A Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Vol. 4 Review – When Zordon Steals the Show

TITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Vol. 4
AUTHORS: Kyle Higgins, Ryan Ferrier
PENCILLERS: Hendry Prasetya, Bachan, Daniel Bayliss. Cover by Goni Montes.
COLLECTS: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #13-16
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: BOOM! Studios
PRICE: $16.99
RELEASED: 
October 25, 2017

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The first act in the larger story of Lord Drakkon comes to an end in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Vol. 4. Tommy’s evil doppleganger looks great here, and we also get an awesome character spotlight. Overall, this MMPR series still has a big up side. But once we get into issue #16, particularly the last few pages, things start to get rocky.

When we open the book, Tommy and Billy are still trapped in an alternate universe where the Green Ranger remained with Rita Repulsa after the events of “Green With Evil.” This turn of events led to the destruction of the Power Rangers, and Tommy’s rise as the evil Lord Drakkon. Now the Tommy and Billy that we know must join up with a resistance force (led  by familiar faces) to bring Drakkon down. Meanwhile, Jason and the others face Rita and her minions with reduced powers, and without Zordon. And where is Zordon anyway?

We get the answer to that last question in issue #15, and it’s the creative highlight of the book. Zordon has been absent for several issues at this point, so it’s obviously good to check in with him. But this issue goes above and beyond, following him into a rift between the dimensions. We see him meet his counterpart from Drakkon’s world, and how Zordon has continued to play a role in the conflict despite current predicament. More importantly, after witnessing how events have unfolded in this alternate reality, we see him speak from a place of uncertainty. We aren’t always shown that perspective from a wise old sage character like this. It’s an intriguing change up, which in the end cuts to the very heart of who Zordon is.

Daniel Bayliss hits a home run with the pencils, inks, and colors. His renderings of a full-bodied Zordon interacting with the time warp around him, and later his other self, are compelling, gorgeous, and hit the mark emotionally. He also gets to play around with some of the the war sequences we’ve seen in previous issues. We get some familiar images of Rita’s forces in Washington, Drakkon holding the Red Ranger helmet, and a few glorious shots of the Thunderzords. Bayliss can’t come back to the Rangers soon enough.

We closed the previous volume with the reveal of Trini, Bulk, and Aisha (who we know as the future Yellow Ranger) as members of the resistance. Having Aisha show up is a nice bit of fan service. But that’s all it amounts to. I won’t complain about that, considering how much griping I’ve already done about Tommy and Billy seeing things from their future.

For whatever reason, this series is bound and determined to cast the fun-loving Zack as a brooder. We get more of that here. But it’s an alternate version of Zack, who has lost nearly everything and become the leader of the resistance. Given how dark the world around him has grown, I’m alright with this version of Zack being more dour. It even makes for a cool little moment with the canonical Zack toward the end.

This volume also sees Finster create Goldar clones of all builds and sizes to fight against the Rangers. I love this idea. It makes sense. Goldar has failed Rita time and again, so she has Finster “improve” on him. This might have worked as an idea for the show, time and costumes permitting. We even get to see Goldar without his armor on the very first page. I didn’t even know he could take the armor off.

Kyle Higgins deserves a lot of the credit for the more sinister Finster we’ve gotten from the BOOM! books. The crowning example is what we got from Trey Moore and Frazer Irving in the 2017 annual. But the Finster we get in this book has a nice underlying creepiness to him. By comparison, the Finster we got on the show was almost a kind old man at times.

One of the subplots we get in this book involves the Trini of Drakkon’s world coming to grips with seeing Billy, as the Billy of her world died saving her life. If Higgins and Hendry Prasetya are playing at an eventual Billy/Trini romance, they’re doing it in a very subtle manner. The potential romance between Billy and Trini thing is something some of us have been talking about since we were kids. They almost have to address it at some point. Even if it’s just an issue about how they don’t have those kind of feelings for each other. Matters aren’t helped when you consider Prasetya’s strengths are the super-powered action scenes, and not the quiet interpersonal stuff. So one can argue that material isn’t fully maximized.

