Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 12/14/19
Welcome to another weekend of solid, enjoyable comic book reviews! And it’s another week of my favorites! Like Wonder Twins! And the exciting new Far Sector! Plus Go Go Power Rangers! The three-issue Dawn of X cavalcade continues, but not for me…
Comic Book of the Week goes to the latest issue of Jane Foster: Valkyrie, which assembles possibly the most original superhero team in years!
Meanwhile, I’ve dropped Fallen Angels because I just don’t care anymore. I don’t care about the characters, I don’t care about the story, I don’t care about the writing or the art. It’s the first on the Dawn of X chopping block! Though it’s also going to be the first to take a break in a couple of months, with a new Hellions coming out next spring. I’ll have to check that one out!
Comic Reviews: Far Sector #2, Go Go Power Rangers #26, New Mutants #3, Valkyrie #6, Wonder Twins #10 and X-Force #3.
Far Sector #2
Writer: N.K. Jemisin
Artist: Jamal Campbell
Letterer: Deron Bennett
The Green Lantern franchise is on fire these days! Far Sector is especially fun.
Green Lantern Sojourner Mullein is in hot pursuit of the mysterious cloaked figure who killed her murder suspect in police custody. She chases the suspect through the very crowded precinct and up into the open-air atrium — only to grab the wrong cloaked person. The new suspect gets away. Jo returns to the crime scene and chats with Syzn, the equivalent of the Police Chief in The City Enduring. We learn about the drug Switchoff, which takes people out of the Emotion Exploit that controls their emotions. Jo has a mysterious meeting with the keh-Topli city counselor, and we learn a bit more about how the keh-Topli eat other people, though obviously that’s kept in check in polite company.
Jo takes some downtime with Chief Syzn, revealing that they hooked up in the past, but it didn’t work out. Now they’re just “friends” and hang out together. Syzn explains a bit more about keh-Topli culture and the Emotion Exploit, how she’s both creeped out and impressed that Jo is in control of her emotions, whereas Syzn feels like she needs the Emotion Exploit.
Jo goes to visit Marth, the city counselor for the Nah. He’s this swarthy, charming fellow who gets her to start dancing with him in his luxury apartment. She wants to talk to the original murder victim’s family, and he’s complied a file on the victim’s family and connections. As he hands it over, though, his flirting becomes a lot more obvious and Jo realizes that Marth has taken Switchoff!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
The first issue was a little more fun and exciting because it was a first issue and was a dynamic introduction to this new world/story. This second issue really digs in deep to the mythology set up in the first issue, and the exposition isn’t as fun this time around. There is a lot to keep track of, so much so that I had to go back to the first issue, as well as my review of the first issue, to use as a guide for all the characters and alien races in this issue. This is good stuff and I want to stay on top of everything we’re seeing. The mystery doesn’t have too many new twists or surprises this issue, but at least we get some solid and enjoyable character and relationship development.
I’m really liking Sojourner Mullein. Once the exposition is settled, I feel like we’ll really get the chance to see her shine.
Honestly, I am now very much ready to get her origin story. I hope Jemisin has that planned for a future issue. How/why was she chosen for a Green Lantern ring? Who was she on Earth that she’s so ready and willing to just break out into a random dance party with the suspiciously charming council member? Does she have any experience in law enforcement? Or is she just winging it? I’m eager for more opportunities to see her personality and character shine through. As such, I feel it’s a pity that we’ve missed out on the brief fling between Jo and Chief Syzn. Seeing the two of them flirt and have a fling would have been a great subplot in this opening chapter of Jo’s story. Now it’s just backstory, tossed away in a single line of dialogue, even if they are pretty chummy in the comic itself. Hopefully that comes up a lot more.
TL;DR: This exciting new sci-fi series continues with more exposition and more solid character development. A must-read for Green Lantern fans.
Go Go Power Rangers #26
Writers: Ryan Parrott and Sina Grace
Artist: Francesco Mortarino
Colorist: Raul Angulo
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Why yes, I would love a story exploring how exactly Tommy came to be the White Power Ranger, thank you very much!
