Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 7/31/21

Welcome to the world of reviewing comics! Not too many reviews this week because I was really only in the mood to pick up comics I was actually interested in reading this week instead of expanding out to others I was meh about. So we’ve got the likes of SWORD and the new Superman: Son of Kal-El.

Comic Book of the Week goes to Beta Ray Bill #5 for a perfect ending to a perfect comic book. This whole adventure was phenomenal and the ending is pretty great.

You’ve never known such fury

Meanwhile, I watched and very much enjoyed Masters of the Universe: Revelation last weekend. People are complaining online, as they are wont to do, but I had a blast. And I am definitely an old school He-Man fan from back in the 80s. And then by this time next week, I’ll have seen The Suicide Squad! So that’s exciting!

Comic Reviews: Beta Ray Bill #5, Static: Season One #2, Superman: Son of Kal-El #1 and S.W.O.R.D. #7.

Beta Ray Bill #5

Beta Ray Bill #5
Writer and Artist: Daniel Warren Johnson
Colorist: Mike Spicer
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino, with Johnson

And with this issue, the best comic book of the year comes to a satisfying end.

The battle is on! Beta Ray Bill vs. Surtur to claim the mighty Twilight blade! And it is a fight to end all fights, people. I have read plenty of comic book fisticuffs in my day, and this battle stands head and shoulders above all others. It is glorious! So at one point Pip gets involved, and he takes a mortal blow in order to strike back at Surtur to give Bill the upper hand. And Skuttlebutt absorbs enough energy from the battle itself to transform the ship into a gun, which Skurg fires. This issue is straight insanity. Glorious, unmitigated insanity!

In the end, Bill claims the sword and kills Surtur, then uses its magic to revert back to his normal form. Our heroes are patched up and return home. Bill has succeeded and gotten exactly what he wanted, but when he looks in a mirror, all he can see is his horseman form.

Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.

This issue has it all, baby! Johnson has delivered some great fights so far, but this one takes the cake. It’s brutal and wonderful in equal measure, a real slobberknocker to end all slobberknockers in the deepest depths of Hel. We’ve got Bill talking Surtur into shrinking down to mortal size. We’ve got the two of them battling on top of a church. We’ve got wrestling moves and punches that could shatter stars! I’m the type of reader that sometimes glazes over standard superhero brawls, but this one is not to be missed. With Johnson on both writing and art, he knows exactly how to set up exactly what he wants to show. This comic is breath-taking!

We fight like men

And that’s just the fight! Everything else is just as wonderful! Ever wonder, like me, why Johnson bothered to include Skurg the Executioner? It was so that Skuttlebutt could turn into a giant gun and give Skurg the trigger. So beautiful! And then when he fires the shot and takes a literal chunk out of Surtur, it’s like that scene in Star Wars: The Last Jedi where the movie just goes silent. That’s how epic and cinematic this issue felt. That’s how great this series has been.

Then the ending is just as bittersweet as it needed to be. I was a little taken aback, at first, at how slight the ending felt. I feel like Johnson could have done a little bit more to make the ending land. But then I gave it some thought and realized exactly what I was seeing with that final image. So the ending works, even if I think it could have been a bit more vocal.

TL;DR: Beta Ray Bill is the superhero comic of the year, by far. This series has been great from start to this finish, ending with the sort of final battle that other comics and movies wish they could pull off.

Static: Season One #2

Static: Season One #2
Writer: Vita Ayala
Artists: Chriscross and Nikolas Draper-Ivey
Letterer: Andworld Design

I find myself only really interested in Static when it comes to the Milestone comics. And this series is still solid.

Hotstreak has set Virgil’s house on fire and Virgil is ready to kick his butt, but he’s convinced to let the bad guy go while he focuses on putting out the fire. The damage isn’t so bad, but Virgil’s parents argue into the night about what to do next. The following morning, after his reporter friend ambushes him at school, Virgil skips and calls Curtis Metcalf (Hardware) for advice, and Metcalf hooks him up with one of his secret labs in a storage locker. Virgil goes to check it out and the place is immediately swarmed by law enforcement looking for Metcalf.

Meanwhile, the Army raided a Bang Baby gathering and took some prisoners. And Daisy has powers. I don’t remember if we met Daisy in the prologue story or not. A Google search tells me she was Virgil’s girlfriend in the original comic.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This is a strong follow up to the first issue, moving all of the characters forward nicely in this shared universe. I was a little confused as to who Curtis Metcalf was at first, but a quick Google search filled me in. Honestly, I can’t even remember how he and Virgil interacted in that prologue story months ago. I flipped back through the first issue and couldn’t find any mention of him or Daisy. So some parts of the issue felt a little strained because they likely took place in a whole different comic. But that’s a moot point. Those scenes worked just fine in this issue, as did the issue as a whole. Virgil is developing nicely as a character, the Boom Babies storyline keeps expanding, and we’ve got a solid cliffhanger. The art has also grown on me, so I have no complaints there. This comic is a good, solid exploration of a teenager developing super-powers in a weirdly super-powered world, with some strong family drama to boot.

