Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 2/18/23

Everything’s coming up Milhouse! What an excellent week for comics, my friends! Oddly, none of the DC titles I’m currently reading came out this week. But a metric ton of Marvel comics I’m into did! So we’ve got new Fantastic Four, X-Men, Invincible Iron Man and more!

Comic Book of the Week goes to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #105 because this series continues to be simply my favorite. Especially thanks to cute and funny moments like this.

Prepare for robot fights

Meanwhile, if you’re reading this the day it’s posted, I’ll be going to see Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania today! I’m excited, because I like the Ant-Man movies. It’s getting some mixed reviews, but all those reviews point to a movie that I’m still likely to enjoy. I wasn’t able to see it opening night because I was still at work. Ain’t that a kicker? But it should be fun, and I’ll post my review/thoughts on Wednesday.

Comic Reviews: Fantastic Four #4, Invincible Iron Man #3, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #105, Monica Rambeau: Photon #3, Wasp #3 and X-Men #19.

Fantastic Four #4

Fantastic Four #4
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Iban Coello
Colorist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Unlike Amazing Spider-Man, Marvel wasted no time in telling us what broke up the Fantastic Four.

In flashback, we learn that the Fantastic Four were fighting off a Negative Zone invasion when Reed pulled a Hail Mary by sending the invaders back in time but not back in space. Have you ever heard that paradox where, if you were to go back in time, you’d wind up floating in space because the Earth wouldn’t be in the same place as it moves around the sun? Well Reed does that to the bug people, but he also had to teleport the Baxter Building, the entire block and everyone on it — including a lot of innocent people, his kids and Ben and Alicia’s kids. They’ve all been teleported one year into the future, when Earth will be back in place. Unfortunately, in order to make sure nothing goes wrong with his plan, everybody else has to wait out the year before their loved ones return. This is why Ben and Alicia took off, and why the people of New York are mad at the Fantastic Four.

Meanwhile, in the present day, Reed, Sue and Johnny reunite outside a giant, organic dome made out of the Thing’s rocky hide. They fight their way inside and discover Ben and Alicia in cocoons. This dome is an alien parasite leeching off of them, and feeding them a memory of what happened in New York to keep them distracted (hence the flashback). Our heroes bust them out with some more science and everybody forgives each other.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This explanation for why the Fantastic Four went their separate ways totally works for me. It’s a very sci-fi idea, which is perfect for Reed Richards, and it’s very personal, which explains Ben and Alicia’s taking off. North writes them all very well as their relationship falls apart, and then he writes them equally as well as their relationship repairs in the present day. Those two things are arguably key to a fun Fantastic Four comic, and North nails it. Crazy sci-fi ideas with strong family relationships. Throw in some Johnny Storm being a bit silly and you’ve got a quality comic book on your hands. We get a healthy dose of all of this and I liked what we got, complete with solid, comic book-style art.

Brothers-in-law fight

If I had any nitpicking to do, it’s that a lot of this feels a little light, especially with how it was built up like this big mystery. Like, it’s a generic Negative Zone army, and a generic parasite monster, both of which are taken care of quickly and easily. Why even go with the mystery angle? Why not start the first issue with the alien invasion and then Reed making that big decision, with that big emotional scene and reveal as the hook at the end of the first issue? That would have been neat. But, as always, I can’t just a comic based on how I might have written it. That’s just me spit-balling. These first four issues have resulted in a fun, enjoyable comic book, and that’s what matters most.

TL;DR: Secrets are revealed, reunions are had and everything comes together nicely in this enjoyable fourth issue of the Fantastic Four.

Invincible Iron Man #3

Invincible Iron Man #3
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Juan Frigeri
Colorist: Bryan Valenza
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

In flashback, we see how Tony recruited Zhong Wei to Stark International. But he’s dead now. War Machine shows up to help, and he and Iron Man break into Stark Unlimited to check on a hunch. They find a secret lab, and inside is hiding an Iron Man! There’s a bit of a fight before Tony stops this rogue Iron Man and reveals an actual Tony Stark inside. Evil Tony reveals that Zhong Wei’s shares have been sold and the bad guy now owns everything. Then Evil Tony is revealed to be an android and he self-destructs. Tony tells Rhodey that he knows who the villain is…

The next issue tease then reveals that the villain is Feilong, that new bad guy Duggan created for his X-Men comics. Way to spoil the surprise.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

Eh. Feilong hasn’t really been all that interesting a villain over in the X-Men comics. He’s even less interesting of a villain in an Iron Man comic. But maybe that’s just me. I do find it funny that the actual issue ended on a cliffhanger, only for me to turn the page and see a preview of next issue that gives it away completely without any real fanfare. That was funny. But yeah, I’m not all that excited to see more Feilong. Or maybe he’ll be good. I dunno. I’ll have to read the issue and see for myself. As for this issue, it’s another solid Iron Man story. The flashback didn’t really work for me because Zhong Wei is dead now and there wasn’t anything particularly interesting in how Tony Stark recruited him to the board. The guest appearance from War Machine was fun, because that’s always fun. Tony and Rhodey always have good chemistry. And they get into a good superhero fight. All of it good, all of it fine.

