Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 5/14/22
Now this is more like it! Finally a week with a bunch of comics, and most of them thoroughly enjoyable! That’s what I like to read. We’ve got the likes of Mighty Morphin and X-Men to enjoy!
Comic Book of the Week goes to The Jurassic League #1 for a truly wonderful, full-bore dive into this silly and enjoyable idea. Stand aside, apes! The age of the dinosaur is here!
Meanwhile, I’ll be seeing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness for a second time today. Can’t wait! And I just finished all five seasons of The Last Kingdom on Netflix. Very enjoyable show. I’m in between video games at the moment, so if you have any suggestions, let me know. Perhaps I should try Elden Ring…
Comic Reviews: Batgirls #6, The Jurassic League #1, Mighty Morphin #19, Superman: Son of Kal-El #11 and X-Men #11.
Writers: Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad
Artist: Jorge Corona
Colorist: Sarah Stern
Letterer: Becca Carey
And so the first story arc comes to an end as it lived: all style and so very little substance.
Barbara Gordon beats Spellbinder and the other Batgirls beat Tutor, freeing all the people. Tutor tries to blow himself and everybody up, by Stephanie grabs the bomb and drives it into the river. It looks like she sacrifices herself, but nah, just their cool car. And afterwards, the TV reporter who was caught up in Tutor’s mess publicly acknowledges that the Batgirls are awesome on TV.
Then Seer shows up at the Batgirl’s loft asking for their help.
Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.
Batgirls has walked such a fine line for me, but ultimately the book hasn’t been worth it. It’s all style and little substance. I love the style. The artwork is wonderful. It’s energetic, unique and full of all sorts of great comic book chutzpah. I also enjoy the sense of humor in this book, and it’s bolstered by strong character writing. The problem is that there’s nothing below the surface. The book tries to present some sort of philosophy about…free will? I guess? But all these six issues amounted to was a really bad, forgettable villain randomly mind controlling people here and there through the weak gimmick of graffiti, and each time getting just generally beaten by the Batgirls. Or there were times he got away for no good reason. Then another, boss villain is revealed…and Barbara just kicks his butt immediately. I’m all for Barbara Gordon being better than Spellbinder on every level. That’s fun. But it just underlines how uninteresting and shallow everything in this series is. The villains matter not at all.
Likewise, as much as I enjoy the writing for the main three, they are also pretty shallow characters. We’re six issues in, with pretty weak villains, and still Babs, Steph and Cass seem to have little to no life beyond Batgirling. Even Bruce Wayne attends charity events and has random girlfriends. Occasionally visiting the local bookstore isn’t enough for me.
TL;DR: The artwork and the writing are pretty wonderful in this comic, but for the sixth issue in a row, the story leaves too much to be desired to recommend this comic.
The Jurassic League #1
Writers: Juan Gedeon and Daniel Warren Johnson
Colorist: Mike Spicer
Letterer: Ferran Delgado
A super silly idea featuring dinosaurs, with input from recent Beta Ray Bill superstar Daniel Warren Johnson? I am all about this!
The members of the Justice League are humanoid-dinosaur superheroes. We meet Bat-Walker as he fights Jokerzard in a brutal melee. We meet an Aquaman fighting Blackmantasaurus. We meet Wonderdon, even though she’s a triceratops, as she embarks on a journey to the mainland. And we meet Supersaur as he helps his human parents build a civilization, only to be attacked by Giganta and Brontozarro! Also, cavemen live alongside dinosaurs, just fyi.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
And just like that, this idea already lives up to the hype. I think Jurassic League is a good example of what I like in comics these days. I couldn’t care less about any of the upcoming crossovers or Big Events. Following the X-Men fighting the Avengers fighting the Eternals sounds like such a chore. But give me some silly idea where the Justice League are all dinosaurs, and then go balls to the wall with how gleefully you enact that idea? Just hook it to my veins! Storywise, there’s nothing particularly special or unique about this comic. It presents very straight-forward representations of the characters, only now each one is a dinosaur and it’s somewhat the Mesozoic Era (with cave people). But the writing is strong. And it’s really all about the execution.
