Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 1/29/22

Welcome, everyone, to this random blog’s comic book reviews! As always, I’m just a regular dude who likes to read a random assortment of comics that I pretty much am already predisposed to like. Why would I read comics I don’t like? We’ve got some quality Amazing Spider-Man, Thor, Static and more!

Comic Book of the Week goes to Saga #55 for a glorious return of this wonderful comic. I want to say it feels like they never left, but it totally still feels that way. This issue definitely feels like the return of an old friend, at least.

Tubthumping

Meanwhile, I have probably decided to give Pokemon Legends: Arceus a try. Depending on when you read this pile of comic book reviews, I might also still be waffling on the purchase. I’m really torn about this one, but I will likely relent and give it a good. But then I’m stuck picking from three really crummy starter Pokemon. That’s right, I said it. They all stink!

Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #87, Saga #55, Static: Season One #5, Thor #21, and X-Men #7.


Amazing Spider-Man #87

Amazing Spider-Man #87
Writer: Jed Mackay
Artist: Carlos Gomez
Colorist: Bryan Valenza
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Sometimes I regret giving up on Jed Mackay’s Black Cat series. I shoulda stuck with it.

Peter Parker is out of the hospital and back on his feet, but he’s still far from ready to return to being Spider-Man. So Black Cat enlists Captain America to help put Peter through his paces and get him back up to fighting strength. Over a couple of days/weeks, the two of them put Peter through all sorts of nifty trials, from web-slinging to hand-to-hand combat. It’s a lot of fun! Meanwhile, Ben Reilly’s mind seems to be on the fritz as Beyond works to clear him back to duty as well. Dr. Kafka is still being held prisoner by Maxine Danger. And Janine, Ben’s girlfriend, approaches Mary Jane Watson for her help regarding the digital drive.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

I really enjoyed this issue. It’s a lot of things I like in modern superhero comics. It’s not just Peter Parker fighting some random monster he stumbles across. It’s Peter having some real, genuine moments with important people in his life, furthering the ongoing story in fun and inventive ways. Again, it’s comics like this that make me wish I’d kept reading Mackay’s Black Cat comics. I’ve always liked the character, and he writes her in a really fun way. It’s simply heart-warming to see this character go out of her way to help Peter get back on his feet, with some really neat insights into their relationship, their world of superheroes and just pretty much everything. And the art is absolutely gorgeous. I wish Gomez had been drawing Mackay’s Black Cat comics.

Black Cat is the best

I don’t necessarily think Captain America was the best choice for Felicia’s helper…but it works well enough. I really liked the opening scene, with Felicia and Steve just hanging out in a restaurant going over their plans. Does Cap need a new love interest? Does Felicia need a new love interest? Because this would be fun and neat! But yeah, Felicia and Cap helping Peter get back into fighting shape through a bunch of superhero trials is just plain fun comics and a great way to move Peter’s story forward. I loved it! And the rest of the issue worked well too. Not much happens to move Ben Reilly forward, but I like the contrast of Ben being all on his own with random Beyond doctors, while Peter has the likes of Felicia and Cap in his corner. And then Janine going to Mary Jane for help, of all people, is a very intriguing cliffhanger.

TL;DR: A character-focused issue with some great guest stars, this was a really fun chapter as the Beyond story arc moves towards its inevitable ending.


Saga #55

Saga #55
Writer: Brian K. Vaughn
Artist: Fiona Staples
Letterer: Fonografiks

Saga is back, baby! Like most comic book readers, I was a big fan of Saga when it was coming out. Though if I’m being honest, I felt like it got a little lost in the weeds in the second half. But all is forgiven as we dive back into its epic return!

Three years have passed since Marko and Prince Robot were killed by The Will. Alana has a new partner in crime, and she’s raising both Hazel and Squire, Prince Robot’s son, though the latter went mute after his father’s murder. They’re living by the seat of their pants, with Alana and her partner trying to hock baby formula without a permit on the streets and also smuggling drugs. They still have their rocketship tree and encounter some space pirates when they head out into space.

