Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 5/22/21

So this is a first! I absolutely adored every single comic book I read this week. Sometimes I’m pretty lukewarm on an issue. Sometimes they’re just fine. But hot damn, every comic I read for review this week was a real banger! From the new issue of Nightwing to even Power Rangers! And you know I love me some Runaways and the new Way of X.

Comic Book of the Week goes to Wonder Girl #1 because it has the benefit of both being a first issue and having the artwork of Joelle Jones, which almost seems unfair.

Classic tour bus scene

But seriously, every comic I read this week was a dream. I was this close to awarding every single issue a 9 out of 10, which is pretty much the highest score I give.

Meanwhile, Heroes Reborn continues to be a delight! Jason Aaron seems to be having a blast creating a new Marvel Universe built around the Squadron Supreme. It’s nifty as all heck! Double meanwhile, I just finished Shadow and Bone on Netflix and I can’t recommend it. The show was fine, but it was drowning in YA tropes that near about strangled the life out of anything actually interesting on the show.

Comic Reviews: Nightwing #80, Power Rangers #7, Runaways #36, Way of X #2 and Wonder Girl #1.


Nightwing #2

Nightwing #80
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Bruno Redondo
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Letterer: Wes Abbott

Tim Drake arrives for a really fun team-up with Nightwing. Just hook it to my veins!

Dick Grayson is woken up by a pair of detectives investigating the murder of the homeless man he met in the last issue, along with all of the other homeless people who have had their hearts ripped out. Dick is a suspect because he bought the guy a hotel room last night and then reported his wallet stolen. Dick calls Babs back to his apartment and she helps clear things up with the cops, since they were together all night. Dick then calls in Tim Drake for help, and Tim is repeatedly referred to as “Robin” instead of “Red Robin”, which is like crack to me. Dick loans Tim his dog so that Tim can go undercover in the homeless kid camp to try and find the dad’s son from the previous issue. Tim finds the boy and he’s largely safe.

Then two super-villains working for Blockbuster show up because the kids have been committing crime and Blockbuster takes a percentage of any crime in the area. Dick and Tim suit up and defeat the bad guys, then a fire breaks out at the camp. Our heroes start getting people to safety when Nightwing encounters the culprit: Heartless.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

I realize I might be incredibly biased regarding this issue, but come on, what more could you want from a Nightwing comic? Dick Grayson teaming up with other Bat-Family members for a fun issue full of banter, gorgeous fights and crackling dialogue? Throw in an interesting story and a new villain and this is what Nightwing comics should be about! It helps immensely that Redondo is an exceptionally wonderful artist, with the perfect amount of color from Lucas. This is perfect comic book art, as far as I’m concerned. It’s clean, it’s detailed, it’s full of personality, it’s awash in bright and interesting colors, and that serves this kind of book well. Batman can have his dark colors. A Nightwing and Robin team up needs a nice blend of dark and eye-popping color where appropriate. Eye-popping blues and reds.

The Bat-Family loves science

And come on. I’m only human. This might be the best Tim Drake comic of the past several years. He’s Robin, straight up. He’s friendly and having fun interacting with Dick and Babs. He looks great thanks to the artwork. And he does some real detective work, while also helping to kick butt. Seriously. Redondo outdoes himself with this issue!

And fighting bad guys!

Everything works to perfection with this issue. The dialogue is also a real treat. The detectives inquire about the nature of Dick and Babs’ relationship, which kicks off a whole bit where the two of them weren’t ready to confront that type of question so soon, let alone with a couple of detectives accusing Dick of murder. And there’s a really funny bit where Tim gets curious about Babs staying the night…only for a chibi Babs to cut into the conversation to point in that she’s listening on the radio. It’s such a cute mix of dialogue and art. This whole issue is a wonderful mix of character work and artwork.

TL;DR: A Robin cameo brings out the absolute best in writing and artwork on an already fun comic.


Power Rangers #7

Power Rangers #7
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Francesco Mortarino
Colorist: Raul Angulo with assistance from Jose Enrique Fernandez
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire

The first really great issue of Power Rangers is finally here! The story is picking up and the character stuff is beyond excellent!

We open with a game of Trono Ball on Safehaven, with Zack and their pet space lion vs. Jason and Drakkon. Drakkon tries to get into Zack’s head, but Zack shocks his restraint collar — which is perfectly legal, since the home team can make up any rule they want. Drakkon is pleased with Zack’s ruthlessness. Jason goes to check on Trini, who is training. She didn’t want to play games with Drakkon. Jason starts to say something, but decides against it.

