Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 12/21/19

Holy moly, people! Because Christmas falls on a Wednesday next week, every single comic company is dumping ALL OF THEIR COMICS this week! We’ve got nearly half a dozen Dawn of X comics, along with the likes of Powers Rangers, Runaways, Legion of Super-Heroes and, to top it all off, the finale to Tom King’s Batman saga and the mid-season finale to Dan Slott’s Iron Man! There’s so many comics!

Comic Book of the Week goes to the final issue of King Thor! Jason Aaron finishes his legendary run with a truly masterful goodbye that’s both exciting and heartfelt. And Thor: God Cop.

Cop of Thunder 01

You know you’d read it

Meanwhile, in non-comic book but otherwise important news, I enjoyed Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. I’ll have my full review and thoughts on Wednesday, but for right now, I liked the movie. Or more precisely, I liked the grand finale with all its crazy big action and solid character moments. It seems I’m a sucker for good, quality Star Wars fan service.

Comic Reviews: Batman #85, Gwenpool Strikes Back #5, King Thor #4, Legion of Superh-Heroes #2, Marauders #4, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #46, New Mutants #4, Runaways #28, Scream: Curse of Carnage #2, Spider-Man #3, and Tony Stark – Iron Man #19. 


Batman #85

Batman #85
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Mikel Janin and Hugo Petrus
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

The end is here. I have enjoyed Tom King’s run overall, but this last stretch felt really stretched. Maybe it’ll read better in trades. But it’s a solid ending.

The issue focuses on the final confrontation between Batman and his interdimensional father, and is spliced with glimpses of epilogue to the fates of various characters.

Thomas Wayne has Batman at his mercy, but it’s quickly revealed that he doesn’t have Catwoman at his mercy. Thomas thought he was using Psycho Pirate to control her, but Catwoman reveals that she still has a piece of Scarface, and she was using that to control Wesker, who Thomas was counting on to control Psycho Pirate. So they defeat Thomas, but he’s a wily guy and manages to get a gun to Bruce’s head. But Bruce explains that he may have made a vow when he was young to war on crime, but he’s an adult now, and adults make adult decisions. Being Batman now, as an adult, is a decision he makes every day, not just something based on a childhood vow. Thomas relents and Batman punches him out, stating that Thomas is not his father.

In the epilogues, Bruce and Selina visit Alfred’s grave to say goodbye. Bruce gives Gotham Girl some Platinum Kryptonite, which cures her disease and lets her keep her powers. We see Thomas Wayne in prison and he has Bane come over and break his back, getting out Bane’s frustrations against Batman. We see Batman and Catwoman running across the rooftops and deciding to get quickie married, only to end up making out and heading home and forgetting to do the quickie ceremony with the judge. Selina tells Bruce that they don’t need a legal ceremony to be partnered. And we see Bruce sitting at a bar with Chuck Brown (Kite-Man), watching the latest football game. The Gotham City quarterback being terrible has been a running gag through all of Tom King’s run. Bruce and Chuck talk football for a bit, with Chuck confident that the quarterback will once again fail, but Bruce has hope that he might turn things around (a clear metaphor for life). And as the issue draws to a close, the quarterback goes for one big play…and we don’t find out if he succeeds or not.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

It was fine. It actually seems better in hindsight now. Honestly, this City of Bane storyline in particular just seemed to lose all of its steam. The story dragged on and accomplished not much of anything. So Batman rallies, returns to Gotham and then just wins, with a bunch of additional fluff about Thomas Wayne being a grumpy old man. But this final chapter is fine. I like Batman’s speech about choosing to be Batman. And I liked the twist that Catwoman was using Scarface’s eyeball to one-up the bad guys, even though Psycho Pirate and Wesker haven’t really been involved in this story for a very long time. You’ve just go to remember the parts they played way way way back at the beginning of King’s run on the comic. It’s also weird to think that the two of them just stood around in the background of the living room as Batman fought his dad. And add Pyscho Pirate and the Ventriloquist to the list of people who know Batman’s secret identity.

