Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 2/15/20
I have an addiction to ordering graphic novels on Amazon. Admitting I have a problem is the first step. But in better news, I finally have my hands on Spider-Man: Life Story! I’ll let you know what I think!
Comic Book of the Week goes to Thor #3, because nothing tickles my pinks quite like an awesome guest appearance from Beta Ray Bill!
Meanwhile, I didn’t like the Sonic the Hedgehog movie. I suppose one argument could be made that I should cut an obvious kids’ movie some slack, but we’ve all seen good kids movies. This is just a dumb film filled with cliches and tropes. And they don’t really get Sonic right. He’s all about attitude, but movie Sonic is a hopeful, lonely kid who just wants a friend. And as the tropes dictate, he gets at least one.
Comic Reviews: Go Go Power Rangers #29, The Green Lantern #1, Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey #1, Iron Man 2020 #2, Thor #3 and X-Men #6.
Go Go Power Rangers #29
Writers: Ryan Parrott and Sina Grace
Artist: Francesco Mortarino
Colorist: Raul Angulo and Eleonora Bruni
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Issues like this one, while good, are a solid showcase for why the two Power Rangers comics have become redundant.
The Power Rangers do battle with Earl Grey Matter, a teapot monster. Tommy, the new leader, urges them forward, but the monster rebuffs the attack. So Jason calls out a new order to attack from range and they win. Afterwards, most people are a little on edge about Tommy being the new leader, but the rest just say he needs time.
Jason, Trini and Zack then make an excuse to go out of town for the weekend when they’re actually going on their first new space mission (they’re not yet Omega Rangers). The Emissary introduces them to Xi and they head out to an alien planet, where they find a group of townsfolk chasing after Kira!
Meanwhile, Lord Zeed has Finster build him a monster to break into and destroy Promethea.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This comic is very enjoyable, as all issues of Go Go Power Rangers have been. There’s some solid character drama and a lot of really good behind-the-scenes looks at our heroes. It’s always entertaining to see them butt heads a little bit over an issue, like the other Rangers worried about Tommy’s leadership capabilities. Just as it’s really fun to see Jason, Zack and Trini struggle with the early stages of their new mission. All of this makes for really compelling storytelling, the bread and butter of this comic! But the main Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comic is doing the exact same thing. And now the two comics are being told at roughly the same time frame, only a few months apart. And since that’s the case, Go Go Power Rangers really just reads like an expansive flashback, as if we needed to see every single step in the formation of the Omega Rangers. We don’t. Even if it’s as well-written and as well-drawn as we get in this issue, a lot of this is unnecessary in the grand scheme of things. So as much as I love this comic, I’ll be OK with closing the door.
TL;DR: We get a lot of really good behind-the-scenes storytelling int his issue, which is the great bread & butter of Go Go Power Rangers.
The Green Lantern: Season Two #1
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Liam Sharp
Colorist: Steve Oliff
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Whatever happened to Simon Baz? Or the other colored Lantern Corps? Anybody know? I would love to see Morrison write Saint Walker and/or Larfleeze.
The universe has been righted and Hal Jordan is honored by the Guardians of the Universe and the Green Lantern Corps! He’s also given a new, upgraded Power Battery so that his ring has some new tricks up its sleeve. Hal is then told that the Guardians are leaving to do some Grant Morrisony thing in another dimension, and he’s been tasked with heading to their home planet of Maltus to get the new replacement Guardians. He’s joined by Ryk, a sentient salt alien and law enforcement officer from the planet Karalyx, who was in town with a bunch of other local officers for a big meeting of intergalactic space cops.
Hal and Ryk head to Maltus and find the planet overrun by murder gorillas. They have destroyed the birthing pods of the new Guardians and kidnap their creator, Mother Juna. Hal and Ryk fight off some murder gorillas and do some good, old-fashioned police work to find Mother Juna and defeat her captors, the evolved murder gorillas. Hal uses his ring’s new powers — like a shrink ray and a de-evolution ray — to defeat all the murder gorillas and rescue Mother Juna. But then Mother Juna reveals this was all staged by her, that she controls all the various species and their evolutions. It’s a training ground for the Young Guardians to see how societies rise and fall, and this also all worked as candidate evaluation for Ryk, who is now recruited to the GLC.