On the flip side, Prasetya’s fight sequences with a morphed Lord Drakkon are epic in the inevitable good Tommy vs. evil Tommy fight. This is obviously the first time we’ve gotten to see that costume in action. It’s very evocative of classic Power Rangers. The costume is obviously visually similar to the White Ranger suit. Darken is even holding Saba for much of the battle. You can easily hear Jason David Frank’s cheesy “evil” voice when reading some of Drakkon’s dialogue. (“Hello again, Tommy.”)  There’s also a teamwork theme in effect here, which is something that’s remained present for the entire series.

The Yellow Ranger also gets a Battlizer of sorts in issue #16. It comes out of nowhere, but looks cool enough. I also appreciate that it’s Trini who gets it. She was always the most underdeveloped character on the show, and remains that way in the comics. So this is a cool moment for her.

At this point we’ve built this Lord Drakkon story up for four books. Everything has built to this confrontation between the two Tommys, and the Power Rangers finally striking back against Rita’s forces. The ending makes sense. But when I read issue #16 during it’s initial release, I was disappointed. We’d built to those big showdowns for so long, only for them to pass fairly quickly. This felt like it should have been a big, epic finale. The Megazord makes a big comeback against the Goldar clones, and Tommy and Drakkon make some kind of startling discovery about each other that leads into the next phase of the story. Instead the resolution, particularly the bit with the teens back at school, feels very rushed and slapped together. All the right ingredients are there. But we aren’t given enough time with them.

However, I will say that what happens to Drakkon at the very end has the potential to be very interesting…

Our Bulk and Skull back-up stories are no more, now replaced by “The Ongoing Misadventures of Squatt & Baboo.” Like their predecessors, these stories were fairly benign additions to each single issue that are now collected long form. Ryan Ferrier and Bachan set a similar goofy tone. But while the Bulk and Skull stories got old after just a few issues, I somehow find Squatt and Baboo’s adventures a little more palatable. Perhaps it’s because they got a fraction of the screen time Bulk and Skull did, so there’s a refreshing quality to them getting the spotlight here. The collective story is about them visiting an alternate dimension and running into Goldar. It’s mildly amusing, and Bachan has a cool take on our “heroes.”

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Vol. 4 has a few more problems than the previous volumes do. But all the elements that make the series great are still there. Namely, Higgins’ willingness to write an objectively silly concept in a more serious and dramatic voice, Hendry Prasetya’s awesome work on the words and costumes, and the added depth injected into the characters. For Power Rangers fans young and old, this series remains a must-read.

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A Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #12 Review – The Day Evil Won

mighty-morphin-power-rangersTITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #12
AUTHOR: Kyle Higgins
PENCILLER: Hendry Prasetya. Cover by Jamal Campbell.
PUBLISHER: BOOM! Studios
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: February 15, 2017

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead!***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I just have to keep reminding myself: The story’s not over yet. The story’s not over yet. The story’s not over yet…

Everything I wrote about Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #11 still applies in this issue. Exposing Tommy and Billy to elements from their future, such as the White Ranger, the Tigerzord, and the Thunderzords, potentially taints the events that occur later in his timeline. Assuming, that is, we don’t get a mind wipe at the end of this story. But until we see how the story ends, there’s no use poo-pooing what Kyle Higgins, Hendry Prasetya, and the BOOM! Studios crew are giving us here. So we may as well enjoy this whole post-apocalyptic, alternate universe tale they’ve crafted for us.

MMPR #12 tells us quite a bit about said universe. In this timeline, Tommy remained with Rita and her forces after the events of “Green With Evil,” as opposed to teaming up with the other Rangers. As such, Rita eventually conquers the Earth. But not before Zordon creates the White Ranger powers, and attempts to give them to Jason. In the final battle between the forces of good and evil, Tommy steals the White Ranger powers, and merges them with the Green Ranger powers. But Saba, the talking saber that was to have served as the White Ranger’s partner, has survived. And for the Tommy and Billy we know, he’s the only ally in sight.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #12, Hendry Prasetya, big fightOn the pages that show is the final days of this great war we see Lokar (who shows up later in season one) the Alien Rangers and Ninjor (season three), and even the Phantom Ranger (Power Rangers Turbo)! Strangely enough, we also have the Pumpkin Rapper, a random monster from season one. I don’t mind him being there. But out of all the monsters you could have picked, why the Pumpkin Rapper?

The battle itself really does look like a doomsday scenario where our heroes have their last hope snuffed out. I gripe about Tommy and Billy “knowing too much about their own destiny,” as Doc Brown would say. But I do appreciate the fan service that comes with having the Thunderzords, the Alien Rangers, etc. If you’re a Power Rangers fan, it has an undeniably epic feel.

