Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 4/17/21

We’ve got a hefty week of comics this week! I read a whole ton of books and enjoyed them all, for the most part. Some better than others, as is usually the case. Children of the Atom continues to be OK, Mighty Morphin is great as always, and Far Sector comes one step closer to the end!

Comic Book of the Week goes to Power Pack #5 for a delightful wrap-up to their short mini-series. Ryan North and Nico Leon had a lot of fun with this one, and that always makes me happy.

Breaking bad

Meanwhile, I decided to kick off my owning a Nintendo Switch with some Super Mario Odyssey! Such a fun game. I think this is the first time in my life I have ever owned a Nintendo console and the corresponding Mario game. I was always a Game Boy man for the longest time. Feels good to Mario.

Comic Reviews: Children of the Atom #2, Far Sector #11, Iron Man #8, Mighty Morphin #6, Power Pack #5, Thor #14 and Wonder Woman #771.

Children of the Atom #2

Children of the Atom #2
Writer: Vita Ayala
Artist: Bernard Chang
Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham

I hope we get another sweet Maggott cameo.

The Avengers visit the Krakoan Embassy in New York City because they’re concerned for the Children of the Atom, and Storm tells them to get lost. The main story is narrated by Gabriel Brathwaite, Cherub, the Archangel one. We see a bit of his home life before he and his friends go to a Dazzler concert…then bow out when they learn the Hell’s Bells are escaping from prison. So they suit up and fight the Belles again, who are joined by their still-powered friend Briquette. We do find out that the Belles stayed in America in order to steal money to somehow get their powers back themselves.

The Children lose the fight, but then Storm shows up with a contingent of X-Men and convinces the Belles to come to Krakoa. She makes the same offer to the Children, but they, again, politely decline. And then, again, the issue ends with them trying to go through a portal, though we don’t see the result this time.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

Guess I had to settle for cameos from Toad and Multiple Man! Also, my apologies to Vita Ayala for some of my nitpicks from the first issue. I wondered why the Hell’s Belles weren’t already on Krakoa, and it’s answered here in the second issue to my satisfaction. My bad! I definitely liked how that was settled in this issue.

But then as for the issue itself…I dunno. It feels like a retread of the previous issue. The teens suit up and fight the exact same bad guys, then a small group of random X-Men show up to offer them Krakoa, the teens turn it down and then they try to go through a portal again at the very end of the issue. It’s weird. We don’t learn anything new about them, other than some of Gabriel’s personal life, and that’s it. The writing is still very strong. And the artwork is gorgeous, some really good stuff there from Chang.

To think all this gorgeous art is wasted on the Hell’s Belles

I just would like more forward momentum. This is another limited series, and it can’t afford to waste page space with a total retread of the first issue. I hope not every issue is going to be a personal look at a team member until they fight the Hell’s Belles, turn down offers from the X-Men and then try and fail to pass through a portal. Also, it’s the little things that are bugging me. Like…Captain America, Iron Man and Captain Marvel all personally feel so concerned about this random group of teen superheroes that they visit a Krakoan Embassy and demand to speak to Charles Xavier? That seems pretty presumptuous of them. And it reeks of trying to paint these kids as the hot new flavor of the week.

But again, perhaps I’m entirely wrong in my nitpick! As we’ve seen, it has happened before.

Also, for the record, I continue to believe that they’re humans who just really like the X-Men, which is why they’ve patterned their superhero identities after them.

TL;DR: The writing, art, characters and story are all very strong, but this second issue follows the exact same plot points of the first with zero forward story momentum…and that’s pretty weird.

Far Sector #11

Far Sector #11
Writer: N.K. Jemisin
Artist: Jamal Campbell
Letterer: Deron Bennett

We find out in a text piece at the start of the issue that Jo Mullein is not an actual, official Green Lantern. The Guardian that gave her her ring was operating outside the regular council, and Jo is not part of the Corps. Ugh. That’s disappointing, at least on a personal level. As I mentioned last week with Green Lantern #1, I’m a big fan of the structure of the GLC and don’t cotton to fancy characters who are made to be special just for the sake of it.

Anyway, in the issue, martial law is in effect and the people are being disenfranchised. Jo and her crew head to the Council, using Marth to sweet talk them past a guard. They confront Glory, the @At leader, while another leader lies dying on the floor. Then some anti-bombs go off, which carry big EMPs, which threaten @At people. And Glory gets pissed. Basically, everybody’s shouting at each other and deploying some other kind of bomb or something. Jo powers up and starts fighting, while Glory struggles to convince the military to bomb their own people. Jo destroys the hologram generator, but Glory escapes into the net. And there’s a civil war between the @At going on because most don’t want genocide. And jeez louise, it’s a clusterfuck! Both in terms of the actual narrative and in terms of trying to keep characters and factions straight. At one point we find out Marth hired the Cloud Kratocracy to fight as well.

