Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 6/12/21

It’s the week of weeks! What week is that? Why…this week, obviously. I’m getting more sleep now so I’m feeling better, so at least there’s that. Plenty of fun comics this week, from the finale to Far Sector to a couple more solid chapters of the Hellfire Gala!

Comic Book of the Week goes to Mighty Morphin #8 because, as is usually the case, I love this comic and everything in it. Maybe I just love any iteration of the Green Power Ranger too much.

The Dragonzord is kicking so much butt!

Meanwhile, the first episode of Loki has arrived and it was really fun! I like the set-up, I like the characters and actors, and I think this is going to be a really neat show. Likewise, Heroes Reborn remains really neat! Probably my favorite Big Event from Marvel in a while.

Comic Reviews: Detective Comics #1037, Far Sector #12, Mighty Morphin #8, Strange Academy #11, Excalibur #21, X-Men #21 and Children of the Atom #4.

Detective Comics #1037

Detective Comics #1037
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Viktor Bogdanovic
Inkers: Jonathan Glapion and Bogdanovic
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar

I’m definitely getting into broken record territory here, but perhaps that can be used as review of DC’s Batman output these days. Both Batman and Detective Comics are solid, enjoyable Batmanery…to the point that it’s getting a little monotonous.

While Huntress works with Oracle to trace the mysterious parasite that killed Neil Betterman, Bruce rushes home because the cops are looking for him. Another neighbor, Lydia, has been murdered, and he was seen arguing with her in the previous issue. Bruce is taken down to the station for questioning and then is arrested and put in a cell…while the entire precinct seems to mysteriously empty out. We then see Mr. Worth arrive outside with a rocket launcher and he blows up the building! He believes Bruce is responsible for killing his daughter, and this is his revenge. Bruce scrapes out and disappears into the sewer, with Worth close behind. Bruce heads to one of his secret lairs and suits up to fight Worth as Batman.

Meanwhile, Hue Vile, one of the mayor’s dudes, is some kind of alien bug monster. The name was a dead giveaway.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

The cops probably have the right idea. Bruce Wayne moves into the neighborhood and within the first month, everybody around him starts winding up dead? I’m still disappointed that Tamaki is wasting her new supporting cast like this. She’s building a nice little mystery, with lots of different angles, but what’s supposed to happen next? Bruce lives on an empty block? Tamaki is also going really hard on the Deb Donovan character. She’s supposed to be this great newspaper reporter. Well, speaking as a so-so newspaper reporter, everything Deb apparently writes is opinion/editorial. A couple issues now, including this one, feature a piece by Deb Donovan about Gotham City. And yeah…they’re pure editorial. But that’s just a gripe from my day job.

Huntress and Oracle have been fun guests

As for this issue, it’s solid work all around. I like Mr. Worth as a potential villain, though I think his using a rocket launcher on a police precinct is a little much. It’s a little too crazy for what is otherwise a pretty grounded story. So Bruce Wayne doesn’t notice that the entire police precinct has emptied out? And in order to kill Bruce, Mr. Worth has enough pull to empty the building and then blow it up with a rocket launcher? He doesn’t have any slyer way to assassinate Bruce Wayne? Also, the end of the issue implies that Bruce is giving away his secret identity to Worth. Weird choice.

TL;DR: Good, solid, enjoyable chapter in the ongoing crime drama, though the big explosion scene in this issue is a bit too much for everything else around it.

Far Sector #12

Far Sector #12
Writer: N.K. Jemisin
Artist: Jamal Campbell
Letterer: Deron Bennett

In the end, Far Sector is probably much better read all at once. This was a nice little story. Hopefully Jo Mullein fits nicely into the larger DC world.

The City Enduring is under attack from its own troops, so Green Lantern Sojourner Mullein flies up to the lead ship and gives a good speech to the captain about the difference in following orders and doing the right thing. The captain stands down and the revolution is over. Everything wraps up in a montage. The population votes to allow emotions back. The bad guys get locked up. Stuff will get dealt with.

Afterwards, Jo has a nice moment in the park with Syz, who has already started letting her emotions back in. It’s cute and sexy. Jo heads back to her apartment and chats with her AI friend about 20th century fiction before the friend passes along a message from Jo’s dad. She reads it and is comforted. Jo then rests on the balcony overlooking the city and ruminates on stuff. She ends the story by shining her light in the sky and reciting the GL oath.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I don’t really know what to say about the final issue of Far Sector. It’s both big and exciting, small and intimate, and yet not as amazing as I’d hoped it would be back at the very beginning. I loved the first issue of this series. It launched what appeared to be a really cool comic about a Green Lantern doing the job. And while Far Sector was about that for sure, Jemisin also ballooned the world building and threw in a lot about what it means to be an officer of the law. A lot of it landed well. There is a lot to recommend about this series as a whole. If someone wanted to sit down and read the whole thing, I would definitely recommend it. But perhaps its not as clean cut as I would have liked, at least not for me personally. Still, I’m satisfied with this ending.

