Tag Archives: Steve Orlando

A Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 Review – What’s Our Motivation?

Justice League of America: Rebirth #1, 2017, Ivan ReisTITLE: Justice League of America #1
AUTHOR: Steve Orlando
PENCILLER: Ivan Reis
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: February 8, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This book is a little confusing. Historically, when DC has put out an alternate Justice League title, the group typically has a distinct mission or commonality that separates it from the traditional League. For instance, Justice League Dark had an obvious paranormal theme. The 2012 Justice League of America book was about the team serving America’s interests.

This new Justice League of America title is either about giving people “mortal” heroes they can relate to, or giving its team members a chance at a fresh start. Maybe both. The problem is neither of those concepts are sufficiently fleshed out to the point that they make sense. So there’s not enough there to get us invested in our heroes and make us care.

After the events of Justice League vs. Suicide Squad, Batman has recruited former Squad members Killer Frost and Lobo to be part of a new incarnation of the Justice League. He also recruits Black Canary, Vixen, the Ray, and Ryan Choi (protege of the Atom, Ray Palmer). He sets the team up at the Justice League’s original base at Happy Harbor. That’s about it in terms of what this issue gives us. Granted, that’s assuming you haven’t read any of the character one-shots that have come out. But there’s no looming threat, villain, or indicator of what the plot might be going forward. We get a Geoff Johns style page at the end that previews stories to come, but it’s nothing specific. That’s not to say the first issue of every team book needs such things. But without them, this one feels flat.

Justice League of America: Rebirth #1, Killer Frost, Batman, Ivan ReisThere are a few lines in this book about the new JLA not being “gods,” which presumably means they’re not as ultra-powerful as Superman, Wonder Woman, or the Flash. I like that idea. The problem is, this team doesn’t really fit with that M.O. In Justice League vs. Suicide Squad, Batman literally blew Lobo’s head off. He proceeded to grow it back. We also saw Killer Frost use her powers to incapacitate the League’s most powerful members. I’m not very familiar with this version of the Ray, but in the past he’s been virtually invincible. As for Vixen, we’ve seen her fly like a bird, harness the speed of a cheetah, and do any number of things that humans aren’t meant to do. So if the goal is to show people heroes that are “like them,” Batman and Ryan Choi are the only ones on this team who really belong. You can add Canary to the list if you’re a little more liberal about it. But most of these characters would be more than capable of holding their own against a Superman or Wonder Woman.

Then there’s the whole second-chance/rebuild-yourself idea. I understand that approach with Lobo and Killer Frost. He’s a killer and she’s a villain. But Vixen wants more of an image rebranding than anything else.Black Canary is seemingly there just to help supervise. And why exactly do the Ray and Ryan Choi need a fresh start, anyway?

In a first issue like this, there’s nothing wrong with strictly doing team-member introductions like this. But there’s a lack of consistency here that’s frustrating. These characters are all so different, which is a good thing. But when that’s the case, you usually need a strong commonality to justify putting them together. Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 doesn’t give us that. And without an intriguing enemy or opposing force, the premise of the series falls apart before it really begins.

justice-league-of-america_-rebirth #1, group shot, Ivan ReisOn the plus side, the use of the Secret Sanctuary, i.e. the “original” Justice League base in Happy Harbor is a great use of classic DC continuity. We get a nice full-page shot of the inside, showing us it hasn’t been used in some time. Batman calls it “a remnant of a bygone era.” I find that a little funny, considering when the New 52 started, superheroes had only been around for about five or six years. With this “Rebirth” initiative, the timeline is even more vague. So exactly how long ago was this bygone era?

Ivan Reis is no stranger to the Justice League, and he’s always going to turn in quality work. He’s complimented wonderfully here by inkers Joe Prado and Oclair Albert, and colorist Marcelo Maolo. What I found particularly striking here was Reis’ rendering of Vixen. She’s very much the stunning supermodel the story calls for. But Reis also gives her a nice edge. She’s gorgeous, but also hardened. In certain panels you can see that wild, animalistic side lingering behind her eyes. Simply put, it’s one of the best takes on her I’ve ever seen.

It’s just a shame it had to be in this book. Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 needed to hook us. It didn’t. We could have a great series coming our way. But JLA now has to work that much harder to win me back. Because as of now, I have no clue why I should be shelling out money to read it.

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A Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #9 Review – A New Room in an Old House

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #9, 2016TITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #9
AUTHORS: Kyle Higgins, Steve Orlando
PENCILLERS: Hendry Prasetya, Corin Howell. Cover by Jamal Campbell.
PUBLISHER: BOOM! Studios
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: November 30, 2016

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

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Can we talk about the Power Rangers movie for a second?