This first issue fully embraces the wildness of the premise and I love it for that. We get a nice big snapshot of all the dinosaur superheroes, as well as a bunch of villains, and they’re all just fun. The fights are brutal and bloody. The surprises are neat, like Jokerzard spitting acid. And everything is so bright and full of color and energy. This is just fun comics. I realize it’s a very niche series, but I guess this is what I’m into these days: letting creators just have fun and be silly and embrace wild ideas. I truly hope the rest of this mini-series is just as much fun.
TL;DR: The concept is crazy and the creators embrace that craziness to glorious effect. Bright, colorful, full of energy and clearly a labor of fun.
Mighty Morphin #19
Writer: Mat Groom
Artist: Moises Hidalgo
Colorist: Raul Angulo
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Gimme that sweet, sweet Power Rangers emotional payoff!
Lord Aradon is attacking the force field around the destroyed Command Center, but the field is holding, so he switches up his attempts. Matt decides to go out and face him, with Zordon giving him one hell of an awesome pep talk. Matt is holding his own, but it’s a tough fight, and the group’s EMP plan doesn’t work. So Rocky insists he has to go out and help, even if it might give away his secret identity to his siblings. Zordon comes in with another badass line, how he’s got a new rule that supersedes all others: we will never lose another Ranger. The Red Ranger morphs and joins the goddamn fight!
Meanwhile, in the Lion Galaxy, the other Rangers have a plan to steal a Command Center from King Vieron. The plan involves Tommy and Aisha sneaking into a party and getting close to the king, but they’re not very good at being sneaky. Fortunately, Alpha 5 swoops in with the mother of all disguises.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
First and foremost, the Lion Galaxy story is fine. Apparently it has some references to Ninja Storm? That’s neat. There are some fun character moments, and Alpha setting up his disguise and then paying it off at the cliffhanger, are wonderful. By all means, this is quality stuff. But man oh man, the action on Earth is exactly what I love about this comic. Groom is really living up to the high bar previous Power Rangers writers have set. Zordon’s speech to Matt about how effective he is as a Ranger is exactly the sort of wonderful Rangers-specific storytelling I want to read.
That is just great payoff. Everything we’ve seen with Zordon for years now, coupled with all the history of Matt and Tommy and the role of the Green Ranger, all builds to that great moment. And that’s just the first one! Zordon gets another wonderful moment later in the issue when he tells Rocky it’s more important to save Matt than it is to protect his secret identity, and he says it while locking eyes with Grace. So damn good! And it leads to the heroic appearance of the Red Ranger on the final page. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more excited to see the Red Ranger charge into battle. I hope Groom picks up on some of the subtle Rocky/Red Ranger storytelling that Parrott established.
TL;DR: This issue has all that wonderful balance of cool action and great, emotional character moments that we’ve come to love about BOOM!’s Power Rangers comics. The Green and Red Rangers alone against a villain only spoken of from the show is a neat story idea.
Superman: Son of Kal-El #11
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Cian Tormey
Colorists: Federico Blee and Matt Herms
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Things are picking up to a nice degree on Superman.
Superman isn’t happy that Batman distrusts Jay and he storms off. Pa Kent has a nice heart-to-heart with Batman, revealing that he used to regularly chat with Alfred. Jon talks to Dick to get some perspective and decides to ask Jay about his history with the violent extremist group the Revolutionaries. Jay gladly explains that they are powered people who help those fleeing Bendix, so Batman is really off the mark. Jay then reveals that Bendix has little devices in the heads of his metas. Jon realizes this means that fire guy could be an unintentional spy, and he rushes to the Hall of Justice to make sure they’re safe. The Flash and Atom help try to save fire guy, and eventually Superman figures out how.
