Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 4/22/23
We have another mighty fine week of comics for you fine folks. This is one of those weeks where all my favorites come out, like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Nightwing, and even that new Superman. I love a week when all the comics are catered to me!
Comic Book of the Week is an upset this time, with the arrival of She-Hulk #12 to deliver the exact sort of Marvel superhero comic I want to read: a book club meeting! Fair warning, I really go off on this one.
Meanwhile, I very much enjoyed the third season finale of The Mandalorian this week, and I’m gonna do a list of my thoughts/review of the whole season on Wednesday. So be sure to come back to that as I blow all the haters out of the water. I’m also considering the Burning Shores DLC for Horizon: Forbidden West, but am otherwise still grinding my way through Gotham Knights.
Comic Reviews: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #107, Nightwing #103, She-Hulk #12, Superboy: Man of Tomorrow #1 and Superman #3.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #107
Writer: Melissa Flores
Artist: Simona Di Gianfelice
Colorist: Raul Angulo
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
There is so much going on in this issue and it’s all great.
Xi breaks down Alpha-1 and interrogates him for information, which Alpha-1 gives up freely, because he’s such a believer in the cause. The Rangers in space find out that Mistress Vile knows about the Navigator on Earth, and that the attack on Safehaven was a distraction. Back on Earth, an evil and possibly possessed Green Ranger attacks Tommy, Billy and Jason to keep them busy, while Vile and Vessel attack Promethea, where Grace and Terona were getting their butts whooped by the morphed Lord Zedd. To keep him busy, Vile sics Vessel on Zedd and they fight, and Zedd learns what we all suspected: Vessel is Zordon’s original body!
And on top of all of that, Drakkon sneaks into the vase prison on Safehaven and frees Kiya!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Melissa Flores has done a phenomenal job picking up this comic and keeping it firing on all cylinders. This issue is chock full of exciting story beats, fun little character moments and more than a few surprises. And she’s using all the stuff we already now and love, which is even better. Drakkon rescuing Kiya for some potentially nefarious purpose? Awesome! Our first look at what Rita has done to Matt? Devastating, but still cool. And with Kimberly and Aisha joining the fight against Matt by the end of the issue, I can’t wait to see how those complicated character relationships play out. Obviously I’m worried for Matt, his character is very expendable, as he seems to know, but this should be an exciting story nonetheless.
This is such a sprawling story, and it’s even better because of it. Lord Zedd is a villain, but now he’s got a Morpher and a Ranger form of his own, which is just damn neat. And this issue really takes that ball and runs with it. From him being on the verge of torturing Grace, to deciding to go straight for Rita to get his revenge. And the reveal that Vessel is Zordon’s corporeal body?! Awesome stuff! It was my main guess, and seeing it happen is just plain fun and very twisted. Zedd’s reaction on the page was a hoot.
TL;DR: This comic is all over the place, but in the best ways possible. All of the characters are being handled very well, with fun character moments and some great story twists.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artists: Travis Moore and Vasco Georgiev
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Fun and clever writing and top tier art are again on display in the next part of Nightwing vs. Hell.
Nightwing and the Titans travel to Hell to retrieve Olivia’s contract from Neron’s base, while the other half of the Titans take Olivia to Themyscira for safe-keeping. Neron has also traveled to Earth to speak with the Grinning Man, so the Titans are able to just get right into his lair and check out the contract (where they learn that Olivia’s mom is Jezebel Jet!). Nightwing has a plan and they head to Bludhaven City Hall to figure it out, while the Grinning Man and some other villains attack Themyscira. When the Titans go to help, Neron confronts Nightwing at City Hall. Dick reveals that he had his sister draw up a temporary foster custody agreement in his name for Olivia, and as her legal guardian, he doens’t consent to the contract. So Neron tempts Dick with some super-powers.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
As always, Nightwing remains a just plain fun comic. Taylor is a master of a good quip and some great character interactions, and I’m very much looking forward to his new Titans comic coming later this year. This storyline is a great sneak peek at what we have in store, and every page is a hoot. The team members have a great dynamic, whether just chatting with one another or facing off against bad guys. And they’re all great with the kid. This is just a very well-written comic all around, with bright and colorful artwork to match.
