Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 12/17/22

Interesting week for new comics! Not too much on my read list this week, but I got to try out some new titles that launched from Marvel. There’s a new Invincible Iron Man, by Gerry Duggan, and then Monica Rambeau’s first ongoing solo series. Both are solid starting points.

Comic Book of the Week goes to Monica Rambeau: Photon #1 because I felt it was the stronger, more interesting of the two.

Photon needs a rogues gallery

Meanwhile, I’ve started playing Marvel’s Midnight Suns and it’s pretty fun so far. I loved the X-Com games, and I kinda wish this was more like those. But it’s solid as its own thing, so no real complaints. I’ve also been playing a ton of Marvel Snap, so I’m just up to my eyeballs in Marvel video games right now. I’m also heading to see Avatar: The Way of Water this weekend, so hopefully that will be nice.

Comic Reviews: The Invincible Iron Man #1, Legion of X #8 and Monica Rambeau: Photon #1.

Invincible Iron Man #1

The Invincible Iron Man #1
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Juan Frigeri
Colorist: Bryan Valenza
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

I’m always disappointed in myself when I drop a series for no good reason. I was enjoying Christopher Cantwell’s Iron Man, I was enjoying Dan Slott’s Iron Man, yet I stopped reading both for no good reason whatsoever. Let’s see how I do with Gerry Duggan’s Iron Man!

The issue opens with Tony recapping his life as part of an autobiography. He’s not doing so hot these days, and is living in a brownstone in New York when something goes wrong with one of his reactors and there’s a big explosion. He’s hospitalized, and an innocent neighbor lady died. Stark believes it was sabotage, but nobody believes him. He relocates to a remote warehouse in New Jersey and goes for a spin in one of his armors, when a new armored villain attacks. He gets into a fight and nearly destroys the guy, before realizing it’s being remotely controlled, and there’s an innocent victim trapped in the armor. Tony saves him and gets him to a hospital. Now he knows for sure that somebody is after him.

But these assassination attempts have taken a toll and Tony is really spiraling.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

This is a solid start to an Iron Man series. We’ve got a good recap of his life until now — though I noticed it didn’t include much from Cantwell’s run. I take it he’s no longer married to Patsy Walker? Anyway, the recap helps to ground us in where things are now, and then Duggan kicks off the meat of his story with a strong couple of incidents. There’s a new, super smart bad guy gunning for Tony and we’ve got a pair of interesting incidents. Personally, I feel like the issue could have dug a bit deeper into the fallout from that innocent woman’s death. Really nail Tony to the wall for that, even if he’s innocent. But it still worked. And the new armored villain attack definitely worked, especially the twist that another innocent victim was inside. That really upped the stakes in terms of the new villain’s deviousness. I liked that.

There are people in that helicopter

If I had any complaints about this new relaunch it’s that I’m not particularly interested in seeing Tony Stark at his lowest anymore. He’s been at his lowest for years now. I realized real-life billionaires are super-villains, but surely Tony Stark could be an example of a cool, fun billionaire? Perhaps we’re building to that. Duggan does a great job of putting Tony at rock bottom in this kick-off issue, giving our hero a starting point for his character growth. So at least we’re at a good place, storywise, by the end of this first issue. I’m here for that.

Also, I love Tony’s mentor relationship with Riri Williams. Duggan gives that some really nice touches.

TL;DR: Solid, if depressing start to a new Iron Man series. A lot of big story elements are set up, especially our main character’s potential growth.

Legion of X #8

Legion of X #8
Writer: Si Spurrier
Artist: Netho Diaz
Inker: Sean Parsons
Colorist: Federico Blee
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

I was in some kind of mood this week and this issue just didn’t do a lot for me.

So the X-Men have a quick fight with the monstrous Archangel before he escapes. They get up to speed with the new Black Knight, who is a mutant who can activate the X-genes in random people, at least temporarily. They come to the conclusion that someone has cast a spell to turn mutants into monsters, and they track it to Germany, where they find Kurt’s adoptive mom.

Meanwhile, Juggernaut, Lost and Forgetmenot investigate something wrong with Warlock, who is trapped in Kurt’s house. And Blindfold confronts Professor X.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

This issue was all over the place, and I didn’t particularly connect with any of it. Again, I was in some kind of mood this week, so maybe it’s all on me. But Spurrier has a bunch of different plotlines going these days, and most of them are rather weird and metaphysical. The character writing is still spot-on and a ton of fun. But the plots are really getting out there for me, especially with all of them piled on top of each other. Nightcrawler and Archangel being turned into hyper-mutants is a neat storyline, but it’s a bit bogged down with the use of the new Black Knight. What does she add to a comic that’s already crowded with characters? Especially since she’s a brand new character and we’ve got to wrap our heads around her, while still appreciating the story. And then, again, it’s a story that goes off in so many different, weird directions. Banshee is a Ghost Rider…but he’s not a Spirit of Vengeance, he’s a unique Spirit of Variance. Because why exactly? It’s a neat play on words, but remains really weird.

At least Spurrier is making very good use of Forgetmenot jokes.

TL;DR: The character writing remains as strong as ever, though the various plotlines just keep getting weirder and more out there.

Monica Rambeau: Photon #1

Monica Rambeau: Photon #1
Writer: Eve Ewing
Artist: Luca Maresca, with Ivan Fiorelli
Colorist: Carlos Lopez
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Much like with Tony Stark, I’m just not much of a Monica Rambeau fan. But I like Eve Ewing and I’m always willing to check out a new first issue.

Monica Rambeau is out and about doing the superhero thing. She poses for pictures with an old fan, gets a bite to eat at the bodega and drops off a mystical item to Doctor Strange that she was tasked with transporting. Then a new villain with growth/bendy powers shows up and there’s a fight, for which Spider-Man joins for a bit. Monica beats the villain and she’s unmasked to reveal Dr. Ysenia Rosario, a one-off character from a Marvel Team-Up comic from 2019 that Ewing wrote. The villain claims that Monica will destroy the universe before Wong puts her to sleep.

Monica heads home to relax, but then has to deal with an annoying cousin on the phone. She pops in to hang out with her parents for a bit, and they suggest she might be feeling burnt out. So she goes for a flight into outer space.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

Much like with the Iron Man issue above, this is just a good, solid start to a Monica Rambeau comic. This one is a bit better, because she’s something of a fresh character, whose life and times we don’t all already know. And Ewing does a really good job of putting us into Monica’s current world. I especially liked the idea that she’s feeling some superhero burnout, which seems like a relatable problem to have. She’s always on one team or another, she’s got family problems, she’s always doing this and that, she’s got fans; this issue is a bunch of really fun little bits as we build and flesh out Monica’s current status quo. Accompanied by really perfect artwork.

Every superhero is somebody’s favorite

This issue did a great job establishing the status quo and putting us in the shoes of the main character, while throwing in a couple of bits of just plain fun writing. I love the idea of Photon popping by the Sanctum Sanctorum to run an errand, then Dr. Strange inviting her to stay for tea and chat. I love that that sort of thing happens in the Marvel Universe. We also get a neat new villain with a cool design, and those are always fun. I especially liked how Ewing went back to an older comic she wrote and plucked a one-off character from those pages to be re-used here. That’s gotta be fun to do as a writer.

TL;DR: Strong first issue that expertly establishes the main character and her place in the world at the start of this story, while having plenty of fun on the sidelines to keep things entertaining.

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 December 17, 2022, in Comics, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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