Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 11/7/20

Welcome to a brave new world! Or at least that’s what I would be saying if this stupid presidential election would just end already! We know who’s gonna win! And I don’t want to have to keep knocking on wood every time I talk about it! Sheesh!

Comic Book of the Week goes to Mighty Morphin #1, the kick off of the next stage of Power Rangers comics. That new Green Ranger looks damn cool!

As does Pandamonium, I must say

Meanwhile, I’m working my way through the last few seasons of Archer. They’re fine, but the show isn’t as good as the original seasons. And I’m finally going to get to see Tenet! It’s playing in one of the few movie theaters that’s open in my area this afternoon. I already bought my ticket. Here’s hoping I don’t die!

Comic Reviews: Batman #102, Mighty Morphin #1, Thor #9, U.S.Agent #1, X-Men #14 and Marauders #14.

Batman #102

Batman #102
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artists Carlo Pagulayan and Carlos D’Anda
Inker: Danny Miki
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

The future of Batman…continues here!

There’s a new villain in town, Ghost-Maker, and he’s someone Batman knew back in his training days. He’s annoyed at how poorly Batman has failed this city, so he’s arrived to clean up Batman’s mess. Ghost-Maker goes after Clownkiller (who is keeping tabs on Harley Quinn), and Batman stops Ghost-Maker from taking the killing blow. Ghost-Maker suggests they fight and winner gets Gotham City!

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I’m not yet sold on either Ghost-Maker or Clownkiller, and this issue only really matters as far as those two characters are concerned. Ghost-Maker could be fun, but jeez he’s got a whole thing going already, huh? He’s got this elaborate costume, he’s got these elaborate skills, and he’s supposed to have been around all this time, simply staying out of Batman’s way? Feels just a tiny bit disingenuous. Then he gets mad at Batman for Clownhunter, whom Batman attempted to deal with in the previous issue. There hasn’t really been a chance for Batman to actively ignore Clownhunter for then Ghost-Maker to get this mad. As much as I support Tynion coming up with new characters for Batman to face, there’s just something about Ghost-Maker that feels off.

I’m digging Clownhunter, though.

TL;DR: New characters are coming hard and fast into the new Batman, but they don’t really give us a chance to explore this new Batman.

Mighty Morphin #1

Mighty Morphin #1
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Marco Renna
Colorist: Walter Baiamonte, with assist from Katia Ranalli
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire

Here we go! The new era of Power Rangers comics begin here!

We open with a flashback more than 10,000 years ago, and get a glimpse of Zordon fighting a bad guy alongside the other Guardians of Eltar. In the present day, the Rangers are freaking out over the new Green Ranger and who he might be. Tommy gets them all to chill and we get some nice character stuff. Rocky does a little bonding with Matt, and Tommy and Matt are introduced to each other for the first time (with Tommy being quite cold shouldery about it). Aisha suspects Billy might know more about the Green Ranger than he’s letting on, but Kimberly shuts her down. Billy heads to the Command Center to help Alpha with the search, and Billy bonds a bit with Zordon. Bulk is a jerk around Skull’s girlfriend, Candice, and it annoys Skull.

Then Goldar and the other minions send a monster, Pandaomnium, down to Earth to grab the Green Ranger (Zedd remains in a coma). The Rangers show up and fight, with the Green Ranger showing up and being as cool and quiet as he was in the previous issue. He simply teleports away when the Rangers invite him to hang out — though Alpha does confirm that Drakkon is still in his cell while all of this is happening. After the battle, Zedd awakens, his powers amplified by the chaos crystal’s destruction.

And in a big surprise twist…we find out that Candice is an alien from Eltar!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This was as exciting and character-focused a comic as we’ve come to expect from these Power Rangers comics, and I loved it! Let’s set aside the mystery of the new Green Ranger for a second. This was a fun issue regardless! We’ve got plenty of scenes of the Rangers out of costume being people, building little bits of drama and character development here and there. I love how Parrott is finding fun things to do with the Stone Canyon trio. And I especially loved everything with Zordon this issue! His origins have too long been unspoken, so I’m excited to see where he came from. And even then, he’s got this great scene just shooting the breeze with Billy.

