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A Go Go Power Rangers #1 Review – Scaling the Palace Walls

TITLE: Go Go Power Rangers #1
AUTHOR: Ryan Parrott
PENCILLER: Dan Mora
PUBLISHER: BOOM! Studios
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: July 26, 2017

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

There’s a reason it’s taken 20 years for us to get quality Power Rangers comic books. So many of today’s creators grew up with the show and have a special fondness for it. As such, this campy TV show that so many have dismissed as mindless fluff is now being shown an unprecedented amount of love and respect. You can see it in both the broad strokes and the smaller details.

Case in point, the first few pages of Go Go Power Rangers #1 takes us back to the events of the show’s premiere episode, “Day of the Dumpster.” The climactic point in the episode sees the Megazord take on Rita Repulsa’s henchman Goldar for the first time. In the end, Goldar retreats. He insists, “This isn’t over! I’ll be back!” With that, he throws his forearm horizontally across his chest and vanishes.

There’s a panel on one of those early pages that depicts that same line and pose (shown below). As a lifelong PR fan, little things like that make me so happy. It shows me our creative team is as passionate about this as I am. You don’t always get that with a licensed book like this. But when you do, it can be a beautiful thing.

Spinning out of the success of BOOM’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers title, Go Go Power Rangers kicks off at the tail end of “Day of the Dumpster.” Our five young heroes are adjusting to their new lives as superheroes. But before the battle lines are completely drawn in this ongoing battle with Rita, the Rangers take the fight straight to her doorstep. To save the astronauts that accidentally freed the evil empress, our heroes storm her moon palace head on. They wanted a fight. Now they’ve got one.

Go Go Power Rangers is apparently aiming to be more character-focused than its sister series, with a stronger balance between teenage drama and superheroics. This issue has an extremely positive indicator in that respect. Unlike virtually every other PR story from BOOM!, Go Go Power Rangers gets Zack right.

For some reason, both MMPR and Justice League/MMPR have often portrayed the Black Ranger as a sort of introspective brooder. I understand tweaking these characters for a modern audience. But that approach is the polar opposite of the Zack character. He was always warm, fun-loving, and enthusiastic. Ryan Parrott is the first writer I’ve seen at BOOM! who really taps into the spirit of Zack. I give him credit for that. But I can’t help but wonder why it took this long…

We also get an early morning scene with Jason training before school. It’s designed to give us a little bit of Jason’s background, and that’s all well and good. But I just like seeing him be so tireless and hardworking. It’s similar to what Kyle Higgins and Rod Reis were so successful with on their portion of MMPR Annual 2016.

This issue introduces us to a character named Matt Cook (shown below). He’s in the circle of friends with Jason and the others. But he obviously has no idea they’re superheroes. Matt also happens to be Kimberly’s boyfriend. By all indications he’s a good egg like the others. I almost feel sorry for him. He’s clearly about to be boxed out of the group. Sorry, dude. We can’t all be Tommy Oliver.

As a kid, I always wondered why the Rangers never took the Wizard of Oz approach and attacked Rita at her palace. It looks like this opening story is going to show us why. Mind you, it’s not simply an ambush. They’re trying to rescue the two astronauts we saw in “Day of the Dumpster.” In over two decades, it never occurred to me that those two could have been captured. It seems really obvious in retrospect.

When the team teleports directly in front of the palace, they’re met by an army (literally an army) of Putties. And of course, they later have Rita and Goldar to contend with. Dan Mora, along with colorist Raul Angulo, show us both the interior and exterior of the palace from a bunch of different angles. This includes the gloriously ludicrous neon “Bandora Palace” sign.

I was very impressed with what Dan Mora showed us in MMPR Annual 2017, and I’m still impressed now. Mora’s teens are much more expressive and animated than we’re used to seeing in MMPR. But his action sequences also deliver that same epic, awe-inspiring feel we’re used to getting. He’s very balanced in that respect. And of course, he still draws an awesome Goldar. Also, his rendering of the Megazord is one of the best I’ve ever seen.

I’ve touched on this before, but it’s somewhat uncomfortable for me to see the teens “modernized.” Even in the continuity of the show, MMPR is set in the ’90s. So it’s always going to be weird seeing them use smartphones and sporting modern looks (shown below). I get that it comes with the territory, and I don’t place blame on anyone for it. But it still seems weird…

The only updated look I take a bit of exception to is Jason’s. Something about the longer hair and the jacket rub me the wrong way. I’m not in love with Trini’s new hairstyle either, but it’s somehow less grating. Also, I just noticed Trini’s wearing glasses in the image below. That’s different.

