Posts Tagged ‘Power Rangers’

Top 11 Favorite 90s Characters

February 17, 2018

Top 11


11. Bob (ReBoot)

When I played my first video game on the Atari, I was hooked. Even though the games of my youth were next to impossible, I loved trying each and every game I could get my hands on. Computers were also becoming more and more of a thing as I entered my teen years. I spent a lot of time playing computer games and video games with my friends and we bonded over them. So when Reboot first premiered, I was instantly in love. The show is about the programs that live inside a computer city called Mainframe. The show’s main hero is Bob who is a guardian. Being a guardian means that Bob would enter the games the user played and would “reboot” himself as an enemy character and try to beat the user at the game. If he succeeded, he protected Mainframe and if he failed, that section of Mainframe was destroyed. So it set up most gamers as unintentional villains opposed by guardians like Bob. Bob was always level-headed and did not let fear override his thoughts as he could not afford to get distracted. Bob also had a multitool that could transform into a lot of gadgets he might need to save the day both in the games and out of them. Even with the danger, I envied Bob’s life of basically living in video games.


10. Freakazoid

As I was growing up, my sense of humor started to evolve and animation started to move beyond the laugh track humor of past cartoons. Instead of corny humor of shows like The Flintstones or He-Man, family shows started to really figure out humor. Just because you are putting out a PG product, does not mean that your humor has to insult even its youngest audience members. The makers of Freakazoid obviously embraced a lot of different types of humor. Most of all, they seemed to embrace smarter forms of humor like Monty Python or Bugs Bunny. Combining the silly and the surreal was what that sort of humor was about. Dexter Douglas is a young nerdy teen (like I was!) who got zapped by his home computer and was transported into the Internet. Let’s pause there because I would have loved to be able to be zapped into the Internet. That would have been a geek’s dream. The experience turned Dexter into Freakazoid, a manic but enthusiastic superhero. Freakazoid is always out for a good time but, like Bugs Bunny, he often has to take care of villains just to get back to the fun. Freakazoid was also the defender of Washington, DC which is close enough to my hometown for me to get a little excited. This show had the same humor as The Animaniacs (more on that later) with low humor blended with high humor. Freakazoid was impossible not to root for too.


9. Mega Man

I was an early adopter when it came to video games even though I have always been kind of in the middle of the pack when it comes to skill. Still, I have always loved the aesthetics that video game developers come up with. Even a lot of the worst games at least look interesting. When I was young, I immediately glommed onto Mega Man 2. It was an incredibly difficult game but I loved the franchise’s idea of having elemental-themed enemies with a high degree of character. The show combines the concepts from the video games with anime. Rock is a robot who gets redesigned for battle and uses an energy blaster to fight evil robots. He also had an onboard computer feature that could copy his enemy’s abilities when he touched them which was similar enough to the games. I just remember Mega Man being so cool and confident and I liked the idea of not being stuck with one power but being able to use your enemies’ powers against them. The cartoon was short lived but it included a lot of stuff from the franchise and Mega Man eventually teamed up with his future counterpart Mega Man X as well. What kid didn’t want to be a robot with a robot dog?


8. Xena: Warrior Princess

Before I discovered the Evil Dead franchise, I discovered something else that Sam Raimi and his gang produced. That something was Hercules: The Legendary Journeys but, while it was a good show, Hercules was kind of a bland show compared to its spinoff. Xena was supposed to be a one-off character on Hercules, a brutal female villain for Hercules to contend with. At the end of her turn on Hercules, the audiences loved her so the decision was made for her to reform and to start her own legendary journey to right wrongs. Basically, she was fighting the patriarchy before most people were even using that term. She was also one of the first lesbian characters on television and even gawky preteen me understood that subtext. Xena was a total badass and she never met a situation she couldn’t fight, intimidate, or trick her way out of. She was also funny in the same way that Batman was funny which is funny without trying to be. She also fought a lot of the mythology that I had fallen in love with after reading The Oddysey, The Iliad, and other Greek/Roman tales. She also is one of three characters to get stuck in a Groundhog Day-esque scenario that ended up funny and interesting. (The other two are Sam Winchester and Phil Connors himself, of course). I also often have a soft spot for tough people who secretly have a heart of gold.


7. The Blue Ranger (Billy Cranston)

Power Rangers was a show that I was a huge fan of. I had no idea at all that it was edited from footage from a similar Japanese show. However, Saban was able to turn that into an unstoppable franchise that became its own animal. For me, Power Rangers was something I watched before leaving for school at one point. I remember being really interested in the idea of normal teenage kids becoming superheroes. It also scratched the same itch that magical girl shows would later also scratch. Billy, in particular, was my favorite because he had abilities beyond being a Power Ranger. He was yet another example of blue characters being the smart ones. He was an inventor who came up with a lot of the extra gadgets the original Rangers used and a lot of those gadgets continued into later series. He was also the awkward one, a little insecure about being among other people. When it came to actual Power Ranger powers, he was on par with everybody else. Episodes focusing on him often dealt with more real issues like rescuing a new girlfriend, phobias, or science.


