Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

A Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink #6 Review – The Feminist Ranger

MMPR: Pink #6, Daniele Di Nicuolo, coverTITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink #6
AUTHOR: Brenden Fletcher and Kelly Thompson (story), Tini Howard (script)
PENCILLER: Daniele Di NIcuolo
PUBLISHER: BOOM! Studios
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: January 25, 2017

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead!***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Ah, the letter. Given when this story is set, I didn’t think we’d get to address that. But here it is.

During Power Rangers Zeo, the season that succeeded Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Tommy gets a letter from Kimberly. It’s essentially a Dear John letter, as she ends their long-distance relationship, saying she’s met someone else. This left a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of fans. Kim was rarely mentioned after actress Amy Jo Johnson left the series. When she returned for the Turbo movie, her relationship with Tommy was barely touched on. Thus, the long-standing relationship between two of the show’s most popular characters ended on a pretty sour note.

That letter turned out to be a piece of what MMPR: Pink is all about. In the end, it became about Kim being her own person and letting go of her old life. About moving on, and becoming a new kind of hero. Fans who’ve dreamt of seeing Kim and Tommy end up together may not be thrilled by that idea. But in the end, it’s pretty damn cool.

MMPR: Pink #6, 2017, Rangers arriveThe issue starts with Kimberly’s makeshift team of Rangers (Zack, Trini, and two civilians she enlisted in France) arriving to save Tommy and the active Rangers on a faraway planet. They arrive in Typhonis, a giant battle machine Goldar constructed using pieces of the destroyed Thunderzords. They also have Titanus and Tor the Shuttle Zord, which the Rangers have used previously. The use of words from previous seasons is cool fan service, though admittedly a little hokey. There’s an epic feel to seeing those old zords next to the Ninja Megazord in the final battle.

Last issue we learned Zack and Trini have become a couple. That’s completely out of the blue, considering how the characters were on the show. But it’s fine. It’s even intriguing in an opposites-attract sort of way. The only sad thing is I’m not sure we’ll ever see this explored more.

As far as I’m concerned, Daniele Di Nicuolo is welcome back in the Power Rangers sandbox any time. He’s a tremendous fit for the PR universe. His work is clean, dynamic, and compliments what we saw on the show very well. He also got pave some of his own ground with the makeshift Ranger suits, Kim’s Katniss Everdeen wardrobe, and the inner workings of the zords. Mind you, I still don’t understand why Zack’s costume has a hood. He’s already got a helmet! What does he need a damn hood for?

Nagging questions: We’re led to believe that Tommy and the active Rangers don’t know who came to their rescue. But Kim communicates with them through the cockpit of her zord, and there’s no indication that her voice is disguised. How do they not recognize her voice? Also, Zordon obviously sent them Titanus and Tor. Couldn’t they have just asked him who the mystery rescuers were?

mmpr-pink-6-motorcycleThere’s been a “life after the Power Rangers” vibe to Pink, which comes full circle at the end. Kim meets Zack and Trini at a cafe, and they talk about their next move, promising to do a better job of staying in touch. When we jump to a year later, we see she’s done just that, including Jason in the mix as well. I like that. Even with as deep a connection as they have, they drift in and out of contact like real people.

There’s obviously a strong feminist angle to Pink, and they hammer that home at the end. A year after the rescue, as Kim is writing the famous letter, she recognizes she and Tommy have very different lives. Not content to “be the woman in pink, at his side,” she sets out to forge her path independently and be her own hero. That ending does a lot of justice to the Kimberly character. It’s really remarkable how, without necessarily intending to, Amy Jo Johnson and the crew on MMPR created this strong female character that resonated with so many viewers. This whole story is essentially a love letter to that character and that performance.

Perhaps the most surprising element of Pink is that Kim and Tommy never speak. He’s never even aware she’s nearby. That’s a hell of a thread to leave hanging, and would make for a hell of a moment in a sequel. Just saying…

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Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

A Justice League/Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #1 Review – Wrong Zord!!!!

Justice League/Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #1, coverTITLE: Justice League/Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #1
AUTHOR: Tom Taylor
PENCILLER: Stephen Byrne. Cover by Karl Kerschl.
PUBLISHERS: DC Comics/BOOM! Studios
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: January 11, 2017

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

As someone who grew up in the ’90s with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, this is one of the most surreal comic books I’ve ever read. Seriously. Not necessarily in a bad way. It’s just friggin’ weird to see the Rangers next to the Justice League.

Justice League/Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is the latest inter-brand crossover from DC Comics that I’m not sure anyone asked for. But since they’re willing to try it, why the hell not? Think Green Lantern/Star TrekBatman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the upcoming Green Lantern/Planet of the Apes, etc. Now, thanks to the Command Center’s teleportation system malfunctioning, the Rangers (along with Lord Zedd), find themselves in the DC Universe.