At least the pay-off to Tom King’s Kite-Man saga was nice.

Bruce and Chuck Discuss Life 01

Bruce Wayne and Charlie Brown discuss football as a metaphor for life

Honestly, I think this whole run will probably be most fondly remembered for Tom King’s work on Kite-Man. And that’s not a bad thing. He’ll be known as the Kite-Man guy! Just look at what King’s work has done for the character in the Harley Quinn cartoon show!

Anyway, the stuff with Batman and Catwoman is still nice. They get their “marriage” after all. They still get to be romantic going forward. But killing Alfred was a step too far. This story did not earn the death of Alfred. Hopefully that gets undone sooner rather than later. It definitely feels like an afterthought in this whole saga.

I dunno. I guess I have mixed feelings about this issue. It’s a solid read, with some good bits here and there. But this feels more like a whimper than a bang of an ending. I still remember the controversy of DC cutting King’s run short. And maybe this is what we get with him scrambling to finish early. It doesn’t feel as strong as it could have been. But it’s strong enough that I think Tom King can hold his head high at having written a solid, enjoyable and, at times, phenomenal Batman run.

TL;DR: Ends the whole saga with more of a whimper than a bang, but has some good moments. Probably will read better in the trade.


Gwenpool #5

Gwenpool Strikes Back #5
Writer: Leah Williams
Artist: David Baldeon
Colorists: Jesus Aburtov and Guru-eFX
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

The latest Gwenpool mini-series comes to a solid conclusion, leaning hard into her strange reality. Considering I love it when Gwenpool comics do that, I very much enjoyed this issue.

Gwen faces off against Ms. Marvel in the final showdown of her royal rumble, but Kamala doesn’t want to fight. In fact, Kamala can’t help but notice that Gwen has been acting even more manic than usual. Kamala wants to talk. And no matter how much Gwen tries to fight or wipe away the tears, Kamala won’t throw hands and insists they talk. So they sit on the beach and chat, and Gwen explains where her powers come from — to which Kamala insists none of that can be true. Kamala suggests that Gwen is a mutant whose reality-warping powers also warped her mind. Gwen eventually relents and admits she’s a mutant…but really only to make Kamala happy. Gwen leaves the page to go off on her own and drown in the misery of the end of her shelf-life…but then she sees a Krakoan portal! And filled with renewed hope, she runs through it and arrives on Krakoa!

Krakoa is welcomed by Wolverine, and then also Quentin Quire, with whom she makes up with. Then she climbs back out of the pages, happy that she has successfully retconned her origin in order to survive in comics. Then she makes a note for future writers in the form of one of those Dawn of X infographic pages laying out her basic details. Hooray for Gwenpool!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

I consider the ending to the original Unbelievable Gwenpool comic to be one of the greatest comic book endings of all time, at least for the modern era. The way writer Christopher Hastings took her fourth wall powers and used them to tell a touching story about life, meaning and inevitability was just perfect! So I like how Williams leans back into that idea, something she’s been seeding through this entire mini-series. This isn’t just a wacky adventure where Gwenpool plays around in the Marvel Universe. This is a person panicking and struggling against larger forces beyond her control. And Williams plays it oh so well as Gwen struggles against Kamala’s insistence that they talk.

Gwenpool Face 01

That face wounds my soul

I think that aspect of the comic is very well done, as is Gwen’s descent into misery. And while it makes sense that she would have the power to retcon her own origin story…I’m a little disappointed with the ending. I was hoping Marvel would have the guts to actually just bring Gwenpool to an end. The gag has run its course. She doesn’t need to become a permanent character, let alone a permanent addition to Krakoa. Let her end. Let her ending be really poignant and meaningful. But this is comics, and I suppose no one ever really dies. And ugh. She jumps back into the arms of Quentin Quire at the end. Way to really rub salt in my eyes, comic!

TL;DR: The final issue of the mini-series really digs into the heart of what makes Gwenpool special, but then swerves into a happy ending at the end that I wish wasn’t necessary.


