Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Comic Book Reviews - August 15, 2018

After a hiatus, it's time to return to the world of comics, where flashbacks are abound, villains are reaching the apex of their plans, and multi-colored superheroes get to make big speeches and punch monsters! So, really, I haven't missed anything.

Infinity Wars #2

Writer: Gerry Duggan / Art: Mike Deodato Jr. / Colors: Frank Martin / Letters: VC's Cory Petit 

Marvel's big 2018 event chugs on along with more twists, turns, death, and gorgeous artwork. This second installment still isn't all that easy to follow compared to the first, but things become quite a bit more linear as the story cuts away a lot of the fat and really hones in on what the rest of the series, it appears will be focused on: redeeming Gamora. This issue deals a lot with her and what she's going through as she begins to adjust to life with one of the Infinity Stones, and also shows the emotional and physical struggles that the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy are having when the fiercest warrior in the galaxy suddenly has her hands on the Power Stone and turns it into a sword!

This is definitely an issue that builds to a great ending with a bit of a slower paced beginning. There are some interesting aspects to the beginning, with some flashbacks to little Gamora's time with Thanos, and they do help shed light on why Gamora has had this sudden heel turn, but it also feels as if we've got a long way to go. The end of the comic is full of major twists that are quite surprising and if you have any interest in the series I recommend looking away from the Internet and checking out this issue because OH BOY if this comic won't make some head's turn when the media outlets start pouring out their reviews.

As good as those drastic moments were, though, Deodato's art continues to be the highlight of the miniseries. I'm so happy he's fully taking over art on this series because it's easily making it a standout Marvel event in the last few years. He draws everything with such great detail, though the page layouts can get in the way of focusing on the art a few times. I'm still not sure why the panels are broken up like that, but it's played to good effect most of the times this issue. Frank Martin's colors are also a treat, accentuating Deodato's heavy shadow work and bringing the characters to life. There's one absolutely STUNNING splash page that, if you were to take away the few word balloons, would easily make for a badass poster. 

Justice League #6

Writer: Scott Snyder / Art: Jorge Jimenez / Colors: Alejandro Sanchez / Letters: Tom Napolitano

Welcome to this week's edition of "I have no idea what's going on but I think I like this?" featuring the Justice League! As the opening arc of Scott Snyder's run on Justice League continues, it feels more and more like we're just reaching for big, grandiose things that have so little setup and make so little sense in relation to everything else. You'd think this would be a problem on a monthly book, but this is shipping every other week, so I should be able to remember everything. But there are just so many plot threads and brand new things being introduced that I have barely any recollection between issues of who is where and why.

Most of the new things introduced aren't even defined that well, like the Invisible Spectrum. What is it? How does it exist? What's the real difference between it and the Black Lantern Corps because, really, they seem like the exact same thing. Also, I'm still not entirely sure what Lex Luthor wants or how he found out about all of this stuff because, again, it hasn't been very well established. This feels and reads like a comic where everything is put on the table at once and it's exciting and fast and crazy and then when you stop to think about it you're swarmed with the surge of action and craziness that reminds me a lot of DC: Metal but not in a good way, because that got really confusing really fast. There are also some characters that feel completely superfluous and that's a little disappointing given how much hype there was around this being "the" team, and we've barely seen them interact.

Jimenez's art is still very good, it fits the action and tone of the story very well. This is the art I expect out of a book with this much weight and caliber. It's the Justice League for Pete's sake, you can't be slacking on it. I like how Jimenez draws all the characters and stays true to their designs but adds just enough of his own flavor to make it distinguishable from other artists that might jump on the book. Another major plus to the comic is the coloring work. Sanchez really brings it home when making colors clash, like the red of the Flash's suit against the green of the Still Force, or when characters are moving at high speeds or there's a bunch of light behind them he manages to keep the colors consistent and it helps the overall design of the characters remain fluid. 

Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers #30

Writer: Kyle Higgins / Pencils: Daniele Di Nicuolo / Inks: Simona Di Gianfelice / Colors: Walter Baiamonte / Letters: Ed Dukeshire 

Is this the best comic event in years? Yes? Yes it is. What Kyle Higgins, Daniele di Nicuolo, and BOOM Studios! have managed to do here is nothing short of incredible. Twenty-five years of rich, deep history and characterization is not wasted for a single second here. Be it with Commander Krueger teaming up with Zordon and Ninjor to talk to Rita Repulsa or Jason, the original Red Ranger, giving a rousing speech to the coming generations, or the heartwarming little moments between other Rangers meeting each other and sharing a tender moment before the big battle, this book has everything a fan of the franchise might want and then some.

It's one thing to play to the nostalgia of fans, to have their favorite Rangers and teams duking it out with a ton of enemies (shout out to the Psycho Rangers in this issue, I love you guys, you're the best, I hope somehow you manage to come back more often), but it's an entirely different thing to have not only a critical part of the issue focus on one of the current team members but to actually have a member of a FUTURE TEAM be a part of the celebration. Not to mention that the metal Ninja Steel plays a pretty key role in Lord Drakkon's new weapon, which was so great to see.

While it isn't the ultimate fan-fic dream of every Ranger fighting every villain, it's still better than most of the anniversaries we've ever seen in Power Rangers. I mean the one that comes closest in terms of quality is "Forever Red" but that's not done nearly to the scope and scale as this, and this has far more emotional weight on it considering the stakes. Drakkon, as an opponent, also stands as quite the force both physically and narratively. He, essentially, wants to become the ultimate Power Ranger, to make it all about himself; he's the antithesis of what it means to be a Power Ranger. Power Rangers has always stressed teamwork and believing in the team, not about the power at all. The power only comes as a complement to the team that it's built around. Drakkon doesn't believe in that at all, so having him as the ultimate bad guy for the story where every Ranger comes together doesn't just make sense, it's really cool to see come together. This issue, above all others, highlights that.

And it has phenomenal callbacks to previous seasons, especially in the way that Rita's plan to defeat Drakkon unfolds. The attention to detail here is something to truly behold.

But it's not just with the story, it's with the art. di Nicuolo absolutely crushes it on the costume front. Every Ranger looks exactly how they did in their original series and to see all of the different heroes fighting alongside each other is something that will never not bring a smile to my face. The action sequences can sometimes get a bit difficult to follow but when it's just a one-on-one fight it's all very pretty to look at. Not to mention that she plays around with some of the much-parodied cliches of Power Rangers to great extent. And there's one costume design that is gonna be long remembered that gets introduced here, and it's glorious. Walter Baiamonte also does great on the coloring front, especially in the action sequences, making already-great moments even better. 

Ninja-K #10

Writer: Christos Gage / Pencils: Larry Stroman / Inks: Ryan Winn / Colors: Andrew Dalhouse / Letters: A Larger World Studios 

Here we have a one-shot issue of Ninja-K, a rarity in a world where arcs dominate the super-hero industry, and it's not that memorable of one, unfortunately. It's certainly interesting to see another member of the Ninja programme and how it managed to mess them up pretty bad, but it doesn't really play out that well and just kind of...ends. I'm sure we'll see more of Ninja-H down the line, because he has an intriguing backstory and power-set, one that's rooted in the deeper parts of Valiant lore that don't get explored too much nowadays.

My problem here is that this feels like filler, but it's necessary filler if the plan from Gage is to return to Ninja-H down the line somehow. I suppose I understand why I came in now rather than later since Harbinger Wars II is going to conclude at the end of the month and we can't really move forward with major story developments until after all that has been dealt with.

The art by Larry Stroman was solid stuff, though. His design of Ninja-H makes him stand out among all the others we've come across so far and the action sequences involving he and Ninjak were solid stuff. His art reminds me of Trevor Hairsine in terms of facial expressions, but his characters seem a bit weighter, which is good as it allows them to feel realer and more grounded when they're fighting or performing crazy action sequences. Some of that probably has to do with Ryan Winn's heavier inking lines, which bring another level of definition to the character movements and expressions. Andrew Dalhouse, a staple for Ninja-K, isn't given all that much to play with since Ninja-H has a pretty dull color pallete, although I'm perplexed why Ninjak's outfit was dulled a bit? Sometimes I got the two confused, which made following the action a bit more difficult than it would normally be.

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