The art in this scene is so pretty

The art is, as always, glorious. Campbell has been at the top of his game for the entire series, and this final issue does not disappoint. We don’t get anything too huge with Jo’s Green Lantern powers, but that’s OK. His character work is exceptional. The quiet, intimate scenes with Jo out of costume are phenomenal. The story is largely just fine. It’s a solid ending, even if it’s over quickly. Jo finds a single ship’s captain and gives a solid if generic speech about doing the right thing, and then it’s all over. The epilogue stuff more than makes up for the abrupt ending to the main conflict. I liked the scene of Jo and Syz together. And, again, it looks beautiful, so there’s that.

In the end, I think the weirdness and complications of The City Enduring and its world-building muddled what is otherwise a solid crime/character story.

TL;DR: The main story wraps a bit too abruptly, but I think the character work and the artwork more than elevate this series in the end. It’s a good read as a whole.

Mighty Morphin #8

Mighty Morphin #8
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Marco Renna
Colorist: Walter Baiamonte, with assistance from Katia Ranalli and Sara Antonellini
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire

Another big storyline comes to a big, exciting ending! Ryan Parrott can do no wrong.

We open with a flashback as Zordon, Zophram and Zartus discuss the Zeo Crystal they just found in Bandora’s Palace. Zordon tells the legend of its creation by the mighty warrior Zeon when he slew the dragon Vitara. Zordon suggests Zophram might wield the crystal to end the war, but Zophram points out that using the crystal is forbidden.

In the present, Tommy is battling two giant chaos putties in the White Tigerzord and getting his butt whooped. Aisha rushes in with her Griffin Zord to lend a hand, doing a fairly good job considering how dumb the non-red Thunder Zords are. The other Rangers face off against Lord Zedd in Promethea, quickly turning down his offer to betray Zordon. They launch into a battle against Goldar and the putties, while Candace shows up to fight Zedd. With the battle on, Grace gives Matt permission to engage and he teleports away to the Dragonzord…but he can’t get it working properly. So he contacts Billy for advice, which reveals Billy’s betrayal to Zordon. The big head ain’t happy.

But the Dragonzord shows up in time to save Tommy, destroying one of the giant chaos putties with one hit! Tommy and Aisha take out the other one while Matt and the Dragonzord destroy the dome — with everyone in Angel Grove looking on. Back in the fight at Promethea, Grace Sterling orders her soldiers to betray Goldar and Zedd and the tide quickly turns — but not before Zedd kidnaps Candace and teleports away. Zedd taunts the Rangers that he never wanted Zordon or the city. He simply wanted to sow doubt about the Rangers into the citizens of Angel Grove.

In the aftermath, Matt is interviewed by Ranger Station and tells the people that he was always on their side, that the partnership with Zedd was strategic until the time was right to strike. Billy is on the outs from the Command Center. Candace is Zedd’s prisoner and Skull is missing her.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This concluding chapter is a thrill ride from start to finish, simple as that. It’s a wonderful character piece with so many great moving pieces, tying everything together nicely. There’s action. There are big reveals. There’s cool character moments. And there are a ton of teases for what comes next. This issue is everything great about these Power Rangers comics, which is why I love these books. Parrott also finds new ways to utilize everybody in really fun ways! Seeing Aisha show up piloting her Zord is just plain cool. The non-red Thunder Zords are garbage, but Parrott and Aisha make that little griffin boot shine!

Parrott is making a point to make all yellow Rangers so awesome

I’ll admit, I don’t read a very broad spectrum of comics. I’m sure there are indies and the like out there that are really great. But so few comics have this degree of excellent character drama and twists. The reveal that Matt and Grace were planning a double cross the whole time they were working with Zedd is fun! They still did the right thing in the end, but they took a pretty dark path to get there, and that makes for a great shade on them as heroes. Likewise, Zedd’s trickery in order to turn the people of Angel Grove against the Rangers is great too! It makes him more of a cool and cerebral villain than just making dumb monsters all the time. And that makes for a far more interesting story.

