Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 12/12/20

Holy cow, what a week! Did you see all that Marvel and Star Wars news coming out of Disney?! An Ahsoka Tano TV show? Trailers for The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and Loki?! Armor Wars, Ironheart, She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel footage; wowzers! It’s gonna be a fun couple of years!

And comics are good too. Some quality issues this week. Comic Book of the Week goes to Mighty Morphin #2 because I am a sucker for this new Green Ranger.

He definitely knows how to make an entrance

Meanwhile, I am enjoying Cyberpunk 2077. I’m playing it on a Playstation 4 Slim that I bought a couple of years ago. I keep hearing that people are having a lot of problems on the PS4, but I caught some tips and tricks early about adjusting the settings, and my game is running fine a few hours in. Perhaps it looks better on a next-gen console, but since I’ll never see that comparison directly, I’m perfectly content with how it looks now. So yeah, fun times for me.

Comic Reviews: Juggernaut #4, Marauders #15, Mighty Morphin #2, Spider-Man #5 and SWORD #1.


Juggernaut #4

Juggernaut #4
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artist: Ron Garney
Colorist: Matt Milla
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino

I am no longer sure what this was all about.

After the super-villain attack last issue, Juggernaut and Damage Control go after Arnim Zola in his secret base. Juggernaut is captured by Zola’s henchman, Primus, so D-Cel goes in to save him…and she also gets captured. Zola begins a test to see if she’s a mutant, which pisses off the Juggernaut. We see via flashback that he used his new armor to get the shards of the Gem of Cyttorak, but they are so damaged that he is no longer Cyttorak’s slave…a fact he tells the big cheese himself. Juggernaut defeats Primus and Zola and frees D-Cel, but Zola reveals he works for the Dungeon, a for-profit prison for super-villains that wants to get their hands on a mutant.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

As an ongoing series, I might give a little more leeway to this comic. But as a mini-series that ends with the next issue, I think Juggernaut has lost what made it special at the start. In issue #1, this seemed like a comic about a grounded Cain Marko trying to make amends for all the bad things he’s done. By issue #4, it has changed into a standard super-fisticuffs comic, and is therefore less interesting. Cain simply doesn’t get the character development he got in the first two issues. Likewise, D-Cel, isn’t being explored to any real degree anymore. Nicieza took two issues to establish these characters and now he’s just using them in a random comic adventure against Arnim Zola.

How does Damage Control justify bringing this child along on their mission?

I’m disappointed. I really, really liked the first two issues and the direction they seemed to be taking the Juggernaut. I thought it would be a fun exploration. But now Damage Control is operating like SHIELD Jr., and Juggernaut just goes in and smashes random bad guys plucked from the bowels of the Marvel Character Encyclopedia. And D-Cel is little more than his chattering sidekick, using that livestreaming idea as just a reason for why she gets to narrate each issue. None of this is actively being explored anymore. This comic feels like it’s just going through the motions as we head into the final issue. I hope Nicieza has a plan to really stick the landing.

TL;DR: Any real character or uniqueness this comic had at the beginning is gone. Now it’s just the characters going through the superhero comic motions.


Marauders #16

Marauders #15
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Sefano Caselli
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

Aside from the flagship X-Men comic, Marauders is the one Dawn of X series I have actually stuck with. I don’t have any particular reason why. Iceman, maybe?

Emma and Kate confront Sebastian Shaw and they basically toy with him for the entire issue, after taking away his powers. He gets beaten up, maimed and has his liquor collection smashed. Lockheed takes an eye. Then they poison him with some of the Verendi poison that was part of the plan in Madripoor. If the poison kills him, they will put him at the bottom of the resurrection list. If he survives, he’ll be a mangled body and he’ll be their puppet. Shaw survives and they take him to the Quiet Council meeting in the morning. Most everybody is curious what the hell has happened to him, but they put it to a vote and Shaw agrees with Kate, Emma and Storm that the rest of the Council need not know.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

