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General Mills Presents: Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice #2 [Review]

generalmillspresents_batmanvsuperman0002Field Trip

Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Federico Dallochio
Colorist: Jim Charalampidis
Letterer: Deron Bennett
Cover Artists: Gary Frank and Rod Reis
Assistant Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Alex Antone
Art Director: Larry Berry
Cover Date: N/A (found in cereal boxes in March 2016)
Cover Price: Free

This second issue of the “cereal comics” was a good deal more enjoyable than the first for me, despite raising a couple questions in my mind. One: what’s up with Superman’s belt? Is it actually a belt, or some sort of punctuated attachment at the waist? Because it does not seem to go all the way around, but there’s a piece on front and a couple of hints of it, but it’s not actually a belt, but there’s SOMETHING there. Second, when was the last time a comic had Bruce Wayne fairly prominent without Batman or any of the rest of the Bat-family? (Leaving aside this ostensibly taking place in the “DC Cinematic Universe”). To say nothing of–as a 35-year-old adult–the ridiculousness of any other adult (particularly a CEO of a major company) having no problem with some random/unknown student straying from a tour group.

The story itself is pretty simple: a middle school (junior high) class visits Wayne Enterprises; one student breaks off from the group and (conveniently) stumbles across a gang of thieves stealing Kryptonian technology. They have a jamming device to block communication signals–including cell phones–so the student is unable to call 911. Before she can be discovered by the gang, she’s found by Bruce Wayne who followed her to make sure she didn’t get into anything dangerous. Superman shows up to deal with the thieves, and Bruce declines to step out and meet the hero at this time, while he and the student agree to hold the secret of each having been anywhere near this action.

OK, maybe that wasn’t as simple when summarized, but it read quickly. Despite my “issues” with Superman’s costume, the oddness of seeing Bruce Wayne as Bruce Wayne (and not Batman as Bruce Wayne walking amidst the citizenry in-action/on a case), and the irresponsibility of the adults, this was an entertaining enough read, and more enjoyable to me than the previous issue.

I was surprised to see Christos Gage as the writer…a name I’ve not been overly familiar with for quite awhile, but whose work I’ve definitely enjoyed in the past. While it might have colored my perspective going in, I did not actually give the credits any attention until after I read this (hence the surprise) but it does explain my enjoyment a bit. This is definitely a comic geared more for a younger reader (especially middle school age). Outside of this being a continuity-free one-off story that doesn’t “matter” anywhere else, it’s actually pretty good for what it is. I’d be curious at someone reading it without any “comics experience” and their notice (or not) of Bruce Wayne, and whether it would bother them to have him without a costumed Batman on-panel.

I’m not familiar with Dallochio‘s name or art…but the art worked well here for this story. It didn’t blow me away, but it gets everything across that it needs to, and in and of itself did not distract me from the story (just that mental tickle of curiosity about Superman’s belt, but that’s a fault of the costume design and not the specific artist, in my mind).

All in all, I liked this issue, and if you get it in a box of cereal or otherwise come across it without significant effort, it’s certainly worth reading, or at least passing along to a young reader in your life.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (2016) #0 [Review]

[ UPDATE 1/19/2016: This review was written BEFORE learning that the covers for this issue are NOT equal-ratio. The Green Ranger cover is 1:50 and White Ranger 1:100…and while I enjoyed reading the issue and meant everything said in this review, my feelings and view on it have been sorely tainted, such that I will NOT be buying any future issues of the series, and will be actively avoiding Boom! Studios’ single issues moving forward .]

PowerRangers_000_Cover_GreenWritten by: Kyle Higgins
Illustrated by: Hendry Prasetya
Colors by: Matt Herms
Letters by: Ed Dukeshire
Covers by: Goni Montes
Designer: Jillian Crab
Assistant Editor: Alex Galer
Editor: Dafna Pleban
Published by: Boom! Studios
Cover Date: January 2016
Cover Price: $3.99

It’s rare these days, that I find myself truly “looking forward to” any single comic. I enjoy a handful of series and collected volumes, keep up with some stuff, only “check in” here and there on other stuff, but generally it’s either something I’m “already buying” on an ongoing basis, or a spur of the moment thing, an impulse buy.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers hits a certain “sweet spot,” though. I was 12 or 13 when the original tv series hit–the perfect age for it. And though I lost track of it after only a couple years–losing interest after the movie and the transition to a third set of Zords–in recent years the “nostalgia factor” has been quite significant–from the remastering of some of the original episodes (and a new round of action figures/Megazord to go with them) to the series’ availability on Netflix–I’ve “dabbled” in revisiting the property, old favorite episodes and such.