While I hate to be one of these people, as a Power Rangers die-hard, it must be said: There’s a giant continuity error in this issue. Our villain on the PR side of things is Lord Zedd. A wise creative choice, as he’s the coolest villain to ever come out of the series. But then at the end of the issue, the Pink Ranger calls the Pterodactyl Dinozord. As I’m sure many fans remember, Lord Zedd did away with the Dinozords very early in his tenure. In fact, most of the Dinozords never saw combat against Zedd’s forces.

Justice League/Mighty Morphin Power Ragners #1, Zack, SupermanLook, I get it. The appeal of these crossovers usually isn’t a well-crafted story. It’s about the characters meeting. In that spirit, this book gives us a bunch of cool variant covers, each with a different Ranger and Justice Leaguer. (I went with the Batman/Pink Ranger one myself.) But who is this book’s intended audience? Comic book readers that grew up with MMPR! At some point, a good percentage of the audience is going to go: “Hey, didn’t Zedd destroy the Dinozords?”

Alright, alright. Puttin’ it back in the holster now. But I’m not wrong…

Zack plays a central role in this issue, which I appreciate. It would have been easy to put the beloved Green Ranger in that spot. What I don’t understand is why the crew at BOOM! have been so intent on making Zack a more grim character than he ever was on the show. Kyle Higgins has dropped a hint or two about Zack having problems at home, and we even saw Rita come after Zack to be the evil Green Ranger. This issue builds on that. We kick off with a scene in which Angel Grove has been destroyed, and Zack blames himself. We then learn that he’d had a fight with his parents about “disappearing too often.” Naturally, he can’t tell them he’s doing it because he’s a superhero.

There’s nothing wrong with this teenage superhero vs. civilian parents stuff. I actually wish more teen superhero books would go into it. But to those of us who watched the show, Zack is an awkward fit for it. He was always the fun-loving and energetic dancer. That’s not to say he has to be one-dimensional. But a more natural fit would have been Kimberly, the Pink Ranger. It was established on the show that her parents were divorced, and she now has a stepfather. That could be a fine source of drama.

Justice League/MMPR #1, Lord Zedd, John ByrneOne thing I can’t complain about is Stephen Byrne’s art and colors. This guy needs to stay in the Power Rangers universe for awhile. He’s tremendous with all the costumes, and his colors are wonderfully vibrant. There’s a splash page of all the Rangers, minus Zack, teleporting into Gotham City that’s just gorgeous. I enjoy Hendry Prasetya’s work on the main MMPR series. But if he ever needs to step aside, Byrne could jump in and not miss a beat.

This side of the issue is obviously pretty heavy on the Power Rangers side. With the Rangers in Gotham, we’ll naturally see more Justice League stuff next issue. We do, however, get a decent amount of Superman and Batman. That page where Superman floats next to Zack is, again, so damn surreal. As is seeing Batman block a blow from the Black Ranger’s Power Axe.

I don’t imagine we’ll see great things from this book going forward. But I admit, I’m curious to see what they do. Stephen Byrne’s art may be worth the price of admission on its own. But as I think is often the case with these crossovers, after the novelty of the first encounter is gone, the story sort of fizzles out. I can only assume that’ll be the case here. Still, they’ve got me coming back for issue #2. That’s a start.

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A Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink #2 Review – An Unexpected Reunion

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink #2, cover, Elsa CharretierTITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink #2
AUTHORS: Brenden Fletcher, Kelly Thompson
PENCILLER: Daniele Di Nicuolo. Cover by Elsa Charretier.
PUBLISHER: BOOM! Studios
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: July 27, 2016

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead!***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Well this was unexpected. To not only get the return of Kimberly Hart as the Pink Ranger, but two additional returns! The intrigue level just went up. But at what cost (if any) to our main character?

Kimberly is in trouble. Goldar has captured her mother and turned her into a ghastly monster. Though her powers have been temporarily returned to her thanks to Zordon, the Pink Ranger needs help. It comes in the form of two old friends: Zack and Trini. But will they be enough to save her mother and defeat Goldar?

Zack and Trini came completely out of left field, and I’m not sure their presence is a good thing. We spend a large portion of this issue catching up, giving them their powers, etc. But isn’t this book supposed to be about Kimberly? At what point does the novelty of having these heroes back distract from Kim’s story? That’s not to say they aren’t important. But how about a book featuring Jason, Zack, and Trini as a trio? They all went to the same peace conference, after all.

SMMPR: Pink #2, opening page, Daniele Di Nicuolopeaking of which, in this issue we hear Jason “has his own mission to attend to.” Uh…what? I assume they wanted a reason to keep Jason out of the book, for fear of even more focus shifting away from Kim. But with a line like that, you’ve got to assume they’ll tell us where he is eventually. Either that, or they’re wetting our appetites for a future MMPR: Red story.