Nitpicking aside, I enjoyed Go Go Power Rangers #1 as much as I’ve enjoyed any issue of BOOM! Studios’ MMPR series. Maybe even a little more. I admit, as a reviewer I’m likely biased when it comes to these books. As a fan, I’m so proud of everybody at BOOM! for what they’ve given us. Proud and grateful.

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A Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 2017 Annual Review – Growing Up

TITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 2017 Annual
AUTHOR: Kyle Higgins, Tom Taylor, Jamal Campbell, Trey Moore, Caitlin Kittredge
PENCILLERS: Goni Montes, Dan Mora, Campbell, Frazer Irving, Da Jung Lee. Cover by Montes.
PUBLISHER: BOOM! Studios
PRICE: $7.99
RELEASED: May 31, 2017

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

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I read a review not long ago, entitled: “You can’t force the things you loved as a kid to grow up with you.” It was in reference to the new Power Rangers movie. But the same idea can obviously apply to the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series from BOOM! Studios.

But perhaps certain things grow up better than others.

Last its predecessor last yearMighty Morphin Power Rangers 2017 Annual contains several short stories. What stuck with me after I closed this issue was how relatively mature it felt. Certainly by Power Rangers standards. Mind you, as a ’90s kid I’m inevitably biased here. I make no bones about that. But I think what this annual highlights more than anything is that MMPR can indeed work when played straight as a teenage superhero book. And it can work in a number of ways. You can go the moody teen angst route. You can approach it like a young adult novel. You can even go flat out dark. There’s something to be said for looking at these characters and this world through different lenses. Especially when you’re trying to play to readers that grew up with the show. The BOOM! that way before. This story also makes Rita look delightfully cunning, manipulative, and that much more wicked. I didn’t recognize Goni Montes’ work at first. I’d never seen him work in this style before. Those amazing helmet variant covers for MMPR #1 are still plastered into my brain. I have yet to get tired of his work on this book.

The next story, focused on the Yellow Ranger’s day off being interrupted by Goldar, is a preview of sorts for a second monthly MMPR title called Go Go Power Rangers. Series artist Dan Mora has a manga-influenced, animated style that should be a lot of fun. Author Tom Taylor (InjusticeAll-New Wolverine) isn’t on Go Go Power Rangers, but he’s perfectly serviceable here. Much better than his work on Justice League/Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, that’s for sure.

The clumsily titled “Forever Mighty Morpin Black” is next, written and illustrated by MMPR‘s regular cover artist Jamal Campbell. As both a continuity buff and a Power Rangers geek, this was a real treat. In the distant future, Adam Park, who succeeded Zack as the Black Ranger, returns to the ruins of the Command Center. He calls for help across time and space from other incarnations of the Black Ranger. What follows is a feast for the eyes, as variations of Zack and Adam arrive to fight off a monster. It’s essentially an Easter egg hunt for PR fans, as you spot all the little details and nods Campbell has sprinkled in.

But having heaped all this praise upon this issue,  it’s Trey Moore (Rachel Rising) and Frazer Irving that really steal the show. Seeing Irving doing PR is surreal to begin with. But in this context, it works. In last year’s annual, Moore gave us Goldar’s origin story. This year we get Finster’s. Moore and Irving give us what is essentially the first Power Rangers horror story. We see that at his core he’s an artist longing for inspiration, but he finds it and justifies it in the worst way imaginable. When he later is recruited by Rita to make monsters using a mystical, life-granting clay, he searches for vindication by attempting to resurrect someone he lost to his own selfishness.

There’s a haunting quality to this story that’s brilliant. I’m hesitant to say much more, for fear of taunting the big pay-off. But these eight-pages are among the creative highlights of BOOM’s run with the PR license. It’s that good. If you’re an older fan, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

My one nitpick with it? Finster’s line (shown above): “I’m not a bad person!” That struck me as awkward. It feels like it should have been “I’m not evil” or something.

The issue ends with a more cartoony tale about Goldar and Scorpina getting a day off. It’s more akin to a Bulk and Skull story. Goldar is able to disguise himself with human clothes and a baseball cap. It’s a hard swerve to go from the Finster story to this one. But it’s fine. This kind of stuff obviously has it’s place. Heck, this material is arguably more faithful to the tone of the television show.

A year later, I still have really fond memories of last year’s MMPR Annual. I don’t doubt that a year from now, I’ll still have fond memories of this one. It’s no accident that we’ve gotten things like a spin-off miniseries, and a second series in Go Go Power Rangers. BOOM! is producing quality. Not just quality nostalgia, either. Pure and simple quality.

