Indie Comics Spotlight: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers; I, Mage; Red Sonja

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By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

power rangers

“Everybody get ready! It’s morphin time!”

Back in the 90s, there was one property that effectively (and surprisingly) took the world by storm: the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The tale of five high school students tasked with protecting the world by way of innate martial arts and giant robots was a paean to Japanese anime of days past. Now, BOOM! Studios is taking readers back to those heady days in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #0. The issue is written by Kyle Higgins, illustrated by Hendry Prasetya, colored by Matt Herms, and lettered by Ed Dukeshire. “The Ongoing Adventures of Bulk and Skull” is written by Steve Orlando, illustrated by Corin Howell, colored by Jeremy Lawson, and lettered by Jim Campbell. “What Time Is It?!” is written by Mairghread Scott, illustrated by Daniel Bayliss, and lettered by Dukeshire.

After escaping Rita Repulsa’s mind control, Tommy Oliver, the Green Ranger, joins up with the rest of the Power Rangers to combat her never-ending evil plans. Any semblance of a normal life is gone for Tommy now, but with his newfound family there lies hope for a brighter path. Includes the short story from the San Diego Comic-Con exclusive Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comics and the first installment of a Bulk and Skull-centric adventure.

It’s been a while since the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers really held sway over popular culture as they did in their heyday; fortunately for readers, Higgins doesn’t miss a beat. The issue is written in a way that re-introduces readers to the characters (even if they’re not formerly familiar with them), showcasing the drama that comes with being in high school and defending the planet against extraterrestrial monsters. There’s a great sense of camaraderie amongst the characters and Higgins successfully taps into that to move the story forward. Having the plot revolve around Tommy is pretty interesting as well, with Higgins relying on it for the baked-in alpha competition between him and Jason. “The Ongoing Adventures of Bulk and Skull” and “What Time Is It?!” are more for the fans of the original series than anything, but Orlando and Scott do a great job of infusing them with the appropriate spirit.

There’s a distinguished look that the Power Rangers bear and Prasetya does a great job of tapping into that. Each panel is crammed with plenty of action, as Prasetya meticulously illustrates the characters with lots of detail. The battles between the Zords and their opponents feel brutal, with the Zords illustrated as effective extensions of the Power Rangers themselves. There’s plenty of frenetic action throughout as well, courtesy of the reliance on overlays and inset panels throughout. Herms’ colors are appropriately vivid and vibrant, promising that each Power Ranger maintains their signature colored look. Howell and Lawson offer a much more immature look in “The Ongoing Adventures of Bulk and Skull” that matches the lighthearted tone, while Bayliss’ work in “What Time Is It?!” has a nostalgic feel in its presentation.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #0 doesn’t really shy away from the property it’s rooted in. The premise is familiar to those who remember the show, yet the direction of the issue still manages to feel fresh. Higgins does a great job tapping into the property in a way that pays homage while also managing to strip away some of the campiness. The artwork by Prasetya gives the reader a great feel for the action and maintains the visual look of a camera following along with the action. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #0 is a great start to a series that revisits very familiar territory.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #0 is in stores now.

I, Mage #0

i mage

“Yes, something about the nature of magic appears to be nearly alive, and cannot withstand the presence of simulated A.I. life.”

Space may be the final frontier, but there’s something to be said for magic as well. As it stands, we have a much better understanding of the former than the latter. Blending the two together would only confound things further, even if it makes for interesting reading in I, Mage #0 from Action Lab Entertainment. The issue is written by Gary Turner; illustrated by Carlos E. Gomez; colored by Teodoro Gonzalez; and lettered by Jimmy Betancourt, Jaymes Reed, and Turner.

Kai comes from an advanced utopian society. His family signs on with a scientific mission to study a primitive world of magic. When an unforeseen accident devastates their vessel, Kai is separated from the rest of the crew. All aboard escape in life pods…all except Kai. With the protection of a loading dock robot, Kai survives the ship’s impact to the surface. He’s rescued by an apprentice magi and her quirky mentor. Together they’re Kai’s only hope of staying alive long enough for his parents’ return.