Kimberly gives Zack and Trini their powers back by sharing her temporary power from Zordon. They both get makeshift costumes as well. Only instead of having strictly black accents, their suits come with traces of pink as well. It’s a nice representation of their power coming from Kim’s “pink energy.” Also, for whatever reason, Zack’s has a hood.

The past rears its head yet again when Goldar debuts Typhonis, a new war zord made from the hacked up limbs of the Thunder Megazord and Tigerzord. It conjures up memories of the zords falling apart on the show, which was somehow hysterical. So intentional or not, Typhonis is funny by association.

This issue also gives us our first in-story appearance of the White Ranger. Kim has a very brief exchange with Tommy, reaffirming the necessity for them to have a reunion by the end of this story. After Amy Jo Johnson left the show, the only closure we got on the relationship was a Dear John letter received by Tommy during the events of Power Rangers Zeo. It wasn’t even addressed when Johnson returned for Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie. What I’d like is a scene that helps bridge the gap between MMPR and Zeo. Give us some insight we didn’t have before. Show us where their relationship is. Perhaps this is the last time they’re together before the break up…

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink #2, Daniele Di Nicuolo, interiorDaniele Di Nicuolo gets to flex her “acting” muscles more in this issue. Much of it is very animated, i.e. Trini’s face exploding with jubilation at the sight of her old friend. That’s something we wouldn’t see in one of Hendry Prasetya’s issues over in the main series. That’s not a knock, just a difference. This book should look different than MMPR proper. Both books are fun, which is what matters. I look forward to seeing another of Di Nicuolo’s explosive, high energy action sequences next issue.

The return of Zack and Trini is a pleasant surprise. But Fletcher and Thompson need to be careful. The book isn’t about the dynamic between Kimberly, Zack, and Trini. It’s about Kimberly. Yes, the Power Rangers have their foundation in teamwork and camaraderie. But let’s remember where our focus should be. This is the Pink Ranger’s much-deserved spotlight. Let her shine.

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A Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #4 Review – Easy, Red Ranger…

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #4, cover, 2016TITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #4
AUTHORS: Kyle Higgins, Steve Orlando
PENCILLERS: Hendry Prasetya, Corin Howell. Cover by Jamal Campbell.
PUBLISHER: BOOM! Studios
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: June 22, 2016

***WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #4.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

If you dare to think of the Power Rangers from a semi-realistic standpoint, you come to the conclusion that in some ways, they’d operate like a military operation. What you basically have here are soldiers fighting in an interplanetary war with space-age weapons and giant robots. So logic dictates that you’d have your leader, in the case the Red Ranger, dictate your battle plans while the other Rangers fall in line. Makes sense, right?

Of course, logic and realism weren’t the strong points of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. (I think the my first clue was seeing that blue sky on the moon.) On the show, the Rangers didn’t really operate like that, at least not in the era this book takes place in. Jason was indeed the leader, but it seemed like more of an honorary title. He took on the role, but the Rangers were a team. We never heard lines like: “Jason gave you an order.” That’s not the case in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #4, and it’s a turn-off.

The team’s trust in Tommy has been shaken, as he’s revealed he’s having visions of his former master Rita Repulsa. The Green Ranger is benched for the Rangers’ battle against Scorpina and the Dragonzord, which is once again under Rita’s control. But Tommy isn’t one to sit idly by when he knows he can help. The resulting argument will lead to disaster for the Rangers.

MMPR #4, Tommy and Zordon, Hendry PrasetyaEarly in the issue, Jason tells Tommy not to come into the field. As the battle progresses, he tells Zordon he wants to go in, as he’s seemingly rid himself of the visions and can help. Zordon advises him not to, as “Jason has given you an order.” That line by itself is weird. Especially because Zordon says it. He’s the boss, isn’t he?

But after the fight, which they win thanks to the Green Ranger’s help, Jason gets indignant. He actually says: “I don’t know how I could have been any more clear. You were not to come into the field.”

I don’t have a problem with what Jason is saying. It’s how he’s saying it. He almost comes off like a parent disciplining a child. Jason and Tommy, even when they were at each other’s throats, never talked to one another like that on the show. As such, Jason looks like a condescending jerk. I’m wondering if this is being done to establish Jason feeling threatened by Tommy. One might gather that from things he’s said in previous issues. I’m trying to give Higgins the benefit of the doubt on this one. Either way, I don’t like this side of Jason.

As we’ve seen in previous issues, Higgins, Prasetya, and the team show us things we never could have see on the show. In the zord fight, we see Green Ranger crash through the eye of the Dragonzord, which is spectacular. We also learn that the Triceratops zord has an underwater mode. We also see Scorpina in the Command Center. The Rangers restrain her by tying her to a chair, which is downright comical. We’ve seen characters trapped in force fields numerous times on the show, but for some reason Scorpina gets tied down like a damsel in distress.

