Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 8/6/22
What a time to be alive. So many movies, TV shows, comics and video games are coming out these days. It’s a helluva time to be a fan! We’ve got new issues of Mighty Morphin, Poison Ivy and a bunch of X-Men comics this week!
Comic Book of the Week goes to Batman #126 because I am loving Chip Zdarsky’s Batman run so far. It’s just some really strong Batman comic bookery.
Meanwhile, I fear I might be losing half the X-Men comics I’m reading for a couple of months. I still haven’t gone back and read Judgement Day, and a lot of books this week are tie-ins. I just…don’t…care. Maybe I’ll find some time coming up and judge binge a bunch of comics to get caught up. Is Judgement Day any good so far?
Comic Reviews: Batman #126, Legion of X #4, Mighty Morphin #22 and Poison Ivy #3.
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Chip Zdarsky on Batman! Let’s goooooo!
Robin is back on his feet after getting patched up, though Batman isn’t too happy that he got shot in the first place. Batman is still off his game, feeling rather grim — which is when this new Failsafe robot attacks and mops the floor with him. Batman barely gets outside, where Signal, Batgirl and Batgirl show up to help fight it. Robin gets Batman into a Batmobile to escape, and Nightwing shows up as well, but Failsafe is a damn mighty robot and everybody gets a whoopin’. Robin manages to get Batman to the old, classic Batcave, where a very injured Bruce seeks out the darkness and transforms himself into Batman of Zur-En-Arrh.
In the Catwoman back-up, she discovers that all of the Penguin offspring are dead (even that one introduced in Batgirl of Burnside!). They were killed but some unknown Penguin heirs who are clearly the new villains of the piece.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
I’m very torn about that ending. On the one hand, it’s neat, and probably works in context. On the other hand, it feels really cheap to drag the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh out of the mothballs, especially in only Zdarsky’s second issue. When Grant Morrison first introduced this idea, it was hugely controversial and insane, exactly like a Grant Morrison comic. But does it work on a second go around? Especially not written by Morrison? Like, I don’t want to knock Zdarsky’s story before it’s unfolded, but this feels like a cheap well to jump to in only his second issue. I also feel like Zdarsky is good enough of a writer that he should be coming up with his own Zur-En-Arrh-level ideas. Perhaps he is building to something like that, and Zur-En-Arrh is a stepping stone.
Thankfully, everything else about Zdarsky and Jimenez’s collaboration is bonkers good.
This is top tier Batman writing and art. Zdarsky has immediately and perfectly captured the tone and spirit of writing Batman, while adding the extra twist of a Batman off-his-game. I’m loving that idea in general and it works perfectly. Then Zdarsky brings his antagonist into the story in full force, with Failsafe laying waste to everyone around him. We’ll see how this character evolves going forward, but right now he’s great as a force of power villain who is just wrecking house. Batman is in a bad way, and it’s his Family that comes to the rescue — with an emphasis on Robin being the closest helper, which I’m always in favor of. Thankfully, Tim Drake wasn’t laid up in the hospital for long after getting shot (though that does beg the question of why do something as intense as getting shot in the neck in the first place?). So I look forward to…maybe…Robin of Zur-en-Arrh? That’d be pretty neat.
Also, Catwoman back-up story remains pretty fun.
TL;DR: Despite a questionable cliffhanger ending, the art and writing for the bulk of the issue are top tier Batman comics. The danger and the stakes feel very real, making for some exiting storytelling.
Legion of X #4
Writer: Sy Spurrier
Artist: Jan Bazaldua
Colorist: Federico Blee
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
I am 110% on board with a deeper exploration of Nightcrawler’s faith.
Nightcrawler and Weaponless Zsen have boned, and spend a lot of pillow talk analyzing one another. Zsen wakes up first and returns to Arakko, where she investigates some mischievous happenings that all resulted in good in the long run. Then she returns to her boss, Ora Serrata, where the guards have been tasked with killing Zsen. Nightcrawler returns to the Altar, only to discover that somebody has let the Skinjacker out of his cage, and he’s going god wild on innocent people. Nightcrawler tosses himself to the Skinjacker, which causes Nightcrawler to wake up in the Skinjacker’s original body. Once there, Kurt tries to negotiate with the god of mischief that is empowering the Skinjacker.
The two have a frank conversation, in which the god reveals himself to be a mishmash of different mischief gods, a trickster chimaera. And they discuss how, deep down, Kurt doesn’t believe in religion, but he’s fooling himself to try to believe in something. And they both convince each other to try something new going forward. And just as the Skinjacker is about to jump into the body of Legion (who’s still arguing with his dad), Nightcrawler realizes that Ora Serrata was the one who summoned/created the god of mischief in the first place.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I will admit, I can’t be 100% sure of everything that happened in this issue. It gets a little wild, and is told a little bit out of order. But I think I’ve got the gist, and this is a very strong issue. Spurrier has always done a great job with both characters and the larger spiritual exploration, and this issue is jam packed with both of those things. For me, personally, I’m really enjoying the stuff between Professor X and Juggernaut. Now that Juggernaut isn’t just a rampaging villain, I love the idea of these two step-brothers approaching each other as equals. The idea that Cain Marko was Charles Xavier’s step-brother always seemed like just some trivia, but now that it’s being explored, I find it fascinating. Likewise, as I’ve mentioned before, I really like Weaponless Zsen, and I’m totally down with her and Nightcrawler hooking up. It grows both characters and they’re both explored nicely through the act in this issue.