There’s an inherent simplicity to I, Mage #0 that gives it a family-friendly vibe. Turner characterizes Kai as something of a young rapscallion, attempting to navigate the difficulties of youth while living aboard a space station. The majority of the issue has Turner following along a day in the life of Kai, effectively laying out to the reader the setting and characters relevant to his story. In fact, at its core, much of I, Mage #0 capitalizes on the premise of bullying as a mechanism to propel Kai into his predicament. There’s also plenty of science fiction elements throughout the work as well, courtesy of the aforementioned space ship, but also because of the issue’s cliffhanger ending.

There’s a sufficient fantasy vibe to the artwork that further grounds the issue somewhere between science fiction and magic. Gomez illustrates characters with predominantly cartoonish appearances that seem to resemble the look of elves. Kai is depicted as a scrawny child, which helps to provide a stark visual contrast against the larger bullies making his life miserable. Gomez also manages to fill out the panels with plenty of background action, allowing the reader to better visualize the daily life on the spaceship and the ability for it to instill some sense of normalcy. The colors also add an appropriate level of futurism to the work, as Gonzalez relies primarily on whites and blacks to reinforce a relatively clean environment.

I, Mage #0 is an interesting premise that’s buoyed by an all-ages feel. There’s a sense that the story has a very ambitious direction it wants to trend toward and much of that groundwork is laid here. Turner’s script is pretty easy to read, although it does stumble a bit in terms of really getting into the depths of the world he’s exploring (nothing detrimental to the book itself though). The illustrations by Gomez are relatively clean and simple, presenting a friendly appearance that will appeal to readers of all-ages. I, Mage #0 is another feather in Action Lab Entertainment’s cap that blends together plenty of great genres in a very friendly format.

I, Mage #0 is in stores now.

Red Sonja Volume 3 #1

red sonja

“Sonja will not let you perish, not with the wolves of Khitai and Turan at the door.”

Red Sonja is a magnificent warrior. There’s no denying that point. The thing about being a warrior, though, is that you have to be fighting something to earn the warrior moniker. Dynamite Entertainment gives Red Sonja the day off, so to speak, in Red Sonja Volume 3 #1. The issue is written by Marguerite Bennett, illustrated by Aneke, colored by Jorge Sutil, and lettered by Erica Schultz.

Through the plains of Hyrkania, a message sweeps through the scattered peoples of the nation. Bells ring, horns blow, voices shout – the King is dying! Red Sonja rides to save the King from his doom as the powers of Hyboria crowd around to strike when the kingdom is weakest. But a dread new power rises from within Hyrkania’s own borders, bent on defending its homeland – no matter the cost, no matter what its people become. A defining chapter of the Red Sonja saga – dark, clever, vicious, and funny – as the She-Devil with a Sword must stop the rise of a brutal new regime…her own people!

For much of Red Sonja Volume 3 #1, the She-Devil with a Sword is bored. Bennett’s approach in presenting her with a peaceful kingdom is pretty innovative and offers a different side of Red Sonja. She doesn’t really get complacent per se as she scours the countryside looking for those in need of assistance. The problem with a peaceful kingdom is a warrior has trouble finding work, yet Bennett does tease there’s something grander at play by the end of the issue. Her pacing in this regard is pretty solid, as the reader follows along with Red Sonja as she hops from one non-event to the next.

The illustrative style by Aneke is one where Red Sonja’s features are very feminine in a way that somewhat glamorize her. Despite this, Aneke still manages to make her appear fierce and prepared for combat, not undercutting the core essence of what makes Red Sonja tick. There’s a particularly gnarly creature that Red Sonja squares off against in a two-page spread that really gives Aneke a chance to further explore Red Sonja’s savagery. Each page sports an abundance of varied panel layouts, with standard panels, overlays and insets all among the style used by Aneke. Sutil’s colors are pretty bold all things considered, especially when Red Sonja’s red hair cuts across the idyllic, green meadows.

Red Sonja Volume 3 #1 is nothing too far out of the ordinary for Red Sonja or those she encounters in her travels. The ending of the issue does offer some of the adventure and excitement she’s come to crave out of her life, as well as presenting a direction for the previously quiet tale to go in. Bennett’s handle on the character is sound as she taps into everything about her that makes her tick. Aneke’s illustrations are clean and do a great job of capturing all the action that’s part of a day for Red Sonja. Red Sonja Volume 3 #1 is a great issue that fans of the character will definitely want to check out, as it puts her in a slightly unfamiliar position.

Red Sonja Volume 3 #1 is in stores now.


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