On the subject of fan service…um, hi Aisha Campbell? The issue ends with the character that eventually takes Trini’s place as the Yellow Ranger showing up as part of a rebellion of sorts, next to Trini herself! Trini and, of all people, Bulk. Again, Tommy and Billy meeting Aisha in this alternate realty potentially spoils the emotional impact of them meeting later in life. But I’ll wait ’til the story’s over…. *clenches fists*

As I’ve said previously, Prasetya’s main strength on this book is drawing all the extravagant sci-fi stuff. He proves that yet again with a gorgeous splash page of the Tigerzord (shown below). It’s very reminiscent of the footage we always used to see on the show, with the crushing of the rocks and the big roar. It’s the strongest page in the issue, by far. Of course, the battle stuff is awesome. We get a very strong two-page spread of all the Rangers and baddies in front of the Command Center. It feels every bit as epic as it needs to be.

mmpr #12, Tigerzord, Hendry PrasetyaQuestion: Does merging the Green and White Ranger powers take a toll on the body of Lord Drekkon? I keep coming back to that weird vascularity we see on his face. If you remember from the “White Light” episodes, the Green Ranger powers were created by the forces of evil, while the White Ranger powers were created from “the light of goodness.” So in theory, it would be unnatural to combine them.

My assumption has been that Drekkon was the one to reach out to Rita across the space time continuum. But why? Perhaps to find a younger version of himself to give the power to, and then inhabit? Just a guess…

We also get a brief scene in this issue where we see Rita and her forces have taken over the Command Center. She tells Goldar that she and Finster are working on “a better you.” That’s damn intriguing, considering how Higgins has written Goldar in this book. He tended to have his own agenda on the show, and that’s very much the case here. I’d be surprised if he didn’t have a major role in the outcome of this story.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers remains near the top of my stack each time it comes out. But with each passing month, I get more and more nervous about how this story is going to end…

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A Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink #6 Review – The Feminist Ranger

MMPR: Pink #6, Daniele Di Nicuolo, coverTITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink #6
AUTHOR: Brenden Fletcher and Kelly Thompson (story), Tini Howard (script)
PENCILLER: Daniele Di NIcuolo
PUBLISHER: BOOM! Studios
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: January 25, 2017

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead!***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Ah, the letter. Given when this story is set, I didn’t think we’d get to address that. But here it is.

During Power Rangers Zeo, the season that succeeded Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Tommy gets a letter from Kimberly. It’s essentially a Dear John letter, as she ends their long-distance relationship, saying she’s met someone else. This left a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of fans. Kim was rarely mentioned after actress Amy Jo Johnson left the series. When she returned for the Turbo movie, her relationship with Tommy was barely touched on. Thus, the long-standing relationship between two of the show’s most popular characters ended on a pretty sour note.

That letter turned out to be a piece of what MMPR: Pink is all about. In the end, it became about Kim being her own person and letting go of her old life. About moving on, and becoming a new kind of hero. Fans who’ve dreamt of seeing Kim and Tommy end up together may not be thrilled by that idea. But in the end, it’s pretty damn cool.

MMPR: Pink #6, 2017, Rangers arriveThe issue starts with Kimberly’s makeshift team of Rangers (Zack, Trini, and two civilians she enlisted in France) arriving to save Tommy and the active Rangers on a faraway planet. They arrive in Typhonis, a giant battle machine Goldar constructed using pieces of the destroyed Thunderzords. They also have Titanus and Tor the Shuttle Zord, which the Rangers have used previously. The use of words from previous seasons is cool fan service, though admittedly a little hokey. There’s an epic feel to seeing those old zords next to the Ninja Megazord in the final battle.

Last issue we learned Zack and Trini have become a couple. That’s completely out of the blue, considering how the characters were on the show. But it’s fine. It’s even intriguing in an opposites-attract sort of way. The only sad thing is I’m not sure we’ll ever see this explored more.

As far as I’m concerned, Daniele Di Nicuolo is welcome back in the Power Rangers sandbox any time. He’s a tremendous fit for the PR universe. His work is clean, dynamic, and compliments what we saw on the show very well. He also got pave some of his own ground with the makeshift Ranger suits, Kim’s Katniss Everdeen wardrobe, and the inner workings of the zords. Mind you, I still don’t understand why Zack’s costume has a hood. He’s already got a helmet! What does he need a damn hood for?

