Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 2/12/22
What a week, people! This might be one of the most joyous weeks in comics I’ve ever had. We got a new Multiple Man Marvel Unlimited comic this week, Strong Guy gets in on the action in Secret X-Men and then we’ve got the mother of all team-ups!
Comic Book of the Week goes to Amazing Spider-Man #88.BEY for bringing together some of my favorite obscure characters for a delightful comic! I’m so glad my obscure favorites aren’t being needlessly murdered for once! Let’s here it for Hornet and the Slingers!
Meanwhile, I’ll have a review up next week on the first season of The Book of Boba Fett. Pretty underwhelming, if you ask me, but otherwise fine. Then the week after, I want to do a review of the first season of Peacemaker, because that show is amazing! Why couldn’t James Gunn have made a Boba Fett TV show? Oh well. In other news, I’m enjoying Pokemon Legends: Arceus just fine.
Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #88.BEY, Batgirls #3, Mighty Morphin #16, Robins #5 and Secret X-Men #1.
Amazing Spider-Man #88.BEY
Writer: Geoffrey Thorne
Artists: Jan Bazaldua and Jim Towe
Colorist: Jim Campbell
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Sometimes, on rare occasions, the storm clouds part and the universe delivers a pure, unfettered, beautiful gift. I cannot emphasize enough how cool it is to me personally that the Prowler and the Slingers are coming together. This couldn’t be more Sean’s specific fan interests than if I’d written it myself.
Heck, part of the story even takes place near where I live! Geoffrey Thorne might be stalking me.
Hobie Brown, the original Prowler, has been using the Hornet identity since King in Black. He was the one who originally built the Hornet suit and gear for Peter Parker, before it eventually became one of the Slingers (and he ended up dying). Hobie has been running Fairgray, a crowd-sourcing program, and he wants to use it to help victims of big superhero events…but the company is suddenly bought out by the Beyond Corporation. Hobie gets a $15 million payout, but his girlfriend, Mindy, suggests that Beyond might be up to something with how generous they’re being in this hostile takeover. So Hobie uses his Hornet costume to break into Beyond and steal some files for Mindy to pour through.
Flying around as Hornet gets him noticed by Duck, aka Cassie St. Commons, and she follows him home to get his help in saving Ricochet, aka Johnny Gallo. She’s had visions that Ricochet has been kidnapped by Beyond, and they track him to a secret farm lab in Upstate New York (near me!). Hornet and Dusk head inside and find Ricochet and some scientists fighting some monsters spewing out of a portal. Hornet quickly figures out what’s up and they all work together to shut the portal. Ricochet explains he’s been hired by Beyond to work in their Hero Division, that he wasn’t kidnapped. The lead scientist was also so impressed with Hornet that he offers Hobie a job.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I have to keep pinching myself that this comic exists. You don’t understand how deeply this means everything to me. It wasn’t too long ago that comics made it a habit to kill all of my favorite characters. That can be pretty soul-destroying. But apparently this is my week. We already got the Multiple Man/Strong Guy comic of my dreams. And now this. Hobie Brown written well, not killed for shock value, assuming the mantle of the Hornet, my favorite of the Slingers, and featuring a real, honest to god reunion of some of the surviving Slingers. They’re not slaughtered in the name of drudgery. They’re all written and drawn well, with the promise of more fun to come. Hobie Brown has always been a favorite character of mine. And The Slingers were so completely my jam when they were originally coming out in the 90s. Their short-lived series was one of my first ever efforts to buy ongoing comics (Slingers collected edition when?).
To have all of this come together in an actual fun and enjoyable comic, where the characters just get to exist and be happy and be awesome superheroes, is beyond wonderful for this comic book fan. Sorry if my bias is showing, but hot damn was this a fun read.
So how is it as an actual comic? Pretty great! It’s a really nice mix of personal, human stuff and some superheroics. Thorne puts a lot of attention on Hobie and Mindy, making them both standout characters. The Hornet suit looks as cool as ever. And we even dip into a bit of Hobie’s style. He’s no boy scout, so breaking and entering as Hornet works for the character. Then the Slingers are treated with dignity and respect, which is more than a guy like me could ever ask for. And while the story is just getting started, it’s a fun start. Hobie uses his prowess to start investigating Beyond, and now he’s teaming up with the Slingers to figure out a bit more. Sounds good to me.
I also really like the nice touch of Ricochet getting a job with Beyond. He’s not some rich superhero. He needs work! Though he’s also a mutant and could technically move to Krakoa…
TL;DR: My bias is going to really show with this review, but this was a super fun issue focusing on some very underused by awesome characters. Nice balance of character and action.
Writers: Becky Cloonan and Michael Conrad
Artist: Jorge Corona
Colorists: Sarah Stern and Ivan Plascencia
Letterer: Becca Carey
Oh Batgirls, I’m mostly enjoying you. It’s all pretty good.
