Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 3/13/21

Welcome to new comic book reviews! It’s a nice Saturday, with temperatures finally starting to break. And…yeah. It’s March! New comics including Mighty Morphin, X-Factor, Wonder Woman and more!

To shake things up a bit, I’m going to award Comic Book of the Week to Children of the Atom #1! As much as I enjoyed the new issue of Mighty Morphin, it’s time to diversify my favorites. Children of the Atom brought us something new and interesting.

Copyright strike

Meanwhile, I recently found out that the movie theater in the next town over has reopened! It sounds like a very dangerous adventure, but it’s something I might risk to see Godzilla vs. Kong on the big screen in a couple weeks. Also, I’ve started playing Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. It’s fine so far, but feels a lot rougher than previous games.

Comic Reviews: Children of the Atom #1, The Green Lantern: Season Two #12, Mighty Morphin #5, Strange Academy #9, Wonder Woman #770 and X-Factor #8.

Children of the Atom #1

Children of the Atom #1
Writer: Vita Ayala
Artist: Bernard Chang
Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham

This is one of the completely original new X-Men ideas to come out of Dawn of X, and I’m always down for trying one of these out.

There’s a new team of mutants fighting bad guys in New York City, with designs based off existing X-Men. There’s Cyclops-Lass, Marvel Guy, Cherub, Gimmick and Daycrawler. The issue opens with an extended fight scene as they take out the Hell’s Belles, a team of mutants who briefly appeared once in Peter David’s X-Factor in the 90s. I remember them, so it’s a fun cameo! Afterwards, the team is visited by Magma, Pixie and Maggott, who check in on them on behalf of Krakoa. Why haven’t they come to the island? The team has their reasons.

Later, we see Cyclops, Jean, Storm and Kurt talk about the team and wonder why they haven’t come to Krakoa, with plans made to reach out to them. Why they don’t consider Maggott’s squad reaching out to them to be the same thing, I don’t know. Anyway, we spend a little time with the new team out of costume at school, getting to know some of them as individuals. Later that night, they suit up to do more superheroing, but first they visit the Krakoan gateway on Coney Island…

…and they can’t pass through it! They might not be mutants after all!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This is a fine debut issue with a lot of solid action and a ton of really great character development. There are a lot of existing X-Men comics that I wish focused this much on the characters out of costume. I have a couple of quick nitpicks though. For one thing, that ending surprise isn’t as interesting as the comic makes it seem. So some teen superheroes in New York City aren’t mutants? Happens all the time. Now the only real mystery is why they stylized themselves after existing X-Men. Hopefully that will be interesting. Another nitpick: why have Cyclops and the other higher up X-Men discuss talking to the teens at length after a scene of some X-Men already talking to the teens? Maggott and his crew spoke to them directly about coming to Krakoa and they got an answer. Why talk on the topic further? Are their egos so stroked by the copycat costumes that the X-Men just have to talk about it?

And why not talk about the Hell’s Belles? As far as we’re aware, mutants who lost their powers on M-Day are still welcome at Krakoa. So why aren’t the X-Men worried about bringing the Hell’s Belles to Krakoa? So they can get in line for the Crucible? Just saying.

Has Cyclops always been a pool shark?

Nitpicks aside, this is a very strong debut issue. The writing is solid. We get a sense of who each character is, with even more time spent with a couple of the important ones. I feel like we’ve got a real handle on Cyclops Lass and Gimmick by the end. Their scene together watching their friends at basketball practice was really fun to read. Ayala also drops some hints about some relationship tension, which is always fun. And there’s a mystery regarding one of their classmates, Cole, that will surely become a thing. I feel like I know and largely understand these characters, at least enough from a first issue perspective. The fight scenes and superhero stuff are also really good. There were times when the art wasn’t crystal clear as to what action had just happened, but those were few and far between.

TL;DR: Strong characters, good superhero action and enough curiosity to keep me coming back for more make for a solid debut issue. I’ve got a couple nitpicks with the storytelling, but they’re really minor.

The Green Lantern #12

The Green Lantern: Season Two #12
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Liam Sharp
Letterer: Steve Wands

And so this series ends with one of its most impenetrable issues yet. I’m glad to be rid of it.

