Hench-Sized Comic Book Reivews – 10/17/20

Comics! They’re still coming out! The world keeps spinning! And my fingers are still working. So let’s read some comics and write some reviews! Like some of my DC favorites and then a whole bunch of new X of Swords issues.

Comic Book of the Week goes to New Mutants #13, of all things. Despite my general exhaustion with X of Swords, I liked the character focus of this issue.

Cypher’s time to shine!

Meanwhile, I finished off the second season of The Boys and I loved it! Great show, fun adaptation; I’m definitely enjoying The Boys and don’t mind the changes from comic to show. It’s a fun adventure.

Comic Reviews: The Green Lantern: Season Two #8, Strange Adventures #6, Hellions #5, New Mutants #13 and Cable #5.

The Green Lantern #8

The Green Lantern: Season Two #8
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Liam Sharp
Colorist: Steve Oliff
Letterer: Steve Wands

I’m only human! I only have a fragile human soul! A fragile human brain! How am I suppose to digest and understand this issue? Maybe if I put in a lot of work, but nothing here is a sign that said work would be worth it. Ugh.

I don’t even really know what the heck happened in this issue. It’s told through constant flashbacks that jump all over the place, where one page is “10 minutes ago” and another page is “45 minutes ago” and another page is “8 minutes ago” and another page is “1 week ago” and I have zero interest in trying to read it all in a linear fashion. I think it’s some kind of fight between Hal and his GLs vs. the Qwad-Man? And maybe Qwad-Man and Sinestro are lovers? And all of the Earth characters have their word balloons backwards because apparently that’s so fucking clever. I don’t even know if the battle comes to an end in this issue?

Comic Rating: 2/10 – Very Bad.

I’m not even going to try to sugar coat this one. I have had it up to here with Season 2 of The Green Lantern. I can remember being upset when word came down that Season 2 was going to lose a couple issues. But man, they should have cut the whole damn thing. This is nonsense. Pure nonsense. I suppose it’s trying to be clever. I suppose it’s trying to be unique? I applaud it for trying something different. But that clever, unique different thing can’t make the comic unreadable. The characters and concepts are hard enough to keep track of when the stories are told normally. Splicing up the timeline for no apparent reason, dark and moody art and weird word balloon gimmicks do not help! Dammit. This is not a knock on the writing or the artistic skill or what’s probably a perfectly awesome issue if one understands what is going on. This is entirely a knock on this issue garbaging itself up just to try and be clever in its comic book storytelling. Not even an army of muscle-bound chicken warriors is going to change my mood. And no, I’m not going to share that picture. This issue doesn’t deserve it.

TL;DR: I’m all for Grant Morrison being a mad genius but not when it makes his comics unreadable.

Strange Adventures #6

Strange Adventures #6
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Mitch Gerads and Evan Shaner
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

I am so ready for this to go somewhere.

We cut back and forth between the present day and flashbacks again. In the present day, Alanna goes for a walk with Mr. Terrific in the snow. They examine some sculptures in the area and pop into a nearby bar for a drink, where they talk about their dead children. Alanna says that, near the end of the war, Adam Strange was kidnapped for a bit and came back a changed man. Then he took their daughter on a retreat and, when he came back, he said they were ambushed by the Pykkt and she was killed. That’s some startlingly new information this late in the game. At the end of their walk, Mr. Terrific tells Alanna to ask Adam about their daughter.

In the flashbacks, we see a bunch of war scenes focused on Adam and Alanna fighting the Pykkt. In the final scene, with victory near at hand, they are shot down, Alanna specifically in the gut. As they lie on the ground together, Adam either disappears or is taken away.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

This issue is fine. It’s even beautiful at times. The artwork of Alanna and Terrific walking in the snow is amazing. If only it added up to something instead of just the two of them admiring statues. And hey, all those statues probably mean something. Maybe this is dense foreshadowing or subtext. Whatever the case, it’s definitely dense, and it probably won’t be apparent for a while? I just don’t know. All I know is that this is another solid issue of tension building and exposition, with still no sign of where all of this is going. The war scenes are really interesting. All of the character work is really good. The artwork is as good as comic book artwork can get these days.

Sure is

It’s just that none of this seems to be going anywhere. This issue, like many before it, is a perfect example of why this story — and a lot of Tom King mini-series — should be read in one sitting with the collected edition tpb. We have yet to get any pay-off and it continues to bug me. And then King goes and throws us the new wrinkle that the Stranges’ daughter died while off on a special daddy/daughter retreat in the wilderness?! And that Adam was a changed man after some kidnapping?! Where the heck has this information been so far? The death of their daughter has been a major sticking point for the mystery, and now there’s this seemingly incredibly important wrinkle?

No thank you, good sir!

TL;DR: The art is especially gorgeous and the storytelling is as strong as always, but the story itself still seems to be spinning its wheels with build-up.

Hellions #5

Hellions #5
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Carmen Carnero
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Ariana Maher

Here we go. Deep breath. Three more X of Swords issues.