6. Gambit (Remy Lebeau)

When I was a kid, I hated the Boy Scouts of America. I was briefly part of the Indian Guides (now thankfully called Y-Guides) and the Scouts were our rivals. Even today, I do not put much faith in the organization. But when I was a kid, I was kind of averse to “boy scout” characters like Superman and especially Cyclops. I much preferred to see more subversive characters like Wolverine, Rogue, and especially Gambit. Gambit was a thief from New Orleans who had the mutant power to replace an object’s kinetic energy with explosive energy. Anything he touched basically turned into a grenade. He did not wear a team uniform and instead wore a custom costume with a big trench coat. This was at a time when I was very tired of wearing uniforms for sports. While Gambit did not get nearly enough time on the animated series during the nineties, they meted out just enough of him to keep people wanting more. On top of that, I always wished I had his confidence growing up.


5. Darkwing Duck

This was officially my first experience with the combination of Disney and superheroes which would end up often being a very satisfying combination. Drake Mallard is a duck living in the DuckTales universe and he dresses up and fights crime as Darkwing Duck. He is basically Batman, James Bond, and The Green Hornet combined into one hero. He is a serious hero but the show was both a serious superhero show and a parody superhero show. The character of Darkwing Duck is a superhero who fell in love with being a detective and fighting crime. However, he also had a huge ego and tended to be rather clumsy at times. He often only saved the day when he managed to get serious and get out of his own way. He fought alongside Disney-fied versions of popular superheroes and fought Disney-fied versions of popular comic book villains and James Bond-esque villains. Unlike annoying heroes like Inspector Gadget, the humor did not come from him being incompetent but from Darkwing’s quips and physical humor. The character was also a good father to a little girl he had adopted who often helped to fight crime along with DW and his sidekick Launchpad (from DuckTales). As the show continued, Darkwing’s history was added to and there was a lot of great world-building.


4. Yakko Warner

The Animaniacs was a cartoon variety show that focused on a whole cast of zany Warner Brothers style characters updated for the nineties. The main focus of the show was the Warner Brothers and their sister Dot. They were cartoons deemed too zany and disruptive and were sealed in the water tower on the Warner Brothers lot. At the beginning of the series, they finally made their escape and the studio spent the entire series trying to acclimate them to polite society with no success. The kids were not evil, though. They were rambunctious and sarcastic but, like Bugs Bunny, they really only caused malicious chaos when somebody crossed the line and upset them. Their revenge was out of proportion but justified. Out of the three, Yakko Warner was my favorite. His form of comedy was mostly wordplay. He employed puns, sarcasm, and just good old-fashioned tricks with words. He was basically a cartoon form of Groucho Marx. He always seemed to be the smartest guy in the room and he leveraged that to make mean or rude people pay for their behavior. He also sang quite a few of the show’s most memorable songs including the highly educational Yakko’s World and Yakko’s Universe. Like Groucho, he usually ended up as the leader of his siblings and their spokesman. Inside my head, the words always flowed like Yakko but outside, especially as a kid, I was never as glib.


3. Sailor Mercury (Ami)

When I was sitting on my bed, watching episodes of Sailor Moon from Cartoon Network’s line up, I always loved Sailor Mercury the most. She never had the coolest power but in retrospect, her abilities usually gave the Scouts a tactical advantage such as fog or freezing the enemy. I mean, Sailor Jupiter obviously had the coolest powers. However, Ami was present from the fifth episode and it is a good thing that she was. She is by far the smartest of all of the Scouts and was the only Scout to be granted a magical supercomputer. There is only one episode of the original anime when she pulls out her Mercury Goggles which was basically a VR overlay visor for scanning things. That blew my mind because the combination of technology and magic was amazing. I identified with Ami because she was the “smart one” and my teachers kept claiming I was intelligent. I was also interested in the emerging technology of computers just as Ami was. Also, I was probably drawn to Ami because she was the shy and timid one and that was how I felt as well.


