What a great week’s worth of comics! Let’s just get right into it!
Go Go Power Rangers #1 (BOOM! Studios)
Licensed comics used to be a bit of a joke. With a few exceptions (like GI Joe and Transformers), you could count on a licensed comic just being a bit of fluff and fan service, with no real meat. BOOM! And IDW have both gone a long way towards breaking that perception though, and there is no better example than what Boom is doing with the decades-old Power Rangers franchise.
This series is launched as a companion series to the main MMPR series, currently in the middle of an absolutely epic storyline. Where that series started with the Rangers firmly established, and joined by the most popular Ranger of the franchise, Tommy Oliver, this series goes back to the beginning, kicking off literally hours (maybe even mere minutes) after their first-ever Megazord battle versus Goldar. It doesn’t feel regressive one bit though, instead creating a feeling not unlike Ultimate Spider-Man.
Ryan Parrott’s story is very authentic. The team feels like real high schoolers, grappling with crushes, bullying, and the high school pecking order, while also dealing with the fact that they are now superheroes. Ryan also does some great things with their personalities. For example, Zach is overly confident, while Billy is insecure, even in the Ranger suits. He also adds last page twist that captures a long-time issue with the franchise that’s NEVER been addressed on screen. Dan Mora nails the art. Just like their personalities fit their realities, so do their appearances. For the first time ever, I can believe that Billy Cranston is the youngest member of the team. The action scenes are great as well, and Rita’s cadre of monsters and henchmen look fantastic. Squat and Baboo are actually menacing for the first time ever!
This is just great superhero comics, and well worth your cash.
Rating: 9 out of 10
The Verdict: Subscribe
Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #5 (Marvel Comics)
There’s an old cliche out there- you can’t polish a turd. Mythbusters actually proved the literal meaning of that wrong, but the metaphorical meaning has been proven wrong over and over again by one comic book writer, who once again is in that situation. That writer is Peter David, who has been thrust into seeming impossible situations time and time again, and come out the other side with a beloved story.
The Clone Conspiracy, frankly, should have made Ben Reilly, the long-dead Spider-Clone, toxic. He had lost his mind and attempted to blackmail hundreds upon thousands of people. David and Mark Bagley took the challenge of what happened next, and well…
This story is good. Ben and Kaine Parker brawl through Las Vegas, while Ben tries to convince Kaine that he’s trying to turn himself around. Ben Reilly is flitting between redemption and self-serving, and it’s hard to settle on which he’ll end up pursuing. Meanwhile, Kaine has come through as one of the Spider-Family’s true heroes (though a hero with no reservations about killing, but still), a complete turn-around from where the two characters stood when they were introduced twenty years ago. Where the story falls a bit short is convincing us that Ben is genuine or not.
Frankly, this is a well-written and fantastically-drawn story with an unlikable protagonist. While it’s been interesting so far, I don’t know how much longer I can stay on until Ben redeems himself. This issue was a step in the right direction, but until Ben Reilly redeems himself more, the series is dropping down my list.
Rating: 7 out of 10
The Verdict: Buy if a Spider-fan.
Edge of Venomverse #3 (Marvel Comics)
So far this anthology miniseries has been okay but kind of disposable. The first issue was just NYX plus a symbiote, and was ultimately a pass. Last issue was a normal issue of Gwenpool with an alternate reality twist. This issue though, Si Spurrier, Tigh Walker and Felipe Sobreiro crank up the alternate reality shenanigans to 11 and have a blast.
SHIELD is transporting Dr. Calvin Zabo through New York City where he will stand trial for his crimes. The titular Venom shows up in page 8, but it feels much longer through how Spurrier builds what’s happening. The hapless SHIELD commander watches Zabo as attacker after attacker (including Octo-Squatch-Pool) arrives to attempt to kill him, until finally the “Host Rider” himself arrives. For the next 14 pages, the story is a pure bloodbath, with Host Rider battling SHIELD, Zabo’s would-be assassins, and eventually Zabo himself (who interestingly never transforms into Hyde).
Walker cuts loose in every panel, filling the issue with pure insanity. My one complaint about the art is that the Host Rider design leaned too far into Venom, instead of being a true amalgam of Ghost RIder and Venom. Sobreiro’s colors are a fantastic compliment to Walker’s art, saturating each panel with a pop-art feel.
Rating: 8 out of 10
The Verdict: Buy
Green Lanterns #27 (DC Comics)
Sam Humphries continuing run on Green Lantern is, in my opinion, one of the more underappreciated Rebirth books. In the past year he’s taken Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz, two neophyte Lanterns who frankly felt like a vanity project, and turned them into vibrant and exciting additions to the DCU. Jessica in particular has been great, with her growth and overcoming her obstacles becoming one of the best character arcs at DC since Wally West became the Flash.
In this issue, Humphries and his new series artist Ronan Cliquet kick off a cliche of superhero books, but really do a fantastic job with it. Jessica and Simon find themselves on Earth, roughly 10,000,000,000 BC (that’s right, that’s BILLION), with only one ring between them. The duo battle their unfamiliar surroundings to survive, and in the final moments of the issue are confronted by the first seven Green Lanterns.
Like I said, the plot is an old superhero cliche, but Humphries avoids a lot of that cliche by using an era never before explored in DC’s history, and not using the old tropes of paradoxes and the like. It’s a story of two characters scrambling to survive in an alien landscape, one that turns out to be their home. Cliquet jumps in with both feet for his part. He has a blast designing the weird creatures that inhabit the Earth of the far distant past, while Jess and Simon look great throughout.
In all, a great start to the next arc for one of DC’s more underrated gems.
Rating: 8 out of 10.
The Verdict: Subscribe
Faith and the Future Force #1 (Valiant Comics)
I really have enjoyed Jody Houser’s work on Valiant’s breakout star Faith Herbert. This week’s new event miniseries puts Faith squarely in the center of the Valiant Universe, as she’s recruited by Neela, the Timewalker, to save the timeline.
Houser is joined by superstar artists Stephen Segovia and Barry Kitson and the team knocks it out of the park. This is simply a fun comic. Houser plays with time travel tropes (and calls back to Neela’s early Valiant adventures), including references to killing Hitler, and travelling back to the American Civil War. It’s fun, bright and kinetic. One interesting thing the issue does is near the end, things go wrong and Neela has to pull a do-over. That’s when the art duties shift from Segovia to Kitson. I almost missed it but it was a great move.
It’s a great start to what’s clearly going to be a fun summer event!
Rating: 8 out of 10
The Verdict: Subscribe
James Bond: Kill Chain #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)
Andy Diggle has kind of stepped back from comics for a bit, but in Kill Chain, he’s returned, and in the spy genre he made his name in.
Diggle, with Luca Casalanguida and Chris Blythe, tell the story of a Bond romance gone wrong. James finds himself faced with a paramour, Rika Van De Havik, selling secrets to the CIA, while a mysterious third party intervenes and kills her before he can apprehend her. Being a Bond adventure, there are twists to it all, and it all moves at a brisk pace.
Casalanguida renders it all wonderfully, with a great eye for action throughout. The figures are all larger than life. It looks great. Blythe also knocks it out of the park with his colors, using a mostly muted palate, but adding splashes of vibrant color in the right place.
Unfortunately, the story is where the issues falls short. The plot is extremely standard Bond fare, and Diggle doesn’t do much to make characters or plot points stand out enough. I actually read the issue about a week before I wrote this review and found myself needing to go back and re-reading it because I couldn’t remember anything about the story.
It’s a story with promise, but I’m unlikely to give it another shot.
Rating: 5 out of 10
The Verdict: Pass