Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 4/24/21
What a finale to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier! I loved it, loved every part of it, from the character twists to the new costume reveals to pretty much everything! Expect a nice big review/thoughts roundup on the series on Wednesday! Until then, comics!
Comic Book of the Week goes to Way of X #1 for taking a deep dive into life on Krakoa, unlike any other X-Men comic since the new era began. I had my hesitations about this series, but the first issue delivered a lot of what I want!
Meanwhile, this week also saw the release of the new Mortal Kombat movie! I found it simultaneously cool and dumb. I’m mildly satisfied as a MK fan. And with my new Nintendo Switch, I splurged and bought Pokemon Shield. When the game was released, I was confident I would never get the chance to play. But here I am, me and my Grookey! It’s fine so far.
Also, I read this week’s issue of Spider-Woman but didn’t review it for timing reasons. But there are some fun character developments that make me want to pick this series back up again!
Comic Reviews: Justice League #60, Nightwing #79, Power Rangers #6, S.W.OR.D. #5 and Way of X #1.
Justice League #60
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Josh Reed
I think, for the first real time, I get what other people see in ‘Bendis Speak’. This issue is a mile a minute with the constant chatter.
Black Adam confronts Naomi about this new villain from her homeworld, Brutus. But Superman and the League show up before he gets too far, and they all talk for a bit. Naomi and Adam are brought back to the Hall of Justice to learn more about Naomi’s homeworld, which was destroyed by super-powered villains and which might not be part of the Multiverse? Also, Superman wants to let Black Adam join the League so that perhaps he can do some good. Nobody else is keen on the idea.
The League is then called out to Central City, where they find Hippolyta, who just got into a fight with Brutus on Themyscira. She chased him through another portal to Central City, and they all piece together that Brutus is learning and has realized he can’t take Earth alone. So the Flash builds a new Cosmic Treadmill to take everybody to Naomi’s world. So they all hop on and go…only Naomi then finds herself alone on her ruined Earth.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This issue felt a little slight, and I think it came down largely to the dialogue. The characters talk a mile a minute throughout the entire issue, like a never-ending conversation. And while I normally love Bendis’ writing, this issue felt off because of just how much we got. The dialogue is OK. Nothing too crazy or out of character. It just felt slight is all. I like the story well enough. We’ve got a mysterious new villain with some intelligence behind him, I like that much. The guy can recognize that he’s in over his head, so he’ll strategically retreat and get some reinforcements. I like that much. And the art is really great.
The only other issue I have with this comic is how easily Bendis is bringing his chosen team together. All new superhero team writers are allowed to use whatever characters they want, as far as I’m concerned. But Bendis is a little…inelegant about how he adds members to this team. He’s clearly very focused on Black Adam, then he just randomly ropes in Hippolyta, and obviously DC is pushing Naomi really really hard. And it just…I dunno. Kinda just rubbed me the wrong way how inelegantly the likes of Black Adam and Hippolyta were added to the Justice League…though I don’t know if she went along with them in that final scene. We’ll see how it all plays out.
TL;DR: Good, solid issue that keeps the story moving, but the “Bendis-speak” dialogue and forced character options are a little wanting.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Bruno Redondo
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Letterer: Wes Abbott
I like Tom Taylor. I like Dick Grayson. I’m definitely willing to keep giving this comic a try.
Dick and Barbara go for a walk and grab some pizza while Dick laments on his life. He’s got his memory back, and he’s got Alfred’s billions, but what should he do with all of it? Then a homeless man and his son ask for some change, and Dick decides to buy the guy and all his friends all the pizza they can eat! But some kids steal Dick’s wallet, so he and Barbara use the tracker in the wallet to find them as Nightwing…only the kids then decide to steal from Salvatore Maroni while he’s at an outdoor cafe with newly appointed mayor Zucco. Maroni’s guards notice the kids and Nightwing has to swing in to stop them from shooting.
Nightwing then tracks the wallet to a tent city that seems to be only children, and he gets too sad to demand his wallet back. He returns to Barbara and tells her he wants to use the money to be a safety net for Bludhaven.
Meanwhile, that homeless man from earlier, is confronted by a mysterious villain in an alley after leaving the pizza place. The villain has some kind of gun that shoots a telescoping arm into the guy’s chest to rip his heart out.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
My one nitpick about the story this issue is how naive Dick Grayson seems when he suddenly decided to buy pizza for the homeless guy and his friends. Dick Grayson has been the ward of a billionaire nearly his entire life, and he knows damn well that Bruce Wayne uses his money to help charities and services in Gotham City. So it feels a little disingenuous that Dick is flummoxed as to what to do with the money Alfred has left him. And it seems really really naive that he’ll suddenly decide to buy a small handful of homeless people some food. It’s a nice gesture, but a billion dollars can do a lot more than this nice gesture.