Nagging questions: We’re led to believe that Tommy and the active Rangers don’t know who came to their rescue. But Kim communicates with them through the cockpit of her zord, and there’s no indication that her voice is disguised. How do they not recognize her voice? Also, Zordon obviously sent them Titanus and Tor. Couldn’t they have just asked him who the mystery rescuers were?

mmpr-pink-6-motorcycleThere’s been a “life after the Power Rangers” vibe to Pink, which comes full circle at the end. Kim meets Zack and Trini at a cafe, and they talk about their next move, promising to do a better job of staying in touch. When we jump to a year later, we see she’s done just that, including Jason in the mix as well. I like that. Even with as deep a connection as they have, they drift in and out of contact like real people.

There’s obviously a strong feminist angle to Pink, and they hammer that home at the end. A year after the rescue, as Kim is writing the famous letter, she recognizes she and Tommy have very different lives. Not content to “be the woman in pink, at his side,” she sets out to forge her path independently and be her own hero. That ending does a lot of justice to the Kimberly character. It’s really remarkable how, without necessarily intending to, Amy Jo Johnson and the crew on MMPR created this strong female character that resonated with so many viewers. This whole story is essentially a love letter to that character and that performance.

Perhaps the most surprising element of Pink is that Kim and Tommy never speak. He’s never even aware she’s nearby. That’s a hell of a thread to leave hanging, and would make for a hell of a moment in a sequel. Just saying…

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A Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #11 Review – Lord Drakkon Revealed

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #11, 2017, Jamal CampbellTITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #11
AUTHORS: Kyle Higgins, Steve Orlando
PENCILLERS: Hendry Prasetya, Corin Howell. Jamal Campbell.
PUBLISHER: BOOM! Studios
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: January 18, 2017

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This is more or less what I imagined we’d get from this follow-up to the big reveal in issue #9. They threw in a little extra garnish. But it’s essentially what I expected.

For the most part, that’s a good thing.

After the big battle in issue #9, Tommy and Billy have been transported elsewhere in time. A time when Earth has been decimated, and ruled by a mysterious White Ranger called Lord Drakkon. But who is Lord Drakkon? What’s become of our heroes? And how do Tommy and Billy get home?

Lord Drakkon is in fact an alternate version of Tommy (shown below). Though in all fairness, that’s a pretty easy prediction. The costume is clearly an amalgamation of the Green and White Ranger suits, with some extra stuff thrown in. It’s unclear how old Tommy is supposed to be. He’s got some gray in his hair, and some odd purple vasculature going on. But I assume this Tommy has been doing weird things with the Morphin Grid. So perhaps his body is feeling the effects.

Lord Drakkon, MMPR #11, Hendry PrasetyaTo create this alternate timeline, Kyle Higgins and Hendry Prasetya are plucking things from subsequent seasons of the show. As our heroes make their way to the wrecked Command Center, we see the remains of the Thunderzords. Tommy eventually makes his way down to what would become the Power Chamber in Power Rangers Zeo. There he finds Saba, the White Ranger’s talking sword from seasons two and three.

Normally I don’t like when creators get cute like this. Having Tommy and Billy see things from their future taints the emotional intensity of what happens later in the show. But I’m holding off on judging too harshly until they’re done. Stories like this tend to come with mindwipes anyway.

As Billy alludes to, it’s unclear at this point whether this is an alternate timeline, or the timeline we know with an altered future. Given Tommy’s gray hair, it’s entirely possible this takes place decades in the future.

We get another tweaked costume here, in the form of the Mastadon Sentries (shown below), designed by Prasetya. According to Higgins, Drakkon has warped the Power Coins to create an army for himself. As such, we get this sort of Black Ranger S.W.A.T. team outfit. Note the lining on the gun barrel, which resembles the handle of the Power Axe. It’s a fun design. I can’t help but wonder if Drakkon has an elite guard that has the Red Ranger design. Sort of like Palpatine’s guards in Return of the Jedi.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #11, Hendry Prasetya, Mastadon SentiesThe capitol building in Angel Grove has some cool design elements from Rita’s castle, most notably the orb on top. What used to be Angel Grove high is now called the Finster Memorial Correction Facility, which is a riot.

