Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 1/18/20
New comic books are here! And they’re pretty awesome this week! New issues of Go Go Power Rangers and Jane Foster: Valkyrie prove once again why I love comics! But as great as they are, there was an issue that was just a touch more special this week.
Comic Book of the Week goes to Legion of Super-Heroes #3 because it’s a fun issue, and that is surprising. It’s not the best and most interesting comic this week, but the new Legion issue does something I didn’t expect: finally warrants its own existence.
Meanwhile, new Dawn of X comics keep getting announced left and right. I’m still worried that all of these comics are just classic X-Men titles with random rosters, just like every other X-Men relaunch…but then Jonathan Hickman posted on Twitter that nobody is required to buy them all. Just buy what you like, and don’t buy what you don’t. That’s pretty solid advice.
Comic Reviews: Go Go Power Rangers #27, Iron Man 2020 #1, Legion of Super-Heroes #3, Runaways #27 and Valkyrie #7.
Go Go Power Rangers #27
Writers: Ryan Parrott and Sina Grace
Artist: Francesco Mortarino
Colorist: Raul Angulo
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Man, do I love this comic. And I will make this plea to Ryan Parrott every single time it’s relevant: whatever you have planned for Matt, make it amazing.
Sure enough, the Lord Zedd confronting Tommy at the White Tiger Temple is a test and Tommy passes with flying colors when he refuses Zedd’s offer and instead puts his life on the line to defend the White Light. So Tommy and Saba head back to the Command Center to create the White Ranger. Meanwhile, the other Rangers are forced to retreat from battle when three monsters get the better of them. They start running repairs on their Zords and the Blue Emissary confronts Zach and Trini. They demand he fill them in completely on what Jason is up to, so he returns their memories as well.
Then we montage through the scenes from the original show when the White Ranger was introduced, and Tommy and the others form the Mega Tigerzord and defeat the three monsters.
Afterwards, everybody takes a moment to relax at the juice bar. Billy is feeling better, and Jason tells Tommy he has no problem letting Tommy take over as leader. Matt checks in on Kimberly, but he finds out that Tommy is back, so…he heads off. Tommy talks to Kim and she plants a big ole smooch on him and they go off arm-in-arm. Then Jason talks with Zach and Trini and finds out they know everything now. And they insist they are going to help him put together his new Ranger team.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Go Go Power Rangers is on such a role that I can’t imagine anything could go so wrong as to ruin this ride. The internal drama is some of the best, richest in all of comics, and it’s especially cool that they’re doing this with these classic Power Rangers characters. I am dying to find out the eventual fate of Matt and his relationship with Kimberly. Seriously, there is no greater ongoing mystery in comics these days than this supporting character. And somehow, Parrott is making it work so well! Marvel does this all the time where they say there was some extra character or extra team floating around at the start of the Marvel Universe, and it never works as excitedly as it does here — probably because this sort of thing has never happened to the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers before, and that newness is really fun!
But beyond my own personal interests in that Matt subplot, this was another stellar issue. We get an awesome Tommy scene at the beginning followed by some great action, both as the Rangers are forced to retreat and then when they come back stronger with the White Ranger in command. Those are great moments. But again, it’s the smaller character stuff that really sells this comic. I loved watching Kimberly get into the nuts and bolts of doing repairs on her Zord, while also chewing out Jason for thinking only he can be the hero. I loved seeing Zach and Trini step up and insist that they’re going to help Jason no matter what he thinks. I loved Tommy and Jason having a chat about Tommy taking over leadership. This series gets inter-character drama so well, they make it looks easy!
TL;DR: Another exciting, drama-filled, character-focused issue hits a major milestone as the White Ranger is finally on the scene.
Iron Man 2020 #1
Writers: Dan Slott and Christos Gage
Artist: Pete Woods
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
I was a little worried about this series going in, but this first issue mostly puts my fears to rest.