King Thor #4

King Thor #4
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Esad Ribic and a ton of guest artists
Colorist: Ive Svorcina
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino

And so all things come to an end. But all things also never end. So yeah.

Thor the End-Father does battle with Gorr the Necro-Verse, who has possessed the entire universe! Gorr creates a black hole and sucks Thor inside. Then, while Gorr is distracted by Loki, Thor calls upon the thunder and destroys Gorr from within! Though Thor is left pondering, what is the spirit of thunder?

In the present day, Shadrak is at the celestial library, where the Lord Librarian finds him digging through classic Thor stories. The Lord Librarian then suggests that there are books for Thor stories yet to come, and Jason Aaron takes us through a bunch of silly future Thor stories, like God Cop, Thor the Thunder World, and Lord of the Ice Apes. And we pay visits to the various Thor supporting characters as they move on from this story, like Jane Foster and Balder. And we see King Thor in Asgard, who leaves Mjolnir on his throne every night, so that every morning before he sits on the throne he can test himself to see if he’s worthy again.

And far in the future, after Gorr has been defeated, we check in on a surviving universe. Gorr has been purged of all evil and is just a simpleton now, living in a pretty garden and being watched over by the one thing he always needed: loving gods. And Thor’s granddaughters live with the mortals on Midgard, bringing that world back to life. And Loki sacrificed himself to restart the sun. But the damage Gorr did to the universe was too much, and the universe is rotting. So Thor says his tearful goodbyes to his granddaughters, leaves them Mjolnir and rides into the darkness to repair it. And as he uses the thunder to heal the universe, some small kids on Midgard tell their father that they are scared of thunder. But the father says that the sound of thunder is a sign of their god’s love and of his good works.

For you see, the spirit of thunder is to be heard.

Comic Rating: 10/10-Fantastic.

What a grand finale. Jason Aaron goes all out and has a blast with his final Thor comic. The final blow to Gorr is a tiny bit anti-climactic, but that’s fine. It’ll read better in trade. And the rest of the issue more than makes up for the abrupt end to that part of the story. Aaron narrates the whole issue, ruminating on the nature and value of stories, and the importance of Thor and all the Thor stories out there in the world. And I love it when Aaron just goes all out with the descriptors. It’s like levels of Super Saiyan. Thor is now the “End-Father!” and all the fun stuff like that. It’s nifty, and I like him just going for broke. All those future Thor story ideas are pure gold!

Thor Goodbye 01

And now his watch has ended

And then, as it should be, Aaron wraps everything up very nicely with a solid, emotional send-off. I like the fate of Gorr. It’s appropriate and nice. And I like the fate of the granddaughters, and their farewell with Thor. And I like the line that runs through the issue, about the spirit and purpose of Thunder, and I like Aaron’s answer to that in the end. The saga concludes on a very strong note, and that’s not always the case for fictional stories that last years. Aaron does his whole Thor run proud with this final issue. It’s a very fitting conclusion.

Jason Aaron’s Thor run is one for the ages. Full of grand ideas that he pulled off flawlessly. And all of it is held together by themes and questions he lays forth at the very beginning and keeps going throughout. This whole thing is a masterpiece of comic book storytelling and should be heralded as such for years to come! Hopefully!

TL;DR: How do you end years upon years of an epic comic book run? With this fun, fitting, exciting, and heartfelt grand finale!


Legion of Super-Heroes #2

Legion of Super-Heroes #2
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Ryan Sook
Inker: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Dave Sharpe

I’m afraid this comic has already lost some of its luster. I think the problem is that Bendis is treating the Legion as just one big group. They all seem to talk the same and think the same, with none of them getting a real opportunity to be an individual. It’s a weird homogenization.

The pirates attack the Legion in an attempt to steal back Aquaman’s Trident. The Legion fight and hand off the trident to Superboy to keep it away from the bad guys. Then suddenly, the trident bursts with a tidal wave of ocean water, washing away the pirates and saving the day.

