Power Rangers Megaforce “Panic in the Parade” is the third graphic novel created by Papercutz. This issue releases in July. Pre-order your copy on Amazon! Check out our review of the first two issues “Memory Short” and “Terrible Toys” on RangerCrew Blog. This review has images and spoilers from the issue.
If you have been following our coverage, you may recognize the cover and title from the prototype Megaforce Issue #4. The cover was first seen last June during the Licensing Expo event. The prototype Issue #3 “Game On” was shortened into the second story in this issue. The final version of the cover adds minor design changes and the “Game On” title for the second story. The cover features Vrak and four of the morphed Power Rangers in the background and Emma (Pink Ranger) in the lower center. The subtle focus on Emma’s character is a fine addition to the cover. Power Rangers products, including the Lionsgate DVDs, often focus on the male Rangers. The Mega Rangers and Robo Knight are seen in the graphic novel’s inside cover, which would make a fun poster.
The title page uses a screenshot from the final scene of Power Rangers Megaforce “Mega Mission” episode. The following page lists the team behind the graphic novels and a special thanks to RangerCrew.
The novel dedicates a few pages for introducing Power Rangers Megaforce and the characters to the audience. This is the same concept that was used in the Power Rangers Super Samurai issues. The Ranger Profiles, including Robo Knight, list the character with two photos, weapon and zord information, and a detailed description of the character. In Troy’s bio, Troy is described as a teenager that has moved several times in his life and learned to take care of himself. In Emma’s bio, Emma’s weapon is listed as Phoenix Flare. The villain bios include an image and a short description for each character. Vrak’s bio shows an image of Vrak in his final form and hints about Vrak’s brother in Power Rangers Super Megaforce.
Panic in the Parade
The novel starts with Emma and Gia hanging out and joining the celebration of Harwood County’s 100 year anniversary. Paulo Henrique (credited as PH Marcondes) delivers beautiful artwork for the character designs. The artwork depicts the characters in a fun and adorable manner. A young boy approaches Emma and asks her for money for a bus ride. Gia tells Emma that she is too trusting when she notices the boy asking another guy for more money.
Vrak overhears their conversation and prepares for his next mission. Unlike the actual show, the novel shows an old school approach of showing the villain interact with the current story of the day rather than sending a random monster. Papercutz followed this concept in the first two issues. The page also hints about Vrak’s brother, who is a “Prince who commands the approaching Armada.” Vrak places the device on the ground and heads back to the ship.
The Warstar Ship starts with the traditional shot of the ship in space (as seen on the show). This frame uses soft brushes to represent the Earth’s background and the ship feels washed out with the color choice. Vrak’s artwork on the ship is a slight improvement from the previous scene. Admiral Malkor has nice details in his face and armor. Issue #3 introduces multiple monsters in this issue. The first monster, Flage, uses a device to transform Vrak into a human. Flage warns Vrak that his true form may be visible at times. I liked this concept because it allows for direct interaction with the Rangers rather than the typical fight scenes. Creepox and Vrak continue their banter on who has a bigger stick. Vrak wins the discussion by boasting of his royal heritage.
I like the usage of Ernie’s Brainfreeze in this issue. The location is used as the hangout spot and a focus scene for Emma and Vrak’s interactions. Emma ponders about her trusting nature. She sees a man approaching the Brainfreeze and gets a quick glimpse of Vrak’s alien form. The two characters engage in a conversation about Vrak’s plot. Vrak offers Emma a chance to convince Vrak that humans should be spared. The frame that shows a transition of Vrak and his human form is a nice representation of the temporary form.
Back at the parade, Gia and the other Rangers join the celebration. Jake is spinning the soccer ball and Noah is cleaning his glasses. These are subtle concepts that I look for in the novels. Creepox and a swarm of Moogers start the attack. Troy protects a young boy from an incoming blast. This frame makes beautiful usage of the bomb blast and smoke with a fantastic rendering of Troy’s character.
Troy leads the Rangers into an alley, where they morph into action. The morph scene isn’t as engaging as the Super Samurai Issue, which made an awesome poster. As the Rangers face off against the Loogies, Emma continues to convince Vrak to back off from the humans. The Rangers summon their Power Weapons in another great frame. The eyes in the Gosei Morpher look odd. During the fight, Jake praises Gia and then thinks that he is a “love-sick jerk.” This is a great way to match the Jake and Gia relationship from the show. Creepox focuses his attention on the Red Ranger. The color and font usage for the attack text feels distracting at times, but works well on the smaller panels.
Vrak’s plan begins when the device activates and reveals Wastaro, who apparently get his own page. This concept was used in the past Super Samurai issues. I would’ve preferred the morph and weapon scenes to have gotten the full page treatment. Red Ranger leads the Rangers to battle against Wastaro. The confetti streaks spread nicely across the multiple panels. The confetti and trash continue to make Wastaro stronger. This is ironic because Emma originally offered to help clean the mess and she is the one Ranger who is not present in this battle. Wastaro is too strong for the Rangers.