He was a person first, a tube head second

So I really hope Parrott continues down this path and we learn a lot more about Zordon. That last page cliffhanger should help! I’m glad something has come of Candice. I thought she was a horribly extraneous character — way to prove me wrong!

Which brings us to the elephant in the room: cool new Green Ranger! It’s a good mystery, and best of all, this comic makes the most out of it by using it to fuel great character stuff. I love to see the Rangers worrying about the new wrinkle and actually talking about it, whether or as a group or with characters like Aisha being suspicious of Billy. It’s great! This new Green Ranger makes for a really good catalyst for new stories and new character development, which is exactly how he should be.

I still hope he’s Matt.

TL;DR: New era! New Green Ranger! Same great comic book!

Thor #9

Thor #9
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Nic Klein
Colorist: Matt Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino

New Thor story begins here! And it’s a very strong beginning.

I don’t know if this is previous canon or not, but we learn that whenever Thor is Thor, Donald Blake is sent to some idyllic, endless neighborhood where he’s none the wiser about things. And when Thor is Donald Blake, Thor communes with the ancient gods of Asgard. Thor wants to talk to them now, and take some time off, so he arranges with Loki to help him make the transfer again, which he hasn’t done in years. Only when it happens, Thor travels to that idyllic neighborhood and finds it ravaged by a Donald Blake who woke up and went mad. Blake is now in Asgard, and he’s a murderous psycho who easily bests Loki and then breaks his walking stick in order to never become Thor again.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Like I said, I don’t know the backstory for Donald Blake. I don’t know if Cates is making all of this up for this story or if he’s basing it on anything. It seems pretty silly to me for Odin to create a gigantic Midgard-inspired neighborhood just so this Blake dude can have a place to hang his hat when Thor is being Thor…but I’m willing to look past everything for how good this first issue is. Cates does a great job of establishing both Thor’s haggard headspace and who this Donald Blake villain will be.

He’s seen some things

The art is also spectacular. I love the way the scene of Donald Blake’s introduction, as he walks through his neighborhood, is later mirrored panel-by-panel with Thor arriving in the same neighborhood and finding the destruction. Brilliant artistic choice. This first issue has all the makings of an epic story, one that plays on classic Thor lore while adding some new wrinkles. Cates writes a fun Loki, too…though I think he’s a bit too jobbered for Donald Blake.

TL;DR: Solid, exciting issue sets up a new threat and a new story built out of classic Thor lore. What more could we ask for in a good Thor comic?

U.S.Agent #1

U.S.Agent #1
Writer: Priest
Artist: Georges Jeanty
Inker: Karl Story
Colorist: Matt Milla
Letter: VC’s Joe Sabino

After U.S.Agent had a great showing in that Force Works comic from a couple of weeks ago, I was excited for this…but it does not live up to the hype I built in my head.

We start in an old coal town in West Virginia, where people are being interviewed for a documentary about how the industry went away and left the town high and dry — especially when a new distribution center showed up and caused even more headaches. So the townspeople blew up the center’s power plant — and we discover that this was an old SHIELD undercover operation, but since SHIELD is no more, nobody really cares. Some federal employees get tipped off about it and one of them decides to send U.S.Agent to investigate in order to piss off his boss, Valerie Cooper.

Agent, meanwhile, is out in some random town trying to protect some random dude from a homicidal pizza delivery man. So he’s ordering pizzas and kidnapping the drivers, throwing them into his basement. When one driver shows up who can actually fight, they get into a tussle and become somewhat pals. Then the real homicidal driver shows up and Walker stops him. Then he gets informed of the new mission in West Virgnia, so he heads out…and his new fighter buddy tags along for kicks and giggles, and to needle Walker about his slight racism.

When they arrive in West Virginia, their plane is shot down by some black-clad mercs. One of them reveals herself to be Walker’s sister.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

This issue didn’t really work for me, either on a story level or a character level. Now would be a perfect time for a U.S.Agent story. He’s the conservative Captain America. Conservatives and Republicans and Trumpers are a fact of life and it would be really interesting for them to have their own superheroes, and U.S.Agent would be perfect. Priest and Marvel should be able to find so much to say about the political climate in this day and age. But instead, this issue is focused entirely on introducing a strange new character named Morrie who is an expert hand-to-hand fighter…but who spends his life delivering pizzas? And seems to only exist to tag along with U.S.Agent and pester him about being a little racist towards Asian people?