In flashback, we see that Tommy was under an obedience spell when he first became the Green Power Ranger, a puppet to Rita Repulsa. She’s annoyed by just how much of a sycophant he is, but Tommy assures Rita that she has set him free!
In the present, Tommy arrives on a distant planet and is led to the temple of the White Light by a mystery space tiger. He encounters Saba, guardian of the White Light, who refuses to give Tommy the power because of Lord Drakkon. Tommy fights for his right to wield the power, but then Lord Zedd shows up. Zedd claims that he’s been keeping an eye on Tommy ever since draining our hero of the Green Power. He knew Zordon would try to re-power Tommy someday, and now that has finally led Zedd to the White Light! Zedd corrupts Saba and offers Tommy the White Light power free of charge, wanting Tommy to claim it and corrupt it like the villain he was always meant to be!
Meanwhile, Jason asks Zach and Trini to just trust him for now about the Blue Emissary. He can’t explain things just yet. And then the Rangers are called on to fight another monster. Good times.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Another exciting issue delving deep into Power Rangers lore to provide excellent behind-the-scenes material! That is BOOM! Power Rangers comics in a nutshell, and they continue to knock it out of the park! This is an excellent issue of Tommy’s alien adventure, giving us some real insight into what happened and putting forth a really fun, really character-deep story. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that Lord Zedd is an illusion. This is all part of the test to see if Tommy’s worthy. Or heck, given the way this comic operates, maybe Zedd is real and we’ll get this awesome Tommy vs. Zedd moment! Either way, this was an exciting encounter and I look forward to seeing this story through.
Did we know that Tommy was under an obedience spell when he was a bad guy Green Ranger? On the one hand, it feels like that was definitely the case, that Rita was poisoning his mind when she had him under her thrall. I seem to remember something about glowing green eyes. On the other hand, it feels a little weak. I’m with Rita on this one: the Green Ranger is far less interesting if he’s just a mind-controlled puppet. Thankfully, this is just a flashback, and the real meat of the story is exciting and excellent.
Though it’s a little disappointing that the Jason/Emissary storyline is put on the back burner for now. I wonder why they couldn’t do more with it in this issue…other than, I suppose, getting the timing just right for when the Power Rangers discovered the White Ranger in the show.
TL;DR: These Power Rangers comics were made to flesh out and expand on the original show, and this issue delivers in spades with the secret origin of the White Ranger!
New Mutants #3
Writer: Ed Brisson
Colorist: Carlos Lopez
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Sometimes I wonder if superhero comics are still for me…
Armor has begun to feel a little uneasy about the fact that there are still some mutants out there who haven’t come to Krakoa, including friends of theirs. She checks in with Sage to gets some names and decides to check in on Beak, Angel and their kids, who are living with Beak’s parents on a farm in Nebraska. Glob Herman has been tagging along with her this whole time, and they get some help from Boom Boom (who feels left out that the New Mutants went into space without her). Then Manon and Maxime join Armor and Glob as they head to Krakoa with medicine for Beak’s father, who is suffering from Taylor Ellis Disease.
It’s a happy reunion. The medicine works. But then a bunch of mutant-hating psychos show up and take all the kids hostage. Armor goes out to fight, but they blast her with a power dampening missile! Because everybody in Dawn of X has power-dampening technology…
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I don’t know. It’s just…did we need this strange anti-mutant gang to suddenly show up at the farm and threaten to harm everybody? Did this need to lead to fisticuffs? Could we not simply have a story where Armor goes out into the world to solve problems and bring familiar and fan-favorite mutants to Krakoa? The obvious answer, of course, is that this is a superhero comic and we need superhero action. But this gang is so awkward. They say they want the Krakoan medicines…but why are they randomly rolling up on Beak’s farm? And on this day of all days? Why does some punk gang want to negotiate with whatever mutants live in this farmhouse in Nebraska for medicines? It just comes across as so awkwardly inserted, whereas the rest of the story was nice and fun and really tapped into the energy of this new status quo!
It’s 2019. There are so many wide and varied types of comics out in the world. Can this big X-Men redesign/relaunch not have a couple of low key or artistic comics?