TL;DR: Hopefully the flashback in this issue comes to matter more down the line, otherwise this is a good, enjoyable team up between Iron Man and War Machine.

Power Rangers #105

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #105
Writer: Melissa Flores
Artist: Simona Di Gianfelice
Colorist: Raul Angulo
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire

You know what I love so much about the Power Rangers comics? The focus on fun character work.

The Power Rangers have encountered Alpha-1 sitting in the wreckage of the Red Omega Zord. They get to fighting, and he combines with the Red Omega Zord to get tougher, so our heroes — who have since reunited with Trini and Yale — combine their Thunder Zords with Yale’s Blue Omega Zord. It’s neat. They defeat Alpha-1 and then split up. Kimberly and Trini pump Alpha for information, while Rocky, Adam and Aisha rescue Zach and Kevor, along with grabbing the Ancient Morphin Grid Navigator that Alpha-1 was after on this planet. But he rebuilds himself once the Rangers have left and promises Mistress Vile that he will follow and destroy them.

In other news, Trini and Zach are nervously flirting these days, Tommy is still healing and has a talk with Billy about his future as a Ranger, and Lord Zedd and his minions are taking into Grace Sterling’s custody.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This issue is a perfect example of everything I love about the Power Rangers comic book. First up, the story is solid. We finally weave the Omega Rangers into the story, and it’s done quite well. We get plenty of time with each of the characters, including a solid chance to get to better know Kevor. Even Yale gets some time to shine. The story gives us action, it gives us some big Zord moves, and it gives us plenty of smaller, character-focused scenes. Second up, those character-focused scenes. This issue is full of them! They’re funny, they’re cute, they’re full of life and personality. From Zach and Trini having an awkward chat about an interest in one another, to Billy explaining quite firmly to Tommy what his role is in the larger Ranger landscape to the Stone Canyon trio getting another chance to prove their worth. I like how their uniqueness is pointed out sometimes. This comic is so full of character.

Robots don’t need heads

Am I gushing? I’m gushing. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is the whole package, and it has remained so for its entire run. Whoever is running things behind the scenes is keeping a steady hand on the wheel. Melissa Flores has taken the baton and is running a very competitive race. I love the light touch and hints of romance she’s added to the comic. I’m a reader who likes a bit of romance in his superhero comics. And even if there’s nothing canon about some of these romances from the show, I’m still fully on board with stuff like Zach and Trini acting like real teenagers. And I am eagerly anticipating Flores being able to do more with Matt and Aisha…unless that was just a tease to break our hearts when something bad happens to Matt. Nothing happens to him in this issue, despite what’s on the cover.

Oh man, if that was just a tease…

TL;DR: This is another issue that is rich in fun character moments and engaging personalities. The action doesn’t disappoint, and the Power Ranger excitement of it all never stops either.

Monica Rambau: Photon #3

Monica Rambeau: Photon #3
Writer: Eve L. Ewing
Artists: Ivan Fiorelli and Luca Maresca
Colorist: Carlos Lopez
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

There are still some really weird story choices being made in this comic that is, ostensibly, supposed to be about Monica Rambeau.

Monica has decided she’s had enough of this weird new world she’s in, so she heads to the Sanctum Sanctorum because surely this is all being caused by the Stone of Hala she had in the first issue. She meets with Sorcerer Supreme Wong and he tells her the stone hasn’t left his care for a very long time. Monica checks the stone’s makeup and traces it back to a corner of space, where she finds a ship full of sick aliens. The one healthy alien tells her what’s going on, and she’s able to use her powers to revive everybody. The smartest alien explains that she might be able to help, though it seems the universe is crumpling in on itself. Monica returns to Earth to get the Stone of Hala from Wong, only to be met by Moonstone and that doctor from the first issue, who tell her that she is the one destroying the universe!

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

I’m just not sure what this comic is about. The first issue was a great look into the life and mindset of Monica Rambeau, and I was really excited to see a story of a superhero suffering burnout. It seemed neat! Then the second issue veered in a completely different direction, stranding Monica in some sort of weird alternate reality, but not quite. This issue starts in that same reality, and I liked how she immediately put her foot down and realized what was going on and that she wasn’t just going to stand around and accept it. But then the issue veers into yet another completely different direction, with a chunk of story taken up by Monica hanging out with and then healing a bunch of random aliens.

