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Friday, June 18, 2021

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Volume 6

 


Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Volume 6 is the last one before Shattered Grid.  I wasn't really thinking of it as a bridge to that story line when I started reading it, as it was continuing the story of Finster's monsters who were disguised as humans.  The Rangers have agreed to work with Grace, a woman who was previously a Red Ranger for a somewhat disastrous mission (her team didn't train together or know each other at all - while they ultimately saved the world, three of them died, and as the Red Ranger and leader, Grace bears that burden even though it was Zordon's fault for sending the team in unprepared).  She has dedicated her life to making the world a safer place, building Promethea to accomplish that task.  Her people have discovered how to track the monsters when they're getting ready to transform, and so the Power Rangers agreed to work with her.  

In good news though, Alpha Five and Saba have discovered how to return Zordon to the Command Centre!  

Meanwhile, Rita Repulsa has returned from a mysterious errand.  She recalls Finster (that was a really neat scene - he was able to escape the pocket dimension basically whenever he wanted to, and the Rangers still don't know how he pulled it off!) and orders him to set off all his hidden monsters, forcing the Rangers to separate.  Unfortunately, she also made them all grow and their forms weren't able to take that, so the Rangers are able to easily defeat them.

While trying to track down the hidden monsters though, Billy returned to Promethea to boost their scanning equipment.  While there, he discovered that Promethea runs on very little power, but most of that power is dedicated to a particular wing.  Doing some sleuthing, he discovers the reason why: Grace had captured Lord Drakkon after the Rangers' last battle (he was pulled through the portal with them)!  

And that's how we tie into Shattered Grid.  I'd forgotten that Drakkon had been pulled through the portal.  But by the end of this he was able to return to (presumably) his own dimension (with a headless Saba...) and start the events of Shattered Grid!

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Volumes 4-5


 I'm very excited, as my local library now has Mighty Morphin Power Rangers volumes 4-12!  I started reading them last night, getting through volumes 4 and 5.

Volume 4 picks up where 3 left off - Billy and Tommy are in Lord Drakkon's world, having gone with Sabba to the Coinless. The Coinless, however, aren't taking any chances with these two in case they are Drakkon's spies.  But their leader, Zach, recognizes Sabba, who, when they last saw each other, had told Zach that he would return with the ones who would save their world.  Unfortunately, Drakkon tracked the sabre to the Coinless's base and mounts a full assault!

Meanwhile the other Rangers are trying to figure out a way to get the Command Centre back from Rita.  Finster finds Alpha 5's head, and reprograms it to lead the Rangers into a trap!  At Rita's behest, he's sculpted an army of Goldars, who are much more savage than the original.

Against overwhelming odds, the Rangers succeed, and even manage to find Billy's power coin!  Trini uses it and the Black Dragon armor to open a portal to the other dimension to Billy and Tommy, just in time to help against Lord Drakkon's forces!  The Rangers save the day, freeing both worlds from tyranny.

Volume 5 opens with the Rangers helping out across the planet.  Rita has been mysteriously absent for quite some time (which happens from time to time after a big loss).  So they repaired the Command Centre, and are working on a way to bring Zordon back (Sabba from the other dimension was accidentally able to find and anchor him, so it's just a matter of time before the sabre and Alpha 5 can get him anchored back to the Command Centre).  Jason is basically watching the world news 24/7 to deploy the Rangers where needed.  But on one of their missions, they are approached by a lady named Grace who asks their help - a pilot team went down while trying to look through what seems to be an illusion.  The Rangers arrive and discover a mysterious town run by Finster.  He's been taking some vacation time to work on his art - which means sculpting monsters that appear human until they're triggered!  After saving the pilots and capturing Finster, the Rangers get reports of two monsters rampaging across different cities - and both appeared human.  While they manage to deal with those two, they know it's just the start....how many monsters hiding as humans has Finster released into the world?

The story continues to be excellent, and I can't wait to see how the Rangers deal with Finster's invisible monster army in the next volume!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Engines of Oblivion

 

I've been excited to read Engines of Oblivion since finishing Architects of Memory a few months ago.  I've had it for a few months on my Kindle, but got caught up in the Divine Dungeon series, so put off reading this until there was a good spot to pause that series.  

