Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 2/19/22
What a great week for comics! The new version of Comixology sucks total garbage, but at least this week had some really great reads. From Nightwing to X-Men, I really enjoyed the content, if not the means.
Comic Book of the Week goes to Power Rangers #16 for an excellent wrap-up to their latest big story. Lots of great character moments in this issue, and I could have used so many more.
Meanwhile, the Peacemaker TV show nailed the landing and I’ll have my full review and thoughts posted on Wednesday! Such a great show! I’m also currently battling desires to buy Horizon Forbidden West. I only have a Playstation 4 and I’m fairly certain it’s going to look fine for my standards, but the temptation to also buy a Playstation 5 and a big screen, 4K television is strong.
Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #88, Nightwing #89, Power Rangers #16, Thor #22 and X-Men #8.
Amazing Spider-Man #88
Writer: Patrick Gleason
Artist: Mark Bagley
Inkers: Andrew Hennessy and John Dell
Colorist: Bryan Valenza
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Sadly, the Slingers don’t show up in this one.
Peter Parker watches from his hospital bed as the Goblin Queen attacks the Daily Bugle. Black Cat is with him, but she’s not willing to let him get into a fight just yet, so she webs him to the bed and says that if he can break free, he’s finally ready to return to action. Black Cat arrives and the Bugle and saves Mary Jane, but the Goblin Queen has psychic powers and messes with Cat’s head, causing her to plummet towards her death — only for Peter to arrive and save her! He regroups with Felicia and MJ and gets his web-shooters and his suit back. Spider-Man is in the fight!
Though we later see that Peter didn’t free himself from the webbing. Janine showed up in his hotel room and cut him free, declaring that she and Ben are going to need his help.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I’ve really enjoyed everything being done with the Black Cat after she was rescued from being a villain. She’s supportive, she’s assertive, she’s got a strong position in Spider-Man’s life; it’s a really nice use of the character. And her battle with the Goblin Queen rocks. It really shows the power of the new villain, while giving Felicia a really dramatic scene — and then Peter a really heroic scene. I also really, really liked that reveal at the end, that Janine is the one who cut Peter free. It’s a really subversive twist that speaks highly to whatever craziness is yet to come between Peter and Ben, and I’m definitely looking forward to that. So this issue once again featured everything that makes for a fun comic book story. I’m having a nice time with Amazing Spider-Man these days.
Though I do have one complaint about this issue. There’s a great hero moment where Peter finally returns to his proper Spider-Man costume and heads into battle. Mary Jane and Felicia ask him if he’s ready, and Peter drops the line that he’s “never ready”, which is great. It’s very Peter Parker, it’s very true to Spider-Man, and it speaks to his heroism. I loved the moment. But it’s ruined because Peter quotes the Avengers movie and says, “That’s my secret, Cat…I’m never ready.” The movie quote ruins the moment for me, just pulls me out of it and takes the line away from Peter. Now it’s a movie line, not a cool Spider-Man declaration in the moment. But maybe that’s just me.
TL;DR: Another quality Spider-Man comic keeps the story moving with some really great character moments and development.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Bruno Redondo
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Letterer: Wes Abbott
No comic right now is more fun and more rewarding than Nightwing. Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo are doing industry-defining work.
The issue opens with a fun flashback of when Nightwing met Jon Kent when he was a scared little boy, and Nightwing and Batman were called in to help find him when he went night flying and got lost. In the present day, Jon Kent is dealing with a lot of stuff, and Dick is called in to help him cope. Dick is also revealed as the main investor in The Truth, the pirate news show that Superman and his boyfriend run. Dick touches base with them and they all learn that the former Teen Titan known as Risk has been murdered. Nightwing and Superman regroup at the crime scene and learn that Risk was one of several metahumans murdered around the world overnight. Superman is able to detect a faint energy trail leading back to…Luthorcorp!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
This comic is just plain fun and so full of life. Taylor has taken Dick Grayson down to his roots as just a light-hearted, athletic and heroic guy who likes everybody and is liked by everybody. And then he surrounds Dick with a wonderful supporting cast and comes up with some fun adventures and situations to put him through. That’s the very foundation of comic books. And Taylor adds such charm, humor and character to this comic that every scene is a delight. Couple that with Redondo’s star-making pencils and Lucas’ eye-popping colors and you’ve got a superhero comic that is doing everything right.