Mother Juna builds the new Young Guardians and they take over leadership of the GLC. They immediately detect a threat in Sector 2814 and assign Hal stakeout duty on Earth. Hal had previously mentioned to John Stewart and Jessica Cruz that he had no intention of ever going back to a backwater like Earth. So he’s a little miffed at this new assignment.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
I love it when a Grant Morrison story is linear enough to understand, while also being all manner of Morrison crazy. This issue is jam-packed with a ton of material, and I loved pretty much all of it! From a big group shot of a bunch of minor space law enforcement officers, almost all of whom are surely from random back issues in DC canon somewhere, to cameos from John Stewart and Jessica Cruz, to a new Morrison Lantern recruit, this issue had so much to enjoy! And it’s all built on a foundation of strong writing, both with the characters and their adventures. Morrison’s characters are rich, interesting and make a story fun and exciting.
Replacing the Guardians of the Universe with a new set is a pretty big deal, but Morrison makes it feel matter-of-fact…and then he creates a truly insane story to make it all happen. Hal teaming up with a salt alien space cop to fight a bunch of insane murder gorillas? And it all turns out to be staged as part of the Guardian-growing process, with the additional tidbit of testing the salt guy for recruitment? Fun stuff! And Morrison writes a great salt guy. He’s very blunt and alien. When Hal complains that his new partner is just sentient salt, Ryk responds positively that Hal is sentient water, so they’ll make a great ocean of teamwork! It’s fun!
Between The Green Lantern and Far Sector, the Green Lantern franchise is on fire these days, as far as I’m concerned!
TL;DR: This is a welcome return for The Green Lantern, an issue overflowing with great storytelling and fascinating ideas.
Harley Quinn & the Birds of Prey #1
Writers: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Amanda Conner
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: John J. Hill
I was really looking forward to this one! The Conner/Palmiotti run of Harley Quinn from the New 52 was the only ongoing Harley comic I’ve ever read, and I loved it from start to finish! So the idea of the two of them coming back to the character and essentially picking up where they left off sounded good to me!
Even better, Conner is finally drawing the interior pages! She’s probably one of my favorite comic artists of all time, so that alone would be enough to get me on board! Throw in a Black Label rating and the Birds of Prey and you’ve got the makings of a good series!
Which will probably be best read as the full series…
After awakening from dream of happier times, Harley goes out to her roof to stare contemplatively across the city. She’s joined by Power Girl, who just happened to be flying by with cat food, and who stops to ask what’s on Harley’s mind. Harley flashes back to a romantic island getaway with Poison Ivy, that Harley messed up by purposefully letting their boat sail away, trapping the two of them on the remote island with no food or water for a couple days, until they were rescued by oh, let’s say…Moe. Afterwards, Ivy was so cross with Harley that she took off. To make matters worse, Harley missed a mortgage payment on her hotel while she was gone, so the mobsters that own the hotel showed up to deliver a message. They beat up Big Tony and burn down the hotel, destroying the home of the Gang of Harleys and all of their possessions.
So Harley has an idea: she’ll return to Gotham City for one last job that will set everything right. But first, she and the gang visit Tony in the hospital, and it gets Harley so worked up seeing him like that that she goes to the mob family’s local offices and kills everyone present, tipping off the mob boss that she’s coming after him next. Then she gets on a train, ditches Harlem Harley and Red Tool, and eventually arrives in Gotham. But the train is boarded by the mob boss’ goons, intent on killing Harley. Fortunately for her, the Huntress was investigating the mob boss and she arrives in time to warn Harley…but Harley wants to fight the goons. So she and Huntress get into a big brawl on the train with the goons, killing them all. Oh, and Cassandra Cain is there and she joins in, because she’s also in the movie.
They then arrive at a safe house in Gotham…and Renee Montoya is there, because, again, she’s also in the movie.
Meanwhile, the Joker has been tipped off that Harley is back in town.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Much like the Birds of Prey movie, this is essentially a Harley Quinn story with the Birds randomly inserted. And I most definitely mean ‘randomly inserted’. Cassandra Cain is literally just on the same train for unexplained reasons, and she randomly just joins in at the end of the fight. And Harley knows her on a first name basis. In fact, Harley knows all three of them as if they’ve been gal pals forever. So, uh…no team up introductions necessary? The prerequisite characters from the movie just show up and Harley welcomes them cheerfully with open arms, no matter how little they have to do with the story. It’s weird. Especially with DC trying to both have their cake and eat it too…kind of? It’s hard to explain. The movie Birds of Prey characters are nothing like the comic Birds of Prey characters…but there’s no point in sticking too close to the comic versions…but it would be silly to completely abandon the comic versions…but do the comic versions even have set-in-stone versions these days? Huntress still seems to be the New 52 version, only without any real ties to that version. Cassandra Cain seems to be a blend of movie and comic Cassandras. And Renee Montoya literally only appears on the final page of the comic, so we don’t yet know what version we’ll get. Probably not the awesome Question version that’s currently guest starring in the Lois Lane comic.
