Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 3/14/20
How’s everybody holding up? Coronavirus has yet to hit my little enclave in Upstate New York, but it’s getting closer by the day. I hope all of you are safe, sound and doing your best to get through this!
Thankfully, I read my comics online these days, so no need to go outside! This was a stellar week, with quality issues of The Green Lantern, X-Men, New Mutants and the Comic Book of the Week: Ant-Man #3! This mini-series is just delightful!
Meanwhile, I did get caught up on the first issue of Strange Adventures, so expect that review this week. And I just binged the third season of the Castlevania and it was phenomenal! So dark, so cool, so charming and so action-packed. This series is not one to miss!
Comic Reviews: Ant-Man #3, The Green Lantern #2, New Mutants #9, Strange Adventures #1, Thor #4 and X-Men #8.
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Dylan Burnett
Colorist: Mike Spicer
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
I knew I should have trusted Zeb Wells not to make Scott Lang a complete loser!
After his daughter, Cassie, asks if she can move to California to join the West Coast Avengers, Ant-Man decides to bring her into his insect invasion mission and takes her to Avengers Mountain to meet with the actual Avengers — because he has clout, dang it! The Avengers aren’t as respectful as Scott was hoping, but they do upgrade his and Cassie’s helmets, and they check the archives to find out that Macrothrax bares a striking resemblance to former villain/hero Humbug, who used to run with the Heroes for Hire during World War Hulk, and who is now presumed dead. The Avengers hook Scott up with former teammate Black Cat in New York, with Spider-Man along as a liaison, of sorts.
Black Cat leads the group down into the sewers to the last place she saw Humbug, where he was being mated with a Brood Queen. They find Humbug’s desiccated corpse and are ambushed by Thread, who delivers a wallop to the lot of them. Cassie busts out some of her helmet upgrades to talk all of the individual silkworms into abandoning Thread, causing him to fall apart. The team regroups and gathered enough info to know they need to head to the Savage Land to find the bug bosses who are in charge of all of this!
Meanwhile, Macrothrax invades the Florida ant-hill where Scott was storying his Pym Particles!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Wells is working some real magic with the characters in this series. I’m loving it! His Scott Lang is a hoot, a heroic guy with an edge of desperation. He’s got enough clout to be able to call up the Avengers and get their help on a mission, but the likes of Tony Stark and T’Challa are still a little condescending (Also, Scott is 10 times the Avengers Blade will ever be, ahem). It’s both adorable and makes for a really good part of the story. It helps give the scene a lot of life, rather than the usual, ordinary quick team-up. Then Wells takes it to an even better level when Scott and Cassie team up with Spider-Man and Black Cat. Spider-Man is just as condescending, but Black Cat is legit cool with Ant-Man and is happy to work with him. I thought Wells really nailed his ongoing joke with this development, especially when Cassie points out at the end of the issue that Spidey’s condescension was just him being jealous that Black Cat (Spidey’s ex) was showing Ant-Man such affection.
When your joke is that your hero is a bit pathetic, it’s great to show him in a good light from time to time. Wells really nailed the balance with this issue and I really appreciated that as a Scott Lang fan.
On top of all that, this was another fun issue that moves the story along. Wells brings Cassie into the fold in a way that makes sense and works for the story. And he uses all these superhero cameos really well, like I said. Wells also really flexes his muscles in terms of continuity. He uses the idea of the Kate Bishop’s West Coast Avengers to bring in Cassie, which totally checks, and then he even calls back to the Heroes for Hire comics he wrote all the way back in 2007! He was the one who wrote all that Humbug back story when it was actually happening, and now he uses it here to great effect! That was really fun.
TL;DR: A bunch of Marvel guest stars add some real life and energy to the latest issue of Ant-Man, elevating this already enjoyable mini-series.
Go Go Power Rangers #30
Writers: Ryan Parrott and Sina Grace
Artist: Francesco Mortarino, with ink assist from Simona Di Gianfelice
Colorist: Raul Angulo
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
The end is near for Go Go Power Rangers! Let’s hope it goes out with a bang!