This final chapter of the story was excellent with a lot of really fun character and action beats. And that’s why this remains my absolute favorite comic these days.

TL;DR: So many great scenes and character moments to wrap up an already thrilling story.

Strange Academy #11

Strange Academy #11
Writer: Skottie Young
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

I definitely have my favorite characters in this comic and only really care when they’re the main focus of the story.

Late one night in the school halls, Toth is attacked and shattered by some mysterious force. His parents are called and they help put all his crystal pieces back together, but they’re missing the heart shard, which is needed to revive him. Howard the Duck is called to investigate and he interviews all of the students, all of whom have alibis. But Howard looks at photos of the crime scene and discovers a pin in the wall…like the trendy pins on Calvin’s jacket! The teachers confront Calvin and the giant, goo and eyeball monster that is Calvin’s jacket takes over and fights back!

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

This might sound cruel…but I kind of want Calvin to lose his powers after this. Strange Academy could use some real serious drama and consequences, and Calvin isn’t a very interesting character. If his only bit of magic was this coat, and this coat is an evil monster…maybe he has to leave the school/series once the monster is destroyed. It’ll be sad, but that’s the point! That’s why I want it to happen! Give us some real drama! Otherwise, this is just another monster that gets swept under the rug and everything is fine. The issue is very good. It’s a solid mystery, with a clear goal in solving. Howard the Duck is always a fun cameo, though he is mostly just a regular detective in this issue. Everything just works. From the people trying to piece Toth back together, to Howard grilling the students and studying clues, to the big, bad reveal at the end. I just hope the aftermath has some real teeth.

TL;DR: Good, solid issue with a nice mystery and an exciting ending.

Excalibur #21

Excalibur #21
Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Marcus To
Colorist: Erick Arciniega
Letterer: VC’s Ariana Maher

Just like last week, the X-Men comics I’m not reading aren’t particularly interesting to me with their Gala tie-ins.

Excalibur suit up and head to the party, with Rictor really grumpy about it. Rictor has a run-in with Shatterstar, who was recently freed from Mojoverse, but Rictor blows him off. Rogue is elected to the X-Men and everybody is happy for her. Pete Wisdom asks Betsy to dance and he warns her about the trouble brewing with Coven Akkaba. In fact, the Coven and their British diplomat meet with Xavier to declare that England is breaking its treaty with Krakoa, effective immediately. They reject Betsy as Captain Britain. Then Kurt has a cute scene with Brian and Meggan Braddock. And Rachel Summers asks Betsy to dance for real and they have a nice time.

Later, Coven Akkaba sacrifices Pete Wisdom to revive Morgan Le Fay as part of that ongoing storyline. And Rictor calls on his druid buddies to separate the Braddock Lighthouse onto its own little island. Shatterstar comes to visit him again, cleaned up this time and making less of a scene, and they spend some time catching up.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I liked this issue a bit more than I liked the Hellions and X-Force issues from last week. I’m not sure why. I think perhaps the nicer character focus. This issue is full of nice, sweet scenes as the members of Excalibur support one another and help one another. Like Rachel asking Betsy to dance after the rough night she’d had. Or the stuff with Rictor and Shatterstar. And the support everybody shows for Rogue when she’s elected to the X-Men. It was all really nice and enjoyable character stuff, set right in the heart of the Gala. The rest of the storyline wasn’t all that interesting, with the British ambassador and Morgan Le Fay. But that’s what I said last week, that the ongoing storyline stuff wasn’t very interesting to me. Thankfully, the Gala stuff is nice and it easily carries the issue.

TL;DR: The Hellfire Gala stuff is really nice in this issue. Everybody is so warm and supportive of one another.

X-Men #21

X-Men #21
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artists: Nick Dragotta, Russell Dauterman, Lucas Werneck and Sara Pichelli
Colorists: Frank Martin, Matthew Wilson, Sunny Gho and Noland Woodard
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

I was definitely looking forward to this issue a lot. And it’s good! But it’s still more just a series of vignettes. At least Multiple Man features in many of them.

We open with Xavier and Magneto chatting up Namor at the party. They offer him a seat on the Quiet Council should he rejoin the mutants, but Namor points out that he’s a real king and not a pretender. Then we have the election of the new X-Men. Jean Grey telepathically connects every mutant on the planet and they all hold mental elections around favored candidates. The new X-Men are Cyclops, Jean, Polaris, Sunfire, Synch, Rogue and Wolverine (Laura).

