As has come up on the podcast on numerous occasions, I’m a huge fan of all things Power Rangers, still watching the show to this day and regarding the upcoming remake with a healthy mix of dread and excitement. It’s a series that’s seen numerous iterations, developed a huge fanbase, and even gained its own biannual convention. Not bad for a show that uses repurposed Japanese footage for half of its running time.
Of course, for most people, Power Rangers isn’t a decade-spanning media franchise. No, for the average viewer, Power Rangers was a smash hit of the early 90’s, a show they enjoyed as kids but quickly abandoned as they grew out of the expected demographic. As such, when most people think Power Rangers, they’re Mighty and they’re Morphin. And since nostalgia is a powerful motivator, it came as a pleasant surprise when a new Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comic was announced last year.
As a lifelong fan, though, I’ll admit that while I was intrigued by the book, I was never overly excited about it. The biggest reason for this is that while I appreciate the original series for starting the franchise off, it’s a hard period of the show to be enthusiastic about revisiting. Specifically, the stories of these characters continued and concluded throughout the next few seasons; how was a comic set so early in the timeline supposed to excite?
Fortunately, writer Kyle Higgins answers this question by providing something that the earliest seasons of Power Rangers were often missing: character depth. Now, that’s not to say that the original cast were complete blank slates or that they didn’t develop over the course of the series, but the Mighty Morphin era is plagued with so much filler content that it’s hard to track any real arcs for its characters.
Higgins accomplishes this by giving the characters plenty of opportunities for smaller moments in each issue. From Billy and Trini having a heartfelt discussion about the former’s worth on the team to the way Jason and Kimberly discuss their concern for another member of the team, Higgins isn’t afraid to let each issue take a breath instead of rushing from one battle scene to the next.
That said, I do have to question the focus of the bulk of the character development in this volume, and this is where we get to the main plot of the collection. Set immediately following the events of the famous “Green with Evil” storyline, the five issues focus almost exclusively on Tommy’s mental state in the aftermath of being mentally controlled by Rita Repulsa. So, while this allegedly a team book, the back cover may be more accurate when it calls this “Green Ranger: Year One.”
Look, I love Tommy, but he’s also one of the most fleshed out, developed characters in the Power Rangers universe. And while I understand the motivation behind putting the focus on him for this arc – the Green Ranger is unquestionably the show’s most popular and enduring figure – it feels like a missed opportunity to give greater focus to the rest of the team. That said, the ending of this arc suggests that the book will open up to tell a greater variety of stories in the future, which I welcome.
Also, though I may not agree with the focus, it’s still a well-told, wonderfully illustrated story, one that covers a lot of ground to establish a new status quo for the team. The book sets itself apart from the show in a few ways, not the least of which is that it’s moved the events up to modern day. Everyone has a cell phone, is on social media, and, best of all, Bulk and Skull have their own YouTube series dedicated to the Rangers and Angel Grove.
Speaking of the original series’ true stars, though Bulk and Skull only appear briefly in the main story, they’re the stars of their own back-up series collected here as well. Written by Steve Orlando and drawn by Corin Howell, these shorts are reminiscent of the adventures the duo would get into from Zeo on, only occasionally interacting with the Rangers as they get up to their own wacky shenanigans.
Overall, this first volume of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is a success, capturing the spirit of the original series while providing more of the nuance and depth later versions of the show would regularly offer. Though the focus on Tommy feels a bit redundant, I’m still excited to see where Boom’s Power Rangers line of books goes to next.
Final Score: 7.5 out of 10