From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, No.159
Hello regular readers of From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! Hope you all have been rocking out, and for those who are newer around these parts of the interwebs, welcome to our all ages comics column. I have been on a little hiatus a tad bit longer than expected as our regular readers may have noticed. It started out because I got married and then skipped off into the sunset on a honeymoon. Things seemed perfect, however, just as I was prepping to come back from the honeymoon I received word one of the young actors who I’ve directed was no longer in this world, and the abrupt shock rendered me from one emotional height to a complete polar opposite. There just wasn’t a good time to write down a column for you. In a one week span composed of marriage to burying a friend, it was like a film in accelerated motion for me. However, now that the dust has settled a bit, my writing groove is slowly getting back into motion, and here we are again finally, so thanks to you who might have missed us while this column has been sleeping for a few weeks. Now, let’s get down to talking about comics!
Twenty years ago a certain show aired on Fox Kids. This show, which took Japanese action footage and re-cut it with scenes of American actors, would surprisingly become a huge hit among kids, ousting the Ninja Turtles (who were the top kids heroes at the time), and creating a whole generation of viewers who wanted to watch everything from giant monsters to samurai flicks. That show was called The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
The show has lasted for 20 straight seasons this year, from numerous power changes, to being produced by Saban to Disney and back again, and the latest incarnation as we celebrate its 20th year is Power Rangers Megaforce. Papercutz, publisher of plenty delightful titles, like the Smurfs comics, continues its series of graphic novels which adapt the latest Rangers on air to our favorite medium around these parts, with volume 3 “Panic In The Parade.”
We get two adventures for the price of one in this book. In “Panic In The Parade,” we follow our latest group of Rangers who are five teenagers that have been summoned by the supernatural guardian Gosei to fight off the invasion of the evil aliens known as the Warstar. On the day of the town’s anniversary parade, Vrak disguises himself as a human and confronts Emma, asking her why he shouldn’t destroy humans. Meanwhile, another group of Warstar aliens led by Creepox attacks the parade, and our other four Rangers morph into battle. When the monster known as Wastaro awakens and begins to power up, it becomes a question of if the Rangers can win without Emma. I won’t give away anymore spoilers for how the rest plays out. The graphic novel also contains the back-up story “Game On!”, in which Jake and Noah skip a Ranger training session to attend a gaming convention. There, Jake discovers Vrak on a scouting mission, and after a short confrontation, Vrak hatches a plan to battle the Rangers using a monster controlled unknowingly by a video gamer.
The story and art work great together. Petrucha’s writing feels at home with the numerous TV adventures the Rangers battle through, giving both tales a chunk of action with a few beats of humor throughout. Marcondes’s art looks great. Like the previous volumes in this series he gives it a slightly Japanese manga/anime vibe, feeling right for the source material and not looking too over-the-top (there are plenty of bad looking Ameri-manga titles out there that I’ll avoid listing here). The only weakness with the stories is that the giant zord/monster battles feel a little short. There is no lack of Ranger action, but especially given the way Marcondes’s art looks, it would be great to see him draw a nice lengthy giant robot battle.
Volume 3 of Power Rangers Megaforce is out now from Papercutz. For fans that haven’t heard, Papercutz will doing a second series in 2014 in addition to this, that will follow the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, so be on the look out for that, too!
To end on a personal note, I have to admit that the Power Rangers hold a special place in my heart. Because I loved it and its giant robot versus monster battles so much, my Mom bought me a Godzilla vs. Mecha-Godzilla videotape, which opened a world of obsession with Japanese entertainment, culture, and history. Eventually, combined with my love of anime (a separate discovery story I’ll save for a different column), I began studying the Japanese language, and eventually my love of manga led me back to giving American comics a second chance. Every time I converse with my friends in Japan, I can blame that on a TV show that started to air in 2nd grade. When I think of the chain reaction of things that have happened in my life and how they all pin-point back to a moment in time when I watched MMPR, it’s crazy to think how very different everything would have turned out if it never existed. Baby boomers have Star Trek. The Millennials have the Power Rangers. The depths of pop culture impact on the generation is an undisputable fact.
That’s it for this week, see you next week!