Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 10/28/22

Big congratulations to my friend and comic writing partner Kristi McDowell for a successful Kickstarter for Fairytales From Mars! And big thanks to everyone here who followed the link and pitched in to the campaign. Always fun when my friends get to live out their comic book dreams. Next up is me next year!

Comic Book of the Week goes to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #101 because I am easy to please and this is an excellent start to the next era of BOOM! Studios Power Rangers comics.

Just when you thought the Dragonzord couldn’t get any cooler

Meanwhile, I had a big pile of comics to read and review this week, so I skipped the latest issue of Amazing Spider-Man. I’ll get back to it eventually…hopefully. Other than that, I very much enjoyed Black Adam, and I’m eagerly anticipating Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. So life is pretty good in terms of content to enjoy.

Comic Reviews: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #101, Strange Academy: Finals #1, Thunderbolts #3, Tim Drake: Robin #2, The Variants #4 and X-Terminators #2.


Power Rangers #101

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #101
Writer: Melissa Flores
Artist: Simona Di Gianfelice
Colorist: Raul Angulo
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire

The new era of Power Rangers comics is here! Ryan Parrott has bid us farewell after a hugely successful and awesome run! Now we’ve got Melissa Flores picking up the reigns and I’m very pleased with what we’ve got.

We open with a flashback showing the day that Rita was put into the dumpster prison, and how she used her last moments to curse Zordon into becoming the head he is today. We then cut to the Rangers in the middle of a training session, and they’re called to the Command Center when the moon reappears — along with a distress signal from Lord Zedd. The Rangers fly the Dragonzord out to the moon and crash when they come under attack from some funky new version of Putty Patroller. The Rangers split up to varying degrees to search the bad guys’ palace, and some of them do find Zedd in distress — from a new, cool-looking Rita Repulsa!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

I will say this for Flores: she writes a lot of dialogue. This was a very talk-heavy issue, and while it is noticeable, it’s also very welcome. The best part about BOOM!’s Power Rangers comics has been the character development and character interactions, so I’m very pleased to get more of both in this kick-off issue. I always felt like some of the Rangers, particularly Adam and Rocky, took a back seat. So I very much enjoy seeing the two of them getting more dialogue and more interactions with the team. Also, Flores immediately starts the issue by teasing a potential Matt/Aisha romance and I am 110% on board for this! It never occurred to me before, but the moment it happens in this issue (and then is expanded upon in a fun convo between Matt and Kim), I knew I was sold.

Adorable

The rest of the issue is good, too. We all knew we’d be getting back to Lord Zedd and Rita eventually, and this handles it nicely. I thought Zedd would come back with some great plan, but instead we’ve got Zedd and Goldar on the run from a vicious new Rita, with a cool new, modern makeover. As an old school Mighty Morphin Power Rangers fan, I’m fully in favor of giving Rita a modern makeover, and I’ve got no doubt that Flores and BOOM! have something cool planned for her new agenda. I also liked the flashback, showing us a pivotal moment in Rangers’ lore. Hopefully any future flashbacks explore that time period even more.

TL;DR: The new creative team brings some fun character interactions, a cool new story and some excellent action. This doesn’t re-invent the wheel of BOOM!’s Power Rangers comics, instead just giving us more of the same great storytelling.


Strange Academy: Finals #1

Strange Academy: Finals #1
Writer: Skottie Young
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Hey look, Strange Academy is back! I have forgotten what Marvel said this series was going to do. I think it’s back for another good run? It’s a strong start!

At the end of the last series, Emily Bright revealed herself to be the bad guy and she fled the school with a bunch of her classmates. They’re hiding out in the Dark Dimension plotting their revenge, though a lot of them, including Zoe, are getting real tired of Emily’s crap. Back in the real world, Doyle and the others are still in school and have some trouble with a perception magic class. And Calvin is still dealing wishes for Gaslamp, but he sucks at it because he’s just some dumb kid. He gets jumped for his supply and Gaslamp repays him by sending him to the dungeon.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I am fully on board Strange Academy at this point and I can’t wait to see where it’s going. I’m glad to see my dislike of Calvin is paying off! He’s a loser drug dealer who gets beaten up and sent to the dungeon. Ha! And Emily, even though I really like her character, is just going crazy in her defense of that loser. She’s the villain! I like that dynamic a lot, and this issue goes a long way to setting up the Emily vs. Doyle storyline that drives this series. Their relationship was adorable and a great driving force in the first part of this larger story, and now their rivalry is a great driving force for the second part.

Adults just don’t understand

The rest of the issue is just as fun, as characters pick sides and the action starts to ramp up — all while the school continues to operate as normal. We get another fun magic class, and the promise that maybe the frost giant will actually get to participate in stuff going forward! Good for him. I think all of the characters are in a good place and the story is ramping up at a good pace, so this should make for another exciting chapter of Strange Academy.

The art, of course, remains on point.

