Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 7/18/20

The world says comics, I say gimme! This is the week of San Diego Comic-Con…if the world allowed such a thing. In honor of this awesome occasion…I have read a bunch of comics, and will now prepare a bunch of reviews for you, my blog readers.

We’ve got new Strange Adventures! The long awaited return of Spider-Woman! And the debut of Marvel’s next Big Event, Empyre! Of which I haven’t read many of the tie-ins, but it was fine. Comic Book of the Week goes to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers for another excellent issue!

He doesn’t look like a slug or a snail!

Meanwhile, I’ve dropped Lost on Planet Earth from my review cycle. I read the latest issue this week and…and I just don’t get this comic. I don’t enjoy it either. This was the worst issue yet and I’m just not the sort of guy who wants to keep ragging on a bad comic. So it’s gone! Poof! I wish everyone involved the best of luck on the series, but it ain’t for me.

Comic Reviews: Empyre #1, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #51, Spider-Woman #2 and Strange Adventures #3.

Empyre #1

Empyre #1
Writers: Al Ewing and Dan Slott
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

So I guess I’m going to give Empyre a try. I usually stay out of Marvel’s Big Events these days because they’re usually not very good. But we’re getting so few comics these days, I thought I’d give at least this first issue a try. I’ve barely skimmed the various prologues…so let’s dive right in!

Basically, the Kree and the Skrull have joined forces under the leadership of Hulkling and have decided to attack the Earth, with the Avengers set to stop them and, I think, the Fantastic Four stuck in the middle. Or, at least, the Kree/Skrull armada is heading to the Moon to destroy a great garden created by the Cotati, and ancient race of planet people that once lived alongside the Kree…and it gets really complicated. They’re so obscure I’ve never heard of them. But they’ve got a leader, Quoi, who is the son of Mantis from an earlier Big Event a long time ago…I think? And he’s gathered the Avengers to help him protect his garden. Meanwhile, the Fantastic Four have encountered the incoming fleet and they go talk with Hulkling, who is being advised by Super Skrull and a bad Kree lady. The two teams are rather shocked to find each other in the middle of this conflict.

Everybody tries to talk it out, but there’s obviously more going on here than anyone realizes, and a fight breaks out. Ghost Rider turns a Quinjet into a hell-ride and everybody starts fighting! Eventually it all leads to Quoi revealing he’s a bad guy and using a special garden plant to give him control over all planet life in the area, including whatever veggies are on board the spaceships. Plant life starts killing everybody, the Avengers are shocked and Quoi declares his plan to conquer Earth.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

As opening chapters of Big Events go, this one was fine. It’s a solid reminder of why I just don’t care for these types of comics anymore. This is all big flash, a big show of superhero stuff. I prefer a more intimate comic book experience these days, one focused on characters and growth. This is just a big, crazy battle with deep ties to Marvel lore. Don’t get me wrong, it’s big and flashy in all the right ways. And everything is handled quite well. But there’s nothing really special about it. Nothing that makes it particularly interesting. I haven’t trusted that Quoi guy from the moment he appeared in one of those prologues I skimmed. And making him and his planet people the real villains of this event seemed rather boring to me. I’d never heard of them before and I’m a big Marvel Comics nerd. You’re really going to do something as big as unite the Kree and Skrull empires…and that’s just going to be set dressing? I guess we’ll see what happens going forward. This first issue is perfectly fine, with lots of action, lots of characters and some gorgeous artwork. But it all only works as a big, crazy fight event, and one’s mileage in that sort of thing will very.

TL;DR: Empyre starts off big and crazy and full of superhero space battles, but there’s nothing meatier beyond the action.

Power Rangers #51

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #51
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Moises Hidalgo
Colorist: Walter Baiamonte, with assistance from Katia Ranalli
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire

So the big news about Power Rangers comics is a relaunch after issue #55! Let’s see how the issues leading up to that pan out.

Drakkon crash-landed outside the Command Center at the end of last issue and something out in the cosmos has driven him crazy with anger and possibly fear. The Rangers kick his butt, especially Tommy, and he’s locked up in a cell. Drakkon is full of taunts and teases when Billy examines him, but that’s about it for now. The Rangers head back into their lives and have the usual fun character interactions — and we learn that Rocky and Adam have a history with Matt through sports.

Lord Zedd reunites with his minions and sends a slug monster to attack the Rangers. They destroy it quickly with the power blaster — but we learn later it was all a ruse. Zedd used the power blaster attack to recharge the Green Chaos Crystal, which he now uses to turn Goldar, Finster, Squatt and Baboo into dark power rangers! And he’s going to recruit Rita Repulsa to be the dark red ranger!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This is another one of those issues that proves just how amazing this series is overall. This issue has a little bit of everything, and all of it is gold! Personally, I don’t care about Drakkon anymore, but he’s used well here as a mysterious antagonist. He gets some time to prove how crazy and fearsome he is, and Parrott using Billy in that scene is a fun choice. It really spreads out the characters. Parrott finds a lot of fun ways to use the characters this issue. I especially enjoyed a scene between Tommy and Aisha. I’ve been loving what Parrott has been doing with Aisha, and it’s nice to see her interact with someone other than Rocky and Adam…who get a nice scene with Matt and Kimberly this week!

I’m also loving the new artist. Very stylish.

