A Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 2017 Annual Review – Growing Up

TITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 2017 Annual
AUTHOR: Kyle Higgins, Tom Taylor, Jamal Campbell, Trey Moore, Caitlin Kittredge
PENCILLERS: Goni Montes, Dan Mora, Campbell, Frazer Irving, Da Jung Lee. Cover by Montes.
PUBLISHER: BOOM! Studios
PRICE: $7.99
RELEASED: May 31, 2017

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

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I read a review not long ago, entitled: “You can’t force the things you loved as a kid to grow up with you.” It was in reference to the new Power Rangers movie. But the same idea can obviously apply to the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series from BOOM! Studios.

But perhaps certain things grow up better than others.

Last its predecessor last yearMighty Morphin Power Rangers 2017 Annual contains several short stories. What stuck with me after I closed this issue was how relatively mature it felt. Certainly by Power Rangers standards. Mind you, as a ’90s kid I’m inevitably biased here. I make no bones about that. But I think what this annual highlights more than anything is that MMPR can indeed work when played straight as a teenage superhero book. And it can work in a number of ways. You can go the moody teen angst route. You can approach it like a young adult novel. You can even go flat out dark. There’s something to be said for looking at these characters and this world through different lenses. Especially when you’re trying to play to readers that grew up with the show. The BOOM! that way before. This story also makes Rita look delightfully cunning, manipulative, and that much more wicked. I didn’t recognize Goni Montes’ work at first. I’d never seen him work in this style before. Those amazing helmet variant covers for MMPR #1 are still plastered into my brain. I have yet to get tired of his work on this book.

The next story, focused on the Yellow Ranger’s day off being interrupted by Goldar, is a preview of sorts for a second monthly MMPR title called Go Go Power Rangers. Series artist Dan Mora has a manga-influenced, animated style that should be a lot of fun. Author Tom Taylor (InjusticeAll-New Wolverine) isn’t on Go Go Power Rangers, but he’s perfectly serviceable here. Much better than his work on Justice League/Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, that’s for sure.

The clumsily titled “Forever Mighty Morpin Black” is next, written and illustrated by MMPR‘s regular cover artist Jamal Campbell. As both a continuity buff and a Power Rangers geek, this was a real treat. In the distant future, Adam Park, who succeeded Zack as the Black Ranger, returns to the ruins of the Command Center. He calls for help across time and space from other incarnations of the Black Ranger. What follows is a feast for the eyes, as variations of Zack and Adam arrive to fight off a monster. It’s essentially an Easter egg hunt for PR fans, as you spot all the little details and nods Campbell has sprinkled in.

But having heaped all this praise upon this issue,  it’s Trey Moore (Rachel Rising) and Frazer Irving that really steal the show. Seeing Irving doing PR is surreal to begin with. But in this context, it works. In last year’s annual, Moore gave us Goldar’s origin story. This year we get Finster’s. Moore and Irving give us what is essentially the first Power Rangers horror story. We see that at his core he’s an artist longing for inspiration, but he finds it and justifies it in the worst way imaginable. When he later is recruited by Rita to make monsters using a mystical, life-granting clay, he searches for vindication by attempting to resurrect someone he lost to his own selfishness.

There’s a haunting quality to this story that’s brilliant. I’m hesitant to say much more, for fear of taunting the big pay-off. But these eight-pages are among the creative highlights of BOOM’s run with the PR license. It’s that good. If you’re an older fan, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

My one nitpick with it? Finster’s line (shown above): “I’m not a bad person!” That struck me as awkward. It feels like it should have been “I’m not evil” or something.

The issue ends with a more cartoony tale about Goldar and Scorpina getting a day off. It’s more akin to a Bulk and Skull story. Goldar is able to disguise himself with human clothes and a baseball cap. It’s a hard swerve to go from the Finster story to this one. But it’s fine. This kind of stuff obviously has it’s place. Heck, this material is arguably more faithful to the tone of the television show.

A year later, I still have really fond memories of last year’s MMPR Annual. I don’t doubt that a year from now, I’ll still have fond memories of this one. It’s no accident that we’ve gotten things like a spin-off miniseries, and a second series in Go Go Power Rangers. BOOM! is producing quality. Not just quality nostalgia, either. Pure and simple quality.

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A Justice League/Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #1 Review – Wrong Zord!!!!