TL;DR: New relaunch, same awesome characters and drama. A lot of exciting stuff is set up in this issue and I’m looking forward to pretty much all of it.


Thunderbolts #3

Thunderbolts #3
Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Netho Diaz
Inker: Victor Olazaba
Colorist: Java Tartaglia
Letterer: VC’s Ariana Maher and Cory Petit

There’s a funny line in this issue where Guts accused both Hawkeye and Spectrum of treating this team as a temporary gig. Heh. Isn’t this a mini-series?

The Thunderbolts have a wacky training session in Central Park, then get called to the Central Park Zoo, which has been taken over by the Super-Apes. The NYPD just want to use tear gas to put them all down, but Hawkeye insists it is a superhero problem. The Super-Apes put up a really good fight and basically whoop Thunderbolt butt until the cops just use the tear gas after all. After this latest blunder, Spectrum chews out Hawkeye for bad leadership, prompting Guts to step in and chew them both out, for bad leadership and for not supporting her leader. Later that night, Hawkeye calls Mockingbird to give it to him straight. And America Chavez is having problems.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

If this were an ongoing series with some actual legs behind it, this would be an excellent third issue. I’m enjoying the done-in-one nature of these stories, as it keeps things lively and makes the team feel exactly how it needs to feel. They’ve a professional team, hired by the city, and so they do need to get called out to a lot of things. I’m digging all parts of this comic. The characters are well-used, the art, even a guest artist, fits the series nicely as a classic superhero comic. And the story in this issue fits this part of the comic nicely. The team is still fresh, its two “leaders” aren’t doing a very good job, and they fail in their bumbling attempts to take on the Super-Apes. This superhero team comic is being masterfully constructed, and I wish it was an ongoing.

Is it an ongoing? Am I totally wrong on the mini-series part?

TL;DR: This is good, bread and butter superhero comics. We’ve got a fun team with a unique approach to telling their story, while still being tried and true superhero stuff.


Tim Drake: Robin #2

Tim Drake: Robin #2
Writer: Meghan Fitzmartin
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Rob Leigh

I want to say open-minded about Bernard, but this comic does not make it easy. Also, sorry in advance for the ranting and nitpicking. I’m generally enjoying the comic, but it’s a far cry from what I’d actually want to read in a Tim Drake as Robin solo series.

Robin is framed for stealing a giant diamond, so he goes to the crime scene to investigate. He works with Det. Williams and Sparrow to start putting clues together, which take him to the library to research detective novels — and then the librarian is murdered and he’s on the run again. Tim eventually deduces that the villain is using The Moonstone, a 1868 detective story. This leads Robin to a safe deposit box and a kid who is being used by the villain. Tim and Sparrow help the kid escape the cops, and then the villain sends three other Robins at Tim, dressed like Damian, Stephanie and possibly Jason Todd.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

This issue was a little too all over the place for me. There’s a ton of moving parts, and the story takes a lot of journeys this issue. And while I’m enjoying the whole thing overall, with strong storytelling and a good, solid take on Tim Drake, I’m not so much enjoying each and every moving part. Or I’m not liking how the parts are utilized. And that may be entirely on me. The story overall is good. There’s a villain targeting Robin by taunting him with incidents connected to classic detective stories. This seems like a lot of effort in an attempt to nail Tim Drake specifically, but it makes for a fine story, and I’m enjoying the detective work that’s put into place in each issue. This comic is really having fun with the detective aspects. I also really like Sparrow. Even though she still doesn’t have a costume, it’s cool to give Tim an ally to bounce things off — especially in the fun detective sequence they do here.

Very fun page

But it’s the little things that are bugging me, and those little things are adding up. The issue features a lot of Tim’s inner monologue, and about his inability to find a place for himself. That’s some OK thinking, especially considering how Tim has been pretty lost in the weeds since Rebirth. But I just don’t like that he doesn’t feel like he belongs with the Bat-Family. How he’s purposefully pulled himself away from Batman…yet he’s still going by Robin? If that’s the storyline you want for Tim, why has he not come up with his own identity yet? Likewise, Tim keeps insisting to himself that he belongs with Bernard and wants to be with Bernard, but Bernard continues to be a one dimensional character, and this issue hammers how that it’s kinda ridiculous how out of the loop Bernard is about Tim’s double life.

“You know what’s weird, Tim? Ever since I started dating you, Robin keeps coming up in random ways.”

Bruce Wayne needs to be Batman because of his personal issues, and he needs to maintain the Bruce Wayne identity because of society and other obligations. But Tim Drake? Who even is that? He has no family, he has no standing in the community, he has nothing. He’s compelled to use his talents and skills to help Gotham City. That’s fine. But he became Robin in order to help Batman, and he even says in this issue that he knows that Batman needs a Robin. So why is he still being Robin but intentionally away from Batman? Why is he still a costumed vigilante if being one is such a constant strain on this romantic relationship he really wants? Why is he still Robin when, apparently, brand new villains show up out of nowhere killing people specifically to strike at him as Robin?

