Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 1/22/22
Greetings good readers and welcome to another batch of random comic book reviews from this random guy on the internet. Maybe you’ll agree with me, maybe you won’t, I guess we’re about to find out. I’ve got oodles of comics this week, everything from Power Rangers to Nightwing to We Have Demons!
Comic Book of the Week goes to She-Hulk #1 because I want more people to know about and read this comic. Rainbow Rowell returns to Marvel Comics after Runaways came to an end, and I can’t wait to see what she does with the Shulkster! This first issue is off to a good start.
Meanwhile, I finished The Expanse at long last and loved the ending. Obviously I wish this show could continue indefinitely, but it came to a satisfying conclusion. I highly recommend watching The Expanse. Elsewhere in pop culture, I’m currently rereading X-Statix after the second omnibus volume came out. It’s fun, and still holds up. And I’m playing Gears of War: Tactics, which is Gears of War meets XCOM. Also fun. I’m enjoying my various medias these days.
Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #86, Nightwing #88, Power Rangers #15, She-Hulk #1, Strange Academy #15, Superman: Son of Kal-El #7 and We Have Demons #3.
Amazing Spider-Man #86
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Michael Dowling
Colorist: Bryan Valenza
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
We’re starting to dig in deep with the character development, and I am here for it.
After a rather reckless takedown of a supervillain, Ben goes to see Dr. Kafka so that she can try to help with him what’s wrong. Ben is despondent after learning that Beyond chose him because he’s weak, in large part because he agrees with the assessment. But Beyond is watching everything, and when Ben reveals that he knows a bit too much about their secrets, Maxine hits the failsafe and knocks out Ben. We find out that Beyond erased Ben’s memory of the Clone Conspiracy when he was the Jackal, and now they want to erase all this new stuff he’s learned…but when they go into his mind, the whole thing starts cratering.
Meanwhile, Ben entrusted his girlfriend, Janine, with the stolen drive. She reads the info and takes Ben’s handler hostage in her own attempt to thwart Beyond.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I am very glad that the stuff is hitting the fan, finally, in the Beyond storyline. I’ve been pretty much on board with this whole thing so far, reading some entertaining stories as an insecure Ben Reilly tries to fill Peter Parker’s shoes. Everything has built to this excellent issue, where Ben finally pushes back against his bosses and their agendas. I liked it a lot. The focus on Ben’s character has always been the major selling point for me in this series, and this issue really digs into him. It’s only surface level so far, which is fine. This is a nice kickoff to some deeper stuff and I look forward to where it’s going. Dowling also provides some really great art. It’s typical comic book art, but everything is a bit more muted and scratchy, which is a nice touch. So writing, art and story really come together to hit Ben where it hurts and start us off on a potential dark night of the soul.
TL;DR: The drama has finally hit the fan with the current Beyond storyline, and I’m beyond excited. This issue kicks off a nice exploration of the Ben Reilly character and what he’s going through, and I look forward to seeing this all through to the end.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Bruno Redondo
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Letterer: Andworld Design
Fresh of the heels of last month’s amazing, flowing comic book issue, we’re finally getting back into some solid Nightwing comics.
Blockbuster has put a price on Dick Grayon’s head and he’s hired assassin couple Gunhawk and Gunbunny to make the hit at a new dedication ceremony for the community center Dick is going to build in Bludhaven. It’s for the kids who were living in the makeshift tent town. The Titans show up to stop the assassins, and the Flash reveals that Mr. Terrific has made Nightwing a new costume. Together, they beat up all the goons that Blockbuster sent after Dick, and stop Gunbunny. But Heartless kidnaps Gunhawk in all the confusion and tortures him to get the info that Blockbuster hired him. Seems Heartless has his own agenda.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
After a nice Future State crossover and that awesome experimental comic last issue, we’re finally back with some normal Nightwing comics. Tom Taylor has got a story to tell, and he finally gets to tell it again. And this issue is just all manner of fun, as we’ve come to expect from his Nightwing. I think this is DC’s most beloved comic right now, right? People are loving this, and this issue is a great example of why. It’s got action, it’s got character, it’s got humor, it’s got really nice character interactions, and it’s got probably the best art in comics right now. This comic has everything. And it has a heaping dose of everything I love in my comics. From Dick and Babs bantering in their apartment, to all the superheroes working together in a fun and awesome way, to the use of minor characters like Gunbunny just for the niftiness of it.
