Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 6/5/21

What a week. What a week. What a week. For me, it was mostly marked by being dead tired. Up here in my neck of the woods, the heat has changed and I’m having trouble sleeping. So…ugh. Tired. But at least we had comics to read, like Batman and Crush & Lobo, which I decided to try out for Pride Month!

Comic Book of the Week goes to Marauders #21 for a nice introduction to the Hellfire Gala. It isn’t the highest rated single issue this week, but it had some really fun moments, kicked off a major event I’m very excited about, and it brought Rhapsody back to comics. That’s all win win for me!

You have no idea how badly I want multiple Hellfire Galas over the years

Meanwhile, Heroes Reborn continues to be a ton of fun! It’s still this glorious Amalgam throwback and I am here for it. I also wrapped up Mare of Easttown on HBO and it was a really good detective/mystery show. Kept me guessing and it features a lot of great characters and character work. Definitely recommended.

Comic Reviews: Batman #109, Crush & Lobo #1, Marauders #21, Hellions #12 and X-Force #20.

Batman #109

Batman #109
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

Suffice to say, this is another solid, very enjoyable Batman comic. Both major Batman comics are doing gangbusters right now.

Batman confronts Simon Saint in his office to try to get Saint to give up the Scarecrow’s location. But Saint has finished building Peacekeeper-01, a giant Robocop of a man who comes in and fights Batman. Meanwhile, Ghost-Maker takes Harley Quinn back to The Haunt, his own version of the Bat-Cave complete with a giant Spinosaurus statue instead of a T-Rex, because Ghost-Maker apparently adheres to the Jurassic Park 3 rules of escalation. He and Harley chat, drink champagne, swordfight and bounce around the ideas of either banging or one-upping each other as Batman’s new partner. They’re interrupted by the Gardener, a new character with old ties to Poison Ivy who gives them an update on Ivy seeding herself into the foundation of Gotham City. She’s come to bring Harley to Ivy. But they’re all interrupted by Oracle calling Ghost-Maker to go assist Batman.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This was another solid chapter in the ongoing Batman storyline. I glossed over a lot, but Batman has a really fun fight with Peacekeeper-01, so there’s all the action anybody could ever want. The issue also opens with a fun chat between Bruce and Babs. She really does work great as a sounding board for everybody. So yeah, this issue features a lot of good, quality Batman character work and comic book adventure stuff. He fights bad guys, he works at clues and he interacts with his fun supporting cast. The Ghost-Maker/Harley stuff is fun, too. She works really well as a foil for him, or vice versa. Though everything with Gardener about Poison Ivy feels like it belongs in a different comic. I don’t think Tynion has done anything with Ivy in his series, yet here we get a big info dump about Ivy and her whole deal right now. Seemed to come out of nowhere. And Ghost-Maker is made out to be painfully inferior to Batman in this issue, something I don’t think we’ve seen yet from him. He’s so…desperate to model himself after Batman completely. I don’t feel like that jives with how I’ve been interpreting the character. But I suppose his character is still coming into his own.

TL;DR: Real fun use of characters new and old throughout the issue, though some of them feel forced into the story to serve other stuff going on elsewhere.

Crush & Lobo #1

Crush & Lobo #1
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Amancay Nahuelpan
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Ariana Maher

I don’t know the first thing about Crush and I’ve never liked Lobo. But it’s Pride Month and I wanted to give this new series a try!

Crush recently quit the Teen Titans and now finds herself fighting some alien monsters in the streets of New York City. When she’s done, she gets a reminder on her phone that her girlfriend Katie’s birthday is in 10 minutes! Crush rushes to get changed and show up at the venue, where Katie is having a perfectly normal, human birthday party, complete with pink decorations, her friends and her normal human parents. Crush is uncomfortable with all of it, but she does enjoy dancing with Katie. But then some of the alien monster residue causes a giant gas cloud and the party is ruined. Katie asks Crush to leave.