I also really enjoy how the story is going. I love that Nightwing’s plan revolves around using bureaucracy to dispatch Neron’s deal. That sort of thing is just funny. And it ties into Dick’s current connections with Bludhaven City Hall, so it all comes together in a nice bow. I appreciate clever writing like that. This may all still come down to a Nightwing vs. Neron fistfight, but I love clever handlings of superhero issues. And that has been a longtime staple of Tom Taylor’s work, especially this Nightwing comic. So let the good times roll!
TL;DR: Another enjoyable chapter, filled with some clever story ideas and some great character banter.
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artists: Andres Genolet and Joe Quinones
Colorists: Dee Cunniffe and Bryan Valenza
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
I dropped She-Hulk for a couple of issues because I just did not like the story Rainbow Rowell was telling, about this rather pathetic romance between She-Hulk and Jack of Hearts. But I saw that this issue was an anniversary issue, so I thought it would be a good place to jump back in and see how things are going. On the one hand, I still dislike the romance, on the other hand, everything else in this comic is so damn fun to read!
Now that Mallory Book is willing to take on super clients, Jen is swamped, because every hero and villain in the city wants her to represent them. In her free time, Jen is juggling her loser boyfriend, Jack of Hearts, for whom she is still head-over-heels. I just don’t get it. She’s also tagging along with the Fantastic Four on some classified mission they have, and she keeps running into this handsome, charming, powerful, costumed thief, who keeps getting the better of her. Now that I can see!
In a wonderful backup story, Jen hosts a book club and invites her superfriends: Sue, Patsy, Jan, Colleen, Misty and Volcana! Some heads butt because not everybody has read the book, and because Jen thinks Jan is babying her. Jen and Jan have a heart-to-heart in the kitchen, where Jan explains that she feels like she owes Jen a huge debt because of how her life has gone. Jan gifts Jen the apartment, and then Captain America shows up to get some Avengers back-up! Also, he’s totally read the book.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
Allow me to breakdown exact what I dislike about the She-Hulk/Jack of Hearts romance, and why I turned away from this otherwise amazing comic for a couple of issues. Forgive the rant, there’s a lot I want to say, for ill and for greatness. First and foremost, it’s a forced relationship. I love a bit of romance in my superhero comics, but I need to be wooed. You can’t just have Jack of Hearts show up and suddenly he and the main character are in love. Granted, it wasn’t sudden, but there was nothing clever or sweet or romantic about the two of them getting together. It was just issue after issue of long, boring conversations where Jack of Hearts exposits his whole deal, and then the two of them were hopelessly in love. And it was taking time away from the actual fun stuff about the comic.
And now, since I stopped reading, Jack of Hearts gained all of his powers back, including his limitations. So now the two of them are in love but can’t physically be together, because of that nonsense. And in this issue specifically, they meet up and Jack says he’s dropped out of the poetry classes he was taking, because he’s so woe is me. It’s maddening!
This guy is such a waste of space, and yet Jen, our main character, is so puppy dog in love with the sad sack. In one of the issues I skipped, she explained to her best pal, Patsy Walker, that Jack of Hearts sees her for her instead of as just She-Hulk. And that was the flimsiest reasoning I could imagine. So in all of She-Hulk’s romantic relationships, it’s only this thing with Jack of Hearts that she finally feels like somebody sees her for her? Please. He’s too busy navel gazing about his own problems. Also, Marvel couldn’t spring for a Jack of Hearts redesign? He’s got one of the most problematic costumes to draw in all of comics, but when he returned with his powers restored, he was back in that old eyesore. Take pity on the great artists on this comic and give Jack of Hearts a cool, modern redesign!
