Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 3/28/20

These might be my last batch of comic book reviews for the foreseeable future! Diamond Distributors announced this past week that they’re going to shop distributing comics to retailers, and we don’t yet know if any of the major publishers are going to go digital-only during this virus apocalypse. If they do, I’ll be fine, because I read all my comics digitally. But if Marvel, DC and the like shut down all releases…welp, that’s the whole ball game!

Perhaps I’ll start doing reviews of all the tpbs I’ve been catching up on…

Comic Book of the Week goes to the second issue of Force Works 2020 for being the most entertaining comic this week! A lot of comics were just moving the story along, whereas Force Works 2020 was really fun to read with some solid character work.

Ultimo Stomp 01

Shoot harder!

Meanwhile, speaking of those tpbs, I read through the entire collected edition of Nick Spencer’s Astonishing Ant-Man and it totally held up! Great series. I started on Dennis Hallum’s Cloak and Dagger, and the first tpb was good, solid. But I cannot recommend the latest tpb of Rat Queens, with a whole new creative team. That was a disappointment.

Comic Reviews: Far Sector #5, Force Works 2020 #2, Hellions #1, Legion of Super-Heroes #5, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #49, Wolverine #2 and X-Men #9. 


FarSector5

Far Sector #5

Far Sector #5
Writer: N.K. Jemisin
Artist: Jamal Campbell
Letterer: Deron Bennett

Hopefully comics don’t stay away for too long, because it would be a shame to lose Far Sector at this point in its lifeline.

While Green Lantern Jo Mullein digs through the evidence so far to try and track the money, we get her origin story. She came from an impoverished home and saw her mom lose out on a job promotion to an insufferable white guy. Her parents got divorced and she sided with her dad, then both of them were on the street when 9/11 happened, and they rushed to help people. Jo joined the military and went to the Middle East, but became disillusioned with the mission and went to Princeton instead. She joined the police department, but became frozen in fear when her partner started beating on someone. Jo was racked with guilt and reported her partner, but she doubts he will face justice. Then she got fired because a Black Lives Matter friend of hers tagged her in a social media photo, and her bosses decided that violated departmental policy.

While drowning her sorrows in a bar, Jo was approached by a Guardian posing as a human, who listened to Jo’s tale of woe then offered her a job.

Back on the City Enduring, Jo attends a memorial service for the murder victim then has a chat with his widow, who has ears on the Council. They both agree that the Council will not abide by the upcoming referendum on the Emotional Exploit. Then the widow warns Jo that she might have been brought here to become a martyr for the Council. The Keh-Topli councilor then contacts Jo with information he got on the killer: this person used to be a simple librarian, who went to great lengths to be a vegetarian (hard for her species). Then recently, she managed to pay off all the debt she had to afford her vegetarian lifestyle, went off the grid, started taking the Switchoff drug and then did the killing. The councilor tells her he will keep investigating.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This was a solid issue that did well to finally fill in Jo’s back story. That was a much-needed element of this whole series, and I’m satisfied with it. I don’t think the origin shakes anything up all that much, but it works. I’ll talk more about that origin in a bit. The rest of the issue is good. My high grade depends on a lot on forward momentum, because this issue does a lot to just keep plates spinning. A few new details are dribbled out about the mystery. Jo’s place on this planet gets some fleshing out. She has a nice conversation with her assistant on what it means to be these A.I. people. There isn’t much explosive or crazy or anything like this. Just some good, solid forward story progression.

Now about that origin…

Jo Origin 01

Part 3 of many

Jo’s origin is fine, but it feels a touch too manufactured. It’s like a Forrest Gump of origins; she’s connected to pretty much every social injustice of the past 20 years. She’s a child of economic hardship and a child of divorce. Then she was on the ground on 9/11. Then she was boots on the ground to see the horrors of the War on Terror in Iraq. Then she was a direct witness to police brutality. Then they tack on Black Lives Matter at the end. Jo was involved in all the things. And yet none of it really stood out to make her unique. She seemed to experience most of those things passively (with the exception of 9/11 and maybe that police brutality). When you consider Green Lanterns like Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner, there’s a real sense of willpower and character for those guys. But Jo’s character hasn’t really impacted that strongly yet, and none of that backstory points to a direct correlation with who she is now. Granted, it’s only been five issues compared to five decades of character development, but I feel like the writing could do more to flesh out Jo. Nothing we learned in her origin explains why she was specifically sought out to be a special GL, or why she was sent to the City Enduring.