It’s other little things, too. Like how he has a personal GCPD detective who is always on the cases Tim gets involved in, and is perfectly on Tim’s side no matter what. How Robin is framed for the theft but nobody else thinks it’s really weird that Batman’s longtime sidekick would suddenly steal a diamond for no reason? How Sparrow is also pretty one-dimensional. What’s her life like? How that perfectly innocent librarian meets a gruesome end just because she was helping Robin get some books at the library.

This comic is torn between wanting to have its cake and eat it too. It wants to advance Tim Drake’s character and take him into some defining new directions, away from Batman. But it also wants him to stay as Robin, even though that’s in contrast to the idea of him moving forward.

The art also remains hit or miss. I think Robin looks cool, and the action is well-handled. But Rossmo draws some really weird faces, man.

TL;DR: I like the overall thrust of the series and the storytelling, including Tim’s character. But there are a lot of moving pieces in this issue, and not all of them move in a way I like.


The Variants #4

The Variants #4
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Phil Noto
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

I didn’t expect this comic to go too crazy, but here we are.

Jessica Jones retreats to the bathroom at the coffee shop, where she meets another variant, this one dressed as her old identity Knightress. She wrote the note not to truest the other variants, and she has a plan. They retreated to the rooftop of Jessica’s building so that Jessica can commune with the Killgrave inside of her…and and then trap him with some help from Professor X! But Xavier reveals that there is no trace of Killgrave inside of Jessica (other than the time bomb), and that she must forgive him to move on…but nah, she’s not about to do that.

When she wakes up, Jessica has realized that the Jewel variant is the big bad guy of the story and they start fighting. The Jewel variant then summons a bunch of other Jessica Jones variants from across the multiverse to fight.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Heh, it’s always the one you least expect. The Jewel reveal as the villain was fun, even if we still don’t have any idea what the hell is going on. And then the final page cliffhanger is definitely not something I would have suspected…but then I keep viewing this as a grounded Jessica Jones story. So I should have expected Simone and Noto to throw even more variants at us! It’s in the title! But before getting to that moment, the rest of the comic was fun. I like stories that both stay grounded and yet acknowledge they exist in the Marvel Universe. So Jessica Jones and Luke Cage calling in help from both the Avengers and the X-Men was quite fun.

Xavier doesn’t mess around

Professor X was an inspired choice for the telepathic help. Jessica Jones has had plenty of interactions with Emma Frost. And I doubt there’s much she could say to Jean Grey. So having Xavier show up in a cool older dad role was a fun choice. It also helps that he’s really menacing in his current Cerebro-look. And he provides some nice advice to Jessica Jones. So yeah, this was another solid chapter of this weird little story, and it ramps up excitedly as we head into the final issue.

TL;DR: Some good character moments and solid cameos keep this story fun as we head into the final issue.


X-Terminators #2

X-Terminators #2
Writer: Leah Williams
Artist: Carlos Gomez
Colorist: Bryan Valenza
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham

My only complaint about this excellent series is that the adversaries are not nearly as awesome as the protagonists.

Dazzler, Jubilee and Boom Boom meet up with Wolverine and continue their adventures in this vampire death pit. The villain, Alex, is revealed to be the son of Xarus, the vampire who turned Jubilee way back when X-Men had that really terrible vampire storyline. Xarus tells Alex to finish this, so Alex summons the giant, deadly house of mirrors he had built by magic. Our heroes have to fight evil mirror versions of themselves, and so they do. Then a bunch of vampires join the fray, seeing as how they don’t have reflections in a house of mirrors.

Also, all of this is being told to the Quiet Council at some later date.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

This comic is still very fun in its second issue. Things slow down a little bit storywise, but then anything would have been a slowdown from the madness of that first issue. The three (now four) main characters remain super fun and wild, and that’s the selling point. It’s still a comic where Leah Williams takes (I assume) her favorite X-characters and just tells a crazy story with them. And it works! The dialogue between the crew is funny and their camaraderie is enjoyable. The artwork also, easily, keeps up with the madness. I think everything about the main thrust of the comic is going splendidly.

It brings the whole outfit together

I just don’t think the bad guys are all that interesting. They’re generic vampires with enough money and connections to build a giant death ring and a super magical mirror house…and the mirrors were apparently strong enough to cut through the Adamantium in Laura’s arm? That might have been a little flub, and it only occurred to me just now, while writing this. Oh well. My real complaint is with the vampires. Dazzler’s ex-boyfriend turning out to be an original super-villain who puts them through a death trap? Funny and crazy! That ex-boyfriend turning out to not only be a generic vampire with generic vampire allies, but also the son of one of those vampires from that horrible X-Men vs. Vampires story from years ago? Dullsville, daddio!

TL;DR: The energy behind this series is still really strong in this second issue, though it veers a bit into being too generic by the end.


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.

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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 29, 2022, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Robin, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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