Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 5/20/23

What a difference a vacation makes! I’ve been off from work this whole past week, and I have spent most of my week playing The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. No time was wasted. I did get some cleaning done, and I read a whole bunch of comics. Seriously, so many comics from my reading list came out this week that I had to cut a few! We’ve got Power Rangers, She-Hulk, Superman, X-Men and even Fantastic Four #700!

Comic Book of the Week goes to Avengers #1 for an excellent start to a new series. The same could also be said for Titans #1, which is also an excellent start to a new team book. Jeez louise, this was a packed week!

Giant robots must die

Meanwhile, like I said, I’ve been enjoying Tears of the Kingdom. I’m taking my time to just wander around and explore, and watching all those YouTube videos on 10 secrets the game won’t tell you, or crazy construction projects. It’s all around fun! Beyond that…I haven’t done much else noteworthy this vacation. Lotta things I planned to get to that I didn’t. A real shame. Anyway, back to Zelda.

Comic Reviews: Avengers #1, Fantastic Four #700, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #108, She-Hulk #13, Superman #4, Titans #1 and X-Men #22.

Avengers #1

Avengers #1
Writer: Jed McKay
Artist: C.F. Villa
Colorist: Federico Blee
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

I don’t know if I’ve ever followed a new Avengers series from beginning to end. I really really like Jason Aaron as a writer, but for some reason, I didn’t stick with his Avengers. So let’s give Jed McKay a try!

Captain Marvel has been elected as the new chairperson of the Avengers, so she sets about building her roster. Those story bits run parallel to the completed team fighting Terminus at Project PEGASUS, which has built a black hole reactor. Carol recruits Iron Man, Thor, Black Panther, Captain America (Sam Wilson), the Vision and Scarlet Witch. They have a big battle with Terminus and it comes down to Carol flying the black hole reactor far enough away that Wanda can cast a spell. But she doesn’t make it in time and it bursts…sending Carol into null space, where she finds Kang the Conqueror on his deathbed, with a warning.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This is a great series launch, a great Avengers adventure, and just an all around great comic book issue. It’s not entirely reliant on the stories that came immediately before, but it doesn’t shy away from mentioning them either, for the fans who are caught up. It uses those events to inform and establish our characters and where they are at the moment, and that’s helpful. Hopefully everyone will have an arc and a story, and McKay gets to work settling all of that up. The fight with Terminus is big and bombastic, exactly what the Avengers are for. And it’s a good way to get the ball rolling, and get us to the real story with Kang. So it terms of telling a story, it all works nicely.

Destiny calls

The real strength of the issue — alongside the phenomenal artwork, of course — is the character work. Like I said, McKay does a great job of establishing each of our team members in the recruitment sections. He’s got Captain Marvel at the lead, which definitely works, and then we get a really good look at each individual member. Some have deeper set-up than others, but it all works for each of them. So we know who everybody is, we get to see them in action, and we’re off to the races in terms of overall story. All around complete package of a first issue.

TL;DR: This first issue is the whole package. From big action to a classic team building segment, everything works flawlessly to get the ball rolling on a new Avengers relaunch.

Fantastic Four #700

Fantastic Four #700
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Iban Coello
Colorist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Ryan North is the perfect storyteller for an anniversary issue. He’s already been telling short, done-in-one stories, and this issue is an excellent example of the current series.

The Fantastic Four arrive at the old Grimm family farmhouse, where they settle in and prepare to spend the rest of the year waiting for their building and families to return. But then Doctor Doom shows up to rescue his goddaughter, Valeria, and prove that he can solve that which Reed Richards cannot. Doom heads back in time to stop Reed from sending the Baxter Building forward in time one year, but Doom fails to stop Reed. So he goes back to try a different approach, and that also fails. Time and again, no matter what he tries, Doom can’t stop the worst from happening. Even when he goes further back in time to try to fix the timeline, something changes that makes things worse. Doom spends a whole year traveling through time and space to find some sequence of events that will save Valeria, but all of them fail. Therefore, he can only conclude that he is a failure…which is a thought Doom cannot live with.

