Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 1/16/21

We’ve got another giant pile of comic book reviews this week because I’m still dipping my toes into DC’s Future State. Some of the comics are good…most of the stories are pretty bland, if I’m being honest. But hey! New comics! Including plenty from Marvel.

Comic Book of the Week goes to Mighty Morphin #3 as it continues to be such a damn fine comic book! The drama just doesn’t stop!

Ranger on Ranger violence

Meanwhile, how about those first two episodes of WandaVision? They were pretty great! I wish I had the patience to wait for the entire show to drop, because those two episodes were clearly the tip of an iceberg, but I’m sure I’ll be fine waiting for each new episode week-to-week. It’s old-fashioned!

Comic Reviews: Marauders #17, Mighty Morphin #3, S.W.O.R.D. #2, The Union #2, Future State: Dark Detective #1, Future State: Green Lantern #1, Future State: Justice League #1 and Future State: Robin Eternal #1.


Marauders #17

Marauders #17
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Matteo Lolli
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

I still don’t have any real reason why I’m sticking with Marauders these days…but at least this issue features a new Crucible!

There are various storylines to juggle here. Emma determines that Shinobi Shaw was not involved in his father’s evil plans. Emma sets up a new base on the island of Mykines, where the Hellfire Gala will be held. Kate goes to Madripoor and gives some money to the people who nursed Lockheed back to life. When they tell her that the Hellfire Brats are trying to buy up all of Lowtown, Kate has Emma make some direct purchases of land, then Kate delivers an invitation to the Gala to the Brats.

The best storyline sees Callisto ask Storm to serve as her opponent in the Crucible, since Apocalypse is no longer around to do it. Storm refuses…but later shows up and does her duty to help Callisto. She is reborn with her powers back, and Storm plans to leave Krakoa.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

The Crucible is probably my favorite part of Dawn of X and I wish they’d do more with it. Heck, this is only the second Crucible we’ve seen, and they already can’t use Apocalypse for it anymore. Weird. Anyway, that storyline is really great, and I wish it had more of a focus. I wish it had more drama behind it. But the art is a little too bland, and there are too many other stories going on. But it’s still a fun moment, as Storm fulfills whatever bond she has with Callisto to make this good thing happen. Beyond that, the rest of the storylines aren’t very exciting. Business is conducted, Kate Pryde walks around like she owns the place and we move towards this Hellfire Gala.

When being a mutant is an art

Two things of note: we spend a bit more time with Saucier, a mutant chef who I immediately love. And I should be careful what I wish for. I want more comics exploring the day-to-day operations of Krakoa…and that’s pretty much exactly this. Maybe the best can’t spin boring business discussions into comic book gold…

TL;DR: A pretty straight forward and low key issue of Marauders at least has a great Crucible scene.


Mighty Morphin #3

Mighty Morphin #3
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Marco Renna
Colorist: Walter Baiamonte, with assist by Katia Ranalli
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire

I will praise this comic all the live long day! Even after all these years, and all these stories, the Power Rangers comics from BOOM! Studios are still so damn good!

We open with another flashback on the planet Bivix, an innocent world with no knowledge of the outside universe. This is Zordon’s first “supervision”, wherein Eltar aliens pose as natives to explore the world, then reveal themselves and start helping the civilization adapt. Zordon is spooked by the whole thing and talks with his partner, Zartus, who has been at this for a while. Zordon explains that he comes from a family of farmers, and when his tour of duty is up, he plans to return to that life.

In the present day, the Power Rangers take on Zedd’s new Chaos Putty army. Adam is grabbed by Putty Prime and brainwashed into fighting the Rangers. Billy helps up the Green Ranger and gives him some advice to pass along to Grace — and Aisha sees it happen! The Rangers knock out Adam and retreat to the Command Center, while Zedd’s putty army invade Angel Grove, catching Bulk, Skull and Candace up in their troubles!

At the Command Center, Alpha-5 reveals that he was able to trace the Green Ranger’s teleportation signature back to Promethea. Zordon confronts Grace Sterling, but agrees to put their talks on hold until after the threat is dealt with. And Aisha confronts Billy about his knowledge of the Green Ranger, with Billy admitting to pretty much everything and asking her to let him talk to Zordon on his own terms. Then Zedd makes Putty Prime grow, so the Rangers call their Zords and leap into action!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

Once again, this issue was everything I love about these Power Rangers comics. It’s almost embarrassing how easy Parrott makes this look! Such a wonderful mix of drama, character growth, action, subplots and even flashbacks! Let’s start there, because this was such a fun flashback! We’re seeing Zordon at the very start of his career, when he was a wide-eyed innocent, hoping to return to a life of peace. I’m fascinated to see what comes next! This feels like all those extra Animorphs Chronicles books from back in the day, when we saw the histories of the various alien side characters.