Xi has mapped out some potential targets for the Empyreals, who have already wiped out another planet of 2.3 billion people. Trini has a plan to deal some damage using their Zords, while Zack suggests they find another blue ranger and get back up to full strength (minus Omega Pink, obviously). They decide to table those for now and head to the target planet: Hartunia. This is a planet of conquers and slavers, and were previously mentioned as being an enemy of Eltar from the Zordon flashbacks. Both Xi and Drakkon warn the Rangers against trying to ally with the Hartunian Empire, but our heroes go anyway. They try to sneak through a market, but Zack gets angry at someone selling sentient beings as food, so they morph, fight and get arrested by a local constable and brought before the king.

The Omega Rangers plead their case and suggest evacuation, but the king laughs at their offer. He says the Hartunians have known of the Empyreals for generations and he’s read to lead his people into glorious victory against them. He orders the Rangers to be killed, but as they’re being marched out of the palace, that constable from before returns and rescues them. He brings them to the queen, who does want their help in saving her people.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

Imagine my surprise when this issue opens and we’ve got Drakkon playing a ball game with our heroes! Such fun! Having the X-Men play baseball became a real staple of their comic back in the day because it’s a simple, normal activity for people, and it offers a lot in the way of character opportunities. That’s exactly what we get here, as Drakkon seems fully engaged in the actual game. He tries some tricks and then congratulates Zack for the underhanded move that gave him the win. It’s a really fun sequence and really, really helps to add more necessary layers to Drakkon at long last. Parrott even scores a couple more points by having Trini comment on the idea of getting so chummy with the villain. Great opening scene.

Drakkon loves sports

The rest of the issue is just as darn good, if not better. The Rangers are up against another tough moral decision and Parrott uses that well to flesh out our heroes. The Empyreals threaten a pretty horrible world of space slavers and conquerors…but the Omega Rangers can’t just let people die. Parrott keeps a steady hand on the wheel as he guides our heroes through the tough political climate of Hartunia, adding all sorts of wonderful complications to their mission. I definitely did not see that twist ending coming. All these moral conundrums and story twists keep the story interesting and fun to read.

Also, at long last, somebody mentions the lack of a blue ranger. I can’t wait for that to become a storyline! Who doesn’t love new rangers? Also, still no actual mention of an Omega Pink…but I’m reading your subtext loud and clear, Mr. Parrott (wink emoji).

TL;DR: Some great character work and some new story twists really elevate this issue.


Runaways #36

Runaways #36
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Andres Genolet
Colorist: Dee Cunniffe
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

I am slightly disappointed that what I thought was happening last issue wasn’t actually what happened…

We flashback to when Chase came home one day to find Older Gert waiting for him. He’s thrilled to see her, and she reveals that she has come back from the future to be with him…but she can’t tell him what’s in the future or why she’s done this. So there goes my theory that Young Gert went somewhere to live out the age difference and has now returned. Oh well.

Meanwhile, with everything that happened with the X-Men and now Old Gert, the Runaways forgot to pick up Young Gert and Victor from school. So they decide to walk home and proceed to talk out their issues. Gert is still mad that Victor didn’t trust her about Doc Justice, which is tied into her feelings of inadequacy for not having powers in the first place. But they talk, and Victor says he loves her, which is the one feeling he knows wasn’t programmed into him by Ultron. So they make up and cut through the woods to get home…which is when they run into Chase and Old Gert making out!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

So yeah, I’m a little disappointed at the truth of Old Gert. Several issues ago, when the Runaways were fighting the Gibborim teens, the idea was floated that Gert could take her time machine and go back two years or so and live her life until she was the same age as the Runaways, then she could rejoin them. I understand why she did not do that at the time. But seeing Old Gert at the end of last issue, I thought Rowell had connected that earlier set up into this. Sadly, I was wrong. Old Gert is just a time traveler who hints pretty heavily at some weird future shenanigans that she needs to prevent. I have no doubt that Rowell has a really fun story planned for this, with some neat twists. But I can’t help but be slightly disappointed that this isn’t that first idea. Old Gert coming from a bad future is a time travel story we’ve seen a bajillion times. But a young Gert opting to take that earlier suggestion and grow up so that she could be with Chase…and now both old her and young her are in the same time period waiting for young Gert to make that choice, with everything that’s going on with Victor? That’s new and exciting drama!

Relationship tests

But I shall try not to let my prediction disappointment get the better of me. This is still a really fun, character-focused issue built around two very important, very interesting conversations. Rowell is a master of dialogue and character, and these two conversations are really solid in terms of the characters and their drama. It’s not Rowell’s fault that I’m not as fully invested in a Gert/Victor romance as I should be. But Old Gert and Chase have a very fun conversation about just what the heck is going on. And then Young Gert and Victor have a very touching, very heartfelt, very real conversation about feelings and love and what they mean to themselves and to each other. If only even half of all comic book romances got this level of introspection and understanding.

