Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 10/1/22

For once, I have more than just two or so comics to read and review this week! And yet I’m still not branching out as much as I’d like to non-superhero stuff. I haven’t even read 8 Billion Genies yet! That’s supposed to be very good. At least Ant-Man and Thunderbolts are also very good, as is the first issue of Tim Drake: Robin.

Comic Book of the Week goes to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #100 for a pretty excellent, perfectly paced and powered, big anniversary issue.

Always a classic

Meanwhile, I’m just about ready to start hunting in earnest for an artist for my next comic book project, Cover Bard. So if you are a comic book artist looking for work or you know one who is, drop me a line and we might be in business!

Comic Reviews: Ant-Man #3, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #100, Thunderbolts #2, Tim Drake: Robin #1 and X-Men #15.

Ant-Man #3

Ant-Man #3
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Tom Reilly
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

This little mini series is still going quite strong!

The Avengers have captured the merged Ultron/Hank Pym and have him locked up in a Vibranium coffin with Asgardian runes. The plan is to hide the coffin in a Microverse desert, and they’ve called in Scott Lang to make that happen — and Scott brought his daughter, Cassie, currently going by Stinger. When the Avengers get called away on a world-saving mission, Scott and Cassie take it upon themselves to enact the mission, which involves bringing the coffin to Hank’s old lab in New York. That’s when Ultron Pym reveals he’s been secretly communicating/influencing Scott, and when Scott turns down his request to help, the Black Ant reveals himself! Way back in the day, when Eric O’Grady was killed, he was replaced by a life model decoy who eventually became Black Ant, the evil Ant-Man. He takes Cassie hostage and they all talk it out.

Scott gives Cassie the code to go big and she breaks free, but Black Ant shoots the coffin with the Time Master’s aging ray, from the first issue. The coffin disappears, though, and Black Ant escapes. Scott is then taken by the future Ant-Man into the ongoing narrative, where the Ant-Men of all ages are battling All-Father Ultron!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

The only “problem” with this issue is that it’s a modern Scott Lang story, so this issue isn’t like the previous two, in that it’s not a glorious, recreated throwback to a bygone Ant-Man era. It still looks and feels like some great modern Ant-Man comics we’ve gotten (and there have been several), but it doesn’t have that exact same magic. Which is totally not a problem because it’s still a very fun, character-focused issue that features a lot of great writing, action and story escalation. This issue features the first (only?) confrontation between Scott Lang and Black Ant, and it’s a hoot, because the characters are so rich and the writing/dialogue is so much fun.

So many bug-themed characters

I don’t think an anniversary mini-series could do any better than what we’ve been getting here. Each issue has been packed full of so much energy and character. I’m a big Scott Lang fan, and Ewing and his art team capture him and his daughter perfectly, from being a “little” Avenger to being smart and clever in his own right. And Black Ant was the perfect antagonist, like I mentioned. Plus, this issue takes a nice leap forward in setting up the final battle for next issue. It’s all coming together nicely and I look forward to the finale.

TL;DR: Not as magical a trip back through memory lane as the other issues, but it’s still a fun Ant-Man-centric story that leads nicely into next month’s finale.

Power Rangers #100

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #100
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artists: Moises Hidalgo and Marco Renna
Colorists: Raul Angulo, Walter Baiamonte & Sara Antonellini, with assistance by Sharon Marino
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire

Here we go! This is is! A big anniversary issue to cap off Ryan Parrott’s excellent tenure on this awesome comic! And it totally succeeds.

The Omega Rangers have been taken over by the Death Ranger (with Jason possessed directly), and he’s also resurrecting all of the dead on Andros’s home planet of KO-35. Andros has journeyed to Earth to collect the Power Rangers, and everybody races off to KO-35 to fight the bad guys and save the day. It’s a big, epic fight with zombies and possessed rangers and Megazords galore, including the Ultra Gold Omegazord and other surprises. It’s big, it’s epic, there’s some solid character stuff for Jason and all that good stuff.

Comic Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic.

This issue easily nails the hype and excitement of a big anniversary issue, with a lot of great action, some cool Zord combinations, some great character moments and some excellent artwork. I have a couple of nitpicks, but they are very minor and really just have to do with pacing. We’ll get to those later. Let’s start with the good stuff. This is a big, awesome Power Rangers battle, as our heroes take on their own friends and allies, while taking the fight directly to a new and scary big bad. We’ve got lots of heroes, lots of allies, a quality shift into the Zords and then a strong, emotional climax. Parrott puts Jason through his psychological paces, ending with a heartfelt message from his mom. It’s a solid way to cap off this run of the series and it works to end things off.

