Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 8/1/20

Another week, another pile of enjoyable comics, proving that some aspects of life can get back to some semblance of normal. It’s good to have comics again. We’ve got nice issues of Power Rangers, Legion of Super-Heroes and even X-Men, kind of.

Comic Book of the Week goes to the first issue of X-Factor, possibly because I’m attached to the comic name, even if Multiple Man doesn’t appear in the issue at all. We do get Leah Williams writing the Blob again though! And an actually entertaining Daken!

Be prepared to legitimately enjoy Daken in a comic

Meanwhile, I’ve finally started my reread of the classic Milligan/Allred run on X-Force/X-Statix! I bought the first compendium volume and it is easily holding up after all these years. This comic was so insanely ahead of its time! I can’t even imagine how X-Statix would deal with Twitter.

Comic Reviews: Empyre #3, Legion of Super-Heroes #7, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #52, X-Factor #1 and X-Men #10.

Empyre #3

Empyre #3
Writers: Al Ewing and Dan Slott
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Whoo boy, this one is a real stinker. Some great writers, some amazing artists, but about as anemic a story as modern comics can have.

The Cotati wage war on Earth and the various superheros are off doing their thing, with Tony really bummed out that he bought their lies at the start of the fight. The Cotati strike at Wakanda to try and get the Vibranium-rich soil, and Black Panther has a plan to fight them off. He’s joined by Mantis, the mother of the leader of the Cotati, who hopes she can reach her son diplomatically. He also requests Hulkling’s sword because he has a plan. Hulkling, who is still out in space, let’s T’Challa have it. His inner circle is mad at this decision, because they wanted to use the sword to send Captain Marvel on a suicide mission to blow up the Cotati garden on the moon. The group debates this for a while, drawing the line that the Skrull and Kree are fine with casualties in war if it means victory, but the heroes of Earth aren’t about that.

Also, we find out that Teddy’s Kree advisor is actual a Skrull in disguise…his grandmother! Who has big plans for her grandson to rule the galaxy.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

I hope the tie-ins to this comic are amazing, because all the main Empyre series is doing is providing a framework. There’s literally a page in this comic that is just there to reveal that Cap and Thor are off in their own adventures and won’t be appearing in this main series at this time. The rest is all just characters calmly dealing with the events at hand, usually through some kind of conversation. And the timing feels off. It feels like the invasion has been going on for at least a couple days at this point, considering how splintered everyone has become…but the scene in Hulkling’s throne room is exactly as it was last issue. So either this invasion has only just started, or Carol, Sue and Johnny have been standing in that room doing nothing for a very long time. And their conversation is pretty basic. The soldiers have a reckless plan, but the heroes of Earth shrug it off and go with something else. Carol acquiring the hammer of Ronan the Accuser means nothing. It’s just something she holds now. And I cannot explain how deeply uninteresting that last page reveal is. A character I’ve never heard of reveals to another character I’ve never heard of that she’s actually a third character I’ve never heard of in disguise.

TL;DR: I hope you like event framework, because that’s all you’re getting with the main Empyre series.

Legion of Super-Heroes #7

Legion of Super-Heroes #7
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Stephen Byrne, with Ryan Sook and Wade Von Grawbadger
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Dave Sharpe

Now that Wonder Twins is gone…this might be my favorite DC comic these days. Interesting thing to consider.

Following the disaster with Crav of Rimbor last issue, the Legion storms into a meeting of the United Planets so that Cosmic Boy can go on camera and apologize. When he’s done, the President points out that the UP just voted Crav as a war criminal for his actions with the trident…so that apology was pretty poorly timed. Then everybody starts arguing, until Superboy speaks up to apologize for invading the council like this (it was his idea), and he gives a speech about everybody working together. This settles matters.

Later, Saturn Girl gives Cosmic Boy a piece of her mind after she read everyone’s minds at the meeting and realized all those planetary leaders thought him pretty pathetic. Cosmic Boy is angry that nobody takes him seriously as leader, so Brainiac 5 calls a team meeting to hold actual team leader elections. The meeting is a bit of a mess, but Ultra Boy volunteers and gives a great speech, while Cosmic Boy gets all pissy and flies away. So the Legionnaires vote for Ultra Boy.

