Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 10/9/21
Interesting week for comics this week! My only Big Two comics are two of the biggest comics ever: Batman and Amazing Spider-Man. I mix that up with some Power Rangers greatness and a peek at a Comixology Original by Scott Snyder, with We Have Demons!
Comic Book of the Week goes to Mighty Morphin #12 for another phenomenal issue! Heck, this issue is still just the set-up for the next big event, but it’s so much fun to read! Ryan Parrott is a master of weaving interesting character drama, and he butts a lot of really fun heads together in this issue.
Meanwhile, I finally watched Invincible on Amazon Prime and that show was just perfect! I’ve only read the first chunk or so of the actual comic, and a lot of that was covered in this first season. So that was fun. But the show itself is a real stand out. Everything is so well-crafted, and the showrunners (and probably Robert Kirkman himself) did a great job condensing everything into a workable TV show. Highly recommended. I also enjoyed the season finale for What If…? Expect my full review and thoughts on Wednesday.
Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #75, Batman #114, Mighty Morphin #12 and We Have Demons #1.
Amazing Spider-Man #75
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Colorist: Marco Menyz
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
I tapped out of the previous run of Amazing Spider-Man some time ago. It just lost my interest. But I’m a big Ben Reilly fan from back in the day, so I’m gonna check out this new run and see what happens.
Peter Parker has it rough after everything that went down with Kindred, but he’s avoiding facing his emotions by just going out and being Spider-Man — until he runs into another Spider-Man and gets bamboozled! The next day at school (Peter is in college, it seems), Peter’s clone Ben Reilly arrives and reveals that he is the new Spider-Man. Ben has been hired by the Beyond Corporation to be their corporate Spider-Man, with Beyond having bought the trademark from an old Parker Industries rummage sale. Ben tells Peter this is just how it’s going to be. Ben is set up with a whole R&D team, advanced equipment, a handler and a girlfriend…assistant? Wasn’t quite sure.
Anyway, Empire State University is attacked by the U-Foes and both Peter and Ben show up to fight them. It’s fun. But one of them blasts the area with radiation. Ben is protected by his suit, because Beyond thought ahead to install radiation protection. But Peter took a real brunt of the blast and it’s not looking good!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This issue was fun. Zeb Wells is a great writer, and he seems very at ease writing not only Spider-Man, but two Spider-Men. There were a couple of quips that had me laughing out loud this issue, and that’s always a plus when reading Amazing Spider-Man. Wells does a fine job easing everybody into the story without relying too heavily on the complicated narrative of the previous insanity. I understood everything that was going on from the previous work, and all of the new stuff makes sense as well. So I would say this is a very good launch of a new storyline and a very easy read.
I’m also enjoying the specifics. I always like a new twist on a classic superhero. And the idea that some company wants to create their own corporate Spider-Man, and they hired Ben Reilly to do it, totally works for me. He’s around as Scarlet Spider, so why not hire him to be the real deal? And then load him up with all sorts of corporate gizmos and gadgets. And I loved his interactions with Peter in this issue. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of them bringing Ben Reilly back, especially the way Marvel did it…but whatever. I can get over that and just enjoy this issue and this storyline.
Though I am very interested to see if we’ll get an appearance from Kaine in this story. He’s out there somewhere, I think…
TL;DR: A really enjoyable launch of a new story, with a lot of fun writing, some interesting new directions and absolutely gorgeous artwork.
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Fear State is fun comics. Tynion is doing good work here, telling a nice Batman story. And Jimenez is doing career-high work.
Peacekeeper-X and Peacekeeper-01 get into a big ole fight in the middle of Gotham City, going all out as they battle. 01 has Scarecrow in his ear, urging him to keep fighting, while X has Simon Saint trying to coordinate a safe and peaceful acquisition. Scarecrow’s madness wins out and 01 fights like a rabid animal, eventually getting the upper hand and killing X. Saint orders all of the armor and robots to self-destruct, taking out an entire city block. I don’t know why he can’t self-destruct 01’s armor though…
Anyway, Batman was there for some of that fight, but he was being kept busy by the robots. After he survives the blast, Miracle Molly shows up and reveals she has a lead on Scarecrow’s plans.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I’m worried I’m sounding like a broken record, but Fear State remains good comics. The only real “complaints” I might have is that I don’t think this is next-level stuff. I don’t think Fear State is going to go down as one of the greatest Batman stories of all time. But it’s still damn good! We’ve got a classic villain launching a huge terror campaign, we’ve got Batman and his allies fighting back tooth and nail. We’ve got interesting new characters and solid B-stories. And this issue in particular is one really gnarly, bitchin’ fight scene! I really liked how both Peacekeepers had somebody in their ear directly them, that was a nice touch. And it was just plain fun watching the underdog, 01, come out on top through sheer madness and ferocity. I could see Peacekeeper-01 becoming a permanent Batman foe going forward.
TL;DR: This is a fight-based issue and it is truly gnarly. Between the art and some clever writing ideas, this is one heck of a fight and really propels this story forward.
Mighty Morphin #12
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Marco Renna
Colorist: Walter Baiamonte, with assistance from Sara Antonellini and Katia Ranalli
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
If The Eltarian War is even half as good as all of this build-up, we are in for a real treat!
Two flashbacks set the stage. The first is 10,000 years ago after Zophram’s funeral, wherein Zordon is proclaimed the new Supreme Guardian and he asks his old friend Zartus to be his Chief Guardian (while also dropping a tease about building an observation outpost on Earth in order to watch the Zeo Crystal). In the next flashback, we see what Zelya told Zordon and the Power Rangers after she was released by Lord Zedd and before she confronted Zartus.