TL;DR: Rowell’s expertise in writing great characters and great dialogue really shines in this issue. It may be all about a pair of conversations, but they are very well done, very emotional and character-based conversations. The overall story is just plain fun.


Way of X #2

Way of X #2
Writer: Si Spurrier
Artist: Bob Quinn
Colorist: Java Tartaglia
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

For the first half of this issue, I was a little worried about what was happening…but then bam, Spurrier reveals he knew exactly what he was doing!

Nightcrawler confronts Legion’s astral form, believing him to be the Patchwork Man. He’s not. Legion dives into Kurt’s head and removes a mental token that seems to have been put there by somebody. Legion is full of smarm and talk, and he tells Kurt that his physical body is about to blow and Kurt should probably stop it. So Kurt rushes back to Krakoa and recruits Dr. Nemesis and Pixie. They follow Legion’s mental roadmap to a destroyed Orchis facility in Saudi Arabia, where they find Legion’s brain in a jar undergoing some type of experiment. Legion sends Kurt and Pixie inside the brain and they find a world in which all of Legions different personalities are at war with one another, since Legion himself was taken out of the brain (hence the astral form).

Nemesis deduces that this test is about “anomie” or the “derangement of the infinite”, or the hypothetical decay of a society with no limits. If everything is possible then nothing matters, and then meaninglessness leads to alienation, which leads to sadism and self-destruction. The team realize this experiment is a test of what could happen to the supposed paradise that is Krakoa. This was the Orchis test. And Orchis introduced an outside force into Legion’s mind to speed it up a little. Have they done the same to Krakoa?

The team realizes the only thing they can do is kill Legion’s brain so that he’ll be resurrected. Kurt takes the shot and it further erodes his faith. Back on Krakoa, Legion uses his influence to get the Five to resurrect him immediately, and he installs his own brain back into his new body because Xavier was hesitant. Charles is a bit tongue-tied and stunned at his son’s arrival on Krakoa. But Legion tells him to go off and enjoy his Hellfire Gala, he and Kurt have business to discuss. They believe the Patchwork Man is the outside Force that Orchis has introduced to Krakoa, and Legion knows who it is: Onslaught.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

The ideas Spurrier is exploring in Way of X are beyond anything I could have hoped for with this comic, and I had some high hopes! I was a little worried at the beginning. It looked like just a story where Kurt and a couple pals must take on a weird Legion brain world full of chaos and bad guys. It looked like just a story about superheroes doing superhero things. But then Spurrier introduces this “anomie” idea, something I have personally never heard of. And he connects this idea to both Legion as a character and Krakoa as a concept. It’s really great stuff, adding this level of complex philosophical thought to the ideas he’s already exploring. So for a numbskull like me who has never taken a philosophy class in his life, this was a really neat idea. But that’s just Spurrier getting started.

This is only the second issue!

The scene where Nightcrawler shoots Legion’s brain, effectively killing him, is brutal. Kurt just spent all of last issue really bothered by how casually the young mutants treated death and killing. Now Kurt already has to actively participate in the resurrection protocols himself. So already Kurt is having to directly face his moral concerns head on. So much for Kurt disagreeing with the Crucible. Spurrier is not wasting time and he’s not playing around.

Well, he’s playing around a little bit. I haven’t even mentioned the really cute character scenes sprinkled throughout the issue that I adored. Like Fabian Cortez wallowing in self pity at the bar after getting booted out of S.W.O.R.D., with a Dazzler cameo thrown in. Or the brief scene between Loa and Pixie where it’s just one friend confiding in another about how cute and awesome she thinks Mercury is ahead of the Hellfire Gala. Loa is having a crisis too, Kurt! You can’t just pull Pixie away from that for your mission!

Loa/Mercury/Bling! is the X-Men love triangle I didn’t know I needed

And even with all of that, Spurrier still has a blast writing a smarmy, powerful Legion. I’ve never cared about Legion before, but he’s a really fascinating character in this issue. He knows his problems, he knows what’s going on, and he knows how to twist and pull at Kurt to get what he wants…but he also wants to help. He’s a great presence as this issue zigs and zags. And that last page reveal, that some variation of Onslaught is slowly growing in the heart of Krakoa, is really damn cool.

TL;DR: We’re only two issues in and already this comic is playing with bigger and more interesting philosophical stuff than I could have anticipated! Couple that with some really great character work, from both major and minor characters, and you’ve got a stellar comic book.


Wonder Girl #1

Wonder Girl #1
Writer and Artist: Joelle Jones
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

Joelle Jones’ Yara Flor comic was one of the only Future State books I truly enjoyed. So I’m very excited to see the actual series!