They’ve started showing the trailer in theaters, and a few days ago we got our first look at the movie’s Alpha 5 (yuck). For better or worse, it looks very much in the same vein as the darkened, CGI overhauls that franchises like Transformers, G.I. Joe, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles got. As such, it looks big, epic, mostly serious, and only slightly like the show I watched as a kid. As a longtime Power Rangers fan, that’s disappointing.

I bring this up because, like the movie, this Mighty Morphin Power Rangers book from BOOM! Studios is also big, epic, and serious. At one point in this new issue, the Tommy character finds himself in a life-threatening scenario. Thinking these are his final moments, he starts to ask the other Rangers to tell his mother that he loves her. That’d be a pretty intense moment for a Saturday morning kids show. But it works here. In fact, most of what we’ve seen in this series works. So why does MMPR work, but the Power Rangers movie looks so contrived?

power-rangers-movieI think a lot of it has to do with what seems to be an affection for the source material. Kyle Higgins, Hendry Prasetya, and this team are looking at this world through a different lens. But it still feels like the world and characters that we know. Everyone is in the same role, everyone looks and talks (mostly) the same, and the suits and zords are the same. But it feels like we’re breaking new ground. This series almost feels like magically finding a new room in a house you’ve lived in for years. Whereas the Power Rangers movie feels like a different house, built to vaguely look like the old one.

Even when we’re introduced to an element exclusive to the book, it feels like it’s cut from the same cloth as the show. Case in point, Black Dragon, and the mysterious new Ranger we meet at the end of issue #9.

By splitting Tommy’s powers, Jason, Kimberly, Zack, and Trini have regained access to the Morphin Grid. They once again have their powers and words, albeit with a green tint. Now they must rescue Billy from Dark Dimension and defeat Black Dragon. But during the battle, they learn this new enemy is not all that he seems. This new revelation will lead two Rangers to discover a new world of peril. Literally, a new world.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #9, Black DragonThe big news from this issue is the introduction of our comfy friend on the right. He’s obviously a mix of the Green and White Ranger (designed by Jamal Campbell), with some nice little additions thrown in. The Black Dragon we’ve seen previously is apparently an empty vessel. We find this mysterious Ranger in another plane of reality, which is dark and decimated, and features big statues of Rita and the Green Ranger. My guess is this is alternate-Earth Tommy, who was somehow victorious with Rita as the evil Green Ranger, and then turned on her to rule the world on his own.

This has been treated as a big reveal, with BOOM! advertising it as the first new Ranger introduced to the MMPR world in over two decades. Indeed, it’s pretty damn cool. With this new Ranger comes a new sandbox for writers and artists to play in, and a boat-load of new story possibilities. I’m guessing (and hoping) this is what Higgins was referring to when he talked publicly about not sticking to the show’s continuity.

Turning the other Ranger costumes green is a neat gimmick. Power Rangers fans like little tweaks like that. Colorist Matt Herms pulls it off very well, and Campbell even gives it a certain grandeur on the cover.

The superhero action stuff is where Prasetya really excels, as opposed to the quieter moments with the teens. So this is a big issue for him. There’s a fantastic splash page (shown below) where the Red-turned-Green Ranger teleports in, with the Tyrannosaurus Dinozord and the Eiffel Tower in the background. There’s a great shot where Black Dragon has his back to the camera as the zords advance. There are also a lot of great little things, like a rubble effect around the Dragonzord’s face when it takes a punch.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #9, 2016Higgins also has a nice handle on Goldar. Via some convincing, he actually releases Billy from the Dark Dimension so he can help the Rangers destroy Black Dragon. When it’s revealed Black Dragon is a robot, the idea is to let Billy dismantle him so that Goldar can take his spot back at Rita’s side. It’s shades of the dynamic he had with Tommy during “Green With Evil.” What made Goldar so intriguing was that while he worked for Rita, and was ultimately loyal to Lord Zedd, he had his own agenda. In this series, and the Pink miniseries, we’re seeing him act on that agenda. The only hole I can poke in the Dark Dimension stuff is why Goldar is so transparent with Billy. Agenda or no agenda, Billy is still his enemy.

Steve Orlando and Corin Howell are also back with more Bulk and Skull. While these back-ups haven’t done much at all for me, But the inclusion of Rita in this one offers a little more intrigue. And this story about Rita wanting the boys to control a monster does seem like something that might have happened on the show.