Later on, Emma meets with some representatives from some hidden society and requests their Kara Kutuca. Cyclops chats with Kevin Feige at the bar and tells his story: how he loved Xavier and the dream early on, but grew to understand Xavier was just a person, like him, and that’s better to love the idea of the dream than the dream itself. So he’s a dreamer. He’s an X-Man. And the Omega Mutants all go off to a secret meeting.

Emma ends the evening by connecting the minds of everyone in attendance to witness the fireworks show…though we don’t actually get to see it. Something pretty big happens, but we’re gonna have to wait for another issue. I think next week?

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This was the second real meaty issue of the Hellfire Gala and it’s good. Nothing truly noteworthy or exciting has happened yet, so I’m not going to crow to the heavens with praise for the Gala. But as an event, I’m enjoying what I’m seeing. The constant teases to the big events is getting a little annoying, but hopefully we’ll see those big events next week and we can all breathe a sigh of relief. Until then, this was a nice, entertaining and character-filled series of vignettes. I like that sort of thing, and it works for the Hellfire Gala as a storyline.

The Multiple Mans were on point

On a personal level, I have never liked Namor and hate the idea that he’s a mutant, so his scene was garbage as far as I’m concerned. Russell Dauterman is an extraordinary artist and I think he should be drawing interiors on a permanent basis for the X-Men, so his election scene was the best part of the issue. I would have liked a bit more time with those individual characters though. How does Sunfire feel about being made one of the X-Men? I think he and Synch are the most out-of-left-field candidates, so I would love to see their individual reactions. But at least the idea of the telepathic voting process was fun.

TL;DR: Another nice bunch of vignettes from the Hellfire Gala. I’m enjoying this event so far, though it’s largely just been simmering along these past two weeks.

Children of the Atom #4

Children of the Atom #4
Writer: Vita Ayala
Artist: Paco Medina
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham

This series is only 5 issues, right? So it’s almost over? It’s a weird feeling.

This issue is narrated by Benny, otherwise known as Marvel Guy. He’s bummed by a couple of things. His parents are divorced and his dad quickly moved on to a new family, and he’s wishy washy as to whether or not he likes his younger step-brother Jay Jay. There is some romantic tension between him and Carmen, but she comes out to him in this issue, and Benny himself seems asexual, though he doesn’t say it out loud. The group are excited at the chance to possibly sneak into Krakoa during the Hellfire Gala, since the portals will change to allow humans. Buddy stole a jersey from Cole’s room and she wants to try using Cole’s sweat to allow them through. It’s a weird idea.

We see a flashback to the kids trying out the various weapons that give them powers, before they settled on who would get what. The flashback provides some Benny & Jay Jay and some Benny & Carmen drama.

When the kids go to the portal to try their plan they are ambushed by a mutant-hunting squad of soldiers. Everyone is kidnapped except for Jay Jay, who got away. The squad is part of some cell that’s going to carve up their mutant parts. Except that Jay Jay went and got the full-on X-Men to come help!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I don’t know what the point of this is. This issue seems to confirm, without any fanfare, that they’re not mutants. I suspected as much from the first issue, but the first three issues really seemed to play up the mystery of them maybe being mutants. Nope. Confirmed they’re humans with technology. So anyway. Considering all of the multitude of X-Men books in existence right now, why are the exceptionally excellent talents of Vita Ayala, Paco Medina, David Curiel and Travis Lanham being used on this book? I’ll grant you, perhaps this is a story that they wanted to tell. Perhaps this is a pet project for them or something along those lines. If that’s the case, I hope they arrive at a point soon. If that’s not the case, then again, what’s this about?

A couple of rando kids form their own superhero team, only this time they modeled themselves after the X-Men because they’re super fans?

You have already met a fair number of X-Men without going to Krakoa. You met Maggott!

I dunno what I’m trying to say. Basically, the art and writing in this series is excellent. The art is colorful, energetic, detailed and full of character. The writing is great! Ayala is taking the time to get into the heads of all of her characters, giving them hopes, dreams, flaws and more. She’s really laying a lot of groundwork. You don’t actually see that sort of thing in many comics. But, like…isn’t this is a short mini-series? And don’t the X-Men have enough books already? Why aren’t Ayala and Medina putting their talents to good use on some existing X-Men characters? Unless there are bigger plans for these characters down the line? They’re fine characters…but I don’t know if they’re “plans down the line” fine.

TL;DR: The writing and artwork on this series remains excellent, I’m just not entirely sure where this story is going or where it fits into the bigger picture of things.

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 12, 2021, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Multiple Man, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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