Then with the Power Rangers themselves, Parrott amps up everything!

Comedy!

I especially loved the drama between Billy and Aisha. She’s the perfect character to find out his connection to the Green Ranger, because she’s been the most critical of her new job and her place in it. I felt their scene together was perfect, as Billy toes what little line he has left. We got some great dramatic and action scenes from pretty much everybody this issue, including another quick face off between Zordon and Grace Sterling. Parrott and his art team were on fire this issue! Just like every issue!

My only complaint is the ending. After all those great scenes of character drama, we quickly jump into Zedd making the monster grow and the Rangers calling their Zords. Such are the Power Rangers, I suppose, but I’m here for the deep, exciting character drama!

Also, quick note, does this mean Candace being an Eltar is on a supervision of Earth? The people of Earth aren’t part of the larger universe, despite the constant monster attacks.

TL;DR: So many great character moments, so many great subplots, so many great revelations and twists; this comic is pure fire.


SWORD #2

S.W.O.R.D. #2
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Ariana Maher

Despite the King in Black crossover, I very much enjoyed this sharply written issue. I hope this is a sign of great things for SWORD once the crossover is over.

The SWORD team join the King in Black by sending some squads down to help out on Krakoa. Frenzy, Cortez and Paibok the Skrull head down to join the fight against one of the symbiote dragons, with Cortez proving to be very useful in turning Sunfire into a new sun. Mentallo is also revealed to be working with SWORD, and Agent Brand sends him on a secret mission to scoop up The Five and bring them to safety. Then we find out that Knull has possessed Cable and he comes through a portal into Krakoa.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

That was a short synopsis, but only because I kept to the immediate story beats. This issue is jam-packed with dialogue and fun character moments. This is a talkie comic, and I rather enjoyed it. From getting to know Mentallo a lot more, and his place in this crew, to Fabian Cortez’s various machinations, to Agent Brand as she commands all these different ops, to even a little scene where the Five debate whether or not to abandon their duties to help fight Knull. This issue is a great mix of character use and forward momentum.

Good telepaths are hard to find

That’s exactly what I’d like to see in a new X-Men comic. There are so many, they need ways to be unique. SWORD makes a strong statement in that regard in this second issue, really leaning into the infrastructure of the organization, and utilizing some very fun and unique characters. A comic where Mentallo joins the X-Men — to a degree — is a fun issue. He’s always been a mutant, but never in the X-Men’s world. He’s…a Daredevil villain? Right? But I love the idea that this classic street level comic book bad guy jumps at the chance to cling to the Krakoa/resurrection gold ring. It’s fun! And the rest of the characters are great too. I liked Fabian Cortez proving his worth in a quick Sunfire team up.

TL;DR: Al Ewing clearly has ideas for making his X-Men comic stand out, and he delivers well on those ideas in this second issue.


The Union #2

The Union #2
Writer: Paul Grist
Artist: Andrea Di Vito
Inker: Le Beau Underwood
Colorist: Nolan Woodard
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham

I’m torn on this little comic. It’s still fun and well-written…I just wish it went a little bit further.

In a quick flashback, we learn that The Choir used to be a bad guy named Skreem, until she was personally recruited by Britannia. In the present day, Britannia is dead, having been killed while battling one of Knull’s symbiote dragons. The Union, alongside Union Jack, fight some symbiote-posed soldiers, but lose the battle — and lose The Choir, who gets possessed. The team regroups and heads down the coast to where the symbiotes are attacking a populated town. Union Jack tries to reason with The Choir while some of the suits rig up a power blast that does manage to knock out all the symbiotes.