They just talk a lot

Like, it comes out of nowhere and it takes up a lot of time. These aren’t familiar aliens. And they aren’t that compelling. It’s nice that Monica does something heroic, but it’s so far removed from anything else happening in the series. And it doesn’t do much to flesh out her character other than to say she uses her powers to cure some aliens. And there is a ton of talking in these aliens scenes. They are very, very wordy. It’s a lot to get through for characters that aren’t that compelling. And then the issue ends with the promise of more wild shenanigans. This comic is becoming less about Monica Rambeau the character and more about just crazy things happening, with Monica dragged along in their wake.

TL;DR: This issue goes in some even weirder places than last issue, and I’m afraid it’s leaving the title character behind.

Wasp #2

Wasp #2
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Kasia Nie
Colorist: KJ Diaz
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

It’s almost funny how easily and quickly we’re knocking our way through Wasp arch enemies!

After interrogating the imprisoned Whirlwind, Janet and Nadia have two leads to following: the mystery agency W.H.I.S.P.E.R. and a strange chemical that Janet quickly deduces is similar to the Kosmos creature that’s behind all of this. They track the chemical signature to a warehouse in Queens, where they have to fight off Fantasma and a squad of wasp drones. It’s a fun fight and the villain is defeated. Our heroes head inside and find Kosmos, who instantly obliterates them.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I’m enjoying how this comic is half Janet Van Dyne adventure and half spiritual sequel to the excellent Unstoppable Wasp series from a few years ago that starred Nadia. It’s fun that Ewing is focusing on both Wasps as they handle this adventure in expert superhero fashion. Both characters are clearly defined and have a nice banter together. They’re superheroes, they’re awesome, and they kick bad guy butt. Honestly, I’m struggling to come up with specifics to talk about with this issue. It’s just so nicely good. Janet and Nadia don’t really have too much drama in their lives at the moment. Both are good superheroes in good places, and that’s exactly what we’re getting. A strong, supportive mother/daughter duo going up against a cadre of their familiar bad guys. And the art is clear and colorful, which is exactly what I love.

TL;DR: This comic is pretty much perfect in delivering a solid, enjoyable, character-rich Wasp adventure. We’ve got heroes being heroes, bad guys being bad, and an entertaining ongoing story.

X-Men #19

X-Men #19
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Colorist: Federico Blee
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

I’ve never cared for the Brood, but Duggan has fun with them in this story.

Cyclops, Jean, Synch, Old Laura (now known as Talon), Iceman, Firestar and Magik head into space to deal with the Brood and save Corsair. While the elemental heroes hold off the army and help civilians, Jean and Magik go on a search for Broo, and Cyclops, Synch and Talon save his dad from a Brood egg growing inside of him. It’s gnarly and awesome. Meanwhile, Forge recruits Monet to join him on an adventure through a black hole.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

We’re not too far off from having another X-Men election, and I’m still a little disappointed in how few issues each team lineup gets. Old Laura and Magik aren’t even on the team, but here they’re getting major roles. And Forge is off on his own adventure. It’s an entertaining adventure, but what about the team? What about the team?! I’m digressing. This is a very enjoyable issue that tackles a couple different storylines and tackles them well, with some really strong character moments that help buoy things along. Synch and Talon cutting a Brood out of Corsair is intense and awesome, with Cyclops providing covering fire. Watching everybody just cut loose and brutally slaughter Brood is, likewise, pretty awesome. Characters even talk about not having to hold back against such beastly enemies, and it’s fun character work.

Cyclops just looks cool in this panel

Each of the characters featured in this issue get a chance to shine, some solid ongoing story elements are set up. I never cared for Broo, but now I’m legitimately curious what’s up with him that the Brood are being violent. And Forge and Monet are on a neat adventure with a neat set-up. Who doesn’t love a random Monet cameo? The art is, likewise, clear and excellent, capturing both the energy and excitement of the Brood battle, and the mystery and weirdness of the black hole adventure. This is good, solid, X-Men comic bookery.

My only complaint is Old Laura’s new codename. Talon?! Really? That’s the best you could come up with? And you give her the name off-panel? This is almost as bad as changing Gabby’s codename from Honey Badger to Scout, and that was a crime against humanity. Do you people have no creativity? You can’t take a few minutes to Google vicious animal names that would fit with the Wolverine family? Some cool, violent animals? Cougar, Dingo, Slow Loris; it shouldn’t be that hard.

TL;DR: X-Men is full of character and adventure and makes for a very entertaining read.

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 February 18, 2023, in Comics, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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