2. Spider-Man

In the middle of the decade, Marvel finally got its crap together and started to put out really good animation. Spider-Man is a character who I have always loved. His origins are as a nerdy and shy high schooler who got to magically transform into a superhero after being bitten by a radioactive spider. As a kid, I dreamed of finding my own radioactive spider (figuratively, of course). He also got to work for a newspaper in a sort of creative job all while studying cool science in college. That cool science enhanced his gear with gadgets but his main deal was his brain, his strength, and his speed. The cartoon in the 90s was great. It really captured a lot of what I loved about reading Spider-Man comics and it included pretty much his entire rogue’s gallery. They really captured both Peter’s internal monologue and the quips that Spider-man uses to disarm his foes mid-battle. The show also explored a lot of the angst that a young superhero felt while also trying to juggle a career, school, and a girlfriend. The show and the comics made me feel at the time that I could be Spider-Man which is one of the main strengths of the character. Anybody can be under that mask as long as they have radioactive spider blood too.


1. Batman

When I was a little kid, reruns of the 1966 Batman show came on and, while I enjoyed it, I never really engaged with it. It was better than I Dream of Jeannie reruns because it had superheroes even though Adam West was never really super. My relationship with Batman drastically improved when Bruce Timm and Warner Brothers released Batman: The Animated Series. B:TAS was everything that I wanted Batman to be and it became the bar by which I measured future Batman stories. The Animated Series was an amazing mix of both light and dark. I welcomed the darkness which was so sorely lacking from the campy Adam West series. I realized that Adam West was never really Batman. This was Batman. Kevin Conroy’s strong voice matched the shadowy, adventurous character on screen. His voice could be scary, brave, warm, vulnerable, and even funny at times without losing the character of Batman. The writing made it clear that Batman was not perfect but he lived in a world that believed he was. He put the weight of the world on his shoulders and then still saved the day the best way he knew how.

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Media Update 7/13/17

July 13, 2017


American Gods

I read the original novel American Gods a couple of years ago. Written by Neil Gaiman, it was a page turner that I found hard to put down each day. It is a fantastic tale of gods and monsters but a lot of it is hidden just below the surface. These are copies of the old gods who migrated to the Americas with immigrants (and slaves). No culture is off limits which is fascinating to me because from my first exposure, I was a super fan of mythology. The various pantheons, demigods, heroes, and creatures are the stories folks told each other to explain how the world works or to impart morals. That is not lost here as we meet these mysterious beings of power. In addition to all of that, it is the story of Americana and traveling through our country and seeing both the good and the bad. Seeing how people who used to rely on the old gods are dealing with their life. It is also about grief and finding your place in the world. At the same time, it is also about the new world clashing with old tradition. There is a lot going on but each episode is pretty simple, only letting slip a few clues as to what is actually happening so you can digest them and wait eagerly for more. Everything about the show is fantastic but the acting and the artistic direction stand out ahead of everything. I definitely recommend it.


Beauty and the Beast (2017)

I was nine years old when Beauty and the Beast came out and I imagine I saw it pretty close to that date. Disney’s version fo the story has been burned into my mind by now. Of course, like most people, my favorite part was Jerry Orbach’s charming performance as Lumiere. As I grew up, I realized what a special character Belle was. She was a strong, confident, and smart female lead at a time when kids really needed to see that. Sure there were others but she stands out among the original line of Disney Princesses. This version was every bit as fun as the original and then some. We mostly got the original movie but they added bits here and bits there that added more depth to the characters. Overall, they added about forty extra minutes which is a lot but it did not feel like too much. It made me feel like I knew the characters more than the original animated version. Emma Watson and Dan Stevens were stronger leads than the original not only thanks to good acting but more to work with. Supporting actors like Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen. Emma Thompson and Audra McDonald really helped as well. I definitely recommend this new version even if you missed the fully animated version.


Power Rangers (2017)

I was a big fan of the first few seasons of Power Rangers. I was an older kid but at that point, I was already a fan of Sailor Moon and Ronin Warriors so another show about young transforming fighters was welcome. The first seasons were goofy affairs with the rare dramatic moment outside of life or death battles. It was a great show to watch bad dubbing over a Japanese actress, costumed martial arts, and cool robot versus kaiju battles. My mom had to go on a waitlist to get us Power Ranger action figures for Christmas but I treasured them. This movie borrows cues from the original seasons but it also delves more into character like later seasons of Power Rangers (I’m thinking RPM). This movie is basically the Breakfast Club meets a superhero origin movie. We actually get a good long bit of the movie before the supernatural stuff starts happening. It was actually kind of refreshing to get a good hard look at our heroes before they become heroes. Instead of the original origin, we get to see the Rangers train up and bond as a team instead of all of them instantly being friends. It made the inevitable victory through teamwork all the sweeter. Throw in some fun supporting roles by Elizabeth Banks, Bill Hader and Bryan Cranston and some shout outs to the original three seasons. By the way, Bryan Cranston did voiceover work for the original season of Power Rangers. I recommend it but it might not be up everybody’s alley.

