Review

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Late Gamer Plays Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate

A Review From Hidai Moya

There is nothing necessarily wrong with this game, but after a completionist playthrough, I can see why it is seen as the “Nadir” of the franchise.
It has new gimmicks; a GTA like vehicle system, a Batman-esque grappling gun, & the ability to switch genders anytime are amusing, but they do not amount to much.
This is a very by the numbers AC game without any of franchise’s trademark sex appeal or great original music. The writing is unimaginative & generic & it shoe horns in icons of history like Darwin, Dickens, & Queen Victoria. Industrial London may have changed the world forever, but it does not change the fact that it was an ugly, dull, & bleak place with hardly an ounce of beauty. Traversing cotton mills, smoke stacks, & foundries is not exactly rich historical escapism. I was amused but never amazed.
The Anglophile in me was disappointed.

Grade C+

Comic Culture With Rafa: #010

Organic and Detailed Storytelling in “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #40” and “Go Go Power Rangers: Forever Rangers”

A Review From Raphael Encinas

Storytelling is all around us. So much so, that stories are told and retold again and again for new audiences. Some stories are adapted from old stories, and fandoms are created to add more depth, detail, and passion to specific narratives. However, this does not mean that all stories are treated with the utmost care and affection. If the lore is not written with love and respect in mind, people can go absolutely insane. This is a double-edged sword though because on one side, it exposes an underbelly of toxic fandom entitlement, but on the other, it showcases the strong passion people have toward narration, no matter how misguided. Therefore, when a team is able to creatively care and respect source material while at the same time build upon a world that is rich with new ideas, and then works in tandem with already established lore, the final product becomes an absolute joy for fans worldwide. 

I believe we have reached absolute joy this week with the release of both BOOM! Studios’ wonderful Power Rangers titles, “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #40” and “Go Go Power Rangers: Forever Rangers”. The release of these two different comics this week showcases exactly how a company can release powerful, energetic, respectful, new, and exciting material that both ends the current arc of the Power Rangers mythos while simultaneously opening a new chapter in the Power Rangers franchise. Spoilers Ahead. 

First and foremost, BOOM Studios! has gone to great lengths in giving us three years of awesome Power Ranger content in comic book form. We got to see the rangers updated and modernized for a present audience that both catered to old and new fans alike. Gone was the campiness of the 90’s television program in order to better fit a post “Avengers” and “CW Superhero Programming” world. Writers like Kyle Higgins, Ryan Parrott, Steve Orlando, Mairghread Scott, Brenden Fletcher, Kelly Thompson, and now Marguerite Bennett gave us new stories in familiar lore with familiar characters that explored the everyday and mundane to truly epic cross-dimensional adventures. 

We got to see the scale of Rita and Zordon’s origins and alien universe; we got to see the rangers cope with real feelings both at the highschool and cosmic level; we were introduced to exciting new characters like Grace, Matt, and Lord Drakkon; we even got to see the rangers experience prom. Whether big or small, each narrative plot point felt fully-realized and organic. The world felt like it was fully fleshed out, especially when certain events set-up in earlier issues would be revisited or expanded upon in later issues (I will get to this in greater detail soon).    

Furthermore, the fact that Power Rangers was adapted into comic format was awesome because they were now in a medium of publication among other superhero teams like The Avengers and The Justice League (whom the Power Rangers actually teamed up with in a dope crossover event). 

Moreover, the fact that the Power Rangers have been illustrated and colored by true titans of industry makes the series that much more exceptional. The art is always a highlight to these stories, and talented artists like Hendry Prasetya, Dan Mora, and Daniele Di Nicuolo (to name a few) bring the characters to life. It easily makes the experience of Power Rangers that much more impactful.

So basically, BOOM! Studios decided to give the fans a product that respected and cared for the fandom’s love of the Power Rangers. And I am so thankful for this. As a fan of comics and superheroes in general, I am no stranger to editorial having their way and completely butchering or destroying characters and story plots just on a whim with no thought of the fandom. This unapologetic disregard for lore and world building happens way too often.

However, the MMPR comic series has been dealt with the utmost care, and that is something rare. Of course, I also understand that not everyone sees the story as perfect. After all, there are many who were not fans of the recently concluded “Beyond The Grid” storyline, and I myself have been adamant about not wanting a Tommy centric narrative to drive the story moving forward (don’t worry; I’ll get to that). However, at its core, the creative team have handled this franchise with just the right amount of nostalgia and creative freedom to develop awesome storytelling. And it comes full circle with this week’s new releases. 

What is so special about these two comics is that they attempt to end one era of Power Rangers while making way for a new one. And it is done in a truly special and fun way that respects everything that has happened up to this point. 

First, Ryan Parrott’s “Go Go Power Rangers: Forever Rangers” is an immensely satisfying conclusion to the Rangers’ first year as heroes. And it is done in such a thematic way. Not only does it include a well-paced and earned final battle with this story’s antagonist, but it also sets the stage for what’s to come, specifically a new teammate in Tommy Oliver. The final pages are a call back to the first issue where we are introduced to each character with infographics and answers to specific criteria reminiscent of graduation questions. However, in this issue, the answers to these questions have evolved and grown like the rangers themselves.