The Batgirls take on The Tutor, the Banksy-esque super-villain, with Stephanie falling victim to his mind control. Cass helps her escape and they regroup with Babs, planning to instead attend The Tutor’s upcoming art show. The Batgirls go in costume, while Babs goes as a civilian, where she runs into a chatterbox ex-boyfriend. The Batgirls head into the bowels of the ship to fight The Tutor again, and he’s also pretty chatty. Steph once again falls sway to his mind control, but Cass is able to get The Tutor to flee. The Batgirls then regroup, with Steph feeling bummed.
Later that night, Seer taunts Barbara by pretending to be Dick Grayson on the phone.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This issue felt a little underdeveloped, if that makes sense. It’s basically just two encounters with The Tutor and both end the exact same way. We don’t learn much else about the villain, and he remains pretty close to paper thin. Some combination of fear toxin and mind control, with a colorful graffiti theme. The color and artwork is great, I’m totally down for that. I guess I just would have liked more oomph in the fight scenes. Especially when we’ve got Cassandra Cain on the squad. The Tutor hasn’t been presented as any great physical threat, but Cass doesn’t actually do much against him. So I’m not overly vibing with the superheroic stuff in this issue.
Fortunately, the character stuff remains really strong.
We get some nice out-of-costume scenes this issue, for all the Batgirls. This issue gives Stephanie something to struggle with, and that’s definitely a welcome addition. Then there’s Babs having to deal with an ex-boyfriend who randomly arrives. I’ve got my fingers crossed that this guy isn’t The Tutor, and that Babs legitimately just bumped into a over eager ex, because such a villain reveal would be way, way too cliche. Give Babs some actual human interaction! Give all the Batgirls some real humans to interact with. And make it real. I was actually enjoying the end of the issue, when “Dick” called to flirt in bed…but then it was revealed to be Seer. Yawn. I know superhero comics need to keep their villains interesting, but I’m a reader who likes it when the heroes are kept interesting. And that means real, human interactions and character development. This comic has so much potential for that but isn’t going nearly far enough, in my opinion.
TL;DR: This comic maintains a general quality with fun characters and fun interactions, both with each other and with the slowly expanding cast. But this specific issue feels a bit like treading water, as the villains aren’t particularly deep.
Mighty Morphin #16
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Marco Renna
Colorist: Walter Baiamonte, with assistance from Sara Antonellini and Sharon Marino
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
My apologies to Mighty Morphin. I’ve been really burnt out from work this week, and I wasn’t in the right headspace to read and thoroughly enjoy this comic.
In the opening flashback, we see the moment that Zordon met both Zartus and Zophram. It’s a neat moment. In the present day, everybody is still fighting the Mega-Empyreal when Drakkon shows up with those space vampires. They do a number on the Empyreal, but don’t actually defeat it. Ultimately, the Blue Emissary shows up and defeats the Empyreal, and then Drakkon teleports away with his space vampires.
On the moon, Zordon and Zedd fight Zartus, who reveals he’s still mad that Zophram picked Zordon as his successor instead of Zartus. It’s an intense fight, and at one point it looks like Zordon has been defeated, but he was really just lying in wait. He stabs Zartus with a crystal shard, destroying him. Zordon is knocked out in the blast, leaving Zedd standing over him.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
The Eltarian War has come to an end and I’m rather pleased and satisfied with this climax. There are plenty of avenues that I wish this story had explored. I would have liked a bigger emphasis on the alien invasion angle and I would have liked more time spent with the Rangers separated and seemingly without hope. As it stands, it all really did come down to a single big fight outside Angel Grove, wherein the Megazords and various allies punch the Empyreal to its end. And I would have liked Zartus’ motivations to be clearer, and perhaps a bit more clever. But the Zartus/Zordon/Zedd fight was amazing and very well-handled. I liked how Parrott tied in some previous Morphin Grid lore he’d built and used it in this scene. And, again, he’s done such an amazing job with the flashbacks that you really feel the fight between these three old allies.
The problem comes from that 10,000 years thing. So all the drama between these dudes occurred 10,000 years ago…and only now does it come to any sort of head? So Zartus has lived as Supreme Guardian of Eltar for 10,000 years and he’s still hung up on those same gripes? It’s not Parrott’s fault that 10,000 years is the time frame, that’s just Power Rangers lore. It’s just so insane to wrap my head around. They did the same thing in that Voltron revival cartoon from Netflix. That’s a really long amount of time. Older than the entirety of recorded human history, I think. So it’s just weird factoid that has to be understood in this big, epic story.
Timeline complaints aside, this issue was still fun. The fights were epic, especially the three Eltarians. I was never a fan of the space vampires when they first appeared, and I’m not much of a fan of them now. They didn’t even weaken the Empyreal all that much, from what I saw. And I can still take or leave Drakkon. He shows up, acts a little smarmy, reveals he’s in control of the space vampires, and then leaves. Fine by me. The other Rangers stayed in their Zords for the whole fight, but at least it was a cool fight. There just wasn’t anything particularly deep or special or really powerful in the fight itself. Mighty Morphin really sings when it focuses on the grounded, human element. But Power Rangers comics also need to do a lot with the big, exciting battles. This issue was a lot of battle, and it was still very good.