This comic is just plain fun. There’s a warmth to it that’s hard to describe but easy to feel. Everything is working as it needs to be to create a well-rounded, enjoyable comic book experience. Taylor clearly knows and loves both the character of Nightwing and his world, and has some really fun ideas for how to explore all of those. And this issue is a nice taste of it. If you’ve ever loved Nightwing, you owe it to yourself to get on board with Tom Taylor and his team.
TL;DR: This issue finally gets back down to business and it’s a wonderful showcase of everything this comic is doing so well, from great characters to interesting stories to the best and most vibrant art in comics.
Power Rangers #15
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artists: Francesco Mortarino and Marco Renna
Colorists: Raul Angulo and Sara Antonellini
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Someone needs to re-think the covers of these comics. This is the second time in recent issues that a big, cool development is spoiled on the cover.
The battle continues to rage, with the White Tiger Dragonzord defeating one of the Empyreals once Tommy and Matt set aside their differences and work together. With an Empyreal down, the Blue Emissary returns, and he assists the Omega Rangers into forming the Ultra Omegazord (as spoiled on the cover). This new Zord combo defeats another Empyreal, but then the surviving Empyreal absorbs the energy of his fallen brothers, creating a Super Empyreal! And he lays waste to all three megazords. But before he can deliver a final blow, Drakkon returns with…those dumb space vampires from earlier in this series!
Meanwhile, Zordon interrupts Zartus from gaining control of the Zeo Crystal, but Lord Zedd is still on the attack. Zordon is able to convince Zedd that Zartus is the true enemy, and Zordon and Lord Zedd team up to fight their old companion!
Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic!
This issue is the very definition of firing on all cylinders. I think I gave the previous issue of Power Rangers a 10/10 as well. Parrott and team have simply turned all notches up to 11 and are just kicking so much butt! And this issue does a wonderful job of balancing strong character moments with great action moments. We finally get to see the White Tiger Dragonzord shine, and it kicks butt while showing us Tommy and Matt struggling to work together. Parrott also remembers how inexperienced Matt is at this whole thing, and that’s neat part of the scene. Then we’ve got that awesome scene with the Eltarians. I’m a huge fan of the trope where villains are smart and reasonable enough to do the right thing under pressure, and Zedd finally believing Zordon and fighting Zartus is exactly the sort of villain character development I love. Give me more!
To say nothing of the Ultra Omegazord…which is a cool Zord but a bad name. Hello! It’s the Omega Megazord! Unless they’re saving that for when Omega Pink shows up. I understand if that’s the case. But I cannot forgive spoiling the Ultra Omegazord on the cover of this issue. I had a hunch it would happen in this storyline, but I would have rather been surprised. Only a few issues ago, the cover spoiled that Zordon would be getting a robot suit. These are two really cool developments that should not have been spoiled by looking at the cover to the issue. Spare us, BOOM!, from your poor decision-making! Let us enjoy these awesome stories and cool moments!
TL;DR: Firing on all cylinders, turned up to 11; The Eltarian War is everything I want in comics and everything I want in Power Rangers comics. This issue is packed to the gills with great character development, cool story moments and a very compelling overall story, with artwork that keeps up to an insane degree. This whole thing is so damn good!
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Rogê Antônio
Colorist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
I’ve been waiting for this one! Ever since Rainbow Rowell’s Runaways comic came to an end, I’ve been excited for her to tackle a new superhero take. She-Hulk is a great choice!
In the most recent past, Jennifer Walters was stuck as a more bestial version of She-Hulk, but she recently returned to normal. That means she has to pick up her life again, almost from scratch. Her old attorney friend Mallory Book gives her a pity job at Book’s law firm, so she’s starting from the bottom there. At least Janet Van Dyne is more than friendly, giving Jen one of her old apartments, so that’s good. Then there’s Titania, who interrupts Jen for a bit of fistacuffs. The two duke it out, but eventually come down from the rush and decide they both could use this every once and a while. So they part on good terms, promising to hang out and just punch each other around sometimes. Everything is looking pretty OK for Jennifer Walters…until the believed-to-be-dead Jack of Hearts comes cashing through her window.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I was very much looking forward to this series and this first issue lives up to the hype. It’s a wonderful mix of real life stuff, humanizing moments and She-Hulk-esque superheroics. Rowell finds an easy and fun balance between Jennifer Walters and She-Hulk while setting up her new status quo. I liked everything I saw in this issue. I am a reader who loves it when superheroes get to act like people. So watching Jen struggle to make due as she rebuilds her life is good stuff. I love seeing her level with Titania as people. I love seeing her revel in her new apartment, enjoying the comforts of luxury. I love seeing how even Jen realizes how little she’s accomplished in her career, considering all of the different legal restarts she’s had over the years (such is the nature of comic relaunches).
