Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 9/26/20

This week was a stark reminder of how little comics I actually read. Nothing on my DC pull list came out this week…despite issues of the likes of Superman, Aquaman, Batgirl and many more. I either need to expand my reading list again or…I don’t know. I just need to read more comics!

Plenty of Marvel comics to enjoy this week, though. From the return of Doctor Doom and Spider-Man to the start of X of Swords! Comic Book of the Week goes to Juggernaut #1 because I liked that one the best!

I do like the new design

Meanwhile, I’ve started watching the show Letterkenny on Hulu. It’s pretty fun. Pretty recommended. And Enola Holmes on Netflix was also good. So I’m in a good place when it comes to watchables right now.

Comic Reviews: Doctor Doom #7, Drakon: New Dawn #2, Juggernaut #1, Spider-Man #4, Spider-Woman #4 and X of Swords: Creation #1.

Doctor Doom #7

Doctor Doom #7
Writer: Christopher Cantwell
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: GURU-eFX
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

Here we have the first Doctor Doom issue since March! Let’s hope it still holds up.

Doom returns to Latveria and joins up with his inner circle, who have remained on the run in the wilderness. He puts each of them through a little loyalty oath thing, exploring their loyalty to him while also poking around in his thoughts about himself and his legacy. It’s good character building stuff. Doom eventually entrusts the Ultimate Nullifier to Victorious before he returns to Castle Doom and confronts the usurper who took his throne. He taunts the man before throwing him off a balcony, then has a vision of his future children cutting up their own faces to be worthy of Latverian leadership.

Meanwhile, the Blue Marvel heads into the Antlion black hole on the moon to use his energy to stop the hole — a plan that Doom came up with. Blue Marvel uses up all of his energy to stop the black hole, but he has no power left to pull himself out. He’s stuck…until he sees a new figure arrive: it’s Dr. Otto Octavius, on a mission from Doom to seal the wormhole.

Also, remember Amara from the Infamous Iron Man comic? Doom mentions in passing that she lost her baby.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

Now that is a fun ending! I liked this whole issue, but to suddenly have Doctor Octopus show up, working for Doom, and promising to help, is just a fun comic book twist! I don’t know his current status quo…did that whole Superior Spider-Man series get worked out? I preferred him as the Superior Octopus. That was a cool costume! I regret not getting the action figure.

Anyway, this issue is a lot more than just that cliffhanger. If you’ve been as attached to Doom as I have recently, this is a really meaty issue. He has sit-downs with all of his closest advisors, and I wish these people were better known so that these sit-downs would be a bit more meaningful. But they are really strong showings for how Doom operates and the world around him. This is a nice pause of an issue that really gets into Doom’s head. I especially enjoyed his quick scene with Kristoff.

Gets no respect

And the fact that he returned to his people riding a bear.

This is all that matters

This was a great issue for the series, especially after such a long delay. It puts the focus on Doom and his current head space, setting up the story to come as he and his inner circle take back Latveria. I thought his new helmet was a little silly, with a bit of a crazy overbite, but otherwise the art was really good. I still very much enjoy this comic and its grounded take on Doctor Doom.

TL;DR: After so long away, this issue helps to ground everything back around Doom and his headspace.

Drakkon: New Dawn #2

Drakkon: New Dawn #2
Writer: Anthony Burch
Artist: Simone Ragazzoni
Colorist: Raul Angulo
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire

I’m eagerly anticipating the Power Rangers relaunch. This series fills the gap nicely while we wait.

The Ranger prisoner is cut out of his helmet and it’s Jason, obviously. Adam returns with news about a crashed meteor, and Scorpina fills everyone in about the alien lady from the end of last issue. She is Eclipta, servant of Dark Specter, and she’s here to judge this world and send a message back to her master to launch an invasion. Everybody gets to arguing about what to do, with Jason advocating on getting the power coins back to their rightful owners. He flashes back to when Drakkon stole the Red Power Coin, put it in the diffuser and made his Crimson Sentries. But Scorpina points out that removing the Black and Yellow Power Coins from the diffuser will erase half of their army. Kimberly sides with Scorpina and Jason leaves in a huff.

