Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 11/14/20

It has been a week since America decided to elect a new President and it’s been a pleasant week at that. I splurged on some new LEGO to celebrate. I bought the new Spider-Man video game. And I read some good to OK comics, like Iron Man and a bunch more X of Swords.

Comic Book of the Week goes to Power Rangers #1 because, just like last week’s Mighty Morphin, the new era of Power Rangers comics at BOOM! is just as much fun as its always been!

It’s on like Donkey Kong!

Meanwhile, as I mentioned earlier, I picked up Spider-Man: Miles Morales for the Playstation 4 and it’s great! It’s another fun dose of the already beloved Spider-Man PS4 gameplay, only now its Miles Morales-flavored. And the writers and developers went out of their way to find ways to make that special. Miles swings differently than Peter. He fights differently. And he lives differently. It’s great!

Comic Reviews: The Green Lantern: Season Two #9, Iron Man #3, Power Rangers #1, Marauders #15, Excalibur #14 and Wolverine #7.

The Green Lantern #9

The Green Lantern: Season Two #9
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Liam Sharp, with color assist from Steve Oliff
Letterer: Steve Wands

This is a very frustrating comic and I will be glad when it’s over. This issue is mildly OK.

Hyperman is on trial and the defense is focusing on the rogue behavior of Hal Jordan to try and get him off. During a pause in the trial, and after a chat with Trilla-Tru, Hal returns to Earth to reconnect with Carol Ferris. He’s interrupted by the Carol Ferris of Earth-11, who gives us a crash course in the pro-feminism Star Sapphire Sorority from Earth-11, and the incel-like Green Lantern Corps. In fact, she’s left incel Hal Jordan with regular Carol Ferris while she brings Hal to help her dimension against the Golden Destroyer. But regular Carol Ferris sees through incel Hal’s nonsense, turns Star Sapphire herself and brings him back to Earth-11. But Earth-11 Carol didn’t know that regular Carol was also a Star Sapphire, and her presence here really upsets the Golden Destroyer.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

Ugh. This issue wasn’t as incomprehensible as the previous issue, but it was pretty close for a moment. When Carol Ferris suddenly shows up, the comic is thrown for a loop and it almost lost me. But somehow I managed to hang on and understand what was happening…I think. And what I understood seemed pretty cool. Competing Hals and Carols from alternate dimensions seems like a solid idea. But jeez louise, does Morrison make it hard to understand what they’re trying to say. Quick cuts, weird art, non-sequential panels and unknown backstory add up to a nigh impenetrable wall of confusion, at least for me. I applaud anyone who is able to automatically understand everything that’s happening. But even with some really gorgeous artwork, at least in terms of visuals, if not storytelling, the weirdness is doing this comic no favors.

TL;DR: Another mostly weird issue is marginally easier to understand than the previous issue, so it’s not a total wash. But weird storytelling choices have really run this comic off the rails.

Iron Man #3

Iron Man #3
Writer: Christopher Cantwell
Artist: Cafu
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

I’m still enjoying this comic well enough to keep reading! So let’s do that!

Tony Stark has been feeling super depressed lately. He can’t even just go out and be a superhero without people hassling him. He tries to visit some kids in a playground for kicks and giggles, but the teachers cut it short because their structured learning environment doesn’t call for random appearances by superheroes. Tony eventually settles on giving money to the scientist from the first issue who had a project for capturing lightning, and he and Patsy Walker fly out to visit one of the farms — in coach. Tony complains about coach, but Patsy sets him in his place by talking about her own serious depression problems.

When Iron Man arrives at the lightning farm to inspect the equipment, the scientist reveals himself to be Korvac and blasts Tony with lightning. Patsy shows up to help and they have to fight the Controller, Unicorn and Blizzard, all of whom are now disciples of Korvac. In the end, Korvac fries the both of them.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I like a lot of the ideas that Cantwell is exploring with this comic. Tony Stark has devolved into a pretty pathetic guy, and he’s having a hard time dealing with that. It’s a good story idea to take him down. It’s a fun thing to explore for a character like him. And Cantwell is smart enough to coach Tony’s depressive episode in some realism by having Patsy point out that what he’s going through is different from what she’s going through. There are different levels of depression and I like that attention to detail. But that doesn’t save Tony from some really embarrassing scenes.

He gets no respect

The superhero stuff is fun, too. I don’t know anything about Korvac, but I’m sure this clone will be a perfectly fine villain. I’m less thrilled about the other villains being turned into one-note disciple-type characters, but it’s fun to see them nonetheless. And Patsy continues to be a fun sidekick. And the art continues to be phenomenal. Cafu was great on Valkyrie, and they’re great on Iron Man. This is a solid, enjoyable superhero comic.