That’s what is so great about these Power Rangers comics in general. They treat these characters like people first, and it shows with every issue. Even the bad guys get treated like real people. Zedd has a couple of scenes with his cronies, and it’s more than just the usual grumbling that we got in the show. These are real characters with real relationships to one another. And then the issue throws in an awesome monster fight! And then doubles down on that with the whole thing being a scheme of Lord Zedd, and turning the minions into evil Power Rangers! That’s an idea so insane that I love it! And it already builds on existing evil Power Rangers that Zedd created in the show, so that’s even better!

TL;DR: Another issue jam-packed with everything there is to love about this comic! Great use of characters, fun action and intriguing twists and ideas!

Spider-Woman #2

Spider-Woman #2
Writer: Karla Pacheco
Artist: Pere Perez
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham

This is another one of those unfortunate comics whose first issue debuted on time…and then this second issue has been delayed for so many months! It’s still OK, though.

Spider-Woman visits the Night Nurse because of her illness, and the Night Nurse discovers some changes in her blood. Jessica realizes her new boss, Marchand, injected her with something, so she smashes into his office to demand answers. Marchand explains that his daughter had cancer and they cured it with part of the spider-based experiment that gave Jess her powers, but then the daughter got sick again because they didn’t do the full experiment. But rather than risk any science tests on the child, they lured Jessica into their clutches and took away her regenerative powers in the hopes that her body would synthesize some kind of cure. Jess is a little more sympathetic, especially when they realize her son might also suffer some of these effects.

So Jess agrees to start undergoing some of their treatments and she can feel her powers and strength doubling. It’s only temporary though, and they need a rare, extinct spider to complete the work — and said spider was just bought on market by a rival. Jess and a crew break in to steal it and she’s confronted by Octavia Vermis, the daughter of Otto Vermis, the former head of HYDRA who mind-controlled Jess into their ranks. Octavia has her own business with the spider and she fights Jess to a standstill — then dangles the last specimen over Jess’ head, mentioning something about a family reunion.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

The second issue of Spider-Woman reads exactly how one would expect it to: Pacheco is a big fan of Spider-Woman, did her research and came up with some ideas based on Spider-Woman continuity. And that’s fine and fun, because she writes a good comic, with some excellent — if overly dark — artwork. Jessica Drew is written very well and is a fun protagonist. She’s edgy, she’s tough and she’s got a fun mix of powers. The story she’s thrust into has some legs, though nothing too exciting just yet. A lot of things seem to rely on coincidence, like this extinct spider that is in precarious hands at the exact moment Jess needs it, or the arrival of a very specific villain with direct ties to Jess’ past. It’s all for fun, though.

The Rhino should know better

I had a good time reading this comic. Parts of it feel a little weird, like Jess eventually joining forces with the guy that tricked her, and Jess going out with a security team to steal something…and that team getting shot and killed. And Octavia isn’t very interesting yet. She’s got something of a generic green costume, and one has to wonder where she’s been all this time if her back story is what it is. But these are minor gripes for what is an otherwise perfectly fine comic. The momentum hasn’t been totally lost and I have confidence in this comic going forward.

TL;DR: The industry shutdown didn’t do Spider-Woman any favors, but this second issue picks up nicely and keeps the story and strong characterization going for now.

Strange Adventures #3

Strange Adventures #3
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Mitch Gerads and Evan “Doc” Shaner
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

Tom King and his artists are proving to be masters of the build-up. We’re three issues deep and this comic feels exciting…but, as always, there’s just something unknown out of reach…

Mr. Terrific has begun his investigation proper into Adam Strange and his family, and the alleged crimes against him. Adam is nervous and starts asking Justice League pals about the investigation. His wife, Alanna, is furious. When news of the investigation hits the mainstream media, the Stranges go on the air to question its motives. Could someone be trying to distract Adam from his efforts to prepare Earth for future Pykkt invasions? Batman visits Alanna at night to ask why she and her family are coming out so strongly against the investigation when it was Adam who asked Batman to begin the investigation. Alanna seems to be setting him up, as photos of their meeting are taken and aired on Fox News, with the anchor questioning Batman’s actions.

Meanwhile, on Rann, Adam fights in the Ceremony, an ancient death match ritual, in order to secure the allegiance of the desert nomads. Adam holds his own but loses in the end…only to feint before the death blow. He then uses his helmet to beat his opponent to death, winning the match and securing the nomad’s help in the war.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

The mysteries and questions that King sets up in this issue are so tantalizing that I already wish this series was over so that I knew everything that was going on. The man is a masterful tease. What is going on with Alanna? What are the Stranges hiding? Are they even hiding something?! If they’re not hiding something, what is the point of this comic? Why are they hiding something? So many mysteries! And King has such a fun time writing about those mysteries existing within the DC Universe. I love the little scenes where Adam Strange teams up with his superhero pals to fight bad guys, only to nervously grill them about the investigation.

Superman is a really good pal

Everyone is written so well and so particular. This isn’t just superhero comics like normal. This is the exact opposite of Empyre. That is all big, brash, straightforward superhero action. Strange Adventures uses familiar superheroes to tell a small, introspective mystery where anything could happen, and likely will. Personally, I much prefer the excitement building in Strange Adventures than anything going on in Empyre. The way King twists and weaves his characters around one another, probably revealing more than the audience is aware of just yet. It’s fun to read, while also maddening to know that something is just out of reach…

TL;DR: The mysteries deepen in fun and exciting ways in Strange Adventures #3, making this series even more tantalizing.


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 July 18, 2020, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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