So Doom goes back to the moment when he first started going back in time, and he secretly sabotages his past self’s armor. This wipes this time-traveling Doom from existence, but that’s better than living with the thought of being a failure. With his armor compromised, the Fantastic Four easily defeat and scare off Doom and nobody is the wiser.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

It took me a bit to fully understand what was happening with this story, but once it all hit me, the whole thing boosted up a notch. A deep exploration of Doctor Doom? Sign me up! And what a fun exploration. It takes the existing story and finds a fun place to insert Doctor Doom. His drive to prove himself better than Reed Richards pushes him to the extremes, both in attempting to reverse the problem, and then in ending his own existence rather than live with the knowledge that he failed. Fun and brilliant stuff, and a perfect little pit stop in the ongoing story. I especially enjoyed how it called back to Doom’s love of his goddaughter, a bit of comic book factoid that I always enjoy. The rest of the issue was really strong, as well. North writes a great family, and it’s always fun to see them in casual situations. Then the idea of them losing letters, and not being able to form words that had those letters, is a nifty, quick idea that is eventually used very well to introduce Doom. Everything works together very nicely in this anniversary issue.

TL;DR: Very nice done-in-one anniversary issue that explores the simple mindset of the Fantastic Four’s greatest villain, while spending some quality time with the family as well.

Power Rangers #108

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #108
Writer: Melissa Flores
Artist: Marco Renna
Colorist: Francesco Segala, with assistance from Gloria Martinelli
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire

Let’s take a breath and get some interesting character development for our wild new villain.

Vessel, now revealed to be Zordon’s body, walks to the Command Center and confronts him, bringing them both to a mental plane to talk. Vessel is considering taking on Zordon as a host, but Zordon declines, sensing that the evil in Vessel’s body would consume and corrupt him. Vessel takes them down memory lane to see some dark memories, then takes Zordon by force. So Zordon hits him with good memories and cleanses Vessel, freeing him from Mistress Vile’s control.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Very simple issue, and a very good issue that tackles and important subject and once again takes a deep dive into Zordon. This comic series has been great at fleshing out our favorite blue head, and this issue builds on everything that’s come before. The idea that Zordon’s physical body was still around, and now it’s being used for evil, is some cool stuff. And instead of just being evil, we get this fun issue where the two debate good vs. evil, and the good guy wins. That’s what we want to see in our Power Rangers comics! The art is great, the philosophical debate is great; it’s all handled very well and gives us a solid base for future development with Vessel.

TL;DR: A solid, done-in-one issue that takes a welcome deep dive on Zordon while fleshing out and firmly establishing the new villain Vessel.

She-Hulk #13

She-Hulk #13
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artists: Andres Genolet and Joe Quinones
Colorists: Dee Cunniffe and Bryan Valenza
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

This is the Rainbow Rowell writing I fell in love with on Runaways.

During Eat Cake in Fancy Dresses Wednesday with Patsy, She-Hulk spots that charming new bad guy walking outside in normal clothing. She confronts him and he offers they go for a walk to answer questions. He says he’s The Scoundrel, real name Nicolas, and he really likes seeing her, but his work is almost complete. Jen ain’t having any of his charm and gets ready for a fight, but he doesn’t want to fight her anymore, so he calls down a flying machine and zips away.

Jen heads to work and has a frank talk with Mallory about their clientele and hiring more attorneys, then she heads home and has a nice chat with Jack of Hearts about his day.