We also get closure to many plot points, and we see closure to specific character arcs and characterizations. We get resolution to Rita’s internal struggles with her mother and the creation of the Dragon Ranger Coin. We get a glimpse into the creation of “Ranger Station” (which is a staple of Higgins’ MMPR Series). We see Kimberly start to accept and cope with her parents’ divorce as well as make amends with new character Matt. Hell, we even get a cool little call back to a memory in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Series (Issue #5) where we see Zack get kidnapped by Rita, but in this issue, it happens in real time. 

It is such a small moment that speaks volumes to the work that this team has done with the series. They care about the little details! And this is why it is important. The story is aware of all its finer details. Details that the writers and artists know Power Ranger fans find important. It is all connected, and it all feels special.

The issue ultimately ends with Jason, surrounded by his friends, as he gets ready for the Karate Expo. This is a wonderful homage to the original television episode where Tommy is introduced.  It ends with the addition of the sixth Ranger, and it is a thematic way to close this series because fans of the show all know what happens next. 

Furthermore, as this story ends, a new one begins. A new and exciting chapter for the franchise begins with the Necessary Evil storyline beginning with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #40. In this issue we have a time jump with a White Ranger Tommy taking over leadership of the Power Rangers. We get a fun opening scene of Tommy leading the rangers against Putties in London, but it feels different. The team dynamics are off. And this is due to the introduction of new red, yellow, and black ranger teammates. 

This is familiar due to its source material: the infamous “Power Transfer” episode in the television program. Jason, Trini, and Zack go to Switzerland for a Peace Conference, and so they transfer their powers to three newcomers: Rocky, Aisha, and Adam. This was a turning point for me in the franchise as I was always resentful for the change in characters, especially considering that Jason was my favorite ranger. So, I was naturally wary of this new and continued storyline in comic book form.  

At first glance, I was not down to read a new chapter of my beloved comic series by reexperiencing Tommy’s golden years where the team became less about team dynamics and more about how awesome and special Tommy is. I also was not looking forward to these new characters after loving the original team so much. 

However, as I read the issue, I realized that Tommy also didn’t like this new change. I realized that Billy didn’t really care for the new dynamic either. And I read Kimberly as being openly hostile to the whole situation. Even the three new rangers felt misplaced and pressured. They felt like outsiders, and this felt tense; it felt real. I was pleasantly surprised to see that writer Marguerite Bennett was giving us the familiar story of the new Ranger team, but gone were the rose-tinted glasses. This was not a seamless change to the team like in the show. Instead, this change feels much more centered with deeper motivations, feelings, and consequences. And this is amazing. It adds so much weight and rich characterization for all those involved.

No longer was I seeing a charismatic and de facto leader in Tommy Oliver. One that was created from behind-the-scenes drama and favoritism as showcased in the television program. Instead, we get a more organic approach in that Tommy is put into a situation where he has no control. With these new powers come new responsibilities, and with Jason leaving to the peace conference, Tommy is left to fill that void of leadership; something that creates anger and frustration in the character. After all, he feels like his friends have left to “play peace” while he has to stay to save the world. This makes Tommy’s character arc moving forward much more interesting and human, and I am so excited to see it unfold. Bennett is able to make me feel for Tommy in the comics like I never did in the television show. She makes him relatable. 

But even with these new dynamics thrown in, the comic still delivers one last punch with its shocking and exciting reveal at the end of the issue. Jason, Trini, and Zack are not gone, like they were unceremoniously written off in the show. Instead we get a scene where they are video chatting with Billy and Kimberly. The three old rangers ask how things are going, they ask how the NEW them are doing.

Kimberly and Billy do their best to feign encouragement, but they do make note that the video chat has poor signal and they can barely see anything. This leads to the crazy reveal in a one-shot panel where we have Jason, Trini, and Zack in new Power Ranger gear on a different planet, somewhere “off the grid”. 

And with this one shot, we have so much set up to a whole new plethora of narrative options. Looks like these three rangers might be off on a super, secret covert mission. One that they must even keep from their closest friends. Consider me jacked, internet.

Like so many other people, I absolutely love the Power Rangers. These heroes showcase not only what happens when you taste the rainbow, but they also embody the very spirit in coordinated, family-team dynamics. What these writers continue to do after all these years is continue to add depth, maturity, brevity, and scale to a silly show about spandex wearing karate heroes. And it is all showcased with the love and detail inputted into these two new stories!

I am very much looking forward to what comes next, and I highly recommend this series. It is really good. 

The Geeks’ Watch – Episode 132 Black Mirror S05xE03 “Rachel, Jack, And Ashley Too”

“The future comes, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall miss no game, withhold no news, report all rumors. I shall wear no jerseys and plead allegiance to no side. I shall live and die on my webpage. I am the word in the darkness. I am the watcher of the tv. I am the megaphone that informs the realms of geek. I pledge my hands and name to the Geek’s Watch, for geeks and all the geeks to come.” John, Jessica, and Mitch go over the entertainment news from the week, well as some Galaxy’s Edge updates, and then they dive into Netflix’s Black Mirror Series 5, episode 3, ‘Rachel, Jack, And Ashley Too’.

