Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 2/29/20

Howdy ho, everybody! Did you check out my review of the Harley Quinn cartoon earlier this week? That show was great! The first season just wrapped up last week, and season 2 is coming in April! DC really nailed this one!

Speaking of which, I don’t review very many DC comics this week! Really just Far Sector, which remains awesome. Though I do check out stuff like Ant-Man and Force Works from Marvel, as well as a new Power Rangers comic.

Comic Book of the Week goes to X-Men #7 for an issue that might just be exactly what I’ve been waiting for in Dawn of X. This issue is bonkers in all the best ways!

Aero vs Apoc 02

Someone is finally using Apocalypse well

Meanwhile, speaking of Dawn of X, I glanced through the Giant-Sized Jean Grey and Emma Frost issue and it’s fine. It’s one of those totally silent issues, relying on the art to tell a crazy story set in Storm’s mindscape. I’m not a fan of dream settings, but Russell Dauterman’s art is fantastic. Why Marvel hasn’t put him on a main X-Men title yet, I do not know.

Comic Reviews: Ant-Man #2, Far Sector #4, Force Works 2020 #1, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #48, New Mutants #8 and X-Men #7.


AntMan2

Ant-Man #2

Ant-Man #2
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Dylan Burnett
Colorist: Mike Spicer
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

I’m definitely loving this new Ant-Man comic! It’s a lot of fun and very creative.

Ant-Man faces off against Vespa, Thread and Tusk, but decides to retreat rather than get swarmed to death. Once safe, he sits down with Swarm and gets a recap of the villain’s origins, wherein he was a Nazi scientist who found a hive of mutated killer bees and invented a device to control them (only to get taken over instead). Swarm explains that there are other hives of mutant insects, led by a bug king called Macrothrax. They kidnapped Swarm and used his device to create more humanoid bug monsters and are trying to get him back. Macrothrax reveals himself and uses mind powers to show Scott his ultimate goal: the destruction of the human race. Macrothrax then becomes more interested in Ant-Man’s ability to make giant insects than in Swarm, and Ant-Man and Swarm are able to escape.

They return to the beekeepers from the previous issue and Swarm leaves, now free of Macrothrax’s interests. Ant-Man looks around for the giant ant he flew in on and he’s gone! Turns out, Macrothrax kidnapped the ant to gain more information.

Meanwhile, Cassie Lang tries to convince her mom to let her run away and join the West Coast Avengers.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This comic remains a ton of fun! This issue is a bit of a step back because a lot of time is needed for exposition, but the dialogue is still fun and Wells finds a lot of ways to be creative and original. He creates this ongoing bit where Swarm is super grateful for Ant-Man’s help, to the point of now considering them allies — but Ant-Man doesn’t want to be friends or allies with a literal Nazi! Swarm even goes so far as to save Ant-Man at the end when he passes out, but Ant-Man, understandably, doesn’t want anyone actively thinking that he is protecting or trying to save an evil Nazi bee villain. It’s a funny ongoing gag.

Ant Man Swarm Friends 01

We’re not together!

The rest of the issue is fun too, a nice escalation of what we saw at the end of the previous issue. The new villain, Macrothrax, looks pretty crazy and definitely works as a villain for Ant-Man. The whole scheme/threat is just really fun, taking the idea of Swarm and expanding it into a bigger, more dangerous problem, perfect for a superhero to take on. And then Wells goes a step further by having Ant-Man alter the villain’s schemes by his direct involvement. So the whole thing is really snowballing nicely, all with a unique, character-specific angle. Couple that with the fun dialogue and jokes, and the really great, perfect artwork, and this Ant-Man mini continues to to shine!

Perhaps, if we’re lucky, Marvel will bump it to an ongoing if it sells well!

TL;DR: The good jokes, dialogue, artwork and storytelling keep this really fun mini-series going, even if this issue slows down just a bit for some necessary exposition. Still great!


FarSector4

Far Sector #4

Far Sector #4
Writer: N.K. Jemisin
Artist: Jamal Campbell
Letterer: Deron Bennett

This is a complex issue! It introduces some new ideas that I don’t particularly like…only to reveal that those new ideas have something deeper behind them by the end, so maybe I will like it! We’ll see.

