I took a deep dive these past couple months into a comic I never expected to enjoy. My son, Sawyer, will turn seven later this month and he loves dinosaurs and superheroes, in that order (and Pokémon but that’s a rabbit hole I can’t dive down). So, I racked my brain for new things he could get into while quarantined and while perusing Netflix one day we came upon the perfect combination, Power Rangers: Dino Charge. He was hooked from episode one. As I am prone to do, I decided to look into reading options and comic options so that he just isn’t watching shows and my investigation quickly led me to Boom Studios and their wide array of Power Ranger Comics. I ordered a bunch of them and was planning on hours of reading alongside Sawyer. He had no interest. No dinosaurs. He had a mild interest in the giant robots, some of which looked like dinosaurs, and large monsters but not enough to invest his time and energy into reading them with me. Luckily, I had the time and to my dismay I was quickly hooked.
The concept of the Power Rangers is simple. Five teens are chosen by a holographic head, Zordon, and his robot assistant, Alpha-5, to defend the earth from a recently awakened ancient evil, Rita Repulsa, and her minions. The five become six when a Green Ranger is added mid season. The show has its roots in Japan. The Super Sentai series is a long running Japanese superhero action adventure show aimed at children. In the early ’90s American producer Haim Saban had the genius idea to take the Super Sentai action sequences and splice in American teens and create a modern mythology that has spanned 26 years at this point. As the Sentai show continues so has the Power Rangers and now we have hundreds of Rangers and a plethora of material to craft what is a genuine love letter to the source material in all of Boom Studio’s Power Ranger offerings.
I have a short history with the Power Rangers AKA the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The first season of the show premiered my freshman year of college and my roommate and I had a standing daily ritual of watching the Power Rangers roughly around 4:20 every afternoon if you get my drift. The bright colored costumes, the obvious dubbing of Japanese action television juxtaposed with the American teen drama was enough to keep our impaired minds engaged for thirty minutes each day. It was a very superhero concept, five teens granted incredible powers and giant robots to fend off the oncoming onslaught of alien invaders. Some light comedic moments, no heavy thinking, and a cliched endings every time. I didn’t stick around much after that first season. I never saw a movie or watched the show as it was reinvented every few years to keep pace with the Super Sentai series from Japan it used for its main action-oriented sequences. As that show evolved in Japan its iterations dictated what the next version of Saban’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers would be.
That’s why I was shocked by my utter enjoyment of Boom’s take on the Rangers. I started with Go Go Power Rangers, Boom’s second offering that has focused on that first year of the Rangers, when they had just been chosen by Zordon and come into conflict with the vile Rita Repulsa and her minions. Written by Ryan Parrot, who seemingly has a deep affection for these characters and this series. Parrot has put time and effort into giving depth to the five original Rangers- Jason (Red), Trini (Yellow), Billy (Blue), Zack (Black), and Kimberly (Pink). The show (as my foggy mind remembers) did little to flush out these characters back stories and motivations, how their friendships came to be, and how they interacted with one another prior to becoming Power Rangers. With a healthy dose of teen drama Go Go Power Rangers gives these once one-dimensional characters depth and personality. There are also parental issues and how the Rangers hid their exploits from their families as well as longtime friends who weren’t in the know. Parrot has spent time building up Angel Grove, home of the Rangers, and even jokes about how a sleepy California town seems to be the center of all monster attacks. Ryan Parrot and original artist Dan Mora created a compelling back story for Zordon, Alpha-5, and even gave some gravitas to Rita Repulsa and her motivations for conquering earth. Yet with all of this in the background there is still plenty of action, whether it’s against legions of Putties or large Zord conflicts with monsters of every variety. I was engrossed and burned through the volumes in a few hours as each volume is comprised of four issue arcs, a little light but still satisfying.
