Review: Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #1
I was a huge Power Rangers fan growing up, despite being slightly older than the target demographic. I can still remember getting mocked in middle school because I said my favorite TV show was Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. Middle School still hurts, people. Never forget that. But anyway, I watched the show religiously after school. I had action figures and Zords and video games. I daydreamed about being a Power Ranger, doodled them in class and invented my own fan fiction Rangers. Now I’m 32 and still have fond memories.
So I am probably the perfect target demographic for BOOM!’s new Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers comic book!
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
I’m not an obsessive fan, by any means. I don’t watch any of the modern incarnations. I didn’t squee or squeal when I heard that BOOM! was going to produce a retro Power Rangers comic. I’m just interested in reading good comics, and I have always though that the Power Rangers were open to a more mature exploration. I don’t mean a ‘grim and gritty’ exploration, though I wouldn’t turn that idea away. I just mean, the Power Rangers TV show didn’t delve too deeply into the characters or their conflicts. It was all kind of surface level entertainment. And that’s fine for an after school cartoon in the 90s. But this is comic books in 2016; character is key.
And character is exactly what writer Kyle Higgins and artist Hendry Prasetya deliver in this first issue. This isn’t just some bargain bin licensed comic that might get stapled to the action figure box. This isn’t a weak attempt to just recreate the pace of the show. This new series positions the Power Rangers as people first, color-coded superheroes second. It makes some weird choices and doesn’t necessarily put it’s best feet forward, but it’s still a solid start to a potentially morphenominal series!
Also, it stars the Green Ranger, whom we all know is the best ranger of all time. That’s a definite plus.
Join me after the jump for a full synopsis and more review! There will definitely be SPOILERS, so check yourself before you wreck yourself, as we said in the 90s.
We open on what I would consider a misstep, but maybe it works for everybody else. Rather than jump right into the Power Rangers, we instead start out with Bulk and Skull making a video for their Power Rangers podcast.
This goes on for four pages, with Bulk going into the history of the Power Rangers and how they first appeared to fight Rita Repulsa. He even goes into the most recent developments, where the evil Green Ranger showed up and then seemed to join the Power Rangers. This might have worked as an outsider’s perspective on the events of the Green Ranger Saga, but instead it comes off as simple exposition. This is just four pages of backstory, using the Bulk angle to give it some personality.
Which brings up another painfully obvious problem with this first issue…it’s not really a first issue.
In actuality, the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #0 issue from January was the real start of this series, even though that was reduced in size, and seemed at the time to just be a warm-up to the main event. But the #0 issue is everything this first issue should have been. I have no idea why BOOM! would even bother with that issue #0. Did they really need that teaser comic? Couldn’t they wait a month and a half to launch the series proper?
In my review at the time, I said it was a very good start, with a great focus on characters and a nice blend of human scenes and Power Rangers action. This issue has some of that. I think BOOM! and Higgins could have produced a much stronger start if they’d combined the two issues and started with a proper issue #1.
Anyway, so after the info dump, Bulk and Skull do a man-on-the-street segment, getting opinions on the Green Ranger and whether or not the Power Rangers should trust him. It’s a little weird that Bulk knows that the Green Ranger was created by Rita, but Higgins plays it cool, and the people don’t really know what to make of the Green Ranger. From their perspective, first he attacks the Rangers, and then he’s working with them? It’s not like the common folk are privy to what goes on in the Command Center. I hope Higgins explores this concept further going forward.
I also love the idea that Bulk and Skull have a Power Rangers podcast, and likely also a Youtube channel. That’s a great modern update.
Also, some of the people interviewed specifically reference the #0 issue, where the Dragonzord destroyed a bridge. So right off the bat, Higgins is calling back to the #0 issue rather than let this #1 issue stand on its own. Ah well.
Bulk and Skull eventually ask Tommy Oliver about the Green Ranger, fully unaware that he is the Green Ranger. Tommy has no idea what they’re doing, having never listened to the podcast. And since he is also grappling with concern over whether or not the Green Ranger (i.e. he) can be trusted, he’s a little flummoxed by the question. Fortunately, Kimberly comes to his aid! She chases off the two bullies turned Youtube stars, and we finally settle into the issue proper, with the focus on the Rangers themselves.
I am absolutely on board with exploring the love lives of the Power Rangers in this series. That’s exactly the sort of story that a series like this can delve into, with more nuance than the TV show would ever allow.
The school bell rings, and everybody heads to class. We check in on Zach and Jason in one class, and Zach appears to have fallen asleep at this desk. The teacher angrily calls him out and wakes him up, giving Zach detention in the process. Jason tries to protest that it’s unfair to give Zach detention — even though Zach was clearly sleeping in class — so the teacher gives Jason detention as well. That part might be a little unfair.
We then skip ahead to lunch, where, of course, the Rangers eat together. They make another reference to issue #0, while Zach gets a little snippy with Jason’s interference.
Jason asks why Zach was asleep in class, and Zach gets a little edgy. Clearly something’s going on at home, which is another good storyline to follow. Zach makes some excuses, while Trini and Billy announce that they’re going to take a look at the Dragonzord to find out why it malfunctioned in the previous issue. That’s when Tommy arrives for lunch. He doesn’t share a lunch period with the other Rangers, but a meeting with the school counselor ended early, so he decided to swing by and join everybody. He’s still having visions of Rita, but he does his best to brush them off.