Meanwhile, The Will is carting around Marko’s skull and he reconnects with Gwendolyn and Lying Cat (Sophie is in boarding school). The Will and Gwen strip down and bang right in the middle of the street, and she wants his help to end the war.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

Saga is good for a lot of things, and this issue has them in spades. This feels fresh and original. It’s like a breath of fresh air…but then maybe I’m just not reading a diverse enough lineup of comics. But this comic feels damn good to read. The characters are lively, the world is crazy cool and the tone of voice Vaughn gives to this comic is unlike anything else. Hazel remains such a wonderful narrator, and now she’s getting old enough to be even more awesome and adorable. There’s just such a wonderful voice to Saga, and this issue captures it and explores it perfectly. It feels good to be back with this crazy crew, and the three year time skip helps soften the blow of the deaths we suffered in the previous issue all those years ago.

I don’t like him

I don’t really have too much to nitpick about this issue. I would say that the story doesn’t seem too momentous at the moment. We’re just kinda picking back up and things aren’t too different from how they were before. So they’re selling baby formula on the street and smuggling drugs? Alright. Remember when they lived with a family of weasels for a dozen issues? Or the time Alana was a professional wrestler? Saga has a tendency to meander. This issue is also…especially crass. Alana is reintroduced with her boobs out, front and center. And then Gwen totally strips down in the middle of the street and has sex with The Will. The sexual tension was obviously there for the two of them before, but that was a little weird. I hope Vaughn and Staples aren’t relying on sex to sell Saga. I read it for the nifty Hazel narration!

TL;DR: The return of Saga is a very welcome one. This issue is bursting with charm, personality and the exact sort of spacey and crass weirdness that makes Saga everything we want it to be.


Static #5

Static: Season One #5
Writer: Vita Ayala
Artist: Nikolas Draper-Ivey
Letterer: Andworld Design

Sadly, it’s been a couple of months since the previous issue, but Static comes back as strong as ever.

Static faces off against Hotstreak, using the glucose tablets his sister gave him to supercharge his powers. Static brings the fight inside, where he’s able to use the equipment and electricity to win and string up Hotstreak. Meanwhile, his friends are searching the building to help rescue the imprisoned Bang Babies. They discover that something else is on site destroying labs. And then Darius and Status work together to free the prisoners, including their friend Daisy. But when everyone is freed and their inhibitor chips destroyed, some of the Bang Babies reveal that they’re working for the bad guys!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This issue is full to the brim with interesting and exciting stuff, and it’s a great showcase of this Static comic as a whole. The art is a bit too wild for my tastes, but it still holds up nicely and accomplishes what it needs to accomplish. It supports the story. And it’s a damn good story. It’s full of superhero action and some really interesting character dynamics, which is always important in a good comic. The fight with Hotstreak is awesome. It’s a little weird that Static has magic Senzu Beans (glucose tablets) but whatever, it doesn’t bother me all that much. The really fun stuff comes from the prisoner break-out. There’s one Bang Baby who is just a jerk to Darius, and it’s funny and an interesting take. She then leads the others in turning on the heroes at the end, so that was some nice build-up. The really great moment comes between Virgil and Darius.

Not all heroes where goggles and coats

I loved that scene. Ayala really throws down the gauntlet in terms of these teenagers of color butting heads over this weird new wrinkle that separates them, and it helps to bolster Darius as a character. I live for good character drama, and this scene was particularly good. Then I really liked the surprise that the imprisoned Bang Babies would turn on our heroes. Fun twist that I definitely did not see coming. So this issue really does have everything that makes for a good comic and a good story. Excellent fight, some superb character drama, some real mystery going forward, interesting characters and a good twist of a cliffhanger. I just guess I wish the art was a little clearer and a little less stylized.

TL;DR: This new issue is packed with some great comic book fun, from awesome fights to really rewarding character growth and development.


Thor #21

Thor #21
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Nic Klein
Colorist: Matt Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino

Donny Cates has a type.