Green Lantern Jo Mullein confronts the peace officers who fired on the crowd, telling them off for such lunacy. Then she goes about cleaning up the riot/crowd herself. While she’s doing that, the peace officers share some intel they’ve gathered on her: Jo’s ring is unique in that it’s not as powerful as a regular GL ring, and she does not use a Power Battery to recharge. Her ring is simply always slowly recharging, and it takes a couple days for a full charge. The peace officers surmise that she will be vulnerable after all the work in cleaning up the riot.

Jo meets with the people who started the riot, who turn out to be the wife and family of the murder victim. They are against the Emotion Exploit and vow to keep protesting until it goes up for a referendum. Jo delivers these demands to the Council and learns that there have been 12 similar protests in the history of the City Enduring, all of which were put down with violence. Jo is aghast at the Council and storms out.

As she catches a taxi back to her place, we see a quick memory in which she was given a “ring like no other” and one year to “make a difference”.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

It’s the changes to Jo’s GL ring that have me on edge. When it was first mentioned in the issue, I thought it was really dumb. Why change the rules of the GL Power Ring for this one story/character? What would that serve? If you can’t write a GL story using the rules of the GL, then change your story so that the rules work. There are plenty of ways to make Jo vulnerable if she still uses a traditional Power Ring/Power Battery and Oath. So that was annoying. But then we got to the final page of the issue and the reveal that there’s something special and unique about Jo even serving as a Green Lantern. That completely turned around my earlier annoyance. Now there’s a bit of mystery as to how Jo even became a GL. And that might explain why the GL Corps chose a rookie from Earth to go all the way out to the City Enduring to handle this long term assignment. That new bit of mystery intrigues me enough to overlook the liberties taken with her Power Ring.

And the rest of the issue is the usual gorgeous artwork and storytelling I’ve come to expect from Far Sector.

Far Sector Blast 01

*Italian kiss*

This issue had a lot of great overall moments for Jo as a hero. She does a phenomenal job using her power to put a stop to the riot and help people, which is great to show off — and, again, so utterly gorgeous in the artwork. Then she stands up to the Council, which delivers a pretty interesting reveal! If I had one complaint it’s that this issue is more about reveals than it is about moving the story forward. There are the reveals about Jo’s ring, followed by the reveals about the murderer victim’s wife followed by reveals from the Council. Added together, they make for a fine issue that keeps the story rolling along nicely. But I suppose I would like a little more meat to the actual issue-by-issue adventures. And maybe a return to more of the procedural elements. This went from a murder mystery to a story about a GL going up against the system on a planet she doesn’t need to be on.

TL;DR: A lot of very interesting reveals make for a compelling issue to this already stellar series!


ForceWorks1

Force Works #1

Force Works 2020 #1
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artist: Juanan Ramirez
Colorist: Federico Blee
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

I’ve been on a U.S. Agent kick as of late for some reason and I don’t know why. But seeing him show up in a positive heroic comic was more than enough to get me to check this out. It’ll probably be the only Iron Man 2020 tie-in I bother with.

War Machine, Gauntlet and Solo are part of Force Works, which seems to be run by Maria Hill as a way for the government to fight the robot uprising. A job goes bad in the opening of the issue, putting Gauntlet in the hospital and Solo quitting. Hill then recruits Rhodey to join some other agents in Lingares, South America, to search for a missing agent. We check in with Quake and U.S. Agent who are flying to the country and getting briefed, but have to jump out of the plane when they’re attacked. War Machine catches Quake in mid-air, but U.S. Agent hits the ground and gets attacked by soldiers. He’s saved by the missing agent: Mockingbird. And then all four regroup. When Mockingbird says her mission is incomplete, they decided to stay, but then they are all overrun by Deathloks.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I would probably read an ongoing like this. Maybe I’d get bored after a few issues and give it up, but I would definitely give the old college try to this team and their premise. Rosenberg nails the quick, rushed team dynamic with a couple of strong-willed characters and they make for a solid team. U.S. Agent is the real standout. He’s as much of an asshole as they come, but he’s dedicated and loyal, and it’s a great combination for a team book like this. Everyone else, with the exception of Quake, works nicely bouncing off him. Quake is just too much of a cipher still. She could stand to get a real costume instead of just a generic SHIELD jumper. But the key to a good team book is to have good, solid cast that are interesting when you bounce them off one another, and Force Works 2020 delivers that much.

