Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 5/7/22
Another week, another pile of barely there comics. What is happening to me? Do I just…not like comics anymore? Are there too many crossovers that I’m just naturally avoiding? I feel like a disappointment. Maybe I should start reading more indie comics…
Comic Book of the Week goes to One-Star Squadron #6 for a hard-hitting but ultimately satisfying finale.
Meanwhile, I went and saw Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and I loved it! I wasn’t fully on board during the first half at some points, but everything really won me over by the end. Another fine addition to the MCU and I can’t wait to see it again!
Comic Reviews: Marauders #2 and One-Star Squadron #6.
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Eleonora Carlini
Colorist: Matt Milla
Letterers: VC’s Ariana Maher and Clayton Cowles
My opinion on Marauders has not changed in the least from the first issue a month ago.
The Marauders are under attack from Erik the Red, while Majestrix Xandra is given a crash course in the first mutants and what Kin Crimson has been hiding all these centuries (the audience doesn’t get to see). The Marauders fight, we learn more about Kin Crimson and their abilities, and we see that Xandra is hesitant to fight her allies, but begins to believe Kin Crimson is making the right choices. Erik the Red eventually gets the better of the Marauders and they’re launched out into space, but Somnus acts quickly and brings them all into his Dreamscape, where time passes much more slowly than in the real world. So they’ll have plenty of time to plan their next move while their bodies float out into open space.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Good.
There is no problem with Marauders. The problem is mine and mine alone, as I said a month ago. This is a really good comic, built from a lot of great parts. I really like the art, it’s energetic and stylized and has a fun sense of style behind it. The art definitely fits the comic. And the writing is strong. This is big ideas mixed with good character work. This second issue does everything it needs to do. There’s a big, cool superhero action scene, with lots of little moments for each character, while expanding on a larger mythos with some nicely crafted retcons. I really do like the idea of taking “Erik the Red” and creating a whole new mythology around and behind him. That’s good stuff. There’s a lot to enjoy here.
I just don’t personally really enjoy it. And again, this problem is mine and mine alone. When it comes to X-Men comics, my interest tends to hang on what characters are being used and what they’re doing. And there are a lot of X-Men characters and plots that I just don’t care about. I’ve never cared about the Shi’ar, for example. I like my X-Men comics to stay grounded. I don’t really care about any of the team members on the Marauders. They’re just not in my grouping of favorite mutants. And then I really, really don’t care to meet the “first mutants” that the plot hinges around. It’s the same reason I don’t like the Arakki. I want to read about the existing mutants and their struggles in the world. I don’t want to read about ancient mutants from millennia ago who are somehow inexplicably immortal and are still around? Double down on that by having these first mutants tied up in some Shi’ar retcons and it just doesn’t matter to me on a personal level.
So yeah, this comic walks a weird line for me. I can recognize that it is a spectacularly made and developed comic. It’s just that none of it is appealing to me, based on the things I read X-Men comics for.
TL;DR: Everything is working wonderfully for Marauders. The writing is strong, the story is really neat and the art has a great sense of style and energy. I’m not the biggest fan of some of the story choices, but that does not detract from the quality of the comic overall.
One-Star Squadron #6
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Steve Lieber
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
And so we come to the end of this harrowing tale of the dangers of capitalism and what it means to be a hero.
Fifteen months have passed since the fire at Heroz4U, and Red Tornado is just sort of meandering through life. He helped defrost and repower some wind turbines during a winter storm, and that single act saved more lives by restoring power to Metropolis than any day he was a superhero. So what’s that tell you? Then he hears on the news that Minute Man is dead, found beneath an overpass where he was begging people for money. Red goes to the morgue to identify the body — but it’s not Minute Man.
So Red Tornado visits some old pals to see if anyone has heard from him. G.I. Robot is teaching a class on superheroes at a nearby learning center. The Heckler is getting recruited by Lex Luthor as a salesman for his new workforce app. And Power Girl has gone back to being a good superhero. So Red is still a little lost on the meaning of hero. But then he gets a letter from Minute Man in the mail.
In the letter, Minute Man explains that he tried to take his own life, but a fluke turn of events got him saved and revived. Then he discovered that the pilot of his medical transport helicopter was his old drug dealer from a couple issues ago. The dealer got out of that line of work, got his helicopter license and is now living a new, better life. It teaches Minute Man that second chances are real, so he goes out to Montana to be with his sister and he uses the money from the fire to open an ice cream stand. It’s a good life. And he reassures Red Tornado that every good hero story is the story of people helping each other survive.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
This series definitely reached most of the heights of profoundness I was hoping for when it started. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it an all-time classic or Mark Russell’s best work, but it’s damn good and definitely sticks the landing in a very fulfilling way. This series started as an obvious satire about capitalism and the gig economy, and that was some strong stuff as well. Now we get to the true dangers of what that does to a soul, of what that does to the idea of superheroes. There will always be vultures like Lex Luthor looking to prey on good people for what they can offer. There will always be regrets and reasons we’re unsure of the choices we’ve made. There will always be that strange conundrum where super-powers might be put to better use than fighting crime.
And there’s a real thing as second chances. And that’s a good message to have. I really enjoyed this issue for it’s patient storytelling. There’s no big fight. No struggle with justice. It’s just people, some at the ends of their ropes, doing what they can to just explain and perhaps provide comfort. It’s some wild, magical people struggling with the realities of life and framing superheroes in a new, less-than-perfect light. I’m down for that sort of thing. I always love it when my superheroes get to be people first.
The issue itself is really well done. I like the focus on Red Tornado as he goes about his normal life, all while struggling to come to grips with what happened. I liked the peek into the lives of everyone else, how they’re getting along. And the letter from Minute Man felt very appropriately. Solid way to tie it all off.
TL;DR: Equal parts bleak and hopeful, this final issue of One-Star Squadron delivers the profundity I was hoping for with a Mark Russell comic.
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.