Mister Sinister has a plan: while the various X-Men gather their various swords, they should send the Hellions to Arakko to steal the swords of their enemies, forcing them to forfeit. The plan is accepted, as is the idea of sending Sinister along to lead them, much to his displeasure. They head into Avalon, the kingdom of Jamie Braddock, in order to make secret passage to Arakko. Between some business with a horse, Sinister’s vain annoyance at losing his plumage, and Empath being a right prick, they do eventually head out on their adventure.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This issue reads like Zeb Wells trying to outdo himself for flamboyant personalities. Between Empath, Sinister and Jamie Braddock, he must be having the time of his life writing this dialogue. I would say that it does become a little too much, but only just, and not enough to derail the issue. It’s a relatively strong issue otherwise. There’s a real focus on the specific characters and their personalities, even when they’re outshined by Sinister himself taking center stage. The more mundane characters, like Havok and Psylocke, barely factor into the issue and are just along for the ride. At least the mission makes sense for the team, kind of. I like the idea of an X-Men black ops team heading into Outworld to try and throw a spanner in the works, but surely the Quiet Council can see that Sinister’s Hellions are not that team, right? They’ve only had one mission so far, and it was a mess. This is not the team you send on a secret mission where one slip up could lead to the end of the entire world.

TL;DR: Good, quality issue embraces the team lineup in a new X of Swords subplot.

New Mutants #13

New Mutants #13
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Rod Reis
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham

One X of Swords issue down, two to go. Gotta pace myself.

Cypher is one of the chosen participants in the X of Swords, but he’s not a fighter and everybody thinks he’s a bad choice, from Krakoa to Magik to Exodus. His sword is Warlock, who is ready to fight alongside his pal. Krakoa tries to plead with Cypher not to go, to instead run away. Magik trains him how to fight with a sword, but she’s very blunt about his chances on the battlefield. And Exodus suggests killing Cypher and hoping the tournament allows for a replacement. But nope, Cypher is determined to prove himself, so he’s going.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This issue works well because of its strong character focus. When Wolverine and Storm went to get their swords last week, the focus was on the adventure. This time, Cypher already has his sword, so the issue focuses on him as a character. Prophecy is putting him up to this, but can he handle it? His friends, and some adversaries, don’t think he can, and that leads to some quality character exploration. And Cypher is one of those X-Men who is always good for some character exploration. Back in the day, everybody thought his power was silly. But modern writers, who have given it a lot of thought, have done a lot of good with Cypher. He’s a valuable and interesting X-Man, and seeing him struggle through the various roadblocks this issue is quality writing. It’s fun watching him slowly emerge as a potential hero, even when the outlook is still grim.

If you’re a Cypher fan, this issue is perfection.

TL;DR: A deep, interesting look at the character of Cypher makes him a character to root for when X of Swords finally gets underway.

Cable #5

Cable #5
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Phil Noto
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino

We made it! Final X of Swords issue for the week!

Cyclops, Jean Grey and Cable are up on the abandoned SWORD space station, which they reactivated at the start of the story. They look around and find a portal, and find out that an alien race called the Vescora came through and wiped out SWORD. The aliens start coming through again, so Cyclops and Jean Grey hold them off while Cable shuts down the station. Then he takes his sword to join the others on Krakoa, while Cyclops, Jean and Magik start working on back-up plans…I think.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

Hey! Guess what X of Swords didn’t need! A new random subplot about some random new invading alien race. I mean, what the heck was the point of this? Setting up the future SWORD comic series, I guess? Do we really need that happening in the middle of the X of Swords event? I think I’m just frustrated. I don’t particularly care about X of Swords and none of these eight or so issues so far have convinced me to start caring. Some of them are well-written enough to make for good stand alone comics, but this whole event just gets more and more frustrating. And obviously I don’t have to read it. I could stop right now and my life would probably be just a bit easier. But man…I wanna like X-Men comics. I want to enjoy X-Men comics. I want to see what Hickman and Co. have in store for their first big Dawn of X event.

What’s taking everybody on the other side of the circle so long?

It’s just so dull. Cyclops, Jean Grey and Cable wander around an abandoned space station until they encounter a strange new alien race. They swat it around for a bit before it’s over. There’s nothing particularly interesting about this alien race. It’s just like every other mysterious alien race that has ever invaded in comics, movies, television or anything that’s come before. This issue has a tiny bit of the new family dynamic in the Summers clan, and I suppose that’s fun. But I’m on my last nerve here. As a fan, as a reader, as an amateur comic reviewer; this whole event has been a slog of randomness. And this issue is one that really takes the cake.

At least the art is beautiful. Though Noto really missed his chance to do something great when Jean told Scott not to hold back. That’s usually a big moment but this issue didn’t go for big.

TL;DR: X of Swords finds new ways to frustrate by introducing a new, uninteresting alien subplot that might not even matter until the whole thing is over.

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 October 17, 2020, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I’ve never seen you give a 2/10 review before. Man, I appreciate the honesty! I’m almost at the end of THE BOYS, Season Two (having ignored the show until now, I’m in love with it) and you give me hope that it’s gonna rock on the way out. Thanks!

    • Yep! Season 2 does indeed rock all the way through. I was very happy with it!

      And yeah, negative reviews are rare. I tend to like most things on at least a base level. Or they’re so bland they get a 5. But man, when a comic goes out of its way to be difficult, I gotta be honest. My rating system is really based on the idea of me just giving a quick “is it any good” suggestion to another person.

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