Meanwhile, Rose Forrest, the Legion’s PR person, goes to visit with the President of the United Planets. It’s a terse meeting, with Rose not taking any of the President’s guff about Legion business. Rose, by the way, is the same Rose as classic character Rose and Thorn. I guess Bendis has been using her a bunch in comics I haven’t read, establishing that Rose is immortal. This isn’t explained in the comic, I had to go look it up on Wikipedia. Rose heads back to the Legion and briefs them on her meeting with the President, while the Legion does a bit of research on the pirates and the trident.

Over lunch, the Legion decides to split into two teams: one will visit Ultra Boy’s troublesome father to figure out what he wanted with the trident, and another team will uh…honestly, I forget what they go off to do and don’t feel like looking it up just  now. It didn’t seem important. Superboy is told to stay behind and finally watch the orientation video. Instead, Superboy returns to the past to get Damian Wayne and bring him to the future as well!

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

It’s weird to realize just how much the Legion in this comic is one big groupspeak. It’s like endless Bendis-speak bantering back and forth with itself. Bendis uses Superboy as the one standout character, and even though everyone else has these amazing character designs, with such vibrant colors, the Legionnaires just blend together. It’s such a weird way to approach this comic! I want to get to know the individual Legionnaires. I want some drama for them. But nope. This comic is about Superboy hanging out with the Legion while they go about some random storylines. The one standout Legionnaire isn’t even really a Legionnaire. It’s Rose, because Bendis has retconned Rose and Thorn to being immortal. And again, that part isn’t explained in this issue. I thought Rose Forrest was just some Legion supporting character until I Googled her. She has personality and spunk, and it would have been more fun if she actually was a Legion character. But from Superboy to Rose to the trident, all the standout factors in this comic are based on 21st century DC heroes. The Legion of Super-Heroes is just a big blob of color bantering with itself about nothing in particular.

TL;DR: The focus of this series is not on the actual Legion, and that’s already hurting the comic. Ryan Sook’s awesome character designs are going to waste!


Marauders #4

Marauders #4
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Lucas Werneck
Colorist: Federico Blee
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

Good news, everybody! Jumbo Carnation is alive and well on Krakoa! Who is Jumbo Carnation? He’s a mutant fashion designer created and killed by Grant Morrison! And he’s a really obscure mutant that I did kind of hope would come back.

Storm and Pyro help a bunch of Brazilian children escape from a cruel soldier in pretty glorious fashion, giving us a taste of the main mission for the Marauders. Meanwhile, Kate Pryde teams up with Bishop to look into the disappearance of that Chinese man from the first issue. Kate uses her powers to take Bishop straight into the guy’s apartment and finds him held inside a secret cinder block prison in a secret room in the apartment. The guy is in one of those mutant-worshipping cults that sprang up after Xavier made his big, worldwide announcement. They roll their eyes, fight off some guards with Lady Deathstrike-like weapons, and take the guy to a big anti-mutant rally that his wife is holding. They expose her as a fraud and, in turn, the woman reaches out to the Hellfire Kids for help. Those darn kids!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This was a fun issue that moved things along nicely. I liked the opening segment, where we see the Marauders doing what they’ve essentially been founded to do. They do it well and have some fun doing it, as well as some badass moments. And then the rest of the issue being Kate and Bishop on an operation is also cool. They conduct themselves like proper badasses and get the job done, while carrying on a pleasant conversation about Bishop becoming Kate’s Red Bishop in the Hellfire Trading Company. It’s good character work and story building. And the mystery of the missing man from the first issue is wrapped up nicely. I was never a fan of the Hellfire Kids, so I don’t particularly enjoy seeing them, but they would make a solid antagonist for a comic that focuses on the newly revamped Hellfire Trading Company.

Pyro Beer 01

At least my brother’s favorite mutant gets to have fun

Though if I can get one nitpick in, I do find it a little weird the extremes this woman went to in order to hide her husband. She’s got a secret room in her residential apartment that Bishop says he hasn’t been able to access with any possible technology. And then within that secret room, the guy is being held in what appears to be a cement block, in a sterile room with all white furniture and clothing. If you’re going to hide your husband, why hide him in your apartment? And is an average person really able to create a room so hidden that no technology that Bishop can get his hands on can get into the room? And yet the woman didn’t think of power dampeners to stop someone like Kate? Power dampeners are all the rage in all of the other Dawn of X comics, why couldn’t this woman get her hands on some?

