Sunday, March 29, 2020

Star Wars, Vol.13: Rogues and Rebels (comic) - Paul's REVIEW

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Star Wars, Vol. 13: Rogues and Rebels
Writer: Greg Pek
Artist: Phil Noto
Release Date: March 17, 2020

Synopsis: It's the end of the era of hope! Rebels and rogues take center stage as this volume of Marvel's STAR WARS comes to a close! Who exactly is Dar Champion, and how far can Leia trust him when Han's life is on the line? What shocking lesson will Luke learn when Warba finally reveals her true self? When faced with his lost past, can C-3PO seize control of his destiny — and be the hero of his own story? And Chewbacca takes on Darth Vader in vicious hand-to-hand combat! Meanwhile, the Rebellion's search for a new home — a base safe from the reach of the Empire — leads them to the planet Hoth! Doctor Aphra and Beilert Valance lend a hand as the Rebellion's fate is set - and the Empire ascends!



Review: After 75 issues, the story of our main Rebel heroes set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back comes to a close. And it's about time. In my opinion, it's been dragging with not much interesting happening for awhile. Some of the interactions recently even seem to take away from big moments in the original trilogy. Darth Vader has a LOT of interactions with the main cast in this volume. The C-3PO and Vader scenes really confuse me. Does he not recognize the droid he created? At least they are finally at Hoth.

This volume is more of the second half of the last volume's story. A boring story. I did really enjoy the inorganic aliens though.

The rest of this volume is filled with Empire Ascendant, which serves as both a conclusion and beginning. Poe's parents on Hoth. A Darth Vader intro that seems to introduce some new and interesting Death Troopers. Bounty Hunters shows Valance working along with the Rebels. And the final Aphra story was included in the Aphra volume as well. 

I give this volume a 3/5. I wish this ongoing series learned more from the animated Clone Wars series and jumped around the focus instead of focusing on the main heroes so much. It seems like a lot of these missions are redundant and don't actually show growth of the characters. I am hesitant about whether I want to continue reading these new incarnations of the ongoing series or not.


Saturday, March 28, 2020

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Vol. 7: A Rogue's End (comic) - Paul's REVIEW

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Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Vol. 7: A Rogue's End
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artists: Caspar Wijngaard, Lee Loughridge, Elsa Charretier, Edgar Delgado, & Jim Campbell
Release Date: February 11, 2020

Vol.1: Aphra
Screaming Citadel
Vol.2: The Enormous Profit
Vol.3: Remastered
Vol.4: The Catastrophe Con
Vol.5: Worst Among Equals
Vol.6: Unspeakable Rebel Superweapon

Synopsis: After all she's been through, professional disaster zone DOCTOR APHRA is right back where she started: working for DARTH VADER. What villainous use has the dark lord found for her to make him spare the life of his most annoying foe...? And how long does she have to try to slither out of harm's way before he decides to finish what he started three years ago...?



Review: After 40 issues, this story has come to an end. BUT, Doctor Aphra's story will continue starting with a new issue #1 set after The Empire Strikes Back just like the other ongoing series. I am so glad this comic is one of the continuing ongoing series at Marvel. An original character for the comics that is also queer and Asian! On the first page of this volume, right across from the writing credits, there's two women kissing. There's a lot more Star Wars (and Disney too) could do for the LGBTQ+ community in terms of representation, but reading this comic gives me hope.

This volume opens up with Aphra in the Empire's service yet again. She's a part of an archaeological team using their expertise to help find the Rebel base. The murder droids are back, of course. The romance between Aphra and Tolvan's relationship is so interesting. And complicated. I really like how it keeps coming back. Although I am hoping for some more permanent changes in the new series. 

The third annual is also included in this volume. It features my favorite monster hunter duo of Nokk the Trandoshan and her husband Winloss. Black Krrsantan appearing is also always a plus.  Mos Eisley is also a big part of the annual.

And finally, the epilogue is from Empire Ascendant which seems to be the lead-in to the post-The Empire Strikes Back content.

I give this volume a 4/5. I really enjoy this series, but this volume kind of felt thrown together instead of a true finale. 


Friday, March 27, 2020

Jia and the Nian Monster (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

*I received this book as an eARC from Dark Horse Books via Edelweiss. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

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Jia and the Nian Monster
Author: Mike Richardson
Illustrator:  Megan Huang
Upcoming Release Date: March 31, 2020

Synopsis: Each new year is marked by a monster's attack on their mountain village. This year, young Jia and her friend Deshi have decided to fight back.