This issue definitely works as a foundation-setting first issue. We spend a lot of time in Jen’s head, setting up her character at this point in time. We see the start of her new attorney job, with a fun cameo from a classic supporting character. I definitely liked the reappearance of Mallory Book. Based on Rowell’s Runaways comic, she is a fan who is more than happy to dig into past issues to find inspiration. I loved Jen’s visit with Janet. The issue starts with Jen worrying about how she’s going to rebuild her life, and ends with her falling back on her real friends to make something happen. I liked that bit of crossover continuity. And then the issue ends with that Jack of Hearts cliffhanger, kicking off a storyline. I had been spoiled as to his arrival, so that’s a shame. But he’s a truly weird and interesting character to pick. I’m all for that.
I also enjoyed a new set-up for She-Hulk and Titania. I love villains who are capable of reasonable thought, so Jen and Mary being able to take a step back and reassess everything is a lot of fun. I look forward to where Rowell goes with that. And lastly, Rogê Antônio is perfect on art. Clear, detailed, full of character; it’s great comic book art, easily handling both action and normal stuff, and easily contrasting Jennifer Walters and She-Hulk. This comic is the whole package.
TL;DR: I was very much looking forward to this series, and this first issue does not disappoint. Fun writing and great art work together to deliver a nigh perfect issue of set-up and status quo introduction.
Strange Academy #15
Writer: Skottie Young
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
I love an issue that reinforces my love of Emily and Doyle and my hatred for Calvin.
Emily has found out that Doyle left school because he left her a note. She angrily hunts down Ms. Stanton to yell at her for letting Doyle go, but Doyle reveals that he’s stuck around. They go off to talk about it and be cute and stuff. Meanwhile, the other students are learning magical defense, and a bitter Calvin shows off his new magic powers to his classmates. When he gets too pissy, he storms off and tracks down Gaslamp to get more magic. The villain is more than happy to help Calvin with his magic, as long as Calvin becomes the school’s resident magical drug dealer. Zoe is quite suspicious.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This was a good, solid story that moved the various storylines along in fun, character-focused ways. What more can one ask for? All credit to Strange Academy making it to 15 issues. New comics don’t usually last that long. But Young and Ramos show no signs of slowing down, and I’m here for it. Like I said above, I like the Emily/Doyle storyline because I enjoy a bit of off-kilter romance in my comics. It’s cute, and Emily gets a lot of neat moments this issue. And I gravely dislike Calvin, so I enjoy seeing him become even more of a total twerp and villain. I honestly never expected one of the students to become a villain, and making it Calvin works really well. He’s one of the last people I would have expected. That makes it much more fun. So this issue really just works as a nice chapter moving everything along, with good use of story and character.
TL;DR: An enjoyable chapter of the ongoing story makes good use of its characters, sending some in interesting directions.
Superman: Son of Kal-El #7
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Cian Tormey
Inkers: Tormey and Raul Fernandez
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Just like with Nightwing, we’re back to the main story and looking forward to what this comic is actually going to be.
In order to help Jon with his secret identity problem, Jay brings him out to the barge he uses to host the Truth offices in international waters. He gives Jon a job where nobody knows that he’s Superman, so that Jon can interact with other people. But the introduction is interrupted by the arrival of a gigantic crab leviathan headed for Metropolis. Superman heads out to stop it, and he teams up with the new, younger Aquaman to figure out where the creature came from and perhaps guide it peacefully away from the city. But Bendix has other plans. After reaching out to Lex Luthor, Bendix sends his Gamorran Corps superheroes to kill the creature, with a twist. Bendix has some kind of control over his “heroes” and he causes one of them to get splattered to death by the monster. This looks to pit Superman against the rest of the Gamorran Corps.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I will be the first to admit that I am very subjective when it comes to my comic book reviews. Nobody’s paying me to do this, I don’t work for any larger corporation, and I’m not a member of any sort of critic’s guild or something. It’s just me, reading which comics I feel like reading, and letting people know what I think. I mention all of this so that I can simply explain that I’m just not into either Superman or Jon Kent. And when it comes to superhero comics, my interest in the characters is a major factor as to whether or not I’m going to like the issue. So while I can definitely acknowledge this is a very good comic book, I’m not personally invested quite yet. I like a lot of parts of this comic. I enjoy the casual team-up of the new Superman and the new Aquaman. I don’t know much about the latter, but it’s still neat overall. I like the way that they work to try and guide the giant creature away from the city instead of just fighting it. And Taylor creates a really good conflict by bringing in his bad guys to just fight it. Superman: Son of Kal-El is a nice package, and I hope somebody is really, really enjoying it somewhere. It just doesn’t do much for me.
