Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 1/25/20
Oh man, what a great week for comics! Some of my current favorites came out this week, including phenomenal new issues of Far Sector and Wonder Twins! Those are probably my two favorite DC comics right now.
Comic Book of the Week goes to Mighty Moprhin Power Rangers #47 for a great issue that features a moment of real poignancy.
Meanwhile, BOOM! Studios has decided to cancel Go Go Power Rangers. This is a damn shame, because it’s a great comic. But after the shakeup a couple issues ago, both Go Go and Mighty Morphin are a bit redundant, so this move makes sense.
Comic Reviews: Batman #87, Far Sector #3, Marauders #6, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #47 and Wonder Twins #11.
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Guillem March
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
While still entertaining, this issue commits one of my personal pet peeves.
Five of the world’s best assassins have been arrested in Gotham City and Penguin and Riddler are worried that someone called The Designer is coming for them. The Penguin, at least, is ready for war.
The assassins are all taken to the Black Box, a new prison system designed by Bruce Wayne specifically to hold villains he no longer trusts in Arkham. Batman visits to try and interrogate Deathstroke, but Slade just mocks him. Batman then realizes that the Cheshire they have locked up is made of clay, and the real one is on the loose. He sets out into the city and uses a bunch of new toys — including a Bat-luge called the “Batshot” that shoots him out of a rail gun — to take her out.
Meanwhile, Deathstroke and his agents have, of course, broken out of the prison and are sent to move on to the next phase of their plans — until the Penguin comes on the loudspeaker. He says this plan was stolen from him, and that now gives him the advantage against them!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I just want to say, right off the bat, how annoying it is that Deathstroke and his cronies so easily broke out of the their holding cells. Tynion goes out of his way to describe and show off this new Black Box facility, and how Batman imagined a prison that he and the Bat-Family couldn’t escape from. And yet, Slade is able to escape within an hour or two. And we don’t get an explanation for the escape, like a crooked guard or something like that. Slade simply gets out, la de da. If you know you’re going to have your villain simply walk out of the prison, don’t go to such lengths to make it seem impenetrable. Are we supposed to believe that Batman and Lucius Fox teamed up to design a faulty prison? Are we really going to jobber Batman’s design focus like that? For no real pay-off?
Just a pet peeve of mine. The rest of the issue was pretty awesome.
Tynion is delivering quality Batman content. There’s a bigger threat building in the background that seems to be one step ahead of Batman, while the Dark Knight and his allies put their best foot forward in trying to catch up. Tynion uses everyone really well. Batman trying out some fun new toys in his battle with Cheshire is a hoot! And Tynion finds fun things to do with those toys. He’s got Batman riding through the streets of Gotham on a rocket luge, with Cheshire having jumped on top of him…so he drives head-on into a tractor trailer! Cheshire hits the grill while Batman glides safely underneath. It’s hilarious and cool! And March does a phenomenal job with the art.
Beyond the Batman goodies, Tynion is also a good enough writer to mix things up on the villain side as well. As much as I’m annoyed that Deathstroke and his goons escaped so easily, it tickles me pink that they will instead be thwarted by the Penguin of all people! His arrival at the very end is nicely set up at the start of the issue, and seeing Penguin on the warpath should be an awesome development!
TL;DR: Despite a few minor gripes, this remains an exciting, well-made Batman story.
Far Sector #3
Writer: N.K. Jemisin
Artist: Jamal Campbell
Letterer: Deron Bennett
This is a really great comic. It’s hard to choose which Green Lantern comic is better these days…
Jo sits down with Councilor Marth, who goes on and on about how emotions are important, but she just sees this as the elite rising above the rest of society because they think they’re special. He uses a game of alien chess to make his point, but Jo says she doesn’t have time to play. She goes home and meets up with her alien assistant, who has been handling communications with her family on Earth. Her dad sent an email, but it’ll take a while to fully transmit. Jo misses her family.