Arno Stark is now Iron Man and he’s preparing for the arrival of an Extinction Entity, which he’s detected the barest traces of out in the depths of space. It’s on its way! In the meantime, he’s got to deal with his resurrected parents, who want to leave the residence, and a robot uprising that has become more and more coordinated. Arno has no problem destroying robots and viewing them as less than people, and he goes around town as Iron Man stomping on their efforts to fight back. He confronts Machine Man in an elaborate trap, but Machine Man deals with him with the old “stop me or get rid of this bomb” technique. Machine Man then recruits the police department’s bomb disposal robot and takes him to the Thirteenth Floor, a solid light floor hidden inside a hospital, where a bunch of classic Marvel robot characters are hanging out. And we discover that the leader of the movement is the A.I. Tony Stark, now wearing the Mark One armor and calling himself just “Mark”.
Also, now that Sunset Bain owns Stark Unlimited, she reveals that her lab techs are looking over Jocasta’s new body, and that Dr. Shapiro the talking cat is actually Dr. Shapiro the talking collar, the cat was just the delivery system — much to the surprise of Andy.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
The main thing I was worried about with Iron Man 2020 is the fact that Arno Stark might be our protagonist. This issue actually isn’t very clear, since it ends with A.I. Tony showing up at the head of the robot rebellion. Is he going to continue being the star of the story? With Aaron Stack as his wise-cracking sidekick? I would be down for that. Because Arno Stark is such a freakin’ bore! Ugh. Dan Slott had a single issue of his previous Iron Man series that focused on Arno and it was terrible! A vast, horrendous departure from the far more entertaining and enjoyable Tony Stark character. And Arno does not fair even an ounce better in this issue. He’s just such a dumb and boring character. So smart that he knows everything but without an ounce of charm to make it worthwhile. His taking over of Iron Man is not interesting. His preparing for some invading entity from outer space is not interesting. His thing with his A.I. parents is not interesting. Nothing about Arno Stark is interesting…other than perhaps being some sort of “ultimate nemesis” for A.I. Tony. Fortunately, we’ve got the far more entertaining Sunset Bain as a secondary antagonist. Revealing that Dr. Shapiro isn’t really a talking cat is downright the coldest villain I’ve seen in a long time! You don’t mess with cats!
TL;DR: The new main character of this comic is a real drag, but fortunately every other character and storyline in this series is far more entertaining.
Legion of Super-Heroes #3
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Ryan Sook and Travis Moore
Inkers: Wade Von Grawbadger and Moore
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: ALW’s Troy Peteri
Everyone rejoice! The new Legion of Super-Heroes comic is finally justifying its existence by being good and interesting! Also, sorry in advance, but this review got really long.
A Legion squad travels to Rimbor to meet with Crav, the General Nah, the king of the civil warring planet, the father of Ultra-Boy and the guy who wants Aquaman’s trident. Crav is a cocky bastard and gladly fights the Legion, until Mon-El knocks him flat. According to Rimbor law, this now means Mon-El is the ruler of the planet. Most importantly, now that Superboy is away and the Legion are by themselves, we get the sense that they don’t really know what they’re doing. We get the sense that all of this is kind of new and they might be making this Legion stuff up as they go along. It’s great! Some real character depth to the Legion and the individuals!
Elsewhere, another Legion squad goes to Planet Gotham to interrogate Mordru, another guy involved in the trident caper. Saturn Girl tries to feed him a mental trick to get him to talk, but he eventually sees through it and casts her out. Further attempts to talk to Mordru are interrupted when Dawnstar calls them back to Legion HQ. It seems the first team has brought Crav back to HQ under arrest for attacking them, but he’s woken up now and continues the attack, rejecting their arrest. Superboy arrives and knocks him out this time (insulting Mon-El in the process). And everybody is shocked because Superboy has brought along his best friend, Robin the Boy Wonder!
The Legionnaires freak out that Damian Wayne is in the future and they immediately and politely scold Superboy for bringing him here. Saturn Girl quickly starts working to erase Damian’s memory and brings him back to the time machine to put him back where he was. Superboy is confused and concerned, and the Legionnaires remind him that he’s supposed to be watching their orientation presentation. They’ve been begging him to watch, possibly for exactly this reason. Why was it bad that Damian is in the future? Why is Superboy in the future? They take him to finally go watch the orientation.