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This is the sort of joyful writing and character work that I felt was missing in those first few issues, when so much time was spent just having long, boring conversations with Jack of Hearts. Jen’s chemistry with the Scoundrel is a million times more entertaining to read, as is he, as a character. They’re just fun to read, alongside his whole deal. He decides to leave instead of fight, so he simply calls down a pull cord from a flying machine and off he goes? Wonderful! I dig his whole vibe and I hope Rowell has some fun plans for the Scoundrel. I guess I just have to trust more. Unless I’m totally misunderstanding what’s going on, and I’m supposed to dislike him in favor of the continuously mopey Jack of Hearts…

How all superhero names work

The rest of the issue is fun, too. Eat Cake in Fancy Dresses Wednesday remains a delight, and I love the sort of storytelling where we see Jen return to work in her fancy dress, and have to go through the whole process of changing into proper work clothes, all while having an argument with her boss. I want more legal stuff! She’s got a waiting room full of superhero and super-villain clients. Let’s do more with them! Why does the Vulture keep showing up? What’s his legal beef? I wanna find out! I wanna read more courtroom scenes!

This is a charming and fun comic, when it focuses on stuff that aren’t Jack of Hearts.

TL;DR: When this comic focuses on things I like, it’s delightful and charming. And this issue has a lot of things I like, and a lot of great character moments and dialogue.

Superman #4

Superman #4
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artists: Jamal Campbell and Nick Dragotta
Colorists: Campbell and Frank Martin
Letterer: Ariana Maher

This series continues to be stellar in all the right ways.

Silver Banshee is trying to live a normal, ordinary life, complete with boyfriend, but she’s ambushed at home by Dr. Pharm, who uses a Kryptonite Claw to transform her and they threaten to kill everyone she loves. Superman confronts Luthor in prison to finally get info on Pharm and Graft. Luthor flashes us back to when he first moved to Metropolis and became a tech-based superhero to find out why homeless people were disappearing. It was his first encounter with Pharm and Graft, and it wouldn’t be their last. Superman goes to investigate the lab that Luthor found back then and it’s a trap! Silver Banshee attacks!

The fight bursts onto the streets above, where Lois and Jimmy just happen to be. Jimmy rushes to Silver Banshee’s side and tells Superman to stop. They’re in love!

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

This series is just plain fun. It’s pure Superman goodness, with a healthy dose of charm on every page. We’ve got this new threat, and they are sufficiently evil and doing their evil thing. Lex gives us a solid flashback to flesh out more of their story and his rivalry with them. It’s a little silly, the idea that Lex Luthor was a superhero when he first arrived in Metropolis, but I think we can easily chalk that up to just being fun and that he’s an unreliable narrator for that flashback. It works splendidly. Couple that with the ways they are using classic Superman villains as their pawns, and it combines the classic with the new, and that works splendidly. Obviously this isn’t the first story to ever do such a thing, but it’s working well here, and that’s all that really matters.

The first superhero

I like the use of Silver Banshee here. I can’t wait to find out how she and Jimmy Olsen hit it off and started dating. The opening scene gives it away that she’s dating Jimmy, so that dampens the last page shocker somewhat, but it’s fine. And obviously the artwork is stupendous on a character like Silver Banshee. I hope DC gives Jamal Campbell all the room they need to keep this series looking gorgeous. Having a guest like Dragotta in for the flashback will hopefully take some pressure off Campbell. The flashback artwork worked nicely.

My only gripe for the issue is a line from Dr. Pharm where they say they’ve always wondered if Kryptonite could be used to affect other metahumans. No thank you. Kryptonite doesn’t affect Superman just because he has super-powers, it’s related to it being his home planet. Kryptonite shouldn’t be used to affect super-powers in general. That’s not how any of this works!

TL;DR: The first storyline is done, and this new one is already here with a load of charm and some of the best artwork in comics.

Titans #1

Titans #1
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Nicola Scott
Colorist: Annette Kwok
Letterer: Wes Abbott

Tom Taylor has been killing it on Nightwing, which has had frequent Titans guest appearances. There’s no reason to believe he won’t kill it on a Titans book as well.