Nitpick aside, this is a fun issue. Marauders is my favorite Dawn of X series so far, and it’s issues like this one that make it so. Duggan has a fine handle on the characters and he puts them in fun situations. That’s good comics.

TL;DR: A fun issue delves into what is actually unique and fun about Marauders in the larger Dawn of X landscape.


Power Rangers #46

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #46
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Daniele Di Nicuolo
Colorist: Walter Baiamonte, with assist by Katia Ranalli
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire

Hells yeah! Now this is how you make Power Rangers comics!

After another failed training session, Kimberly vents her frustrations to Tommy, who seems pretty chipper that the bad guys are dead and the Omega Rangers are there to help out. Kim is still worried, and she vents later to Billy, who points out that change is inevitable. He’d like to go to college someday, and they now know that recruiting new Rangers is possible. But Kim is still worried.

Meanwhile, Jason, Zach and Trini are ambushed by Kiya and her Anointed. Kiya sucker punches Jason at the start of the fight, and Zach and Trini put up a good one, but the bad guys win and our heroes are forced to retreat. Xi is still alive, though barely. With no where else to go, the Zach and Trini teleport with the injured Jason right into the middle of the Command Center, unmasked, begging for the Power Rangers’ help!

Oh, also, Goldar has repaired Lord Zedd’s staff and shows up downtown to turn a bunch of vehicles into monsters.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

It’s getting to the point that I’m not sure how to continue to praise these Power Rangers comics. Both Mighty Morphin and Go Go provide such rich character development and such exciting stories. This issue, in particular, is filled with great moments! From Kimberly questioning Tommy’s leadership, to Kimberly and Billy quietly contemplating the end of their own Ranger careers, to the fight with Kiya and all the surprise revelations about the betrayal. And then we get to that final moment, with the Omega Rangers fleeing to the Command Center and revealing their identities! I definitely didn’t expect these comics to go there. I thought they’d play coy about the Omega Rangers for far longer. But here we are, and it’s awesome!

Trini vs Kiya 01

Betrayal most foul!

This was another very fun Power Rangers comic. We’ve got rising stakes all over the place, interesting antagonists making their moves and the Rangers themselves remain the heart of the series. The characters are great, the drama is great and I’m always excited to get this comic. It’s just so well-crafted. This is how you do a team comic!

TL;DR: Another stellar Power Rangers comic delivers another round of great character development and action!


New Mutants #4

New Mutants #4
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Marco Failla
Colorist: Carlos Lopez
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham

I’m definitely liking this storyline and these characters more than the New Mutants we saw at the beginning. If Hickman and Brisson are trading off storylines, bring on Brisson!

Boom Boom finds out that Armor and Glob have been gone for three days, so she goes to Sage and finds out where they went.

Armor, Glob, Manon, Maxime, Beak, Angel and their kids are held prisoner for those three days in the basement of the farmhouse with power dampeners (told you!) around their necks. The gang leader explains that he comes from a country in Latin America where everybody got sick from some chemical run-off from a big corporation, and then some fancy American scientist invented a vaccine, but charged a ton of money, leading to even more deaths. So that’s why he wants the Krakoan medicines, but he’s still a criminal and wants to be the supplier of those drugs. After several days, Armor finally gives in to his demands to fetch a Krakoan diplomat in exchange for food for the kids.