The Dragon Thunderzord was also quite choice.

Hells yeah

My only issues with this issue are about pacing. It’s been a good couple of weeks since the last Power Rangers comic, and a lot of the urgency has worn off. Such is comics. I’m sure this will all read better in trade paperback form. My other issue is that this whole Death Ranger storyline has felt a little rushed. They’re a cool villain, and I’ll admit that I didn’t read that bonus comic that detailed their origins. But in the bigger picture, this is the first real battle against them and the good guys win. Like, there was a ton of build-up about this mysterious ranger and Andros, and then he takes over the Omega Rangers…but then the Power Rangers show up and fight and win all in a single issue. It’s a big fight, with some cool moments, don’t get me wrong, but the Death Ranger doesn’t seem like they’ll amount to much in the long run. That’s not a major gripe, just an observation.

Likewise, we lost Journey this issue, because their whole thing was super advanced aging. It feels like we just met them and they’re already gone.

Also, also, I’m surprised Parrott didn’t do anything too big with the Green Ranger in this issue. I always assumed Matt was Parrott’s pet character, having been introduced in Go Go Power Rangers way back in the day. But nope, Matt just adds to the fight like a good ranger should, and that’s that. Which is fine by me. I would have hated to lose the dude.

TL;DR: Big fight, lots of cool moments, some excellent character drama; this anniversary issue has it all and is a great finale to a truly excellent comic book run.

Thunderbolts #2

Thunderbolts #2
Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Sean Izaakse
Colorist: Java Tartaglia
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino

It’s a shame this comic is only a mini-series (I think?), because this second issue is really solid.

Following a rough press conference where Hawkeye tries to prove his bona fides as team leader, the Thunderbolts are whisked away to a monster attack at the MET. They find Eegro the Unbreakable, a mysteriously tough little monster dude who is surprisingly great with kids. After a bit of a fight and a bit of a misunderstanding, Eegro eventually learns English and everybody calms down and chills out. And later, Eegro is added to the team, just in time for a finalized team photo.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I really enjoyed the first issue of the new Thunderbolts, and this second issue follows suite with a solid, enjoyable, character-focused adventure. That’s exactly what I want from a superhero team comic. Get some interesting and unique characters, give them strong personalities, and see what happens when you bundle them all together. Zub has a great handle on all of these characters, and provides a really wonderful framework to a team comic, in that they’re a government-sponsored, very structured organization that just so happens to have recruited a bunch of random superheroes. This isn’t the Avengers, and it’s not a group of friends forming a team. It’s a bunch of strangers put together by algorithm, and they’re making it work in a lot of entertaining ways.

He’s got this hero thing down pat

Zub has a lot of fun plates spinning and it works for the series, like Power Man being unsure of himself, Hawkeye trying to coach him, Spectrum being skeptical of the whole thing, and Luke Cage’s PR team doing a lot of juggling. I’m a fan of it all and am also enjoying the clear, detailed artwork. This is quality superhero comics. The characters are being used well, the writing is fun in its own right, and the stories have a nice done-in-one feel, while building the ongoing story. We didn’t need Eegro’s introduction dragged out beyond this single issue. And I’m very excited to see what this team gets up to next.

TL;DR: Very solid, enjoyable second issue keeps the strong character character work going for an overall entertaining superhero team comic.

Tim Drake: Robin #1

Tim Drake: Robin #1
Writer; Meghan Fitzmartin
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Tom Napolitano

Alright, this requires a bit of a preamble. The mantle of Robin is one of my all-time favorite comic book characters, and Tim Drake is my favorite Robin, so I’m very excited for this series. DC hasn’t known what to do with Tim for a long time. But this comic is also a double-edged sword because the premise is not what I want from a Robin comic. No sooner do we get Batman and Tim Drake reunited as the Dynamic Duo in Chip Zdarsky’s Batman comic than Tim moves off on his own in this solo series.

What is it with DC not wanting to partner Batman and Robin? There’s a million comics about young, male superheroes on their own. There are so very few comics about an active sidekick. So that’s a bummer. But I’m not one of those internet manbabies whining about the very idea of Meghan Fitzmartin writing Tim Drake, so I’m more than willing to give this series a try.