The issue ends with Jo sharing a cute moment with her sometimes hookup Peace Accountant Syzn before blasting off to try and save the day on only 20% power.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I have very much enjoyed Far Sector since the beginning, and it’s still a strong comic. But the story has gotten really lost in the weeds at this point. Between all the different aliens species, specific characters, changing allegiances and surprise bad guys, I’m a bit lost. And this issue seems to really pack the detail in tight. Twists and new characters and existing characters and concepts fly around all willy nilly, stacking up to what is surely an exciting story, if only I understood what’s happening. I think Glory the @At is attempting some kind of coup, but I’m not entirely sure.

A lot is happening here

This is one of those issues that will definitely be read better as part of the ongoing story, as part of a collected edition. Then maybe I’ll remember the Council member lying dead on the floor. Still, at least the art remains amazing, and Jo Mullein remains a cool character. That stuff I wrote at the start still bugs me, but what am I supposed to do? Just gotta suck it up and hope she pans out in the long run as a cool new addition to the mythos.

TL;DR: The penultimate issue of this excellent series ramps up the stakes and the excitement at the cost of having any idea what’s going on. All of the crazy characters and aliens fling themselves willy nilly around this issue, and it’s easy to get lost.

Iron Man #8

Iron Man #8
Writer: Christopher Cantwell
Artist: Angel Unzueta
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

This story has started spinning its wheels just a touch.

While War Machine and the team engage in a space dogfight, the unconscious Patsy is contacted by the psychic voice of Moondragon. She takes Patsy on a trip down mental memory lane to unlock her psychic powers. It’s a whole thing. Patsy comes to just in time to help her team, though Korvac is also distracted by a mental attack. The ship is saved and the bad guys are dealt a blow.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

Not much to say about this issue, frankly. The story doesn’t progress any. It’s just a deep dive into some of Patsy Walker’s demons. And that’s all well and good. Moondragon is a fun cameo. The deep dive mostly focuses on Patsy’s older history, without much mention of the more recent and quite excellent Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat comic that I loved so much. But yeah, basically Moondragon and Patsy visit with some characters of her past while the spaceship does some basic maneuvers. No real forward progression, just some clearing of Patsy’s head. It’s fine.

TL;DR: Not much story progression in this issue, just a trip down memory lane for Patsy Walker.

Mighty Morph #6

Mighty Morphin #6
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Marco Renna
Colorist: Walter Baiamonte, with assistance from Katia Ranalli and Sara Antonellini
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire

Lots of interesting developments in this issue.

We open with another Zordon flashback, to him and Zartus fighting off some bad guys on a distant moon. Zordon has been promoted and Zartus isn’t happy, but he’s still loyal. Then the two of them find Rita’s dilapidated castle on this random moon.

In the present, it has been 23 days since the energy dome went up and the Power Rangers have been openly working with the military to try and bring it down. The military is getting restless, especially now that they know the Rangers are likely teenagers, and they want to use nukes. The Rangers ask for more time and take some R&R. The Stone Canyon trio are going a little stir crazy. Tommy is suspicious of how much Kim knew about Matt being the Green Ranger. And Zelya starts giving Zordon an update to life on Eltar nowadays. She also reveals that Zartus is not only still alive but he is Supreme Guardian!

The chat is interrupted by a scrambled call from Grace Sterling from inside the dome. She says they’ve found a way to allow the Rangers brief entry, so they head out and fight through some putties. Once the Rangers (minus Billy and plus Zelya) make it inside, they find the city more and less fine. There’s no destruction. The team is then confronted by an army of putties and human soldiers led by Goldar and the Green Ranger!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Another fine issue of Mighty Morphin keeps the story flowing nicely, with a lot of really strong character moments. I’m not sure why I’m not grading this one higher. Perhaps it didn’t strike me as strong as some previous issues. But yeah, the story has a lot of great movement. We have a three-week time jump, which is crazy. We also have the Rangers teaming up with the military?! Including a general communicating directly with Zordon! It feels like this should be a bigger deal than it’s treated in the book! But exciting nonetheless, especially as it all builds to that really cool cliffhanger ending. I definitely did not expect the Green Ranger to be working with Lord Zedd, so that’s a twist for sure.

This feels like a big deal

The character stuff is where the issue really stands out, as always. We get some character work for Zordon, as he learns what has become of his home planet. That’s neat. And this showdown with Zartus has been building for a while. I’m looking forward to that. We get Kim and Tommy discussing Matt, as they should. More good stuff. And the rest of the Rangers are going a bit nuts, having spent the past three weeks bunking at the Command Center. I like the detail that the other Rangers didn’t even know Rocky had siblings.

TL;DR: This storyline keeps getting more and more interesting as new wrinkles and twists are added!

Power Pack #5

Power Pack #5
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Nico Leon
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham

Sadly, this delightful Ryan North series comes to an end after only a handful of issues, but such is Marvel’s strategy these days.

Speaking of which, if anybody at Marvel is reading this, I have a tight Stingray story that can fit into five fun issues! Reach out!