With Armor about to depart for the nearest portal alongside several goons, Angel uses the arrival of food to mount an escape. She uses her acidic vomit to break Manon and Maxime out, and they use their mind control powers to turn their guards against one another. Gunshots ring out from the basement, worrying Armor and the goons on the front lawn. Then Boom Boom shows up and blows up the goons’ truck.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This was another fun issue. Simple as that. I still don’t think this story needed the random gang and the child endangerment thing, but Brisson made the most of it. He gives the ridiculous-looking villain some solid motivation/back story. He uses Angel, the kids and his other characters very well. He gives us some fun looks at Krakoa, which continues to look like one giant, never-ending party. As much as I loved that first party in House of X, not every groupshot on Krakoa needs to be another party. But still, Boom Boom is good, with a badass, heroic cliffhanger ending. And the art is really solid, suiting the characters. Part of me feels like the art is a little too cheerful for the fact that this was about children held prison in a basement for several days…but lets not dwell on that. Let’s just enjoy this cool issue of some minor X-Men characters getting the chance to stretch their legs and shine in the Dawn of X. I’m grateful enough for that.

Honestly, I can think of nothing I would rather be doing in this world than writing a Dawn of X comic about minor X-Men characters going on adventures. Like, that’s the dream job right there.

TL;DR: Short, sweet and quality, I’m glad that at least some Dawn of X comics are focusing on characters that would otherwise get lost in the shuffle.


Runaways #28

Runaways #28
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Andres Genolet
Colorist: Dee Cunniffe
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

And there it is, Doc Justice’s bad guy side. I knew it was inevitable! I had just hoped otherwise.

So the Runaways are the new J-Team, and they’ve made the news and they’ve been at it for weeks, possibly months. Nico is even taking fighting lessons from the Doc. But Gert just grows more and more annoyed at this big change to the team. Victor goes to talk to her about getting her involved, and how he’s confident Old Lace can be her superhero weapon. So Doc Justice runs a drill with clay pigeons out on the lawn, with Old Lace doing just fine. But then the machine malfunctions and two pigeons are launched instead of one: a pigeon at Gert and a pigeon at Chase. Old Lace chooses to save Chase over Gert (with Karolina saving Gert). So clearly Old Lace can’t be trusted to protect Gert in battle.

Once the Runaways are out of hearing distance, Doc Justice complains to his pal Michael that he’s glad Gert didn’t make the team because she would look terrible in tights! In fact, all the girls could stand to lose a little weight if he hopes to secure a deal with a streaming service. Michael reminds him that they’re just children, and Doc sighs that they always are.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Color me disappointed that Doc Justice turns out to be a dirtbag. I’d really hoped Rowell would avoid such an obvious story element. But here we are, and it’s fine. At least I didn’t see ‘judgmental prick’ as the kind of evil he’d be. That should add some nice layers to the tough decisions the Runaways are going to have to face soon. But still, making him a dirtbag makes the decision to ditch him pretty easy. Perhaps that will lead to the Runaways considering superheroics on their own? That could be a fun story. This issue was full of the usual day-to-day goodness I love from his comic. From the quality chatter and banter, to the growing drama for Gert, to the smaller moments between characters. Karolina and Nico get really cute at the breakfast table as part of the background. And I liked the idea of Doc Justice training Nico to fight. So at least he’s going to be a complicated villain.

TL’;DR: The panel-to-panel, character-to-character stuff remains some of the best in all sueprhero comics. And the story is definitely an interesting one for the Runaways to face.


Scream #2

Scream: Curse of Carnage #2
Writer: Clay McLeod Chapman
Artists: Garry Brown and Chris Mooneyham
Colorist: Rain Beredo
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

Why even make a Scream comic? Why even hire artists to draw this poorly? I think this is just a bridge until the next big Venom event.

Andi is happy to have her mother again, but then the body melts and turns out to be one of those weird proto-symbiote monsters. Scream fights it and then escapes when the cops show up. Andi heads back to the FEAST Center, but the monster has possessed the old homeless lady from the previous issue and she heads to the Center as well. Her slimy, dead proto-symbiotes start taking people over and Scream takes control of Andi, plucking one of the symbiote worms out to study it. Then Scream goes into Knull mode and Andi has a vision of Knull coming to Earth.

Then we shift to Knull sending a black and a red symbiote to Earth and…uh…I think they become dragons in the Middle Ages? And someone is reading a poem. These dragons burn a bunch of villagers. And then we switch to a different freaky symbiote thing at the bottom of the water, controlling all the proto-symbiotes, and wondering if she can keep Scream for herself when Knull gets there.

