Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

A Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #11 Review – Lord Drakkon Revealed

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #11, 2017, Jamal CampbellTITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #11
AUTHORS: Kyle Higgins, Steve Orlando
PENCILLERS: Hendry Prasetya, Corin Howell. Jamal Campbell.
PUBLISHER: BOOM! Studios
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: January 18, 2017

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

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This is more or less what I imagined we’d get from this follow-up to the big reveal in issue #9. They threw in a little extra garnish. But it’s essentially what I expected.

For the most part, that’s a good thing.

After the big battle in issue #9, Tommy and Billy have been transported elsewhere in time. A time when Earth has been decimated, and ruled by a mysterious White Ranger called Lord Drakkon. But who is Lord Drakkon? What’s become of our heroes? And how do Tommy and Billy get home?

Lord Drakkon is in fact an alternate version of Tommy (shown below). Though in all fairness, that’s a pretty easy prediction. The costume is clearly an amalgamation of the Green and White Ranger suits, with some extra stuff thrown in. It’s unclear how old Tommy is supposed to be. He’s got some gray in his hair, and some odd purple vasculature going on. But I assume this Tommy has been doing weird things with the Morphin Grid. So perhaps his body is feeling the effects.

Lord Drakkon, MMPR #11, Hendry PrasetyaTo create this alternate timeline, Kyle Higgins and Hendry Prasetya are plucking things from subsequent seasons of the show. As our heroes make their way to the wrecked Command Center, we see the remains of the Thunderzords. Tommy eventually makes his way down to what would become the Power Chamber in Power Rangers Zeo. There he finds Saba, the White Ranger’s talking sword from seasons two and three.

Normally I don’t like when creators get cute like this. Having Tommy and Billy see things from their future taints the emotional intensity of what happens later in the show. But I’m holding off on judging too harshly until they’re done. Stories like this tend to come with mindwipes anyway.

As Billy alludes to, it’s unclear at this point whether this is an alternate timeline, or the timeline we know with an altered future. Given Tommy’s gray hair, it’s entirely possible this takes place decades in the future.

We get another tweaked costume here, in the form of the Mastadon Sentries (shown below), designed by Prasetya. According to Higgins, Drakkon has warped the Power Coins to create an army for himself. As such, we get this sort of Black Ranger S.W.A.T. team outfit. Note the lining on the gun barrel, which resembles the handle of the Power Axe. It’s a fun design. I can’t help but wonder if Drakkon has an elite guard that has the Red Ranger design. Sort of like Palpatine’s guards in Return of the Jedi.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #11, Hendry Prasetya, Mastadon SentiesThe capitol building in Angel Grove has some cool design elements from Rita’s castle, most notably the orb on top. What used to be Angel Grove high is now called the Finster Memorial Correction Facility, which is a riot.

I also love the Planet of the Apes homage cover by Jamal Campbell. We don’t see anything like that in the issue, but you get the idea.

We’ve got a little bit more parent drama in this issue, as Billy’s parents and Tommy’s mother talk to the police about their missing kids. I always appreciate that in my teenage superhero dramas.

“The Ongoing Adventures of Bulk and Skull” continue, as Steve Orlando and Corin Howell tell a tale about the boys controlling a two-headed monster. This still doesn’t do much for me. The highlight was Bulk calling Rita “that nice lady with the wicker rabbit hat.”

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers continues to be at or near the top of my stack each time it comes out. We’ve reached the point where Higgins, Prasetya, and the team are really sinking their teeth in, and starting to forge their own ground. For this ’90s kid, it makes for supremely interesting comics.

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Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

A Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #5 Review – Where Is Walter Jones?

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #5, 2016, Jamal CampbellTITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #5
AUTHOR: Kyle Higgins, Steve Orlando
PENCILLERS: Thony Silas, Corin Howell. Cover by Jamal Campbell.
PUBLISHER: BOOM! Studios
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: July 20, 2016

***Miss last issue? Check out Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #4.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

As a writer, you look at stories like this one and say: “Damn, why didn’t I think of that?” I certainly didn’t expect to say that about an interlude issue. But Kyle Higgins takes this opportunity to add a bit more depth to his Green Ranger storyline, and the overall mythology around the character. The execution isn’t perfect. But the idea is so interesting it almost doesn’t matter. Almost

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #5 tells us that before Tommy became Rita Repulsa’s evil Green Ranger, she made a play for Zack, the Black Ranger. After being “upstaged” by Jason during a fight, Goldar and the putties abduct Zack so Rita can make her pitch. Obviously, Zack doesn’t accept. But how do the events of this issue impact Zack’s relationship to the team? And what happens when Zack tells Zordon?