Also, if I’m being completely honest, I can’t help but imagine Dick is going to waste this money. Back during the New 52, I remember a story in which Dick had some inheritance leftover after Bruce’s supposed death…or something like that. I suppose I don’t remember the specifics exactly. But he had a lot of money from the Wayne fortune and he used all of that money to buy Amusement Mile to try and turn it into a nice place, in a story that involved the return of Haley’s Circus. Things went crazy, of course, as such a story must…but it taught me that Dick Grayson is probably terrible with money. And it makes me hesitant about how Dick is going to spend Alfred’s money.
I bet he’s just going to blow it on nice things in Bludhaven. Also, this was just one story that I can actively remember. How many other Nightwing stories have involved him spending Wayne money on some flight of fancy?
So that’s a bit of a rant on that nitpick, but it does not detract from the nice character-focused story. Dick and Barbara have a nice time together, and I really enjoyed seeing them interact out of costume. The impromptu pizza party is a nice gesture — though I did also find it a bit of a stretch that these pickpocket kids would steal directly from Boss Maroni’s table in front of so many eyes. Again, I’m not trying to let these nitpicks get me down because the overall issue is very nice. And the art is gorgeous. So gorgeous.
TL;DR: Taylor and Redondo work splendidly together in crafting a fun Nightwing comic. I just have some personal hang-ups on what they might think is good to do with a billion dollars. Nightwing’s probably gonna blow that money on naive charities.
Power Rangers #6
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artists: Francesco Mortarino and Simone Ragazzoni
Colorists: Raul Angulo, with Jose Enrique Fernandez, and Igor Monti, with Sabrina Del Grosso
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
I definitely think Power Rangers has hit a new level of energy and excitement, something it was lacking when it first kicked off.
After a brief flashback to Astronema as a child (which apparently was covered more in a recent graphic novel), we find Trini agreeing to help Ecliptor with the breakout. The prisoners are going to be transported on a high speed train the next morning, so on top of everything else, it’s a train heist! The night before, Jason and Astronema talk some serious subjects in their cell.
During the epic train heist, Ecliptor and Xi hold off the SPD agents while Trini heads into the car to free her friends and Astronema. Throughout the fight, the Rangers are reminded that they’re fighting law enforcement officers and helping minions of Dark Specter. Before they’re finally able to get off the train, Astronema shoots a pursuing SPD officer, sending him flying off the train to his death. Everyone gets away and go their separate ways, but Trini is bothered by the life that was lost, while Jason argues that sometimes they may have to do bad things for the greater good. Trini says that might just be unacceptable. Also, Lord Drakkon went back to visit that bad guy from the poker game last issue and gets the part they needed to fix the ship. The dude is familiar with Drakkon and they talk some private business off-panel.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I loved the way the Rangers were forced to make some difficult decisions in this issue and commit some potentially heinous crimes. That’s a really solid way to distinguish this as its own Rangers comic. Forced to make bad decisions for their righteous mission? I’m all in! More than worth it to see the looks on Jason and Zack’s faces when Trini tells them Astronema is part of the breakout as well. As is their reaction when Astronema kills the guard and throws their words right back at them.
This is a good moral direction to take the Omega Rangers and justifies them having their own comic. The Power Rangers should remain on the side of good. Always. But the Omega Rangers are free to be however the story needs them to be. And this is a fun and interesting new direction! And Parrott was definitely smart to use existing characters from Power Rangers lore. That’s fun! I imagine he can’t change too much continuity, but apparently he’s adding more to it. I haven’t read the Astronema GN that recently came out, but I guess it changes some bits of her origin. Perhaps I’ll check it out! Parrott uses her really well in this issue against the Omega Rangers.
TL;DR: Ryan Parrott really starts separating the Omega Rangers from expectations in this issue, and it could lead to some really exciting stories and moral arguments going forward.
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Ariana Maher
Ewing shows excellent command of character in this issue as he continues something really interesting with Fabian Cortez.
Out in space, the Zn’rx are involved in a war of succession for the new leader, called the “Snarkwar” in greater space. And someone is assassinating the royal family from the shadows. And that assassin is being led around by Amelia Voght, of all people.
On Earth, Fabian Cortez is resurrected and brought to the Quiet Council so that he can argue against the “Kill No Humans” law. He gives a big speech (fully naked) about how humans are an endangered species, so is it really murder? Peeper, a special guest to the council of Magneto, points out that Cortez doesn’t have a mutant name, that he goes by “Cortez”, and this sets Cortez off on a rant about how his name has history and how he’s suffered as a mutant because of it. Then Magneto stands up and points out that he has a much deeper history with suffering and yet he stands by the rule. Cortez is stymied and we quickly learn that this was all for show so that Magneto could put Cortez in his place.
Speaking of which, Amelia Voght arrives at the Quiet Council with her assassin: Khora of the Burning Heart, from Arakko. She also has the power to enhance other mutants, and she will be Cortez’s replacement in SWORD. It’s all pretty embarassing for him. The Zn’rx assassinations were Abigail Brand’s way of ending the Snarkwar in the safest way possible, by choosing the winner.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
There was a lot of good in this comic. It was mostly character-based stuff, so I didn’t go into too much detail in my synopsis. But it was all golden. Cortez gives a really good speech, and Ewing and Schiti so expertly set him up and tear him down. He’s so confident, so arrogant, so perfectly Cortez. Then he gets the rug pulled out from under him and it’s almost comical, if it weren’t so pathetic. It’s a glorious scene, and one that leans heavily into the new status quo of Krakoa. I love that!