Comic Rating: 2/10 – Very Bad.

This comic has no redeeming qualities. The art is hideously ugly, the story is boringly pathetic and the main characters are surface level at best. I get the feeling that Marvel sort of wants to use Scream in whatever the next big Venom event is — likely involving Knull’s invasion of Earth — and so they’ve commissioned this bottom-of-the-barrel bridge comic to keep her around so that perhaps her role in the next event will be more meaningful. As a fan of Scream (at least what little character she has), I’m hugely disappointed at how weak all of this is. Scream vs. some weird, melty sewer symbiotes?

Scream in Control 01

Look what they’ve reduced Scream’s awesome design down to

So the antagonists are not interesting in the least. And then we’ve got a fairly one-note main character. Andi spends the whole issue crying or worrying, and Scream doesn’t have much of a personality. The two characters do not blend well together to create a protagonist to get behind. And they’re not at odds in an interesting way. They’re doing their own things, and they’re not doing it too deeply. We can’t get a good look at Andi’s character if she spends the whole issue near panic.

Then this issue veers wildly into sheer madness and some kind of poem about dragons? Symbiote dragons? It comes out of nowhere, means nothing and takes this comic to a whole new level of ridiculously dumb.

And jeez. The art is just so bad! Maybe the symbiote stuff looks OK, in a wild sort of way, but basic humans look terrible and none of it tries to take advantage of the unique look/powers of a symbiote.

TL;DR: Wasted potential all around. Terrible art and boring characters and story make me wonder if Marvel even wanted to make this comic.


Spider-Man #3

Spider-Man #3
Writers: Henry and J.J. Abrams
Artist: Sara Pichelli
Ink Assist: Elisabetta D’Amico
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Hey, guess what! In this 5-issue Spider-Man mini-series, the Abramses carved out a lot of time to write Tony Stark as well! Isn’t that what we all wanted?

Peter attempts to talk to Ben about being Spider-Man, but it’s all shouting and half-sentences. Then Cadaverous blows up the house and kidnaps Peter Parker, eventually hooking Peter’s guts up to tube in his lab.

Faye shows up to find Ben in shock and she takes him to Stark Industries where they demand to see Tony Stark. Riri Williams is now CEO and she gladly takes these two strange, civilian teenagers down to the secret bunker where Tony Stark lives. Tony is half-crazy and spends the whole issue riffing on this and that, pushing all other characters into the background. He eventually explains that Cadaverous is a Stark Enterprises design, and he was likely built by Minka Tross and Ivan Renz, two people who were at the very start of Stark Enterprises and worked on sci-fi medicine instead of weapons. These two developed a toxin that ended up turning people evil instead of healing them, and the toxin was also developed by Richard Parker, Ben’s grandfather. Anyway, Cadaverous and his pods have something to do with these long lost Stark scientists and their magic evil resurrection juice.

Which Cadaverous uses to resurrect evil zombie versions of Captain America, Thor, Hulk and Black Widow from their tomb right outside Stark Enterprises.

Comic Rating: 4/10 – Pretty Bad.

This issue was slightly better than the last, if only because the Abramses write some funny crazy dialogue for Tony Stark. But this is still a bad series. Instead of spending another issue with Ben and his growth into a new Spider-Man, we take a full-issue detour to hang out with a crazy, quippy Tony Stark. It’s mildly entertaining, but both Ben and Faye get pushed way into the background so that Tony can riff and Riri Williams can be exasperated by his riffing.

Tony Pizza 01

Somebody’s auditioning to direct Robert Downey Jr.’s return

But then Tony reveals a bunch of hugely unnecessary retconned backstory to try and give Cadaverous some importance and it falls immediately flat. Watch Cadaverous turn out to be Richard Parker or some such nonsense. Ugh. This villain is not interesting in the least, and having him leech of Tony Stark does not give him more gravitas. And throwing zombie versions of the movie Avengers at us also does not give this comic more gravitas. It feels like the comic is flailing wildly to try and squeeze in as much fun stuff as they could. Like the Abramses felt the previous issue was everything they needed to say about their “awesome” new Spider-Man character, so how about they give themselves the chance to write movie Tony Stark?

