Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 2/1/20

Man, what a stinker of a week. Last week was amazing, with some of my favorite comics! But this week is a bit of a let down, I’m afraid. New issues of X-Men, New Mutants and Blackstars failed to impressed.

Comic Book of the Week goes to Thor #2 for a pretty cool issue, though I had some personal nitpicks against it. Simply put, Galactus is cooler than Thor, in my opinion.

Galactus Hungers 01

Devourer

Meanwhile, the new issue of Go Go Power Rangers is a stand alone that, honestly, didn’t really say much about the ongoing series or the characters. Seemed like a bit of filler. It told an OK story of Rita Repulsa, but not one that really fleshed her out in any way or added to the overall narrative. But we did get the introduction of Goldar’s warrior brother, Silverback. I immediately want more about the two of them together!

Comic Reviews: Green Lantern: Blackstars #3, New Mutants #6, Scream: Curse of Carnage #3, Thor #2 and X-Men #5.


Blackstars3

Blackstars #3

The Green Lantern: Blackstars #3
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Xermanico
Colorist: Steve Oliff
Letterer: Steve Wands

Bad news, everybody! I’ve heard that DC Comics has decided to cut off Grant Morrison’s Green Lantern epic at the knees! Instead of another 12-issue adventure, DC has cut it down to only 8, which is as bogus as it gets!

Superman and all the superheroes wage war against the Blackstars, as per Hal Jordan’s plan. Then Superboy fights back and kills his father, as per Belzebeth’s plan (and possibly Hal’s plan?). In the end, the Blackstars conquer Earth and Hal recruits all the surviving teen superheroes into the Blackstars. Belzebeth grows rather suspicious of Hal and eventually uncovers Hal building up a revolution within the Blackstar ranks. This leads to a war between the rebellious Blackstars, the loyal Blackstars and the terrors from Ysmault. Superboy buys Hal time to retreat to the Miracle Machine, where he’s confronted by Belzebeth.

Hal strips out of his armor and reveals that he’s been working with his Green Lantern ring, which Belzebeth has been wearing to mock him. He reveals that this reality is not the regular DCU transformed. His original wish ended up locating the dead Earth 15 and then rewriting this new reality over the top of Earth 15. The ring has been drawing enough power from Belzebeth to grant Hal one use of the machine, and he uses it to go back to his normal reality, leaving Belzebeth here to rule her pretend reality.

Once Hal is gone, Belzebeth defeats Superboy…only to be confronted by an entire armada led by Controller Mu!

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

Here at the end of the Blackstars mini-series, I’m not entirely sure what the point was, other than perhaps killing some time so that Liam Sharp could get ahead on the next couple of Green Lantern issues. And if that’s the case, that’s fine by me. This definitely counts as the ultimate climax of the Blackstars story arc, as Hal Jordan finally outsmarts and overcomes the evil Belzebeth in an interdimensional adventure. And I really like how it all goes down — though I’m not entirely sure how the fight with Superman worked out in Hal’s favor. At the end of last issue, it seemed like Hal was going to use Superman to defeat the Blackstars…but instead, the Blackstars defeat Supes, and I think Hal just spins it so that he comes out on top anyway. Then I really enjoyed the rest of it, as we see Hal teaming up with the alternate reality GLs to form a rebellion, and then the reveal that he’s been working with his ring to figure out the truth and get him back to his normal reality. It’s a good twist ending to this little mini-series.

But I am definitely looking forward to getting back to normal Green Lantern business.

TL;DR: This mini-series wraps up with some cleverness and some strong characterization, making for a solid storyline finale.


NewMutants6

New Mutants #6

New Mutants #6
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Flaviano
Colorist: Carlos Lopez
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham

Man, this issue gets really dark.

Boom Boom has arrived to save Armor and the others on the front lawn, while Maxime and Manon help break out the mutants in the basement. Glob Herman scolds the two kids for using their powers to get their guards to kill one another rather than implant happier memories and thoughts in their heads. The basement crew make their escape, but Beak gets shot on the way out. The front lawn crew also succeed, but the gang leader escapes into the house and shoots Beak’s mom. He then takes the dad hostage and tries to use him to get away, but he’s confronted by the X-Men. So the gang leader shoots the dad, then kills himself, claiming that his gang will just send more after the mutants.

Some time later, Beak is recovering nicely on Krakoa with his family, but seems to think his parents died years ago. Maxime and Manon altered all of their memories to “solve” their grief and Armor scolds the kids for doing so, then has to admit that it would be best if they didn’t restore the memories because that would also cause more trouble.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

Despite the bright and colorful art, this issue got really dark. Heck, I suppose it got dark in the previous chapter as well, but jeez. Beak’s mom and dad are just executed by some crazy drug cartel. We’ve got a funny, drunk Boom Boom on one page and then the vicious execution of a kindly set of grandparents on another. The tonal shift is jarring and takes away from the overall enjoyment of this issue and this storyline. It’s especially weird when you consider how the other New Mutants storyline has been played for laughs. And I’m not even sure what the executions are supposed to accomplish other than progressing the growth of Brisson’s pet characters, Maxime and Manon. But that just raises more questions.