There wasn’t much to this issue, even if seeing Sebastian Shaw get his comeuppance is fun. The problem is that said comeuppance is not very clever. Emma and Kate just stroll into his lair, deactivate his powers and then bully him. They smack him around and threaten his liquor collection. It’s just not very…engaging. It’s not like Sebastian Shaw is well known for his extensive liquor collection. And it’s not like beating him up is a particularly compelling response to murdering Kate. Turning him into their puppet on the Quiet Council? Maybe. But he’s only their puppet until he’s able to come up with his own escape, which he’s free to do since he still has his mental faculties and likely criminal ties. So I guess I would have liked something more clever.

TL;DR: We finally get the scene we’ve been waiting for, but it’s a little too downplayed for my tastes. I would have liked something more clever.


Mighty Morphin #2

Mighty Morphin #2
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Marco Renna
Colorist: Walter Baiamonte, with assist from Katia Ranalli
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire

Nope, we still don’t learn who the new Green Ranger is…

We open with another flashback to Eltar over 10,000 years ago, wherein Zophram is elevated to Supreme Guardian by the Council of Elders. Zophram wants to take their power out into the universe to protect other planets from bad guys. The elders are hesitant, but go along with his idea.

In the present day, we pick up after the Omega Rangers have kidnapped Drakkon. Zordon is pissed and the Power Rangers are split down the middle over which side to take. Then they all go to a concert and are attacked by Lord Zedd’s new Chaos Putty. This Putty is very tough, and even manages to knock out the new Green Ranger when he shows up. Then Zedd reveals that everyone else at this big, outdoor concert is a sleeper Putty!

Meanwhile, Skull thinks his girlfriend is cheating on him, but we learned last issue that she’s an alien from Eltar, so something else is up with her. Skull, Bulk and Candice are also all at this concert, but none of them turn into Chaos Putties.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

What surprised me the most is how quickly this issue came to an end. I reached the last page and gasped that it was suddenly over. This is an otherwise quality issue that keeps the story moving along nicely, but the action cuts out just as its ramping up. Such is the nature of monthly comics, I suppose. Still, we get a lot of nice character work, as everyone is split about whether or not to be mad at the Omega Rangers — which also means the two comics might be very closely entwined in terms of story. Though the Bulk and Skull drama stretches out a bit too long when we, the reader, already know that Candice is not cheating on Skull. We don’t get any interesting developments with her story this issue.

Side-splitting

The opening flashback is solid, and I’m very excited to learn more about Zordon’s past. The Green Ranger remains cool, and the artwork around him is still so much fun. I also like the little tidbits throughout the issue wherein we know that Billy is keeping all the secrets about the Green Ranger. That’s fun. And the Chaos Putties are a fine addition to the monster army. Now just hurry up and get us back to the action!

TL;DR: Another perfectly enjoyable issue of Mighty Morphin ends just as the action begins to ramp up. Probably read better with the story as a whole.


Spider-Man #5

Spider-Man #5
Writers: Henry Abrams and JJ Abrams
Artist: Sara Pichelli
Inking assist: Elisabetta D’Amico
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Here we go! I’m willing to see this thing through to the end. Though I would also like to note, it has been nearly one year since issue #3 came out. So yeah…not great.

So OK, let’s see what we’ve got here. Cadaverous has kidnapped Benny and extracted some of his blood, creating a magical healing serum. Benny realizes the serum can be used to heal his father, then Cadaverous is attacked by one of his robo-drones, who then helps Benny escape. They’re on a ship and Iron Man swoops in to save them. The fight on the bridge is still going on, with Ironheart and Faye fighting Minka the giant spider monster. Iron Man, Benny and the robo-drone show up and get smacked around, and we get a scene where Minka yells at Benny to give her the serum, but Benny yells back that he dropped it when she smacked him.

