Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 6/26/21

Pretty average week for me, all things considered. Thankfully, we’ve got some good, solid, enjoyable comics! Mostly. The Hellfire Gala has some strong chapters, and that’s mostly about it.

Comic Book of the Week goes to S.W.O.R.D. #6 for the powerful, character-based, emotional Hellfire Gala issue I’ve been waiting for! This one finally shows what all the big moves have been about!

Because even you like good comics, Doctor

Meanwhile, at long last, several years in the waiting, I am finally playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. My favorite types of video games are the big, open world sandbox adventures, and this is supposedly the best of the all. But I didn’t own a Nintendo Switch. Now I do and the game is great. I might be playing this all summer!

Also, Heroes Reborn ended in a fun way. It all led to a big fight, as these things usually do. But this was definitely one of my favorite of the recent Big Events. I don’t read them all, but this one had some real charm and, as I’ve been saying all along, it had that sweet Amalgam Comics vibe that I love so much!

Comic Reviews: Detective Comics #1038, Power Rangers #8, Robin #3, Wolverine #13, S.W.O.R.D. #6 and Way of X #3.

Detective Comics #1038

Detective Comics #1038
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Viktor Bogdanovic
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar

I don’t know if I was having an off day when I read this or what…but something about this issue just tanked the overall quality and enjoyability of this Detective Comics storyline. Everything just came together to be terrible this issue.

Batman fights Mr. Worth in the sewers while ruminating on Worth’s grip on Gotham City. Don’t you love it when brand new characters are introduced out of nowhere who are apparently the heart and soul of power and crime in Gotham? Also, the new artist draws Worth like he’s the Hulk. He could palm a basketball. Worth gets the better of Batman until Lady Clayface wanders into the scene looking like Worth’s daughter. This gets him to stop and Batman takes him into custody, turning him over to the police for blowing up that precinct last issue.

Batman crashes at Huntress’ apartment as they start going over the details of the crime. Then they see on TV that Worth has already been released. Worth is approached by Hue Vile, who is none too shy about doing evil now. Hue arranges a meeting with Deb Donovan and kidnaps her, then puts her in the sewer attached to some bombs to lure Batman to her. And despite Batman and Huntress’ best efforts, they can neither disarm the bombs or free Donovan before they blow.

Comic Rating: 4/10 – Pretty Bad.

Nothing worked for me this issue. Everything felt and looked weird. There was Worth’s huge size. I know he’s been big this entire storyline, but it got almost comical here. There’s Worth constantly linking Batman and Bruce Wayne as a team, even in the press, which feels unnecessarily too close for comfort. There’s the overall mystery with the parasites, which we don’t feel any closer to solving, unless it really is just that Hue Vile is some kind of bug monster behind it all. There’s Hue Vile’s stupid name, and the fact that he’s almost exactly like Simon Saint, another bespectacled bad guy who works with the mayor over in the Batman comic. How many dweeby super-villains in eyeglasses does the mayor confer with? And then there’s the constant use of Deb Donovan. I’m all for establishing newspaper reporter characters in Gotham City, but it grinds my gears how Tamaki introduced all of these brand new supporting characters and then every single event or thought revolves around them. Like I mentioned before, suddenly Mr. Worth is the very foundation of crime and power in Gotham. And why would Vile use Deb Donovan as his hostage? It doesn’t make any sense. There’s also the scene where everybody is surprised that the police released Mr. Worth following his arrest. That’s the entire point of bail. And a rich guy like Worth can afford whatever bail they set for blowing up a police station.

TL;DR: All of the interesting plotting and character work in this story so far just fell apart this issue. Suddenly events and characters felt very contrived and nothing held together.

Power Rangers #8

Power Rangers #8
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Francesco Mortarino, with ink assist from Gilbey Ibarra
Colorist: Raul Angulo with assistance from Jose Enrique Fernandez
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire

The twists keep coming and they don’t stop coming!

An Empyreal arrives on Hartunia and Jason and Trini meet it in battle with their Zords. Zack stays behind with the Empress to start ferrying her loyal subjects to their ship, while the Emperor and his army join the fight. Some guards attempt to stop Zack and the Empress and she stays behind to delay them, promising Zack she’s right behind him. Zack gets everyone onto the ship and waits until the last second before letting Xi take off. He spots the Emperor running through the trees towards the ship and Zack closes the door, denying to Drakkon that he saw anyone else coming. The Rangers flee Hartunia with a few dozen refugees and Zack is pissed. Their mission seems so useless.

The Empyreal destroys the planet and then reports back to its master…Zartus of Eltar!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Zartus is behind the Empyreals? I don’t yet know how to feel about this. On the one hand, it seems too small. I’ve been enjoying the idea of the Emypreals as a Galactus-level threat. But to think they are being controlled by just a random dude? Not as interesting. Granted he’s a dude on the same level, if not greater, than Zordon, and that’s saying something. But giving the Empyreals a grounded boss makes them all the more beatable. Still, Parrott has been doing a great job building up Zartus as a character, so this should all prove to be interesting in the long run. And, thankfully, the power of the Empyreals makes for a really strong issue as one of them is allowed to do his great work.

