The Nightlok are a race of monsters from the Netherworld. Led by Lord Xandred, they are determined to take over the world, using the sorrows of humanity. The only ones standing in their way are five teenagers. Jayden, Kevin, Emily, Mike, Mia and Antonio have been called upon to take up the mantle of the Power Rangers, the sworn enemies of the Nightlok and defenders of Earth!
Power Rangers: Super Samurai Volume 1-2
Story by Stephan Petrucha; Art by Paulo Henrique
Papercutz, May and October 2012. ISBN: 978-1-59707-331-8, 978-1-59707-339-4
63 pgs, $6.99SC, $10.99HD ea.
The Power Rangers franchise started in 1993, when production company Saban brought over a Japanese superhero children’s show, Dinosaur Squadron BeastRanger. They kept the battle sequences and the monsters but hired western actors with new scripts to create the new series Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. Since then, the series has adapted each new incarnation of the Japanese series. Super Samurai is the nineteenth season of the series.
The first volume of Power Rangers: Super Samurai, “Memory Short” uses a standard method of explaining the series to new readers, the memory loss of one of the characters, but it’s used to its full effect and actually works out well. Jayden and the rest of the Rangers are enjoying a concert when the Nightlok monster, Oblivitor, interrupts, sending the Samurai Rangers into battle. In the midst of it, Jayden is hit with Oblivitor’s attack, which makes him forget who he is. It’s up to the rest of the Rangers to try and get his memory back, by telling him not just that he’s a Ranger, but also who the Nightlok are and why they are fighting them. It’s a really good way to introduce all the important elements of the series so anyone, whether they’re familiar with the series or not, can pick up the book and understand what is going on.
The second volume, “Terrible Toys”, is closer to what an actual episode of Super Samurai would be. A new monster, Shador, has appeared to terrorize humanity. Unlike most of the monsters they Power Rangers have faced so far, though, Shador only appears to be the size of teddy bear, and even though there appear to be hundreds of him, he seems to be more of a nuisance than a threat. That is, until all the Shadors come together form one BIG Shador. The Power Rangers cannot take him down. They can knock him apart, but they can’t knock him out. It’s up to Antonio to figure out his weak spot and bring him down like a pile of bricks. Antonio can do this because of a scene at the beginning of the book that foreshadows its resolution. This is a common device used in kids shows to teach a lesson without being overt about it.
I didn’t expect to like this series. I’ve seen previous incarnations of Power Rangers and won’t let my kids watch them because of the way the show could talk down to them and deviated so far from the original material, which was often much better. But Super Samurai follows the characters and story of the original Samurai Sentai Shinkenger pretty closely. Since I enjoyed the original, this was a big plus for me. I also really enjoyed the humor that was in both volumes. It was corny but clever. Oblivitor being bugged by the Furrywort was funny, but the mini Shadors were hysterical all through volume 2. He had some great one-liners that really made the volume for me. “Terrible Toys” also re-introduced the two characters that are Power Ranger originals that I really dislike, Bulk and Skull. They were created for comedy relief, usually for physical comedy, but I never thought their stunts were funny. In “Terrible Toys” though, I didn’t mind them at all, and they were actually useful in the story, and so were justified in being included.
Power Ranger Super Samurai is a well written and illustrated series for all ages. It’s got action and humor that both kids and adults can enjoy and doesn’t talk down to its core readership. It’s also not a gender specific series, so both boys and girls will enjoy it. Whether you’re a fan of the US series or the original Japanese, there plenty to enjoy here as well. I’d recommend Power Rangers Super Samurai for any school library or graphic novel collection.