Engines of Oblivion follows Natalie Chan, one of the crew members from Twenty Five.  In Architects of Memory, Natalie, a soldier by training, had managed to become a citizen of Aurora, but lost many of her memories during the battle of Tribulation.  It's a year later and she's now the Director of Aurora's research and development team.  When the board sends her janitor indentures to pilot a new rig she designed, Natalie makes the split-second decision to pilot the rig instead because it is going into an actual combat mission (and the janitor indentures are not at all combat trained).  To her horror, Natalie discovers too late that the weapon within the rig was switched out for something far more deadly.

Called to a Board meeting after the demonstration, Natalie's loyalty to Aurora is called into question.  She is informed that she will be going on a mission back to Tribulation to locate Ashlan Jackson, whose heartbeat was detected.  Accompanying her is the one woman Natalie wants nothing to do with: Reva Sharva, the doctor who was the head of the Sacrament Society, and who had been experimenting on people in a secret lab on Tribulation; Sharva is being sent because she is the only one who can save Ash from the sickness she has (and Sharva has a bomb in her head that will detonate if she deviates from the mission).

This mission calls everything Natalie believes in into question.  Will she give up her friends to the company in order to keep her citizenship, even though she knows nothing good can come of turning them in?

I will admit, I didn't really like Engines of Oblivion at first, and that was largely because I didn't really like Natalie Chan.  And her being paired up with Reva Sharman definitely didn't help.  I also found the story a bit weird once the Vai got more involved.  On the one hand, it made sense for how the story went once they were involved (and I did like learning a bit more about them and how they worked).  But at times it got really hard to follow (especially once people were basically fighting inside each others' memories and minds, that got a bit hard to follow).  But by the end, I found that I really did care what happened to everyone, and, while in some ways sad, I really enjoyed the ending.

So while, in the end I did enjoy the book, I think I liked Architects of Memory better.  I missed the quirky crew dynamic of Twenty Five.  I also think this book might be better if read closer to the first book - while I remembered people and plot well enough as the book unfolded, it definitely would have been helpful if that first book was more fresh in my mind.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Fugitive Telemetry


 I've been waiting to get my hands on the newest book in Martha Wells' Murderbot Diaries series, Fugitive Telemetry.  As I said after reading book 5, Network Effect, I was quite interested to see where the series would go now.

Well, Fugitive Telemetry didn't pay off with any of the stuff Network Effect set up.  Instead, it opens on Preservation Station, where a body has been found.  The Station's Security team (reluctantly) brings Murderbot in to consult as they try to find the murderer.  As murder is extremely rare on Preservation Station, they shut the entire port down to investigate the murder.  

What follows is a really fun mystery while Murderbot tries to find the murderer (and both Murderbot and Station Security struggle to trust one another). 

So while Fugitive Telemetry did not have the further adventures of Murderbot and ARK, like I though it would, or feature the newly free SecUnit, Three, it was still a really fun read.  Like most of the other books, I couldn't put it down.  I hope the next (as yet unnamed) Murderbot book is fun like this one was!

Monday, May 24, 2021

Masters of the Universe: Dark Reflections


 Masters of the Universe Volume 2: Dark Reflections opens with the Masters trying to stop Skeletor from entering a tomb.  Unfortunately they are too late and Skeletor finds what he is looking for: the Elixir of Schneidor.  He plans to use the elixir to open a dimensional gateway into Castle Grayskull.  But the Masters of the Universe follow him to Grayskull in the hopes of stopping his plan.  Man-At-Arms attempts to disable the gateway Skeletor and his forces have constructed, but a blast from Skeletor knocks him through the portal, which was damaged in the fight; Tri-klops says there is no knowing where the portal may lead.  Skeletor decides to destroy the portal as it's no longer useful to him, trapping Man-At-Arms inside.  But after Skeletor leaves, the portal somehow opens once again, ejecting a comatose Man-At-Arms!

The Masters rush him back to the capital.  Meanwhile, Stratos arrives, seeking aid: mysterious blasts are destroying the city of Avion!  He requests the aid of Man-At-Arms, but since he is still comatose, He-Man and Man-E-Faces are sent in his stead to try to figure out what is happening.  While they're gone, Duncan awakens, claiming he needs to speak with King He-Man about the rebels.  After being restrained, he breaks free and makes his way to Castle Grayskull, determined to find King He-Man and stop the so-called heroes led by Keldor.

This is a really fun story with dimensional travel that makes me think of He-Man and the Masters of the Multiverse (which I apparently forgot to write about reading on here back in April - I'll have to remedy that, perhaps with a reread because it was so good!) I knew Man-At-Arms was going to end up being evil (you can just tell from that cover art!) but it didn't matter, the story was still really good.  It's unfortunate that these graphic novels don't seem to be a connected story (which I was expecting since they are volumes 1 and 2 by the same creative team), but that's okay, they're still fun reads.  They're also making me want to re-watch the 2002 show (which I have watched since I originally read The Shard of Darkness back in 2010 - it's super good!)