I admit, I’ve been nervous about this book since Higgins said that continuity stuff to Newsarama. We’ve got such a good thing going. So when the writer says something like that about the continuity that everybody knows and loves, I get antsy. With this alternate reality stuff, he’s found a nice way to have some fun and sell a lot of comics. I’m just hoping the fun continues.

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A Batman: Night of the Monster Men Review – Hollow Monsters

Batman #7, 2016, cover, Yanick PaquetteTITLE: “Batman: Night of the Monster Men”
AUTHORS: Steve Orlando, Tom King, Tim Seeley, James Tynion IV
PENCILLERS: Riley Rossmo, Roge Antonio, Andy MacDonald
COLLECTS: Batman #79Nightwing #78Detective Comics #941942
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
CUMULATIVE PRICE: $17.94
GRAPHIC NOVEL RELEASE: March 2017

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

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This “Night of the Monster Men” crossover boasts an extremely talented group of writers and artists, stars Batman and some of his more popular allies, and is even inspired by one of the very first Batman stories. It also began a week after DC “killed” Tim Drake. So there was a lot of potential here for a creative, emotional, thrill ride.

Yeah, none of that happened. “Night of the Monster Men” feels like your wife dragging you to one of your friend’s weddings. It’s an obligation you’re stuck with, so you try to make the best of it. But in the end you’re just happy to get the hell out of there.

Running through BatmanNightwing, and Detective Comics, this story sees Hugo Strange create giant monsters that attack the city. Much of Batman’s surrogate family gets wrapped up in the chaos. But despite all the innocent lives that hang in the balance, Strange’s entire plot is about Batman himself.

Batman #1, Professor Hugo Strange and the Monsters, 1940, Bob Kane and Bill FingerAll this Hugo Strange/Monster Men stuff is inspired by a story from 1940’s Batman #1 entitled “Professor Hugo Strange and the Monsters.” It’s a respectable early outing for the Dark Knight by Bill Finger and Bob Kane in which Strange creates a bunch of big ogres to terrorize the city. Matt Wagner took the same cue for his 2006 miniseries Batman and the Monster Men, which was exponentially better.

“Night of the Monster Men” suffers from a variety of problems. But chief among them is a lack of emotional stakes. That’s an odd problem to have, considering what just happened with Tim, and how many of Batman’s surrogate family members are in this fight. In the first issue, Batman repeatedly emphasizes that no one else is dying. This gives the impression that we’re going to get an overprotective Batman, frantically trying to micromanage the efforts of his partners to keep them from dying. This would be futile, of course. But it would have made a great emotional backdrop. We also had the perfect cast for such a story, with Bruce having recently trusted Batwoman to train this new crop of young heroes. And of course, we’ve got his original partner, Dick Grayson. Hugo Strange’s motive also would have been more poignant.

Instead, we mostly get a story about Batman fighting monsters. Monsters created from cadavers, no less. We can’t even go the route of, “Don’t kill the monsters! They’re people!” Later, two of our heroes are turned into monsters, but they don’t mine this for much emotion either.

Granted, they’re cool looking monsters. “Night of the Monster Men” enlists Riley Rossmo and Andy MacDonald, both of whom excel in the fantasy/horror side of things. We also have they very capable Roge Antonio, who give us a nice blend of horror and naturalism. Instead of going the ogre route, the story mostly opts for a mix of mutant aberrations and giant kaiju type monsters. They’re fun to look at, but they’d be more fun if they were more than mere physical threats to our heroes Batman. There’s little of any depth or substance to them, and what the final issue attempts to pass as such via Strange’s motivation doesn’t connect in a meaningful way. (That monster represented fear? But weren’t we supposed to be afraid of all of them?)

Detective Comics #942, monster two-page spread, 2016So instead of a coherent crossover that ties into and takes advantage of Batman’s fragile emotional state, what we essentially get is a bunch of fluff that they attempt to tie together at the end with some psych mumbo jumbo. It’s all so hollow.

“Night of the Monster Men” also suffers from being a little too long, and a little too crowded. The story struggles to give Spoiler and Orphan something to do in all of this. Like Booster Gold in his Justice League Unlimited episode, they’re mostly relegated to crowd control. There’s a cave sequence (not that cave) involving Spoiler, Orphan, and Harvey Bullock that largely feels like padding. If they’d cut that out, along with the ridiculous scene where our heroes use giant guns and harpoons on top of buildings (conveniently adored with the heroes’ insignias) to stop a monster, they’d probably have been able to trim this down from six issues to four. Five at most.