For Deshi, it is the grand adventure he has always dreamed of. For Jia, it is revenge for the loss of her mother--who was taken by the monster five years before.

But it will take more than mere pluck and courage to best the beast of the mountain, which is where the mysterious stranger who has befriended Jia and Deshi comes in . . .

Based on an ancient Chinese legend, Jia and the Nian Monster blends fantasy, fable, and the invention of gunpowder into a tale of courage and friendship. Written by Mike Richardson (47 Ronin, Father's Day, and The Atomic Legion), and illustrated by the amazing new artist Megan Huang, this could be a new children's classic! 


Review: This colorful fable starts out with a robust prologue setting up this world. Essentially, a magical beast attacks a village once a year. Jia is a nice and hard-working, though mischievous young girl. Her mother was taken by the Nian monster and then her father went missing looking for his wife. 

This is a predictable and traditional story. This is based on a Chinese legend and it has that feel to it. It's a cite story, but it doesn't feel very modern. I would have liked a more modern take on a classic tale. 

There are some interesting topics that come up in this story: deities, immortality, traditions. But it doesn't take the time to really delve into any of them. It feels more like an old fairy tale that's been passed down many times over many years. 

I give this book a 3/5. The art is great and the story is solid, but it feels just like a retelling (not re-imagining) of a classic tale.


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Star Wars: Target Vader (comic) - Paul's REVIEW

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Star Wars: Target Vader
Writer: Robbie Thompson
Artists: Marc Laming, Cris Bolson, Stefano Landini, Marco Failla, Roberto di Salvo, Georges Duarte, & Neeraj Menon
Release Date: February 11, 2020

Synopsis: THE HUNTER! DARTH VADER is on the hunt for a mysterious criminal syndicate operating outside of THE EMPIRE’s rule. But little does he know he’s being hunted by a group of the galaxy’s deadliest bounty hunters, hired by the syndicate to take out Vader once and for all. Led by fallen Imperial Officer BEILERT VALANCE, this ragtag group of assassins will stop at nothing to kill the biggest bounty of their lives.



Review: I immediately loved the artwork in the first few pages of this book. The colors are vibrant. The details given to the different alien species are excellent. There are aliens from all three trilogies throughout this book. That's the Star Wars I love. There are even references to the Bounty Hunter's Code that reminds me of The Mandalorian. 

Beilert Valance is going to be a big presence in the comics it seems with the upcoming Bounty Hunters ongoing comic. I'm not familiar with the character, but I like that they are bringing back select characters from the old Legends and introducing them into the new canon.

The focus is on bounty hunters, so of course a team forms. I like that the team includes what looks like a female Tusken Raider, Urrr'k. Dengar is also part of the team, keeping that connection to bounty hunters from the films. 

It's always fun to see bounty hunters do their thing because their morals are always very particular. And there will always be plenty of twists. This felt like an introduction to Valance the most. We learn some of his backstory and get to see where his allegiances fall. 

I give this book a 4/5. It's fun and very Star Wars. I think this volume has convinced me to pick up the Bounty Hunter series when it comes out.


Friday, March 13, 2020

Go Go Power Rangers, Vol. 6 (comic) - Paul's REVIEW

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Go Go Power Rangers Vol.1
Go Go Power Rangers Vol.2
Go Go Power Rangers Vol.3

Go Go Power Rangers Vol.4
Go Go Power Rangers Vol.5
Go Go Power Rangers: Back to School

Go Go Power Rangers, Vol. 6
Author: Ryan Parrott & Marguerite Bennett
Illustrators: Eleonora Carlini, Francesco Mortarino, & Jim Towe
Release Date: February 18, 2020

Synopsis: The first year of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers concludes with an epic confrontation against an unexpected enemy and the arrival of a new student who’ll change their lives forever – plus, a special look at what the Power Rangers do during Spring Break!


Is this the end? Alpha One is bent on revenge against Zordon, his creator, and willing to kill anyone in his way, including the Power Rangers!. But when it looks as though their combined strength might not be enough to stop their unexpected foe, the Power Rangers must reach deep and ask themselves just how far they are willing to go to save Zordon, Angel Grove, and the rest of humanity from Alpha One’s plans. Plus, it’s Spring Break for the Rangers, and the first time since they received their Power Coins that they’ll be apart. As they each embark on their own week-long vacation, these teenagers with attitude discover that being a hero doesn’t always mean having to morph!

Writers Ryan Parrott (Star Trek: Manifest Destiny) & Marguerite Bennett (Batwoman) are joined by an all star cast of artists including Eleonora Carlini, Francesco Mortarino, Jim Towe (Riverdale) and more for stories that reveal the untold truth from the first year of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers history.