But here’s the thing: everybody else about this comic is phenomenal! It’s the sort of stuff that made Rowell’s Runaways comic one of my favorites, and it’s everything I hoped to read when it was announced that she’d be launching a She-Hulk comic. First up is the legal stuff. It’s a hoot!
So few superhero comics do anything beyond superheroes fighting supervillains. And maybe there are editorial rules that they have to stick with that bread and butter, but I am dying for a Marvel comic to tackle some other topics. She-Hulk would be perfect as a legal show/comic where she’s representing the likes of Doombot in court, which she did in one of the issues I missed. And now she’s got meetings with the Vulture, and supervillains arguing with heroes in her office! It’s so much fun!
But even more fun is the new villain Rowell has introduced. For two issues now, this handsome, dashing scoundrel has gotten the best of Jen as she helps out the Fantastic Four on their mission. And, full honesty here, this is the sort of wooing that I’m talking about. This guy is just so damn charming! We don’t yet know his name, powers or larger purpose, other than trying to steal some secret government stuff, and Jen keeps haphazardly getting in his way. He’s able to withstand her punches and deliver them back, and he’s such a ham when bantering with her, which frustrates Jen to no end.
That is some really fun character writing, and that’s the sort of romance I want to read! Sure, it’s only one-sided right now, and he’s a bad guy, but at least he’s got charm and moves. At least he’s challenging her. I’m not sure if I’m reading this wrong. In my mind, Rowell is presenting an alternate love interest, one who seems to be the exact opposite of the sad sack Jack of Hearts. This guy is active, he’s kinda funny, and he’s interested in Jen. It’s neat! But maybe Rowell is trying to write him as a creep and I’m just not seeing it? I’m definitely eager to find out. It’s also possible that he only exists in Jen’s mind, since she’s the only one who seems to bump into him, and Reed Richards seems a little confused at the end of this issue. I guess we’ll find out what that’s about too.
So all this ranting, and I still haven’t gotten to the pièce de résistance oft his issue: the book club. This is probably going to be my favorite comic sequence of the entire year. This is what I live for. It’s just a scene where Jen invites her closest friends to hang out, have snacks and do a book club. And every character is so full of personality, from Jan’s overbearing efforts, to Sue Storm having to bring her teenagers along because they’re grounded, to Misty and Colleen bickering like an old married couple, to Volcana showing up with snacks, and Jen reassuring everybody that the villain has been invited because she’s a total book nerd. And then they all banter and butt heads and be passive aggressive, because only Misty has read the book all the way to the end.
It’s a masterclass in friendly bantering between familiar characters. And it all builds to an excellent confrontation where Jen and Jan hash out what’s going on between them, which was excellently set up throughout the scene. Jen feels like Jan is overbearing and babying her, where Jan has always felt a little guilty at bringing Jen into the Avengers and turning her life upside down, so Jan uses her wealth to overcompensate. It’s a great scene between the two, as these longtime friends settle a very reasonable, very realistic problem between them.
And then it all ends with Captain America showing up to ask for She-Hulk’s help, something Janet alluded to in the kitchen discussion, so excellent foreshadowing. Then everybody races out to also help (including Volcana!), and the scene ends with Cap revealing that he’d read and enjoyed the book on his own. That’s a wonderful and funny little stinger to end the scene. That is how to wrap something up cleanly with a bow.
This book club scene is absolutely perfect and is everything I hoped to see and read in Rainbow Rowell’s She-Hulk. Perhaps she was only allowed this scene because it’s a double-sized anniversary issue, but that’s fine by me. She made great use of her space! Consider me back on board She-Hulk for the foreseeable future, no matter how much I dislike Jack of Hearts. More like ‘Joke’ of Hearts, amiright?
TL;DR: The character work, the humor, the sheer humanity of this comic is such a joy to read. The book club back-up feature in this issue may be my favorite comic book scene of the entire year. It’s a marvelous showcase of Rainbow Rowell’s exquisite character writing.