Like…who’s taking care of these kids?

Manon Messed Up 01

Did someone install that tire swing just to keep them busy?

Why does it fall on Armor and Glob Herman to educate and school these two young children about proper use of their powers? What is the school system like on Krakoa? Why do we not have this question answered yet? Likewise, surely somebody other than Armor and/or Boom Boom is going to handle this matter with Costa Perdita, right? There are whole comics about Krakoa’s international operations. Surely Professor X or Magneto would get involved with some rinky dink drug cartel that thinks it can kill mutants and mutants’ families for the drugs? I hope somebody has been contacted about this!

TL;DR: A tonal shift between comedic mutant adventure and brutal executions leaves this story feeling underbaked.


Scream3

Scream #3

Scream: Curse of Carnage #3
Writer: Clay McLeod Chapman
Artists: Garry Brown and Chris Mooneyham
Colorist: Rain Beredo
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

What an ugly, ugly comic.

The issue opens with, I think, a retelling of the Grendel story using those symbiote dragons that randomly showed up at the end of the previous issue. But Thor is there for a little bit. I dunno.

We then cut to the aftermath of the brawl at the homeless shelter. The detective from the first issue shows up to ask Andi what happened, and both are shocked when one of the bodies starts moving and talking to them in groans. Andi steps on the symbiote thing inside. The police don’t detain Andi at all, so she jumps into the water and Scream turns them into a mer-person in order to go down and confront the big bad boss symbiote mom. The Mom Symbiote wants Scream for herself (but not Andi), and sics a horde of underwater symbiote zombies on them. She also does battle and manages to separate Andi and Scream underwater. Andi is transported to a dreamscape where she’s home with her family, and Flash Thompson shows up, while Mom Symbiote plays with the discarded Scream symbiote.

Comic Rating: 2/10 – Very Bad.

This is a disappointing comic all around. The character development and exploration is flat. The story is weird and uninteresting. And the art is worse than some amateur art I see in various forums. On top of that, we’ve got this weird dragons/Grendel thing going on that makes absolutely no sense. And this issue features an extended sequences where Andi waxes poetic about the opening chapter of Rapunzel, where the parents give away their baby for some of the witch’s food. Is it supposed to be thematic? It feels really forced. And then it’s all forced into this anemic plot about watery symbiote zombies and some kind of big, red, ugly mom symbiote? It’s not explained or fleshed out in the least. There’s just this ugly person at the bottom of the bay that apparently only Scream can deal with, and then Scream and Andi get beaten rather easily, while having no character growth or development. And then the art is just hideous. Ugly, splotchy, undetailed; it’s like a mass of ugly, watery zombies, but as a metaphor for the art.

TL;DR: This was an ugly issue, both art and story, with essentially no redeeming qualities.


ThorCates2

Thor #2

Thor #2
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Nic Klein
Colorist: Matt Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino

You know what sucks? When you’ve got one character you love and one character you don’t care about going at it, and the character you love is the one made out to be the bad guy.

Basically, I like Galactus more than I like Thor. This is one of those issues where my personal preferences play a major factor in my enjoyment of an otherwise fine comic.

Thor is now herald of Galactus, and he leads the Devourer to the first of five special planets that will give Galactus enough power to stop the end of the universe. The problem is that a primitive sentient species lives on the planet, so Thor won’t let Galactus eat it. Galactus protests, so Thor uses Mjolnir to start smashing Galactus to bits. Then the alien species starts attacking Thor, viewing him as an invader, giving Galactus a chance to start up his machine.

So Thor calls on Sif to create a BiFrost to the planet and teleport the species away, with Thor making it clear to Galactus that there won’t be any planet eating until they’re all gone. Thor also promises these people to restore the planet once Galactus is done…but Galactus likes the power so much that he destroys the planet completely in his consumption. Thor is pissed, but so is Galactus — but their confrontation is interrupted by the arrival of Beta Ray Bill!

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

When it comes to cosmic Marvel comics, there are two things to know about me: I love me some Beta Ray Bill and I love me some Galactus. So to see this twerpy little Thor push around and bully the injured Galactus, that really rustles my jimmies. The comic even goes so far as to call Galactus a god of genocide! That’s not Galactus’ deal at all! And that sort of thing just sticks in my craw when reading a comic like this. I realize it is definitely the more heroic and noble thing to do to have Thor oppose Galactus wiping out this primitive race…but man, I don’t care. Galactus has a thing, and right now he needs to do the thing, consequences be damned. When you’re telling a story about empowering Galactus to save the entire universe, sometimes you need to make the hard choices and make some universal sacrifices. Those are the kinds of thoughts that go into a good cosmic Galactus story.

