Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 1/23/21

Thankfully, I’ve got a much smaller pile of comics to read and review this week…mainly because I just skipped a bunch of Future State stuff. It’s already wearing thin, but there’s still The Next Batman to look forward to. And Power Rangers! And the apparent final issue of Legion of Super-Heroes!

Comic Book of the Week goes to the first issue of Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon. I wasn’t expecting a new Iron Fist series, but it’s here and it’s pretty fun.

Take that, zombie horseman warrior!

Meanwhile, have you watched Ted Lasso on Apple+? I threw it on as a whim and fell in love with the first episode! Such a fun program! I highly recommend it.

Comic Reviews: Future State: The Next Batman #2, Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon #1, Legion of Super-Heroes #12 and Power Rangers #3.

The Next Batman #2

Future State: The Next Batman #2
Writer: John Ridley
Artist: Laura Braga, with Nick Derington
Colorist: Arif Prianto
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

Strange, the Next Batman story has a new art team for some reason. If this is one of the key Future State stories, why change it up?

Also, I didn’t read the back-up stories for this one. There’s a lot of Future State content and not all of it’s good. For the sake of my patience, I’m really only interested in The Next Batman.

Speaking of whom, Next Batman investigates a murder on the streets of Gotham, a man named Jershefsky was beaten by two people wearing special masks to hide from facial recognition cameras. Magistrate foot soldiers arrive and Next Batman has to fight his way through them before fleeing, and he gets shot in his side for his troubles. Next Batman escapes on his motorcycle and calls in his man-in-the-chair, Vol, to start tracking the two masked thugs. Next Batman confronts them and discovers they’re an ordinary husband and wife. They say that Jershefsky was an online predator who seduced and killed their young daughter, and they were getting revenge. Next Batman grapples with the complexity of it all when the three of them are ambushed by the Magistrate goons.

Meanwhile, Jace Fox’s mom argues with the mayor over the legalities of the city’s deal with the Magistrate, and we check in on Detective Chubb again, who is working the Jershefsky homicide. We also learn that Magristrate is focused solely on masks and don’t have anything to do with homicide investigations.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

It’s a damn shame The Next Batman is already switching art teams. The art is fine this issue, but it’s more classic superhero than gritty noir-esque realism from the first issue. That was a disappointing change. I guess I just want The Next Batman to standout as something worthwhile and noteworthy. And if it’s just Batman all over again, which it largely seems to be, then why do it at all? Two issues in and there’s nothing very unique or original about Jace Fox as the Dark Knight. He wears a traditional Batman costume. He’s got traditional Batman skills, weapons and gear. And he’s got a man-in-the-chair (who we don’t meet). There’s just nothing new or exciting about The Next Batman.

Run, Batman! Run!

Thankfully, a basic Batman story is still an enjoyable read. Ridley does a damn fine job telling a straight forward and entertaining Batman tale. He’s got detective work, he’s got fights, he’s got moral conundrums, because fighting crime is a complicated business. And the art works as regular comic book art. So all in all, The Next Batman is a perfectly normal, perfectly fine, rather enjoyable Batman comic. It’s just not very “next”.

TL;DR: The Next Batman is good and enjoyable Batman comics, but I don’t think it’s doing anything particularly interesting with the new protagonist or the Future State situation.

Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon #1

Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon #1
Writer: Larry Hama
Artist: David Wachter
Colorist: Neeraj Menon
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham

And so, once again, I find myself reading a new Iron Fist comic in the hopes that it will be as good as the Fraction/Brubaker Immortal Iron Fist series. It’s OK so far.

Nowadays, Danny Rand has a young female ward, Pei, a pet dragon and a little monk assistant named Fooh. Food has built a portal to the other cities of Heaven, and Danny stumbles upon an attack by zombie warriors. Bad guys are assaulting the cities and killing their dragons, and Danny is too late to stop Taskmaster from killing the dragon in the Under City and taking its heart. Danny rushes back to protect his dragon, and comes upon Lady Bullseye attacking his penthouse — with Pei and her babysitter, Luke Cage, fighting back. After repelling the attack, they are visited by Quan Yin, the Mother of Mercy, who tells them that Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter is dead and another dragon has been killed. The fight is on!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Let me get some quick nitpicks out of the way. 1.) I don’t remember if the Seven Cities of Heaven have always all had dragons or if it’s a fresh retcon, but should a plain jane villain like Taskmaster really be able to travel to the cities and kill a dragon? Although I suppose the challenge of killing a dragon was that Danny and the other Iron Fists had to do it with their bare hands. 2.) I’m sure Pei and Fooh were introduced in other recent Iron Fist comics, but their existence is pretty startling for a newbie like me, especially since neither one brings much originality to the table. 3.) This may be my own ignorance about the world, but do people really ask their married adult friends to leave their families for a night to come over and babysit? If know it’s needed for the story, but wouldn’t it make more sense to bring Pei over to Luke’s place? Especially since she could then play with Danielle?