Nightwing #8 and Detective Comics #942 also make full use of the “Hugo Strange dressed as Batman” trope, as we learn that Strange himself wants to be Batman. A fine motive, though not necessary in this case. “Night of the Monster Men” would have worked fine as Strange’s attempt to spotlight Batman’s inadequacies and force him to hang up the cowl, in the process pouring salt in the wound left by Tim’s departure. Perhaps the urge to use the only piece of classic Batman/Hugo Strange imagery was too intense. Admittedly, at that point I was just happy we were finally getting a scene between two human beings, as opposed to hollow monster battles.

batman-clayface-suit-detective-comicsOn the upside, this story makes fine use of Clayface’s new status as one of Batman’s allies. He plays a practical role at first, spreading himself out to guide people out of the city. He also plays an integral role in the finale. But his highlight here, and one of the highlights in “Monster Men” as a whole, comes in Batman #8. As the Dark Knight is about to face one of the monsters head on, Clayface envelops him, effectively becoming a suit of armor. Does technically this fall under the banner of giant awful Batman robots/armor? Absolutely. But the execution is unique enough that it gets a pass from me.

“Batman and the Monster Men” offers good showings from the artists attached, and a bright spot here or there. But by and large, this was a turn off and a waste. Nightwing and Detective Comics were both on a solid course up to this point, and things were starting to look up for Batman. Hopefully we can get back to our regularly scheduled programming in short order.

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A Detective Comics #941 Review – The Dead Robin Trope

Detective Comics #941, 2016, coverTITLE: Detective Comics #941
AUTHOR: Steve Orlando, James Tynion IV
PENCILLER: Andy MacDonald. Cover by Yanick Paquette.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: September 28, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thus far, “Night of the Monster Men” has left me uninspired. Certainly not what I was hoping for after what happened with Tim Drake last issue.

The plot of this Batman/Detective Comics/Nightwing crossover is pretty straightforward. Professor Hugo Strange is unleashes a bunch of giant monsters on Gotham City. All the while, a hurricane threatens to hit the city during the attack. Batman, Batwoman, Nightwing, Gotham Girl, and various other members of the surrogate “Bat-Family” are truly in a battle against he elements. But in the wake of Tim’s “death,” the Dark Knight is having trouble allowing others to take the risks necessary to save lives.

Before we get into this issue, or “Night of the Monster Men” as a whole, let’s talk a little bit about what happened to Tim. Rumors of his demise are greatly exaggerated. During the events of Detective Comics #940, he attempted to sacrifice himself in the battle against Jacob Kane and the Colony. But the mysterious Mr. Oz, who we’ve previously seen interact with Superman, captured him. Now everyone, including Batman, believes Tim to be dead. By and large, the whole thing was well done. The art was engaging. The writing was impactful. It was a nice way to put the character on the shelf for refreshment, while also paying tribute to him.

Batman #1, portrait shot, Greg CapulloBut part of me really wishes they hadn’t done it.

I understand there are only so many routes to take with these  superhero characters. At some point, everybody’s going to have a brush with death. But now, all four characters that have been the official canonical Robin have either been killed off, or thought to be dead by almost everyone in their universe. Even Stephanie Brown, who was only Robin for about a month, has “died” and come back. What’s more, most of it has happened in just the last five years.

Let’s look at the timeline…

* 1988: Jason Todd is killed by the Joker in “A Death in the Family.”
* 2004: After a short stint as Robin, Stephanie Brown, a.k.a. the Spoiler, fakes her death.
2013: Damian Wayne is killed in battle by Heretic.
* 2014: With Batman’s help, Dick Grayson fakes his death and joins Spiral.
* 2016: Tim Drake is captured, presumed killed after a fight with the Colony.

The concept of Robin is pretty hard to swallow. It’s always been fun, but if you look at it in a real world context, there’s a definite creep factor to it. This Dead Robin trope ups that creep factor considerably. What we have here is a man continually enlisting aids from these boys, who eventually age out of their role, and all have the same black hair style. And eventually, they all die violently.

Detective Comics #941, 2016, Nightwing, Gotham GirlAm I getting carried away? Maybe. But at the very least, the storytelling in these Bat-books is getting repetitive. I’ll at least credit Tynion and the Detective Comics crew for doing it better than it’s been done in awhile.

“Night of the Monster Men” feels like it’s going to be an examination of the trust Batman puts in his partners, which he’s reconsidering after what happened to Tim. At one point in this issue, Batwoman tells him he’s in a situation he can’t control. Our hero’s response is: “I refuse to accept that scenario.”