I really liked the Armor and Glob Herman storyline. I had to think back and remember that Armor and Glob were among Beak and Angel’s classmates, so that was a fun connection to remember. And Armor and Glob made a nice team. It was also a treat to see Beak and Angel again! They were fun Grant Morrison creations. This really is a nice story and I think it could have stood on its own, of Armor going out and trying to recruit some X-Men who haven’t come to Krakoa yet, especially if it involves her solving whatever problems might be delaying those X-Men. I love how it ties into Dawn of X, both in the whole idea of migrating to the island, and to the idea of using the new medicines to cure Beak’s dad. This is exactly the sort of story I want to see in Dawn of X, making great use of the wide variety of available characters and giving them a story that actually has something to do with the new status quo.
TL;DR: This issue is exactly what I want from Dawn of X: making great use of the expanded cast and having a story that actually ties into the new status quo.
Writers: Al Ewing and Jason Aaron
Artist: Pere Perez
Colorist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
I love this issue more than I know how to write into words. I guess superhero comics still are for me after all.
In her job in the morgue, Jane gets a message from a violent corpse that Death is dying. So she goes to visit Doctor Strange and gets a crash-course in the entity that is Lady Death. Jane is a little skeptical about Death having outfits and wearing make up. Strange calls the Night Nurse and she gathers a team of doctor superheroes: Cardiac, Manikin of Alpha Flight, and Dr. Faiza Hussain, wielder of mighty Excalibur (and a favorite of mine!). Those three join Valkyrie, Strange and Night Nurse as they travel to Death’s realm, where they fight off an army of zombies — until they realize that zombies can’t fly, so they simply take to the skies.
The team flies to Death’s abode and is shocked to see a gigantic Grim Reaper version of the Living Tribunal floating above the dark residence.
Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.
Every single writer who is brought on to do a new team book at Marvel (or anywhere) should be given a copy of this issue to learn how it’s done. All the writers on the new Dawn of X books should have read this issue. It’s magnificent. This is how you put together a team of random Marvel characters and make them interesting. I love the idea of Ewing and Aaron looking up superheroes who are also doctors, finding characters like Faiza and Manikin, and just getting giddy at what they’re doing here. Because they don’t just slap this team together and call it a day. Actual thought went into this team-up. Jane Foster is a doctor, and she’s given a story that ties into her role as both a doctor and an emissary of death. And to make it even better, they team her up with other doctor superheroes, a concept that I don’t think has ever been seen before. And to make it happen, they have truly dug deep into the wider Marvel Universe to give us this roster. It’s amazing.
Then to make it even more better, Ewing and Aaron actually have fun between the characters! Like Doctor Strange geeking out at seeing the sword Excalibur again.
That moment is just so perfect! And it makes so much sense. Of course Doctor Strange would have some sort of history with the sword Excalibur, a truly awesome and classic magical artifact. And when picking Faiza Hussain to appear in your all-doctor comic book, Excalibur comes with her. And it’s just so much fun that the creators thought of this moment. It’s only a single panel, but it just works so perfectly as part of Marvel continuity. They really put a lot of meaningful thought into this roster and story.
Then, at another moment of the story, they engage in some really good, really normal team bonding.
It’s just so simple. And it’s even better, because Cardiac has been written as a really gruff dude up until this point. But now he’s starting the random small talk about bands, the sort of small talk anybody would have. That’s good team bonding stuff! So simple, but it works so well to gel a team together. And having the roster actually gel when they’re in a comic together is something that seems to be ignored far too often.
The art is great. The story is insane and cool. The deep dives into Marvel lore are really neat. This issue has it all!
TL;DR: A really creative new story kicks off with a really creative new team in a really creative, really fun, expertly-crafted new issue.
Wonder Twins #10
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Stephen Byrne
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
I ordered the first Wonder Twins tpb because I couldn’t wait for a full collected edition. Oddly, the pages were newsprint instead of the usual tpb glossy! I felt that was weird. And just putting that out there for anyone curious about the trade paperback.