And just in time, because his father, Crav of Rimbor, launches his retaliatory attack!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This issue is a fun, enjoyable example of why I like this Legion of Super-Heroes comic so much: everything is a mess! Bendis has created a young, impetuous Legion that is taking its baby steps into being the Legion of Super-Heroes, and I find that really, really neat! I’m no Legion fan from back in the day, no grand expert on everything about them and every iteration. So I have no expectations for a Legion comic. And I’m really enjoying his slapdash, haphazardly guided team as they struggle to have any idea what they’re doing. Individually, they’re probably good in a fight. But as a massive group of more than a dozen teenagers, they’re a glorious mess that always seems to be stepping on their own feet. It’s hilarious.

You must experience the whole dang double spread!

And Bendis balances that zaniness with serious plots that require a Legion that actually functions. This isn’t a slapstick comedy comic. There are real, important matters going down, from war crimes to presidential conferences to invading aliens. If this were a classic Legion, they’d have this all handled, probably. But Bendis’ Legion is struggling, and that makes it far more interesting. I’ll grant you that having so many characters on one page does seem a bit overwhelming, but he manages them all well enough. This is the sort of comic that would benefit from a sister title, one that Bendis could write that could go into more personal and intimate moments between the members. I’m dying for more of the new Matter-Eater-Lad. And what little bits we get to see of the Legionnaires is really fun and could use more fleshing out. We get a really nice scene where Lightning Lad moves his family into their new apartment on Earth, and he had the computer make it look exactly like their old, rundown apartment because he thought his moms loved that apartment, but…

It’s funny stuff

As it stands, I’m definitely enjoying what I’m getting from this main series.

And if Ryan Sook isn’t available as artist anymore, Stephen Byrne would be a dream! His Wonder Twins comic was beautiful. Either Marvel needs to snatch him up for a snazzy new X-Men comic or DC better put him to good use!

TL;DR: This issue is jam-packed with so many characters that it feels like the comic might tip over, but being a wild, over-stuffed mess of a comic is exactly what I’m loving about this Legion of Super-Heroes.

Power Rangers #52

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #52
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Moises Hidalgo
Colorist: Walter Baiamonte, with assistance from Katia Ranalli
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire

Not every issue can be the perfect encapsulation of everything good and wonderful about comic books.

On Earth, Adam gets teamed up with a new girl for a science project, and she’s pretty militant about disliking the Power Rangers. Aisha got teamed up with Bulk, but we don’t go any further into that. And Drakkon taunts Kimberly in the Command Center, but she’s able to hold off on murdering him.

Out in space, the Omega Rangers escort some refugees back to their home planet, but they find the capital city abandoned and destroyed. It happened recently, so the Rangers teleport down to investigate, finding all sorts of weird readings. They’re attacked by some mole monsters and show off some new moves, then get attacked by a Big Bad.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I’m usually as hype as a human being can be for these Power Rangers comics, but this issue is definitely just a simple transitional issue instead of anything powerful or amazing. Characters move along in their current stories, heading to their next stories. On Earth, we get a pretty forced introduction of a new classmate NPC, in a bit of a weird way, if I’m being honest. Apparently Angel Gove High is such a big school that Adam needs to be introduced to the girl sitting right next to him in class. She’s got some interesting thoughts on the Power Rangers, at least. And it’ll be cool to give Adam his own subplot, at least. But that’s all down the road. Meanwhile, we get another scene where Drakkon emotionally tortures one of the Rangers, yet nothing changes. And everything with the Omega Rangers is pretty removed as it’s tough to make random space aliens all that interesting in Power Rangers. The Rangers hang out at arms length with an alien family we’ve never met before, arrive at a planet we’ve never heard of before and then battle some new bad guys down on the surface. It’s all fine and dandy, it just doesn’t yet pack any sort of wallop.

TL;DR: Solid, enjoyable comic that moves our story along nicely. It does its job rather than be the best, most interesting comic ever.

X-Factor #1

X-Factor #1
Writer: Leah Williams
Artist: David Baldeon
Colorist: Israel Silva
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

I’m a sucker for a new X-Factor comic. I’m just disappointed it doesn’t star Multiple Man! They even use his name ‘X-Factor Investigations’ and don’t name drop him at all. Maybe in a future issue…

Northstar senses the death of his sister Aurora, and he rushes out to see the Five to demand they bring her back to life immediately — but they point out that there are rules, and a long line. How does he know she’s dead? Where’s his proof? So Jean Paul begins a haphazard search that eventually ropes in Polaris, Daken, Prodigy, Prestige and Eye Boy. They track Aurora’s trail to a motel in Washington State and they find her body in an SUV that went over a cliff into a river a few miles away. They determine that the SUV belonged to a mutant bigot who had laid a trap for her, only for the vehicle to careen into him as well, tossing him into the river too. Mysteries abound, but at least Jean Paul has proof of his sister’s death, so she’ll jump to the head of the resurrection line.