At least Harley is awesome.
Now that I think about it, this comic is exactly what it seems like on the surface. Conner and Palmiotti pick up exactly where they left off, ignoring any other recent Harley comic continuity, and then just jam the movie Birds of Prey characters into the story. The story itself isn’t all that interesting, and is told in a really weird way. We open with a dream sequence, jump to the modern day, transition into some flashbacks, and then finally proceed linearly through simply not much story. We don’t find out what Harley is going to do in Gotham to set things right. So this is just a story where Harley is going to Gotham for something involving generic mobsters and money, and boy oh boy, she runs into some trouble along the way. That’s the issue. The over-sized issue.
Fortunately, the comic is so much fun that I am readily and happily ignoring all of these nitpicks. I just don’t care about the weird character mish-mashes or the lack of a compelling story. Because Conner and Palmiotti have a great voice for the character and her adventures, and Conner’s art is so damn good that it wallpapers over all of the cracks in the story!
Whatever they are playing at here, I am fully on board and can’t wait to see the rest. It’s Harley Quinn and a couple of tagalong friends going on a violent, tasteful nudity-filled adventure with a bunch of high energy fight scenes and some quality humor.
This comic feels like DC really, really wanted to push the Birds of Prey movie characters for when the movie came out, but none of the characters were available in the actual comics. So they brought back a very popular creative team and asked them to make it happen! And they do and it’s really fun, but also really hodge-podged if you really look closely at the details. Which I did.
TL;DR: The energy, violence and gorgeous artwork more than make up for the awkward movie tie-in aspects of this comic.
Iron Man 2020 #2
Writers: Dan Slott and Christos Gage
Artist: Pete Woods
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
While I’m still enjoying Dan Slott’s Iron Man saga, it’s reached the stage where my general disinterest in the character is starting to win out. I’ve simply never cared about Iron Man, but the Dan Slott name counts for a lot.
The various robots of the Robot Rebellion go around town recruiting all manner of A.I., from the robot pirates of Captain Barracuda to some crash test dummies, who are sentient for some reason. They use an un-inhibitor to break the robots free, and when Arno Stark recovers one, he uses it to create a new slave code to control all robots in the world. He’s going to upload it to Stark servers and every single robot connected to the internet will automatically download the code and become his slave!
So A.I. Tony — who calls himself “Mark One” — puts together a heist of the Baintronics building so that they can sneak in and alter the code before it goes out to the world. But Arno saw through pretty much every part of Mark One’s plans and cancels them all, taking out his reinforcements and agents, before facing off against Mark One directly!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This is why the Dan Slott name counts for a lot. He can tell a rip-roaringly fun story that keeps all of the action flowing and provides all manner of good moments and interesting activity for a variety of characters. He has yet to make Arno Stark the least bit entertaining, but Arno works well as an antagonist. He definitely presents a challenge to Mark One, a character I’m starting to fully understand now. I like the idea that this isn’t Tony Stark, that Mark One is embracing his unique place in existence. It’s a far more interesting status quo than if he just went on pretending he was the real Tony Stark. It’s a fascinating exploration of death and rebirth in comics. And it’s at the head of a funny and action-packed robot rebellion! So Slott is also delivering a fascinating exploration of robots and A.I. in comics! It’s all fun!
Plus, the issue opened with a Stingray cameo, so I was already in a good mood.
TL;DR: Interesting story and characters continue to deliver a rather fascinating, multi-layered adventure.
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Nic Klein
Colorist: Matt Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
If you’re a comic book series and want to get in my good graces, just do everything I ever love. It’s that easy!