When I first saw some of the art for the covers for this issue, I was blown away–such bright, iconic images while remaining totally simple. Each is the respective Ranger holding his/her helmet, and we see their personal Zord reflected. For any fan of the Mighty Morphin’ crew, the helmets are recognizable, as well as what can be seen of the costumes, and that alone goes a long way. I tend to loathe variant covers, and will typically shy away from series in protest of numerous variant covers (having been beaten into relative submission on the notion of A & B equal-ratio covers for every single issue ever of all series from certain publishers).

I really, trully wish these covers were for this #0 issue and the first six issues of the ongoing series (or back covers, at least, a la Devil’s Due‘s early GI Joe issues). But like TMNT, I’ll make an exception here. The Power Rangers are a TEAM, this is a TEAM BOOK, so singling out each member of the team for their own individual cover usually drives me nuts. These covers are truly spectacular, and none would have the same effect if the images were all smashed together as a single cover. It’s a shame the books don’t come with bound-in posters of the covers–whether only slightly larger (a 2-page size) or significantly larger (4-panel fold-out). I would absolutely buy at least one or two (if not several or all) of these as posters. As-is, I am sorely tempted to track down all the covers to frame as a wall display. So cover-wise…choose your favorite Ranger(s) and go with that…any/all of the covers are fantastic pieces.

Story-wise…getting into the actual content, I’m initially not impressed. I let myself get hyped up, so I was expecting something that would completely and immediately blow me away. This is a new take on something major from my youth, a return, and has 20+ years of nostalgia to measure up to. Checking that extreme level of expectation…I like this. The story is good, and truly, arguably better than the actual execution of most any episode of the MMPR tv series I can recall. (Even at 12/13 I knew stuff was hokey and cheesey…campy). This takes the concepts, the coolness, and renders it in a modern setting (including contemporary smartphones) while keeping what would be expected of the characters.

This picks up early in the group’s tenure–they’ve only just recently defeated the Green Ranger (one of Rita’s bolder plans), and now Tommy has been given a place with the existing group…he is no longer the evil foe of the team…he has been welcomed as a full member OF the team. Yet still, he is haunted by images of Rita–taunting him, goading him, telling him that he’s a fraud, a fool, that he doesn’t belong, can’t belong–in this group. Questioned by Jason–the two are carpooling to school–he admits to anxiety…this will be his first day at school, as part of this group, as a Power Ranger. They meet up with Kim and Zack, and Billy and Trini, and the day begins. Meanwhile, Rita prepares her latest monster–Bullzer–to launch an attack on Angel Grove. As alarms sound and the school goes into emergency mode, our heroes spring into action. Rangers and Zords clash with the monster destroying the city…and amidst self-doubt, Tommy struggles to fit into his new team…as they struggle to work with the new dynamic. After the monster’s defeat, the team debriefs with Zordon and Alpha…while elsewhere, Scorpina and Rita meet…the former delivering a mysterious crystal to the latter, who has a new beginning in mind…which can’t bode well for our heroes, but we have to wait a couple months now for the launch of the ongoing series itself…#1 comes in March.

I really dig the art…this looks like a comic, feels like a comic, and yet the characters are recognizeable. This doesn’t seem to try to capture the exact likeness of the actors from 20 years ago…it works as its own thing, such that it would not be inconceivable to imagine the comic as the source material, with the live action stuff chosen to fit the “on paper” designs. It also looks so much more…authentic, effectively having an “unlimited budget” instead of a small tv budget for stuff. Campy as the tv material is, this can convey the monstrous characters as what they’re supposed to be…without just looking like actors in silly costumes…this is the best-looking I think I’ve ever seen Rita, and I look forward to seeing even more with the Zords and other monsters.