Later, the Legion talk among themselves about the dangers of bringing Damian to the future, going so far as to call him “Baby Hitler”. They’re outside Crav’s cell and then the alarm suddenly goes off. Crav mocks them that the trident has now been stolen, and this will spell the end of the Legion of Super-Heroes!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
For the first time, this new Legion comic has revealed itself to have some actual depth and plan in place for the overall story. That’s fantastic! And it’s finally got me excited to see what happens. I’d complained about how the Legion felt too manufactured in the previous two issues, how they seemed to be some kind of groupspeak and did not stand out as individuals. With this issue, we find out that was on purpose! The Legionnaires were trying really hard to put their best foot forward for their guest, Superboy, and that was actually hiding the organizational instability that lay beneath the surface. I think this is fantastic! Several scenes and bits of dialogue in this issue (once Superboy is away) point to the Legion being a new organization and not everybody is entirely sure what’s supposed to happen. They don’t seem to know what authority they have, both as a whole and among themselves.
I think that’s a brilliant take on the Legion of Super-Heroes and Bendis does really well with this issue now that he can start letting us in on what’s going on. Cosmic Boy points out that he’s the “elected” leader of the Legion, but nobody seems exactly sure what sort of authority that gives him. And nobody seems sure what to do once they’ve knocked out Crav. When Cosmic Boy and Shadow Lass casually reveal that they’re in a relationship while on the mission, the other Legionnaires are surprised and wonder if that sort of “inter-office” relationship should be officially noted somewhere. It’s great!
This finally gives the Legion of Super-Heroes a strong reason for existing as a comic. This finally reveals that Bendis indeed has more in mind for the series, and now I’m legit excited. And we finally get the Legionnaires acting as individuals. Colossal Boy (who hasn’t settled on that name) is a bit impetuous. Cosmic Boy seems to be letting leadership go to his head. Saturn Girl takes charge. Chameleon Boy seems a touch shy. All of it is great and I can’t wait to see it explored. This issue did a fine job introducing all of these finer details.
And I suppose the story is getting more and more interesting. Aquaman’s trident is a fun McGuffin, and Bendis has a bunch of different balls in the air for the story. That’s all well and good. But it’s the Legion characterizations I’m here for now!
The Robin stuff is also fun. It sets up a nice mystery and problem for Superboy to deal with. And considering I’ve never liked Damian Wayne, knowing that he turns into the future’s equivalent of “Hitler” is fine by me!
Oh, also, the art is still phenomenal! Ryan Sook gets some help, probably because he’s just never good at maintaining a title for long, and Travis Moore is perhaps even better!
TL;DR: Legion of Super-Heroes finally reveals what is going to make this series tick and it’s a welcome addition to the comic.
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Andres Genolet
Colorist: Dee Cunniffe
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
As much as I enjoy this comic, I think this J-Team storyline is starting to really drag on.
Doc Justice and the J-Team continue their adventures, adding Gib to the team (even if he’s still starving). Gert and Chase talk out the recent issues with Old Lace and make their peace, with Gert accepting that she doesn’t have to share everything with her friends. She’ll stick with Matthew and be HQ support. So she sits down with Matthew and he takes her through the history of the team. Some incarnation of the J-Team has been around for around 50 years, and Doc has been there from the start. They’ve lost members, and some have retired, but Doc Justice always rebuilds and replaces (and often marries the new Princess Justice). Gert is aghast at all the death, but Matthew and Victor contend that it’s just how life works. But for Gert, that dog won’t hunt, Monsignor!
Later, we see Doc Justice continue his jerk transformation as he whines to Matthew about how they’re going to lose everything if they don’t score this reality TV show. He can just picture their success, including having this new Princess Justice (Karolina) on his arm. She’s just perfect!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
While still really good, this storyline is starting to spin its wheels. How long have the Runaways been the J-Team now? With Gert on the sidelines being annoyed? I feel like this has been several issues now with no actual story progression. And this issue doesn’t move the story forward either. We get more blatantly obvious scenes of Doc Justice being an asshole, but considering that came out of nowhere at the end of last issue, it doesn’t really feel earned. He seemed perfectly fine and cool when he first showed up. The only real meat of this issue is Matthew taking Gert through the history of the J-Team…but honestly, none of that seemed too crazy. Considering they’ve been a superhero team for 50ish years, with mostly non-powered members, the idea that some of them would die tragically and some would quit sounds pretty realistic. In the original Runaways comic, the Pride was in charge and in power, so they won. So the idea that the J-Team rotated through members, even with death, seems pretty reasonable. And Victor’s response makes total sense in that regard. It happens. It’s not like Matthew revealed anything too insane. So I’m not sure where this story is going. The Runaways find out Doc Justice is a jerk? Doesn’t seem like that big of a deal…
Still, great writing, great characters, great humor and another fine issue.
