Today, Michael and Ryan M. are discussing Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 0, originally released January 13, 2016.
Michael: I’ll be honest, I don’t think we really need a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers reboot movie, let alone a comic book series. Some people might argue that bringing the Power Rangers back to the forefront continuing adventures is no different than the continuing adventures of say, Batman or Spider-Man. I’m trying not to be a snooty nerd here, but I’d say that there is a difference – or at least a very fine line. Nevertheless the original Power Rangers are back; whether I like it or not.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 0 focuses on the time after Green Ranger Tommy has accepted Zordon’s offer of becoming a team member of the Power Rangers. (Thanks, internet!) Tommy tells Red Ranger Jason that he’s a little nervous about going back to school as a full-fledged Power Ranger, but neglects to inform him that he still has villain Rita Repulsa’s voice in his head. Since it’s a routine day in Angel Grove, school is interrupted by a giant monster that Rita has sent to attack the city. The Power Rangers assemble, immediately call for their Dinozords and form their collective Megazord to fight the monster. With the help of his imaginary Rita friend Tommy goes headfirst into the fight with his Dragonzord and endangers civilians in the process. After the people are saved and the monster is defeated, the team regroups at the command center. Zordon advises Tommy that he needs to learn how to work with a team and that Jason help him do that. Meanwhile it’s revealed that the entire monster battle with the Rangers was a distraction so Scorpina could retrieve a mysterious crystal for Rita.
Let’s start with attempting positivity, shall we? Writer Kyle Higgins makes a wise decision in focusing Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 0 on Tommy’s attempt at redemption. Power Rangers isn’t a series that is particularly known for its complexity or character depth, so Tommy’s learning curve/Rita withdrawal is probably the best target to zero in on for Higgins. If memory serves, any given battle of any Power Rangers series went as follows: 1) Morph, 2) Fight monster and “putty patrollers”, 3) Rita makes monster grow larger so they call their Zords and 4) The Rangers combine into the Megazord to defeat the monster. That’s a whole lotta steps, so I appreciated that Higgins and artist Hendry Prasetya expedited the whole process. A big ol’ monster shows up and the Rangers don’t waste any time by messing around on their own and go straight to Megazord mode.
Prasetya brings the classic Power Rangers imagery to the comic book page pretty successfully: Ranger costumes, Megazord, Rita Repulsa and a jumbo monster. Though Prasetya doesn’t really give us a full shot of the monster, I approved of what seemed like his channeling of some Godzilla/Kaiju vibes in that particular creature. His character depictions didn’t really win me over however, with the majority of the Rangers’ faces being interchangeable.
A crucial moment of this issue is when Tommy inadvertently knocks two cars off of the bridge. In a six-panel sequence Kimberly jets off in her pterodactyl and catches them on top of her Zord, but in the final panel the cars have completely disappeared. You could argue that this is a minor continuity error or that the panel showing Kimberly flying away was post-rescue, I suppose. This instance is the crux of the conflict between Tommy and the Rangers however, so it seems like a glaring mistake.
We see that conflict come to fruition when the Rangers return to the Command Center. Though it’s obvious that the takeaway is that Tommy does not yet know how to work with members of a team, it’s framed in a very nitpicky way. Jason argues that Tommy didn’t listen to his command of “double down,” Tommy confesses that he didn’t know what that meant and Zordon chides them both for not knowing what I’m assuming is the “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Playbook.” Man oh man, what a thrilling conflict we have on our hands. I didn’t ask for a Power Rangers comic book, but I don’t think anyone asked for a Power Rangers comic book that deals with pedantic corporate office-level confrontation.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 0 is not a bad comic; you pretty much get what you’d expect: a Power Rangers episode in comic book form. And while the concept of the imaginary Rita friend in Tommy’s head is intriguing, I just don’t think I’m the audience for this book. Then again, this is a book that colors modern technology and language with brushstrokes of the ‘90s…so I don’t really know who the actual audience for this book is.
Ryan! What are your thoughts on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 0? Did it tickle your nostalgia bone? Did you have anything in particular to say about the minis at the end of the issue? Were Bulk and Skull wacky enough for you in their hijinks?
Ryan M: Oh man, Bulk and Skull were one of the few highlights for me, here. The doofus duo and their vignette showed that someone remembered the cheesiness at the heart of the original series.
Corin Howell’s art here captures a sense of life and silliness. In the panel above, the way Bulk and Skull tiptoe away is reminiscent of a pantomime. They are both on their tiptoes, moving with an exaggerated care. The way the panel is framed also gives us room to appreciate their movements rather than crowd it with dialogue. The Bulk and Skull mini at the end of the issue stands in contrast with the main story in its sense of play, pacing, and humor.
Michael, you are right about the choice to begin this story with the Green Ranger’s redemption. Rather than going back to an origin story, we get to start in the middle of the action. There is no need for us to see an in-depth explanation of their powers or the logic of why these teens were chosen. Instead, we start off with a fairly meaty story-line with emotional stakes. Unfortunately, those stakes don’t necessarily translate to the page. The first page of the issue is Tommy standing over the fallen bodies of his fellow Power Rangers. We then find out it is only a daydream of Tommy’s and that he is on the way to school with Jason.
In that first panel, Tommy maintains a stoic expression. The two of them sit fairly stiffly and, despite that fact that Tommy hasn’t spoken for twenty freaking minutes, Jason shows no physical signs of worry. This page serves as a microcosm of my problems with the issue as a whole. Outside of any built-in empathy fueled by nostalgia, there is nothing engaging about this interaction. The dialogue is staid, their physicality is inexpressive, and the character design is generic. They are two variations on a basic strong-jaw-muscled-white-guy design. It’s almost interesting that Jason is so clueless that he doesn’t realize that Tommy might be nervous about his first day as a good guy since he was brainwashed by evil for the past several weeks. If the issue chose to be about how Jason is kind of an idiot with no empathy, I would be into it. Instead, as Michael pointed out, the main conflict is over what “double down” means.
While I was never a Power Rangers super-fan, thanks to my little brother, I am fairly familiar with the original series. This issue certainly contains all the expected imagery but it lacks a bit of the fun and cheesiness. I want the Red Ranger’s cavalcade of shirts with the sleeves removed and the Black Ranger using his sweet dance moves while Bulk and Skull make fools of themselves. Kyle Higgins wants to tell a different kind of Power Rangers story. I just wish it was more interesting.
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