Afterwards, The Choir, Kelpie and Snakes all resign, because they were only doing this for Britannia. Once they’re gone, the suits tell Union Jack he has to take over the team and get them back, or he’ll be locked up in the Tower of London…which seems harsh.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

This is a fine comic, I’m just not sure what it’s trying to do or be. The writing is strong, the characters are mostly interesting, and the superhero action is great. But…what’s the point? Is this comic meant to just show that the King in Black is effecting other countries as well? Since when is that a priority? Is this comic meant to really be a new ongoing series? If that’s the case, it’s not doing a very good job of introducing everybody. The actual superheroes in The Union are supporting characters. Britannia is dead and the comic actually focuses more on Union Jack and the various government suits who work behind the scenes. I can’t even really tell if the comic is setting up some surprise about Britannia. Her recruitment of Skreem is played a bit mysteriously, and everybody keeps referring to her as Britain’s greatest, most beloved hero, who has apparently been around for a long time…when we clearly know that’s not the case. But if that’s a mystery…why make it a mystery? Why not just make a straight forward new team comic? I know comics like to have twists…but The Union would be a hard sell in any comic book market. I think something more straight forward would be a lot more fun to read than something bathing in mysteries to try to seem cool.

TL;DR: This is a fun little comic with a potentially interesting cast…but I can’t figure out why this comic exists or what it’s trying to do in a bigger picture sense. I actually want to read a comic about this makeshift team, but that’s not exactly what The Union is about.


Dark Detective #1

Future State Dark Detective #1
Writers: Mariko Tamaki and Matthew Rosenberg
Artists: Dan Mora and Carmine Di Giandomenico
Colorists: Jordie Bellaire and Antonio Fabela
Letterers: Aditya Bidikar and Andworld Design

Despite there being a Next Batman, it seems that Bruce Wayne gets a role in Future State as well.

In the Future State, both Batman and Bruce Wayne have been killed…but not really. Bruce is still alive, having used the last of the Wayne Fortune for an underground doctor to patch him up. Now he’s aimlessly wandering around Gotham, mourning the loss of everything. When he can’t help but intervene in a mugging, Bruce gives himself away to the Magistrate goons, so he goes full Batman to make his escape. Now they’re on to him!

In the back up feature, DC continues to try to make Grifter happen. And for some reason, they’ve dragged along Luke Fox, even though he seems to be a main character in The Next Batman, which I think would rate higher on levels of importance than this random Grifter back-up.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I liked the first story much more than the second, so let’s focus on that. There’s a lot of strong writing, and some truly spectacular artwork, in the Bruce Wayne adventure. I’m a little unsure of the backstory set up, about Batman’s and then Bruce’s deaths…but that’s not too bad. Tamaki does a solid job establishing who Bruce Wayne is at this moment. He’s lost his money, he’s lost his allies, and he’s on the run…but he’s still Batman. And the issue is strong for that. I feel like a story of Bruce Wayne at the end of his rope would be grittier, and that’s conflicting with the cyberpunk world of Future State, but I’m confident the creative team can pull off something interesting.

Meanwhile, the Grifter back-up is just many pages of Grifter being a generic charming rogue. It’s probably great if you love Grifter, but I couldn’t care less and therefore don’t particularly care now.

TL;DR: This is a strong and well-crafted kick off to Bruce Wayne’s Future State story.


Future State: Green Lantern #1

Future State: Green Lantern #1
Writers: Geoffrey Thorne, Ryan Cady and Ernie Altbacker
Artists: Tom Raney, Sami Basri and Clayton Henry
Colorists: Mike Atiyeh, Hi-Fi and Marcelo Maiolo
Letterers: Andworld Designs, Dave Sharpe and Steve Wands

In this Future State comic book, the back up features are better than the main feature! What a twist!

On some far distant planet, depowered John Stewart, Salaak and G’Nort are freedom fighters working to evacuate an alien planet while a Khund invasion force lands. The bad guys keep coming, and John and his people fight tooth and nail to either load up escape ships or get the good aliens underground. But boy howdy, is it quite the fight. Also, the Khund worship someone called the “God in Red”.

In the first back up story, a powerless Jessica Cruz goes all Die Hard on a trio of Sinestro Corps members who arrive at her former GL satellite office and try to take it over. In the end, she proves she is capable of instilling fear, so one of the yellow rings inducts her into the Sinestro Corps.

In the third story, Guy Gardner gets stuck on some backwater planet when the GL power shuts down. He seizes on a holy war between the two alien species in order to set himself up as a prophet…then it takes 25 years before he’s able to get everybody to live and work together in peace and prosperity. But that peace hangs by a thread. And then Lobo shows up.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This is the first Future State comic where I actually enjoyed the back-up features, making this comic a whole package. The first story didn’t do anything for me, personally. It’s full of action and strong character work…but I just didn’t care. It’s a neat concept, with some former GLs turned into rugged space warriors, but there aren’t enough actual character-based moments to stand out. And it’s completely cut off from anything really Green Lantern-related. The Jessica Cruz story is better in that regard, as she actually gets to interact with GL iconography and take on some proper GL bad guys. The twist in the end that she’s inducted into the Sinestro Corps is the sort of twisty fun I’d like to see in Future State. Take some risks!