In a largely wordless flashback, we see a squad of Roman or Greek warriors in stark masks attack a group of tribeswomen, who seem to be protecting a woman and her child (possibly their queen?). The child is a young Yara Flor, and she rushes out of her mother’s arms to attack the leader, even though she’s a very young child. The leader is about to cut her down when the mother offers herself instead. Yara’s aunt pulls her away as her mother is beheaded and the squad leaves.

In the present day, Yara is flying into Rio Di Janeiro for a heritage tour. Her aunt raised her and never talked about their past, so Yara saved up some money for this trip to find out for herself. But Yara’s mere arrival in Brazil seems to alert parties from around the world, including on Themyscira, Mount Olympus and Bana-Mighdall. They all dispatch agents to deal with the new situation. Meanwhile, Yara’s tour bus gets caught in traffic on the way to the hotel and she’s bored out of her mind. She makes small talk with the handsome bus driver, then rushes outside when they see an accident up ahead. Yara pulls a person out of their vehicle before it explodes. The handsome bus driver, by the way, is João.

Later, while visiting Iguacu Falls — and being annoyed by YouTuber “Kickin’ it with Kev” — Yara is pulled into the water by a golden ball and chain weapon. She’s greeted by a mysterious mermaid.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

The only bad thing I can say about this issue is that it ends too soon. I want more immediately. I’ve always been a fan of Jones’ comic artwork before, but this feels like a career high for her so far. Add in the fact that she’s writing the script and she’s got total mastery of the page. Seriously, I cannot say enough about how good this looks. That opening flashback is especially powerful. The coloring is reduced to just a few hues, to amplify it’s effects as a flashback. And then the narration is actually the flight attendant of Yara’s airplane explaining how they’re making their descent. It’s a really cinematic way to open the comic and it really, really worked for me. And then Jones has a lot of fun with some flowering scene changes throughout the issue. And there’s a beautiful double-page spread as the world reacts to Yara Flor stepping foot in her native land again.

Watch out for chill, smoking alligator lady!

Beyond the artwork, this is just a fun introduction to Yara Flor. I’m not entirely sure how old she is. She seems like a teenager, what with being Wonder “Girl”. But she’s also flirting with the clearly adult bus driver. So I dunno. But she is a very commanding presence in this issue. She’s always the focus of the artwork, always front and center and clearly leading this story. It’s a great first impression for this new character. And she just seems fun. She seems young and a bit carefree, which I like. This comic and this character have some real energy.

And, like I said, I would have loved even a bit more. This issue ends just as the story is starting to build to something really wild.

TL;DR: Great introduction to both the character and concept of this new Wonder Girl. And the artwork by Joelle Jones has got to be the most gorgeous artwork in comics right now. This issue is fire.


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 May 22, 2021, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hey dude! Glad to see your still doing reviews. I had to take a break from comics but now I’m back. It’s like jumping in for the first time, so much has changed idk where to start. You got any recommendations for any marvel comics (don’t care for the X-Men but willing to try). Also I was wondering if you can review the new champions comic by lore. I’m also excited to read Nightwing and wonder girl. Heard nothing but great reviews from those books.

    • Welcome back to comics! I’m happy to give some recommendations. The new Nightwing series is only 3 issues deep at this point, so you shouldn’t have any trouble picking up issues 68-70 by writer Tom Taylor. Good so far. Wonder Girl just started this week with issue #1, so you can get right in on the ground floor. I don’t think there’s anything you really need to know about the back story of either of those to enjoy. Dick Grayson is back in Bludhaven as Nightwing again. And Yara Flor is an entirely new character, a Brazilian Wonder Woman.

      As for Marvel, my favorite comic from Marvel right now is Runaways. It’s this wonderful character-based comic. Though it’s on issue 36 right now, so depending on how far back you’re looking to go. I’d say it’s all worth it.

      If you don’t already care about the X-Men then I can’t recommend anything they’re doing right now. They’re in the middle of this huge total revamp, and it’s all connected. You’d have to really start from the beginning. And honestly…I can’t recommend this whole experiment on its own. You’d have to be invested in the X-Men, like me.

      As for other Marvel comics, there’s Strange Academy, which is only on issue #10. It’s about a bunch of magical kids going to Dr. Strange’s magic school. It’s pretty fun. Thor has been pretty good by writer Donny Cates. That’s one or two storylines deep at this point. Not too much backtracking. And it has led to a wonderful Beta Ray Bill spin-off that has just gotten started. Power Pack just wrapped up a quick 5-issue mini-series that was really fun.

      So to sum up, from recent/current Marvel, I recommend Runaways, Power Pack, Strange Academy, Thor and Beta Ray Bill. Also, I’m currently enjoying their latest Big Event comic called Heroes Reborn. It’s a fun throwback to Amalgam Comics, like a spiritual sequel.

      And I will be happy to check out the new Champions run! I never have much luck getting into Champions comics, but I will gladly fulfill my readers’ requests!

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