TL;DR: Everything still works wonderfully in this comic, but the storyline seems to be spinning its wheels for no particular reason.
Writers: Al Ewing and Jason Aaron
Artist: Pere Perez
Colorist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Short but sweet! Wonderful little two-part story!
The team of superhero doctors begin to grapple with the very concept of the death of Death as they head deeper into the realm to try and save the day. They come upon Charon and a river of pus, claiming they must pay the toll to pass. Jane can see that this is an illusion created by the disease, so Dr. Hussain steps up and plungers Excalibur right into the river of pus, destroying the illusion. She’s a National Health Service doctor in the UK, after all, and they don’t pay a toll for their healthcare. But now Faiza has to stay behind and keep this part of the disease at bay while the others continue ahead.
Next they arrive at an art gallery with only one painting. Jane sees the motor vehicle accident that claimed the lives of her ex-husband and son, and everybody sees something different. They realize that they are seeing pictures of someone death has taken from them. Cardiac finally snaps, having struggled with the idea of the death of Death since the opening. He knocks out Doctor Strange and threatens the rest of them, madly suggesting that they should let Death die! Wouldn’t a world without death be great? But Manikin isn’t about to turn away from a patient in need and he devolves into his amoeba form to fight Cardiac, only for Cardiac’s rod to short circuit and kill the amoeba! Cardiac freaks out at having killed one of their team, but Jane can see that Manikin’s other evolutionary forms are still alive at least. She tells Night Nurse to watch them all and to have Strange Manikin’s other forms when he wakes up. Jane goes on alone.
She comes to a room with Death on a hospital bed and the death of Death standing above. Death of Death asks Jane if Death should be spared or if it would be better to live in a world without death. But Jane reasons that a world without death does not mean life. It means all cells and all organisms reproducing without end, which is a cancer. This would create a cancerverse. Death of Death is convinced and Death is healed. Jane heads out the door and is sent back to the Night Nurse’s office, where everybody has regrouped and has been waiting for her.
Jane is shaken that they may not have technically lost this adventure…but did they actually win?
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Oh man, I loved everything about this two-part issue! I loved the team of doctors, and how that actually came into play for their motivations and their actions. I loved that some of the members were overwhelmed with the heady concepts they were dealing with, while some members just shrugged and got on with the job. I loved that Faiza referenced Britain’s free healthcare when she totally just sliced through the Charon illusion. I loved Cardiac snapping under the weight of it all and giving the issue some conflict, especially since nobody seemed to hold it against him, and it wasn’t a real heel turn. He was just having a freak out, man. I loved Ewing treating a minor character like Manikin with respect, and the weirdness of his transformation this issue. I loved all of it!
And, of course, Jane Foster herself led the charge to really make the comic something special. Part of me was a little annoyed when the team started splitting apart, like having to leave Faiza behind. It’s a classic trope, and I would have preferred the team stick together. But when it all came down to Jane Foster in a conversation about the importance of death with the physical embodiment of the death of Death, that was awesome. It’s a touching conversation as she rolls the concept over in her head and relates it to her own life. And it’s great as a climax, instead of any sort of fisticuffs.
This short storyline is everything I wish we saw more of in comics. A team of eclectic characters brought together for a new and unique reason. A storyline that touched on them as people and allowed them to bond. And a climax that doesn’t require punching or battles. Just phenomenal.
TL;DR: This two-part story was short, but it is oh so sweet! I wish more comics were as creative as Valkyrie.
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 January 18, 2020, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews and tagged Go Go Power Rangers, Iron Man, Iron Man 2020, Jane Foster, Legion of Superheroes, Power Rangers, Runaways, Valkyrie. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.