This week, I read a fun comic book packed with everything I wanted out of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, from exciting action to cool character moments, and an interesting peek into new corners of the universe sure to keep me coming back for more. And then I read the Justice League crossover. To say that these two titles, each with our color-coded Teenagers With Attitude in common, are on opposite ends of the fun spectrum for me would be an understatement. The title of this review suggests a decision must be made about which of the two comic stories rose up to take the crown for this week’s best. But let’s be honest. Though Justice League / Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #6 has its fans, sending it into the ring with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #19 is a TKO waiting to happen. With sticks of dynamite packed into every boxing glove arrow.
Perhaps we’re not being fair to Justice in this regard. After all, it’s a six-part mini-series with closed continuity that is really just meant to be a light yarn about two super teams coming together. Given the circumstances, what were we expecting? Well, dimension-hopping team-ups aren’t exactly a newfangled idea for comics, and while this is among the first for the Power Rangers (though they have crossed paths with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in Power Rangers in Space), I wouldn’t say this leans toward the upper half of that illustrious list. Even as the breezy story it seems to be going for, I found several aspects of it to be just plain odd.
Whether it was Zack breaking down in tears and needing Superman to console him, or the Rangers losing their powers while long stretches of dialogue laboriously explain tedious fantasy science that could have been summarized on the go, it’s all just kinda… eh.
Not that I’m opposed to having characters show strong emotion or getting an earful to explain a complex plot, but this seemed like the last place for the former and the most momentum-killing to the latter. Not to mention the unfortunate choice of dressing up the power-stripped Asian Yellow Ranger in a stereotypically Asian super-suit from the DC Universe for ponderous reasons despite the fact that there are several yellow and/or cat-themed outfits that would have been much more fitting and far less awkward.
You’ll notice there hasn’t been a comment about the actual final issue yet, and that’s mainly because I struggle to find things to say about the story’s ending, much less its beginning or middle. The heroes gathered, fought a painfully watered-down imitation of Lord Zedd and Brainiac, two powerhouse figures of villainy from their respective realities, and witnessed the Rangers’ unskilled robotic assistant Alpha growing to kaiju size to fight a leviathan and actually win while a giant Zedd is defeated by bad dialogue explaining why he can’t win even though anyone who’s seen him in his native TV environment knows he can.
On the bright side, there are some cute bits where Kimberly enjoys using Green Arrow’s weaponry and Billy bonds with his Science Bro Cyborg to outsmart the enemy. After a cringe factory explodes all over our heroes in the Angel Grove Juice Bar and Bruce Wayne’s alcoholic stunt double chases off the locals with whiskey breath, the two teams bid each other a fond adieu. But just to make certain they’ve left no cliche un-exhausted, Alpha reveals himself to still be infected by the nefarious Brainiac virus. I’d say this has about as much chance of being followed-up on as the Venjix virus in Power Rangers RPM, but unlike most other mediums, in comics, the possibilities really are endless. So, stay tuned, Super Fans!
While we hold our breath for the next Saban/DC blockbuster, the ongoing Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is leaving me just plain breathless, with another stellar issue of excitement and wit.
Alien monster-maker Finster is having the time of his life, doing his best Hannibal Lecter impression as guest of the Rangers, who are at a loss with how to deal with the sleeper agents he’s sent out into the world. Creatures who look human but transform into havoc-raising monsters in major cities across the globe.
If you were to ask anyone, who out of the core MMPR villain roster would be the most interesting, I doubt almost any viewers would have said Finster, but with the help of these comics, his character has rocketed to the top of that list in short order. First it was that amazing short in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 2017 Annual. Now we take it a step further with Finster flashing creepy looks and tossing out shady comments about what chaos he may have unleashed on the Earth. “It’s art”, he says when questioned by a frustrated Trini. And I’ve never been so curious about what this tricksy old weirdo has up his furry sleeve.
While sister series Go Go Power Rangers carries the heavy load of relatable backstory for the teens in their daily lives as both heroes and humans, you can’t discount Kyle Higgins’ deft hand at characterization. Here we see a bit of what life is like for Kimberly as she deals with some familiar issues from the television series, as her father has just informed her of his decision to remarry. Her name is Kelly. I wanted Kimberly to ask if her last name was Kapowski but maybe that’s just a little too much 90s nostalgia all at once. These pages can only contain so much neon.
As Kim and the others are called into action, I enjoy the monsters a lot more than some in previous issues. It wasn’t terribly off-putting but there might have been a few that seemed more like standard comic book baddies instead of the slightly (or insanely) corny creations doled out on the small-screen. Better the punny bird with electro-antennae stuck to his hide than the naked human-looking Roman guy from earlier adventures. As long as it’s in good fun and doesn’t detract from an otherwise solid plot, I’m game.
Zack’s clever solution to take out both monsters by using their abilities against each other proves an amusing end to the battle – what may only serve as a preview of the drama ahead.
The Rangers get one last surprise when wealthy philanthropist Grace Sterling practically rings the doorbell on their supposedly secret Command Center, demanding to see Zordon. The biggest bombshell, which no one saw coming outside of the potential hundreds who read the solicits which tell you everything in advance, is that Miss Sterling used to be a Red Ranger.
In conclusion, if I see the Justice League calling again, I think I’ll let it go to voicemail. But if it’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #20 on the line, I’ll take it in my office. Don’t bother me while I’m reading my stories.