I’m not saying I want a bunch of aliens to die, I’m saying making Thor the herald of Galactus in a last ditch effort to save the universe should come with some hefty complications.

Thor Hurts Galactus 01

Thor gets away with too much

What would Thor do if every single super planet had life on it? Just shrug and say that he’ll let the universe die?

I’m also forgetting why they made Thor the herald if all Galactus needs is somebody to lead him to the planet that the Silver Surfer knows about…Why not pick anybody else?

So yeah, while this issue is well-constructed and the story is pretty cool, I personally didn’t care for some of the story choices within. That’s totally on me. I think Thor evacuating the aliens to Asgard is a solid compromise, but I don’t like seeing Galactus so kowtowed. If you’re going to go this big with your story, there should be rules and consequences in place. Is Thor really allowed to destroy Galactus’ knee with Mjolnir when he’s a herald? That’s no big deal?

Fortunately, few things are going to get me so fully on board a Thor story as the sudden arrival of Beta Ray Bill! As much as I enjoyed Jason Aaron’s Thor comics, the severe lack of Beta Ray Bill was disappointing. I’m pleased to see Cates fix that immediately.

TL;DR: My personal opinions on a Thor/Galactus brouhaha cloud my judgement on a solid follow-up issue. A surprise character appearance at the end makes everything alright.


XMen5

X-Men #5

X-Men #5
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: R.B. Silva
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

What a waste of an issue. Comics like this one remind me that Dawn of X isn’t as well-built as it could be.

The X-Men track Serafina to The Vault in Ecuador, and they decide they want to get inside in order to learn more about The Children of the Vault. The problem is that time passes much more quickly inside The Vault. So the X-Men send in Darwin, Synch and X-23 (who might be going by “Wolverine” again, thankfully). Once the three of them are inside, a couple months pass, which is the equivalent of a couple hundred years on the inside, and Cyclops regrets what he’s done.

Comic Rating: 4/10 – Pretty Bad.

The plot progression in this issue could have been handled in a single panel. I don’t know why this required an entire issue. We don’t even really get much time spent with either The Children of the Vault or Synch and Darwin, who haven’t had a chance to shine in years. We get an infographic page about Synch and how there is some concern about resurrecting mutants who have been dead for awhile, and how the world will be new and strange to them. But that doesn’t actually get explored with Synch directly, it’s all on the infographic. Instead, this issue features an unnecessary scene of Wolverine slowly following Serafina through the jungle. Then there’s an extended scene where Cyclops, Professor X and Armor, of all people, explain the time differential in The Vault. Then there’s an extended scene where Cyclops and Storm cause a distraction outside The Vault so that the trio can teleport inside. It’s all unnecessary!

Laura Wolverine Name 01

If Jonathan Hickman also changes Gabby’s name back to “Honey Badger” then all will be forgiven

This issue is pretty much nothing but filler! For no actual pay-off! Theoretically, down the line, we’ll follow up on this trio and The Children of the Vault. But why did we need to waste an entire issue to explain how The Vault works and how they got inside? Here, I’ll do it in two sentences: “Time passes differently in The Vault; a single day can be several years. We sent Synch, Darwin and X-23 inside a couple months ago and haven’t heard from them since”. There. I just summed up the entirety of this issue. It’s all set up for whatever is going to come later, and it’s all painfully drawn out set up.

For what purpose? X-Men feels like it’s supposed to be the flagship title of Dawn of X, and it’s already coming out at a slower pace than everything else. Did Marvel really need to waste an entire issue this important comic on unnecessary set up? Why not dive right into the trio inside The Vault? Wouldn’t that have been more fun? Wouldn’t seeing Synch and Darwin do anything have been more fun than this? I can’t even really claim the writing is any good in this issue because it’s almost entirely exposition.

Everything except the art is an annoying waste of space.

TL;DR: X-Men wastes an entire issue on unnecessary set up and exposition.


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!

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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 February 1, 2020, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Omg, i had the same issue with Thor. I get that he is a superhero so he isnt just gonna let them die, bit he should understand this is something that needs to be done. Isn’t he a king? Isnt being part of a king making hard choices and tough decisions? I get that he jusy started being a king so ill give him some leeway. But i hope they address this. Maybe have a whole arc where Thor realizes the harsh reality of the cosmic world and about being a king. Not just hes a superhero and if u disagree with him, your the villain.

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