is up to now. It’s just a Green Lantern, out in space, on an interesting planet, doing her job. I love it and this issue does so well!
As for my second point, I totally understand why Lantern Mullein is a human woman from Earth. If DC is trying to lure in new readers, especially previous Jemisin fans, then they probably should give readers a nice, stable foundation in their main character. A human from Earth is the easiest option for exploring a strange, new alien world. And Mullein is written really well. We get a good sense of her brusque personality, with a hint that she’s got a couple fun secrets. She’s great.
I just think there are too many Earth Lanterns. DC just keeps dumping new Green Lanterns onto us. First there was Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz, then we got the new Teen Lantern in Young Justice within the past year. And now there’s Mullein. She doesn’t get an origin story (yet) because this comic doesn’t need that complication. She’s just out there doing her job. But man, DC doesn’t need any more Earth Lanterns. And considering she’s so far out in space, why not come up with a new alien Lantern who is actually from a nearby planet? Why send someone from Earth all the way out there? There were no local Lanterns? Obviously the Lantern can’t be from City Enduring, because the fish-out-of-water element is a good element. But they could be from a neighboring sector. It’s not a big deal, and it obviously doesn’t detract from the issue. It’s just a personal gripe.
The whole point of the Green Lantern Corps is that its made up of aliens from all across the cosmos working together, and that Earth has a representative. But it’s not as special if humans are the leading majority of GLs.
TL;DR: Phenomenal start to what could be a really great police procedural Green Lantern tale. Interesting main character, creative alien world and a great mystery so far.
Go Go Power Rangers #25
Writers: Ryan Parrott and Sina Grace
Artist: Francesco Mortarino
Colorist: Raul Angulo
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
This is a fun issue! It’s a bunch of behind-the-scenes stuff that is a lot of fun to read for an old school fan like me.
Jason refuses to involve any of his friends and fellow Rangers in the Blue Emissary’s attempts to put together the Omega Rangers, so that leaves Jason trying to go out and just find other people suited to be secret spy Rangers. But Lord Zedd is sending putty after putty against our heroes, keeping him distracted. Part of the bargain with the Blue Emissary is that he find a way to re-power Tommy, to take Jason’s place on the team. So the Emissary (who mentions that he’s all alone) visits Zordon and Alpha to offer them a new power. Zordon and Alpha then recruit Tommy to send on a mission to recover a power source that will likely turn him into the White Ranger. During the show, Zordon and Alpha simply disappeared on the Rangers and didn’t tell them where they’d gone, so this issue has the Rangers out searching for any sign of them.
Billy secretly goes to Grace Sterling and Promethea for help and they discover the secret room in the Command Center. Kimberly chats with Matt during her search. And Jason sneaks away to the Command Center to try and use the computer program that Alpha used to find and recruit the Rangers, but Jason is no good at figuring out the computer. That’s when Zach and Trini find him fiddling with the computer and hanging out with a floating blue guy in a cape!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
I love the way this issue delivers some behind-the-scenes events from the original show. I wouldn’t say that should be the premise of this comic, but when it does happen, it’s neat! Back in the original show, Tommy just showed up as the White Ranger with little to no explanation. We didn’t need one at the time, but now that Parrott and Grace have one, I am fully on board to see it play out! Tommy is written so well, and it’s fun seeing something like Zordon interacting with the Blue Emissary, or even the pep talk that Zordon and Alpha give Tommy when he questions their decision to recruit him. It’s good, solid character work. As is the stuff with Jason putting together the Omega Rangers. The trials are unique and interesting as he struggles to keep his friends free of this madness while also needing to find people as good as his friends. And I like the idea that Jason bargained to get Tommy his powers back. Parrott and Grace are adding a lot of nice touches to the background of the original show, making this a really fun storyline!
TL;DR: It’s not often that the comics interact so directly with the original show, but issues like this one really shine!
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Kris Anka
Inkers: Anka and Walden Wong
Colorists: Dee Cunniffe and Jim Campbell
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
The J-Team is coming, baby! There’s no stopping it now!
