Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 5/21/22
Another week, another sizeable pile of comics. This one had a bunch of X-Men comics, which is always fun. And even a surprise review, like Savage Avengers for some reason. You just never know what sort of mischief I’ll get up to.
Comic Book of the Week goes to Nightwing #92 for some wonderful character moments and some really clever writing. This book definitely deserves all the awards nominations it just earned!
Meanwhile, I watched the second season of Russian Doll and was mostly lost and confused. Perhaps it’s not such a bad thing that show has been forgotten. I also started the Lincoln Lawyer for some reason…don’t ask.
Comic Reviews: Immortal X-Men #2, Nightwing #92, Power Rangers #19, Savage Avengers #1, The X-Cellent #3 and X-Men Red #2.
Immortal X-Men #2
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Lucas Werneck
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Immortal X-Men and X-Men Red are pretty much equal for me in terms of interest. I don’t particularly care about any of the main characters, but I like the X-Men as a whole, so these two books will really test what I’m getting out of the X-Men franchise these days.
After being rejected from the Quiet Council, Selene has turned a Krakoan gate into a giant bug monster. Hope largely narrates this issue as we watch various mutants try to take it down. They quickly learn that the create regenerates fast, and it’s nature as a gate means it is connected to the space time continuum is that Krakoan teleportation. So they can’t just blow it up like a regular monster. Mister Sinister turns himself into a temporary kaiju to buy them some time.
While the Quiet Council meets to discuss things, Destiny slips Hope some information on where Selene has gone to. So Hope uses a variety of mimicked powers and her own skills to pull off a quick teleportation assassination. It’s quite badass. They then immediately resurrect Selene, and while she’s woozy from coming out of the egg, Exodus goes into her brain and shuts down the monster. He then kills her again and she’s put at the back of the resurrection queue.
The issue ends with Destiny having some more visions.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
First of all, on a personal note, I’m pleased to see that Mister Sinister will not be the only narrator/main character in Immortal X-Men. That would have turned me off the book instantly. Hope does a really good job of leading the story. Her quickie teleportation assassination was cool as hell, as was the way they used a quickie resurrection to defeat the monster. That’s some clever writing and a clever use of the current status quo to get things done. Granted, the thing getting done was defeating a giant monster that wasn’t all that significant to anything, but Gillen clearly had a ton of fun around the monster. That infographic of Cyclops’ Kaiju Protocols was fun as hell.
There is an underlying sense that something bigger and better is building in the background, and I’ll be excited when we arrive. For now, this issue is mostly just immediate action as various mutants throw themselves at this big monster. It’s generally fun, very well drawn and a largely good time had by all. So I’m going to keep going with Immortal X-Men to see where Gillen is going with all of this. Though it’s probably going to cost me that I didn’t read his Eternals comic.
TL;DR: This issue has some really fun, character-specific action and adventure, and I love that sort of thing.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Bruno Redondo
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Look, friends, I can be very easy to please when it comes to comics. Case in point, this issue of Nightwing.
We open with a flashback to Batman, Robin and Batgirl helping people in Gotham City and fighting ruffians during a blackout. Robin spots a shopkeeper about to get killed by an angry mob, so he jumps in and saves the guy — only to receive that beating instead. Batgirl and then Alfred show up to whisk him home. When Batman gets back to the Manor, he’s super angry that Robin disobeyed orders, but Alfred puts the royal verbal smackdown on Bruce to dispel his anger, and Bruce and a bandaged Dick have a nice moment together.
In the present, Dick, Babs, Bruce and their dogs are strolling through the park where Dick has set up “Haven” as part of the Alfred Pennyworth Foundation. It’s just a fun park area with free food and games for the kids (and an Alfred statue). Blockbuster shows up to intimidate Dick, but he’s also got Superman cutting the opening ribbon, so Blockbuster backs off. And he then sends some goons to bust up the joint at night, but Nightwing takes them on and unmasks them, capturing the faces of the men hired to wreck up Haven.
Blockbuster is in his office when he gets the knews, then is greeted by Heartless looking to make a deal.
Comic Rating: 10/10 – Great.
I am only human and for sure am not made of stone. You want to open your comic with a phenomenal Alfred speech that’s surely to go down in comics history as one of the coolest Dad Alfred moments of all time? I have a soul. I’m going to recognize wonderfulness. And some might say it’s easy to write Alfred as the coolest dude ever (I don’t think it’s easy), but that doesn’t mean it’s any less effective. That leads directly to a nice moment between Bruce and a young Dick, which is also wonderful. And that leads to yet another wonderful moment in the present day in the park.
Seriously. There are few things that are going to push my comic loving buttons more than the idea of Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon getting together in the middle of the day in the park and bringing their dogs.