The team attacks Eclipta to kill her and prevent any messages back from her boss. It’s a tough fight, and just as Adam is about to deliver the killing blow, his Black Sentry armor disappears. Eclipta kills him instead (much to Scorpina’s sadness) and our heroes retreat — only to find the city in chaos, as the Coinless rebels are openly fighting with the now de-powered sentries. As the good guys try to break up the riots, Jason stands revealed once again as the Red Power Ranger!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

OK, look, I’m all for emotional drama and sadness, but you did not spend two issues creating something really adorable between Adam and Scorpina just to rip it away like this. I get why you did it, but it was the wrong move. Here was an actual new character relationship, something fresh and fun and just weird enough to be interesting. Don’t kill it before it’s had a chance to be meaningful. Don’t kill the one character relationship with any actual charm in this comic. At least wait until they’ve wormed their way into our hearts and minds and the tragic loss will be heart-breaking. Doing it in this issue is like snuffing out a candle you only just lit. Very poor choice, in my opinion.

It could have been beautiful

But the rest of the issue around that moment is really good. The comic does a good job of setting up the dangers and putting the characters at odds. It builds on the realities of the Coinless universe and finds fun new ways to create conflict. It was pretty obvious last issue that the Ranger prisoner was going to be Jason. And it makes perfect sense that he would immediately want to reform the Rangers. He hasn’t had to make any compromises with the Sentries. And I think it’s a great conflict for this comic to have to make compromises between what is and what could be. The Red Ranger is positioned as the antagonist by the end of the issue, and I think that’s a really great twist for this series to stand on its own.

But I’m going to stay salty that we didn’t get an epic Adam/Scorpina romance for the ages.

TL;DR: The action and character drama twists in fun and interesting ways, ensuring that this spin-off comic has a story all its own.

Juggernaut #1

Juggernaut #1
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artist: Ron Garney
Colorist: Matt Milla
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino

My general desire to try out most new things has led us to Juggernaut #1, a simple comic that tries to bring the character back to basics. I’m in.

Some time ago, Cain Marko was cast into Limbo, the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak ripped from his chest. He walked through Limbo for 30 days before he found the Crossroads, where he sacrificed his helmet for a path forward.

In the present day, a fully powered Juggernaut is working for Damage Control, taking down buildings set for demolition. There’s kids squatting in some of the buildings, one of whom has powers, so Cain goes in to talk to them to try to help. The girl, D-Cel, claims she’s not a mutant and has de-acceleration powers. She tries to slow the Juggernaut, but nothing can, and eventually he crashes through a wall, causing part of the building to fall onto D-Cel. He gets her to a hospital and sits with her while she heals, explaining that she got her powers in a science accident. She eventually gets talking about her RoxTube channel and how videos of Juggernaut doing hero stuff would be a hit! She suggests he fight the Hulk.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I really liked this issue for its simplistic character approach. Nicieza isn’t trying to rewrite the history and origins of Juggernaut. He’s not going crazy with new mythology or anything. It’s just a story about a classic comic book character trying to start fresh with a new life, where he’s not looking for trouble and just wants to do the right thing, on a low key level. Cain Marko is written very well. He’s been through hell over the years, and there’s a bit more hell to be revealed (how’d he get his powers back?). The character is beaten down, but he’s calm about it. He’s measured. It makes perfect sense that he’d want to help a mutant kid, and it makes perfect sense that he’d feel guilty enough after what happened to stay by her hospital bed.

He’s got that name game on lock

The quick rapport between Juggernaut and D-Cel works well. And I could easily see it becoming the basis for this ongoing series. I could easily see this measured version of Cain Marko becoming the protagonist in an ongoing series. He’s the Juggernaut, he’s got a lot of history, so I think it would be really interesting to see him try to get through the kind of craziness normally in his life with this new attitude. I think that’s a solid, potentially enjoyable foundation for a Juggernaut ongoing series. This is definitely a character, and this is definitely a time, that don’t call for a new ongoing Juggernaut comic…but I think Nicieza has set up a relatable starting point.

I also really love the artwork. It’s a bit too dark, too shaded for my usual tastes, but it works for me, and it helps to make the Juggernaut more human instead of a barn-sized bad guy.

TL;DR: A gentle, low key take on the Juggernaut signifies a potentially interesting new story for the character. This is a solid starting point.

Spider-Man #4

Spider-Man #4
Writers: Henry and J.J. Abrams
Artist: Sara Pichelli
Ink assist: Elisabetta D’Amico
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Remember when Marvel was super excited to announce this comic? Now I’m surprised they’re even bothering to put out the last two issues.

Ben, Faye, Tony Stark and Riri Williams are attacked by zombie cyborg Avengers, and it’s not nearly as exciting as it sounds. Our heroes are simultaneously up against a wall and don’t do half bad, until Riri is able to return to the fight with her Ironheart armor and win the day.