You’re not gonna get this good of drama in the old show

This issue works really well with the two main storylines. We’ve got Jason and Trini taking on the Emypreal directly, and it’s a fun fight. I would have hoped the Emypreal could better handle two Zords, but I still enjoyed that the Empyreal won. If the answer to beating these things is the reveal of the Omega Megazord, that will be fine by me. The Zack story was obviously the strongest part of the issue. He seemed to really connect with the Empress very quickly, and it made for some fun character stuff as he tried his best to save her. I loved the scene where Zack closes the spaceship door even though he clearly sees the Emperor running towards him. That’s some great character development, as was Zack’s outburst after they flee. We can’t just have all of the Rangers being carbon copy goody two-shoes. So I love that kind of drama in this series.

TL;DR: Another standout issue that balances big action and powerful character drama. The threats are big and the character work is intimate.

Robin #3

Robin #3
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Gleb Melnikov
Colorist: Luis Guerrero
Letterer: ALW’s Troy Peteri

If this comic wasn’t called “Robin” I probably wouldn’t be reading. I’m a sucker for a Robin ongoing series, apparently regardless of content.

Ravager takes Damian to the party to try and get him to loosen up, but when all the various killers and whatnots start going on and on about their various encounters with Batman, Damian slips away. He eventually finds Connor Hawke meditating and the two bond over their superhero fathers. Then Hawke’s League of Shadows bosses show up — one of whom used to be one of Damian’s childhood trainers— and they order Hawke to beat up Damian. It’s a quick fight; Hawke wins and then he throws Damian off the cliff to the rocks below.

Damian is saved by his grandfather Ra’s al Ghul, who is looking a lot worse for wear these days.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

That final page cliffhanger saved the issue for me. I’ll grant you, I don’t care even a whiff about Connor Hawke, so maybe that plays a part in my growing disinterest. As does my lack of care for Damian Wayne. This comic has nothing to do with him being Robin. He should have given that name up. This should be where Damian evolves into his own original identity. This is an otherwise fine Damian comic. I just don’t think it’s clicking with me personally. The party scene at the beginning is quickly ditched, and I was rather excited about it. The bonding and fighting with Hawke also felt a little rushed and surface level.

Connor Hawke fans should be happy

Perhaps it is just me. I don’t care about either character, so seeing them bond and battle doesn’t do much for me at all. They also break one of the major rules by fighting at night. Why even have rules if you’re just going to break them right away and at every opportunity? I want to see more of the fighting tournament. Though I also like the idea of Ra’s al Ghul showing up to be in Damian’s corner. That’s a fun twist that could provide some real oomph to this series. I don’t know his recent history, but he should be a fun addition to this series.

TL;DR: I may not be connecting with this comic personally, but it is nonetheless a good direction to take Damian Wayne and a fun story to put him through. The final page cliffhanger is full of potential.

Wolverine #13

Wolverine #13
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Scot Eaton
Inker: Oren Junior
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

This is another one of those tie-in issues I shouldn’t be reading, but I wanted to read and review every part of the Hellfire Gala. So sue me.

The telefloronic people of Terra Verdean have broken free of Beast’s control and are fighting back at the Gala, with X-Force working to keep the battle under wraps so that the guests are not bothered. As the dust settles, everybody tells Beast to get stuffed while they instead work out an armistice that includes Terra Verde turning away from Krakoa and getting reparations. Emma tries to talk to Beast, but he’s all “I’ll be the bastard Krakoa needs me to be” in his thinking these days.

Meanwhile, during the party, somebody stole the Marauder ship and its Shi’ar logic diamonds and sailed them to Madripoor, then set the ship on fire.

Comic Rating: 7/10 -Good.

I’m going to keep this short and sweet. This is a fine issue, and I’m sure it’s key to the ongoing stories that Benjamin Percy is working on, but it’s nothing special for a stand alone issue. It’s not even much of a Wolverine comic. This issue is a lot more about the Beast and whatever dark road Marvel has him going down these days. The plant people of Terra Verde are not particularly interesting, and Beast’s dark machinations don’t really jive with the rest of Krakoa, in my opinion. The fights aren’t particularly interesting and Deadpool doesn’t have as much to do this issue with his cameo. So this is just a fine, standard little issue that theoretically moves the Terra Verde storyline forward in some important ways. One assumes.

TL;DR: Gets the job done on some ongoing storylines, whatever those jobs might be.

S.W.O.R.D. #6

S.W.O.R.D. #6
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Ariana Maher

Here it is, folks! This is the Hellfire Gala issue I’ve been waiting for! Terraforming Mars was cool and all, but this is the issue with all the big, interesting conversations and the deeply cool character stuff!

We open at the end of the Hellfire Gala, as guests are filing out. Captain America looks up at Mars, still in shock. Doctor Doom asks for his thoughts and they have a great scene together about what all this means. We then cut to SWORD HQ as Abigail Brand updates various galactic representatives about what this all means. She also offers the various empires a new metal, invented by mutants, called “mysterium”. It’s very strong and very light, so it’s pretty awesome metal. In exchange, they ask for proper recognition. The Sol System is no longer just the backwater Earth. The system is now a proper galactic body, with Mars as the capital.

