Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 10/2/21

My vacation is almost over and I accomplished not much of anything. Such is my usual style of vacation. Thankfully, it’s only my first vacation of the year. I’ve got a couple more weeks to burn. And thankfully, there were some good comics, like the second issue of Darkhawk and the start of X-Men: Inferno!

Comic Book of the Week goes to Superman: Son of Kal-El #3 for an issue that has everything, from great family dynamic stuff to cool action stuff.

Sometimes the Green Mile feels so long…

Meanwhile, I saw Venom: Let There Be Carnage and it was all sorts of things. Better than the first one, for sure. A great movie? Not really. But a lot of it has me excited for what comes next, and that’s no small thing. I’ll post my review and thoughts on Venom 2 on Wednesday.

Comic Reviews: Darkhawk #2, Inferno #1, Superman: Son of Kal-El #3, S.W.O.R.D. #8 and Thor #17.

Darkhawk #2

Darkhawk #2
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Juanan Ramirez
Colorist: Erick Arciniega
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham

I am more than willing to keep giving this Darkhawk comic the time of day. Barring some grand disaster, I think I’ll see this mini-series through to the end.

Connor Young is still struggling to get a handle on his MS, especially with his dad out of work(?) and the meds getting more expensive. His best bud, Derek, convinces him to get out of the house and check out the new sneaker launch, and they talk a lot about the crummy neighborhood and Connor’s chances at playing pro ball. Derek even drops Connor’s name at the shoe store to jump the line. But then some thugs steal their sneakers and Derek chases them down. When those thugs pull out their guns, Darkhawk shows up and beats them up, chasing them away — only for Derek to ambush Darkhawk, seeking to steal his armor for his own thug bosses.

Connor reveals it’s him and the two friends argue about Derek’s new direction in life. Then after a quick cameo from Spider-Man (tradition!), Derek takes off and returns to his thug boss, saying he can’t be a part of this anymore. Then the thug boss’s boss, Mr. Colt, shows up and shoots Derek.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I stand by my complaint from the first issue that nothing about this comic is actually about Darkhawk. Granted, what is Darkhawk and how does a Darkhawk comic differ from any other comic? But still, I’m not quite sure what it is about this Darkhawk comic that’s actually about Darkhawk. Everything else about this comic is fine. Connor is a perfectly solid protagonist, with some good dilemmas. Derek is a perfectly solid best friend character, bringing some interesting drama to the table. And we’ve got some thugs causing trouble that will be perfectly acceptable as villains. It’s all fine, and both writing and art are doing a fine job. No complaints in either department. I’m just not sure what this comic is about.

This redesign looks great

I am a little annoyed at how seriously these thugs take Derek’s failure. You morons asked him to steal the armor of Darkhawk, knowing nothing about Darkhawk. “Hey, 16-year-old boy who joined our crew a week ago, go out and steal Iron Man’s armor. What’s that? You couldn’t do it? Well then I’m just gonna shoot you dead.” Ask for the rings of the Mandarin, why don’t ya?

But seriously, that annoyance aside, this is all a perfectly fine series about a kid with some problems in his life who just happened to find the Darkhawk amulet. I love the Darkhawk redesign, it’s sleek and gorgeous, as a Darkhawk costume should be. But beyond that great new look, there’s just nothing particularly Darkhawk about this Darkhawk comic.

TL;DR: This second issue doesn’t do anything to emphasize why a Darkhawk reboot was in order, but everything from the new characters to the ongoing drama is still fine.

Inferno #1

Inferno #1
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino

Welp, here we are! Jonathan Hickman is leaving his X-Men makeover with Inferno! Let’s dive on in.

Honestly, it’s just a whole bunch of talking. Like, a bajillion pages of talking. Orchis is getting closer to figuring out mutant stuff. Krakoa is no closer to stopping Orchis. We pay another visit to that time Destiny monologued to Moira in her third life. Charles and Erik visit Moira and talk about stuff. Moira insists Destiny not be brought back to life and convinces Charles and Erik to take steps to make that impossible. Cyclops steps down as Captain Commander, with Bishop getting promoted in his stead. And then Mystique reveals that she has somehow brought Destiny back on her own, and thinks Destiny should join the Quiet Council.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I’ll be entirely honest with you good people: a lot of this issue probably flew over my head. As I said, it is just a metric ton of talking, and I don’t think I fully understood the deeper meaning of any of it. The only parts I really grasped were the grounded, character-based stuff. The scene where Cyclops steps down and Bishop steps up was really fun. As was Charles and Erik trying to be coy in their attempts to convince Mystique to step down from the Quiet Council, only for her to turn the tables so completely. But all the Orchis stuff continues to bore me. I’m not entirely sure of Moira’s place in all of this and why she doesn’t want Destiny to come back, unless Moira is secretly evil and knows that Destiny will see that about her? I just don’t know, so I’m not particularly enraptured when we go on and on for page after page of people talking about what a big deal Moira vs. Destiny is supposed to be.

This is all fun stuff

I’m fairly confident this story will get better as it goes along. I have all the faith in the world in Hickman pulling off the big finale he wants to pull off. But this issue didn’t particularly do anything for me. Either the drama presented isn’t all that clear or it just isn’t all that exciting to me. But the character work is great, the art is phenomenal and I really, really enjoyed the scenes that did land for me. So I’m definitely on board to see what all of this is about.

