Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 0

mmpr 0

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.

car

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.

RULES!

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.

bulk and skull

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.

car

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.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

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9 comments on “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 0

  1. Serious question: I bought more new comics this week than any week in 2015. There were a HUGE number of new comics out this week.

    How did you choose this? No offense to Michael or Ryan, but neither of you guys seemed excited about revisiting favorite characters of yours. I wasn’t a Power Rangers fan – The entirety of their creation was after I was old enough to know better. I think I’m older than (almost?) everyone else here. What possessed you to subject yourselves and others to an experiment that (so far) nobody wanted?

    Sorry you didn’t like it: When I saw you were reviewing it I assumed someone was excited about this because there was zero chance of me personally picking this up.

    (Yes, my only question about this comic is “Why, dear god why?” instead of anything about the actual story, art, or characters.)

  2. We’re always trying to cover all sorts of different types of books in our ACs. A new Power Rangers book comes out from a writer that we’ve covered and liked? That piques our interest a little bit, I’m sure. I think that its possible to tell a unique and compelling Power Rangers story, but maybe a tad unlikely. Despite the fact that it can be filed under “unnecessarily gritty reboot,” I actually thought that Adi Shankar’s Power/Rangers short film was pretty interesting.

    I get where you’re coming from kaif, but we can’t always write about winners and I don’t always get to write about my favorite books. In fact, I’ve stumbled on plenty of new books that I wouldn’t have picked up otherwise because I was assigned to write about them for RP.

    • I was honestly thinking of Joseph Kahn’s Power/Rangers recently (Adi Shankar produced it, but from my understanding, it is Joseph Kahn’s brainchild almost entirely). A truly fantastic piece of satire. To call it a ‘unnecessarily gritty reboot’ is to miss the joke. This is everything that far too fans ask for when they ask for a darker, more gritty version of their favorite kid’s show, and taken to the point of absurdity. Everything, from the sheer level of meaningless grittiness to the casting of Katee Sackhoff, is all about selling the joke, which is of course the short itself. I understand that Joseph Kahn is perfectly happy doing music videos, but I really wish he made actual movies more often. Going to need to rewatch Detention

      On the book itself, it is good to cast your eye on what is new and see if it is good, but this also explains why I do everything I can to avoid reading comics based on franchises that originated outside comics (especially when the actual series is long dead, and the story takes place in the middle of it). The only exception I have to this rule is Star Wars, due to a couple of factors that are unique to Star Wars. Because all the others often end up like this. Trapped by what the base story is like, unable or unwilling to actually do something other than repeat itself. Even in those rare examples of something that is good, I’m honestly more excited by a new, fresh idea like Low, Injection, Revival or half a dozen other Image comics.

      90% of the time, these books disappoint. And there are very good reasons why Star Wars is the exception

      • I’ve actually enjoyed enough with similar comics reboots (IDW has several that are remarkably well done) that they’ve generally gained a kind of benefit of the doubt for me. I enjoyed this issue quite a bit more than either Michael or Ryan did, so while I will defend our decision to cover it, I think Kaif’s question of why we assigned it to two folks who were less than enthusiastic about it is a good one. Sometimes we take a gamble on new issues, and sometimes our editors are excited about things that our writers aren’t — this particular example reflects those two possibilities coinciding. We’re actually in the midst of coming up with a system that will save anyone writing about issues they’re not excited about, which this kind of demonstrates the need for. The trick is to balance known interests with educated guesses on new series, because, as Michael mentions, sometimes unlikely series can hold pleasant surprises, and sometimes a sceptical voice is a valuable one in a discussion.

        • I would like to point out that I was in no way of intending on being critical. I was just wondering the logic of it.

          The logic of, “IDW has done other reboots well and gained a level of our trust” and “Wow, this is weird, could it work?” is a good answer.

          I agree, I’ve been surprised by many comics in the past couple of years. This one was far enough out there, and there were enough other titles this week, that there was no way I was picking it up. Another that I’m glad you did and I won’t bother with it, but I think I had about 18 comics last week because Marvel completely threw about one of everything at me (and making it so I’m dropping more and more of them as several are just not that good).

        • I definitely didn’t take it as critical — just hoping to explain the reasoning behind it.

          Yeah, we’re currently struggling figuring out our own pulls here. The number of titles we follow has ballooned quite a bit over the past year, which is forcing us to go back and consider just how much we actually care about each one. It’s good to check out new series, but it’s equally important to recognize when you need to drop a series that isn’t quite making the grade. We’ve embraced that first point, but now we’re figuring out how to implement the second.

        • I think the comic reboot, as opposed to an in continuity series like this, is the best chance of having an actual success. Still, I struggle to get excited, especially when there is so much other stuff (if I look at my Image books, I’m sure there is a long list of stuff I read that you guys simply don’t post about here, that is all new and interesting).

          Honestly, the simple fact is that there will always be posts like this, where ultimately you get something just boring, like this (and even bad stuff have some value, as a warning away from. And yeah, even on ‘good’ stuff, a skeptical voice can be great, to find an alternative angle). Hopefully you can work out a system to make sure you avoid reading stuff like this, where ultimately there is very little to say except a wish it was more interesting.

        • Yup. And in a perfect world, we’d read everything and then all sit in a room pitching articles to eachother for a few hours until we knew we only had interesting pieces by excited writers about comics which are actually saying something. But sometimes it just comes down to what’s novel and who can read it.

          Something like Power Rangers 0 can basically be read by any of our contributors — I’m sure you’ll see that we have Michael and Mark writing more about DC titles, Taylor on more Marvel stuff, our Ryans on Indie titles, etc. I will frequently look for books like this that I think it’s possible Ryan M. and Michael will be able to have a conversation about it because their tastes don’t usually line up. They lined up here, but, y’know, they both hated it.

          It’s also just a little bit of a struggle for balance. When we make up the pull the weekend before, we’re aware of how many Marvel books we’re doing deep-dives on vs. DC vs. indie. We could have easily populated this whole week with Marvel write-ups, but I think we’d rather have a more holistic approach to comics.

          All of which is to just to echo Drew’s point: we know it gets weird sometimes and we’re working on ways to improve it.

        • Honestly, the real problem isn’t that they both hated it. When I wrote my comment on All-New All-Different Avengers 1, I like to think I brought up real ideas worth exploring (is it right for Kamela’s character to be part of the big leagues this early? The importance of having a central idea, instead of jumping between ideas at random. The lost potential of actually exploring a Marvel Universe without an Avengers team). Honestly, the failures of that comic could easily provoke an interesting discussion on how the basics of narrative are supposed to work.

          The real problem is that this comic is simply uninteresting to talk about. It does exactly what is expected mechanically. Hard to do an article exploring utter mediocrity.

          So yeah, you guys certainly want to go for a holistic approach. Look at a wide variety of different titles. And hopefully, as you change the way you select titles and stuff, you manage to find a system that let’s you avoid writing about the mediocre

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