Then Jo is woken up in the middle of the night to help respond to a protest in another part of the City Enduring. There are tens of thousands of protesters, and the local Peace Officers are ready to just kill everybody and be done with it, because these protests are illegal. Jo isn’t about to let that happen, so she gets them to hold off while she goes down to the frontlines, where protesters and counter-protesters are in each other’s faces. Jo puts up a big green wall and hears out the two sides. One group of protesters want to be free to use the drugs that get over the emotion-blocker, while the other group insists the emotion-blocker is the best thing ever. Jo tells the first group to write up a list of demands that she will personally take to the Council, because she agrees that they should at least have a chance to be heard.
While working with these groups, Jo gets a warning that energy weapons are powering up. She checks with the local Peace Officers and they tell her that Councilor Marth has given the order to open fire on all the protesters rather than risk it growing. Jo begs them to stop, but the officers open fire into a crowd of protesters. Jo is pissed and starts lashing out like only a Green Lantern can!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
If I have one complaint about this amazing comic it’s that it’s getting harder and harder to keep track of all the weird alien stuff. Jemisin does not hold our hands when it comes to just throwing stuff at the audience and expecting us to keep track of all the different alien types and alien nomenclature. For example, we’re introduced to Jo’s alien assistant in this issue without much warning. All of a suddenly this new character shows up all chummy and comfortable with Jo, and Jo’s narration specifically points out that this is a sudden introduction. But I couldn’t remember if this alien was one we’d met before or not before finally getting that introduction. Then we’re supposed to remember all of the finer points of this emotion-blocker, even though none of the aliens seem like their emotions have been blocked. Considering one of the major traits of the Guardians of the Universe was that they had cast off all emotions, and how that defined them, it seems a little weird to see it in this smaller scale, and not really see how it defines any of these aliens. Everyone seems normal and not at all robotic.
It’s a little robotic to want to just fire into the crowd and kill tens of thousands of people for breaking the law…but then that seems really crazy based on everything else we’ve seen of these people. This whole comic kicked off with the City Enduring’s first murder in years, and yet their police force is so ready to just massacre its own citizens all of a sudden? As much as I love the diversity and weirdness of this alien culture, sometimes a little hand-holding wouldn’t hurt.
But when I can keep track of what’s going on, Far Sector is a great comic. It’s got a very strong lead character. Jo is tough but fair, and dangerously human. She misses her family, she enjoys the books that her assistant is able to download across space, and she’s fully capable of connecting with other people. We get some quick flashes of her past life, where I think she was a cop, so that’s a nice fleshing out of her life. And then when it’s time to be a Green Lantern, Jo can ring-sling like the best of them! And Jemisin is doing a fine job creating a wide and diverse alien world. So everything is being built very well in this comic, especially with Campbell on art. And seeing Jo get royally pissed and ready to strike out with the full might of her powers at the end was just plain cool!
TL;DR: The different aliens and alien factions are still a little tough to keep track of, especially since the writer keeps throwing random pre-existing relationships at us, but this is still a very enjoyable police procedural Green Lantern comic!
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artists: Matteo Lolli and Mario Del Pennino
Colorists: Erick Arciniega and Federidco Blee
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Somehow, some way, I am still reading some of Dawn of X. Though there are a couple of upcoming new comics that I’m pretty excited about.
Our heroes do battle with X-Cutioner and Hate Monger, though it seems to be more of a distraction fight. For example, X-Cutioner uses his staff to poke Pyro and that injects the shrunken Yellowjacket into Pyro’s blood stream to spy on mutants from inside one of them. Neat! But Kate wins the day and jumps over to the bad guys’ ship, where she finds Donald Pierce and Chen Zhao, the Chinese woman who has been causing all sorts of trouble. They claim diplomatic immunity, but Kate beats them up anyway and tosses them overboard. She plans to sail their ship of mutant-dampening armor to a secure location to have Forge check it out, and she convinces Storm and Iceman to go take care of other things; she says she’s fine on her own.