This is exactly what I talk about when I say I love it when superheroes get to be people first. Batman has punched the Joker a million times. And as much fun as it is, I love it even more when Bruce Wayne gets to go out in his civilian identity to bring Ace the Bat-Hound to the park to hang out with his adult “children” and just be normal human beings. This is “just hook it to my veins” material for me right here. It’s just so personable, it’s just so real; this is the character depth and well-roundedness that I need from superhero comics.
And then Taylor and Redondo don’t skimp on the superheroics. Even with Batman and Superman in town, it’s still Nightwing who protects the park at night. And he doesn’t just beat up the ruffians like any other comic would do. Taylor is smart enough to add the extra wrinkle that Dick actually unmasks the goons and gets their faces on camera. He’s going the extra mile to protect his community infrastructure project That’s clever writing and makes for a more fun story. And that’s Taylor and Redondo’s Nightwing in a nutshell: clever and fun.
TL;DR: Taylor and Redondo have plugged into everything that makes stories about the Bat-Family fun and deliver pure joy each and every month. This issue is full of wonderful character moments and clever superhero action.
Power Rangers #19
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Marco Renna
Colorist: Walter Baiamonte, with assistance from Sharon Marino and Sara Antonellini
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Once again, I am hampered by my inability to care about anything beyond the Mighty Morphin era. Curse you, Child Sean, for not watching more Power Rangers in Space! I mean, I watched some, but clearly not enough.
Zack and Trini are raising the now-toddler they discovered in the escape pod last issue. Zack names them “Journey”, and the little tyke is learning all sorts of things as the Rangers take them on walks and whatnot. It’s all very cute and touching. But then Zack gets a worrying call from Kimberly on Earth…
Elsewhere, Jason and Yale team up with Andros to break into a bad guy base and free Andros’ people. We get some cryptic hints about Andros’ storyline, and then the rescued people are sent to Safehaven. Jason, Yale and Andros rejoin Zack and Trini, where they have to share the unfortunate news that Jason’s mom has died.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This issue is a really strong balance of different storylines, each one with its own strengths. Zack and Trini becoming makeshift parents for a strange little alien? Parrott and Renna squeeze maximum adorableness out of the concept and have a lot of fun with it. One must remember that these Rangers are still teenagers. One might also remember that Zack and Trini were a couple in that Pink Ranger spin-off series several years ago, but I don’t know if that’s still canon. Just saying. And then the Red Rangers plus Yale provide some quality action, along with a better fleshing out of what Andros is up to and how it should effect everybody going forward. In theory, that all sounds good to me. If you’re going to have the Omega Rangers in space, they should for sure interact with some of the more cosmic Ranger things.
TL;DR: Great balance of different story types, making for a very well-rounded issue.
Savage Avengers #1
Writer: David Pepose
Artist: Carlos Magno
Colorist: Espen Grundetjern
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Savage Avengers wouldn’t normally be my bag, but I’ve been watching David Pepose for years and this is his first Marvel comic. Dude is living my dream life right now, so I figured I could check out his comic.
Conan the Barbarian is in the present day killing some Set-worshippers who have managed to get their hands on a Madbomb. Meanwhile, a Deathlok has been sent from the future to erase Conan from the time stream. The two get into a fight and the Madbomb goes off, and it attracts several superheroes to the scene: Weapon H, Cloak & Dagger, Black Knight, Anti-Venom and the Elektra Daredevil. Everybody fights the Deathlok to help out Conan, until they manage to smash Deathlok’s time circuits and everybody is flung back to Conan’s original timeline/world.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
This issue has a good, solid handle on what it wants to be, though I think it could use a few less characters. I didn’t read the first Savage Avengers series, and I don’t know the first thing about Conan in the Marvel Universe, but I had no problem following along with this issue. A Deathlok Terminator wants to erase Conan, and a bunch of random superheroes show up to help Conan out. That’s the premise and it’s both established well and handled well. We get little glimpses into the lives of each of the characters before they show the fight, so that at least works to set everybody up, and the fight itself is very lively. My only concern is that there’s maybe too many characters. Cut a few of them, like maybe Cloak & Dagger, and the other characters have more room to breathe. Cloak & Dagger aren’t very savage anyway, right?
Pepose fills the issue with a strong narration that I feel like is trying for something really epic, like one might see in a Thor comic. I don’t think it quite reaches the levels of some more florid writers I’ve read, but it works. The only problem is that, with so much going on already on each page, the excessive prose can be a little much at times. The art is really good, but also suffers from being cramped at times. Fortunately, the cliffhanger seems to split up the characters into different groups, so hopefully the characters, writing and art will all have more room to breathe and grow in the next few issues.