I also love the Planet of the Apes homage cover by Jamal Campbell. We don’t see anything like that in the issue, but you get the idea.

We’ve got a little bit more parent drama in this issue, as Billy’s parents and Tommy’s mother talk to the police about their missing kids. I always appreciate that in my teenage superhero dramas.

“The Ongoing Adventures of Bulk and Skull” continue, as Steve Orlando and Corin Howell tell a tale about the boys controlling a two-headed monster. This still doesn’t do much for me. The highlight was Bulk calling Rita “that nice lady with the wicker rabbit hat.”

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers continues to be at or near the top of my stack each time it comes out. We’ve reached the point where Higgins, Prasetya, and the team are really sinking their teeth in, and starting to forge their own ground. For this ’90s kid, it makes for supremely interesting comics.

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A Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink #2 Review – An Unexpected Reunion

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink #2, cover, Elsa CharretierTITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink #2
AUTHORS: Brenden Fletcher, Kelly Thompson
PENCILLER: Daniele Di Nicuolo. Cover by Elsa Charretier.
PUBLISHER: BOOM! Studios
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: July 27, 2016

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead!***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Well this was unexpected. To not only get the return of Kimberly Hart as the Pink Ranger, but two additional returns! The intrigue level just went up. But at what cost (if any) to our main character?

Kimberly is in trouble. Goldar has captured her mother and turned her into a ghastly monster. Though her powers have been temporarily returned to her thanks to Zordon, the Pink Ranger needs help. It comes in the form of two old friends: Zack and Trini. But will they be enough to save her mother and defeat Goldar?

Zack and Trini came completely out of left field, and I’m not sure their presence is a good thing. We spend a large portion of this issue catching up, giving them their powers, etc. But isn’t this book supposed to be about Kimberly? At what point does the novelty of having these heroes back distract from Kim’s story? That’s not to say they aren’t important. But how about a book featuring Jason, Zack, and Trini as a trio? They all went to the same peace conference, after all.

SMMPR: Pink #2, opening page, Daniele Di Nicuolopeaking of which, in this issue we hear Jason “has his own mission to attend to.” Uh…what? I assume they wanted a reason to keep Jason out of the book, for fear of even more focus shifting away from Kim. But with a line like that, you’ve got to assume they’ll tell us where he is eventually. Either that, or they’re wetting our appetites for a future MMPR: Red story.

Kimberly gives Zack and Trini their powers back by sharing her temporary power from Zordon. They both get makeshift costumes as well. Only instead of having strictly black accents, their suits come with traces of pink as well. It’s a nice representation of their power coming from Kim’s “pink energy.” Also, for whatever reason, Zack’s has a hood.

The past rears its head yet again when Goldar debuts Typhonis, a new war zord made from the hacked up limbs of the Thunder Megazord and Tigerzord. It conjures up memories of the zords falling apart on the show, which was somehow hysterical. So intentional or not, Typhonis is funny by association.

This issue also gives us our first in-story appearance of the White Ranger. Kim has a very brief exchange with Tommy, reaffirming the necessity for them to have a reunion by the end of this story. After Amy Jo Johnson left the show, the only closure we got on the relationship was a Dear John letter received by Tommy during the events of Power Rangers Zeo. It wasn’t even addressed when Johnson returned for Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie. What I’d like is a scene that helps bridge the gap between MMPR and Zeo. Give us some insight we didn’t have before. Show us where their relationship is. Perhaps this is the last time they’re together before the break up…

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink #2, Daniele Di Nicuolo, interiorDaniele Di Nicuolo gets to flex her “acting” muscles more in this issue. Much of it is very animated, i.e. Trini’s face exploding with jubilation at the sight of her old friend. That’s something we wouldn’t see in one of Hendry Prasetya’s issues over in the main series. That’s not a knock, just a difference. This book should look different than MMPR proper. Both books are fun, which is what matters. I look forward to seeing another of Di Nicuolo’s explosive, high energy action sequences next issue.

The return of Zack and Trini is a pleasant surprise. But Fletcher and Thompson need to be careful. The book isn’t about the dynamic between Kimberly, Zack, and Trini. It’s about Kimberly. Yes, the Power Rangers have their foundation in teamwork and camaraderie. But let’s remember where our focus should be. This is the Pink Ranger’s much-deserved spotlight. Let her shine.

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