We start with an extended costume montage, as Doc Justice and hit assistant Matthew dress everybody up in old J-Team costumes. It’s fun! The only problem is Gert. She doesn’t have any powers or fighting skills, so Doc Justice assumed she wouldn’t be coming on their mission…but, like, it’s kind of rude to say it to her face. The rest of the team agrees that she should sit this one out, so Gert instead joins Matthew in watching the fight via audio and video. The Runaways are an impressive team, almost too impressive. Gert is suspicious that Doc Justice could teach them to fight so well together on just the car ride over. Matthew insists it’s because he’s spent his whole life training young heroes. And when the team returns, they explain that the Doc really only gave them each one job to do, and they were just really good at that one job (Chase’s job was to punch people with his gun arm, for example). Still, Gert is a little uneasy, even as Victor tries to reassure her it was fine.
The next morning, the new J-Team has made the front page of the newspaper!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This is another fun issue that keeps the balling rolling on this Doc Justice storyline. It feels a bit slower paced than other stories, but I’m OK with that because we get such fun content. The costume montage is fun! And either Rowell is just poking fun at classic female costume tropes or she’s seeding in some underlying sexism in Doc Justice in how scanty the girls’ costumes are. Even Molly! Still, it’s a fun scene. And I liked watching the actual action through Gert being stuck back at base. It’s helping to build whatever mystery Rowell is building, and it’s still mysterious enough that she hasn’t given even an ounce of the game away. I still don’t know if Doc Justice is going to turn out to be a secret bad guy or if he’s completely legit and Gert and I are just looking for cracks in the facade. That’s good writing. And the whole issue is good storytelling.
TL;DR: A fun and entertaining story continues to roll right along. It’s getting a little suspicious how well it’s rolling right along.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #50
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Derek Charm
Colorist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: Travis Lanham
What is there to say about the end of one of the greatest superhero comic books of the 21st century? How do we say goodbye to, hands down, the funniest comic book I have ever read?
I’ll do my best.
Squirrel Girl survives Doctor Doom’s bomb, but the blast has left her weakened and the villains launch a final attack — which is blocked by Galactus! He has come to aid his very good friend Squirrel Girl by devouring all the bad guys. Squirrel Girl tells him he can’t, so they go to the moon to talk it out. Squirrel Girl explains that he can’t devour anybody to save the day, so Galactus agrees to just send them all to prison instead. Then Galactus waxes philosophical about the nature of comics, and how their friendship likely won’t last beyond this series, but somehow, some way, people will come back to re-read these adventures and then their friendship will still exist. It’s a nice sentiment (though Gwenpool did it first).
Galactus then returns to Earth, sends the bad guys to prison and returns all of the visiting guest stars to their original timelines, where he plucked them from in the first place. That’s how they all managed to show up in the nick of time.
Later, while picking through the wreckage of their apartment, Doreen and Nancy talk about how they want to live the rest of their lives, and how Doreen is comfortable living with the truth out about her secret identity. Brian has also discovered the joy of burying nuts. Then Tony Stark invites them all to Times Square, where he’s created a video to show to the whole world to give them a proper introduction to Doreen Green. It’s an awesome highlight reel set to the tune of the classic Spider-Man theme song, with art by Erica Henderson. Doreen loves it.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
While it’s hard to begin the review portion of this entry, I think I’ll start by saying this final issue was great. I’m a little disappointed that the big, grand fight scene and explosion that North set up in the previous issue was immediately Dues ex Machinaed, but I’m a lot thrilled at Galactus’ sudden arrival. He was her very first villain friend from the start of the series and so he’s a great choice to just show up and save the day. It works so damn well, even if we have to sacrifice Doreen solving this one on her own. She’s always relied on her friends, and this is the biggest friend she has. And, of course, Galactus allows North to tug on our heart strings a bit more about the nature of comics ending and characters being reused down the line. It’s a good sentiment, and he does a good enough job elaborating on it with Galactus. The big purple guy gets a touch more screentime than Doreen in these scenes, but I can let that slide. It’s an insanely fun friendship…and a big shock to Captain America.
The touching parts of the issue make up for any slight hiccups in the story. Doreen and Nancy get a good scene together. Kraven gets a final goodbye. Brain Drain, who we may never, ever see again, goes out with some panache, giving us some quality commentary about the awesomeness of squirrels.
