Best Shots Advance Reviews: GO GO POWER RANGERS #8, ANALOG #1

BOOM! Studios March 2018 cover
Credit: BOOM! Studios
Credit: Image Comics

Analog #1
Written by Gerry Duggan
Art by David O’Sullivan and Jordie Bellaire
Lettering by Joe Sabino
Published by Image Comics
Review by David Pepose
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

With comics as an industry so obsessed with the high concept, there’s something refreshingly low-key about Gerry Duggan and David O’Sullivan’s Analog, even if there are times it comes uncomfortably close to biting another comic’s well-regarded style. But don’t let the low volume of this book’s premise fool you — this is some of Gerry Duggan’s best writing on display here in this hard-boiled story, with sharp dialogue and snappy characters paired up with some gorgeously understated work from artist David O’Sullivan and colorist Jordie Bellaire.

At first, Analog plays out like many hard-bitten noir stories, as we meet Jack McGinnis, a tough-as-nails courier who traffics in secrets — the kind of secrets that men would kill to get. Bleeding and bruised with a smile on his face, Jack feels like he’s pulled out of a dime store novel in all the best ways, as Duggan gives us a tense opening sequence where this Ledger Man has to fight for his life against a gang of armed goons. “I hate St. Louis,” Jack thinks to himself as he manages to be the last man standing. “Every time I come here somebody tries to kill me.”

But as Duggan primes his readers with lots of sly one-liners from his scrappy lead, he winds up giving us a twist that becomes Analog’s double-edged sword — namely, this isn’t a story from the 1940s, but set just a few years in the future, in a world of social media, self-driving cars, and the Great Doxxing. It’s this last bit that some readers won’t be able to help but trip over, as this world of Duggan’s feels like a lo-fi version of the over-the-top craziness of Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s The Private Eye — now everyone’s secrets are out in the open, leading to pedophiles being branded on the streets to exhibitionists live-streaming their sexual escapades in the back of a car. But Duggan manages to add in the grittiness of today’s world into the mix, particularly when he ties Analog into today’s geopolitical problems, particularly the effects of social media on the voting process and democracy itself.

Yet before things veer off too much from the grounded reality Duggan has established, things swerve back into more traditional noir tropes, particularly as Jack finds himself suckered into a lethal conspiracy that could take down him and those he cares closest about. It’s these sorts of moments that artist David O’Sullivan really shines, bringing some hard angles to his characters but never shying away from making them seem engaging and charming. There’s a little bit of Phil Hester and Paul Dini to his linework here, even touches of Michael Avon Oeming in a bending page of a jam-packed highway. Like Duggan’s high concepts, O’Sullivan isn’t a particularly flashy artist, but he is a confident and smooth storyteller, giving depth and weight thanks to Jordie Bellaire’s colorwork.

With so many comics being so preoccupied with quick returns thanks to a buzzy high concept, there’s something subversive — perhaps even rebellious — about Gerry Duggan pushing a comic through that arguably is most memorable thanks to its storytelling technique. And that’s probably to Analog’s benefit, as leaning too much heavier on this book’s high concept could lead to readers justifiably crying foul at the premise’s proximity to The Private Eye. But as it stands, Analog is a supremely solid read, one whose top-shelf execution will leave you wishing for Issue #2 to hit the stands.

Credit: BOOM! Studios

Go Go Power Rangers #8
Written by Ryan Parrott
Art by Dan Mora and Raul Angulo
Lettering by Ed Dukeshire
Published by BOOM! Studios
Review by Justin Partridge
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

Go Go Power Rangers gets a solid arc finale but “Shattered Grid” gets a poor prelude in the eighth installment of the prequel spin-off. Despite the trade dress on the cover, this issue doesn’t have much to do with the upcoming mega-crossover. But never fear, Ranger fans, for GGPR #8 does still deliver rousing Power Ranger action and plenty of soapy, but engaging teen dramatics. Written by Ryan Parrott and given a slick manga inspired energy by artists Dan Mora and Raul Angulo, this latest issue brings the title’s current arc to a close with a character focused and action packed finale issue. Though it is disappointing to not get more substantial clues about the upcoming “Shattered Grid”, Go Go Power Rangers #8 still delivers plenty of classic Power Ranger thrills and affecting character work.

What’s Homecoming without a monster fight? Such is the Power Rangers dilemma as the shapeshifting Putty that has been sowing seeds of dissent throughout the team finally unleashes it full might and crashes the party. Writer Ryan Parrott has made great use of a pretty novel and well-worn concept, allowing the Putty to get a full-fledged arc as it’s wormed its way through the team on a quest for self-awareness. Now it is lashing out, trading barbs with the Rangers and fighting through a ruined Homecoming dance, which is given a gracefully dynamic look thanks to the pencils and colors of Dan Mora and Raul Angulo.

But while this issue has plenty of action, opening with an epic Goldar centered cold open and culminating in a classic Zord versus kaiju battle, GGPR #8’s real strength lies in its characters. Mora’s take on the team, who are still in early days of being Rangers, really pops and feels genuine amid all the kung-fu and giant robots. That, to me, is one of the most important part of a Power Rangers comic, and Mora gets that in spades. I mean, monster fights are cool and everything, but seeing the team finally start to gel and get to grow from the headstrong kids they were in the debut issue are where the real sparks fly.

But while this issue manages some serious clout as a character piece, Go Go Power Rangers #8 isn’t just a talk-fest. Armed with the lithe pencils of Dan Mora and the rich colors of Raul Angulo, this newest issue delivers some great visuals along with its strong foundation of character work. We open on a far off, war torn planet, under siege by the forces of Rita Repulsa, led by the ruthless Goldar. Rather than splicing together multiple sets of disparate footage like the TV show, the Power Rangers comics have made great use of the high production values offered by the medium, and Mora and Angulo really lean into that in this opening. These pages, anchored by the snarling Goldar and the cutting profile of Rita Pepulsa, give the issue an instant jolt of energy and tonal setting of the bar; a tone that hits somewhere between Kamen Rider and John Carter.

From there the pair get focused on the Rangers and their pitched battle with the self-aware Putty. As it morphs from form to form, which includes the Rangers themselves and a multi-headed Lovecraftian horror, Mora and Angulo keep the action focused, splintering the pages into cracked windows of action that never has less than two characters on panel at a time. This might sound a little crowded, but Mora keeps the blocking nicely contained, making the chaos of the battle feel easy to take in. Raul Angulo’s colors also add a real vibrancy to the action. While the scenes themselves are darkened, thanks to the moonlit Homecoming setting, Angulo adds little bits of tokusatsu flair like the neon purple energy trail from Zack’s battleaxe and arcing flashes of lightning emanating from the Megazord’s broadsword.

Despite some frustration that the “Shattered Grid prelude” is relegated to a paltry page-and-a-half cliffhanger, there is still plenty of fun to be had during Go Go Power Rangers #8. Supported by strong character arcs and big action, Dan Mora, Ryan Parrott, and Raul Angulo deliver a strong finale outing for the Rangers and send this spin-off title into the crossover on a real high point. Though time will tell if “Shattered Grid” will be a boon or or bust for the title, but for now, Go Go Power Rangers stands as a worthy representative for the Power Rangers franchise.

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