Blue Ranger, MMPR #4, Hendry PrasetyaHendry Prasetya’s performances have been consistent in the five issues he’s done. His take on the Power Rangers and their world hasn’t gotten old. Even simple things, like a shot of Dragonzord walking away from camera and rising out of the sea, manage to be extremely cool. Ditto for a handful of panels where we see the words powering up. My favorite panel in the issue is pretty basic shot of the Blue Ranger in the cockpit of the Triceratops Dinozord (shown right.) We’d never seen it from that angle before, and it’s panels like this that make this book so fun for longtime fans like yours truly.

We have yet another edition of our back-up feature, “The Ongoing Adventures of Bulk & Skull.” I hate to say it, but I’m officially turned off by this. Not because the writing or the art are bad, but because we’ve been on this story since issue #1. Bulk & Skull manage to capture a putty, and use it to try and make themselves look like superheroes. They could have done this in one, maybe two installments. This issue gives us our fourth. If they’re going to keep doing this we need a new story, and we need to quicken the pace.

This Jason thing is the biggest hiccup the series has seen so far, but by no means is it a reason to drop the book. Higgins, Prasetya, and the team have got something special, and it’s been consistently good. PR fans have been given a great gift with this series. And by and large, it keeps on giving.

Images from readcomics.net

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A Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink #1 Review – Ranger Recharged

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #1, Elsa Charretier, coverTITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink #1
AUTHOR: Brenden Fletcher, Kelly Thompson
PENCILLER: Danielle Di Nicuolo. Cover by Elsa Charretier.
PUBLISHER: BOOM! Studios
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: June 1, 2016

By  Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

It makes sense that Kimberly is the first Power Ranger to get a solo story from BOOM! Studios. That character had a special connection with the audience. She was spunky, athletic, strong, and feminine. On a show that was primarily for boys, she gave young girls someone to look up to. In many ways, she was the most interesting character on the show. So it’s all the more natural that Brenden Fletcher, renowned author of books like BatgirlGotham Academy, and Black Canary, would find his way to her. He obviously knows his way around strong female characters, which bodes well for Kimberly’s fans.

Some time after Kimberly left her Power Ranger days behind her to compete at the Pan Global Games, she finds herself in St. Moineau, France. Her mother and stepfather, along with all the town’s residents, have mysteriously gone missing. Suspecting foul play, she contacts Zordon. While she may be a bit rusty, Kim is about to dust off her helmet and bow for another round as the Pink Ranger!

MMPR Pink #1, Ranger suitIn contrast to the ongoing series, Pink arguably appeals to an older audience that’s more familiar with the TV show. This issue is full of fan service. We get very specific callbacks to names and events from the show, not the least of which are the Pan Global Games, and a magic sword Zordon uses to give Kim her powers back. It would have been very easy to simply separate the Pink Ranger from the rest of the team, somehow. For instance, perhaps the other Rangers get sent to another planet, and she’s left to defend Earth herself. The fact they didn’t do that says a lot about this team’s respect for the character and her world. While those less familiar with the show may be left in the dark a bit, it’s worth it for those of us who watched all those years ago.

The Kimberly we meet here has a bad ass streak that the one we knew did not have. She wears a leather jacket, rides a motorcycle, and has a bow and arrows if needed. It’s a bit like Arrow meets The Hunger Games. But Fletcher and Thompson make sure there’s enough of the bubbly Kimberly that we remember. You can believably hear Amy Jo Johnson’s voice in her dialogue.

Power Rangers Pink, motorcycleOur villain winds up being someone we know from the show, who has long deserved a crack at being a solo villain. Seeing how he and Kimberly match up one-on-one should prove intriguing for (again) long time fans of the show.

Danielle Di Nicuolo draws a hell of a Pink Ranger. Though the costume she wears in this issue (shown above) is slightly different than the one we’re familiar with. Most conspicuous are the traces of black, which I interpret as a mark of Kim’s experience and veteran standing. I imagine if there were to be a Power Rangers version of Marvel’s X-Factor, reuniting the original team members, these are the kind of costumes they’d wear.

Di Nicuolo’s strengths lie with action scenes. Her Kimberly is best when she’s kicking, flipping, or using her bow and arrow. She show’s us a fighting style that makes sense for Kimberly. Her inclusion of a classic Pink Ranger pose toward the end of the issue was much appreciated.

I never imagined we’d have two Power Ranger comics on the stands at the same time. Much less two that seem to value and appreciate the source material so much. It’s a testament to how much of an impact Power Rangers had on ’90s kids, that they’d grow up and create such awesome comics featuring those heroes. I, for one, can’t wait to see more.

 Images from readcomics.net. 

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