TL;DR: A satisfying and quite epic climax to this major, awesome storyline. Lots of moments to shine, lots of moving parts, and lots of great payoff.
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Baldemar Rivas
Colorist: Ramulo Fajardo Jr.
Letterer: Steve Wands
This comic is really helping me solidify what it is I like about the mantle of Robin and its context.
Each of the Robins is trapped in an alternate reality seemingly designed to show them what Batman thinks their lives would have been they never become Robins. Dick is a super spy. Jason is a race car driver. Stephanie is leader of the Teen Titans. Damian is a monk. But there’s a secret path through the fantasies that they follow and are able to link up. They compare notes and are shocked that Batman thinks they would have all been happier not being Robin. But Dick sees through the charade and tells everyone to see their realities through to the end…and all of them end badly. Being with Batman helped save them from disaster. When they make this realization, the bad guy unlocks Gauntlet Zero!
Meanwhile, Batman continues to investigate Cormac Dodge, the Escape Artist, hinting towards some strange past and people. And the bad guy, Jenny Wren, dresses Tim Drake up as the Escape Artist when she knows Batman is coming for them.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
Things got a little wild in this issue and I didn’t necessarily love it, but it’s still a solid step forward on the exploration of these characters. The way Seeley is writing this Cormac Dodge character, I keep thinking he’s some classic Batman villain from days of old, and I keep Googling the name to check…but nope, totally original for this comic. So I’m feeling a little bit lost when so much of the writing seems dependent on Batman knowing things about Dodge that the reader does not yet know. So that part of the story feels a bit detached. I liked the Robins stuff a bit better. It feels a little weird using these virtual reality pods to explore this stuff, but it works for what’s needed. What would their lives be like had they never been Robins? And I always like the revelation that Batman and Robin help each other out. So this is all a worthwhile exploration (though it’s a shame we don’t get to see Tim Drake’s). I am very much looking forward to how all of this wraps up and finding out exactly what’s been really going on this whole time.
TL;DR: Another solid issue explores a bit more character of each of the Robins (for the most part). It’s a fun look at some alternate potential timelines. But as the mysteries grow, they’re getting a touch confusing, and I’m eager to finally see everything laid out next issue.
Secret X-Men #1
Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Francesco Mobili
Colorist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Strong Guy Watch, activate! He’s an honorary Secret X-Man now!
Deathbird recruits Sunspot to help on a secret mission to protect Empress Xandra, who Deathbird has spirited away to a secret location to avoid some enemies. So Sunspot recruits his best pal Cannonball, and then gathers up all of the mutants rejected from the official X-Men vote during the Hellfire Gala. We’ve got Strong Guy, Marrow, Forge, Banshee, Boom Boom, Tempo and Armor. They gear up in new uniforms and head out into space to track down Deathbird and Xandra, contending with some bad guys along the way, and some alien planets.
When they do find their targets, the whole thing is revealed to be some kind of training exercise by Xandra? I think? The bad guy sand alien planets were all just tests, as Xandra put together her own X-Men team. But then Deathbird gets kidnapped and Xandra’s advisors suggest she wipe the minds of these X-Men.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Alright, cards on the table, I was a little confused as to what this was actually all about. I think it was all a training session so that Xandra could play around with some X-Men? I’m just not sure, so that robs this issue of some of its quality. Also, another nitpick, there are just too many characters for a one-shot. Howard does her best to give everyone a moment or two, and it’s very much appreciated, but it’s all just fleeting. Sunspot and Cannonball get the bulk of the attention, but those two got a lot of play in the early issues of New Mutants. I wanted this issue to be a chance for others to get the spotlight…and yeah, I’m specifically talking about my favorite of these characters, like Strong Guy and Marrow. So I’m very, very biased on that front. But like I said, each character gets a chance or two to shine, and that’s a treat.
Those nitpicks aside, this is a fun comic, and I wish we got more stuff like this out of the X-Men office. I absolutely love the idea of taking all of the nominee losers from the X-Men vote and putting them on a little team together, even for just a one-shot. These are all amazing characters, and all of them are worthy of some attention. Everybody loves Cyclops and Storm and Nightcrawler, but why not build a team out of B and C-listers like these? Granted, it probably does only speak to a certain level of comic book nerd. But this issue was a lot of fun, showing off a lot of underused characters, and it’s full of action and fun character bits.
This was a great idea all around, and the creative team put a clear amount of fun into the work.
TL;DR: A great idea becomes a great little comic. It’s a little overstuffed with characters, and the ending isn’t as clear as I would have liked, but I definitely enjoyed the very idea of putting this crew together and going on an adventure.
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 February 12, 2022, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin, Spider-Man, X-Men and tagged Amazing Spider-Man, Batgirls, Boom!, Damian Wayne, Dick Grayson, Dusk, Hornet, Jason Todd, Marrow, Mighty Morphin, Power Rangers, Prowler, Ricochet, Robins, Secret X-Men, Slingers, Stephanie Brown, Strong Guy, The Slingers, Tim Drake. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.