Unfortunately, the bell rings and the other Rangers have to get to class, cleaving Tommy to eat alone. Poor guy.
We then see Bulk interviewing Jason about the Green Ranger, and Jason gives a big, Red Ranger-worthy speech about second chances.
Then we cut to Rita’s palace on the moon. Hopefully you remember how the fight went in the #0 issue, because Rita’s hatching some kind of plan using crystals and chaos energy. The first fight didn’t produce enough chaos energy, so she tells her henchmen that she needs more!
We check in on Zach and Jason in detention, where Jason tries to get Zach to open up about what’s going on at home. Zach doesn’t take the bait, and instead changes the subject to whether or not they can really trust Tommy, and whether Jason really meant that speech he gave to Bulk. Jason insists that if Zordon trusts Tommy, then they should trust Tommy.
Then we finally come to the badass action set piece of the issue!
Tommy and Kimberly are training in Zordon’s pocket dimension, which essentially looks like a massive Holodeck — definitely didn’t have that on the show! Prasetya really shines with the action, as Tommy leads a group of survivors through a burned out city, with Kimberly providing cover in her Pterodactyl Zord. It’s really cool. Then the Green Ranger is ambushed by an overwhelming number of Putty Patrollers, and Tommy can do nothing but fight in futility. The day is lost.
But that was the point. Once they’re back in the Command Center, Zordon explains that the exercise is about testing the Rangers against unbeatable odds and how they react, specifically to test that Tommy would keep fighting to protect people, no matter the odds. Kim tries to reassure Tommy that he did a good job, but Tommy wants to run it again, solo. They were supposed to go out for coffee…
That’s some quality drama!
Later that night, Tommy returns home and crashes on his bed. He’s still pondering Bulk’s question from earlier about what the Power Rangers mean to him…which is when Scorpina shows up and sticks a sword against his throat!
Considering how underutilized Scorpina was in the actual show, she’s a good choice for some more exploration in the comic.
That’s the main Power Rangers story, but there’s also a short, 2-page back-up story about Bulk and Skull, written by Steve Orlando, with art from Corin Howell. This back-up is played strictly for zany laughs, and doesn’t seem at all connected with the Bulk and Skull who appear in the main series. The story sees the two of them racing to the scene of a Power Rangers fight so that they can get some glory for themselves, only to end up kidnapping a Putty Patroller. It’s…eh, it’s fine, I guess. I’m sure it’ll have its fans, but it’s not what I’m looking for in this Power Rangers comic.
My only problems with Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #1 are the weird, exposition-heavy opening and the over-reliance on the #0 issue, both of which could have been solved if BOOM! had simply combined the two issues into one, proper first issue. They dove right into the story in the #0 issue, they didn’t need so much exposition then. I understand that there are younger fans who could use that backstory, but there are better and cleaner ways to incorporate it into the story than an info-dump at the very beginning.
But complaints aside, this was a really good issue. I’m a little surprised that there wasn’t any real Ranger action, just a training sequence, but that training sequence was still cool. Right off the bat, Higgins and Prasetya show us what a comic book can do, when not roped in by a TV show’s meager budget. I can’t wait for them to really blow up and show us some big screen action. The #0 issue had a lot, and had some fun with the Zords, so I’m very excited at what might come.
I’m also excited for what we see here. Higgins and Prasetya, and the whole creative team, do a fantastic job with what should be the heart of the series: the Rangers themselves. This comic should be about the personal lives of the Power Rangers, from teen romance to trouble at home to just generally hanging out and being friends. And I’m very pleased to say that this comic is off to a good start in that regard. The Tommy/Kimberly romance is simmering, and they’ve already started to delve into something between Jason and Zach. (Trini and Billy get the short shrift, but hopefully that will change).
We had more than 100 episodes of the Power Rangers TV show to see them morph and fight giant monsters. And if we want to just watch that again, we can turn on any of the current seasons of the show.
Older fans like me, fans who are really big into comics and prestige TV, want a series that really digs deep into these characters and their world. Higgins seems poised to do just that, and I like it. And Prasetya is a nice choice for artist. He does well with the hip, modern fashion, and the Rangers look like real people when they’re not in uniform. There’s a softer edge to the human scenes, and I like it.
Then Prasetya goes and draws some great action scenes. The Rangers in uniform look just as good, and if the #0 issue is any indication, he’s going to draw some great giant robot action scenes.
Another great thing about this series is the diversity. I know it’s a bit of awkwardness that the black character is the Black Ranger, and that the Asian character is the Yellow Ranger, but that just means there are black and Asian Power Rangers. Rather than be embarrassed by the cultural insensitivity of the 1990s, use it and make something great out of it.
And if I might make a suggestion: make Billy gay. It’s widely known that actor David Yost was gay, just as its widely known that he was mocked endlessly for it by the TV crew. It drove him down some dark paths. Well now is the perfect opportunity for a little justice. Embrace David Yost and honor him in this Power Ranger relaunch, after all these years.
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers could be the series I’ve always wanted, and I’m more than willing to give it a chance to prove it. It’s Morphin’ Time!
What did you think of the first issue? Or the first two issues? Let me know in the comments!
And if anybody wants to read the wacky adventures of Gary the Gray Ranger, just say the word!