Our heroes and the Five take their findings to the Quiet Council and it’s decided that this crew will become a new X-Factor Investigations in order to look into missing or dead mutants, to provide the necessary proof before a resurrection. Polaris teams up with Krakoa to build them a new base and everybody moves in, with Forge and Sage helping set up a Cerebro-system that can alert them to missing mutants. When they turn it on, there are a bunch already waiting for them!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This issue is a good, solid set-up for what X-Factor will hopefully be about. Williams takes the time to go through a real, detailed investigation, and gives each of her chosen characters a chance to contribute, even if a little bit. Some characters stand out more than others — like Daken, of all people — while some will hopefully get their spotlight soon enough — like Eye-Boy. The biggest thing this new series has going for it are its characters, and Williams acquits herself well with their use and introductions. I definitely enjoyed both the procedural elements of solving the mystery of Aurora’s death, as well as the procedural elements of putting this new team together. We actually see in the story why these specific characters have teamed up, and we see in the story as the Quiet Council agrees to form a team called “X-Factor Investigations”. That part was fun. And I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face: I want to see more grounded, procedural stuff on Krakoa.

Also, Williams’ return to the Blob after she revolutionized him in Age of X-Man is very, very welcome.

She’s still got it!

Hopefully she gets more time with him going forward.

Williams has just as much fun with the other characters as well. Daken is the first real breakout character. I’ve never cared for Daken until now. Williams writes him as someone who has put his scheming villainy behind him, and is now just a rough and gruff jerk who hides his heart of gold. I imagine this might be what Wolverine was like back when he first appeared, and why he became such a beloved character. Northstar works well as the lead character, driving the plot and the team. Rachel is put to some good use, but I will always feel like nobody has any real idea what to do with this character, but they keep using her. Williams makes a great point with Polaris where she has a brief scene with Magneto where she asks him to describe her personality, and he’s got nothing. I hope that means Williams has some ideas. Prodigy is put to good use, but only really for his computer brain at the moment. And Eye-Boy is really just there. But I have all the faith in the world that Williams knows what to do with these characters going forward.

I also feel like it was a smart idea to solve this first mystery in this issue. This doesn’t need to be a comic that drags things out. Also, Baldeon’s art is great, keep up the good work!

TL;DR: Great start to the new series as it finds little ways, here and there, to try and set it apart for every other identical X-Men comic. This one shows real promise to be its own thing.

X-Men #10

X-Men #10
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Leinil Francis Yu
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Not every issue can be a great and glorious exploration of this insane Dawn of X world.

After the War of Kings, some aliens found Gabriel Summers and messed with his mind. They took what little good he had left in him and turned it into a shell to hide his true darkness inside. Nowadays, he’s pretty wayward, spending a lot of time getting drunk with Petra and Sway. On this particular day, he’s feeling particularly melancholy and goes for a walk on the Moon and finds the Cotati from Empyre waging their war on Earth. They capture him and set off his inner darkness when they try to interrogate him, so he blows them all up. By the time Petra and Sway find him, he’s calmed down enough to return home with them.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

I want to say, right off the bat, that this is a terrible use of Petra and Sway. I’ll grant you that they were barely ever characters to begin with, but now that they’ve been brought back from the dead into such a strange new world…are they really going to spend their lives dressed in their old costumes and hanging onto Gabriel Summers? They have nothing better to do with their lives? And they’ve clearly heard what Gabriel got up to with his life. So, like…really? This is what’s being done with them? It leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

They literally sit around in his kitchen, in costume, waiting for him to wake up so that they can have any semblance of a life.

Beyond the two of them, this issue is one glorified chance to explain a bit of what’s going on with Gabriel Summers. Hickman has never shown Gabriel to be all that important to the overall plans, but he’s there and I guess maybe there are plans for him? I couldn’t care less about the character, and this issue does nothing to get me on board. We’re all expected to just ignore his insanely troubled past and accept that maybe he’ll do something big and interesting in Dawn of X. He does get a funny moment when he just strolls into Cotati territory without a care in the world; I liked that scene. But the rest of the issue is just some complicated backstory setting up his new status quo, and then a simple present story expressing that new status quo. Basically, this is the deal with Gabriel and that’s pretty much it.

TL;DR: Nothing particularly fun or interesting is revealed about what Gabriel Summers is up to in Dawn of X.

The comics I review in my Hench-Sized reviews are just the usual comics I grab from Comixology 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 August 1, 2020, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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