Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 7/10/21

Does it feel good to have Marvel movies back in the theater! Went and saw Black Widow and I loved it! I’ll have my review/thoughts up on Wednesday. Until then, I also had some great comics this week, like Batman, Runaways and Wonder Girl.

Comic Book of the Week goes to X-Men #1 for a fantastic launch of the new series. Very excited about this one.

They’ve mastered cool team poses so far

Meanwhile, I’ve got my 20th high school reunion on Friday. It will be exciting to let everybody know I’m still fat. But seriously though, should be a fun lark. I’ll tell everybody to come read my comic book reviews more often.

Comic Reviews: Batman #110, Children of the Atom #5, Runaways #37, Wonder Girl #2 and X-Men #1.

Batman #110

Batman #110
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

I’ve said it before and I feel like repeating it here: Future State was a bad idea. Tynion is doing amazing work setting up the Magistrate as a new evil force in Gotham City. So having that glimpse into their future kind of spoils the excellent build-up in this comic.

Batman is in a fight with Peacekeeper-01, and he’s getting his butt whooped. Batman tries to reason with Sean Mahoney inside, but Mahoney reveals that he’s the one that planted the bomb that blew up in City Hall. Mahoney knows full well how this false flag operation is going to work to put the Magistrate on top — and it is working. Mayor Nakano is fully hoodwinked, giving Simon Saint the greenlight to put the Magistrate to work to stop the Unsanity Collective, who had nothing to do with the explosion.

After a tough fight, Batman flees the top of the skyscraper he’s in and gets rescued by a daring Ghost-Maker. They retreat, and Harley Quinn fills them in on how Mahoney was a real sadist as an Arkham guard. We then see Mahoney lead a raid on the Unsanity Collective. And when Miracle Molly and her people surrender, Mahoney tells his boss that they’re resisting so that he can get permission to blow them all away.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

The energy and excitement are unstoppable in this issue. Whereas Detective Comics went a little off the rails for my tastes in its previous issue, Batman is still awesome. The fight with Peacekeeper-01 is great. He’s a really compelling villain and his putting Batman in his place makes sense. That leads to a really cool rescue by Ghost-Maker, which is always fun. I’ll never be convinced that Ghost-Maker is a better ally to Batman than a good Robin, but I’ve got to work with what we are given. It’s a cool scene and propels the story forward nicely. Batman is up against a really powerful force here, and it shows.

He’s no Fastest Man Alive

That’s why I think Future State was a bad idea, in hindsight. Future State gave us a glimpse of what the Magistrate is going to be like, what they’re all about. I think I would have much preferred if this is where we first met them. If we got this story, where their machinations work and their evil grows from the ground up. I don’t want to know how big and bad they’re going to get in advance. I want to see, in real time, how Batman is defeated and pushed aside by this new political force. I want to see Peacekeeper-01 develop as a villain in real time.

Fortunately, I can set aside my annoyance at the look into the future and just enjoy this issue for the exciting Batman story that it is. I’m liking the Magistrate as a force.

TL;DR: Energy and excitement are tops in this thrilling issue as the danger grows and Batman is shoved deeper into a corner.

Children of the Atom #5

Children of the Atom #5
Writer: Vita Ayala
Artist: Paco Medina
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham

Turns out there is still one issue to go, so perhaps that issue will wrap everything up sufficiently to make this series worthwhile.

Jay Jay (Daycrawler) narrates this issue as we see him escape getting caught and turning to the X-Men for help. The X-Men fight the bad guys while Jay Jay helps free his friends, then everybody teams up to fight the bad guys. Then the bad guys start using weapons that weaken the X-gene, so it’s up to the human kids to save the X-Men. It’s a pretty awesome fight and the good guys win, but now the X-Men know that the COTA are humans (mostly). Cyclops tells them it’s not safe to be teen superheroes these days and recommends they hang up the suits.

Later, the teens recover back home and Benny apologizes to Jay Jay, his adopted younger brother, for treating him like an unwanted pest. Then Storm shows up at their front door to confirm that Carmen (the Gambit one) is a real mutant, and she is invited to attend the Hellfire Gala.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I’m not sure what to say about this issue. It’s a very good comic book, to be sure. The character work is still excellent, the art is to-die for and the story is really good. The COTA kids get in over their heads with their mutant charade, and they must fall back ono the X-Men connections they made earlier in the series to get out of danger, with a moment in the final battle where only they can stand up and save the day. It works splendidly. I just keep falling back on the concern that none of this matters. I’m not really sure what Ayala is trying to say here. I suppose it’s a neat enough idea that a new batch of young people who want to be superheroes pattern themselves after the X-Men. I’m pretty sure that was the premise for Young Avengers. I just don’t feel the same degree of excitement. I’m pretty sure I’m on Cyclops’ side with this one: the world doesn’t need another team of teen superheroes. But maybe I’m just being a stick in the mud, and the world doesn’t need any more of those either.

At least I can appreciate this comic’s use of Maggott.

TL;DR: This is a consistently fun and well-made comic, and this issue is no exception. I’m just not sure what this series was about.