Justice League/Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #1, coverTITLE: Justice League/Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #1
AUTHOR: Tom Taylor
PENCILLER: Stephen Byrne. Cover by Karl Kerschl.
PUBLISHERS: DC Comics/BOOM! Studios
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: January 11, 2017

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

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

As someone who grew up in the ’90s with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, this is one of the most surreal comic books I’ve ever read. Seriously. Not necessarily in a bad way. It’s just friggin’ weird to see the Rangers next to the Justice League.

Justice League/Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is the latest inter-brand crossover from DC Comics that I’m not sure anyone asked for. But since they’re willing to try it, why the hell not? Think Green Lantern/Star TrekBatman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the upcoming Green Lantern/Planet of the Apes, etc. Now, thanks to the Command Center’s teleportation system malfunctioning, the Rangers (along with Lord Zedd), find themselves in the DC Universe.

While I hate to be one of these people, as a Power Rangers die-hard, it must be said: There’s a giant continuity error in this issue. Our villain on the PR side of things is Lord Zedd. A wise creative choice, as he’s the coolest villain to ever come out of the series. But then at the end of the issue, the Pink Ranger calls the Pterodactyl Dinozord. As I’m sure many fans remember, Lord Zedd did away with the Dinozords very early in his tenure. In fact, most of the Dinozords never saw combat against Zedd’s forces.

Justice League/Mighty Morphin Power Ragners #1, Zack, SupermanLook, I get it. The appeal of these crossovers usually isn’t a well-crafted story. It’s about the characters meeting. In that spirit, this book gives us a bunch of cool variant covers, each with a different Ranger and Justice Leaguer. (I went with the Batman/Pink Ranger one myself.) But who is this book’s intended audience? Comic book readers that grew up with MMPR! At some point, a good percentage of the audience is going to go: “Hey, didn’t Zedd destroy the Dinozords?”

Alright, alright. Puttin’ it back in the holster now. But I’m not wrong…

Zack plays a central role in this issue, which I appreciate. It would have been easy to put the beloved Green Ranger in that spot. What I don’t understand is why the crew at BOOM! have been so intent on making Zack a more grim character than he ever was on the show. Kyle Higgins has dropped a hint or two about Zack having problems at home, and we even saw Rita come after Zack to be the evil Green Ranger. This issue builds on that. We kick off with a scene in which Angel Grove has been destroyed, and Zack blames himself. We then learn that he’d had a fight with his parents about “disappearing too often.” Naturally, he can’t tell them he’s doing it because he’s a superhero.

There’s nothing wrong with this teenage superhero vs. civilian parents stuff. I actually wish more teen superhero books would go into it. But to those of us who watched the show, Zack is an awkward fit for it. He was always the fun-loving and energetic dancer. That’s not to say he has to be one-dimensional. But a more natural fit would have been Kimberly, the Pink Ranger. It was established on the show that her parents were divorced, and she now has a stepfather. That could be a fine source of drama.

Justice League/MMPR #1, Lord Zedd, John ByrneOne thing I can’t complain about is Stephen Byrne’s art and colors. This guy needs to stay in the Power Rangers universe for awhile. He’s tremendous with all the costumes, and his colors are wonderfully vibrant. There’s a splash page of all the Rangers, minus Zack, teleporting into Gotham City that’s just gorgeous. I enjoy Hendry Prasetya’s work on the main MMPR series. But if he ever needs to step aside, Byrne could jump in and not miss a beat.

This side of the issue is obviously pretty heavy on the Power Rangers side. With the Rangers in Gotham, we’ll naturally see more Justice League stuff next issue. We do, however, get a decent amount of Superman and Batman. That page where Superman floats next to Zack is, again, so damn surreal. As is seeing Batman block a blow from the Black Ranger’s Power Axe.

I don’t imagine we’ll see great things from this book going forward. But I admit, I’m curious to see what they do. Stephen Byrne’s art may be worth the price of admission on its own. But as I think is often the case with these crossovers, after the novelty of the first encounter is gone, the story sort of fizzles out. I can only assume that’ll be the case here. Still, they’ve got me coming back for issue #2. That’s a start.