Masters of the Universe: The Shard of Darkness (reread)

 


I first read Masters of the Universe: The Shard of Darkness over ten years ago.  At that time, I felt that it really starts in the middle of the story, and that you're missing what happens first.  While that's still true, with Man-At-Arms and Prince Adam initially discussing the new-found powers that Prince Adam now had responsibility of, I didn't feel like it was a problem.  Most people reading this would already know Prince Adam is He-Man, so why wouldn't he have to figure things out once he newly has his powers? 

When they're called to deal with a minor emergency, they discover that Orko has found the Shard of Darkness, a piece of the Shakarran Crystal, which the Eternian Elders had used to contain an ancient evil long ago.  The Sorceress tasks He-Man to journey alone to find the remaining shards that remain on Eternia so that they can be banished from the world.

Meanwhile, Evil-Lynn is also after the Shard of Darkness.  She plans to use its power to overthrow Skeletor and take over the world in his place.  To that end she has enlisted the help of Trapjaw and Tri-klops.

I have to say, I liked this a lot more this time!  While the story is relatively simple, it still fits really well with the Masters of the Universe.  I liked how Skeletor's henchmen (and woman) were all backstabbing each other (often without you ever really sure who was backstabbing whom!) And I really liked that He-Man was unsure of himself and his powers, yet still manages to overcome great odds, even as Prince Adam.

One thing that I found particularly interesting this time around was the Sorceress.  I've always thought of her as a caring and somewhat motherly figure.  But she seems quite cold here, trusting to prophecy without explaining herself to Man-At-Arms and He-Man.  I'm interested to see if the series will continue and have her grow, as well as Prince Adam?  Well, only one way to find out - I'm reading Volume 2 next!

Some Library Graphic Novels


 I took out a few graphic novels from the library recently and decided to just write one post on all of them together.  

The first one was Covid Chronicles.  I was impressed that a graphic novel was already out talking about the pandemic (although honestly it's not that surprising since this has been our reality for over a year already).  This was a collection of short comics talking about the early days of the pandemic.  While there were some really great comics (I really liked the one that talked about the various pandemics that we've seen over the last 100 years or so), overall I found this a really difficult read because I wasn't ready to be reliving this stuff (which isn't really surprising since we're still living it).  I think it's a fantastic book that's going to have great historical value, but it's too soon for me to be reading or really thinking about it.  

But kudos to all of those creators who documented it!


Next I read Join the Future by Zack Kaplan, Piotr Kowalski, Brad Simpson and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou.  I liked this book.  Join the Future takes place roughly 50+ years from now.  Small towns are disappearing; their populations are encouraged to join the megacities where all of their needs will be met.  When no one is left in the town, terraforming machines descend and reclaim the land, erasing the town from existence.  

But not everyone wants to sacrifice their freedom.  This is the story of Clementine Libbey who refuses to join; she wants revenge against the people who killed her family.  

Clementine is a great character.  She's got real grit and refuses to compromise on her values.  She's also an asthmatic who is a terrible shot, which makes her quest for revenge all the more interesting because there is a very real chance that she's going to get herself killed.  She's also a minor, so the grownups around her don't exactly take her seriously (and there was one scene in particular that really pissed me off - because she's a minor, the state decided that they could sign for her and send her to the megacity when she refused).  You just can't help but root for her against these terrible odds.  I definitely recommend it!


Finally I read Aquaman Vol. 4: Echoes of a Life Lived Well.  This is the conclusion of Mera's coma (and wedding to Vulko).  Mera gave Vulko some sort of command, but to carry it out, he decided he had to go through with their wedding.  Meanwhile, the princess, Andy, has been living with Aquaman in Amnesty Bay, cared for by their friends and all those sea gods and goddesses who are around now.  But one night she goes missing, and Aquaman will tear the sea apart looking for her, starting with his half brother, Orm.  Meanwhile, Jackson Hyde, Black Manta's son, goes to his father for help, asking for pieces of the Mech Lex Luthor made for him that is programmed with the personality of Black Manta's father (in order to use the mech to help find the missing princess).  This leads Jackson to Xebel where he decides to live up to his own expectations, not those of other people.

Out of all the Sue DeConnick Aquaman graphic novels I've read so far, this one was the best.