In canon, Bruce Wayne considers Dick Grayson to be his greatest success as the Dark Knight. This comic shows you why that’s true.
This issue is full of all sorts of goodness. The flashback to Dick’s first meeting Jon is delightful, showing Dick excel in the company of both Batman and Superman. We get another cute scene of Dick and Babs as dog parents, which was a brilliant addition by Taylor to the story. Why don’t more superheroes have regular, at-home pets? And then we get some quality teamwork between Nightwing and Superman, their relationship clearly established and the mystery worthy of both of their talents. It’s a shame we had to lose Risk, but such is the fate of obscure superheroes. And if I’m being honest, I think Dick Grayson being the financier of The Truth is a bit of a stretch, but then I’ve never fully gotten on board with The Truth to being with. So that’s on me.
TL;DR: The funnest comic in comics kicks off a delightful Superman team-up. Between clever, charming writing and career-defining artwork, this series is Dick Grayson at his absolute best.
Power Rangers #16
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Francesco Mortarino, with ink assist from Christian Prunesti
Colorist: Raul Angulo
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
The war is over and now it’s time to pick up the pieces. Great frickin’ story!
We open on the moon, where a broken Zordon and Lord Zedd talk about the past, present and future. Zedd honorably turns Zordon over to Alpha-5, and Billy quickly begins work on fixing Zordon’s suit. The problem is that the suit itself is degrading Zordon’s very essence, so he has to go back into a tube. Since the Command Center is destroyed, Grace Sterling offers one of her Promethea back-up sites. Before the operation, Zordon takes one last moment to himself to be able to stand and be a person again. It’s quite touching.
Meanwhile, Drakkon has a secret chat with Trini where he brags about helping and turns down her offer to join everybody for good. The Blue Emissary bids the Omega Rangers farewell with words of encouragement. The Rangers offer the minions a home on Safe Haven, but they choose to rejoin Zedd and he welcomes them back and says they’re going to leave the moon. Zelya reveals herself to Skull and invites him to join her on Eltarian, but he doesn’t want to leave Earth.
Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.
The deep character work is my favorite part of BOOM! Studios’ Power Rangers comics, and this issue is all about the characters as they pick up the pieces and settle their status quos in the wake of the Eltarian War. And I just really loved the scenes we got and the emotions behind them. The scene where a tearful Zordon stands atop a Zord to enjoy being mobile and out in the world one last time is really powerful. Likewise, the silent scene of Lord Zedd carrying Zordon’s body out of the rubble is great. Parrott digs deep into these characters and all of the history he’s built over the past few years, and it all pays off nicely. I liked the Rangers leveling with the minions. I liked Zordon trusting Billy immediately, without any hesitation. I liked Zordon and Grace working together. I largely enjoyed Zelya and Skull, even if that storyline is a bit silly.
If I have any complaints, it’s that the Rangers themselves didn’t get much in the way of wrap-up. Trini got a good scene with Drakkon, possibly even laying the groundwork for a forbidden romance. I would begrudgingly accept such a thing because it would be fun character development for Trini, but I still don’t think Drakkon is as cool as he thinks he is. Beyond that, the other Rangers largely just stood around while original characters got their due. The Omega Rangers got a nice scene with the Blue Emissary, but the scene was more about him than them. And nothing happened with the Green Ranger — though I suppose his development will occur in the Mighty Morphin comic.
But these are all just minor nitpicks. Parrott and his art team do a phenomenal job tying up loose ends and settling characters into their new status quos, absorbing and growing from the conflicts they’ve just overcome. It’s a really enjoyable wrap-up to this huge storyline and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
TL;DR: This epic storyline comes to a very satisfying and fulfilling conclusion. This issue is all wrap-up, but it’s well-handled, with a lot of great moments and some meaningful character development.
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Nic Klein
Colorist: Matt Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
How can Donny Cates win me back? By starting his issue with an epic Beta Ray Bill scene. I recently picked up and reread Daniel Warren Johnson’s Bill miniseries from last year and it remains excellent.
Beta Ray Bill calls upon the heroes of Earth and beyond to march with him and join Thor in his fight against Mjolnir. But the God of Hammers is too much for even them, so Thor calls upon his mother’s magics and he takes control of the ground, trapping him and Mjolnir in an earth tornado. Mjolnir reveals that she’s always been sad that Odin trapped her in the hammer, and that the Mangog opened her eyes to Odin’s evil. She’s also the one who freed Donald Blake.