USAgent is a Jerk 01

Knock-off Captain America yells at poor man’s Iron Man

I really liked the art as well. It’s energetic and colorful, with good looks for all of the characters. The story doesn’t have very strong legs to stand on, but it works. This is what Rhodey is up to during the robot uprising, and it’s fun. He’s fighting the good fight, working with, arguably, good people. And Rosenberg keeps the energy flowing between all of them. I wouldn’t say there’s anything in particular that really stands out or makes this a must-read comic, unless you are particularly interested in the characters. I probably wouldn’t have checked this out if U.S. Agent wasn’t on the team. I don’t know what it is about that guy…

Meanwhile, when is Dan Slott going to give us the Gauntlet/Southpaw team-up we all desperately want? I feel like I should start harassing him on Twitter.

TL;DR: Strong characters and an entertaining team dynamic make this first issue worth a read.


MMPR48

Power Rangers #48

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #48
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Daniele Di Nicuolo
Colorist: Walter Baiamonte, with assistance from Katia Ranalli
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire

The Power Rangers comics have reached the point where they are just so damn consistently good that there’s not much I have to say about each individual issue.

Cavotus continues his attempts to blow up the Power and Omega Rangers in outer space, but they’re hiding among the asteroid belt (and using cool jet boots to get around). The Power Rangers on Earth have keyed into the energy explosions in space, but there’s not much they can do — so Billy sneaks away and visits Grace Sterling, who calls on Alternate Reality Kimberly to fly by and lend a hand. Kim defeats Cavotus and takes the Rangers on her Gravezord. She off-handedly mentions a device that can absorb Morphin Grid energy, but it’s in another dimension. Xi seems to know what she’s talking about and insists they hurry back to Safehaven to use something called the Master Arch.

Which is probably what Dayne has discovered beneath the temple on Safehaven, and he shows it to Kyra and Garrison. She’s ready to lead her people through the arch to some kind of victory.

Meanwhile, Tommy and Jason blow off some of their anger at each other a morphed sparring match. And Zach gives Adam a pep talk about finding your niche in this crazy job.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This comic is so consistently awesome. I don’t even feel like the story is dragging all that much. The story and the characters remain entertaining because Parrott is so good at mixing things up, while still delivering that quality character drama we know and love. This issue sees the Rangers using rocket boots to zip between chunks of space debris on the run from a reluctant alien killer! And not even all the Rangers, but a cool mix of characters that never interacted on the real show. Heck, we get a really nice scene between Zach and Adam, the old and new Black Rangers, in a scene that specifically highlights the background nature of the Black Ranger. I only wish this comic had had more time to show off Adam as a character. He hasn’t done much since showing up in this series, so there’s not much character for Zach to bounce off of. But the scene is still a great insert!

Black Rangers 01

He’s a frog

And that was just one page of this awesome comic! We also had a cool spar between Tommy and Jason, one that was just dripping with unspoken tension. We had the big return of Alternate Reality Kimberly, who offered to become the Pink Omega Ranger, as if that didn’t belong to Garrison Vox (in my mind!). There are so many moving pieces in this story right now, but Parrott and his art team are masters of the craft at this point. They keep everything flowing nicely, while mixing in unexpected moments of real character depth. That’s why Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is such a wonderful comic and has been for years at this point.

TL;DR: Little moments of character development sprinkled throughout this already exciting issue make for a greater package overall.


NewMutants8

New Mutants #8

New Mutants #8
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Marco Failla
Colorist: Carlos Lopez
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham

Eh. After the fun of Hickman’s last New Mutants issue, this story doesn’t have nearly as much energy or entertainment value.

Magma, Armor and Boom Boom travel to Brazil because of reports that monsters are eating mutants trying to reach the Krakoan portal in the Amazon Rain Forest. The women trek through the jungle, find the portal, kill the monsters and save a bunch of young mutants. Turns out, some random lady was creating/controlling the monsters and she has more.