 

THE ONGOING ADVENTURES OF BULK & SKULL
Written by: Steve Orlando
Illustrated by: Corin Howell
Colors by: Jeremy Lawson
Letters by: Jim Campbell

This is a brief double-page sequence that sees Bulk and Skull in the Principal’s office, being scolded for all the trouble they cause him…just before their latest prank goes into effect. Encountering Kim and Trini as they leave the office and realizing the pretty girls seem to idolize the Power Rangers…Bulk comes up with a new (but sorta familiar-ish) scheme that will change all that.

I can’t say I’m all that “impressed” with this segment–it feels like “filler,” but it’s the sort of stuff we’d see in a tv episode…and I’d much rather have it as a “backup” piece or supplemental than interspersed in the main story, given the different creative team.
The art is a lot more cartoony than the main story…but I’m ok with that given the type of piece this is. It’s more of a comic strip, and works quite well.

WHAT TIME IS IT?!
Written by: Mairghread Scott
Illustrated by: Daniel Bayliss
Lettters by: Ed Dukeshire

This one is a brief 6-page piece depicting a battle between the Green and Red Rangers, and Goldar, while the rest of the Rangers are kept busy elsewhere. As the rest of the team tries to figure out where their troubled friends are, Rita uses her magic wand to “make her monster grow,” enlarging Goldar to a size that competes with the Megazord. As the Megazord burst onto the scene, Goldar gloats…forgetting that he no longer faces just the Megazord…there’s a Dragonzord to contend with, as well.

I’d much rather have the 6 pages as additional content in the main story…there’s really nothing special to this piece. Yet…as absolutely formulaic as the original tv episodes were, having a similarly formulaic (but cutting out the “Rangers out of costume” and “setup” stuff out) works well for me, as we get to start right at the “Rangers in action” stuff that I certainly craved as a kid.
The art is less impressive than the main story, but in the sense of being a general, formulaic piece to simply see the characters in action, it doesn’t bother me.

Final Thoughts

One of the things that stood out most for me in this was that we see Kimberly quickly split off from the Megazord assemblage to go rescue people from a collapsing bridge with her Pterodactyl Zord. I really don’t recall any significant use of the Zords individually in the tv show, aside from the Dragonzord or occasionally the Tyrannosaurus. That the individual machines are supposed to be powerful in their own right is often lost as the tv series would typically see the Zords summoned and immediately combine to form the Megazord. While obviously more exciting as a team, the “unlimited budget” the comic affords the property compared to recycled film opens up a whole new realm of potential that I would love to see explored.

This is “only” a #0 issue–we have to wait, now, until March (~2 months) for the #1 that kicks off the series properly as an ongoing book. The Bulk & Skull and What Time Is It portions of this issue stand alone as one-shot bits. The main story serves as prologue, and ends on a To Be Continued, strongly suggesting the first arc of the ongoing will be this “early adventure” of the group, while Tommy is still new to being the Green Ranger, and new to the team…before he’d gelled with them and become a more central part (and eventually the leader as the White Ranger). I’m glad this issue is only a couple months removed from the ongoing–I would be rather annoyed if there was a longer gap. This works, being available in January, and only one “skip month” before the series proper.

I don’t know that this issue will really “sell” anyone “new” on the notion of the Power Rangers…but the issue is certainly very much worthwhile to anyone who was a fan of the tv series (if only for the covers!), and to get a taste of what’s likely to come, to check out the notion of the MMPR in a comic again. Given that there are subtle updates to set this in the present, I would imagine this would also appeal to fans of other Power Rangers iterations who would enjoy any Power Rangers comic.

As for me…this is well worth the purchase price, and I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing how the ongoing series develops.

Red Thursday

Today, here in the United States, at least, it’s Thanksgiving.

Apparently it should be called Red Thursday, because as far as most things are concerned, apparently all businesses are in the Red, and so desperate to get into the Black that they absolutely, cannot possibly wait until AFTER today to have their big sales to draw people in and “finally” get to the “profitable” part of the year, or some such.

I feel I’ve shown my support by staying in with my family, and not going out and utilizing anything that would overtly cause someone else to not be able to stay in with theirs.