Also, if Magneto is being sarcastic in how much he likes Peeper I will never forgive Al Ewing.
Peeper is wonderful in this issue as he asks a simple question — Why doesn’t Cortez have a mutant name? — and then just sits back to let Cortez put his foot fully in his mouth. I swear, if Ewing is using Magneto’s friendship with Peeper as just a trick to get at Cortez then Ewing is dead to me. This Magneto/Peeper friendship is wonderful!
The rest of the issue is solid, too. I like Brand making moves out in space. I’m still not a fan of Arakko as a whole, so the idea that Ewing can just create a new mutant out of the ether to accomplish his goal of diminishing Cortez is a little weak. But it still works as part of several stories. Ewing is doing a wonderful job with the mutant-on-mutant politics and I am here for it!
TL;DR: A lot of great character work and mutant politics is at the forefront of this very well-made issue.
Way of X #1
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Bob Quinn
Colorist: Java Tartaglia
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
This could be the X-Men comic I have been waiting for. My favorite issue of all of the Krakoa-era so far has been that one issue of X-Men that introduced the Crucible and ended with Nightcrawler declaring that he wanted to start a mutant religion. I love the ways Krakoa is introducing strange new ideas to the X-Men. And this seems to be the series that will pick up on those ideas…
The details of this issue are very specific and very fun. A lot of thought went into it. But I’m gonna be short with my synopsis.
Ever since Kurt thought about making a mutant religion, he’s been troubled because he not only has no ideas coming to him, but he’s also a bit weirded out by the various cultures and cultural touchstones he sees forming on Krakoa. While on a mission, Pixie purposefully throws herself into fire so that they can use her death to hit some bad guys with guilt, and her fellow young mutants are totally cool with this. Back on Krakoa, Kurt has conversations with Magneto, Doctor Nemesis and Professor X about his lack of ideas for a religion and some of his worries. They’re interesting conversations, that have Kurt grappling with more questions.
We see another Crucible, this time focused on a woman we’ve never seen before. Kurt was distracted the day before when she asked him for help and he mistook her for a new arrival. She actually wanted Kurt to be her opponent in her Crucible. Instead it’s Magneto, and Kurt is further troubled knowing that he wasn’t able to help the woman. It especially hurts when she, among others, keeps referring to him as one of the “kindly ones”. Ultimately, both she and Pixie are resurrected, and still Kurt is troubled by a lot of the finer details of way of life on Krakoa.
Then Professor X asks Kurt to look into a mysterious mutant that has been haunting the shadows of Krakoa, someone that young mutants tell ghost stories about called the “Patchwork Man”. Kurt investigates and we learn that the Patchwork Man is Legion!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
I only have one criticism about this issue and it’s the use of Legion in the end. I don’t know where Spurrier is going with this; obviously I need to just read future issues and see. But this issue is so full of some really wonderful questions that I worry the comic will be distracted by Nightcrawler vs. Legion. Spurrier addresses so many interesting ideas about Krakoa and Nightcrawler’s doubts that I don’t want this comic to devolve into a superhero fistfight with a classic villain. I want this comic and Nightcrawler to explore these matters. I love that Kurt doesn’t actually have any ideas for his mutant religion, and yet one character after another mentions that they heard what he said to Cyclops. I love Kurt’s frustrations at how everyone suddenly has expectations even though it was mostly an off-hand comment. I love Kurt’s frustrations that he’s looked into the idea but realizes it’s maybe too huge.
But he also realizes it could be entirely within reach. And that he should try.
I love the cracks in Krakoa that Spurrier is either creating or exploring. The idea that young mutants tease Pixie about her “first time” being killed and resurrected is genius, especially when it leads to her just throwing herself without a care into getting her head blown off by a point blank shotgun! And the young mutants filmed it and can’t wait to show her once she’s resurrected. It’s such specific madness that logically grows out of how young mutants might view resurrection, and how that flies in the face of what Kurt has believed his entire life. It’s madness, but it’s interesting madness!
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Magneto gets in a good couple of speeches that rock Kurt. Doctor Nemesis rambles like usual, but makes some great points. We get another wonderful Crucible scene that really throws Kurt for a loop, along with a couple of interesting resurrections. Spurrier raises a ton of good points about Krakoa, and I hope he explores all of them and more!
And I really hope this doesn’t just lead to Kurt and Legion punching each other and that’s it.
TL;DR: A metric ton of interesting ideas are sprinkled throughout this issue and I love them all! I just hope this comic will be about those ideas and not just turn into another X-Men team book where they fight bad guys.
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!
Posted on April 24, 2021, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged Boom!, Dick Grayson, Justice League, Nightwing, Omega Rangers, Power Rangers, SWORD, Way of X. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.