Tim Drake has moved out on his own to a house boat in the Gotham Marina, in an effort to help find himself away from the Bat-Family. He’s dating boyfriend Bernard, having recently come out as bisexual, and he’s got a friend in Darcy, a former We Are Robin devotee (the former doesn’t know his secret identity, the latter does). Then two of Tim’s neighbors are murdered, so Robin investigates, with the help of a police detective he’s formed a friendship with. Tim quickly deduces that the murder scene is staged like an Edgar Allen Poe mystery, and they’re soon attacked by a light construct orangutan — which is similar to a light construct elephant from a Mark Twain murder mystery that Tim faced in a recent Young Justice comic. So there’s a new villain staging murder scenes like classic murder stories, and they’re using light construct animals.

Robin finds the emitter, breaks it, and then solves the riddle of dispelling the orangutan. So the day is saved, but the mystery bad guy remains. And it seems they’ve left a present for Tim at his house boat.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Let’s start with the good stuff. This is a perfectly written, perfectly paced first issue of this new series. We get a strong introduction of our main character and what’s on his mind, we meet his fun supporting cast, and then we get some solid superhero action, while setting up an ongoing threat/mystery. Textbook first issue stuff that definitely works. Fitzmartin writes a great Tim, with the added twist of having him come to terms with his first queer relationship. I liked this supporting cast, especially having Darcy (a.k.a. Sparrow) as a sidekick/bestie. And the mystery villain definitely seems interesting at this point. I’m not too big a fan of the artwork, but only because Rossmo’s style doesn’t match my ideal superhero artwork. But it grew on me through the issue and I’m sure I’ll be fine with it. I don’t like how he draws chins…

Also, if DC was going to pick a random pal from Tim’s past supporting casts to be his new boyfriend, I would have gone with Ives.

The art has some good moments

So yeah, solid first issue that will definitely have me coming back for more. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I would like to rant a little bit about my disappointment with the premise. Why does Tim have to move away from Batman in order to have this comic? Has Tim Drake not been solo and attempting to find himself away from Batman since the start of the New 52? And where did that get us? Back to him being Robin. If this was the comic where he started off in a new identity, then I could see the benefit of wanting a fresh start. But we’re specifically in an era where he’s back to being regular old Robin, and appearing as Robin in the main Batman comic. Why not write a comic where Tim Drake has solo adventures while still being Batman’s sidekick? Wasn’t that the premise of the very successful Robin solo comic from the 1990s that catapulted Tim Drake into our hearts in the first place? But I guess this is just my opinion. I prefer a Robin that works alongside Batman. That premise hasn’t been explored in decades.

Also, while I’m nitpicking, maybe Sparrow should get a proper costume instead of just putting a domino mask over her very distinct hairstyle and very district FULL LENGTH LEG TATTOO!

Costumes are legit, lady

Just sayin’. Giving Robin a sidekick would be neat. Not that the Bat-Family needs more members, but I would be totally down for making Sparrow legit. But secret identities are totally still a thing, Darcy.

TL;DR: Good start to the new series, setting up quality writing for the main character, supporting cast and superhero action. There’s a lot of potential for this series and I’d say we’re off to a very good start.

X-Men #15

X-Men #15
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Joshua Cassara
Colorist: GURU-eFX
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Now that the Judgement Day tie-in is over, we return to the Children of the Vault.

Project Blackbox, Forge’s secret mission for Xavier, was to encase the Vault in a giant bubble that would ensnare the Children and plug them into a Matrix-esque mind palace where they think they’re free and wreaking havoc, but are actually trapped. With them safely contained, Forge dons a special survival suit — partially made out of Caliban — to head into the Vault to try to rescue Darwin, who has been trapped in there for thousands of years (by his perception). But unbeknownst to Forge, the Blackbox didn’t ensnare all the Children.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

I feel bad for skipping out on Judgement Day because it seems like a big deal. But I also don’t think I’m missing much. I just don’t go for the Big Event comics much anymore. Thankfully, X-Men is back to normal, and this is mostly a set-up issue to remind us all about the Children of the Vault plotline and taking us to the next chapter. It’s a bunch of really good set-up, with some quality art and character work. We’re reminded of the threat and reminded of the fact that Darwin has been trapped in the Vault. That the X-Men believe it’s their duty to save him is great, and I really like the idea of Forge being a one-man army, heading into the Vault on an insane rescue mission. It’s weird that he’s somehow transformed a conscious Caliban into a suit of armor…but Caliban should make for a solid sidekick for this storyline.

TL;DR: The ongoing Children of the Vault storyline kicks off its next big chapter with this issue, which is all about exciting set-up.

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 October 1, 2022, in Avengers, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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