Doctor Doom teleports into the council at that moment to demand why he should care. If the Sol System is now as organized and powerful as they say, who is in charge? And that’s when Storm reveals what she’s been building towards all this time: Storm is now Regent of Mars, the voice of Sol! It’s an awesome scene.

Lastly, we visit with Magneto as he sits alone in the gala hall with a drink. He’s visited by the Scarlet Witch, who he invited, but who was hesitant to come. Magneto embraces her and promises that she will always be his daughter, and that he will make this right.

Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.

Give me that sweet, sweet character drama! I live for this stuff, and this issue is chockfull of character greatness! The Hellfire Gala has been fun so far, but I’ve found it rather low key. This issue finally has characters talk through what’s going on in deeply meaningful and entertaining ways. Terraforming Mars is neat. Having Storm make a big entrance to a council of galactic empires and declare herself the voice of the entire solar system, putting Doctor Doom in his place, is amazing! I did not have that spoiled for me, thank god. It was a big and awesome moment! As was the rest of the issue. Every scene was a delight, especially Doctor Doom and Captain America discussing the issue as equals. I love Doom scenes like that. So much fun!

Superheroes treating Doctor Doom like an equal is sweet, sweet comics

I loved all of the scenes in this issue. And, of course, all of them were drawn spectacularly. Schiti is phenomenal and the world does not deserve him. It was fun seeing Abigail Brand put her foot down and declare that Earth is now a legitimate power in the galaxy. That feels like a real step forward, stronger than just terraforming Mars. And I loved the ending scene with Magneto and Scarlet Witch. It is far past time Marvel re-retconned Wanda and Pietro into being mutants and Magneto’s children again. Everybody loved that status quo and nobody liked it when Marvel changed them to fit Ike Perlmutter’s hatred of the X-Men movie rights. So seeing Magneto’s storyline head in this direction is really nice.

TL;DR: The big moments of the Hellfire Gala finally get the character attention and emotional weight they deserve. Everything felt big and powerful in this issue and I’m finally, truly excited to see what comes next.

Way of X #3

Way of X #3
Writer: Si Spurrier
Artist: Bob Quinn
Colorist: Java Tartaglia
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

You caught my interest with the return of Stacy X. You have my attention with everything else.

At the Hellfire Gala, Nightcrawler got totally wasted and made an ass of himself by trying to talk to people about what’s going on, while also not scaring them with news of Onslaught. He’s having a hard time wrapping his head around the first law of Krakoa: Make More Mutants. The following morning, Kurt has a run-in with Stacy X and discovers that she’s running a spot where people can come and hang out together or hook up, just a place for them to feel good together. And she’s also running what seems to be an orphanage for mutant babies. People are making more mutants…and a lot of them are being abandoned. Lost is an old friend of Stacy’s and is helping out. Stacy gives Kurt a lesson in the need for mutants to care about other mutants.

Meanwhile, Loa and Mercury’s date at the Gala did not go well, so Pixie asks Legion to help. He sends them on a mental super-date, where their minds and souls merge…but the two of them learn too much about each other. Legion hops into their heads to help and discovers the Patchwork Man preying on their thoughts. Legion chases the Patchwork Man out of their heads and to Stacy’s place, where the Patchwork Man infects Lost. They all drive the Patchwork Man out for good.

Later that evening at the bar, Stacy continues her lesson about mutants being on the same page. She uses her powers to nudge Doctor Nemesis to ask Dazzler to dance.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This was another strong issue of Way of X and I am very much enjoying this comic. Granted, I’m probably a little biased because this issue features the return of one of my favorite obscure mutants, Stacy X, and actually positions her in a very good light. So that worked a lot in this issue’s favor. But if this comic is about following NIghtcrawler’s journey to both defeat Onslaught and better understand the culture of Krakoa, having random mutants pop in to teach him lessons is a great way to go about all of this. And Stacy has a lot to teach Kurt about sex and love and companionship. She’s a good choice, and Spurrier has a lot of fun with her. He’s aware of Kurt’s history with Stacy and that is used to great effect to get a good, enjoyable rapport between them.

I ‘ship them

There were parts of this issue that felt a little off, if I’m being honest. The scene with Legion, Pixie, Loa and Mercury just pops in all of a sudden, as if a page was missing. And then it quickly transitions from fixing Mercury’s hand to going on a super mental date. I wasn’t entirely sure what was happening. I’m also not entirely sure what Kurt’s hang-up was with the first law. He’s the one who proposed the law, so what’s his problem? But the carry through on Kurt working with other mutants to learn a lesson, with a bit of additional confrontation with the bad guy, totally worked.

TL;DR: Way of X is full of great character moments and a full, enjoyable understanding of everyone and everything happening on Krakoa. This is a very fulfilling comic, and this was a really fun and meaningful issue.

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 26, 2021, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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