Back at Ernie’s, Emma and human Vrak continue their debate on humanity. Vrak reveals his plan that he was stalling time for Wastaro to grow to full strength. He took full advantage of Emma’s trusting nature. Wastaro’s attack lead to heavy damages to Ernie’s Brainfreeze. Vrak’s device is destroyed and he is back to his alien form.
Gosei and Tensou make a brief appearance in this issue. In the show, the two characters have great exposure in the first episode and become wasted potential throughout the season. The novel delivers the same effect by giving them a single, small panel treatment. The Command Center scene shows Gosei, Tensou, and two of the viewing panels. I’m not a fan of Gosei (and the Gosei Morpher)’s design in the comics due to the rendered eyes. The Tensou character has decent details with the Gosei symbol.
The panel showing Wastaro preparing to unleash an attack is one of my favorites from this issue. The energy streaks and perspective shot between the Rangers and the monster make this panel stand out in the battle. Gosei makes another brief appearance in a speech bubble.
Back at Ernie’s, Emma has to make the decision on whether to help Vrak. She is been facing the ongoing battle on whether to trust people and feels betrayed at every step. Vrak reveals the means to defeat Wastaro. Is he telling the truth or is this another trick to make the monster stronger. In Power Rangers history, villains have often taken advantage of the Rangers’ good nature. Pink Ranger joins the fight and prepares to make the decision to trust Vrak. She ignores Black Ranger’s plan and leaps on top of Wastaro’s head, which is the original device that Vrak planted at the beginning of the issue. This page provides a healthy dose of story, action, and Emma’s thought process. As I read this page, I get reminded of the lack of love for the Female Rangers in recent Power Rangers marketing and Lionsgate Power Rangers DVDs. Papercutz provided a great story for Emma (Pink Ranger) and gave her the opportunity to take lead to “clean” up Wastaro’s mess. If this was another monster, I would’ve preferred Gia (Yellow Ranger) due to the confident nature of her character.
There’s no surprise that the Wastaro grows to his zord-size form after Emma’s victory. The mention and rendering of the Zombats is a fine addition to this page. The Rangers bust out their Gosei Morphers and summon the Mechazords. The Gosei Morphers finally look awesome in this page. As mentioned earlier, I’m still not pleased with the fact that cards take a backseat in this issue. Cards are mentioned but their renderings are hardly visible throughout the issue. The best rendering of the card is in this page when the Rangers reveal the Gosei Great Megazord Card.
The two pages dedicated to summoning the Mechazords and the formation of the Gosei Great Megazord are well construction. The Super Samurai versions were rushed in the previous issues. The pages allowed ample room to show the entire process, including the Zords leaving the Zord Island, transforming into Mechazords, and the final transformation to the Gosei Great Megazord. The details in the Gosei Great Megazord’s helmet is stunning for the graphic novels.
Wastaro makes a joke about the lengthy formation. Unfortunately, he is correct in the fact that the monster is defeated in half the time it took to form the Megazord. The finishing attack feels uninspired and rushed. Another panel or two would’ve allowed more breathing room for the zord fight.
I loved the fact that Ernie’s Brainfreeze was heavily damaged in the fight. This is a subtle concept that is often ignored in a standard Power Rangers episode. It’s a shame that Ernie wasn’t shown in this issue. Ernie could’ve had a fun one-liner in the final scene. In the final scene, Emma and Gia join the parade cleanup. The young boy returns with Emma’s money and tells her that he needed the extra money for his sister. It is refreshing to see that Emma was spot on in her trust in people.
The issue starts with a training session in the forest. Red Ranger leads the training session with Yellow and Pink Rangers, while the other Rangers are taking a day off at a gaming convention.
Jake and Noah have their own interests in the gaming convention. Jake is there to have fun, while Noah and Mr. Burley are interested in the programming aspects. As a former game programmer, I can respect the approach that the writer took to find a fun way to allow the Jake and Noah friendship to interact. In the show, we see the two characters hanging out in the computer lab. One immediate rant that I have about this issue is Jake’s rendering. His appearance in “Panic in the Parade” was a closer match to Azim Rizk (Jake / Black Ranger). Mr. Burley’s character design matches the show version with a hint of a youthful spirit.
Once again, Vrak monitors the current scene and plans an attack accordingly. Vrak learns that he can take advantage of the gamers’ ability to coordinate with their fingers. Jake immediately recognizes Vrak and remembers Emma’s last encounter with the character. This is a nice way to blend the story from both issues.
The morph panel feels off because he spends more time talking during the call sequence and formally says the “It’s Morphin Time” line in the next panel while wearing the suit. This is the second time in the issue where the Rangers emphasize on maintaining their secret identity. In order to fix the odd morph panels, I would’ve replaced the identity line with the morph call and use the next panel to show the Black Ranger with a one-liner.
Black Ranger uses the card to summon the Snake Ax, which has a nice detailed rendering. The convention attendees are enjoying the live show as Black Ranger faces off against Vrak. Black Ranger performs the Rock Rush attack to send a boulder towards Vrak, who pretends that the attack defeated him. Vrak’s dialogue feels out of character in this panel.