Rita tempting one of the Rangers toward the dark side is such a simple, classic tale. It’s perfect for this series. I’m not sure I wouldn’t have gone with Billy instead of Zack, especially considering the scene we saw in issue #2. He was comparing himself to the others, and he seemed to become self conscious and bitter. If Rita could have seen that, she might have exploited it. On the other hand, we’ve seen some curious behavior from Zack in this series. He’s been very suspicious and apprehensive about Tommy. This issue seems to explain why. This experience gives him a negative connection to the Green Ranger that we never knew about.

MMPR #5, Zack, Green RangerThe Zack we’ve seen in this series isn’t the one I expected. On the show, Walter Jones played a fun-loving dancer. Zack is in love with life, and he’s not afraid to show it. That’s not the character we’ve seen in this series. For the most part he’s been very straight faced. I understand he’s in a very tense storyline. But flashes of personality aren’t going to hurt anything, are they?

In essence, what we need in this book is a little more Walter Jones.

Fussy Fanboy Moment: After Zack is abducted, he wakes up in Rita’s Dark Dimension, which we saw in the show. But in one of the “Green Candle” episodes, which these events obviously predate, Jason says he and Tommy are the only Rangers that have been there.

Then again, maybe in Higgins’ mind, Jason never finds out about this. Near the end of the issue, Zordon asks Zack to keep this incident hidden from the others for now. He says it’s so he can “assess the situation and Rita’s capabilities.” But with everything that’s happened, why don’t the Rangers know by now? At least I assume they don’t know…

On the plus side, Higgins sneaks in what seems to be a hint at Zack going to the Peace Conference later in the series. He tells Zordon, “I need to do more … I don’t care about leading. It’s not like that.” I like that second line. It speaks to why Rita’s plan for Zack doesn’t work. He’s imperfect like anyone else, but in the end he’s selfless. It’s more about the good that’s being done, as opposed to the glory you get from it.

MMPR #5, MegazordThe opening sequence, set in Italy, is a lot of fun. The Rangers face Rita’s monstrous take on The Vitruvian Man, who can apparently only speak in da Vinci quotes. Afterward, they receive some fanfare on the ground. We even have the prime minister in the middle of the action. This is yet another example of Higgins doing something that never could have happened on the show.

Thony Silas tags in on pencils for this issue. His style isn’t dramatically different from Hendry Prasetya’s, though his characters are slightly better at emoting. His Rita is particularly sinister. Again, his Zack seems very reserved and stoic, which is not the character we’re used to.

“The Ongoing Adventures of Bulk & Skull” still doesn’t do much for me. Though we do get a surprise in this issue: The BOOM! Studios debut of Lieutenant Stone, Bulk & Skull’s foil from seasons 3 and 4. I’d always been under the impression they’d never met before. Either way, I’m glad to see the putty patroller story is over. On to (hopefully) better things.

Higgins pleasantly surprised me with this Zack story, by following up on a plot seed he’d planted as far back as issue #1. It makes you wonder what else he might come back to in future issues. Whether it’s how Billy sees his role on the team, Jason feeling threatened by Tommy, or something else fans may have wondered about. There’s so much fertile ground to cover, and I’m hopeful that we’ve only scratched the surface.

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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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Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

A Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #0 Review – Kid Tested, Adult Approved

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #0, Red Ranger coverTITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #0
AUTHORS: Kyle Higgins, Steve Orlando, Mairghread Scott.
PENCILLERS: Hendry Prasetya, Corin Howell, Daniel Bayliss. Cover by Goni Montes.
PUBLISHER: BOOM! Studios
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: January 13, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Getting attention with nostalgia is easy. Keeping that attention is hard. This certainly isn’t the first Power Rangers comic book to get my attention. The folks over at Papercutz got it, and did a decent job with the license. But in terms of keeping that attention, this BOOM! Studios series has more potential than any comic book take on Power Rangers ever has. That’s how interesting the main story in this issue is.