Jo Mullein is a fine character overall, but she’s lacking that real spark that will make her stand out as a person. I’m confident Jemisin can bring that out in time.

One mistake, I think, was in putting Jo’s fling with a local police captain in the past. I think it would be really fun if Far Sector had a romance subplot running alongside the police investigation and political machinations. It would help to flesh out Jo’s character on a really fun and intimate level. It could have also had a nice fish-out-of-water element as the decidedly Earth human Jo found herself flirting and then hooking up with an alien!

TL;DR: This issue moves the story along nicely while finally giving us Jo Mullein’s origin story. Personally, I feel like her origin is a bit too manufactured, but it fits what we know of the character so far.


ForceWorks2

Force Works #2

Force Works 2020 #2
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artists: Juanan Ramirez and Roberto Di Salvo
Colorist: Federico Blee
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham

I may have had some problems with Rosenberg writing Multiple Man, but I would sign up for an ongoing Matthew Rosenberg Force Works series in a heartbeat!

Force Works have been captured by an army of Deathloks and thrown into a cell, while noticing a series of gigantic footprints in the dirt around them. After chatting with some of the locals who were also locked up, the team learns that the Deathloks were created to fight something giant, only to turn on the people to start using them for parts to create more Deathloks. Rhodey stands up to the Deathlok leader and gets taken next. Then the giant shows up: Ultimo!

There’s a huge fight as Force Works attempts to go through both a Deathlok army and Ultmo to rescue War Machine, but he instead shows up and rescues them. How did Rhodey get away from the Deathloks? He was rescued by M.O.D.O.K.!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This was my favorite comic book this week based on sheer moxie — and not only because U.S. Agent used that nickname “Moxy” when talking to Mockingbird. This issue was just pure fun! It’s Rosenberg and a great art team cut loose to tell a fun little story in an out-of-the-way corner of the Marvel Universe! Start with the very idea of a Force Works revival, then throw in an army of Deathloks, the return of freakin’ Ultimo and then the surprise addition of M.O.D.O.K. at the very end! This issue is so much fun. And I’m especially loving Rosenberg’s take on U.S. Agent. I said in my review of the first issue that I’ve been on a real U.S. Agent kick recently for some reason, and this issue gives me the fuel to understand why. He’s just such a jerk, but a good jerk with his heart in the right, heroic place.

Mockingbird Moxy 01

The opposite of sexual tension

The rest of Force Works make for great characters around him. I’m loving the resigned acceptance Mockingbird has at working with U.S. Agent. This is a very fun team.

And the story is fun around them. Rosenberg is clearly just throwing everything at the wall and having a blast with it. Deathloks! Ultimo! When was the last time we saw Ultimo? He’s a great addition to this robot revolution storyline, and I’m so pleased to see him here. Let’s throw our heroes up against a gigantic robot! We’re talking kaiju-sized! That’s how you know you’ve got a crazy story. And there’s just no telling where it’s going to go in its final issue!

If we get a final issue…

TL;DR: Considering it’s a tie-in spin-off to another, bigger event, the creative team seems to be really having a blast throwing in all sorts of crazy ideas and mixing up some interesting characters.


Hellions1

Hellions #1

Hellions #1
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Stephen Segovia
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

I’m a big fan of Evil Mutants. The Brotherhood is one of my all-time favorite comic book teams. And yet, in a series about bad mutants teaming up, none of my favorite characters made the roster! It’s like Dawn of X creators are surgically picking team lineups to avoid my favorites…

Krakoa is home for all mutants, including the dangerous ones. Wild Child hasn’t been taking his medication and is more feral than ever. Empath has developed into a proper sociopath, using his emotion-controlling powers to control people around him into violence. Nanny and Orphan Maker are just violent and crazy. Scalphunter was just minding his own business until a group of Morlocks showed up to attack him on the anniversary of the Morlock Massacre, and he got blamed for attacking them. And Havok went crazy on a mission and brutally attacked three humans, a possible still-lingering side effect from when he was turned evil.