Thor traps Mjolnir under a pile of rubble and tends to his father. Odin regrets everything, but is so proud of Thor. Odin admits that he’s been keeping a secret from Thor since stepping down as King of Asgard. In the transfer of power, the Odin Force cannot fully change hands until Odin is gone…so Odin dies and Thor is infused with the full might of the Thor Force!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
As I’ve mentioned in my reviews of Thor in the past, this issue would be a lot stronger if it didn’t feel like a retread of what we’ve seen before. Thor and Odin teaming up and powering up in order to punch the villain? It feels like that’s how all of these Thor stories have ended. So as cool as it is that Odin dies and infuses Thor with the full strength of the Odin (now Thor) Force, it doesn’t feel any different from when Thor leveled up in some powerful Destroyer armor to defeat Donald Blake. So that repetition robs this issue of some of its energy. But it’s still a cool issue with some cool, heroic moments. The use of the other heroes is a little silly and only seems to exist to jobber them against Mjolnir. But I’m not made of stone. Odin saying his last goodbyes and transferring his full power to Thor is cool. Hopefully we can get some cleverness or originality in the final battle issue.
TL;DR: There are some big emotional stakes, some cool cameos and some big action, but the whole thing is hampered by this being how all recent Thor stories seem to go.
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Javier Pina
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
The mess that was Captain Krakoa’s introduction is out of the way, so we’re thankfully back to some really good X-Men adventures.
MODOK has taken over a cruise ship to try out his latest rage monster drug on the innocent people. The X-Men fly in to save the day, led by Captain Krakoa. The zoom in, save people and fight MODOK. Amidst the fighting, Synch takes a moment to try and connect with Laura, but it’s just a reminder of what he’s lost. Captain Krakoa eventually knocks out MODOK and takes a mental trip into his brain to issue some warnings. The day is saved.
Afterwards, back at the Treehouse, Synch admits to Cyclops that he’s the one who wiped Ben Urich’s mind, and he’s ashamed he did so. Synch secured Ben’s notebook and saw that Ben actually loved mutants, that it wasn’t going to be a hit piece. This mindwipe and the fact that he’s not over Laura lead Synch to quit the X-Men — though Cyclops may not want him to just yet.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Part of me was concerned that MODOK was the villain in this issue. What business do the X-Men have in fighting MODOK? Is this going to be like that random use of Nightmare a couple of issues ago? I’m pleased to say that is not the case at all, and this is another enjoyable one-off X-Men adventure. Duggan had the team fighting monsters and aliens at the start of the series, and this issue is just like those, only with a delightfully written MODOK as the bad guy. The X-Men burst in and operate like a well-written machine, with a clearly delineated plan and little bits and pieces for each character to do. This is quality team writing, as Duggan easily juggles everybody and gives them interesting things to do as they take control of this situation. He also finds plenty of time to progress some character development, like Cyclops’ dislike of being Captain Krakoa, and Synch’s ongoing storyline with Laura. The latter gets a lot of attention this issue and I really liked it.
Synch revealing that he wiped Ben Urich’s mind is a strong moment, as is his realization that he needs to quit the team. I like that kind of character development, especially as a scene where Cyclops and Synch connect. Those two characters are worlds apart, but they work just fine together. And I definitely enjoy the ongoing developments between Synch and Laura. It’s fun and weird, in the best sort of comic book way. I also love Duggan’s willingness to pepper in all sorts of little X-Men cameos. Negasonic Teenage Warhead gets a one-panel cameo just to add some color to the issue, and I love that sort of thing and I love it when this comic is firing on all cylinders.
(Mr. Duggan, if you’re reading this, I think a Mimic cameo would be the bee’s knees.)
TL;DR: A hilarious MODOK guest appearance brings this X-Men comic back into the rhythm that made it so much fun at the beginning. Strong character work and a done-in-one superhero adventure make for a really great 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.
Posted on February 19, 2022, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man, X-Men and tagged Amazing Spider-Man, Beta Ray Bill, Black Cat, Boom!, Captain Krakoa, Dick Grayson, Goblin Queen, MODOK, Nightwing, Power Rangers, Thor, X-Men. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.