Three days later, Red Arrow goes to visit Crush and figure out what’s wrong. Crush isn’t good at talking about her feelings and nothing really gets settled. Though she does reveal that her dad, Lobo, sent her a message from prison that he’d like her to come visit and do some father/daughter counseling. So rather than respond to Katie’s texts, Crush steals a spaceship to go visit her dad in space prison.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I only knew the vaguest of basics about Crush going into this comic and I’m pleased with this first issue. Like I said above, I’ve never cared about Lobo in the slightest, so he means nothing to me. And I’ve never read a Crush comic, so I don’t care about her. But here we are and this is a fine introductory issue. Tamaki has Crush narrate the entire issue and it works really well. Really builds her character and gets the audience on board very easily. She throws in some Fourth Wall breaking stuff, and that worked just fine for me. We definitely get a sense of who Crush is from the narration and that’s important for setting the foundation for this series.

It’s all gonna work out just fine

The story was fun. Sending Crash to her girlfriend’s normal, cheerful birthday party was a great way to get us more into Crush’s head. It was also a fun scene, showing us that Crush is a dancer when the mood strikes her. And it was just funny as Crush bristled at everything around her. It made me want to look up her history with Katie in the Teen Titans comics. Is there any to look up? A shame they had a soft break-up, though. Not exactly the best way to get me interested in reading more Crush. Perhaps that will be an ongoing storyline. And the stuff with Lobo is obviously there to set up the story going forward, so that was fine.

The art is great. Very lively, very detailed and great job with Crush and her wild style.

TL;DR: Enjoyable start to this new series with a lot of fun character moments and a really good foundation for the main character.

Marauders #21

Marauders #21
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Matteo Lolli
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

It’s the opening chapter of the Hellfire Gala! I have been very much looking forward to this event, so let’s dive on in!

Emma Frost is the host for the evening and this issue is largely a series of vignettes as guests arrive and start to mingle. The Avengers, Fantastic Four and Doctor Doom arrive, though Doom is a grump through most of the party. Mr. Fantastic has some whispers to Professor X, and Emma and Banshee discuss something unspoken. Rhapsody makes her return after nearly 30 years to be the opening act. The Shi’ar have brought something Emma requested, but she forgot what it was. The Cuckoos pulls some sort of trick against Wilhelmina of the Hellfire Brats.

The issue ends by jumping ahead to the end of the evening after whatever big events have taken place. A lot of diplomats and superheroes are disturbed by what happened, but the X-Men seem confident.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I’m going to warn you all right now: I didn’t think any of these first Hellfire Gala issues were all that amazing. They’re mostly staid and straight forward parts of the party. This issue in particular focuses more on the party in general, and it definitely works as an introduction to the event. We get a lot of fun little snippets of scenes. Doctor Doom is a delight, though he would have been even more fun had he actually enjoyed himself. As Captain America points out in this issue, Doom has attended his fair share of state events. I feel like Doctor Doom could appreciate a good party.

Also, and this is a bit of a tangent, but I also feel like it would be more fun if Doctor Doom was a willing ally of Krakoa. This issue mentions that he does not treat Latverian mutants well. But, like…what if he did? That would be pretty wild and more entertaining than Doom just being a party grump who mistreats mutants. Have we ever met a mutant from Latveria before? There’s a character idea.

Doctor Doom has a fine sense of humor

Emma Frost and the issue’s writing really shine and carry this opening chapter. There are a lot of really fun moments, like the one I just shared. I think that’s a good approach to the Hellfire Gala. Let’s all celebrate some really fun character stuff before we get to the big reveals and shocking twists. Those will carry themselves. Let’s truly embrace this party! Scenes like Rhapsody’s opening number and Saucier making meals and a couple of the boys sneaking away to play dice, with the Thing catching them and joining in. That’s the stuff I really love about this issue and this event.

