I was one of those teenagers that grew up in the Golden Age of Saturday morning TV; a truer kid of the 90’s you would struggle to find. The glut of material to feast my young eyes upon was unlimited, shows such as X-Men, Superman: The Animated Series, Captain Planet and my all-time personal favorite, Batman: The Animated Series, to name but a few. And who can forget Power Rangers, a mainstay of any Saturday morning? Many a child (myself included) sat in front of a TV screen transfixed, action figure in one hand, bowl of cereal in the other.
I tend to consider myself quite the connoisseur of the 1990’s in general, however there was one craze, one show that totally passed me by. It was the talk of the playground, a show that transcended the small screen birthing movies, video games and its very own trading card game. I hated it, my best friend and I the only two people in my school that practically placed ourselves in self-imposed exile when it came to the craze. Pokémon. Regardless of my personal gripes with the cartoon, the anime madness and general premise of the show quite frankly baffling to me at a young age, it was a cultural phenomena, a pop-culture sensation.
So why have I taken a stroll down memory lane, for this a comic review? A short and summative response to that question would be this: SnowCone City is the bastard love child of both Power Rangers and Pokémon. This itself creates all manner of problems, which I will come to address later.
The comic itself centres around a group of penguins who make up a group not too dissimilar from the aforementioned heroes; their costumes a direct homage to the spandex-clad martial artists. What, I hear you cry, is the name of such a heroic group of flightless birds? Why, the Penguin Rangers of course.
The plot centres around a new gaming craze that has taken the city by storm, little square boxes that contain monsters, (well at least they changed them from a ball shape at least). These monsters are then battled by their penguin owners… are you starting to see where I’m coming from yet? Anyway, when these monsters get out of control and a more sinister plan behind the craze is revealed, it is down to the Penguin Rangers to save the day, administering their own brand of madcap hi-jinks and frivolity.
A positive is that the comic is drawn in an engaging and whimsical fashion, a vibrant comic you would gladly hand to a young child safe in the knowledge that it is age appropriate. The illustrations within the 28 page comic go someway in developing a reader’s endearment with the comic but can only do such much, the narrative exceptionally weak. No too dissimilar from that of Pokémon and Power Rangers, the premise of SnowCone City is repetitive and predictable, the comic guilty of committing the same mistakes as the shows it seeks to parody.
Like Power Rangers, there are only so many times one can witness a Megazord taking on a gigantic foe, laying ruin to a city below (a scene that also happens at the end of this comic). And that’s my real issue with the comic, simply that its nothing new. Amalgamating two well- loved franchises such as Power Rangers and Pokémon is not enough to garner interest within an audience, nostalgia aside. The comic itself is made up of two concepts: monsters and penguins. But unlike the Megazord, they never really come together. I found myself finding it hard to come to terms with the fact the talking penguins are themselves battling monsters, often with animalistic qualities, a kind of Hunger Games for the animal kingdom.
I appreciate the desire to pay homage to the two shows, the writing coming from a good place, most likely nostalgia driven. However, any chance of the comic being authentic is soon dispelled in the staleness of the already generic concept and this I feel is one of the crucial criteria when creating a product in today’s already saturated comic market. Ultimately, what’s to stop a kid of the 1990’s from one day showing their children re-runs of Power Rangers or Pokémon?
Mighty Morphin or Poké-done? Do you want to catch all of the issues of SnowCone City? If you’ve read the comic, let me know what you think in the comments below or as ever, on our Twitter page.