Best Shots Advance Reviews: POWER RANGERS - AFTERSHOCK, SPACE RIDERS: GALAXY OF BRUTALITY #1

"Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality #1" preview
Credit: Alexis Ziritt (Black Mask Studios)
Credit: (BOOM! Studios)

Saban’s Power Rangers: Aftershock OGN
Written by Ryan Parrott
Art by Lucas Werneck with Robert Carey and Joana LeFuente
Lettered by Jim Campbell
Published by BOOM! Studios
Review by Jake Baumgart
‘Rama Rating: 4 out of 10

Comic book adaptations of films and TV shows is tricky business. There is a balance to capturing the relatity of the inspiration why still conveying what makes it unique. Unfortunately, unable to harness the charm of the invigorating feature film, Power Rangers: Aftershock is as clunky and dull as the new Putty Patrol. A bare-bones script by Ryan Parrott distills the plot beats from the recent movie but doesn't add much of a twist. The real excitement in Power Rangers has always been the fight scene, but artist Lucas Werneck has a hard time bringing the action. A lot has been made about the Power Rangers' latest update in theaters and the turn towards a grittier tone. In a lot of creative minds, that means striping away any brightness or levity in lieu of modern issues and a desaturated color palette. Unfortunately, Saban's Power Rangers: Aftershock falls into this way of thinking.

One of the most obvious failings in the book is how closely the plot adheres to the formula of the original TV show. There are a few detours here and there with an A.R.G.U.S.-like intervention by the government and a side story about Zack's insecurities. None of these diversions sink their teeth into the reader. Beyond these, Ryan Parrot's script sticks closely to the monster-morph-Zords-Megazord structure without taking the opportunity to dive further into the characters, their word, or take the story out of the ordinary. The makes the comic a quick read and doesn't linger with the reader.

Aftershock has the unfortunate luck of being packaged with Kyle Higgins' Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #1 and the comparison leaves the first story looking rather stripped-down. Part of what made the latest Power Rangers film so successful was that the movie took most of its two-hour runtime to develop the five teenage superheroes. Ryan Parrot's script piggy-backs off the groundwork that was laid, and rightly so, in the follow-up. However, it's the little details that that made the characters feel so real in the film that are lost. Jason gets the most time to develop in the story, but Parrot can't seem to translate Dacre Montgomery's voice to the page. Instead, Jason comes off as shallow and surface level about everything he struggles with. Zack is similar in that, after the inciting incident for the young hero, he spends the rest of the story out right saying how he needs to get strong while he trains. Meanwhile, Trini, Billy, and Kim get the least amount of attention and this religates them to one-liner machines. Trini is the worst perpetrator of this - every line is dripping with an unnecessary layer of teen angst.

There is no doubt about it - capturing the likeness of a real person for a comic book is very tricky business - sometimes artists go for it, other times they choose to avoid it all together. It seems like, in Aftershock, Lucas Werneck couldn't decide which to choose. Characters like Kimberly and Trini look like the artist is attempting to copy the actors's likeness - in particular, he often does a great job with Kim. However, like in the case of Jason, Billy and Zach, they are relegated to square-chinned generatic superhero types.

Lucas Werneck's frame and direction of the story is good. What could have easily been a collection of splash pages does have its quiet moments and Wernerk directs them proficiently. Of course, what orginally sold the franchise to millions of millenials was the action scenes. Unfortunately, Werneck's characters are so stuff they might as well be action figures, such as when Zach is first training in the ship. There doesn't seem to be any motion or intention with the Rangers as they punch and kick their way through the motions in this comic. It would also appear that very little was invested in setting a tone with the background as well. Most scenes are left to interpretation and a washed out gradiant in the background. Matt Herns colors are the most guilty of falling into the "gritty" trap by using a color palette so muted that some of the very fun of Power Rangers, the colorful costumes, is so vaguely defined its hard to tell them apart at times.