TL;DR: This issue highlights why this comic can stand on its own and tell its own stories starring this new Superman. It’s not entirely my cup of tea, but it’s doing everything right.
We Have Demons #3
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Colorist: Dave McCaig
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
After three extra-sized issues, the possible first chapter of We Have Demons to an end. For my money, it’s much too soon.
Lam and the Glories fight off her demonized father until Gus strikes the killing blow. With Cash confirmed a demon, the Glories doubt that his map to an incoming Halo meteor is real. It’s probably a trap. Lam, Gus and June decide to have faith in Cash and check it out anyway, while the others retreat to head home. Our heroes head to the crash site and find a whole bunch of demons — Gus’s ancient tribe, in fact, including his wife and daughter. Then June reveals that she’s the bad guy and is also a demon. So it’s two against a buncha demons…until the other Glories return, having put on their fancier costumes.
The good guys fight the demons and win, and then the Halo meteor really does arrive. And one year later, the Glories have used that meteor to spread their battle across the world and everything is looking up for the good guys in the fight against demons.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
As a series, We Have Demons has two very distinct traits: it seems cool as hell, and it’s cramming way too much into too few issues. The world created for We Have Demons is pretty neat, especially under the amazing pencils of Greg Capullo. The sharp detail, the freaky-looking demons, the crazy action; it all comes together to make for a really cool comic book. And the basic idea of faith-based good guys fighting demons is always good, especially with the unique lore Snyder has created with Halo and Horn. Personally, I think too much of the dialogue revolves around just those two words, but that’s a nitpick at best. I especially like the costumes of the Glories. They’re skintight white and light-colored bodysuits with very few accessories or markings. They look so stark compared to the demons and I love it — even if it was a little silly that the other team members felt the need to get new costumes before joining the fight? Or maybe that was just a quip? I dunno.
But no matter how cool the series seems as a whole, Snyder crammed way, way, way too much story and developments into these three issues. This comic moved at lightning speed in terms of story and character development, to the point that it’s a noticeably weird thing. It can’t be ignored. The second issue ended with Cash being revealed as a demon. We had spent zero time with Cash, but all of a sudden this big twist was upon us. It clearly affected all of the characters deeply, but I felt nothing as a reader because I didn’t know Cash. Likewise, this issue reveals that June is a traitor and a demon, too. I’m sorry, but I do not know or remember June. I didn’t review the previous two issues to memorize all of the characters, so June revealing herself as a traitor means nothing, but it’s treated like a huge deal. The same with Lam getting better use of her blade and Gus being able to keep his mind when he’s overcome with Horn. These things were only just established last issue, and now they’re already settled. This story developed and twisted at a jarring speed.
If I could be a cynical person for a moment, it almost feels like Snyder was asked to create a new world that could be easily folded into a pitch for a new TV show or movie. Across these three issues, he crams in all of the backstory, all of the set-up, all of the characters, a bunch of good twists/reveals; this almost reads like a comic book version of a movie or TV season outline. This way, whoever options We Have Demons for a show or movie can claim it’s based on the hit comic book series. But this sort of talk is just me being cynical.
Also, I highly recommend signing up for Scott Snyder’s monthly Comics Writing 101 class. I’ve learned a ton so far, and all previous classes are archived so you can catch up.
TL;DR: This final issue is full of action, amazing art and some cool moments, to be sure. But it also suffers from the rushed and crammed storytelling this series has had as a whole.
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 January 22, 2022, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man, Superman and tagged Amazing Spider-Man, Ben Reilly, Boom!, Comixology Originals, Dick Grayson, Nightwing, Power Rangers, She-Hulk, Strange Academy, Superman: Son of Kal-El, We Have Demons. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.