TL;DR: This first issue has a very clear idea of what it wants to be, and does a great job of expressing that want and making it happen. I just think it bites off a bit more than it can chew, wanting to include too much and having to jam it all in there.
The X-Cellent #3
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Michael “Doc” Allred
Colorist: Laura Allred
Letterer: Nate Piekos of Blambot
As great as this book might be, I still think it’s whooshing by just over my head. I just don’t think I’m quite getting it.
So the focus is now on Mirror Girl, who is clearly very insecure and is in an abusive relationship with the unhinged Zeitgeist. We meet two new members of the X-Cellent: Stripe, who can control all things stripy, and Fluff, who can produce belly fuzz and lint. The X-Cellent teleport into the Sanctum Sanctorum (after some trouble with their new teleporter, Whoosh) and mess up the joint, while Zeitgeist snaps a picture of the Book of Vishanti (did not expect an MCU tie-in here!). Mr. Sensitive calls on a queer blogger he knows named Girl Joe to do a hit piece on the X-Cellent for trashing national hero Dr. Strange’s library, and Zeitgeist’s social media numbers start going down.
Mirror Girl tries to correct Zeitgeist’s use of Girl Joe’s pronouns and Fluff comes to her defense when Zeitgeist is a big jerk, giving Mirror Girl a chance to see that Zeitgeist is not unstoppable. A legion of Zeitgeist followers attack Girl Joe’s office and X-Statix want to go help, but Katie is off getting cozy with Mike, so they can’t teleport!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Everything about this comic is pretty excellent, I just fear that I’m not quite getting the themes and/or the satire. It’s clear that very deliberate choices are being made, from character use to dialogue to even these new characters popping up. But what does it all mean? Why is Mr. Sensitive stuttering when he talks? Is that the key to something about his character development? What do the powers, personalities and uniforms of Fluff and Stripe mean? Am I trying to dig too deeply? I think I’ve got an understanding of the surface level stuff, and I hope that is enough to appreciate what we’ve got here.
I don’t really use or follow Twitter or most of the major social media apps. Is that the context I’m missing for how everybody is acting?
Even while maybe missing some deeper context, I still really enjoy this comic. The characters are all so strange and wild and fun, and most of them have some compelling character arcs. I’m enjoying the story of Mirror Girl as she tries to establish some self confidence and get out from underneath Zeitgeist’s thumb. Milligan and Allred are still geniuses at coming up with weird, random mutants and putting them to good work. And, of course, the art and coloring by the Family Allred is as great as ever. Characters pop off the page unlike any other comic in existence. This series is really something special.
I just wish I could wrap my head around it a bit better.
TL;DR: The characters get richer and the story comes into a real interesting focus in the latest issue. Plus, few can compare to Milligan and Allred when it comes to creating new, random and weird mutants.
X-Men Red #2
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Colorist: Federico Blee
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Turns out, this week, I liked X-Men Red just a bit more than Immortal X-Men.
We find out that Vulcan has actually been pretty crazy for a while now, and the Petra and Sway who were hanging out with him were actually mental constructs. Dude is really on edge, and so Abigail Brand recruits him to join her X-Men Red team, which is really just a couple of her SWORD operatives. They head out to stop an invasion of the Progenitors on an Arakki village and mostly get their butts whooped.
(We later learn that Brand herself orchestrated the Progenitor invasion in order to steal info on Cable’s powers and techno-organic virus.)
Storm’s Brotherhood of Arakko shows up and, with the help of the locals, they stop the alien invaders no problem. Storm then puts a very angry Vulcan in his place. Afterwards, Brand starts whispering to Vulcan about turning him into an Arakko hero and member of the Great Ring. All he’s gotta do is defeat Tarn the Uncaring.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Nice swerve with the title that I did not see coming. “X-Men Red” isn’t just a catch all term for this group of characters on Mars, it’s the actual name of Abigail Brand’s X-Men squad, which in and of itself is actually just a facade so that she can continue her various schemes. That’s a solid half of a premise, with Storm and her new Brotherhood fulfilling the other half. I like the dichotomy we get in this issue, as both teams take part in Brand’s little show. This issue does a great job of establishing the two sides and therefore the stakes of the story. The X-Men Red are a scheme (that they don’t know about) to bolster the antagonist’s plans, while the Brotherhood have the backing of the people. It’s a nice set-up, and I look forward to Ewing really sinking his teeth into whatever story he’s going to throw into this mix.
TL;DR: This issue does a great job of establishing the sides and characters of this series, with a big action scene that puts everything in its place for what else is to come.
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 21, 2022, in Avengers, Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged Ace the Bat-Hound, Boom!, Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson, Immortal X-Men, Nightwing, Omega Rangers, Power Rangers, Savage Avengers, X-Cellent, X-Men Red, X-Statix. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.