What’s happening in Batman’s head is, thus far, the most interesting element in all of this. The trouble is there isn’t much more to latch on to in terms of meat. At least not yet. The monsters look cool enough, but we see they’re somehow created from cadavers. So while they’re obviously very threatening, we’re not invested in them much more than we would be mindless foot soldiers or zombies. Thankfully, that changes at the end of this issue.

This is my first exposure to Andy MacDonald’s work. But he and colorist John Rauch give everything a nice texture, and make solid use of splash pages and larger panels to show off these Godzilla-ish monsters. Our creators also don’t hesitate to use “They’re not alive? Let’s rip ’em to shreds!” logic when it comes to Gotham Girl fighting them.

“Night of the Monster Men” seems like a summer blockbuster that arrived late. Thus far, like many a summer blockbuster, it’s heavy on the action, but low on substance. As we’re halfway through, that doesn’t bode well. We’ve got some really good talent on these books, so I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. But I don’t have high hopes.

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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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A Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #2 Review – This Time, It’s Personal…

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #2, coverTITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #2
AUTHOR: Kyle Higgins, Steve Orlando
PENCILLER: Hendry Prasetya, Corin Howell. Cover by Jamal Campbell.
PUBLISHER: BOOM! Studios
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: April 6, 2016

***Miss the first two issues? Check out issues #0 and #1.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

It’s quite obvious that Kyle Higgins was an MMPR fan growing up, and as such is a perfect fit to write this series. How can you tell? Because he’s showing us things we always wanted to see on the show, and taking us places we’ve always wondered about. Case in point, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #1 shows is the inner workings of the Dragonzord, and then gives us a confrontation inside Tommy’s home.

It’s not easy being the Green Ranger. Tommy continues to be plagued by visions of his former master, Rita Repulsa. What’s more, he’s having trouble getting the Dragonzord to respond to his commands, tensions are rising between he and his teammates, and now Rita’s minion Scorpina has invaded his home. Something’s got to give. Unfortunately, it may be Tommy himself.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #2, 2016, Hendry PrasetyaLast issue ended with Scorpina appearing in Tommy’s room. In this issue she ups the ante, threatening his oblivious mother. This was one of those logic holes in the TV series. “Why doesn’t Rita just go after them at home and attack their families?” While it’s unclear why Rita hasn’t tried this before, it’s clear she’s crossed a line. Tommy neutralizes the threat to his family quickly by simply hitting his communicator and grabbing Scorpina, teleporting them somewhere isolated, presumably in Angel Grove Park. I’d enjoy knowing how he did that. Did he just have to think of the park?

Our opening scene also expands on the events of the show, as we see Billy and Trini working inside the Dragonzord. We also get an exchange in which Billy self consciously refers to Tommy as “another fighter,” clearly feeling left out and inadequate by comparison. This leads to Trini giving him a pep talk, in which she calls him “the most amazing person I’ve ever met.” If you watch the old shows, there always seems to be a touch of romantic tension between Billy and Trini, even through I suspect it’s not intentional. Are we finally going to see that addressed here? If Higgins and Prasetya are game, I’m game.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #2, Hendry Prasetya, Dragonzord

Prasetya continues to excel at drawing Power Ranger style action sequences, and Power Rangers stuff fin general. His rendering of a sleeping Dragonzord (shown right) is absolutely gorgeous. The quieter dialogue scenes also come off better in this issue. The character acting hasn’t been Prasetya’s strong point thus far. He seems more comfortable when he’s allowed to be more cartoony, i.e. Bulk & Skull scenes. But with characters that have to play it straight, like the teens, Prasetya struggles. But the exchange between Trini and Billy is strong. There’s also a two-page scene that simply consists of Kimberly meeting up with Jason after a karate class, which is well done. Naturally, I suspect as Prasetya spends more time with these characters, the better he’ll get at this sort of thing. Higgins understands their personalities (or at least what the show established of them) to a T. So the pressure is on him to keep up.

As expected, we also get more of “The Ongoing Adventures of Bulk & Skull” from Steve Orlando and Corin Howell. I can’t say I’m in love with this stuff, but it’s harmless fun.

Higgins’ writing style for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers definitely evokes memories of Chris Claremont’s work on Uncanny X-Men, and Marv Wolfman’s work on The New Teen Titans, both monumentally successful teenage superhero books. The presence of a “danger room” last issue not withstanding, Higgins has established a surrogate family dynamic among the Rangers, which has been an integral ingredient to the story he’s telling. Given the tone of the TV show, that’s a great way to play things. As history indicates, it opens some great storytelling doors.

Hopefully, this is only the beginning.

Image 1 from snappow.com. Image 2 from tokunation.com.

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