Runaways #37

Runaways #37
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Andres Genolet
Colorist: Dee Cunniffe
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

The world is a dark and horrible place. Rumor has it that Runaways will end with the next issue, which is its legacy #100 issue. It’s a great accomplishment…but Rainbow Rowell’s Runaways is Marvel’s best comic book. It will be sad to see it go.

Especially since this issue kinda…drops the ball.

So this is an entirely silent issue, except for a quick back-up story. And considering Rowell’s mastery of dialogue and character interaction, a silent issue while so much drama is going on is a real bummer. So anyway, we see that Gib has trained a herd of cats to bring him mice to feed on. We see Doombot encountering these dead mice while vacuuming. Nico is upstairs beating up a punching bag with the staff of one to blow off some steam, then she just goes to sit with Karolina.

Out in the woods, Young Gert is shocked to see Old Gert and so Young Gert runs away. Chase gives chase. Old Gert and Victor say ‘hi’ and hug, then Old Gert runs off as well. Then a spaceship arrives and two aliens step out demanding to see Karolina.

In the back-up feature, we see Matthew and Ashley cleaning out Doc Justice’s mansion, intent on cleaning this all up for good. Then Alex arrives at the front door, seeking to join the J-Team.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

Look, I don’t know what happened with this issue and I’m in no position to tell Rainbow Rowell how to do her job…but this all-silent issue was a real let down. I love Runaways for its rich character drama and excellent writing. The art is great, sure, but I crave the drama! And this issue simply skips over the drama. We see characters in dramatic scenes, but without dialogue, they’re robbed of their potential greatness. And they’re mostly short scenes anyway. Even if this issue was just to tread water until the big next issue, it’s still not a reason to take away the book’s strongest element. Rowell and especially Genolet still turn in quality stuff in the wordless scenes we get, but it’s not the same. This issue flew by, and is really only saved by the neat twist at the end of Alex Wilder doing something with the leftover J-Team stuff.

TL;DR: This was a disappointing issue in that it took away Runaways‘ greatest strengths: the dialogue and character drama. The art is still great, and I could follow along, but the silent gimmick is not nearly as compelling as the creators probably hoped it would be.

Wonder Girl #2

Wonder Girl #2
Writer: Joelle Jones
Artists: Jones and Adriana Melo
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

I oh so loved the first issue of this new series. This second issue seems to stumble a whole bunch.

At the end of last issue, Yara Flor fell into a river while on a tourist trip and she was saved by a mermaid. The mermaid gives Yara her bolo weapon while the narration reveals the mermaid’s backstory, and the fact that she is Yara’s namesake. And then she’s gone and Yara flies out of the river. The handsome tour bus driver, João, stays behind to help get her back to her hotel, which involves buying her a plane ticket and flying with her. The guy is really going above and beyond to take his shot, apparently.

Meanwhile, the Amazons of Bana-Mighdall have sent assassins to kill Yara, and they show up on the plane. Yara has powers now so she fights them off, only to cause a hole in the side of the plane. The plane is saved by Hera, who sent Eros and the West Wind to save them. Eros (otherwise known as Cupid) lines up a shot to take out Yara, only to somehow cut himself on his arrowhead? Like an idiot? And since it’s one of Cupid’s arrows, he falls immediately in love with Yara.

Double meanwhile, Artemis is none too happy with Bana-Mighdall trying to assassinate Yara, so she goes to Brazil herself. And Queen Hippolyta sends Cassie Sandsmark, another Wonder Girl, as well. Artemis and Cassie bump into each other and get into a fight before they are approached by the Amazons that Yara kicked off the plane.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

The issue overall is fine and moves the story forward. The art is still wonderful, with Melo doing a nice job of mimicking Jones’ style. I just didn’t care for some of the immediate story choices that moved the story along. They were some weird choices that just didn’t work for me. The mermaid seemed pretty cool, but then her entire story is just dumped on the reader via narration, she hands off the weapon and then she’s gone. That seemed abrupt. Then this João seems a bit much. I get that he’s a love interest…but he goes so far as abandoning everyone else in his tour just so that he can spend more time with the hot girl? And by spend time, he BUYS THEM BOTH PLANE TICKETS TO FLY BACK TO HER HOTEL?! Jeez louise, pal! That’s a bit much.

It’s not like she was in the water that long, and she’ clearly fine afterwards. There’s no reason they couldn’t just continue the tour after she got checked out by the paramedics.

The lost and found at the waterfall attraction or the airport? Either way, gross

And again, I feel the need to point out the age gap, because it feels weird. We don’t yet know Yara’s age, but she’s presented as pretty young. Maybe 17 to 21? Somewhere in there? And this clearly adult male bus driver is hitting on her very, very heavily. The only thing he’s got going for him is that he’s handsome. I’m also not a fan of forced love interests. I much prefer for the characters to develop naturally over time. I have zero interest in seeing Yara thrown into a relationship with the first handsome dude she comes across.