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A Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Annual #1 Review – One Generation’s Garbage…

Mighty Mophin Power Rangers #1 2016TITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Annual #1
AUTHORS: Kyle Higgins, Ross Thibodeaux, Marguerite Bennett, Trey Moore, James Kochalka, Jorge Corona
PENCILLERS: Rod Reis, Rob Guillory, Moore, Kochalka, Corona. Cover by Goni Montes.
PUBLISHER: BOOM! Studios
PRICE: $7.99
RELEASED: August 24, 2016

***Click here for our review of the most recent issue of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

It’s funny what time reveals. Yesterday, August 28, marked the 23rd anniversary of the premiere of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. I remember being a kid in the early ‘90s and watching an episode of 20/20. They happened to be covering the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers phenomenon. The only con crete detail I recall about the report is that the news personality referred to it as “garbage.”

And yet, we’re still talking about it all these years later. One generation’s garbage is another’s inspiration, as illustrated by the collection of writers and artists brought together for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Annual #1. This issue gives us six short stories featuring the characters that first graced the small screen more than 20 years ago.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Annual #1, 2016, Goni Montes coverFirst up is series writer Kyle Higgins and artist Rod Reis with “A Week in the Life of…” spotlighting Jason, the Red Ranger. Per the title, we get some snapshots of Jason’s day-to-day life over the course of a week. The balance between the life of a teenager and the life of a hero is what I often find most interesting about these kinds of books. Higgins and Reis put Jason over like a million bucks, showing us just how dedicated he is. Reis nails it from the very first page (shown right) with a shot of the Red Ranger slicing through putties amidst a storm of some kind. Interspersed are inset panels of him at home, at school, and teaching karate class. The next few pages follow suit, and we end on a nice profile shot of Jason. The colors pop, each setting feels distinct, and Reis even gets Austin St. John’s likeness down pretty well. The issue almost peaks early with this one.

Riss Thibodeaux and Rob Guillory then give us a cartoony tale about Bulk & Skull becoming Rangers. In reading the Bulk & Skull portions of this series, I’ve found myself slightly annoyed wishing we could get back to the Rangers. Fittingly enough, that’s how I felt watching the show as a child. In a way that’s a great compliment to what Higgins and the creative team have done with this book. Still, no harm done here. It’s well done for what it is.

DC Bombshells scribe Margeurite Bennett tags in for a story about Trini facing a monster that tries to defend animals from humans. I was consistently impressed by how well some of these writers knew and respected the characters from this low budget kids show. A perfectly in-character Trini makes peace with the monster, convincing it they’re on the same side. Huang Danlan brings a nice Asian influence to things, and colors the story with mostly gentle yellows, pinks, greens, and blues.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Annual #1, 2016, its putty timeTrey Moore of Rachel Rising fame just barely wins the issue, pulling double duty for a take on Goldar’s origin story. His dialogue leaves something to be desired, and he gives Goldar’s brother the rather bland name of Silverback (though in all fairness, the show might have given him a similar name). But the ambition of Moore’s story is so great it almost doesn’t matter, even tying in story elements and characters from Power Rangers Zeo and Power Rangers in Space. We can’t deny Moore knows his Power Rangers.

Conceptually, this origin makes perfect sense for Goldar. We learn he comes from a pack of creatures that value power and strength above all, and he idolizes his older brother Silverback. In the end, Lord Zedd tests his loyalty by pitting his power and strength upbringing against his love for his brother. The end result is what you might expect, and it answers some questions as to how Goldar became so loyal to Zedd, but ended up in Rita’s service. It’s not perfect, but it’s a story to remember.

Next, we go to James Kochalka pulling double duty on a story about a putty patroller  falling in love with Kimberly (first page shown above). Again, not really the type of thing I look for in my superhero books. But there’s something to be said for diversity in a collection like this. It’s utterly skippable compared to its peers. But sure, why not?

Finally, Jorge Corona gives us a story about what the six heroes under the helmets have in common. The story has a nice heart, and Corona gives us some nice art here. At some points, however, his Rangers come out a bit…squiggly. Particularly in a group shot just after the halfway point. On the plus side, he draws a great Megaword.

Rob Guillory, MMPR Annual #1, Bulk & SkullOn cover duty is Goni Montes, whose work on MMPR has been positively iconic. This issue is no different. As far as I’m concerned, the more we see of him, the better.

At $7.99, this issue is a little steep from a price standpoint. But if you’re a Power Rangers geek, it’s worth it. Rarely have the Rangers been treated with such respect and admiration. By no means is it flawless. But its pros far outweigh its cons.

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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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