Why do we not have any permanent human members of the various color Corps?

The last story is just plain fun, which works perfectly for Guy Gardner. It’s a very creative story of what might actually happen if you lose your GL powers out in the middle of nowhere. The time jumps add to the humor and show some real boldness in terms of using this alternate future idea to tell a truly new story with real stakes. This is a story not afraid to embrace the temporary nature of Future State. Heck, the whole issue does that, I just liked this story the most.

TL;DR: For the first time in the Future State comics I’ve read, all of the stories in a single issue are fun, interesting and use the whole concept well.


Future State: Justice League #1

Future State: Justice League #1
Writers: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Robson Rocha
Inker: Daniel Henriques
Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letterer: Tom Napolitano

This Future State comic I definitely read on a whim, to hopefully get a nice look at this world.

The new Justice League are heroes! But the new Legion of Doom want to destroy them, and they have a secret plan…but by the next day, something has killed the Legion of Doom. The League investigates, with Jo Mullein staying behind to examine the crime scene closely. There are rules now that no League members should fraternize…but they do it anyway. Superman and Wonder Woman hang out, while Aquawoman and the Flash seem to be a couple. Then all of the Leaguers get defeated by people who appear to be the Justice League…when in reality, they’re a returned Hyperclan, who plan to pose as the League to take over the world.

There’s also a Justice League Dark back-up story, but I didn’t read it.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Everything about this comic was well-produced and it’s really good…it’s just not very electrifying. Does that matter? I don’t know. The plot is interesting and the story is told well. The characters are all well-written and introduced. I’m slightly salty that the future Justice League and future Legion of Doom are just identical successors to the classic characters…but that’s such a minor nitpick. Like I said, everybody is written well, and they’re written pretty well together. We don’t do any deep dives into the individual characters, but I suppose that’s why they’ve got solo comics. And they’ve now got a pretty dangerous threat. So solid Justice League comic all around, though I don’t think it does anything special in terms of Future State as a concept.

TL;DR: Pretty standard, pretty well-written and well-drawn comic. Nothing particularly electrifying about the Future State version of the Justice League, but it’s still solid comics.


Robin Eternal #1

Future State: Robin Eternal #1
Writer: Meghan Fitzmartin
Artist: Eddy Barrows
Inker: Eber Ferreira
Colorist: Adriand Lucas
Letterer: Pat Brosseau

This is our first real taste of Tim Drake back as the one and only Robin. Is it worth a decade of waiting? Nah.

Tim Drake is still Robin, doing what he can to fight the Magistrate in Gotham City. Specifically, he fights the giant robots. Tim learns that Lazarus Resin is being shipped into Gotham, a special substance made from the Lazarus Pit that will make the robots immortal. Spoiler doesn’t want to get involved, so Tim reaches out to Darcy, one of the We Are Robin kids who works for the Magistrate. He gets info on the air transport and takes Darcy with him to invade, and they are joined by Spoiler. They fight their way into the resin shipment and are attacked by a giant robot, which kills Robin…only he’s covered in the resin, so he simply picks himself back up, ready to keep fighting.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

I like a Tim Drake as Robin comic as much as the next person, but this isn’t anything special. This isn’t the start of anything new. This isn’t some deep look into a theme or anything. This isn’t even an interesting corner of the Future State world. This is just adult Tim Drake going on a run-of-the-mill mission alongside Spoiler, fighting generic bad guys and giant robots. There’s nothing of substance to this issue. It’s written perfectly well and the art is solid, there’s just nothing really to it. There’s nothing special. Nothing to hang your hat on. I guess DC editorial just couldn’t come up with anything more interesting to do with either Tim Drake or the Robin name, which seems silly. If you’re going to have a Next Batman, why not do a Next Robin? But nope! Just some straight forward Tim Drake action.

TL;DR: There’s nothing of substance or much interest in this otherwise fine comic. Future State doesn’t do anything interesting with either Tim Drake or the Robin mantle.


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 January 16, 2021, in Batman, Comics, DC, Reviews, Robin, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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