Return to Angel Grove with Jason, Trini, Kimberly, Zach, Billy, and new comer Tommy with Boom! Studios’ Mighty Morphin Power Ranger on going comic book series. But is this a comic something best left in your childhood memories, or should you grab your power morpher and shout, “IT’S MORPHIN’ TIME!”
In January 2016 Boom! Studios released issue #0 of their highly anticipated Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comic book. This series aims to transport readers back to the days of the original teenagers with attitude along with Zordon, Alpha-5, Rita Repulsa, and all of her evil minions. If you were a child in the early-mid 90’s, or like me just loved giant robots fighting giant monsters destroying a city, MMPR was your life. What started as a little unknown show, that used footage from a Japanese show (Zyuranger) that no one knew existed, it quickly grew into a world wide juggernaut phenomenon. What writer Kyle Higgins has done is take what you fondly remember about MMPR and distill it down into it’s basic elements then updated it for a modern setting and storytelling.
So strap in because we’re going to quickly cover issues #0 through #4 to catch up for a HJU monthly review of this comic series. A bit of warning though there WILL be slight spoilers, so skip to the last paragraph to read my overall thoughts and recommendation.
MMPR was a fun show, but where it REALLY hooked me is the Green With Evil miniseries. The introduction of Tommy, how he became an evil Power Ranger, and then his road to redemption is what made me really fall in love with the show. Kyle Higgins is aware that this same thing happened for a lot of fans and that is where he starts off the story, but not where you might think. Issue #0 starts with Tommy freshly free of Rita’s control and has joined the other Power Rangers. The story wastes no time giving you a good introduction to the characters. Even if you never grew up on MMPR and are only familiar with the more recent Power Rangers series, you’ll have no problems jumping on board. It is clear from the beginning the direction Higgins wants to take with this series. This isn’t the old comic series aimed at kids, nor does it have the cheesy qualities of the original TV show. The characters feel like real teenagers having real conversations about what is going on in their lives. They also just happen to be super heroes that pilot giant robot mechas. This issue does pose a pretty big question though. Is Tommy truly free of Rita’s influence? That is where issue #0 leaves us and it wouldn’t be until March (the release of issue #1) until we’d start to get some answers.
Issue #1 introduces us to Bulk and Skull shooting a video for their, we can assume YouTube, channel Ranger Central. Which they describe as “your home for all things Power Rangers!” Through this video we get a refresher (or a recap for those that didn’t pick up issue #0) of what happened in the previous issue. Right in the beginning we again see the updating of characters we know. No longer are Bulk and Skull a couple of bumbling bullies to our main cast, but instead are fans of the Power Rangers. Now are they using the Power Rangers story to their own ends? We’re not quite sure and I hope we get to see a lot more of them as the series continues.
Issue #1 also deepens the characters of our heroes even more. In the TV show too often they would rely on Zordon or Alpha Five to explain what was happening and further the plot. Instead we see Trini and Billy take charge to try and figure out what went wrong in the previous issue. We also have Zach discussing his concerns about letting someone into their group who was their sworn enemy just a short time ago. The original TV show never really dealt with the fallout of Tommy joining. He was evil and then the spell was broken and joined the Power Rangers. It was the quickest case of forgive and forget I’ve ever seen. But here Higgins wisely has Zach ask the questions, “Can we really trust Tommy?” and “What do we know about him?” We also get an insight into Tommy’s own thoughts and struggles. It can’t be easy to be someone’s evil pawn and then join the heroes you were just trying to defeat. And that’s where issue #1 leaves us. With Tommy trying to figure out what it means to be a Power Ranger.
Issue #2 starts off with Trini and Billy running checks on the Dragonzord. Not only do we get a brief glimpse of what it’s like inside the gigantic zord, but we also get to see the inside control room of the Dragonzord. It’s something we rarely got to see in the TV show, if at all. This is also a nice little character building moment between Trini and Billy as they discuss Billy’s feelings about his contribution to the team. This is something that was touched on in the TV series for at least one episode, and it is nice that Higgins brings it up here as well. It’s these small one on one breakaway times with the characters that I’m finding as enjoyable as the main story. There is also a little one on one scene between Jason and Kimberly. We discover here that Jason teaches a youth karate class after school and is a natural leader. This issue isn’t all character development though, as we are treated to a cool fight in the woods with Tommy showing his martial art skills. The issue ends on a cliffhanger as it is revealed what Trini and Billy found in the Dragonzord and Tommy passing out.
Issue #3 takes us deeper into the stranglehold that Rita still has over Tommy. As a result of Tommy fainting in the previous issue, Trini runs a power scan on him to get to the bottom of what’s going on. It’s here again that we are treated with a small character to character moment. Higgins shines a light on Trini and we get some of her backstory and what she wants to do in the future. Have I mentioned that I love these little moments yet? Because you’re going to hear it again and again. It’s not all small moments with the heroes though, as we do travel to the Moon to catch up with Rita and her pals. By this issue her plan is almost ready to be fully hatched and it’s exciting to see Rita have a plan that extends beyond just creating a monster of the week. There are wheels turning in that brain of hers and it’s not just create a monster, make it grow, get defeated, rinse and repeat. We also get some pretty cool action and see the furthering development of the seed of mistrust between Zach and Tommy. We end with Tommy finally coming clean to both the team and Zordon, that he’s been not only hearing but seeing Rita in his head this whole time. That’s not the very end though, as we see in the last panel Rita has put the final stage of her plan in motion.
Issue #4 picks up seconds after issue #3 left us. Rita’s plan is now in full effect and it is heading towards Angel Grove harbor. If you wanted an issue jam packed full of action, your wait is over. Leaving Tommy behind, the Power Rangers head to the harbor to deal with the threat that just appeared. Without giving too much away, we are treated to some killer scenes of the zords working together to deal with the threat at hand. Then just when it seems the Power Rangers are getting the situation under control, Rita throws a wrench into the mix. It’s then that we see Tommy finally admit to himself his fears and doubts, then push past them to join the fight (against direct orders from Jason). The battle then continues until the Power Rangers finally get the upper hand and defeat the threat. Back at the command center though it’s not all celebrating as the mistrust and animosity that has been building up comes to a head. That’s not all that’s building through, as something begins to happen to the item they brought back with them. Could this have been Rita’s actual plan all along? This issue leaves us with the biggest cliffhanger of the series so far. The appearance of something we’ve never seen before.
And that wraps up issues #0-#4. I have been LOVING this comic series. Kyle Higgins has added depth and range to each character far beyond how we got to know them in the original ’93/’94 TV series. And while many people may be sick of the over use of Tommy in recent years, this comic has presented the character in a new and interesting light. No longer is he the new kid that comes out of nowhere, is the best at everything, and fits right in seamlessly. Instead we have a troubled kid who is trying to fit into a group, until very recently, he was brainwashed to destroy. Likewise the rest of the Rangers don’t accept Tommy right away with open arms. This is where Kyle’s writing truly shines as they all interact with each other. The art in each issue is also fantastic. Colors pop, each line and detail is crisp and clear, and it is very easy to tell what is happening from panel to panel. At times I was lost in the art, not because I was trying to figure out what was going on, but because I was just mesmerized at how fantastic it all looks.
A friend of mine once said something to describe the new Netflix Voltron series that I think also applies here as well. “It’s done how you remember the show being and not how the show actually was.” I couldn’t have used a more apt description for Boom! Studios’ MMPR comic series.
The original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers are back in a big way. With this on going comic book series and an up coming new movie, there is no better time to reconnect with the original teenagers with attitude.