This is a pretty straight forward issue. Jason, Zach and Trini rescue Kiya from pitchfork-wielding townsfolk and talk her into returning with them, then the Emissary and Xi launch towards the next rescue operation. On Earth, Kimberly continues to be suspicious of those three, but then she, Tommy and Billy are called on to stop the Hodge Podge Hedgehog from attacking Promethea. It’s a tough fight, and they’re aided by the guards. When the monster grows, Grace Sterling shows up in her own Mechazord. Meanwhile, during the confusion, Squatt, Goldar and Baboo sneak inside and find what Zedd was after: a gnarly looking green dagger! I don’t immediately recognize it. Maybe Drakkon’s dragon dagger?
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This is a good, solid issue of the ongoing story, moving all the storylines along nicely. Kiya lashes out with her powers, creating a rockslide, so that manages to take up a chunk of issue…but it also feels like a bit of filler. There’s a nice scene where Trini talks to Kiya to get her to calm down and trust her, and it’s indeed nice. But considering we already know the outcome — Kiya becomes the blue Omega Ranger — all of this feels like filler. And there are no hints of how they transition into the Omega Rangers in this issue. So it all feels like we’re just taking our time to get to an already known outcome. And the Rangers are Earth just do the normal Ranger stuff. Kimberly is suspicious…but we already know where her suspicions lead. The only real new thing is this mysterious dagger at Promethea, which is legit mysterious, so we’ll see where that goes! The rest of the issue just feels like we’re stretching out a flashback that doesn’t need stretching out.
TL;DR: We’ve reached the point in Go Go Power Rangers where all of this is going, so the new issue feels a bit like filler. Good filler, but filler material nonetheless.
The Green Lantern: Season Two #2
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Liam Sharp
Colorist: Steve Oliff
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Let’s take a tour of the Silver Age with Grant Morrison!
Hal Jordan has been asked by an old gal pal, Eve, to investigate Cosmidor City, a self-contained “City of the Future” run by Eve’s father. They soon discover that Eve’s dad and everybody else have been kidnapped by the Ornithoids, an ancient race of bird-people who live in an ancient city that was recently uncovered by archaeological digging. Their ruler, Rakaww, is using weird octopus masks to control people and force them to dig out more of the city, where a batch of eggs will hatch and Rakaww will lead them to re-take planet Earth!
From there, it’s a wild ride as Hal lets himself get taken prisoner, meets the deposed prince of the Ornithoids, helps everybody escape and then takes control of the hatchlings himself while the prince and Rakaww battle it out. Hal convinces the bird people to play nice with humanity and then goes on his merry way, soon getting word that there is alien activity back at his airfield.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Man, this issue was a trip! It’s a silly, well-constructed, extremely well-written one-shot adventure that would be right at home with comics of old, which Grant Morrison has always been fascinated with. I could tell from the cover that something very throwback was going on. I didn’t mention this in my review, but the dialogue in this issue is insane, purposefully so. It’s like Morrison created an entire language built around Stan Lee-esque dialogue from the Silver Age of comics and wrote out a new, modern script of exactly that. Something in Cosmidor City is causing Hal and all the other characters to talk in these strange proclamations. They all make sense in context, but it’s just so silly! I knew the dialogue seemed weird, and then thankfully Morrison has Hal’s Power Ring mention out loud that everybody is talking gibberish. So it was purposeful, and it’s great!
See for yourself:
The whole issue has dialogue like that and it’s just so nifty and weird!
So that sets the stage for an all-out wacky issue as Hal goes toe-to-toe with these grotesque bird people. And, again, the plot is straight out of the Silver Age! A wild “city of tomorrow” that uncovers a long-bured “city of yesterday” wherein an ancient Earth species of animal people seek to reclaim their rightful rulership of the planet? It’s just so darn throwback! And Morrison packs the issue with story. It’s all done-in-one. He introduces the threat, puts Hal through his paces and resolves things in a solid, reasonable manner. The enemies are given plenty of depth for so little page time. And the supporting cast is just as fun.
The art, of course, is superb. Sharp draws some really grotesque bird people, and it only enhances the story. And those octopus face masks are just as gruesome. Clearly both Morrison and Sharp had a lot of fun with this issue.
TL;DR: Grant Morrison tosses us into the Wayback Machine for a done-and-one Silver Age homage and I couldn’t be more tickled pink. Silly fun.
New Mutants #9
Writer: Ed Brisson
Colorist: Carlos Lopez
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
And so the New Mutants storylines start to mix and match!