Will it have that effect on everyone? No. But as a life long Power Rangers geek (Power Geek?), they’ve got me lassoed pretty hard. The formula? Keep the stories kid-friendly, but tell stories that also appeal to grown-up fans with money in their pockets. On paper, that’s not easy. But Higgins and Prasetya pull it off here.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #0, openingThe issue doesn’t give us anything in the way of backstory. So you’re expected to know who’s who, and what’s happened previously. One might consider that a flaw, but it doesn’t effect this book’s core audience. The story centers around Tommy, the Green Ranger. While the spell that made him do Rita Repulsa’s bidding has been broken, Tommy is still feeling residual effects. He’s having disturbing visions of Rita speaking to him in his daily life. Naturally, this effects his duties as a Power Ranger, and may even cause a rift between he and his new teammates. Meanwhile Rita, as always, is up to something…

The opening (shown left) is unlike anything we’ve ever seen in Power Rangers, and it’s an incredibly smart scene to begin with. All of our heroes are down (Dead?), and we see what I assume are the remains of the Command Center in the background. For a variety of reasons, this is something we never could have seen on the old show. But the one that comes to mind immediately is that it’s too dark for a kids show. But not for a comic book like this. With only one page, Higgins, Prasetya, and the creative team have immediately sold the adult fans on what this book can offer.

Kyle Higgins is about 30, which means he was likely a Power Rangers fan growing up, and it shows. The Rangers all feel like the characters we remember from the show, even down to their dialogue quirks. Jason, for instance, ends three of his lines in this book with the word “man.” Case in point: “You okay, man?” “You didn’t listen, man.” This seems trivial.  But it’s how he talked on the show, and it goes a long way toward making this book feel like a return to the old show.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #0, morph sceneA show like Power Rangers lends itself to the comic book medium in a lot of ways. It’s a low-budget action adventure series about superheroes who use giant robots to fight aliens. The scope is almost unlimited. You can do so much on the page that they couldn’t do on the screen, especially when you consider this show was made in the early ’90s. For instance, there’s a moment where the Pink Ranger detaches her Pterodactyl Dinozord from the Megazord, and uses it to catch some cars falling from a nearby bridge. That kind of thing was really rare in the show, and again, it serves as a selling point for this series.

Hendry Prasetya delivers big time on the artwork, giving us the kind of dynamic action we’re used to from these characters and this world. It’s almost like watching a new episode of the show, but from a different angle than we’re used to seeing things. The teenagers don’t necessarily look like the actors did, outside of superficial qualities. But that’s forgivable, as it’s more important that Prasetya captures the vibe and spirit of the show.

But as good as Prasetya is in this environment, it’s cover artist Goni Montes that Power Rangers fans are truly in debt to. Rarely, if ever, have the Rangers had the sense of grandeur they have on his variant covers. The one shown above is simply the one I got at my local shop. If you’re a Power Geek, you owe it to yourself to check them all out.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #0, teensThe biggest complaint I can lob at this issue is something rather subjective. Higgins brings Mighty Morphin Power Rangers into 2016 by giving the teens cell phones, and some talk about how Billy “posted review notes to the server and sent a push notification.” That’s basically extremely vague social media language. It’s not an unforgivable sin, but these are the only moments that take you out of the issue. It’s a new element to this world, which was created in the ’90s, that we have to adjust to. And it’s a curious one. This stuff doesn’t add anything significant, good or bad, to the story. So why have it? A similar thing was done in Ghostbusters: Legion, then Venkman and the guys had cell phones. You don’t need them. So why have them?

We have two back-up stories in this issue. The first stars our old friends Bulk & Skull. It’s fittingly cartoony, and sees them torturing their school principal. It ends with them setting a goal, fittingly involving the Power Rangers. We then get another follow up, where the Rangers duke it out with Goldar in what unfortunately comes off as a pretty generic fight sequence. There’s nothing wrong with the writing or the art in the second back up. But given the depth of what Higgins and Prasetya had already given us, it pales in comparison.  I almost wish they’d just given us a few more pages of Bulk & Skull.

This issue is a prelude to a story being billed as “The Untold Epic of the Green Ranger.” Considering the quality of this issue, I’m already sold on it. Considering what we got with this issue, we may be in store for the best MMPR comics we’ve ever seen. That’s a bold prediction, but it’s merited. This issue is morphenomenal!

Images courtesy of craveonline.com.

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