The Geeks’ Watch – Episode 131 Black Mirror S05xE02 “Smithereens”

“The future comes, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall miss no game, withhold no news, report all rumors. I shall wear no jerseys and plead allegiance to no side. I shall live and die on my webpage. I am the word in the darkness. I am the watcher of the tv. I am the megaphone that informs the realms of geek. I pledge my hands and name to the Geek’s Watch, for geeks and all the geeks to come.” John, Stephen, and Mitch are joined by Jessica to go over the entertainment news from the week and then they dive into Netflix’s Black Mirror Series 5, episode 2, ‘Smithereens’.

Chris’ Comic Book Corner: Uncanny X-Men #19

A Review From Christopher Franey

Alright I’m back and it is time to get UNCANNY!  Here we are at issue 19 of the current run of Uncanny and part 3 of “We Have Always Been.”  With this issue there is a change in the narrator as the box is white instead of red, we have quite the bold opening, “It seems it is finally time to lay our cards on the table and see who has the better bluff.”  I’m pretty sure this would be Emma Frost, a.k.a. the White Queen, who is our narrator for this issue.  We have Matthew Rosenberg continuing his story with a group of artists on pencils such as Carlos Villa, Carlos Gomez, and Bob Quinn.  They did a great job of blending styles so you don’t really notice a change in art. 

Let us jump into it, we have Emma watching the X-Men (a different group) fighting the Sentinels, and it appears that the Vanisher is her servant in this new version of the Hellfire Club.  So her group gets attacked by the Warlock infected X-men which leads to her capture by General Robert Callahan, who happens to be the director of O.N.E.

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Callahan does a great job of using his position to beat down the White Queen, but Emma isn’t someone you mess with.  She manages to survive the bright light prison for a couple of days, but finally she does crack and reveals that Hank McCoy still has the serum that cures mutations, so Callahan does have plans to exploit this; which I’m pretty sure we saw this at the beginning of this volume of Uncanny. Callahan does a good job of taking care of Emma and showing that he values her and is also on guard against her powers.  While letting her know that she is in check, he informs her that all the X-Men are dead after their fight with X-Man (Nate Grey back in Uncanny 10).  Emma does have some freedoms and she uses that time for some shopping in which she takes Marrow out to help our her style since she’ll be part of the Hellfire Club.  Of course the good times don’t last for long as Callahan and O.N.E. strike and want Emma to come back in for some work.  She thinks shes got the upper hand, but she really doesn’t as Callahan is play acting, so when Emma calls on Vanisher to port them out, this winds up with him being fired upon by an experimental weapon which causes Vanisher to melt.  So Emma knows she has to stop as others are being hurt.  

She has been tasked by O.N.E. to find Blindfold which brings us to the events of issue 11; so it might merit a chance for rereading.  Around this point Emma finds out that Scott Summers is alive and this is a great moment for us fans with their reunion.  Before Scott died he went on quite the set of stories and it did pit him against a lot of the X-Men and his friends.  Things ended pretty badly with Emma during Bendis’ run of Uncanny X-men and it was pretty much set that their relationship was over.  Then we see the two together for Scott’s last story in Death of X, which set a chain of events that would lead to Emma’s character doing some questionable things.  I would say this issue did a great job of helping to redeem Emma.  

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The moment shared by the two was quite interesting as you can see from Emma’s words that she cares for Scott, but then she takes this moment away and only she knows what happened here.  She explains that not one of the Hellfire Club can know Scott is alive as that would mean O.N.E. would go after him in some fashion.  Next she makes her way to Wolverine and they exchange some barbed words, but in the end she orders him to look for Scott and take care of him…so this really adds to the behind the scenes on the previous issues.  Callahan isn’t too happy to find out that Scott is alive and Emma hasn’t reported that.  Emma manages to broker a way for Scott to not be hunted down but be useful to O.N.E.  So this takes us to the list and how questionable it was that Scott created it. 

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Now we’re back to last issue and we see “Captain America” with a captured Mister Sinister and she reveals all, and that it is Mystique and the Hellfire Club that are manipulating the X-Men.  While that should be all find and dandy for the bad guys, we are now seeing Wolverine and Kwannon and they are bringing the wrath…to be continued of course. 

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 This issue was great, lots of twists and reveals that will make you rethink what you have seen and read.  I was talking with Rafa (@mobilerafie) about the issues and it had use questioning everything.  I honestly don’t think we’ve seen Captain America meet with Scott yet, but then again Rafa said it could be that Cap was just at the rally, so maybe they did meet and it was just Mystique taking advantage and showing up as Cap in later issues…good point, but who knows?  I know some fans have been having a hard time with the current story arc but I am absolutely loving the issues that Matthew Rosenberg is writing.  This is now even more of a mystery with the revelations that were dropped in this issue.  I’m questioning Cyclops’ choices and wondering how much Emma may have manipulated him or maybe even saved him.  It was a very touching scene and some great words she said about Scott.  I’m very excited for the next issue and beyond, so keep reading and Excelsior!

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