But as I said, that’s only part of this wild issue. Nightcrawler then goes from that into a one-on-one confrontation with the god of mischief — who is revealed to not be that woman we’d met earlier? I’m not entirely sure how this change works…or what happened to the flame-headed Banshee from the end of last issue. Either way, we get a head-to-head confrontation between Nightcrawler and an actual god, And it’s good stuff. There is so much to explore when it comes to Nightcrawler and his faith, and I’ve loved pretty much everything Spurrier has done with it so far. I hope this is the start of an even deeper exploration, how Kurt’s faith has always been about projecting outward to help others instead of worrying about himself. That’s good and interesting character development.
TL;DR: Things get a little weird and off the rails this issue, but the very strong character work and overall ideas keep things quite good.
Mighty Morphin #22
Writer: Mat Groom
Artist: Moises Hidalgo
Colorist: Raul Angulo
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
The Pink Ranger focus issue we’ve all been waiting for!
Kimberly and Tommy are still trapped in the now-corrupted pocket dimension, beset by some shadow versions of villains yet to come in future series. They kick Tommy’s butt so badly that he unmorphs, and Kimberly grabs Tommy and flees. She’s soon visited by the Pink Emissary, who we’ve never met before. The Pink Emissary commiserates with Kim for a bit before unlocking her memories of the Shattered Grid, putting Kimberly’s ongoing fears at rest. She’s not going to be replaced, there are just going to be other Ranger teams out there in the future — and that gives Kim an idea. She confronts the villains on her own, then summons pink energy versions of all the other Pink Rangers from history. They put a big wallop on all the bad guys and the day is saved!
Kimberly and Tommy return home and have a little chat about how Kim is finally feeling positive about her future, and what paths she might want to explore. When they return to the Command Center, the others have started a little game to come up with an adjective to describe their era of Power Rangers. Kim tells them she’s fine, and would rather just go get some juice. So everybody heads off, the best of friends. And yeah, if you look at the angle right, “Mighty Morphin” was on the board.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
I don’t know what it is, but I’ve always been tickled pink whenever Power Rangers mentions the specific power of pink energy. It’s like they all recognize that pink was only included to make sure the female ranger had a “girly” color, but it doesn’t make any sense in a larger context. Where’s the light blue Ranger? Also, why does light red get its own name? Anyway, this is a strong issue that focuses on Kimberly’s growth as a character, and that’s always what these Power Rangers comics excel at. She’s been troubled by some thoughts about the future, and this issue does a great job exploring those thoughts and letting her absorb them, understand them and move on as a person.
And on top of that good character work, we get another mighty fine action issue. The arrival of the Pink Emissary is a nice touch, because why would there have only been three? And this opens up so many fun ideas. What about Ranger teams that don’t have a pink Ranger? Do the green and black Emissaries switch out sometimes? Regardless, Kimberly summoning and then leading an army of Pink Rangers straight from the Morphin Grid to take down the bad guys is some cool Power Rangers action and it totally works for me. Great Kimberly action and character development all around.
Also, that “Mighty Morphin” gag at the end was just cute enough to be acceptable.
Double also, I looked closely and I’m pretty sure they didn’t slyly sneak in an Omega Pink in the lineup of Pink Rangers. Also, they couldn’t have timed things a little better so that the Pink Ranger would appear on the cover of this Pink Ranger issue?
TL;DR: Mighty Morphin settles in for some good, focused character development, and what’s where this series has always shined. This issue is a great balance of that character work and some neat action/lore development, and I’m all for that.
Poison Ivy #3
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Marcio Takara
Colorist: Arif Prianto
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
I’m just really enjoying the vibe of this comic, and the strong character work.
In between dreams and love letters to Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy gets roped into helping the owner of the motel she’s staying at clean up a side yard. Ivy and the woman work all day, and Ivy thinks to herself about how good it feels to put in a hard day’s work. Lots of ruminating from Ivy. Then she spends the night putting in new grasses and plants, turning the little side yard into a beautiful garden. But she’s haunted by ghostly plant monsters and her own dying psyche, so she packs up and heads to the next town, where she goes to see a guy about a job opening.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
This series is just a really nice character study of Poison Ivy, with gorgeous artwork and a good, solid narrative. We’ve got this apocalyptic death spore thing hanging over her head, and this series explores her thoughts and feelings as she heads towards the inevitable death of herself and everyone on Earth. Yet it also features some really nice, really human moments for Pam. She teams up with a rando to clean out a yard, allowing her to indulge in actions that connect her to her humanity. It’s a fun exploration of the character that doesn’t rely on the usual Poison Ivy tropes, while still leaning into them just enough.
The artwork is also really great. It’s still clear and detailed, which I like in comic book art. But it’s also so flowing and poetic. Takara does a great job with the plant-like accents to Poison Ivy’s body, and the general plant and fungus artwork. This is a beautiful comic to flip through.
TL;DR: Poison Ivy remains a really strong comic with a wonderful focus on artwork and character development. This series is going a long way to all those ideas of rehabilitating Poison Ivy as a character.
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 August 6, 2022, in Batman, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged Boom!, Legion of X, Mighty Morphin, Nightcrawler, Poison Ivy, Power Rangers. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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