What makes a child leave Power Rangers behind as they grow up? Maybe the stories just become too predictable or formulaic? Maybe there imaginations are just aren't inspired as much as they used to be when the heroes and mosters are on screen? If this is the case, then Saban's Power Rangers: Aftershock commits the sin of taking the fun and excitement of Power Rangers. The OGN doesn't subplant the establishment for a all-too serious vibe or graphic modernism. No, instead, the charm of both the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and the new movie are just absent.

Credit: Alexis Ziritt (Black Mask Studios)

Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality #1
Written by Fabian Rangel, Jr.
Art by Alexis Ziritt
Lettering by Ryan Ferrier
Published by Black Mask Studios
Review by Justin Partridge
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

The best book you’ve never heard of roars back onto shelves this week with Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality #1. Captain - excuse me, Capitan - Peligro, Yarr and Mono are back in the inky black of space and taking it to the all manner of scum that sail the cosmic winds. While volume one was a bit more tongue in cheek than this first issue back, Fabian Rangel, Jr. and Alexis Ziritt’s world still feels like Jim Starlin on a steady diet of mescaline and fine black light colors.

Rangel, Jr. uses this second volume to shake up the Riders’ status quo and delve a bit more into the arcane religion of First Mate Mono while still delivering plenty of R-rated displays of outlandish violence on top of an even more outlandishly entertaining plot. Rangel’s co-creator Alexis Ziritt also returns with a bombastic grace, pouring more hallucinogenic renderings of space magic and classic, hard knuckled science fiction action onto the page to compliment his insanely cool costume and ship design. It’s all brought home by Ziritt’s kaleidescope of colors that seem to pulse from the page. If you didn’t love the Skullship Santa Muerte and its crew before, then get the $%&@ with the program and read Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality #1. You can thank me later.

Picking up a few months after the conclusion of volume one, Galaxy of Brutality finds our rough and tumble crew searching for clues of antagonist Satanus and the “great evil” Peligro was made aware of last volume. However, First Mate Mono takes umbrage with his capitan’s extreme methods and to further complicate matters, Mono receives a cryptic psychic warning from a priest of the Secret Fire telling him to leave his crew and find him if he wants to save his friends.

While it is a touch annoying that Rangel broke up the team this early in Volume Two, especially since most of the fun of the last arc was seeing them all bond into a insane, more violent Guardians of the Galaxy, he still keeps the story on course, thanks to his knack for near constant forward momentum. The script is always moving from moment to moment, giving the issue a palpable energy. Also working in this return’s favor is his decision to provide Mono with a possible power-up thanks to his ancient religion. After finding the priest, Mono is bestowed the Secret Fire which manifests as Kirby Krackle and roaring flames across the border of the pages from artist Ziritt. While the series returns with considerably less jokes and lacking the team dynamic from volume one, Galaxy of Brutality is still a rousing punk rock return to form for the series and its creators.

Like a real jabroni, I wasn’t aware of Alexis Ziritt’s work before Space Riders, but it sure as hell made me a fan, and Galaxy of Brutality proves that my fandom was not misplaced. Using a darker color scheme than the last volume, but without sacrificing the art’s classic black light poster and news stock production values, Ziritt also leans into the more arcane aspects of this volume’s plot with great success. Displaying an almost childlike glee at the stuff he gets to draw, Ziritt moves easily between crazy science fiction set pieces like Peligro battling a Voltron-like Viker robot on the top of his Skullship to hauntingly cool, Heavy Metal-like sequences like the above mentioned Secret Fire ceremony and Peligro falling into yet another mystical space wormhole (the dreaded Tormenta Cosmica) and battling sharp-toothed sirens made of starlight. If this all sounds completely banana sandwich, trust me, it reeeeeally is, but Alexis Ziritt makes sure its the best kind of crazy; Space Riders demands nothing less.

Melding science fiction action, Mexican culture, and mysticism Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality #1 stands as yet another wholly singular but wildly entertaining experience. Fabian Rnagel, Jr. and Alexis Ziritt clearly just created a book that they would want to read and it just so happens that that book is really cool, looks tremendous, and is, arguably, one of the most punk rock comics on shelves. Black Mask Studios has built a reputation of being a company in the business of taking chances on books like this and many others. Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality #1 makes that a chance worth taking.

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