Music of the Week:
From First To Last – Ride The Wings Of Pestilence

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Red Right Hand

Kimberly Korn – Bad Girl Good Boy

The Weeknd – I Feel It Coming ft. Daft Punk

Black Flag – Nervous Breakdown

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Transformation”
– I started watching iZombie Season 3
– I watched more Arrow Season 5
– I finished Flash Season 3
– I watched more Supergirl Season 2
– I finished Blue Bloods Season 8
– I watched more House of Cards Season 1

Olivia Hunter, Monster Hunter Go!

April 17, 2015

Olivia stretched out on the lawn, laying down on a towel with her sunglasses on. She had been reading her book but Tracy had stopped by and kept interrupting so she had given up and pretended to take a nap. As the sun warmed her skin, that pretend nap was quickly becoming a real nap. Any minute now it would reach critical mass and she would be sent off to dreamland probably until she got hungry or one of the ultimate frisbee people tripped over her. She was thankful she had remembered to pack extra strong sunscreen.

She thought that maybe she would get a smoothie after the park and stop by and see what Janey was doing. Maybe she would see if Scott was at the gym. Maybe he wanted to do something together. She was having trouble working up the nerve to talk to him. If she could summon the courage she would ask him out but her face slowly turned hot and crimson whenever she thought of such things.

Suddenly all of those plans were canceled as what felt like an explosion rocked the earth under her. She sat bolt upright and jumped to her feet in time to dodge the crowd of people fleeing from the direction of the Revolutionary War Monument. She took in the scene but couldn’t see much through the trees. All she saw was people running in a blind panic and a plume of smoke coming from somewhere in that direction. Maybe it was the monument or maybe it was just something in that direction.

“Bolt Magic Unleash!” Olivia yelled out and touched the bracelet on her left wrist and it shimmered and then shined and began to spark. Instantly more fabric formed around her even as her bikini changed and stretched. She could feel a tugging on her long blonde hair. After a few moments she stood there in what looked like a yellow sundress with yellow and gold boots. Her messy hair had been tied into a more manageable pigtails. She felt a surge of energy run through her body and then she was sprinting towards danger faster than any human being. She was Lightning and she was a monster hunter and a superhero.

The pavillion at the monument was flooded with what looked like little goblins. Olivia slammed her fist into the nearest one’s face and it tumbled through the air and landed with a thud. It disintegrated into a pile of sparks and smoke as Olivia started punching and kicking some more goblins. The sundress was easy to move in and made hand to hand combat easy. It also magically kept in a modest position which was a definite plus.

“Lightning Shock Wave!” She shouted, pointing her palm at a crowd of goblins. Her palm crackled with light and then a huge wave of electricity launched from her hand. The goblins were engulfed in the energy blast and one by one they exploded violently. Olivia couldn’t help but grin at how awesome it was to wield the awesome power of lightning.

“Careful, Lightning! Take these goons out fast so they can’t surround you!” A voice echoed in her head. She could feel it coming from the bracelet but knew it was Ariel, the strange being that had given her these powers.

“Relax, I’ve got this. Lightning Bolt Go!” She shouted as she unleashed an arc of electricity that took out several more goblins. There weren’t so many more goblins at this point so she set about punching and kicking her way through them. It felt good to get a little action out of her system. She was definitely going to need that nap now though.

A huge two-headed goblin burst through the treeline with a terrific roar. It collided with a column on the pavillion and sent chunks of stone everywhere.

“Hey! That’s city property, Jerk!” Olivia shouted. She hated to see a great monument damaged like that.

“That guy is bigger than the other ones were! Shift into Dragon Armor Mode!” Ariel shouted.

“Right! Lightning Mode D Activate!” Olivia shouted. She traced a lightning bolt across her chest with her left hand and the bracelet shined brightly and then became more of a high tech watch. She slammed the big gold button on the watch and there was an explosion of light around her. She was always amazed at the speed that the armor formed around her body. She was equally amazed that she was never injured in the process. When the light cleared she was dressed head to toe in golden armor. She drew a golden sword.

“Lightning Blade Go!” Oliva shouted and charged the two-headed goblin. Everything seemed to go into slow motion as she ran past her target and slashed her sword hard. She felt it as she made contact and she slid to a stop a few yards behind the monster. There was an agonizing moment and then the goblin exploded. She grinned and pumped her arm. “Yes!”

“Good job, Lightning! Another threat eliminated. Of course, you could have waited for the team to arrive.”

“Eh, I work better alone anyway.”

(Yeah I threw Sailor Moon, Ronin Warriors and Power Rangers into a blender.  I kind of love it though. It’s really fun to write.)


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