The Wonder Twins and Polly sneak into Lex News HQ to steal Cell Phone Sylvia’s Phantom Zone device. Then they need Lex Luthor’s personal spaceship. Lex has been up in space since blasting off to avoid the Great Scramble a couple issues ago. One of his interns was supposed to upload the landing coordinates, but said intern has access to Lex’s corporate credit card, so he’s treating all the interns to big meals while Lex floats in space. Jayna poses as Gorilla Grodd to trick Lex into landing and they steal his spaceship! Then the trio, plus Gleek, fly out to space to the Phantom Zone Pane that has Polly’s dad and a few others. They drag the pane to the event horizon of a black hole to weaken it, then Zan jumps out into space, freezes into an ice spear and shatters the pane! Everybody is brought safely on board, the mission a complete success!
Meanwhile, Colonel ’86, the sentient computer program created by Polly’s dad, gains access to the internet and starts to take over all computers, including at the Hall of Justice!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
This was more of a moving-pieces issue, and it gets a lot of fun things done. I love the Twins on a mission, from stealing the device to tricking Lex Luthor to heading out into space on their own. It’s just plain fun. We’ve spent so much time getting to know these two as superhero interns that it works so well to actually see them engaged in heroic behavior. Zan launching himself out into space to shatter the Phantom Zone Pane is cool as hell.
And the dialogue around the moment is even more fun!
Mark Russell is such a good write that it feels like a disservice to even call him a “good writer”. Professionals can go their whole careers without writing something as sharp as issues like this one. And that’s what makes Wonder Twins such a good comic. This isn’t some cheaply produced gimmick comic, this is a top tier writer putting his heart and soul into some under-appreciated classic superheroes. And he makes it look easy. The same could be said for Stephen Byrne on art. Everything about this comic is gorgeous.
And Russell’s social commentary is second to none in superhero comics. His ongoing Lex Luthor takeover of the news media and society is a hilarious background gag.
TL;DR: Wonder Twins remains the whole package. Well-written, well-drawn, well-colored, and sharper than anything else on the stands.
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Joshua Cassara
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
While I’m not particularly enjoying X-Force, it’s still a solid comic. This issue finally, at least, puts the team together.
Wolverine and Quentin Quire rescue Domino, and she’s awake enough to have Wolverine cut off her power-dampening collar. Her luck powers help them escape the flesh golems, but her mind is too scrambled to remember much about her attackers.
On Krakoa, a mysterious figure kills the last surviving assassin, and his body explodes when dead, like all the others.
Jean Grey and Beast successfully revive Professor X, and he makes a public appearance to assure the world that he’s fine. Then in secret, he gathers together all the key players so far and reforms X-Force to ferret out these new bad guys. These new bad guys, by the way, seem to be made up of all the various secret government anti-mutant agencies. They’ve now united as “XENO”.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
We’ve finally got the team together, we get some good drama and some truly stomach-churning action. There’s a panel of the bad guy’s pulling off Domino’s flesh. We don’t see her face, just the flesh coming off the muscle. It’s pretty gruesome. And if that’s the comic X-Force is going to be, I hope we see more. I hope this really digs in as the crazy, dark, gruesome comic. There’s definitely a place for such a thing in Dawn of X, and this issue of X-Force gives us a good preview of what that can be like. The comic has a solid, interesting roster, and each character should have a good place in the comic. And we’ve got some potentially interesting villains, even if I think they’re a little too far advanced for how new Krakoa is supposed to be. Still, Percy does a fine job setting everybody up in this issue, and setting up every plot. I don’t think he needed three issues to get us to this point, but I’m glad we are, and I’m still interested in seeing where he goes from here.
Also, it’s worth noting, that both text pages in this issue — which are part of every single Dawn of X comic — are used not as infographics but to actually summarize scenes that we don’t actually see in this comic. They’re essentially prose recaps.
TL;DR: Important pieces finally fall into place to show us what sort of comic X-Force is going to be. I mostly like what I see, and I’m interested in seeing the creative team really dig into the meat of the series.
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 December 14, 2019, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged Boom!, Dawn of X, Far Sector, Go Go Power Rangers, Green Lantern, Jane Foster, New Mutants, Power Rangers, Sojourner Mullein, Valkyrie, Wonder Twins, X-Force. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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