In the meantime, we find out that the villain, Ivan, has used his resurrection juice along with Peter Parker’s blood to bring back his love, Minka. But the process has her body transforming into a monster. She’s really mad at him for all of this, and it’s pretty pathetic. They go into a lengthy, but confusing, explanation about their experiment and how it got into the hands of Richard and Mary Parker, who destroyed it…only to leave a single spider? Because the experiment involved spiders? And it’s implied that this spider in the custody of Richard and Mary Parker somehow led to Spider-Man? Not sure. Ivan tells Minka that Peter’s son should be able to stabilize her condition.

So when Minka transforms into a Shelob-like giant spider, she makes a big web on a bridge and holds Peter Parker hostage. Our heroes see this on the news and Ben rushes to save his dad, only to be overwhelmed by the bad guys’ robots.

Comic Rating: 3/10 – Bad.

Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, when I was a young teenager, I invented “Spider-Boy”. He was a young guy who got blasted by a special science ray and obtained the powers of Spider-Man. He wore the black costume, had visible web-shooters on both his wrists and ankles, wore a utility belt and had a big blue cape. I thought this idea was so amazing that, not only did I write to Marvel comics with one of my drawings, but I pieced together an action figure by collecting those various accessories and putting them on the basic black costume Spider-Man figure. Surely Spider-Boy should have been the most exciting Marvel character of all time…

And if my dad had been a famous Hollywood producer/director at the time, you’d all be reading Spider-Boy comics right now.

Instead, we’re reading Spider-Man, which comes off exactly like a 15-year-old’s bad Spider-Man fan fiction given actual, professional publication. This comic isn’t even trying to do anything with the idea of Peter Parker’s estranged son anymore. Ben fully takes the back seat to the action, first for a boring fight against zombie Avengers, then as he stumbles in his attempts to save his dad. All while the bad guys go around being either annoying or pathetic, with their vague and uninteresting origin story. This thing has gone off the rails.

Thank you for that, Ben

Part of me wanted to go easy on this comic and list it as only “meh”, but honestly…this is lukewarm garbage. This isn’t even hot garbage. This is a ridiculously silly concept. Ben is barely a character, let alone a Spider-Man. Faye continues to be a self-insert girlfriend trope. Tony Stark accomplishes nothing. And it feels like Ironheart only shows up because she was a popular character Marvel was pushing back when this series was probably first discussed/pitched, and editorial asked the Abramses to put her in.

This comic was already very delayed before the pandemic. Marvel should have just quietly pretended it never existed.

TL;DR: This series is barely more than a teenager’s bad Spider-Man fan fiction. This issue trades any attempt at drama or character exploration for a bunch of boring, nothing action scenes.

Spider-Woman #4

Spider-Woman #4
Writer: Karla Pacheco
Artist: Pere Perez
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham

The new Juggernaut comic seemed to be taking things back to basics, but the new Spider-Woman comic is all about crazy mythology retcons.

Jessica Drew is reunited with her mother in the Wundagore compound. Mom explains that she faked her death, discovered she was pregnant and sent Michael to stay with some other family. They’ve all been working on a cure for the spider condition since. Octavia Vermis shows up with some robot soldiers and our heroes take the fight to them, riding the hybrid dinosaur creatures into battle. The good guys are eventually forced to retreat, but Octavia smashes through the door and confronts them about wanting the research on life and death. She tells her men to open fire and Jess’ mom pushes Jess towards the bad guys claiming, “She’s the one you want!”. And then, somehow, Jess is able to stop all of the bullets in midair, in the shape of her spider symbol.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

This is getting a little too complex, especially since I am not at all versed in Spider-Woman’s origin story. Are we supposed to automatically know that stuff? Pacheco weaves all manner of new retcons about Jessica’s mom, faked deaths, unknown pregnancies and new super-villains. It’s a little daunting, especially since it’s all just being thrown at us as quickly as possible. It doesn’t help that the new sickness is making Jess irritable, so she’s not a strong foundation for all these changes. She’s accepts it all with a massive chip on her shoulder, and then Pacheco and company try to make it interesting with fighting dinosaurs. The art is great, so that helps make everything work. But the story and the characters are getting a bit too complex and too wrapped up in themselves, with very little pay-off so far. This issue in particular is split between all these new retcon revelations and then a bunch of action scenes involving characters both we, and Jessica, barely know.

TL;DR: On the surface, this is still a well-drawn, solidly written comic book. But it’s digging a little too deeply into less-than-clear new retcons and long-lost secrets that are supposedly important.

X of Swords #1

X of Swords: Creation #1
Writers: Jonathan Hickman and Tini Howard
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

OK, so, here we go! The official start of X of Swords. I haven’t been reading Excalibur, but I did read last week’s X-Men info-dump issue, so I am in no way prepared to understand the madness that Hickman and company have cooked up here…so I’m just going to keep this recap as brief as possible.