Superboy: The Man of Tomorrow #1
Writer: Kenny Porter
Artist: Jahnoy Lindsay
Letterer: Lucas Gattoni
I don’t have any opinion on Superboy one way or another, and I surely don’t know what weird continuity changes he’s been through over the past couple years. But I’m wiling to check out most of these new Super-Family comics.
Superboy is feeling like a third wheel in Metropolis, what with all the other Super-Family around to save the day. So he gets an idea from Pa Kent to find some other place to protect. He scans international and then intergalactic distress calls and heads out to some random planet that is under attack by the Dominators. He teleports to the planet and comes up against a Master Cloner and his super-powered army. Conner defeats the first couple of them, but is nearly overrun by the full army — until the Cosmoteers, a couple of space hero teens, show up and mistake him for one of the bad guys.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This is a perfectly reasonable, perfectly fine first issue that sets up the title character into a status quo and sends him on an adventure. That’s how comic books work, and it works just fine in this issue. Superboy is written well and is put in a very reasonable and understandable place at the start of the issue. Personally, I think sending him out into space to some random planet is a bit too much of a stretch, but that’s just me. I like grounded stories. But I digress. We’ve got Superboy looking to feel useful, and he answers a random distress call from a random planet out in space. It works, and it keeps the strong character foundation. Then he fights a bunch of super-powered clones, with a lead villain that also works as a villain. It all works.
I like the idea of Superboy meeting some space teens. Might be a fun place for him. And the Cosmoteers is just a fun name. If he’s not going to pal around with his Young Justice friends, he might as well go out into space and make some friends there. Could be a fun storyline. Make friends, fall in love, have adventures, uncover some twisted secret that blows everything up; lots of potential in a story like this. And I bet Superboy fans will enjoy the issue, because he’s written well with a lot of character. And the artwork is great. Captures everything nicely, and he really stands out. That leather jacket look is damn cool in 2023.
TL;DR: Good, solid start for this new series, with a strong focus on the main character. Nothing really explosive or mind-blowing as of yet, just a nice set up issue to kick things off.
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Jamal Campbell
Letterer: Ariana Maher
This comic remains the shining beacon in DC’s new Super-Family push, with an excellent wrap-up to this short opening story.
A Parasite-possessed Superman heads to prison to break out Lex Luthor and Livewire, taking them both to Supercorp to hook Livewire up to a machine that will draw all the Parasites to her powers — including the tiny ones in his body. Supes is freed and dons a new suit to take on the main Parasite. Superman convinces Parasite that all the power he’ll ever need is in his clones, so Parasite gorges himself and Lex Luthor gives him a sedative. The day is saved!
Afterwards, Metropolis cleans up and gets back to work. Lex and Livewire return to prison, with Lex insisting again to Superman that they need to work together to stop his old enemies and all the other darkness coming to Metropolis. Superman gives Lex a signal watch and then joins Mercy at Supercorp.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
This was a wrap-up to the opening storyline, keeping things short and very, very sweet. Superman comes up with some novel ideas on how to defeat all the Parasites, and it involves teaming up with some of his enemies to make it happen. I love when super-villains can act rationally for the greater good. And I just loved the scene of Supes, Luthor, Mercy and Livewire working together to stop Parasite. It’s a fun scene, and a great wrap-up to this little storyline. Williamson created this big threat using classic Superman characters, and he wraps it up nicely in the same way. With the visual splendor of Campbell still going strong. And then we get a whole second half of the issue to epilogue everything and properly set up the new status quo of Superman working with Supercorp. It’s a neat idea and I’m all here for it! And now that Williamson has everything set up, I can’t wait to see where he’s taking these ideas next!
This comic is doing the world’s favorite superhero proud.
TL;DR: This opening storyline wraps up in a fun and entertaining way, making the most of comics and Superman’s cast of characters. The phenomenal art is some of the best in the business, and it’s fun to see it on such an important 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 April 22, 2023, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Superman and tagged Nightwing, Superman, Power Rangers, Dick Grayson, She-Hulk, Superboy, Boom!, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Superboy: Man of Tomorrow. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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