The robo-drone finds the serum and is about to give it to Peter Parker, but then she reveals that she’s Mary Jane. So Peter quickly gives her the serum instead, completely restoring Mary Jane Watson, and giving her spider-powers. Minka then kills Cadaverous, who then retaliates with his robo-drones to fight her. The Parker family is briefly reunited before Peter shoves his wife and son into the water to avoid the bridge blowing up.

Later, after Peter’s funeral, Tony leaves Benny and MJ their own spider-suits.

Comic Rating: 4/10 – Pretty Bad.

I don’t really have anything more to say about this embarrassment of a comic book. This issue was mildly better than the previous issue because I suppose the action flows. But it’s all meaningless action. Benny Parker is not a character. He has zero depth and zero exploration. He’s a non-entity, and in no way deserves this much-lauded mini-series about him. That this issue ends by killing Peter Parker and giving Benny and Mary Jane new spider-suits (which we don’t actually get to see) is ridiculous. What is achieved by killing Peter Parker? You can’t even give us a happy ending? Is his death supposed to mean something? The return of Mary Jane is crazy enough, as she comes out of nowhere and then is magically transformed from a sinewy robot drone into a fully flesh and blood, beautiful woman. Ridiculous. And to tease ongoing adventures between mother and son? Sorry, but there are a ton of other, better comics with that exact same premise.

Then the villains fall apart, the girlfriend never amounts to anything, and neither do the random insertion of Tony Stark and Riri Williams. I suppose everything at least wraps up, but that is the least this comic can do at this point.

TL;DR: Nothing about this comic book is good, except maybe the art.


SWORD #1

SWORD #1
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Ariana Maher

As always, I’m happy to try out each new X-Men comic as they come along. But I will not be putting periods after each letter in the title.

Magneto arrives at the Peak, the space station for the new mutant-operated SWORD. Commander Abigail Brand gives him a tour of the facility, and we pop in on a bunch of mutants and their various roles in the facility. The comic opens with a nice flow chart of said mutants and their roles, so that’s helpful. It’s all kind of dry, but we get some solid character beats here and there, like Magneto dismissing Fabian Cortez, while also exalting Peepers. Or the fact that Krakoa’s hatred of the Scarlet Witch puts them a bit at odds with her son, the new emperor of the Kree/Skrull alliance.

All of this builds to some big, fancy space thing wherein we learn why these specific mutants were chosen for these specific roles. Using a team of teleporters working together, they’re able to…I guess…pierce the very fabric of space and time? They pierce all the way into the very fires of creation to grab some fancy tiny pyramid. They grab it and bring it back to the Peak, and everybody is pleased at how this thing is the future.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I liked this issue well enough, though it may largely be because of the gorgeous artwork. Shiti has been killing it on X-Men comics for years at this point. Everybody looks so good, the scenery is amazing and the facial expressions are choice. Magneto gets some especially good looks this issue. This comic does a fine job setting up everybody’s roles in the new series, though like I said, that diagram at the front of the comic accomplishes pretty much the same thing. And to be honest…I’m not entirely sure I understand the explanations given.

I love this diagram, but why do they not have the artists draw unique character portraits for the little squares? All of these are headshots taken from within the issue. Look at how Random and Risque lean!

Like…what is the point of this mutant-based SWORD again? There is a lot of material that tries to explain it, but the message really just boils down to “the future” in some vague ways. There’s even a page that explains, piece by piece, how The Six come together to do what they need to do, and I’m still not sure. The pages where they go into the “fires of creation” and retrieve an object are really existential, and then they don’t even end the issue by telling us what they grabbed. It’s fine, but I could have used a stronger explanation for why SWORD exists in universe.

On the outset, this just feels like another random X-Team with various mutants plucked from the Marvel Mutant Handbook to fill roles. And none of those mutants are any of my personal favorites, yet again! It’s like Marvel put together a list of my favorite mutants and made sure none of their writers used any of those characters in their random roster comics.

TL;DR: The issue feels big, looks big and seems to accomplish big things, but it’s missing that spark that would have really explained what we’re all doing here.


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!

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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 December 12, 2020, in Comics, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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