In preparation for war, Tommy and Aisha go to Promethea to call in their allies: Grace, Matt and Billy. Grace is a little bit on board, but Tommy and Matt have a head-to-head to sort out their differences, and Aisha convinces Billy of the importance of apologizing instead of being stubborn. We then get an amazing conversation between Zordon and Lord Zedd, now that Zordon knows the truth about Zedd’s identity. It’s beautiful.
Rocky, Adam and Kimberly have been back at school doing homework this whole time, and they get lured into an ambush by Sentry Force Four. Billy sneaks into the Command Center and apologizes to Zordon, but their conversation is cut short by Zartus’ arrival. The gloves are off and Zartus pleads with Zordon to join him, but Zordon defiantly declares himself “Zordon of Earth”! Zartus blasts Zordon, seemingly destroying him. The war is on!
Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.
This comic is exactly what I live for in comics and fiction. This is a series of fascinating interpersonal conflicts, expertly crafted and developed over time, all building to these wonderful tete-a-tetes. The characters feel real, their emotions feel real and justified, on both sides. And their emotions feel important to the story at hand. Everything depends on pretty much every single confrontation in this issue. There are real stakes. It’s all so wonderful to read and enjoy, to see develop. Parrott is delivering a master class in longform comic book storytelling. Some of these relationships have been an issue since he first started writing Power Rangers comics. It doesn’t feel played out, it doesn’t feel too late, it doesn’t feel weak. I am relishing each and every one of the conversations in this issue.
Let’s break them down. Tommy and Matt is great, and Parrott even brings up some new factors. Does Tommy dislike Matt because seeing the Green Ranger reminds him of his own time under Rita’s spell? Or is Tommy legitimately trying to instill in Matt some real tutelage. Neither one is completely in the wrong, and I love using Matt as a wildcard for the battles ahead. Aisha has been a real standout character for Parrott, as a strong voice of reason, and she has a great heart-to-heart with Billy to put his head back on straight. I also enjoyed the brief moment where she got to impress Grace. There’s also a cool little moment where Zordon tells the Rangers they need to circle the wagons and reach out to their allies, and Kimberly points out they’ve been systematically alienating those allies one-by-one. I thought that was a great underline of all the cool character work Parrott has been playing with.
I absolutely loved the face off between Zordon and Lord Zedd in this issue.
This scene is exactly why these Power Rangers comics have been so good. In the original show, Zordon and Lord Zedd were about as deep of characters as a piece of paper. Zordon was absolutely good and righteous, and Zedd was a straight bad guy, just doing bad things because that’s who he was. Parrott has now given them both deep, rich and expertly woven together back stories, all leading to this moment where they confront one another like real individuals with real lives. And I love how their conversation goes. Parrott teases the idea of the good guys and the bad guys teaming up to take on the greater bad guy (and I normally love that sort of thing), but Zedd is still Zedd and he crushes Zordon’s hopes in spectacular fashion.
My only complaint is how jarring it is to see Rocky, Adam and Kimberly just sitting at the Juice Bar doing homework. None of y’all could be bothered to help in recruiting the allies?
TL;DR: This issue is a series of long-simmering confrontations coming to a head, and they’re marvelous to see play out. This series is a master class in long-form storytelling, as Parrott and his creative team pull threads and butt heads that have been building for a long time. It’s real, deep stuff.
We Have Demons #1
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Colorist: Dave McCaig
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it on this blog yet, but I’m currently taking Scott Snyder’s Comics Writing 101 class on Substack. It’s been a great class so far, and he’s been very excited about his new Comixology Originals coming out this month…so I thought I’d give some of them a try.
I’m going to be less spoiler specific in this review because I don’t like spoiling too much of the non-Big Two comics. Creator-owned comics like this are something I encourage you to go out and read on your own!
We Have Demons stars a young woman named Lam who has one arm and a mysterious preacher for a father. After her father’s death, Lam learns that he was a demon hunter, and we, the audience, get a whole lot of backstory about where demons come from, how Lam lost her arm, why her father’s weapon is so important, and all about the cadre of demon hunters. And in this first issue, she kills some demons and meets her dad’s partner, Gus, who is maybe a friendly demon.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
At the risk of alienating my teacher, We Have Demons #1 is a fine start to this story with more than a few hang-ups that hold it back. Everything is in place for a perfectly good story. We’ve got an interesting protagonist, with some unique character traits. We’ve got a world of good guys and bad guys clearly laid out. The art by Capullo and his team is gorgeous beyond all measure. My problem with this issue is that there feels like way too much exposition. It feels like Snyder doesn’t leave anything to be discovered later. This issue is one big info dump that goes on and on as Lam, the narrator, explains everything from the Big Bang to the existence of an elite team of halo-themed demon slayers. And that holds this issue back for me, personally. I really like the look of these demon slayers — and I don’t want to give away too much — but they look so unique and interesting, that I feel like they would be better served as some last page reveal a couple issues down the line instead of a random panel in the middle of another info dump.
This issue feels like Snyder is spoiling all the potentially cool surprises and twists of his own upcoming story.
TL;DR: The writing and art are phenomenal for the opening chapter of this potentially exciting demon story, but there’s way too much exposition and info dumping for my tastes.
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.
Posted on October 9, 2021, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man and tagged Amazing Spider-Man, Ben Reilly, Boom!, Comixology, Comixology Originals, Fear State, Mighty Morphin, Power Rangers, We Have Demons. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.