And the ending montage is just nice. Erica Henderson was amazing on this series, and her return for the end is much appreciated. As is the updated theme song with new lyrics. Quality teamwork for that whole montage.
And Henderson’s farewell artwork on the closing credits page is a real tearjerker.
While not as bombastic or as all-encompasing as I expected the finale to be, this final issue of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl still gets to the heart of the matter and does it so well. It’s a nice ending, with a lot of good sentiments thrown around, and it’s an ending that’s fully aware of its place in the superhero comic landscape. North delivers a solid, satisfying farewell and I’m happy with where things have ended.
Also, did we ever find out what Doreen and Nancy from the future wrote to Doreen and Nancy from the present? Was it just the painting they pull out of the debris? I thought it would be a letter. I thought for sure those two would become a couple in the end.
Double also, Nancy Whitehead should be cast in the Loki TV show.
TL;DR: How do you say a fitting and entertaining goodbye to the funniest comic book in decades? Just like this.
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Leinil Francis Yu
Inker: Gerry Alanguilan
Colorist: Sunny Gho
God Dammit, Dawn of X! You haven’t even made it through all of your new #1 issues and you’ve already gone and mucked everything up! Apparently the assassination of Professor X in the first issue of X-Force is a permanent thing felt across all titles.
We’ve barely gotten started with this new status quo and already we’re resorting to needless character deaths and we’ve shattered the paradise that is Krakoa.
A new island has appeared in the ocean and Krakoa is moving towards it. Cyclops recruits his children, Prestige and Kid Cable, to go check out the new island. They discover thick plant life, a big volcano and some animals, and eventually find The Summoner, a skinny white dude who speaks a strange language. When Kid Cable gives him a bomb as a gift, the Summoner accidentally sets it off and they get into a fight. Rachel eventually uses telepathy to fix their language barrier and they all settle down and talk. The Summoner explains that his island and Krakoa are lovers, and sure enough, Krakoa shows up and the two islands merge. This second island is Arakko, which was mentioned during House of X/Powers of X.
Later that night, Apocalypse comes to visit The Summoner on Arakko and we find out that The Summoner is the offspring of the first War, who was lost through a portal on Arakko sometime in the past. Apocalypse promises to save The Summoner and all of his children.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
Once upon a time, I decided to try reading Jonathan Hickman’s new Avengers comics. I’d missed out on all the cool things he’d done in his Fantastic Four comics and I wanted to see what all of the fuss was about when he was brought onto Avengers. But instead of an Avengers comic, I was suddenly thrust into some impenetrable nonsense about a big yellow guy called Ex Nihilo, and something about terraforming Mars, and there was a woman named Abyss who made no sense. Then there was Aleph and the Builders and it was all just nonsense there at the beginning. By the end, once the whole story had been told and there were Wikipedia articles I could read that explained Ex Nihilo to me, I understood what had happened. But that was months later. Those first few issues were more impenetrable nonsense than ten Grant Morrison comics.
And so, in X-Men #2, we arrive at the new Ex Nihilo. What did we do to deserve this?
Look, I know I want big, bold and new stories about the X-Men with this new status quo, but do they have to be so mind-bogglingly confusing? I mean, I guess I get it…Arakko is back from the other dimension, and one of the offspring of the Horsemen who went through has come with it. And Apocalypse knows more about all of this than he’s letting on. But oy vey, this was just so mind-numbing! Once again, Hickman is delivering his weirdest, most far out ideas and is doing nothing to ease us into them. It’s weird as hell and I just don’t like it.
To say nothing of the slightly weird character work this issue. Cyclops seems pretty straight forward, but there’s a whole…fakeness about this. Like, Cyclops has never been this “Father Knows Best” with Rachel, let alone any version of Cable. But they call him ‘dad’ with affection, and he calls them ‘kids’ with equal affection, and it’s taking some getting used to. It’s an unsettling character dynamic, which doesn’t help when the plot of the issue is even more unsettling!
TL;DR: This is some weird stuff! And not the good kind of weird, the obtuse, impenetrable kind of weird!
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 November 16, 2019, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged Cyclops, Dawn of X, Fallen Angels, Far Sector, Go Go Power Rangers, Green Lantern, Power Rangers, Runaways, Ryan North, Squirrel Girl, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, X-Men. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.