TL;DR: The attention to detail with the new character development really makes this series stand out as worth reading.

Power Rangers #1

Power Rangers #1
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Francesco Mortarino
Colorist: Raul Angulo
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire

The new era of Power Ranges comics continues here!

The Omega Rangers return to Earth to consult with Zordon about the Empyreal they encountered, which destroyed an entire planet. Zordon has never heard of it, but Drakkon has, and he knows that there’s more than one. The Omega Rangers want to take him with them, but Zordon forbids it, so everybody instead takes some time out of costume to relax at Ernie’s Juice Bar. We get some more great character stuff before our heroes break for the night — and the Omega Rangers break into the Command Center to kidnap Drakkon.

It’s a cool bit of sneaking and subterfuge, until Alpha-5 catches them in the act. He’s not about to let them leave, so Drakkon knocks him out. Zordon shows up just in time to see the Omega Rangers leaving, declaring he will do everything in his power to stop them. Jason tells Zordon he’s sorry.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

For me, personally, this story falls just a bit short from being 100% convincing. Parrott really amps up the anger and the tension with the Omega Rangers betraying all of their friends and allies to kidnap Drakkon. It’s cool as hell, and a great way to kick off this series. But Parrott could have done a tiny bit more to make Drakkon worth it. At this stage, all the Omega Rangers know is that Drakkon has heard of the Empyreals and survived an encounter with them. That little bit of intelligence is worth making an enemy of Zordon and the Power Rangers? Seems just a bit extreme. But I have all the confidence in the world that Parrott has a plan for this series and it’ll all work out in the long run. I’m not as big a Drakkon fan as I guess the rest of the fandom is, but I am a Ryan Parrott’s Power Rangers comics fan!

Where else are we going to get scene like this one, where characters actually talk about the fact that Rocky was not team leader as the Red Ranger.

Do young people still have ear gauges?

That is the sweet, sweet, behind-the-scenes fun I’ve come to love and expect from BOOM!’s Power Rangers comics. I love when they take a critical eye and examine some of the real, human issues behind being Power Rangers, the sorts of things the kiddie show never came close to addressing. Does Rocky feel like he’s letting Jason down by not being team leader, even though he’s the Red Ranger? That’s a fascinating idea to explore! And the scene where they talk it out is great. The whole issue works on that level, because we get a lot of scenes of the Rangers interacting as people. And we get some awesome scenes as the Omega Rangers continue to cut themselves off from their friends and allies. Like I mentioned above, it’s very reckless, and I hope Parrott has plans to explore that angle.

Also, I will be very annoyed if Drakkon becomes the long-desired Omega Pink.

TL;DR: BOOM! is two-for-two on this Power Rangers comic relaunch! The Omega Rangers easily and effortlessly establish themselves as their own thing, while still delivering the quality, character-based comics we love!

Marauders #15

Marauders #15
Writers: Gerry Duggan and Benjamin Percy
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

Here we go! Another three issues of X of Swords to get through this week.

So Wolverine doesn’t kill Saturnyne because she gives him a vision of Earth being conquered before he can go through with it. He sits back down and Cypher snags some of his appetizer, but it was poisoned by War. As Cypher is dying, the White Sword (one of Arakko’s warriors) heals him because he will not be privy to such a coward’s move. The next course is scarab beetle, and Death gets so annoyed that he removes his helmet and kills the waiter with a glance. The next course is unicorn, Wolverine says it’s good. Then Cable and Magik have some fun with Isca, playing some parlor games to see if she can lose — she can’t.

Saturnyne then draws cards for the first fight: Betsy vs. Isca.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

This issue is largely a continuation of the last chapter. Everybody sits around at dinner and has a couple fun character moments. I can enjoy that. I find myself torn about X of Swords. On the one hand, I’m enjoying some of the individual issues. But on the other hand, I really don’t like the bigger picture. These are talented writers and artists, so I can enjoy the small stuff. I can enjoy it when White Sword reveals himself to be such a total dude that he’ll heal Cypher rather than suffer the shame of being party to poison at a parley. I can enjoy it when Cypher and Magik have fun with Isca’s “can’t lose” mutant power. But in the bigger picture, all of this is meaningless. The writing team has failed to get me to care about any of these Arakko characters or this upcoming tournament. I just want to get it over with so we can get back to the stuff I actually care about with Dawn of X and Krakoa.

TL;DR: Another fun enough issue filled with cute character moments that still fails to sell me on the Big Event as a whole.