Hal Jordan fights his way through the plastic toy bad guys on Athmoora, which is being controlled by Hector Hammond. He frees his allies and they all fight, his friends sacrificing themselves in battle so that Hal can confront Hammond, who showed up out of nowhere last issue. Somehow, Hal tricks Hammond into defeating himself, I think. Either way, Hammond is gone and Hal gets his ring back. At some point, we learn that Abin Sur activated something called the Intelligence Engine on Athmoore, which halted its progress and development. And Hal never deactivated the device because he liked to come here to play sword and sorcery. Well in order to make peace with the Golden Gods and get them to leave, Hal deactivates the device. And I guess the day is saved in the end? Hal’s fine, and he goes off into space to do cool Hal Jordan stuff.

Comic Rating: 3/10 – Bad.

I don’t even want to review this issue. I shouldn’t be reviewing this issue. I’m only writing this out of some sense of pride that I made it all the way through and marked each occasion. Ugh. This issue was as impenetrable as all the rest have been this “season”. I was told in an internet comment the other day that the season reads better as a whole, but that’s not how it was delivered. I can believe that’s true. But each individual issue has been so weird, so off the rails and so completely wild that I just can’t handle it anymore. I have no idea what Morrison was trying to say with this comic. Sharp’s art is really pretty, but there’s no restraint. No attempt to have it make sense or work with the dialogue or the story. So this is me limping across the finish line, having read this whole damn thing and having disliked it a great deal. I don’t even want to go back and read it as a whole, that’s how off-putting I’ve found it.

TL;DR: The Green Lantern: Season Two ends the way it’s always been: impenetrable, weird and determined to only make sense existentially.

Mighty Morphin #5

Mighty Morphin #5
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Marco Renna
Colorist: Walter Baiamonte, with assists from Sara Antonellini and Katia Ranalli
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire

Curse you, monthly comics, and your need to end after a certain number of pages!

This issue jumps back in time so that we can see Matt Cook’s time as the Green Ranger from his perspective. We see how Grace recruited him and talked him into it, how he was scared to death during his fight with Lord Zedd, and how she gave him a solid pep talk afterwards. We see him meet the Dragonzord for the first time, a moment that Billy was on hand for to help out. We get a small scene between Matt and Kimberly, and one where his parents ask why he quit the football team.

Eventually we catch up to last issue, where Zedd put a dome over the city. Matt is teleported back to base, and he gives Grace a good speech about why he needs to go on camera and reveal his identity to the city. And we end right where last issue ended, which is a damn shame.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

As much as I love Mighty Morphin and enjoyed this issue, I have a couple quick complaints. First, there’s no real surprise in Matt’s story. It’s very plain. He was recruited to be the new Green Ranger and he’s simply been the new Green Ranger. There were no interesting reveals, no new secrets; and I felt that was a little disappointing. I’m not sure what else could have been revealed…just something to make the story a bit spicier. Likewise, the issue ends exactly where the last issue ended. That makes me very interested in the next issue, but I feel like this issue could have gone just further enough to give us some more meat to chew on.

Green Ranger crash course

But nitpicks aside, this is another solid, stellar issue of Mighty Morphin. I love the idea of Matt Cook as the new Green Ranger, and I love what Parrott does do with him this issue. I like that he’s been a silent badass in previous issues, but here we see that he was very inexperienced and just sort of winging it. I liked this speech at the end about revealing his identity and sacrificing his normal life for this duty. The regular Power Rangers aren’t allowed to reveal their identities, so I’m excited to see what Parrott has planned for a Ranger who does reveal his identity to Angel Grove and the world. I also liked the idea that Billy has continued to help Grace with the Green Ranger. That’s a fun side to the character.

TL;DR: The new issue has answers about the new Green Ranger, and while I liked those answers, I feel like there could have been something spicier revealed in this story.

Strange Academy #9

Strange Academy #9
Writer: Skottie Young
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

You know what this comic needed? More characters.

It’s parent/guardian day at the Strange Academy and we meet a bunch of everybody’s parents. Doyle’s dad isn’t coming, for obvious reasons. And Calvin was in foster care. We saw a flashback of that to open the issue. We learn that he found his magic coat in the closet, and it attacked his cruel step parents when they attacked him. Parent/guardian day is all about games, including a big race through crazy magical obstacles. Emily’s mom is super competitive, and she gets into it with Loki something fierce. Meanwhile, Calvin and Doyle go off on their own to play in a magical supply closet, where Doyle is attacked by Mindless Ones. Calvin fights them off and gets pretty dark, but Doyle snaps him out of it.