Collects Saban’s Go Go Power Rangers: Forever Rangers and Saban’s Go Go Power Rangers: Back to School. 


Review: This is a weird volume. It completes the story arc with the Forever Rangers issue and then the second half is an issue from 2018, Back to School. I reviewed that issue when it first came out and gave it a 4.5/5. Please refer to that review for more details. This will be my review of Forever Rangers

Alpha-1 makes such a great antagonist because he thinks he's in the right. It's a moral difference between him and Zordon. This finale is epic. The fight scene feels extended and I am here for it. Tank mode! Alpha-5's surprise! The ominous ending. Then after the dust is starting to clear, we get a check in on all of the teenagers with attitude. Trini and Jason's relationship gets a final moment. Everyone really gets into position for the start of the main ongoing series. 

Rita's story with her mother has been wonderful. I loved getting to see what she had to go through to get the green power coin. The emotions she has attached to the Green Ranger. 

This was an excellent conclusion to the Go Go series. I know there's more, but there's a time jump. This could easily serve as a final issue. I give this book a 5/5. What a final act!


Thursday, March 12, 2020

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Vol. 10 (comic) - Paul's REVIEW

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Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Vol. 10
Author: Marguerite Bennett
Illustrators: Simone Di Meo & French Carlomagno
Release Date: February 4, 2020

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Vol. 9

Synopsis: BEYOND THE GRID concludes here as the Solar Rangers – an all-new Power Rangers team unlike any other – must face the deadly Praetor for the final time, in a battle that no one will walk away from unscathed!

THE STUNNING CONCLUSION TO BEYOND THE GRID! The Solar Rangers – an all-new Power Rangers team unlike any other – have defied the villainous Praetor and survived. But their victory may be short-lived, as deadly forces move to stop them from regaining their full powers and finding a way home. It’s the final battle between Solar Rangers and their deadliest enemy as the shocking truth behind the Praetor is revealed – and the fates of two galaxies hang in the balance.

The critically-acclaimed team of GLAAD Media Award nominated writer Marguerite Bennett (Batwoman, Animosity) and fan-favorite artists Simone Di Meo, with French Carlomagno, deliver a jaw-dropping conclusion to their Power Rangers epic.

Collects Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #35-39.


Review: This volume concludes the short lived Beyond the Grid story arc. To be honest, I really loved a lot of the ideas in this story but I just didn't feel like we got to know any of the characters enough. I did really enjoy getting to know Heckyl's story though. I wanted more stories like that. 

Having the focus on rangers from various seasons is so different than the rest of this ongoing comic. This story has felt like a brief pause from the main story to give us a breather after Shattered Grid. I liked seeing all the different rangers interacting. Even the rangers who couldn't morph still doing their thing in the background.

The Solar Rangers are awesome. I wanted much, much more of them! I really hope we see more of the badass Solar Rangers in future stories.

This volume felt really truncated. It seemed like more should have happened. More build-ups to get where this led. But I loved the ending. There was a lot of talking about the themes instead of just showing them through actions and story. I give this book a 4.5/5. It was really good, but I felt like it didn't quite live up to the amazing storytelling that's been happening in this ongoing series. 

The conclusion to the Blue Senturion and Ninjor's story is also in this book. That was a fun story. I liked them working together. They make a great duo. Very humorous dialogue.


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Renaissance, Vol. 1: The Uprooted (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

*I received this book as an eARC from Europe Comics via NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

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Renaissance, Vol. 1: The Uprooted
Authors: Frédéric Blanchard & Fred Duval
Illustrator: EMEM
Release Date: November 20, 2019

Synopsis: Swänn and Sätie were born on Näkän, a major planet in the Complex, a federation of extraterrestrial civilizations. The young couple hoped to live a peaceful life in an environment where nature and technology coexist in balance. But they are forced to mobilize when the leaders of the Complex decide to launch a vast expedition to save a planet that has exhausted its resources: Earth. 


Review: This graphic novel opens with a breakdown of everything that's happening all over the world in 2084. Overwhelming. From Paris to Ft. Worth, we get to see a lot of different people dealing with the modern world of 2084. There's an alien race intervening on Earth because they're on the brink of global mass extinction. 

The story follows a newly married alien couple sent to Earth. They interact with the humans we met in the intro to the book. 

There's a lot happening in this book. And it's overwhelming. I give this book a 2/5. There's some really interesting world building, but I was not invested in anyone's story. I didn't care about any individual character. I also didn't understand why the aliens had such a similar social structure to human culture. This book just did not hook me.