Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 1/30/21

New week, new comics, the same slowly churning stillness of our reality! But don’t let quarantine or coronavirus get you down too much, there’s still…good comics to read! Like more Future State! And a new issue of X-Men! Have you voted for the new team member yet?

Comic Book of the Week goes to Strange Academy #7! I dropped this series for a couple of issues, but the lack of titles this week led me to get caught up, and I’m so glad I did! This issue had a lot of great moments.

Don’t look under the sheet

Meanwhile, I finished the first season of Ted Lasso and I am in love! That is a great show! Worth blowing your Apple TV free sample — though more seasons are expected. WandaVision remains great. And I’m currently playing Watch Dogs Legion. So life is pretty good for me!

Also, in case you miss it, I’ve decided to take an issue off of reviewing Strange Adventures. The issue is fine, but I don’t know what we’re going to really get until the big finale. Perhaps I’ll pick it back up there.

Comic Reviews: Future State: Dark Detective #2, Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #1, Strange Academy #7 and X-Men #17.

Future State: Dark Detective #1

Future State: Dark Detective #2
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Dan Mora
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar

Please forgive me for not bothering with the back-up features. It’s the main stories I’m interested in.

We see in flashback that Peacekeeper-01 found Bruce Wayne in an alley and attacked, chasing him into Gotham River. Bruce was shot at least once in the leg, and while he was underwater, he spotted a different corpse and used that as a distraction while he made his escape. Now he’s living in the basement apartment of a crazy old conspiracy theorist guy, staying off the radar. Bruce goes out to investigate the company supplying the Magistrate with weapons and armor, and he finds a swarm of micro-drones. Upon closer inspection when he gets home, Bruce realizes the drones are based on a Waynetech prototype that never made it to market. So the Magistrate has an entire fleet of small drones flying all around the city spying on everything. Perhaps that’s how Peacekeeper-01 knew Bruce was Batman, and perhaps his landlord isn’t so crazy after all.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This was another solid chapter in Bruce Wayne’s recovery. The whole thing does feel a bit disconnected, if I’m being honest. Like…this doesn’t really feel like Batman, at least not modern interpretations. The Batman from the modern day is a force of nature, a larger-than-life being with an unending supply of grit and determination, with the power to accomplish whatever he wants. Dark Detective feels and looks like a younger Batman. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a disconnect I wanted to note. This is still a very solid, very entertaining story of what might happen to Batman were he to lose everything.

“Batman is robots.”

Honestly, I’m a little disappointed that such a story is being told via Future State. I don’t know what’s going to happen after all of this. I think The Next Batman is sticking around? I don’t know. But this is a good story about Bruce forced to crawl his way back from the bottom. Of a resourceful and no less mighty Batman forced to scrape by with what he has on hand. And that makes for a compelling story, with interesting new supporting characters and adversaries. I just wish such a story could be told in regular continuity, without all these weird alternate Future State stories mucking up my understanding of just what is happening.

TL;DR: Future State is weird, but Dark Detective is a strong, entertaining story of what it might be like if Bruce Wayne was stripped of everything.

Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #1

Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colorist: Ivan Plascencia
Letterer: Dave Sharpe

I wasn’t sure I was going to read this issue because Future State has already worn out its welcome, but then I realized it was a bit of an epilogue to the Legion of Super-Heroes comic I enjoyed so much this past year.

Sometime after Bendis’ Legion series, Element Lad betrayed the team and somehow destroyed the galaxy. The exact details aren’t clear. But everybody hates him and each other and the team split up. This issue is about bringing various team members back together, with their fun new designs. Ultra Boy calls together Saturn Girl, Shadow Lass and Brainac 7, with Colossal Boy in tow. Triplicate Girl is now Duo Damsel, and she beats up a gathering of who I think are the Subs, and she’s joined by Blok. Bouncing Boy is fighting bad guys. There’s a bunch more. They all come together and go to rescue Lightning Lad from Element Lad.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

This was a fun, enjoyable and very artistic issue, but it suffered from the main problem of Bendis’ Legion: too many characters vying for attention. This issue is a bit frazzled, and the very very stylized artwork doesn’t help. Don’t get me wrong, I love Rossmo’s artwork in this issue. But considering we get all new designs of characters who were barely defined already, it’s a little hard to focus. The issue jumps from one scene and one group of characters to the next, just zipping around. And everybody is referencing events that happened before this, so while we’re trying to figure out what’s going on, we’re also trying to figure out what happened and how it is effecting what’s going on.

Blok is still the best

But the same things that made Bendis’ Legion so much fun in the first place are also what save this issue: everybody is pretty cool and pretty fun. When the characters do have moments, they are good moments. Like Blok reuniting with Triplicate Girl and comforting her on the loss of her triplet. Or Colossal Boy being fun. And I really do think that was Bendis’ version of the Legion of Substitute Heroes, and I am a huge fan of the Subs, so that was a fun cameo.