The issue ends with Calvin and Doyle having to run the obstacle course with their classmates.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

Oh Strange Academy, what are you trying to do? What story are you trying to tell? Because we’re nine issues in, and there are plenty of mysteries swirling around, but I can never really tell what any of it is for. Obviously Calvin is a creator-favorite character, and his story finally gets explored a lot more. That’s cool. And I like the pairing of Calvin and Doyle. Always good to mix up the cast. But then you add this parents/guardians day on top of everything? Just to make some jokes about how Emily’s mom is crazy competitive? And now all of the students have to share the already limited page space with parent/guardian guest stars? Including Loki? Granted, Ramos and Delgado make it look great! And it’s really entertaining. I still enjoyed this issue. But it still also feels a lot like filler. Most of this comic feels like filler. Entertaining filler, but filler nonetheless.

TL;DR: Another issue that feels more like filler than actual story or character progression. It’s entertaining filler, and the artwork looks great, but I feel like so much more could be done.

Wonder Woman #770

Wonder Woman #770
Writers: Michael W. Conrad and Becky Cloonan
Artist: Travis Moore
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Pat Brosseau

Once again, I’m going to give Wonder Woman a try! I like Becky Cloonan, and this is supposed to be a jumping on point. So let’s jump on and see how far I last this time!

Diana wakes up on a Norse battlefield in the middle of an epic battle. She’s greeted by a charming and handsome warrior named Siegfried. Then she’s killed in battle…and wakes up later at the mead hall. So basically, she’s in Valhalla, but she has no memory of her former life or how she got here. They fight each day, possibly die, then spend the evening in the mead hall partying. Every time Diana dies, she’s greeted by some ghostly figure in a white room who seems to think this is all wrong. Then Ratatosk the squirrel finds her and asks for her help in saving the dying World Tree. The Norse world is dying, the Valkyrie are disappearing, and more warriors are lost to the fog…including Siegfriend by issue’s end.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

This issue really really needed some kind of hook or cliffhanger ending. To use a word from an earlier review, this issue needed something spicy to make it interesting. As it stands, it’s just an amnesiac Diana hanging out in Norse Mythology Land. And that’s it. The art is great. The writing is strong. I love the idea of Wonder Woman hanging out in a different mythology. And I liked it enough to try out another issue. But this one needed a better hook. It needed any real hook at all. Having only the second developed character in the comic fade away in the end is not enough of a hook. Saying Wonder Woman needs to save the day is not a hook. Merely existing as a new Wonder Woman storyline is not a hook. But like I said, I enjoyed this issue enough to try out another one. We’ll see what happens then.

Though I will forever enjoy a good Ratatosk appearance.

Wonder Woman is Squirrel Girl confirmed

Between this, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and the God of War video game from a few years ago, I wonder if creators only recently learned that Ratatosk existed and were desperate to find some way to use the Norse trickster squirrel god. I wouldn’t be surprised if Taika Watiti found a way to use her in one of his Thor movies!

TL;DR: Far more mundane of a storyline kick-off than I would have liked. Writing, art and idea are strong, but the creative team does not do enough in this first issue to really hook in the reader.

X-Factor #8

X-Factor #8
Writer: Leah Williams
Artist: David Baldeon
Colorist: Israel Silva
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Kind of a quick issue, really.

The Morrigan attacks the Boneyard, and Daken sacrifices himself so that Eye-Boy and Prodigy can get away and complete their report. The next day, X-Factor is resurrected and they launch their assault on the Morrigan. They manage to keep her at bay long enough to reach through to Siryn, who they ask about a new contract with the Morrigan.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

Honestly, I don’t have much to say about this issue. It’s all over rather quickly. Williams has some fun with the resurrection protocols, as she kills off some team members and then everybody is able to just regroup the next day when they’re brought back to life. That was neat. But otherwise, everybody just comes together and defeats the Morrigan. The characters are used well, the threat is still a fun callback to past events, and there’s enough of a mystery at the end to keep it all interesting. There’s just nothing in this individual issue that raises the material above its basic presentation. That’s not a complaint, just an observation.

TL;DR: Comic book stuff happens in a comic book. Some interesting ideas get played with, and the writing, characters, story and artwork are all good. But mostly it’s just a quick fight against a bad guy.

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 March 13, 2021, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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