Which, of course, was anticipated. Sebastian Shaw steps out and reveals he’s been behind everything. He taunted Kate and Emma so that they would vote to send Shinobi to Madripoor, and he hired Pierce, and he is working with Christian Frost. He gloats to Kate while he traps her and sinks her ship, confident that she can’t be brought back with resurrection. This is all a hostile takeover so that he can claim more seats on the Quiet Council and become rich in the end. Kate sinks and Sebastian gloats.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Sebastian Shaw is pretty confident that whatever is keeping Kate from accessing the Krakoan portals also discounts her from resurrection. But I didn’t think the resurrections had anything in particular to do with Krakoa. Granted, it’s been a couple months since I read HoX/PoX, but I thought resurrections were solely the work of the Five…but I could easily be wrong. Doesn’t matter.
This was a fun and exciting issue that raised a lot of stakes and had a lot of fun with its characters. The fight was a cool use of everybody’s powers, especially Kate continuing to be more kick-ass then ever. And the added subterfuge was fun as the bad guys revealed to the audience their Yellowjacket play. The text page we got of Yellowjacket watching Pyro goof off on the ship was hilarious. The humor remains especially strong in Marauders.
If I had one more gripe, it’s playing Sebastian Shaw’s obvious corruption so early into Dawn of X. It wasn’t too long ago that Jonathan Hickman was using Shaw for good in his X-Men comic, the flagship book. But here’s Shaw going straight back to being a bad guy. It amazes me how often Dawn of X seems to undercut all the new status quos set up for itself. The villains that were invited to turn over a new leaf and join Krakoa are just going to keep being villains. It’s rather disappointing.
That being said, Sebastian Shaw makes for a great villain in the context of Marauders. As disappointing as it is to lose him as a wildcard, Duggan has set him up wonderfully to be a thorn in the side of his protagonists.
TL;DR: Marauders makes some bold moves that definitely work.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #47
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Daniele Di Nicuolo
Colorist: Walter Baiamonte, with assist from Katia Ranalli
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Beautiful, simply beautiful.
The Omega Rangers have revealed themselves to the Power Rangers, and there are mixed emotions. Kimberly is vocally pissed, Tommy is quietly pissed, Billy seems sad and Zordon seems kind of proud. The Rangers argue for a bit before they learn of Goldar’s monster attack downtown, so the Power Rangers go off to handle that (and win, easily). Trini and Zack try to explain their position to Zordon, and he tells them it would take far more than this to shake his faith in the two of them, so he’s happy to stay in the dark if that’s what is necessary to save the day (which is a great moment). Then Xi chimes in that he’s reading a new Level 7 energy signature and the Omega Rangers decide they need to go get it before Kiya does. Rocky, Adam and Aisha offer to join them.
Later, Jason wakes up to find the angry and upset Kimberly, Tommy and Billy.
Kiya, meanwhile, is working to turn all the Morphin Grid-empowered aliens to her cause, giving a big speech about how they were used by those in power. She’s also freed Dayne and convinced him to join her by giving him the job of investigating what happened to the original Morphin Masters that lived on this planet. He immediately gets to work.
Out in space, Aisha asks Trini if her and her friends were only chosen to be Rangers temporarily, like seat warmers for when Trini and the others returned. Trini assures Aisha that’s not the case…but considering all the lying Trini has done, Aisha doesn’t trust her. The Rangers arrive at the Level 7 and instead discover a trap! Kiya’s agent, who seems really reluctant, blasts the Rangers’ ship!
Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.
It’s rare that I give out a full 10/10 rating for a comic. I like to reserve that perfect score for comics that are not only really good, but manage to rise just a bit higher by having a moment of actual emotional response from me as a reader. Perhaps it’s my cold, dead heart, but it’s not often I have an emotional reaction to something I’m reading. But every so often there’s a scene or a line of dialogue or a character moment that elicits something real from me, and this comic has that moment when Zordon promises Zack and Trini that it would take a lot more than this Omega Rangers secret to make him lose faith in the two of them. It’s just such a heart-warming moment, built on the backs of these long-running, famous characters. To make things even better, this isn’t Tommy or Jason, the ostensible lead Rangers. This is Zack and Trini, and you can feel the pressure they’re under in revealing this secret, and worrying about what they can or cannot tell Zordon with the fate of all reality at stake. And then the pure and utter warmth from Zordon as he assures them he has the utmost faith in the two of them, and that he totally understands discretion. It’s just such a great scene.