TL;DR: This is a snappy and fun issue that is both too full of characters and full of strong character moments.

Strange Academy #7

Strange Academy #7
Writer: Skottie Young
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

I’m sorry I gave up on Strange Academy and I am so very glad I decided to get caught back up this week. This issue is outstanding and may be the point where the other shoe drops in terms of kicking things up a notch.

So to get everybody caught up: The Hollow kidnapped Calvin, and Emily gathered her classmates to launch a rescue attempt in the swamp, but they were outnumbered and outclassed. The Hollow killed Doyle Dormammu and Emily lashed out, but absorbed too much magic in the process, putting her at death’s door. The teachers arrived in time to stop the bad guys, but the damage had been done. And that’s where we are.

Emily wakes up in the infirmary and is shocked and saddened by the death of Doyle, whose body is laying on a gurney nearby. Doyle very clearly had a crush on Emily, and she was in the process of acknowledging it when they were ambushed by the Hollow. We see in flashback that Doctor Strange decided to focus on saving Emily over Doyle, because saving Doyle would require Dormammu’s help, which is not easy to come by. But Emily was also very far gone, and Strange took her to see Hoggoth and the Vishanti. We learned that Strange made a deal with Hoggoth to operate the school, this being the “cost” that was whispered about in the first couple of issues. Hoggoth helps Strange and Emily does wake up.

A distraught Emily wants the same for Doyle, but Strange arrives in the infirmary with a wounded Dr. Voodoo. Jericho had tried to go off into the Dark Dimension on his own to get Dormammu, but he couldn’t handle it. Emily decides she’s going to try, and she leaps through Strange’s portal. She gets a little ways into the Dark Dimension, but it’s ultimately too much for her, and she’s forced to stop. Dr. Strange pulls her out and comforts her.

Before Emily leaves, she wants to say goodbye to Doyle. She tearfully removes the sheet over him and leans in to kiss his forehead…which reignites his spark! To the shock of all, Doyle is revived and he hugs Emily.

Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.

As much as I didn’t want to put the kids into bad guy fights so soon, this issue proves why it can lead to great stories. This issue also proves why it’s such a good idea to limit the scope and scale of the cast from time to time. I read three issues this week to get caught up, and the first two were a mess of characters, like always. Heck, I didn’t even remember that a character named Germane exists? Ramos’ chaotic artwork doesn’t help when trying to keep track of everybody. Still, the very strong writing, and the unique character designs, help keep the reader above water when you’re trying to follow Strange Academy.

And then you get an issue like this one, which focuses down on the important characters for some really great moments!

Promposals are weird

Doyle’s dorky crush on Emily, and Emily being generally awesome, were two of my favorite story beats at the start of Strange Academy. And as this issue focuses in on them, I loved it all the more. We follow Emily through her punishing grief, full of the knowledge that she is partly responsible for what happened to Doyle, since she led the charge against the Hollow. We get to see Doctor Strange step up as mentor and caretaker, while still juggling his duties as Sorcerer Supreme. He knows you can’t just mess with Dormammu. But all of that builds to those excellent scenes with Emily, first where she throws herself into the Dark Dimension, and second when her kiss reignites Doyle! That was truly unexpected, and bodes well for some awesome stories going forward!

Emily might be the Chosen One! Or maybe she and Doyle will get to go to prom together. That’s cute too!

TL;DR: Some truly outstanding and unexpected character moments kick this series up a notch!

X-Men #17

X-Men #17
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Brett Booth
Inker: Adelso Corona
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Sadly, this issue doesn’t have anything to do with the election for new X-Men. It’s another visit to the Shi’ar, and I am simply not a fan of the X-Men in space.

Empress Xandra has been kidnapped and Cyclops, Jean and Storm are summoned to Shi’ar space to help find her. They are joined by Smasher, with Cannonball and Sunspot in the wings for comedic support. Turns out Xandra was kidnapped by some Stygian extremists, led by Urr. The X-Men kick his butt, the day is saved and everybody learns an important lesson.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I am not be a fan of X-Men in Space, but I can still enjoy a well-written comic. And Brett Booth is a fun artist, one who injects this issue with all manner of wild energy. That definitely worked in this issue’s favor. Everything worked in this issue’s favor, to be honest. The X-Men get to act like heroes and fight some proper bad guys, the action is good, the characters all get moments to shine and everybody has a good time. Hickman is also clearly having fun with his Cannonball/Sunspot comedy routine, so that’s a hoot. And we get to see Smasher being badass. This issue doesn’t do much to move the needle in terms of big, sweeping Reign of X ideas, but it’s still a fun issue where the X-Men are cool and funny.

TL;DR: A fun, action-packed and funny issue of X-Men keeps the wheels greased while the larger stories wait in the wings. The X-Men fight some bad guys and get to be heroes. That is always a hoot.

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 30, 2021, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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