Mjolnir has been revealed as the God of Hammers, a lightning being who is very big on mocking monologues. She fights Thor for a bit, constantly one step ahead of him in that cloying way of Cates villains. Then Odin shows up to help, and Sif teleports Mjolnir to “the farthest point of known existence. An endless abyss beyond the eyes of even the most ancient, abstract, primordial gods”…so of course it takes only a minute or two for Mjolnir to just fly back. Odin takes a blow for Thor and is gravely wounded. Mjolnir taunts Thor some more and reveals that when she was thrown into the Sun at the end of the Jane Foster storyline, she bonded with the spirit of the Mangog, who I guess was also thrown into the sun in that story?

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

Man, this comic is tough to parse. One the one hand, it’s still as good as move any other Cates/Klein Thor comic. The writing is solid, the action is awesome, the artwork easily captures the power of the fight. On the other hand, this villain is just another in Donny Cates’ long list of villains who are smarmy, all-powerful beings who love mocking Thor/heroes via monologue. The Black Winter, Donald Blake, Knull, and now Mjolnir; Donny Cates has a type. He likes having a villain monologue at Thor while defeating everyone they come across. And they’re smarmy about it, always with the same voice. And they’re always impossibly powerful. Why teleport Mjolnir to “the farthest point of known existence” if she’s just going to be able to fly back to Earth in mere minutes? Are you really jobbing “the farthest point in known existence” right now? It’s just exhausting and distracts from an otherwise solid fight issue. Donny Cates has some great ideas, I just never end up liking the execution or the climax. This comic has been a series of stories where Thor gets his butt whooped by an uber-powerful, smarmy foe.

TL;DR: It’s all still perfectly competent of a comic book, with some legitimately fun fight moments. But this new villain falls into the same rut as all Donny Cates villains, and that sort of thing is starting to take its toll.


X-Men #7

X-Men #7
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Now this issue I liked. Marvel really botched the debut of Captain Krakoa.

Dr. Stasis builds monster/animal hybrids and he sends a bunch of them to cause havoc in New York City, prompting half the X-Men team to respond and fight (the other half of the team is on Mars). It’s a cool fight scene, with Cyclops, in particular, getting to shine. There’s also a moment where it seems Synch is able to use Jean Grey’s powers, even though she’s on Mars. Curious. Anyway, Stasis succeeds in his goal of killing Cyclops in a public fashion. He’s resurrected, of course, but the world saw him die, so he has to go undercover now as Captain Krakoa.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Simply put, Marvel should have swapped X-Men #6 and #7. I realize they wanted to make a big deal out of Captain Krakoa’s debut last issue, but the way they chose to tell the story backwards was really, really dumb. It killed all the excitement and momentum I had for this character. Now that I’ve actually read the events leading up to his debut, I am back to being excited. This issue is pretty darn awesome and exactly the sort of thing I want to see in Duggan’s X-Men. Cyclops and a smaller squad get into a hell of a fight against some monsters in New York City, fulfilling the promise of this Manhattan-based team in the first place. And Duggan and Larraz go all out with some great scenes! Sunfire gets to be awesome, Synch proves his worth as a power mimic, with some added mystery. And then Duggan and Larraz come up with another all-time awesome Cyclops moment.

That’s why he’s in charge

Then the death of Cyclops is gruesome and real, perfectly setting up his need to assume a new identity. We even get some fun, behind-the-scenes moments where Jumbo Carnation and Forge assist in designing the Captain Krakoa outfit. I love that sort of thing! And I love the outfit. I am 100% on board with this new wrinkle for Cyclops. It’s weird, to be sure, but it’s still neat and I look forward to this actually mattering. I look forward to Cyclops’ new career as Captain Kakoa.

TL;DR: Now that we’ve gotten the proper introduction and origin of Captain Krakoa, I like this story much better. This issue is an awesome showcase for this X-Men squad and a fun step forward for this new storyline.


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.

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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 January 29, 2022, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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