But by saving fire guy, they have made Bendix angry, and he tells Lex Luthor to move up his plans to kill Superman.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Man, I just don’t have too much to say about this otherwise enjoyable issue. I like the conflict that Jay might be trouble, though it’s swept under the rug pretty quickly. I like Pa Kent and Batman having a chat. Though I also don’t like how it all works to relieve Jon and Jay of some juicy drama. I would think one of the appeals of Jon Kent as Superman is that he’s not as noble and perfect as his father. I rather liked the idea of his love interest having some secret dark side that Jon would then have to contend with. But nah. Jay explains it very easily, it’s very understandable, and Pa Kent smooths everything over with Batman with some folksy wisdom. Give me some quality drama!
Beyond that, the rest of the comic is really fun. I loved Superman realizing that fire guy might be trouble, and then him working with Flash and Atom to try and solve the issue. I love it when appropriate superheroes can just pop up to help with a problem, and that’s exactly what happens with the Atom. And then Superman solves the matter with his smarts and skill, exactly how it should be. And the danger grows from there. It’s all generally good stuff.
TL;DR: Good, quality issue features a lot of great superhero stuff and a lot of great personal, human stuff. Though part of me is a little disappointed that Jon Kent is being treated with kid gloves. I wouldn’t mind more personal conflict and drama.
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Badass Cyclops moments are definitely a favorite part of X-Men comics for me. And I never used to be a Cyclops fan!
Jean, Rogue, Polaris and Wolverine had to Gameworld to sneak in and shut it down. They each have fun little adventures, be it shopping or getting possessed by the bad guys. The boss of Gameworld, Cordyceps Jones, is a fungus, and he infects and takes over Wolverine. He then brings his forces to bear against Jean when she begins her attack.
Meanwhile, Cyclops and Synch are back on Earth, on the trail of Doctor Stasis through the sewers. Synch finds one of the animal-men burning bodies and gets a cool fight. While Cyclops finds Stasis himself and also gets a cool fight. Cyclops eventually blasts off Stasis’ helmet to reveal…a Mister Sinister clone!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
The X-Men are finally taking on both Gameworld and Dr. Stasis directly, and both stories are pretty enjoyable payoffs. I love the idea of the X-Women going in “undercover” to Gameworld. They’re not hiding, but they’re not going in with brute force. They’re all wearing some variation of their Hellfire Gala outfits in order to pass as normal visitors. That’s a nice touch. And Duggan comes up with plenty of fun adventures for them. Polaris spotting a dress and doing a little shopping is fun. Likewise, Jean being a psychic badass is fun. And then the fungus villain using his powers to be really creepy and gross is also fun. It all totally worked for me and is a fine continuation of that story. Good use of everybody.
Likewise, I enjoyed the back-up tale of Cyclops and Synch pursuing their other foes through the sewers. Duggan is making really good use of Synch. He gets a really badass moment to put Wolverine’s copied powers to good use. And then Cyclops gets to be a total boss as he destroys Dr. Stasis. It’s particularly funny. Stasis is wearing a helmet, and he brags about how the X-Men can’t touch him when he wears his helmet, because it’s psychic-proof (similar, obviously, to Magneto’s famous helmet). But Cyclops and his powers aren’t stopped by a dumb helmet. The twist that Dr. Stasis is some Mister Sinister clone who doesn’t know Cyclops is an interesting one. Personally, I don’t care for Sinister, and I’m not very thrilled that he’s become such a major player, but I can push that down in favor of the cool fight Cyclops fight scene.
Though the story has yet to justify the Captain Krakoa subplot…
TL;DR: A couple stories move along nicely with some great art and some more strong character moments. This comic works very nicely as a straight forward, adventure and character-filled flagship title.
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 May 14, 2022, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Superman, X-Men and tagged Batgirl, Batgirls, Boom!, Jurassic League, Mighty Morphin, Power Rangers, Superman: Son of Kal-El. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.