Vrak reports to Admiral Malkor on the Warstar Ship about his recent finds. He wants one of the gamers to control Xombitar (monster of the day). Malkor considers the monster as their greatest weapon, which feels odd in this context. “One of our greatest weapons” would’ve helped with the tone and provide appropriate emphasis on the monster. The villain artwork and colors used in this panel are below par compared to “Panic in the Parade” and past novels. One particular detail that I appreciated was the Vrak’s back armor.
Black Ranger contacts his friends to join the fight. Red Ranger (morphed) says that they will morph and meet up with them. Jake may not know that they are already morphed, so that line may make sense. Noah tells Mr. Burley that he needs to leave. Vrak and Loogies look for the lucky candidate to control the monster. Their search leads them to Mr. Burley, who appears to be THE gamer at the convention. This is a fun way to utilize the hilarious character from the show. The lighting and soft shadows used in the Vrak and Mr. Burley scenes is truly beautiful work.
Vrak tricks Mr. Burley to control Xombitar in the “video game.” The Rangers arrive to the convention center and are immediately greeted by Xombitar. The Rangers face off against the monster in an action-packed page with progression of Xombitar’s first attack followed by the Rangers working together to surround the monster.
The fight continues as Vrak instructs Mr. Burley to use a combo strike attack to fire missiles at the Rangers. One of the pages is dedicated to the Rangers destroying the missiles with the following page has the final missile heading towards Red Ranger. The odd thing about this panel is that Red Ranger is asking for help rather than flipping above the missile and let it crash into the wall. Mr. Burley is starting to get suspicious about the explosions from the convention center.
The Rangers combine their weapons and form the Mega Blaster, known as the Megaforce Blaster in the show. One of the panels shows a nice rendering of the Victory Charge card with the two barcodes. This is the concept that I’ve been looking for in both stories. The Rangers fire the Mega Blaster and weaken the monster. As Xombitar starts to get up, the Rangers summon the Mechazords. The panel resembles the Zord Island panel that was also used in “Panic in the Parade.”
Vrak summons Thistle to join the fight. The character design of this monster is one of the best renderings in the “Game On” story. Mr. Burley commands Xombitar to retreat while Thistle attacks the Mechazords. Vrak and Mr. Burley’s interactions is very entertaining as Vrak gets upset at Mr. Burley’s sarcasm.
Blue Ranger starts pondering if the Robot is controlled by Mr. Burley. We know that Noah is the smart one of the group but this is a random thought that does work based on the robot’s random behavior, as hinted by Noah at the beginning of the issue. Blue Ranger controls the Shark Mechazord to write a message to Mr. Burley, who decides to control the robot to help the Power Rangers.
This zord fight is a major improvement from the quick battle shown in “Panic in the Parade.” The movement strokes and explosions provide great indications of the actions. The zord renderings are a hit and miss compared to the past works from Paulo. Vrak uses the zombats to make Thistle grow to his large form. The Gosei Great Megazord formation is quick with decent details in the artwork. The zoomed in helmet is beautiful and another highlight to this page. I loved the bottom panel with Thistle and the Megazord.
As Vrak and Mr. Burley fight off for the Controller, Gosei Great Megazord performs another quick Victory Strike to defeat the monster. I would’ve preferred less focus on the zords and more on the Gosei Great Megazord battle in both stories.
In the final page, Mr. Burley ponders if the game was real. Blue Ranger tells him that it was a “paranormal coincidence,” which immediately sparks Mr. Burley’s interest. “Game On” felt like a rushed story with amazing focus on Mr. Burley’s character.
The novel ends with a few pages from the Papercutz Team. The first photo shows Jim Salicrup, the Editor-In-Chief of Papercutz, in front of “Big Red” statue. The following page shows a preview of Power Rangers Megaforce Issue #4 Broken World.
Power Rangers Megaforce Issue #3 is the first issue to have two stories: Panic in the Parade and Game On. The issue numbering has been confusing because the #3 is referring to the third issue created by Papercutz. This is the first Power Rangers Megaforce issue. The story and artwork continues to remain strong from the past issues. This issue could’ve benefited with more introduction to the Power Rangers Megaforce story. There were a few hints about Vrak’s Brother in Power Rangers Super Megaforce. My favorite concept from both stories is the heavy focus on characters who normally don’t get focus in the show. Emma (Pink Ranger) got more story in this issue than the first 9 episodes in Power Rangers Megaforce. Mr. Burley played a fun and interactive role in the “Game On” issue. The character interactions between Vrak and Emma is another concept that I miss from old school Power Rangers. Nowadays, villains send out a random monster and we have an episode. In both stories, Vrak monitored the scenarios and planned the appropriate monster of the day.
I highly recommend checking out Papercutz Graphic Novels. Saban Brands needs to hire Stefan to write a few Power Rangers episodes. “Panic in the Parade” releases next month and the fourth issue releases in November.