Excalibur #14

Excalibur #14
Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Phil Noto
Letterer: VC’s Ariana Maher

And here we go again…

The first fight is Betsy vs. Isca and it barely starts before Isca shatters both Betsy and her sword to pieces.

The next fight is Cypher vs. Bei the Blood Moon, with the two of them dragged off by servants. Cypher is intrigued when he can’t understand Bei’s language. It’s something to do with her power, the Doom Note, which can level mountains. Then it turns out his duel isn’t a battle at all, but a wedding. Cypher is married to Bei the Blood Moon. Then the citadel is attacked by Jubilee and her dragon son, Shogo. Betsy had been in contact with her. Saturnyne bewitches Shogo and Storm rescues Jubilee.

Then when Saturnyne sees that both Cypher and Bei are pleased with their union, she awards both sides a point.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

I can’t decide if I hate this or love this. I’m leaning towards hate. On the one hand, a romantic wedding is a fun thing. Who doesn’t love a wedding? On the other hand, what the hell is going on?! How does a sword fight become a random wedding and everybody just goes along with it?! What the hell is supposed to be happening in this story? Are there no ground rules? Is Saturnyne allowed to just make them up as she goes along? Is this really what this story is going to do for Cypher, give him some bland, meaningless wife? And then Jubilee attacks for no reason. And Saturnyne wants her dragon son. And Betsy is defeated, though obviously she’s not permanently dead, so there goes that tension.

Apocalypse likes a good wedding

Still, on its own, it’s a pleasant comic with some great Phil Noto art. And part of me does like the idea that these swordfights can instead be weddings, even as it annoys me. But that can’t save X of Swords. I doubt anything can at this point. I really, really don’t like this event, even if individual issues can be pleasant to read.

TL;DR: The sword fights commence and they can’t even get that part right. This is a pleasant issue to read on its own, but it really throws X of Swords for a weird loop.

Wolverine #7

Wolverine #7
Writers: Benjamin Percy and Gerry Duggan
Artist: Joshua Cassara
Colorist: GURU-eFX
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

Two issues down, one to go.

Magik shows up for her fight against Pogg Ur-Pogg and then Saturnyne shows up to reveal its an arm wrestling match. Because as we saw in the previous chapter, there are no ground rules and anything goes. Pogg wins immediately because his arm is the size of a tree trunk.

The next fight is Wolverine vs. Summoner. They do battle in Blightspoke, a graveyard of collapsed worlds. So their fight stretches over a bunch of different dead realities through a montage. It’s beautiful. Wolverine then kills Summoner. But Saturnyne says it was a fight to the death and Summoner was the one who fought to the death…so the point goes to Arakko. This is stupid.

The next fight is Wolverine vs. Storm for some inexplicable reason and it’s going to be a drinking contest. Not sure who wins, but Krakoa gets the point, and Mad Jim Jaspers meets Death in a dark alley and collects a glowing green scarab. Sigh. Wolverine and Storm get drunk and are about to kiss, but Wolverine is teleported to the next fight between Solem and War. Solem calls on the payment Wolverine owes him and Wolverine must fight War, the winner being the first to server an appendage. Everybody’s angry and Wolverine manages to cut off War’s hand…but the point goes to Solem.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

OK, so, with this issue, I think I’m just going to settle into a mild dislike of X of Swords. The individual issues are at least fun and enjoyable — to an extent. Magik is a fun character. Wolverine and Storm getting wasted is fun (even if I don’t like them as a romantic couple). And the idea of a drunk Wolverine getting pulled into a different fight, forced to scramble against both an angry War and an angry Saturnyne, is also fun. And like I said earlier, the artwork on the Wolverine vs. Summoner fight is as beautiful as comic book art can get.

Behold the beauty of Joshua Cassara and GURU-eFX

But the event as a whole is dumb as hell and annoys the heck out of me. Remember when we spent like 10 comics so everybody could go collect their sword? Well apparently that was unnecessary because nobody is actually having a sword fight! These battles can be weddings or drinking contests or arm wrestling matches at the drop of a hat, seemingly at Saturnyne’s whim. So is this whole thing going to be revealed as a dream or something Saturnyne is having? Maybe it’s because I don’t give a crap about Saturnyne. Never have. Never will. I’m a longtime X-Men fan, sure, but it’s asking a lot for me to care about 1980s-era Excalibur comics.

I refuse to believe that Dawn of X has been building to all this ridiculousness.

TL;DR: Once again, another issue of X of Swords is pleasant enough to read — and this issue has some particularly amazing artwork — but the event as a whole is a chaotic mess.

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 14, 2020, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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