Then while they’re on the plane, Yara notices one of the assassins looking at her and her first instinct is to get out of her seat and challenge the woman to a fight? In the aisle of the plane! Yara doesn’t know her and doesn’t know that she’s there to kill Yara. Why is that her first instinct? And then at the end, Eros somehow cuts himself with his own arrowhead? Maybe if he was in the middle of a fight or something, but he does it while aiming the bow. What a dingus! Though I do like the idea of Cupid being an antagonist who is in love with Yara.

If you can’t handle the bow, Cupid, it will be taken from you

So yeah, that is a lot of bitching and nitpicking for what is otherwise still a fine issue. Yara’s adventure moves along nicely, and various foes start gathering around her. I loved the use of Cassie Sandsmark, and I like the idea, in general, of these various Amazon forces moving against Yara. That’s an interesting mystery to explore. And Yara remains a pretty entertaining and enjoyable main character.

There are just a bunch of weird choices being made around her, in my opinion.

TL;DR: Some weird storytelling choices really disturbed the flow of this issue, at least for me. The art is still gorgeous and the series itself seems pretty fun. This issue just had a bunch of odd bumps in the road.

X-Men #1

X-Men #1
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

I’m very excited for this new X-Men series, which should be saying a lot. I can’t remember the last time I was really excited for a new main X-Men comic. We’ll see how it goes.

The X-Men have built a new superbase in the heart of Manhattan, a giant treehouse with a public park at the base. Ben Urich pays them a visit and chats with Cyclops, then randomly brings up the curiosity of how Jumbo Carnation is back from the dead. Do regular people not know about the resurrections? Anyway, we spend a little time exploring the base as Cyclops shows Polaris around, then a giant alien mech suit crashes into Earth and the X-Men launch into action. Everybody contributes here and there as they build their own giant, makeshift mech suit and fight the monster, easily defeating it and taking a sample back to study. We, the audience, then see that it was sent by some aliens on the Gameworld, which is running a competition to wipe out humans and mutants.

Meanwhile, we meet a couple other villains in the making. First, there’s Feilong, a tech billionaire who altered his body in order to lead human colonization of Mars, who is now pissed off that mutants beat him to the punch. Then there’s Dr. Stasis of the Oblivion Institute, who is possibly running experiments to used forced evolution to create some kind of monster people? I dunno. It’s vague. But he’s also very curious about mutant resurrection.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This was a really enjoyable, really worthwhile start to the new X-Men series. I think Duggan and Larraz really knocked it out of the park making this relaunch feel new, feel big and feel exciting. And that’s what I was hoping for. It’s a big, huge X-Men battle, with some truly out-of-this-world artwork. Just gorgeous. And the introduction of the Treehouse works really well as a big, new thing to get excited about. This issue needed something specifically new to focus around and the Treehouse worked for me. It’s drawn very well, and it really hits the reader right up front that big, cool things are afoot. The tour by Cyclops also helps us get acclimated ahead of the fight scene, which, again, is a damn cool fight scene.

This issue does a fantastic job of setting up a cool new X-Men team, of getting back to superheroic basics in the Krakoa era.

Just a nice little Synch scene

Now, if you’ll permit me, a paragraph of minor nitpicks: the side villains were introduced rather inelegantly. The issue opens with Feilong’s backstory spoonfed to the audience, and then he disappears for the rest of the issue. I have no idea what Dr. Stasis was even doing, and I thought, at first, that it was Feilong returned. Nope. And then, does the rest of the world not know about mutant resurrection? Are they keeping that a secret on Krakoa? Because I’ve done my best to keep up to speed and I don’t think it’s ever been mentioned. And if it has, it definitely hasn’t been a big deal. I’m fine with it being a secret, but if so, why do both Ben Urich and Dr. Stasis focus in on Jumbo Carnation of all people? Ben is talking directly to Cyclops, a man who has died and come back multiple times, including very recently ahead of Krakoa. Did Ben not take that into account? And why does Cyclops skidaddle so quickly when Ben brings up Jumob’s resurrection? Again, you’ve been resurrected multiple times, Cyclops, it shouldn’t be that hard to come up with a quick lie to tell the reporter. Considering how many dead mutants they’re bringing back, Krakoa should have had a “company line” about the resurrections prepared far in advance if they were going to keep the enterprise as a whole a secret.

You’ve got to be better at this, Cyclops

My only real major nitpick is the lack of character writing. I like my stories to be very character focused, and this first issue focuses much more on the action and superheroics. And, honestly, that’s fine. This is the first issue, and it needs to really draw people in. This issue definitely accomplishes that. I just hope Duggan has some fun character plans going forward. With the exception of Polaris, every other member of this team was specifically chosen, and surely for a reason. I hope we see those reasons sooner rather than later.

It would be a damn shame if Marvel went to the trouble of putting Sunfire on this major X-Men team and then they don’t do anything with him as a person.

TL;DR: This first issue accomplishes a heck of a lot in terms of setting up a big, new, exciting X-Men team. It lacks individual character development, and some of the new side villain introductions are inelegant, but the issue as a whole is pretty darn wonderful.

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 July 10, 2021, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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