Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 4/30/22

What a strangely big week for comics! Not only do we have a controversial launch of a new Amazing Spider-Man era, but we’ve also got the death of the Justice League! Both are something else. But neither one is my favorite comic of the week.

Comic Book of the Week goes to Saga #58 for another solid, enjoyable Saga issue with a strong hook at the end.

We’ve all been there

Meanwhile, I’m said to say I’ve dropped Thor because it just wasn’t my cup of tea. It was written and drawn well, but I was growing tired of its repetitive nature. I’m also not particularly interested in an upcoming crossover with the Hulk. Beyond that, I’m currently in the middle of binging The Last Kingdom on Netflix, and it’s pretty good. And I’m very excited for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness next week!

Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #1, Godzilla vs. The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #2, Justice League #75 and Saga #58.

Amazing Spider-Man #1

Amazing Spider-Man #1
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: John Romita Jr.
Inker: Scott Hanna
Colorist: Marcio Menyz
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Here’s the next big Spider-Man era and I’m here for it. I like Zeb Wells just fine. I enjoyed the entirety of the Dan Slott era. I tapped out early from the Nick Spencer era. So let’s see how this one goes.

Something really bad happens to Spider-Man outside York, Pennsylvania, and then we jump forward six months in time. Peter Parker is at rock bottom. Everybody seems to hate him, and he’s avoiding all his friends and loved ones. Even Aunt May has had it up to here with whatever is going on with Peter’s life. And he’s on the outs with Mary Jane. He doesn’t have a job. Barely has an apartment. Things are looking grim.

But he’s still Spider-Man, and he inserts himself into a deal between Tombstone and the Rose (with guest appearances by White Rabbit and Digger). The two crime boss villains decide to go to war, and Tombstone has a chat with Peter Parker so that Parker can pass on a message to his pal Spider-Man that Tombstone is going to take a special interest in him. Also, Randy Robertson wants to ask Tombstone’s daughter, Janice Lincoln a.k.a. the Beetle, to marry him. That’s nice.

The issue ends with Peter looking forlornly at Mary Jane’s apartment, and with her even telling him to stop calling her. Mary Jane is greeted by a fella named Paul, and then two kids run in to give her a hug, calling Mary Jane “mommy”!

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

First things first, because a lot of people are whining about it on the internet, but those aren’t Mary Jane’s kids, right? The time jump only said “six months”, not “six years”. So my first guess is that she’s been dating this Paul guy and the kids see her as a step-mom? Or hell, maybe Marvel’s just gonna go for it and say that Mary Jane has had a secret family this whole time and she’s only now reconnected with them. I wouldn’t put it past them, and I’m not going to complain about it. I gave up my comic book crankiness a long time ago. So what if Peter and Mary Jane are broken up again? So what if she maybe had a relationship and some kids with this guy Paul several years ago and we just never knew about it? None of that outrages me. I’ll just keep reading and see what it’s all about as the story goes along. Though I will add that it’s a bit of a cheap shot by Marvel to drum up controversy. They know nothing gets the fans talking like messing with Peter’s relationships.

Anyway, the rest of the issue is fine.

Where’d this tougher White Rabbit come from?

This is a solid start to a new storyline, at least good enough to keep me entertained and somewhat interested to see where we go from here. Obviously answers are coming, and this issue does a good enough job of balancing the need to establish tone and then still tell an entertaining Spider-Man story. I liked the latter more than the former. Spidey inserting himself into a criminal dispute between Tombstone and the Rose works nicely, especially by adding some less-than-prominent villains as added muscle. I’m a sucker for a good White Rabbit cameo. And Wells writes a fine Spidey. He’s funny and charming, and I really liked the scene where Tombstone chats up Peter Parker. I’m also perfectly happy with John Romita Jr.’s art. Maybe it’s not as good as his heyday, but it’s still good stuff in my book.

The fact that Peter’s life is in the dumps is slathered on pretty heavily at times, but it’s not so imposing as to be a turn off. I’m not chomping at the bit to find out what happened, but it’s enough of a mystery that I’m willing to wait and see.

TL;DR: This new volume of Amazing Spider-Man is off to a solid start. A lot of groundwork was laid in this issue to establish a new tone and some new mysteries, while maintaining the same old Spidey. I think Marvel also takes some cheap shots to try and be controversial.

Godzilla vs. Power Rangers #2

Godzilla vs. The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #2
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Freddie Williams II
Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse
Letterer: Johanna Nattalie

This is definitely a big, burly comic where the Power Rangers clash with Godzilla.

The Power Rangers form the Megazord and do battle with Godzilla, only for them to take each other out. The aliens use this as a chance to attack both Rangers and Godzilla while they’re down, and Godzilla retreats to the ocean to heal his wounds. The Rangers are forced to revert to human form to stay under the radar and quickly realize that Tommy has been taken up to the alien mothership. The Rangers find a crashed ship and fly it up to the mothership, morphing again as they attack to try and rescue Tommy.

Scorpina and Goldar hold off the Rangers long enough for the aliens to summon Gigan to attack the nearby city. The Rangers abandon their efforts to rescue Tommy and return to their damaged Zords to try and save the innocent people from Gigan. It’s a tough fight, made even tougher when Rita summons some of her own monsters to aid Gigan!