So, once I read a few volumes of Go Go Power Rangers there was a crossover, Shattered Grid, but more on that later. To get the whole story I jumped over to Boom’s original title- Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (MMPG). MMPG was a little harder for me to get into but within a few issues I was equally hooked. Originally written by Kyle Higgins this book’s art wasn’t as stylish as Mora’s on Go Go Power Rangers but over the course of the book it becomes more dynamic and each artist has lent their own style to the book but each is unique in their own right. Higgins wrote much of the series but then turned it over to Marguerite Bennett in the wake of Shattered Grid and more recently the flagship title is being written by Ryan Parrot. It’s easy to see throughout the entirety of this series that it is a labor of love for the creative teams and that they are fans of the source material.
MMPG opens in the later part of the first season of the show, when the Green Ranger Tommy has joined the team but is still under the control of Rita Repulsa. Just like it’s sister title MMPG spends a lot of time going into the back story of the Rangers, giving more depth to the characters and treating them in a more mature manner than the show ever did. The series focus is often centered on the Green Ranger Tommy Oliver and showing the inner turmoil he faces as being controlled by an evil space witch, how he is betraying his friends, and then the aftermath of his eventual release from Rita’s control. The comic also slow builds an alternate reality where Tommy never broke away from Rita’s control and he went on to become a dictator known a Lord Drakkon and his desire to control the Morphin Grid, the source of all power for all of the Rangers throughout time and space. Adding to this alternate Tommy is one of the best new character interpretations in the Ranger Slayer, an alternate Pink Ranger Kimberly who has been controlled by Lord Drakkon to travel the world and later the multiverse to find and kill other Rangers, leading her to the Go Go Power Rangers book. This build up leads to Shattered Grid, a giant crossover where Lord Drakkon makes his move to seize control of the Grid and comes into conflict with not just the first iteration of the Power Rangers but all of the Rangers as a select group of Rangers are thrown together, Rangers comprising all of the seasons of the show I’m sure to the delight of longtime fans. My fingers were working overtime on Wikipedia to figure out who everyone was, but that was more out of my need then the actual story as it is very accessible for readers who have not devoted a good chunk of their lives to the Power Ranger show(s). In recent volumes the flagship title has moved beyond the original Rangers and has instead been a collection of Rangers from all over time and space collected on a space station outside of the known universe trying to survive new threats with very little access to morphing capabilities on their less then trustworthy satellite. It was a great storyline known as Beyond the Grid. Now the title is building toward the next major storyline and crossover known as Necessary Evil.
I was as shocked as anyone about my love for these comics. I would have never thought that I would be waiting impatiently for the next volume of a Power Ranger comic. That being said it’s been such a fun ride these past few weeks. Some high points for me have been an 1960s Ranger team we never knew of as well as the conflict with Alpha-1 who was part of Zordon’s first attempt at cleaning up the galaxy and may have taken his duties to far. This of course begs the question of what happened to Alpha’s 2-4? There was a fantastic Power Ranger: Pink mini- series that picks up the story of Kimberly Hart after she left the team and the adventures she had post being the Pink Ranger. I also recently read the future tale of Tommy Oliver and his son as they try to reestablish order in the future in the Power Ranger’s: Soul of the Dragon. As somewhat of a neophyte to the Power Rangers mythos it does become clear pretty quickly that Tommy Oliver is a very important character to overall story of the Rangers as he is continually the focal point for large chunks of these stories. I will say that from what I remember of the show the comics have been far kinder to him then the show ever was, but as I read more and more, I doubt the show could have ever done justice to the Power Rangers like Boom Studios has.
I was surprised as the next person that I would become a fan of the Power Rangers. Maybe fan of the Power Rangers is a bit much but I am a fan of the comic book. I still haven’t invested any time into the actual series, other than that foggy first year and then with a glance at Dino Charge with my son. Maybe one day Sawyer will come around and want to read the entirety of Boom Studios Power Rangers, whatever that looks like as Go Go Power Rangers is coming to an end soon but will no doubt be replaced by another title while Mighty Morphin Power Rangers will continue. No matter the future though, if Sawyer ever decides to jump in he need not worry, as all those trades and future trades will be safe and sound in my comic library, much to my dismay.