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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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A Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Annual #1 Review – One Generation’s Garbage…

Mighty Mophin Power Rangers #1 2016TITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Annual #1
AUTHORS: Kyle Higgins, Ross Thibodeaux, Marguerite Bennett, Trey Moore, James Kochalka, Jorge Corona
PENCILLERS: Rod Reis, Rob Guillory, Moore, Kochalka, Corona. Cover by Goni Montes.
PUBLISHER: BOOM! Studios
PRICE: $7.99
RELEASED: August 24, 2016

***Click here for our review of the most recent issue of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

It’s funny what time reveals. Yesterday, August 28, marked the 23rd anniversary of the premiere of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. I remember being a kid in the early ‘90s and watching an episode of 20/20. They happened to be covering the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers phenomenon. The only con crete detail I recall about the report is that the news personality referred to it as “garbage.”

And yet, we’re still talking about it all these years later. One generation’s garbage is another’s inspiration, as illustrated by the collection of writers and artists brought together for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Annual #1. This issue gives us six short stories featuring the characters that first graced the small screen more than 20 years ago.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Annual #1, 2016, Goni Montes coverFirst up is series writer Kyle Higgins and artist Rod Reis with “A Week in the Life of…” spotlighting Jason, the Red Ranger. Per the title, we get some snapshots of Jason’s day-to-day life over the course of a week. The balance between the life of a teenager and the life of a hero is what I often find most interesting about these kinds of books. Higgins and Reis put Jason over like a million bucks, showing us just how dedicated he is. Reis nails it from the very first page (shown right) with a shot of the Red Ranger slicing through putties amidst a storm of some kind. Interspersed are inset panels of him at home, at school, and teaching karate class. The next few pages follow suit, and we end on a nice profile shot of Jason. The colors pop, each setting feels distinct, and Reis even gets Austin St. John’s likeness down pretty well. The issue almost peaks early with this one.

Riss Thibodeaux and Rob Guillory then give us a cartoony tale about Bulk & Skull becoming Rangers. In reading the Bulk & Skull portions of this series, I’ve found myself slightly annoyed wishing we could get back to the Rangers. Fittingly enough, that’s how I felt watching the show as a child. In a way that’s a great compliment to what Higgins and the creative team have done with this book. Still, no harm done here. It’s well done for what it is.

DC Bombshells scribe Margeurite Bennett tags in for a story about Trini facing a monster that tries to defend animals from humans. I was consistently impressed by how well some of these writers knew and respected the characters from this low budget kids show. A perfectly in-character Trini makes peace with the monster, convincing it they’re on the same side. Huang Danlan brings a nice Asian influence to things, and colors the story with mostly gentle yellows, pinks, greens, and blues.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Annual #1, 2016, its putty timeTrey Moore of Rachel Rising fame just barely wins the issue, pulling double duty for a take on Goldar’s origin story. His dialogue leaves something to be desired, and he gives Goldar’s brother the rather bland name of Silverback (though in all fairness, the show might have given him a similar name). But the ambition of Moore’s story is so great it almost doesn’t matter, even tying in story elements and characters from Power Rangers Zeo and Power Rangers in Space. We can’t deny Moore knows his Power Rangers.

Conceptually, this origin makes perfect sense for Goldar. We learn he comes from a pack of creatures that value power and strength above all, and he idolizes his older brother Silverback. In the end, Lord Zedd tests his loyalty by pitting his power and strength upbringing against his love for his brother. The end result is what you might expect, and it answers some questions as to how Goldar became so loyal to Zedd, but ended up in Rita’s service. It’s not perfect, but it’s a story to remember.

Next, we go to James Kochalka pulling double duty on a story about a putty patroller  falling in love with Kimberly (first page shown above). Again, not really the type of thing I look for in my superhero books. But there’s something to be said for diversity in a collection like this. It’s utterly skippable compared to its peers. But sure, why not?

Finally, Jorge Corona gives us a story about what the six heroes under the helmets have in common. The story has a nice heart, and Corona gives us some nice art here. At some points, however, his Rangers come out a bit…squiggly. Particularly in a group shot just after the halfway point. On the plus side, he draws a great Megaword.

Rob Guillory, MMPR Annual #1, Bulk & SkullOn cover duty is Goni Montes, whose work on MMPR has been positively iconic. This issue is no different. As far as I’m concerned, the more we see of him, the better.

At $7.99, this issue is a little steep from a price standpoint. But if you’re a Power Rangers geek, it’s worth it. Rarely have the Rangers been treated with such respect and admiration. By no means is it flawless. But its pros far outweigh its cons.

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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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