The various New Mutants characters regroup back home now that their divergent storylines have wrapped up, with Boom Boom particularly annoyed that she missed out on the space mission. Karma, Chamber, Magma Moonstar and Boom Boom head out to a small, former-Soviet nation to help a newly revealed mutant, though the mission is a bit off-the-books, since the nation doesn’t recognize Krakoa. They find the girl in a warehouse, surrounded by a weird, localized bit of reality warping. Soon a couple of them are sucked up into her field, so the New Mutants call Cypher for help.
Cypher has been working with Mondo and Armor to set up a new database for missing mutants. It works, and they head off to recruit Wildside from the Mutant Liberation Front, of all people.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This is a strong issue that rides high on solid, enjoyable character interactions. It brings the disparate New Mutants teams together, bounces them off one another and keeps some ongoing storylines going strong. I’m digging Boom Boom’s displeasure at being something of an also-ran on Krakoa. I wish the Dawn of X books would do more to explore some of the smaller, day-in-the-life Krakoa stuff. This issue does well enough with it, and I generally like the directions each character is heading in. The new mission with the new mutant is a solid use of these characters, even if the girl’s powers are a bit weird for now. I’m sure they’ll get explained in time. I like the bit where Boom Boom is able to convince the soldiers to let them pass, simply because the soldiers would be happy to have someone else solve this for them. And it was fun getting a peek into the MLF habitat on Krakoa. Like I said, it would be a lot of fun to look at life on Krakoa for characters who aren’t A-list or B-list X-Men.
TL;DR: A new story kicks off with a strong focus on character, which I like.
Strange Adventures #1
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Mitch Gerads and Evan “Doc” Shaner
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
I missed this issue last week, but I think it’s important enough to try and grab it now. I’m a big fan of Tom King’s work, especially his stand alone comics, like this.
The issue is written as a cross between flashbacks and present day stuff. I’m just going to recap it linearly, to make it easier.
Once upon a time, Adam Strange was just a normal archaeologist on Earth, until a Zeta Beam zapped him across the galaxy to the planet Rann. On Rann, he became a space age hero in the war against the Pykkts. He married the princess of Rann, Alanna, and they had a daughter, Aleena. In the flashbacks, we see Strange take on an invading Pykkt army, and then flee the capital with his family. As they get into a spaceship to take off, the Zeta Beam wears off and Adam is zapped back to Earth.
In the present day, Adam and Alanna are on Earth and the war is long over (and they lost Aleena at some point). Adam is a minor celebrity on Earth. He is awarded a Medal of Honor and he’s written a popular memoir about his war in space. We see him several times at a book signing. Everything begins to go downhill when an angry man shows up in line at the book signing, ranting about Adam’s war crimes against the Pykkt. Video of the man goes viral and public perception begins to wane. Several days later, the man is found dead with his head blown off, with police saying it looks like he was attacked by a space age ray gun.
With the public quickly turning against Adam, he reaches out to Batman to investigate to confirm he didn’t kill the man. Batman declines, since they are old friends, but he turns the investigation over to Mr. Terrific.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I really liked this issue, but it’s clearly just set-up at this point. It’s safe to say I’ve never once cared about Adam Strange, so I come at this character completely blank, with only Tom King’s reputation getting me to pick up this first issue (and those two phenomenal artists). King and his art team do a great job setting up the conflict of the series and establishing who and what Adam Strange is all about. There is no stinger to make us think something devilish is going on, no shocking hook, but I’m fine with that. Perhaps King plans to really just debate the difference between fighting a war and committing war crimes on the battlefield. That should be interesting! As it stands, this issue does a great job of setting up the characters and the conflict for the story ahead, and that’s exactly what a first issue needs to do — coupled with the general charm of Tom King’s writing and gorgeous artwork from Gerads and Shaner.
TL;DR: The first issue sets up everything it needs to set up with charm and aplomb.
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Nic Klein
Colorist: Matt Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
We’re only at issue #4 and this is damn exciting! I’m a little worried that Cates might be going too big too soon…but then I don’t know how long his run is going to be.