Meanwhile, after Maxime and Manon tip him off, Sebastian Shaw visits the drug cartel in Costa Perdita that attacked Beak’s family. Shaw informs the cartel boss that Krakoan drugs will be coming to the country, but he’s instead struck a deal with a rival cartel. The new business will surely be enough for the rival to crush this violent cartel.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

I just don’t know what to say about this issue. I think it’s set up for more to come, but beyond that, it’s rather boring. In the previous story, we had some motivation for Armor to go out into the world in search of missing mutants, but that seems to have been abandoned in favor of just Armor, Magma and Boom Boom going out to randomly respond to mutant issues throughout the world. That doesn’t really click for me. Especially since Boom Boom spends the entire time complaining. Why did she even go? Every single X-Man or villain is on Krakoa, so why not pick and choose who is best for a mission? Why force these three to walk five hours through the Amazon Rain Forest in their seemingly ordinary X-Uniforms when you have any number of fliers on hand? And, theoretically, better gear? And then they go up against a couple random, generic-looking monsters? These aren’t even the first weird jungle creatures we’ve seen across several different Dawn of X comics, so it’s not like the threat is anything new. There just isn’t much exciting in this issue, and I would have preferred more structure to what’s happening.

TL;DR: A lot of the personalized energy and character disappears in this fairly generic issue.


XMen7

X-Men #7

X-Men #7
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Leinil Francis Yu
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

I think this is it. I think this is the issue of Dawn of X I’ve been waiting for.

The time has come for the first Crucible on Krakoa. Cyclops has reservations, so he seeks out Nightcrawler to offer a penny for his thoughts. The two old friends talk about many things as they make their way to the arena for the Crucible. They talk about religion, about the nature of the soul, about being mutants, about the very nature of the Crucible and about the prices that must be paid.

Once upon a time, the Scarlet Witch stole the power from upwards of 1 million mutants at the end of House of M. The new Krakoa Resurrection Protocols can restore those powers, but the mutant first has to die. And the Five and the Protocols simply couldn’t handle it if all 1 million mutants killed themselves at once to get resurrected. So the Quiet Council came up with the Crucible, and Melody Guthrie is first up.

The Crucible is this: Rather than simply be executed and resurrected, the de-powered mutants must fight for what they want. Melody is given a sword and everyone comes to watch, making it a ceremony. She goes up against Apocalypse, who gives a powerful speech about being a mutant and fighting for that right once again. Melody fights Apocalypse, and when she gets knocked down, she gets back up, and continues doing so until she is killed. Then Melody is resurrected, her powers restored. She is mutant once more.

Kurt tells Scott that he’s thinking of creating a mutant religion.

Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.

Oh boy, this was an exciting issue! When I read that final line, about Kurt starting a mutant religion, I gasped with excitement. Yes! This is the sort of insane, status quo-shaking change I hoped to see after HoX/PoX! These big, crazy ideas that are built on existing lore, about taking these new ideas and applying them to what’s come before! How do the X-Men handle the whole “No More Mutants” thing in light of these new Resurrection Protocols? This is how! And in doing so, they have to confront, even deeper, the question of whether or not they are being resurrected with souls. Are they? Do they know? How can they tell? And is it worth it to kill a fellow mutant, especially one as young as Melody Guthrie? She wants it more than anything. She wants to be a mutant again. She will face off against Apocalypse himself, one-on-one, to earn her mutant status again. She’s awesome.

Aero vs Apoc 01

Apocalypse and Aero are suddenly the coolest X-Men in comics

Beyond the idea, I love the execution of this issue. I love the conversation Scott and Kurt have, how they speak as equals. I love the comic book convention where they walk all the way across the island to the arena, and their conversation continues even though surely it took longer than a few pages. It gives their conversation more power, more energy, as if they are narrating somehow. I love Apocalypse’s speech and how real and honest it feels, how he even goes so far as to taunt Melody to make sure she stays in the fight (and how her siblings, Cannonball and Husk, are getting riled up in the stands). I love the idea of taking all of this wild energy and having Kurt turn it into a new religion. Marvelous!

I love the smaller bits that Hickman sprinkles throughout. There’s a mysterious tower that nobody can get inside, until Kurt took a leap of faith teleportation and found a building that he felt instantly at home in, which worried him to his core. There might be something weird going on with Warlock and Cypher. Hilarious. It’s just this weird stuff! I loved Kurt and Scott talking about the overall sense of weirdness of Krakoa, how they talk about whether or not they are really themselves or just soulless clones.

Personally, I’m totally fine with Marvel just saying that all these resurrected mutants are really themselves. It’s much easier and cleaner that way.

TL;DR: This issue finally, truly, embraces and explores the madness that Dawn of X should be! I loved it!


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 February 29, 2020, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Great reviews!

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