For all the hype this comic was given, the actual series is a huge letdown. Nothing new or interesting has happened so far.

TL;DR: This much-ballyhooed Spider-Man comic continues to be a huge let down. The creative team apparently can’t even go three issues before pushing their new characters into the background so they can play with Tony Stark.


Iron Man #19

Tony Stark – Iron Man #19
Writers: Dan Slott and Christos Gage
Artist: Francesco Manna
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

The time for Iron Man 2019 is passed! Now is the time for Iron Man 2020!

The battle against Ultron continues, with Tony Stark in his classic armor. With the help of Andy and Dr. Shapiro, Tony weaponizes the device that separates the human and the robot in Ultron’s hybrids. They have it just in time, as Ultron has defeated War Machine and blown past Wasp, Jocasta and Machine Man, who were trying to hold the lobby. While Tony distracts Ultron, Andy uses the machine on two of Ultron’s goons, and they reveal that these hybrids were never really alive. They aren’t the perfect merger of man and machine, the human part was killed in the combining, and Ultron has been ruling over cyborg zombies. Which means Hank Pym has been long dead and Ultron isn’t a merging of Ultron and Pym. Before Tony can blast him, Ultron surrenders, and the Avengers finally arrive to lock him up safely.

But all of this leads to Tony admitting to himself that he’s not the real Tony Stark. He’s an artificial construct, and that’s why he didn’t die when he was merged by Ultron’s machine. He keeps this from his friends in the Avengers, including his girlfriend the Wasp (and this means that Captain Marvel really did kill Tony Stark way back in Civil War 2). Tony flies off to be alone, and is later seen at a bar, about to try his first actual drink of alcohol.

Meanwhile, with Tony a fake, Arno Stark and Sunset Bain move in and essentially take over Stark Unlimited and all of the various supporting characters. Arno also builds the God-Buster Armor, designing the suit of Iron Man 2020!

Although why he thinks giant, cumbersome gears on his shoulders is a good idea is beyond me.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

I’ve got to give Dan Slott credit. The original Iron Man 2020 first appeared way back in the early 1980s. So to build and build his own Iron Man comic towards a big Iron Man 2020 event in the actual year 2020 is just plain neat! And then to make all of that build-up an actually entertaining and enjoyable comic is even better! Slott knows how to write comics, and he and his allies deliver an exciting and fun finale in this issue. All of the major storylines get wrapped up, our characters are put through the wringer and the stage is set for hopefully something even more exciting! I don’t particularly care about or for Arno Stark, but I’m all in favor of big events within an actual series. Slott killed it with Superior Spider-Man, perhaps he’ll do the same with Iron Man 2020! I have faith!

TL;DR: This epic storyline comes to an epic end as Slott sets up something hopefully great for Iron Man 2020!

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 December 21, 2019, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Great review as always. I think ill give these new x men books a try. I never cared about the x men putside of the cartoon. The vonstant death and retcons made me care even less. But these reviews gave me so intrigue. Also i was wondering how u felt of the new ms marvel book. I agree the first arc about space sucked but, i think the book improved after that. I still have some issues and it isnt as good as wilson but it’s not that bad. Hoping you might give it another try. Also happy holidays

    • Happy Holidays to you as well! As positive as my reviews of the new X-Men books have been…I probably wouldn’t recommend them to you if you have never cared about the X-Men. I think they’re good in terms of being X-Men comics, but they’re not so amazing as to be worth someone brand new giving them a try. None of the new books are doing anything that would entice someone who isn’t already a fan of the X-Men, I’m afraid. But you’re welcome to try!

      As for the Magnificent Ms. Marvel, I have been following along since dropping the comic from my reviews. The space arc really turned me off the book, but you’re right in that it has improved since then now that Kamala is back on Earth dealing with her life. I’ll get fully caught up and try to review the next issue or storyline for you!

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