Though one last note: while I love all the chic outfits Marvel designed for the X-Men, the rest of the superheroes and Doom look ridiculous wearing their normal superhero costumes. They could have been glammed up a little bit! Doctor Doom definitely has a “party” outfit somewhere.

TL;DR: Really good, really solid kick-off to the Hellfire Gala. The fun character moments and vignettes really carry the issue.

Hellions #12

Hellions #12
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Stephen Segovia
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Ariana Maher

And so we settle into some calm, simple tie-in material.

The rougher Hellions weren’t invited to the Gala, but they show up anyway. Most of them get drunk and cause a scene. Mr. Sinister spends the whole time trying to prove how much better and most stylish he is than everyone else. Wild Child gets mad because his ex, Aurora, is now with Daken, and that leads to a lot of feral posturing and a fight. And then others join in because they’re all mostly drunk. And so they get teleported away and everybody calls it a night to watch the fireworks. Then an evil Sinister shows up from earlier in the series, I assume. I’m not reading Hellions.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

As an issue of Hellions, this was probably better than I’m giving it credit for. Everybody is written really well and I think I would be interested in some of their ongoing drama. I really enjoyed Greycrow back when I was reading Hellions at the very beginning, and I liked him in this issue. The rest of the characters are also fun. There’s just nothing particularly enticing or exciting about this issue on its own or as part of the Hellfire Gala. Unlike Marauders, this Hellions chapter is focused entirely on the characters, and they are just slightly removed from the Gala itself. In fact, they’re rather disruptive to the Gala, which I don’t care for. I am far more interested in the Gala than I am in the rough Hellions getting into mischief at the Gala. But Wells writes everyone well and there are some strong moments, like the reunion of Wild Child and Aurora. That’s decades in the making and was a really smart move. Great choice there.

TL;DR: A simple, eventful, but overall nothing very exciting tie-in to the Hellfire Gala.

X-Force #20

X-Force #20
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Joshua Cassara
Colorist: Guru e-FX
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

This issue is a good example of why it’s a bad idea to review every single issue of the Hellfire Gala crossover. Just like Hellions this issue has a lot of ties to its own ongoing story. And that’s perfectly fine, but it makes things tougher for a rando like me to just pop in.

X-Force are serving as the Gala’s security and we check in on a couple of things from different perspectives. That Shi’ar thing? It’s a bunch of logic crystals. Beast is doing something shady with the nation of Terra Verde as part of the ongoing X-Force storyline, and it involves the diplomats in attendance at the Gala. Emma Frost figures it out and visits Sage, who has to miss the party to run logistics. Emma tells Sage to knock off whatever they’re doing, but then Sage discovers that their plant-based spy network has messed up and one of the ambassadors becomes some kind of plant monster!

Meanwhile, Wolverine is guarding the southern shoreline and Deadpool shows up to crash the party. They get into a fight and then Domino shows up to lend Wolvie a hand.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

I liked this issue about as well as I liked the Hellions issue, though X-Force was slightly more interested in their own storylines than Hellions. All that stuff with Beast and Terra Verde flew right over my head. I could make out what was happening, but it didn’t hold my interest. I liked the character-based stuff much better. Like Wolverine avoiding the party and then getting into a fight with Deadpool, and Domino showing up to help kick his butt. That was fun. And adding a Deadpool subplot to the Hellfire Gala is a nice — if expected — touch. It makes sense that he would try something.

Let’s see this in Deadpool 3

Coming into this only interested in the Hellfire Gala part, this issue is just mildly entertaining. The writing and art are very strong, and there are some fun character moments. But the issue as a whole feels just distracted enough from the event that I don’t care as much as I probably should. That’s on me. I just didn’t think this issue on its own or as part of the Gala was all that interesting. It’s just a solid, well-made comic that probably does a lot to move X-Force’s story forward. It doesn’t do much for the Hellfire Gala.

TL;DR: Another good enough chapter of the Hellfire Gala.

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 June 5, 2021, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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