Feels like it’s trying to say something

And I did not understand the pizza delivery driver thing at all. It ended with some psycho in a pizza truck driving towards the home and Walker stopping him…but it was confusing as to whether or not the guy was trying to kill Walker or kill somebody else. And why kidnap all the other pizza drivers so harshly? And why include this storyline at all? Walker could have been doing anything before getting tapped to investigate this other incident. What does this pizza delivery driver story really say about U.S.Agent? It’s not like we get much time with him or his personality. Like I said, Morrie does most of the talking and gets the bulk of the character work. There’s none of the trademark jerkass persona we saw in the Force Works comic. Rather disappointing.

TL;DR: This issue is fine on its own, but it doesn’t do nearly enough to establish the main character or explore his unique place in the superhero world. That’s why this mini-series exists, right?

X-Men #14

X-Men #14
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artists: Mahmud Asrar and Leinil Francis Yu
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: VC’s Claytown Cowles

X of Swords most definitely continues.

Genesis meets with Apocalypse on the eve of battle to tell him the story of how her crew turned into bad guys. It’s another telling of the various parts of this new Arakko continuity. They’re all thousands of years old, some of the current fighters were involved, they fought generic monsters, blah blah blah. Eventually, Genesis had her reasons for donning the golden helm of Annihlation and how it meant succumbing to the bad guys. And now here we are.

Comic Rating: 4/10 – Pretty Bad.

All of this is meaningless to me. I am not enjoying X of Swords. We’re 13 or so parts deep and nothing has happened. And all of it is built on this boring as hell new backstory that Hickman has concocted for Apocalypse and Krakoa. None of it is interesting to me. It’s all mindless blather involving ancient one-dimensional characters who have shown up out of nowhere and want to conquer Krakoa and Earth for no particular reason. What would have happened if they’d shown up before Dawn of X? When Krakoa was just some obscure character that didn’t matter? Remember when Krakoa served as the lawn at the Jean Grey School? What happens then? None of this matters to what I’m actually interested in with Krakoa and Dawn of X and the X-Men in general. If you’re enjoying all this stuff, more power to you. I am really not.

Also, one specific bone of contention, why is everybody immortal? It was cool when Apocalypse was the only one, but now everybody he knew back then is also capable of living for thousands of years and never changing?

TL;DR: Yet another issue focused entirely on filling out the — in my opinion — meaningless back story ahead of this swordfight.

Marauders #14

Marauders #14
Writers: Gerry Duggan and Benjamin Percy
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

I liked this issue a little bit better because it’s character focused, at least.

Everybody attends a party on the even of battle, hosted by Saturnyne. And we get various character interactions, like Magik and Gorgon trying to figure out Isca’s dominant hand. Or Wolverine blaming this whole thing on Captain Avalon (Brian Braddock) because he won’t sleep with Saturnyne, which Wolverine thinks will settle this whole thing? And Storm dances with Death and makes it a big metaphor.

It gets pretty exciting at the end, though, when Wolverine stabs his claws into Saturnyne.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

Overall, I don’t think this issue matters either. None of the bad guys in this story have any character beyond just being enigmatic bad guys. So Storm dances with Death to prove she’s not afraid of him? Who is this guy? He’s just some dork in a jackal mask. He has zero character. Isca is at least slightly interesting, but she’s also apparently perfect. Pogg Ur-Pogg seems entertaining…but he also seems manufactured to be that degree of entertaining. And Wolverine comes off as a jackass in accusing Brian Braddock of not stopping this. Really? Wolverine thinks that Saturnyne will call this whole thing off if Brian sleeps with her? And what will that accomplish? I thought this swordfight was her way of settling the war to come in a simple, easy way. Since when would Wolverine prefer to get everybody involved in a giant, invasive war when he could settle the whole thing by himself in an honorable swordfight? At least that final page cliffhanger seems neat…if it’s legit.

TL;DR: At least this issue has some nice character moments, even if all the bad guys in this series are wafer-thin characters.

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 November 7, 2020, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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