Beta Ray Bill has come to stop Thor from being the pawn of Galactus and destroying more planets. But even when Thor announces that he’s only partnered with Galactus, that he chose this path to save the galaxy, Bill will not relent. So Thor lets him have it and the two really duke it out, with Bill even gaining control of Mjolnir for a bit! But Thor responds by taking Stormbreaker and smashing it over Mjolnir, shattering Bill’s mighty hammer! Then, as Thor is ready to deal the killing blow…only for Lady Sif to teleport in and take a stand against Thor!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Look, I’m only human. That means I absolutely love Beta Ray Bill. More than that, I’ve always had a little thing for the Bill/Sif romance. They make a neat couple! She’s never going to be with Thor, and Bill is right there. So already I’m loving this issue for some great Beta Ray Bill moments, even if both he and Thor are being a little pig-headed. Then we end with Sif showing up to defend Bill? Hot frickin’ damn! Just hook it to my veins!
Speaking of great Beta Ray Bill moments…
Everybody in this issue is indeed acting a little pig-headed. I get that Beta Ray Bill really hates Galactus, and it would aggravate him to no end that Thor had teamed up with Galactus. But can they really not sit around and discuss what’s going on here? Especially Thor, jeez. Rather than refuse to fight Bill, you just go ahead and wallop your oath-brother? You even go so far as to smash Stormbreaker? I get that Thor might be a bit under Galactus’ spell and he doesn’t realize it, but Thor really comes off as a jerk this issue. At least his jerkiness gives Bill plenty of moments to shine.
I have been all over the place on this series based entirely on my own personal love for these specific characters. I’ve never cared for Thor, but I love Galactus, so the past two issues have been a wild ride for me. I still don’t care for Thor, but I loooove Beta Ray Bill, so this issue is an even wilder ride! I simply can’t be objective, especially when Cates writes Bill so well. And Klein does a fantastic job on art. So this is a well-written, well-drawn, knockdown, drag-out brawl between Thor and Bill, both of them being a little pig-headed, that is just filled with one cool moment after another, and it ends with a cliffhanger that really tickles my pinks!
How could I not love it?
TL;DR: Every appearance by Beta Ray Bill makes a comic better, especially when he’s written and drawn so well. Lots of exciting moments!
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Matteo Buffagni
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Man, I am all over the place with this series. Sometimes the stand alone issues are great, like this one. And sometimes they bug me. Such is the nature of stand alone issues, I suppose.
And so we learn the secret history of Mystique’s time on Krakoa, or at least some of it. Back during the infiltration of the Orchis Station in House of X, we now discover that Mystique had a secret mission to plant a Krakoa portal pod. But since Mystique was killed before confirming her success, Xavier and Magneto ask her to go back to make sure the portal works. Mystique heads to the station and poses as a courier, checking out some of the new Orchis projects. Mystique discovers that one of the scientists is still building a Nimrod, and Xavier and Magneto want her to go back and kill the scientist. Mystique wants them to resurrect her wife, Destiny, but the two leaders continue to demure.
Unfortunately for Xavier and Magneto, Destiny foresaw all of this back when she was alive and told Mystique some of her visions. She told Mystique to get her resurrected at all costs, and if not, to burn the island down.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This is a heavily character-focused issue, and that makes it really good. I have really liked Hickman’s character work since he started with the X-Men, and this issue is no different as we delve a bit into Mystique’s state of mind. The reveal of her secret Orchis mission is neat, even if it was pretty obvious that something mysterious was up with that random Courier character. Hickman has a strong handle on Mystique as she navigates the frustratingly obtuse leadership of Xavier and Magneto. We, as readers, know that the two of them are purposefully leading Mystique on, so that adds an extra layer of intrigue to the whole thing. But it’s Mystique’s passion that really sells the comic.
Destiny was already dead by the time I started reading comics, so I have absolutely no history with Mystique and Destiny together. For that matter, they were together in the 80s, so the lesbian nature of their relationship was probably downplayed as much as humanly possible. Thankfully, we live in 2020, so Hickman is allowed to just come out and shout that Mystique and Destiny were two women married and in love. So it’s really refreshing to see this side of Mystique, to see that she had a wife and is still passionate about her all these years later. That passion, coupled with the mystery and intrigue of her dealings with Xavier and Magneto, makes for a strong issue.
TL;DR: Shining a new light on Mystique’s great passions makes for a compelling comic.
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 February 15, 2020, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged Beta Ray Bill, Birds of Prey, Go Go Power Rangers, Green Lantern, Harley Quinn, Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey, Iron Man, Iron Man 2020, Mystique, Power Rangers, The Green Lantern, Thor. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.