The Quiet Council meets to decide what to do about these troublemakers, some of whom are simply using their mutant powers as intended. Rather than exile the lot of them, Mister Sinister proposes turning them into a team under his command, a team dedicated to nasty work when it’s necessary. Cyclops asks Kwannon to be their field commander, and the lot of them are shipped off to Sinister’s former cloning ranch in Nebraska to take out the former Marauders who have been using it as a base. Unbeknownst to (most) of them, Madelyne Pryor is in control of the facility and has been experimenting on those Marauders.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This was a really good introduction for the new series, establishing the characters and the plot with ease and some charm. Wells sets up his chosen characters quite well, giving each one their own bit of story and character. Honestly, I really liked Scalphunter this issue. I have zero history or thoughts on the character, but I really like what Wells is doing with him. He’s obviously got a dark past, but Wells slips in this neat little twist in that the Morlocks attack him, but then he’s scolded at the Quiet Council for attacking them. As he’s just enough of the tall, silent type that he’s taking it and moving on. That could really bode well for interesting character development going forward, especially since they’re going after his old teammates in the old Marauders. Wells also sets him up as the guardian of Wild Child, much like Sabretooth in the Age of Apocalypse. So I’m definitely keeping my eye on Scalphunter.

Scalphunter 01

With a dry, cool wit like that, he could be an action hero

The rest of the characters, likewise, get a good amount of attention paid to them and their unique problems. And the idea of putting them together on a team seems exactly what Krakoa would do with them. Everybody’s getting a team! So yeah, I’d say this is a solid idea for an ongoing in Dawn of X, and Zeb Wells and his art team do a fine job setting up this first issue for the story ahead. I can’t really pinpoint anything in this issue that makes it stand out as something better than the rest of Dawn of X, but for someone invested in the new status quo like me, this is a really good addition.

I hope the cast does expand to include more Evil Mutants. Give Toad a spot! Or Avalanche! Or heck, there hasn’t been word of a “Brotherhood” ongoing series yet…

TL;DR: A good, solid first issue establishes all the characters and their story going forward. It looks to be a nice addition to the Dawn of X landscape.


LegionSH5

Legion of Super-Heroes #5

Legion of Super-Heroes #5
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Ryan Sook, Scott Dodlewski and Wade Von Grawbadger
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Dave Sharpe

I’m not going to be too disappointed if we don’t get more Legion of Super-Heroes for a while. This book is fun, but Bendis has really been dragging his feet a bit.

The Legion of Super-Heroes are in a stand-off with the Science Police, who have come to put them in lockdown on orders of the President. Brainiac 5 talks the commander down from the stand-off, giving the Legion time to put Jon Kent back into the orientation seminar. He learns that the President wanted to create a new Age of Heroes, with the Legion at the center as a new Justice League/Teen Titans, and she put Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl in charge. They recruit Blok immediately, since he fought well alongside them when the President’s ship was attacked. Then they go recruit Brainiac 5, who was already pretty famous at that point. Brainiac 5 hit them with a couple kernels of truth: they would be a great team, but their very existence depended on bringing Jon Kent to the future so that he could see and witness everything they’d built. Because as goes the 21st century superheroes, so goes the multiverse.

Meanwhile, the other Legionnaires continue their search for Aquaman’s trident, during which we discover that Chameleon Boy is the son of the President, and he’s trying to get out from under her shadow. Then some Legionnaires discover the trident off panel and the order comes down to evacuate Earth!

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

This issue mostly just continues the origin of the new Legion. The interruption didn’t even really amount to much, other than a nice show of Brainiac 5’s power set…which then tied into his section of the origin story. So alright, I suppose it did amount to something. So sue me. Anyway, the origin story is still fine. Nothing too explosive at this point, but I’m liking it well enough. Heck, the drawn out origin story is worth it for the recruitment of Blok alone!

Blok Joins Legion 01

Tooth brushing technology has not changed in 1,000 years

 

Heh, good stuff. Anyway, I still like the overall writing in this series. There’s a smack ton of characters, but they’ve stopped acting like a single unit at this point. Bendis is doing better at giving individual members some individual moments to stand out. Bouncing Boy got a few fun lines this issue. And Brainiac 5’s contributions to the team are the real focal point of the issue. But we don’t know everything yet, with plenty of mystery yet to come…if we get more comics anytime soon.

And the art is still really, really good. Sook is getting some help, as he often needs it, but there’s no major disruption in art styles.

TL;DR: The origin story continues this issue, and at least it’s pretty interesting.


MMPR49

Power Rangers #49

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #49
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Daniele Di Nicuolo
Colorist: Walter Baiamonte, with assistance from Katia Ranalli
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire

OK, hear me out, someone needs to tell the color team that Jason’s hair is black, not brown. You can’t have both Jason and Rocky be identical white dudes with identical hair wearing nearly identical red T-shirts. It doesn’t work that way!