The Teen Titans have set up shop in Bludhaven and it’s move in day, a big public event. But Beast Boy has been struggling with his recent trauma, his girlfriend Raven is helping him, Aqualad turned them down and the Flash has been shot and sent himself back in time. More on that in a sec. The Titans are summoned to a nuclear power plant to stop Titano and avert a crisis. They are an awesome team and the day is saved, but Peacemaker shows up to be all hurly burly for the U.S. Government and they turn down his offers/demands.

When the Titans return to the Tower to move in, they immediately discover the Flash’s dead body and computer screens flashing the words “solve it.”

Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.

It’s almost funny that this came out the same day as Avengers #1. Both are said to be the premiere superhero team in their respective superhero universe. This issue does a lot of the same, and it’s really good. We have a core of team banter and relationships as they head into battle against a giant threat. Seriously, both issues feature a battle against a titanic-sized foe, while character-based stuff happens around it. Funny how that works. Anyway, this issue is pretty much just as good as Avengers #1. The Titans have a comfortability with each other that can’t be matched, and Taylor already nailed it in his Nightwing comics, so it’s an easy transition into a comic of its own. The characters mesh really well together.

More than fair

The battle is excellent. I love the joke where Beast Boy turns into a giant lizard kaiju to battle this giant ape kaiju. And there’s no doubting Nicola Scott’s talent. They are a perfect choice for this series. Their artwork is crisp and clear, with a wonderful splash of color from Annette Kwok. Top tier creative team behind this book. If I had any nitpicks, as to why perhaps I chose Avengers #1 over Titans #1 for Comic Book of the Week, it’s that the Peacemaker scene felt a little heavy handed. He comes out of nowhere pushing a weird government agenda that really clashes with the rest of the comic. Plus he feels like a forced choice to tie-in with the TV show. Also, not every team member gets a chance to stand out. Obviously the Titans didn’t need scenes of roster-building, but at least the Avengers each got some reason for joining. Not all the Titans get a signature moment this issue.

Also, while I love that Taylor is embracing it to tell his story, the idea that the Titans will be the world’s premiere superhero team feels so impermanent. Like everyone is fooling themselves, especially when you consider all classic members of the Justice League are still around, right? Hopefully I’m wrong and this status quo will have some degree of permanence.

TL;DR: Stellar first team issue has a lot of great character moments, some top tier artwork and plenty of groundwork to kick off several good storylines.

X-Men #22

X-Men #22
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Joshua Cassara
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

We’re building up to Fall of X, which I hope doesn’t end the Krakoa era. Let’s see how the X-Men get there.

Orchis is up to no good, from striking a deal with Hordeculture for their research, to poisoning the Krakoan medicines so that they can control the users. They’ve also built pop-up camps where mutants can come get their power repressed. They sign on the dotted line, and then it’s forced upon them, including the mutant Woofer, who looks like Anole and can turn light into sound. Cyclops, Forge and Firestart show up to save him and tussle with the new Sentinel Zero: a Sentinel built over the top of a recovered Wolverine skeleton. It’s a badass fight, and Firestar eventually burns the robot away, leaving just the skeleton. Now the X-Men know that Orchis has been recovering Wolverine skeletons, and it’s revealed that they have 10 new Sentinel Zeroes ready to go!

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

I really, really just like the little story at the heart of this issue. There’s plenty going on leading up to Fall of X. But I really like the story where the X-Men show up and shut down an Orchis depowering station, rescuing this random mutant dude. I like the reveal of what Orchis has done with all of the Wolverine skeletons, and the way Forge deals with that issue. It was set up ages ago, and it’s really funny here. And the story is just the X-Men being heroic, fighting a new super Sentinel and saving the day for one wayward mutant. It’s all around good and enjoyable X-Men comic bookery, while laying some seeds for the bigger stories to come. I liked it a lot.

TL;DR: Fun little story of the X-Men doing good in the name of protecting mutants, while both paying off long-dangling plot threads and setting up new ones.

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 May 20, 2023, in Avengers, Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Superman, X-Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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