TL;DR: A stronger issue than the first keeps the story flowing nicely, with good characters and some solid developments.

Superman: Son of Kal-El #1

Superman: Son of Kal-El #1
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: John Timms
Colorist: Gabe Eltaeb
Letterer: Dave Sharpe

I have a very bad history with Superman comics. I just never read them. I don’t think I’ve read a single comic starring Jon Kent, other than his role in Legion of Super-Heroes. But I like Tom Taylor, this is a new #1, so here we are!

We open with the birth of Jon Kent at the Fortress of Solitude, and it’s a cute moment as the Justice League helps out. Then we see present day Jon help fight a large forest fire, only to discover the cause it some fire-powered dude out of control in the center. Since Jon can’t be hurt, he walks right up and talks to the guy, getting him to calm down. The military is there to capture him immediately after, and Jon is unsure if he did the right thing by letting them take the guy. He asks Damian Wayne for advice, and together they decide that Jon can possibly do more to stop big, global issues instead of just fighting the symptoms.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This is a strong opening chapter that really establishes Jon as a character and the world he inhabits. It also leaves off with the promise of a new and exciting direction. Will Jon try and tackle global problems instead of just rescuing proverbial cats out of proverbial trees? We shall see. As it stands with this first issue, I’d say we’ve got a very good look at who Jon is and what kind of Superman he wants to be. I like that he’s unsure of the choices he makes. I like that the military didn’t just bow to him like they would classic Superman. This is a kid playing at being Superman and it shows — and it really works from a storytelling perspective.

I also really liked the scene between Jon and Damian.

That ninja gets it

Jon will need his own supporting cast if he’s going to really stand on his own, and Damian is a good start for a best friend. And I like the idea of Damian helping to set up a secret identity for Jon, that should have some good mileage. I just hope Taylor doesn’t fall into the trap of creating one love interest immediately and foisting her/him on Jon right away. A good love story takes time and development. If you introduce “obvious love interest” right away and stick with her and only her, it’s just not as rewarding, as far as I’m concerned. But I very much look forward to what Taylor does with this new Superman.

TL;DR: The new Superman is set up nicely in this first issue, giving us several good glimpses of what he’s going to be like as a person, and what his adventures might be like going forward.

S.W.O.R.D. #7

S.W.O.R.D. #7
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Colorist: Protobunker’s Fer Sifuentes-Sujo
Letterer: VC’s Ariana Maher

Oh SWORD, what are you doing to me? Coming off a real corker of an issue, we’ve now got a crossover to deal with that I’m not reading elsewhere.

So Dormammu is doing a thing over in Guardians of the Galaxy, which I’m not reading, and he’s attacking various planets. SWORD arrives to help Hulkling on the Kree Homeworld as part of Abigail Brand’s sinister plan to get into the Kree’s good graces…or at least make sure the Kree owe her a favor when the crap hits the fan. It’s a pretty cool scene.

The real meat of this issue is a sit down dinner between Doctor Doom and Storm on Mars. It’s wonderful! They make small talk, Doom tries to flirt, he maintains decorum, she doesn’t give the villain an inch and they talk about all the stuff going on recently. It’s the sort of thing I absolutely love in modern comics. So this was a fun issue for me.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

So yeah, this issue is a bit jumbled, but thankfully Ewing finds a lot of ways to continue the direct SWORD stories, even while crossing over with the new Annihlation event. I have no problem with the event, I just don’t care for forced tie-ins to comics I’m enjoying. Still, like I said, Ewing finds some great ways to make it work. I very much enjoyed the reveal that Abigail Brand was playing dirty in order to get Hulkling in her pocket. We go the whole issue with this heroic Hulkling story, only to find out Brand was being very duplicitous. It was great! That very much works for forwarding her character and SWORD’s ongoing storylines.

And then we’ve got Doctor Doom and Storm sitting down for a meal.

Doom wore his dinner mask

As blog readers over the past few years may know, I love when Doctor Doom is civil and treated as an equal. And this dinner was great in that regard. Is there any history between Storm and Doctor Doom? They worked very well together in this scene. Make no mistake, Doom is a monster and a villain. But his demeanor and regal title make him a force for diplomacy at times, and I love that. Ewing handles both characters expertly and I had a great time with that scene, easily carrying the jumbled issue.

TL;DR: Some great character work easily carries an otherwise jumbled issue that’s got to deal with another random crossover.

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 31, 2021, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Superman, X-Men and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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