Once upon a time, the island of Okkara was cleaved in half. Krakoa remained on Earth, while Arakko was shunted into Otherworld, along with Apocalypse’s children, the original Four Horsemen, and a whole mutant society. Summoner came from this society, searching for Apocalypse, his grandfather. In the present day, Apocalypse leads a team of X-Men through a new portal he’s built to touch base with the people of Arakko — who instantly betray him, including Summoner. Seems the original Horsemen have been leading a conquest over all of Otherworld. Saturnyne, a longtime Captain Britain character, is in charge of Otherworld and she arranges a contest of champions: 10 bad guys with swords vs. 10 X-Men with swords.

Meanwhile, through another series of events, Cyclops and Jean Grey reactive the S.W.O.R.D. orbital platform.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

For such a simple concept as this sword-based contest of champions, this whole story is full of such fucking nonsense that it’s almost too dense to understand. My original recap was six paragraphs long. Hickman is going to town with the original concept madness. Okkara, Arakko, Twilight Sword, Summoner(s), a new secret history for Apocalypse, Otherworld, 10 new bad guys, each with a named sword, not to mention minor roles for a dozen or so random X-Men characters. I didn’t even get into Monet’s somewhat starring role in this issue. Monet, of all people! This is the densest of mythologies. I have read some of the comics around this one, and I have read recaps of them on other websites, and I still don’t think I understand all of it.

But I also don’t know if you need to understand all of it to just enjoy a big X-Men event. And with gorgeous artwork, it’s easy to at least enjoy the basics of what’s going on.

Some kind of…battle?

Though I’m also hesitant to call this an X-Men event. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the X-Men. All of this new history stuff revolves around Apocalypse and Krakoa, a relationship that did not exist prior to House of X/Powers of X. It almost feels like a coincidence that the X-Men are drawn into this, just because they live on Krakoa nowadays. So it feels like the X-Men are being pulled into this madness at no real fault of their own, so it doesn’t feel like an actual X-Men event. It feels at odds with the status quo of Dawn of X.

It’s like Hickman came up with this cool new X-Men status quo, then slipped in an amendment where he gets to tell his weird Apocalypse/Krakoa fan fiction on the side. And now that fan fiction is taking center stage.

At the very least, I did enjoy some of the simpler, more character-based X-Men stuff. Monet taking charge is pretty cool. She kind of just tags along because it seems like something to do, then she takes charge against Saturnyne. That was fun. Some stuff with Cable, Cyclops and Jean Grey is pretty fun. And there’s a very brief little scene between Apocalypse and Angel that, I feel, really taps into X-Men history and continuity in a meaningful way.

Have these two ever had a casual conversation since the 90s?

So at the very least, this event should feature some solid characterizations with the X-Men. And a bunch of epic sword fights should be fun.

Though while we’re on the topic of famous swords, I’m both disappointed and pleased that Marvel isn’t going to include Excalibur, the most famous sword. I’m disappointed because it seems silly to not include Excalibur and its current wielder, Dr. Faiza Hussain, but I’m pleased because it means Marvel isn’t using this as an excuse to strip the famous blade from such a minor character. Faiza is fun and she needs more attention. Also, did you know she’s not a mutant? I thought for sure Faiza was a mutant…

TL;DR: The mythology surrounding this event is dense and stupefying, but when you get down to the-nitty gritty character drama, there is something to enjoy in X of Swords so far.

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 September 26, 2020, in Comics, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I don’t think Jess is actually stopping the bullets at all. The Spider-Symbol is on the last page of every issue and is just something Perez does. This one was more in your face and far less subtle than the others though.

    Jessica has one of the most messed up and convoluted origins of any character. Bendis was tasked to re-do the whole thing back in 2005. Spider-Woman Origin by Bendis is one of my favorite Spider-Woman stories. Karla is pulling heavily from this but not many people know it exists. Maybe that’s why I’m not as lost as other people are? I know exactly what’s going on and I think I know where Karla is going here, but I’m not 100% sure.

    The Miles referenced in this issue is Miles Warren (The Jackel) who was a partner with the Drews for awhile.

    I believe the dinosaur hybrids are leftovers from the High Evolutionary (who Jessica’s Parents worked closely with, even in her original origin story, not just Bendis’ retelling).

    Not sure any of this helps.

    • Thanks, that does clarify some things! I can remember Bendis doing some Spider-Woman work, though I didn’t read it at the time. I thought all of this was based on the original Spider-Woman stuff.

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