Jason, Tommy, Kimberly and Billy take the White Tigerzord to Safehaven and teleport down, unmorphed, in order to make contact with the innocent civilians and start organizing a retreat. But Kiya finds them and tries to talk them into surrendering their morphers, even offering to let them and everyone go if they comply. Then Zach, Trini, Rocky, Adam and Aisha teleport in and the fight is on! Tommy and the Power Rangers take on Dayne, while the Omega Rangers call in their Zords to take on Garrison piloting the Blue Omega Zord. They start winning, until Kiya calls on the Annointed to start taking out the Omega Zords like a swarm of insects. Zach and Trini really get their bells wrung!

Meanwhile, Xi and Ranger Slayer use the distraction to teleport down to the gate and Xi sends Ranger Slayer through the gate on a secret mission.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Momentum and escalation are the two driving factors in both Power Rangers comics right now, and Parrott and his teams are working both like masters. This story doesn’t feel like it’s dragging or wasting our time. Every issue has been exciting as the story continues to build towards what will hopefully be an amazing finale! This issue is all about setting the stakes and getting us to that big, cool fight…while still leaving plenty for future issues. I don’t have anything very specific to say about any of the parts of this issue; it’s all very good stuff. From the Rangers trying to evacuate civilians, to Kiya attempting her version of diplomacy first, to the Rangers doing what Rangers do and getting into a bunch of big fights! This remains quality action comics and I can’t wait to see where this is going!

TL;DR: Everything from story to character continues to ratchet up to exciting heights! The momentum hasn’t let up for several issues now.


WolverineDoX2

Wolverine #2

Wolverine #2
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Adam Kubert
Colorist: Frank Martin
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

Turns out I didn’t review the first issue of the new Wolverine series, I just read it and forgot about it. Oh well. Here’s issue #2!

The Pale Girl and her crew silently infiltrate the Marauder and steal more Krakoan drugs. She’s got some psionic mind powers to control people, which is how she tricked Wolverine into killing his allies last issue. He wakes up in the infirmary (the others are growing in eggs) and he sets out to get the Pale Girl, with the assistance of the CIA agent, Jeff Bannister. They set out onto the high seas to set a trap…but apparently the trap was for Bannister, as the Pale Girl controls Wolverine into killing him!

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright. 

Eh, there wasn’t much to this issue, least of all much Wolverine action. It’s all generally fine. Wolverine is written fine. This Agent Bannister is a solid enough new supporting character. And the threat of some mysterious psionic stealing Krakoan drugs is a good enough story. There just isn’t any real spark to it, any real charm to it. There’s also nothing particularly Wolverine-specific to this story. Anybody from Krakoa could be going on a solo mission to stop the Pale Girl, and Percy makes sure to insert some weak narration as to why Wolverine would go solo and team up with Bannister instead of the literal hundreds of X-Men available to him. There’s nothing bad about this comic. Nothing that brings it down or holds it back. It’s just a generic, mildly interesting Wolverine comic that just sends him off on a random adventure instead of delving into anything really character or status quo specific.

TL;DR: Gets the job done in terms of being a comic that features Wolverine.


XMen9

X-Men #9

X-Men #9
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Leinil Francis Yu
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: VC’s Claytown Cowles

For the first time, one of these X-Men issues has a second part! And while this issue isn’t as fun and exciting as the last one, it’s still good.

We open with a flashback thousands of years ago, to the Kree first discovering the Brood and their dark scientists coming up with the King Egg as a means to control and weaponize the hive. In the present, the X-Men, the Starjammers and the Imperial Guard all wind up crashing together on a planet to escape the current hive and try to fight off the Brood…and then the fight ends when Broo eats the King Egg and becomes the king of the Brood.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I don’t have too much to say about this individual issue, other than it’s a fine wrap-up of the previous issue and sets up a lot going forward. Mostly this issue is about setting up some new details for the Brood, and doing so with interesting flashbacks and character development. I like the flashback to the Kree’s first discovery of the Brood and the weird way their scientists commit to their task even though they know their King Egg experiments won’t be ready for thousands of years. And I love the twist in the end of Broo just eating the damn egg and becoming Brood King. Fun twist ending! I don’t know where Hickman is going with all this Brood stuff — personally, I’ve never cared for them — but these past two issues have at least enough good action, good character stuff and good twists to get my hopes up going forward.

TL;DR: The story wraps up nicely with a lot of promise for future stories about the X-Men and the Brood.


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 March 28, 2020, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. See you on the other side. Stay safe!

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