In other words: no Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Kohl’s, etc for me. I stepped a few feet out the front door to toss the trash into a big container in the driveway. Other than that: in with the family.

I might venture out tomorrow, but not until after I would normally already be at work. And I might spend some money, buy some “stuff” that I truly–honestly–do not NEED. But I’m not going for some $600 tv for $100, or a $500 tablet for $49, or some popular new-release movie for 50% off the overpriced $25-$30 mark. I might buy a couple randomish movies “on sale” for $3-4…essentially, the price of a comic.

But then, I might stay in. I got my new comics for the week yesterday. I got a stack of new Superman books from a clearance* table. I ordered a couple books online (through an online system and with zero “expectation” of receiving the order for another couple weeks–no instant-gratification there).

(* I was glad at the time to note the term “clearance” was used rather than “Black Friday” or such, particularly as it was WEDNESDAY, and as of this writing STILL is NOT YET actually FRIDAY.)

Maybe I sound preachy, and this post is certainly not my usual “comics-related content,” but today isn’t just another day.

What am I thankful for? Certainly more than I often feel. And much more and particular stuff than is presently, personally appropriate for this blog.

Tomorrow…back to the usual content. As I finally “accept” the “Season of Christmas,” which I have refused to do for the past month-plus with U.S. Retail largely “jumping the gun” and leaping into “Christmas” before we’d even gotten to Halloween.

“Stealth Release” JLA Movie?!?

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Never even heard about this, but stumbled across it at Target today…just over a week ahead of Justice League: War…

New Comics Haul 1/15

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This was probably my largest new comics week since all those ridiculous villains month issues back in September last year.

Quite a spread, too, with stuff from Valiant, IDW, Image, DC, AND Marvel all part of the haul…

TMNT Villains Micro-Series #6: Hun [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
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Story: 4.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5

Boom! Studios’ The Hypernaturals

Back in May, I reviewed the Hypernaturals Free Comic Book Day Edition.

Since then, I ended up deciding to throw in with several Boom! titles (Higher Earth and Extermination as well as this one) and though it lacks the familiarity of a Marvel or DC title, I’m quite enjoying this so far.

So far in this first arc, the Hypernaturals centennial team is feared lost, which means that a couple of retired team members are forced to come out of retirement, joined with a couple of didn’t-quite-make-the-team teens, as they set out to discover what actually happened to the newest team and rescue them if possible.

The first issue sees the “rescue team” come together and set out on their mission, where they get a really big clue as to what they’re up against. The second issue sees the team through their first battle together while flashbacks reveal more about the characters themselves and their motivations.

Story-wise, I’m enjoying this series on the whole. There are a number of characters, and while they are individually recognizable and stand out when I see them, I’m not yet all that invested in them, and character names don’t stick with me beyond actually reading the issues or paging back through FOR names. I like the somewhat super-hero feel to this series mixed with the “cosmic,” which makes a lot of sense since it’s written by Abnett and Lanning. The concepts and world-building have been interesting and make sense in their context, without making the environment overly “fantastic.” This is definitely sci-fi and all, but at its heart the story is familiar and timeless.

Walker, Derenick, and Downer make the whole thing look really good. This series looks like a standard super-hero comic–futuristic machinery, uniforms, the works. Given this is an entirely new series, nothing jumps out at me as being ‘wrong’ and I like the various character designs so far. In some ways, this puts me in mind of something vaguely Fantastic Four-ish with a definite hint of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

I also like the backmatter, as we (at least on the first two issues) have a double-page “interview” with one of the protagonists, allowing some further insight into the characters that just isn’t possible within the pages of the story itself. For what I imagine would be obvious reasons, these remind me a bit of Watchmen.

All in all, this is another new title from Boom! that I was hesitant on initially due simply to the $3.99 price point, but have recently thrown in with as an alternative to Marvel and DC. I’m not thrilled with the price, but it doesn’t bother me so much here as it does from standard Marvel and DC fare. So far, I’d say if you’re interested in stuff by Abnett and Lanning, this would be a great series to check out for something new from them that is not constrained by a corporate sandbox.

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