Also, I know I don’t often question the nuts and bolts of how Krakoa works…but does each reborn Wolverine really come with a new adamantium skeleton? We see a panel where Orchis is collecting all of the adamantium skeletons of all the Wolverines who have died in failed attempts to take down Orchis. So…is Wolverine resurrected with the adamantium skeleton already attached? I suppose Proteus is involved in his creation…so I guess it’s possible…

TL;DR: A fine start to this big event that’s mostly talking about how big a deal all of this is.

Superman: Son of Kal-El #3

Superman: Son of Kal-El #3
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: John Timms
Colorist: Gabe Eltaeb
Letterer: Dave Sharpe

Tom Taylor isn’t killing it on Superman the same way he’s killing it on Nightwing, but this issue definitely kicks things up a good notch!

Jon and his dad work together to save everybody from a collapsing apartment building in Coast City. They discover the culprit is a woman dressed like a supervillain named “Faultline”, who has no memory of where she is or why she’s dressed like this. They get her to STAR Labs for treatment, then Jon is called away by his new friend Jay because the Gamorran refugees he saved last issue are getting deported and a protest has kicked off, with cops arresting the protestors. Jon stands with them and forces the cops to arrest him too. Superman shows up to get Jon and the other protestors freed, though Jay also showed up to bail out his friend, and Jay gets invited to dinner at the Kent family farm.

Shortly after they arrive (and Jay is in awe at meeting Lois Lane), Superman gets word that he needs to head out on his mission into space. Father and son take some time to talk, and Clark assures his son that he can do the job. Then after Superman is gone, we see the evil leaders of Gamorra as they plot their revenge: they have freed Faultline from STAR Labs and they drop her onto the Kent family farm!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This issue has it all and works on a lot of levels, especially fun levels. Clark and Jon make a really fun team, and their father/son relationship is a joy to behold. The scene where Clark gets his son out of jail is especially fun. This is exactly the sort of stuff I want to see to make Jon his own version of Superman. He’s willing to get arrested for his beliefs, and there’s a lot of fun pomp and circumstance of Superman showing up to bail his son out of jail, and spring the other protestors as well. I like Superman(men) dealing with normal, ordinary bureaucracy like that.

The latest issue of Good Dad Comics

The rest of the issue is really good, too! We get some heroics with a lot of action, and that “villain” Faultline feels really well designed. I really like her outfit, complete with “Faultline” logo on the front. Feels very manufactured, which it probably is. And she is used well, set up in the beginning as another victim, similar to the fire guy from the first issue, only to come back at the very end for a devastating cliffhanger! It totally worked and definitely ups the stakes in al the right ways. Everything really upped the ante this issue and I look forward to Taylor pushing that forward.

TL;DR: Everything works this issue, from the great father/son scenes, to Jon really becoming his own kind of hero to the exciting cliffhanger ending. This issue raised this series to a new notch.


S.W.O.R.D. #8
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Guiu Vilanova
Colorist: Fernando Sifuentes of Protobunker Studios
Letterer: VC’s Ariana Maher

This is about as uninteresting as anything involving Arakko so far.

Along with being regent of the solar system, Storm also sits on Arakko’s version of the Quiet Council. Some douchebag member of said council is all manner of uppity, so he challenges Storm to a fight in their own arena. Storm relies on pure “Storm Awesomeness” to not only get the guy to yield, but get him to admit to her awesomeness. And that’s that.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

How many X-Men comics recently have relied purely on the idea that Storm is awesome and flawless? I know Marauders had a whole issue about it. And I’m sure parts of X of Swords was about it. Well this is just another issue of that. Storm is pretty much a literal goddess, who can do anything at any time without breaking a sweat. It’s getting monotonous. And coupled with an issue taking place entirely on Arakko, I couldn’t be less interested. Because of course Arakko has a circular council just like Krakoa. And of course they have their own fighting arena. And of course the douchebag antagonist in this issue is talked about like his poops don’t stink and he’s the gnarliest warrior in the ten realms. There’s just nothing fun or clever or endearing about any of this. I don’t need another plain, straight forward reminder that Storm is awesome. If you want to do that, do more scenes like where she flirts with Doctor Doom over dinner. Don’t just have her fight yet another random nobody from the land of random nobodies.

TL;DR: A waste of an issue that simply retreads the same old ground about Storm that we’ve seen nonstop since Dawn of X began.

Thor #17

Thor #17
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Michele Bandini
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino

I still like Thor well enough, so let us keep reading.

Thor and Odin have been summoned by Angela and Freya to talk about how Asgard is falling apart. They fight some beasts and then settle in for a campfire, where Angela makes some pretty solid threats about conquering Asgard herself just to right the ship. She eventually leaves and takes Odin with her so that Thor and Freya can talk, with Thor admitting that he does not want to have kids because he does not want to force anyone into the line of succession for the throne of Asgard. Then he gets a call on his cell phone from Captain America telling him that Mjolnir has been stolen from Avengers Mountain.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

It’s fine. We get some real nuggets of emotional truth between Thor and his mom, making all of the build-up to their chat worth it. I think Cates is leaning a bit too heavily into the idea that Odin sucks and should only ever get dumped on. But as Odin points out, he ruled Asgard for thousands of years and things were mostly great. Thor has been in charge for less than a year and things are falling apart. Granted, that’s how comic book storytelling works. Can’t exactly time jump to show that Thor has been a successful king. Gotta keep piling universe-ending problems on top of him. But at least Cates is using that to have some emotionally strong moments with Thor and characters he cares about.

Though, honestly, I would not mind reading a comic where Thor is a successful and prosperous king of Asgard.

TL;DR: The emotional strength of the characters and the writing carry an already good 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 October 2, 2021, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Superman, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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