I’m sure Danielle enjoys hide and seek

Alright, enough nitpicks, because this is a fun, solid story that does a perfect job setting up the status quo and kicking off the story. The characters are all well defined, especially Iron Fist himself. And it’s a great use of the Seven Cities of Heaven concept, building on what came before to tell a new story. And it feels like a big story, so that’s a plus. The action is good, the dialogue is strong, and I like the idea of having a bunch of familiar villains as the adversaries. It just works. Everything in this issue works for kicking off an action-packed new Iron Fist story. Just ignore my nitpicks.

TL;DR: Everything works well and comes together nicely for the start of a new Iron Fist story.

Legion of Super-Heroes #12

Legion of Super-Heroes #12
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Ryan Sook
Inkers: Sook and Wade Von Grawbadger
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Dave Sharpe

So apparently I missed issue #11 back in November. Weird. I’m all caught up now…just in time for this to be the final issue? I’m not entirely sure what happens to Legion next, with all this Future State and Infinite Frontier stuff. Bendis is moving over to Justice League. And…I guess this is it?

So anyway, Rogal Zaar has returned and laid waste to New Krypton and the Legion. Jon Kent fights him, while Saturn Girl gathers up the fallen Legionnaires to fight back. Zaar is joined by Mordru and his dark forces. It’s a big ol’ slobberknocker, with everybody getting some moments to shine, including triumphant returns for Mon-El and Doctor Fate. Matter-Eater-Land still doesn’t get anything cool to do, though. Anyway, the good guys win, the bad guys are banished and the Legion help with repairs.

In the aftermath, Brainiac 5 reveals to Gold Lantern that his ring and the Elders of Oa are not what/who they appear. But otherwise, everybody is partying and hooking up.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

First of all, Rogal Zaar sucks, and I resent the fact that he was brought into this wonderful comic. Granted, I did not read any of the Rogal Zaar comics, because the very idea of him annoyed me too much to keep reading. He hadn’t been set up at all in this series and he’s just plain dumb. There, now that that is out of the way, this issue was very enjoyable. It is a big mess, for one thing. There’s just so much action and so many characters that one can’t help but get a bit lost here and there. But strong character work and solid scenes make it a winner in the end.

Beware their might

And therein lies the entirety of Brian Michael Bendis’ Legion of Super-Heroes: it can be a bit messy and a bit overstuffed, but the strong character work carries it through to the end. That’s what I’m going to miss most about this series, the characters. They were all pretty fun, and they all had great designs, and I feel like this comic barely scratched the surface of what it could have been. At least Legion of Super-Heroes got to go out with a big, explosive, party of a final issue.

TL;DR: It’s big, it’s messy and it’s a little too much at times, but overall, this makes for a nice finale to this sadly short-lived series.

Power Rangers #3

Power Rangers #3
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Francesco Mortarino
Colorist: Raul Angulo
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire

Power Rangers continues to be the lesser of the two comics for some reason…

The Omega Rangers continue to fight the space vampires until Xi comes up with a plan to defeat them. The Rangers head out into space and Jason calls on his Zord to draw all of the space vampires to him — which leaves their leader open to an attack by Xi…except it’s Drakkon who uses this ambush to stab the leader in the back. Drakkon had been using his collar to transmit his location and conversation with the leader, and Xi used that to zero in on them. Drakkon insists he was purposefully helping the team, but they only maybe believe them. They get the ship up and running again and reach their destination — some type of destroyed Angel Grove, which broken Dragon and White Tigerzords, and a sign that reads, “Home of Lord Drakkon”.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

Power Rangers is still fun to read, but man, it is flagging behind Mighty Morphin. That series is full of drama and twists and wonderful lore additions! Meanwhile, Power Rangers — which, again, doesn’t feature the Power Rangers — has the team fighting space vampires. I’m a little disappointed, if I’m being honest. The action is still good, and the twists with Xi and Drakkon were enjoyable. But…really? Just some random space vampires? I expect more from this comic. I’d like to see more drama and development between the three Omega Rangers. It’s nice that Zack is getting along with the animal sidekick…but how are he and Trini? How are Trini and Jason? Is their romance still a thing? And I know Kyra made for a great villain, but she was a really fun addition to the team, and Parrott hasn’t found a character to fill that hole yet. I know he loves the heck out of Drakkon, but Power Rangers needs more to really shine.

TL;DR: Space vampires are all well and good, and the issue is enjoyable to read, but Power Rangers is not providing much in the way of the rich content I’ve come to expect from the franchise.

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 January 23, 2021, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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