Lady Siff holds the line between Thor and Beta Ray Bill, unwilling to cower to the King of Asgard. When he hurls Mjolnir at her, she bridges out to Jotenheim (where Loki manages to pick it up, but that’s a story for another day). Eventually, Galactus intercedes in the squabble and Sif and Bill return to Asgard, while Thor and Galactus resume their mission of eating a couple more planets, with Thor evacuating the various intelligent species. The last planet plans to take a stand, but the Black Winter has arrived and Galactus gives it a quick devouring, destroying the civilization. Thor is annoyed that Galactus killed them all, but now it’s Galactus and Thor against the end of all creation!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
This is exactly the sort of moral gray I want to see when Thor teams up with Galactus. The great thing about Galactus is that he’s not evil. He’s not some dastardly villain out to kill as many people as possible. He’s a cosmic entity, a force of nature, and eating planets is just what he does, the populations be damned. And while, yeah, the heroic thing to do would be to save people…but this isn’t some Spider-Man comic where Peter Parker declares “no one dies!”. This is a comic where the King of Asgard has to team up with the Devourer of Worlds to save all of creation itself! There is going to be a lot of painful collateral damage, but these are the sorts of decisions a Thor comic should have to make! I think it would be a little too twee if Thor chose saving that last alien species over saving all of existence. I love that this comic is tackling the bigger picture problem, and I’m excited to see the fallout. Hard choices have to be made, and Thor is making them. He’s king, now, and that comes with a lot of responsibility, which will provide a lot of interesting drama.
Along with the macro, this issue also did a nice job with the micro. The face-off between Thor and Bill last issue was epic and heart-breaking, while the face-off between Thor and Sif this issue is intimate and heart-breaking. Sif doesn’t take any guff from Thor, in exactly the way you’d expect Sif to act. She stands up to him, stands up for what’s right, and gives him a lot to chew on. It’s really strong character work like this that’s making Donny Cates’ Thor really something special right now.
TL;DR: Exceptional character work on such a larger-than-life story is really making Cates’ Thor stand out.
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Action, excitement and mystery abound in the latest X-Men!
Remember that space egg the New Mutants grabbed on their space adventure? It’s a Brood King Egg, and it has caused an entire legion of Brood to crash into Krakoa to get it back. Broo knows what to do, and soon Cyclops, Havok, Vulcan and Magik are rocketing away from Earth towards Shi’ar space. Meanwhile, we learn that a Kree Accuser wanted the egg and hired the Starjammers to get it. He calls up Sunspot, who is on the Shi’ar homeworld, and Bobby agrees to get him the egg if he lets the Starjammers go. But Gladiator is none too happy to learn that a Kree Accuser is inside Shi’ar space!
Also, there’s a lot of stuff with Vulcan in this issue, from him not having much memory of his death and time beyond the Fault, from all the way back in War of Kings.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
The last issue dove deep and dangerously into the new Dawn of X. This issue is more of an action-packed adventure! And that’s fun too! Hickman uses moments he set up earlier in Dawn of X, which is a nice bit of inter-connected storytelling, to get right into an action scene where a bunch of X-Men take on a swarm of Brood. Personally, I would have liked to have seen a more diverse lineup of mutants fight off the Brood. I don’t think Dawn of X has really taken advantage of the fact that every single mutant character, good and bad, is now living in this one place, fighting on the same side. Where’s the scene of Random, Strong Guy, Mercury and Nightcrawler standing shoulder-to-shoulder as they battle the Brood? Granted, we do get an awesome Cyclops and Magik moment.
And I’m really just nitpicking. It’s a really well-done action scene, built on story we’ve been following all along. And then Hickman doubles down on the interconnectivity with a fun scene where Sunspot talks business with this new Accuser. It’s very funny in that straight-forward sort of way. And it builds on whatever new mystery Hickman has going here. Hopefully this isn’t a done-in-one story and he actually continues this thread in the next issue, because I want to see what happens next!
Also, in my continued insistence that Dawn of X should be exploring smaller mutants in their day-to-day, are you really going to tell me that Petra and Sway, having been brought back to life after so long, are really going to hang out in their original costumes and spend time with Vulcan? Surely a little more thought could be put into what they would think of their lives upon resurrection?
TL;DR: The action really heats up in an exciting issue, with the promise of even more fun story to come!
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 March 14, 2020, in Avengers, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged Adam Strange, Ant-Man, Beta Ray Bill, Green Lantern, New Mutants, Scott Lang, Sif, Strange Adventures, The Green Lantern, Thor, X-Men. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.