The plan to defeat the Wizard involves appealing to his pride. The Power Pack put on a show for the media in which they fight Wolvermean, Wolverine’s previously unknown and evil twin brother. They use tricks and special effects to make it look like they still have their powers, which prompts the Wizard to come out of hiding to grab them up, put them back in his machine and steal these new powers…except our heroes snuck into the lab the night before and reversed the polarity. So they get their their powers back and defeat the Wizard! In the aftermath, the teens still volunteer for public utilities because that was still a good idea. And they use Wizard’s hologram technology to make Agent Aether “real”, and they use him to pose as both their mentor and the mentor to any other teen heroes who need one under Kamala’s Law.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

And so this story ends exactly how it should have: by having a ton of fun and really celebrating these characters! Their plan is a little silly, but oh boy, seeing Wolverine go all out as “Wolvermean” is the stuff of legends! I demand a Wolvermean action figure and alternate costumes for every Marvel video game. Let’s really push this thing! In the issue, it’s just plain fun. I enjoyed seeing Wolverine work so closely and comfortably with these kids as they whipped up this odd little stage show. Speaking as a news reporter in my day job, those were some really gullible reporters, but I won’t hold this silliness against them. It’s too fun!

Ryan North for president

And then the Power Pack get to shine as they outsmart the Wizard and kick his butt! It’s a really enjoyable wrap up to a really enjoyable mini-series. North also has each character narrative a couple different bits of the final issue, drawing that whole concept to a close. This was a very well-crafted, hugely fun comic to read. It’s a shame North doesn’t get to keep going! Or maybe Marvel has him planned for something else. Do not let this guy go! He’s a masterful writer and I can’t wait to see what he does next!

TL;DR: Very fun, very creative, very wild final issue of this delightful Power Pack mini-series. Wolverine may never be the same again.

Thor #14

Thor #14
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Nic Klein
Colorist: Matt Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino

In the end…nothing really happened.

Everybody is teamed up against Donald Blake. Thor, in possession of the Destroyer armor, gives him a solid whooping. Beta Ray Bill chips in by claiming Mjolnir and regaining his power, and Dr. Strange binds Blake in the Crimson Bands of Cytorrak. Once the battle is over, Blake begs for death, and Odin is about to make it so, but Loki tosses Thor the broken stick and Thor returns to his true self. Thor tells Odin to get lost and turns Blake over to Loki, who imprisons Donald Blake in an ancient dungeon where he’s strapped to a stone and a snake drips poison in his eyes for all eternity. I think that was Loki’s fate in actual Norse mythology.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

As much fun as this story was at times, it ultimately has led nowhere and accomplished nothing. Donald Blake shows up so all-powerful that he defeats an entire army of Asgard, then he just gets into a couple fights with random characters until Thor is allowed to show up and beat him in a single fight. That’s it. That’s the entire story. And it’s disappointing, now that it’s over. Blake didn’t really accomplish anything, other than killing some very very minor Thor-related characters. We had some fun cameos, and Beta Ray Bill had more than a couple moments to shine, but otherwise this story just didn’t have much going for it. All that big talk about recruiting Odin into this fight and Odin doesn’t do anything! This story doesn’t really do much of anything.

TL;DR: The story seemed exciting at one point, but it ends in the most obvious way and nothing of substance occurred.

Wonder Woman #771

Wonder Woman #771
Writers: Michael W. Conrad and Becky Cloonan
Artist: Travis Moore
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Pat Brosseau

We jump from Thor to Wonder Woman and who can even tell the difference?

Diana confronts Thor in the mead hall about everybody dying, but Thor doesn’t care. So she and her pal Ratatosk set off for Nidavellir, the forge of the dwarves. After fighting through a pack of murk elves, Diana finds Dr. Psycho working the forge and binds him with a lasso for info. He’s been enchanting weapons to control elves and dwarves, and he knows the whereabouts of the key to the Valkyrie fortress. Ratatosk knows that Nidhogg the serpent has the key, so they go and make a deal with him. He wants an eagle egg from the top of the World Tree, so Diana and Ratatosk climb the tree (pausing briefly for a chat with Odin, who is tied to the tree seeking knowledge). When they get to the nest, the eagle was expecting them and gives them an egg. Ratatosk has a plan to seal Diana in the egg shell so that she can be swallowed whole by the serpent so that she can grab the key from his belly.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

This is basically just Wonder Woman hitting all the Norse mythology talking points. We’ve got Thor being a braggart, we’ve got dark elves, a dwarven forge, the serpent and Odin tying himself to the World Tree to gain knowledge. It’s not very impressive so far. I get that Wonder Woman has probably never dealt with this stuff before, but nothing all that interesting is happening just yet. It doesn’t help that Wonder Woman has lost her memory, so it’s not even Wonder Woman dealing with these Norse mythology trappings. It’s just this vaguely Diana-esque warrior wandering from one location to the next while Ratatosk narrates. It’s all mildly entertaining, I just hope the creative team comes up with something really creative to do as we go along.

TL;DR: The story so far is basically just an amnesiac Wonder Woman wandering through the familiar Norse mythology tropes and not much else.

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 April 17, 2021, in Avengers, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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