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

Unlike the regular Power Rangers comics from BOOM!, this crossover had traded emotional character depth for big, bombastic action. And that’s pretty fun. Not ideal for my tastes, but still pretty fun. Bunn and Williams are just telling a big, wild story where what it says on the tin is what happens in the comic. Big, giant pages of the Megazord trading blows with Godzilla fill this comic. Even when the characters are just the Rangers or even in their human forms, the art is some burly stuff. I dig it. The art definitely fits this comic. And the writing is solid as well. Everybody’s a little over-the-top, but that’s OK. This isn’t supposed to be some deep, introspective comic. This is just some silly fun, and the comic definitely succeeds at that.

TL;DR: This comic is all spectacle and that’s perfectly fine. That’s all it wants to be and that’s all it needs to be to be a fun ride.

Justice League #75

Justice League #75
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Rafa Sandoval
Inker: Jordi Taragona
Colorist: Matt Herms
Letterer: Josh Reed

So I’ve decided to see what all this Death of the Justice League stuff is about, and perhaps even continue on into Dark Crisis. I don’t do well with Big Events much anymore, so I guess we’ll see.

The members of the Justice League are teleported away to join the Justice League Incarnate, because President Superman and his allies need backup against The Great Darkness. They go to battle and find Pariah, now a servant of the Great Darkness, trying to do some evil things. Pariah has an army of enslaved supervillains and it’s a big ole fight. Green Arrow destroys Pariah’s bad guy machine, but then Pariah and his army kill the Justice League. Only Black Adam survives, and he crashes back to Earth to warn the surviving heroes.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

This first issue doesn’t do anything very noteworthy or impressive or exciting with its wholesale slaughter of the Justice League. If I were judging my entire interest in what’s to come based on this issue alone, I would definitely pass. But I’m willing to see where this goes out of sheer desire to have comics to fill this weekly review column with. There just isn’t anything particularly clever or unique or interesting about this issue, in my opinion. There’s no real hook — unless you consider the “death” of the Justice League a hook. Sorry, but death means nothing in comics anymore. Especially not the “death” of these main characters. And I’m just not that interested in reading a story where they temporarily die and the mystery is about how they come back.

Haven’t they been fighting for the multiverse for years now?

The issue is still competently written and has fine art, so it’s a quality-made comic. But the deaths aren’t interesting. The use of a bunch of classic DC villain concepts doesn’t amount to much either. Oh no! The bad guy has an army made up of Darkseid, Doomsday, Eclipso and a bunch of other super-duper bad guys! Yawn. And then Black Adam survives with a dramatic shouting of “Shazam”, which has been done plenty of times before.

It’s entirely possible that I’m unfairly prejudging this story. This is only the prelude, after all. And that’s why I’m going to keep going, to see if it gets better. But this prelude just didn’t offer me anything to get excited about.

TL;DR: The members of the Justice League do indeed all die in this issue. But it’s uncreative, uninteresting and without any real hook to sell this story as something more than just a marketing stunt.

Saga #58

Saga #58
Writer: Brian K. Vaughn
Artist: Fiona Staples
Lettering: Fonografiks

If Saga is great for only one thing, it’s gotta be compelling cliffhangers.

Alana goes off to do the drug deal and meets a dude who also recently lost his spouse, and the two of them bond and commiserate over their losses. Meanwhile, the band teaches Hazel guitar and teaches Squire drums, while Bombazine attempts to impart some fatherly wisdom. But the pirates are onto him, and the Skipper reveals that he knows of Bombazine’s vile past. Skipper promises that they’re on the level, but he is going to need one little favor…

Elsewhere, the powers that be have decided to forgo hiring mercenaries and task Special Agent Gale himself with hunting down and killing Hazel and her family. And not just them, but also everyone they’ve ever met, including absent allies Petrichor, Ghüs and Upsher.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

We’re only a couple of issues into the return of Saga, but I feel confident that it has returned to exactly where it left off: being a bit aimless. I love Saga as much as the next comic book fan, and it’s always a fun read. But the back half of that first section, and now these four issues, point to a story that’s kind of just languishing. It’s still written very well, with phenomenal art, and the characters remain as entertaining as ever. It’s just not much happens. And what does happen feels so very temporary. And I’m not entirely sure what we’re building towards. Is Hazel the key to ending the war? That doesn’t feel like Saga. This definitely isn’t a Chosen One narrative. So…what’s this all for?

This has all been one big story about how a little girl learns to play mediocre guitar

It’s adorable that Hazel wants to learn the guitar from some space pirates who also double as a band. And Alana finding common ground with her drug buyer was delightful. But we barely know Bombazine, so I’m not too concerned about his horrible past. Nor am I concerned with his relationship with the Skipper. In typical Saga/Vaughn fashion, I imagine both are going to die suddenly and gruesomely one day. That is the nature of side characters in Saga.

Though Vaughn also creates great side characters, as we can see in that final page reveal. I barely remember Agent Gale, but I can try to get hyped about him becoming a big bad. And then getting the kill order on a couple of our favorite/missing family friends? That’s a proper hook. That definitely kicked this comic up a notching terms of anticipation.

Though, again, knowing Saga, they’re probably all just gonna get horribly murdered in this comic’s continued effort to use shock value deaths as much as possible.

TL;DR: There’s no denying that Saga is a very good comic book. But not even this big return has solved its problem with aimlessness. A very strong cliffhanger ending kicks things up a notch, at least.

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.


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 April 30, 2022, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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