And that great scene is nestled in a comic as amazing as anything Parrott and these BOOM! Power Rangers comics have produced so far. I knew the drama would be good when the secret of the Omega Rangers was revealed, and I was not disappointed! I love the different reactions of the Rangers, both old and new. Kimberly’s anger has been a really interesting subplot recently. I like it. And I really enjoyed Aisha questioning Trini over whether the new Rangers were only meant to be temporary, while also throwing it back in Trini’s face that she’s been lying a lot. The greatest thing about these Power Rangers comics is how they have humanized these classic characters. They have faults, they make mistakes; it’s phenomenal and on full display with this issue. Plus there was a lot of great Ranger action, and the growing threat of Kiya and the Annointed continued. Everything is just humming along so damn well with this comic!
TL;DR: A typically amazing Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comic includes moments of pure heart-warming joy that elevate an already excellent issue.
Wonder Twins #11
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Stephen Byrne
Letterer: Steve Wands
Wonder Twins has been pretty great with the satire, and now it points its cannons directly at Fox News and their ridiculous audience.
The Colonel 86 computer program, invented by Filo Math in the 1980s and then locked away in storage all these years, has taken over the internet. Filo’s storage was sold off in an estate sale, and the gay couple that bought the computer plugged it back in and set him free. Colonel 86 immediately starts reverting the world back to the way things were in the 80s, when airplanes did not have onboard computers (and thus fall out the sky), when gay marriage was illegal, and people invested their money in Blockbuster Video. A certain segment of the population, namely middle-aged white men, love this change and start rallying for Colonel 86. Lex Luthor immediately jumps on this fad and orders his Lex News television network to start airing pro-Colonel 86 talking points, which riles up the mob of conservatives even more! The Justice League calls in Repulso to help with crowd control.
Meanwhile, the Wonder Twins have returned to Earth with Filo Math and they quickly discover that Colonel 86 is out of control. Without access to the internet, they go to the public records in the library to find out who bought the computer at the estate sale, and they find the house on lockdown. Zan and Jayna break in and save the gay couple inside (they were the ones who triggered Colonel 86 to start digitally annulling gay marriages), while Filo gets to work on the computer to shut down the Colonel. He laments that in a perfect world, people would regularly update themselves with the changing times, like a good computer program. But this isn’t a perfect world.
When it’s all over, Zan marvels at how many people supported Colonel 86’s takeover. Jayna corrects him, pointing out that they didn’t love the monster that was Colonel 86, they loved the monsters he allowed them to be.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Just the other day, I was telling a friend of mine how Mark Russell is a great satirist. And what’s even better is that he uses the medium of ostensibly humor comics to make it work. His Flintstones comic was one of the best of the past decade. And here he is writing a colorful, action-packed comic about the Wonder Twins, of all characters, that tackles head-on the dangerous of Fox News and their conservative base. This issue isn’t subtle in the least! I love it! A figure from the 1980s wanting to take America back to a past that was supposedly better? And the old white men who support that? And how really it’s all an excuse to be free to be racist again? And how Fox News is leading the charge? Lex Luthor hasn’t been used this well in years.
On top of all that great satire is a really fun comic where the Wonder Twins and their friends save the day. They track down Colonel 86, use their powers to bust in and put a stop to the immediate danger, and then their friends and allies solve the problem. So even when he’s writing great satire, Russell is also writing great superhero comics. And he’s got the glorious Stephen Byrne backing him up on art. I dare say there is no better creative team in mainstream comics right now than Russell and Byrne. And they’re creating a Wonder Twins comic! This series has exceeded all of my wildest dreams.
TL;DR: The brilliant satire ramps up and hits some targets that need a good knock down every once and awhile. And it’s all the better when those hits come from the Wonder Twins.
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 25, 2020, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged Boom!, Far Sector, Marauders, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Power Rangers, Wonder Twins. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.