This article contains mild spoilers.
Albeit Hasbro recently acquiring the Power Rangers franchise from Saban Entertainment and will now helm future releases, don’t expect a new feature film like hardcore fans are already speculating. Last year’s movie by Lionsgate was a box office bomb, so I’m skeptical about another attempt at the silver screen. But to satiate my love for the superhero team that defined my childhood, I have the comics to turn to.
In 2016, Boom! Studios was licensed to publish Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, a comic book series named after the original 1993 incarnation of the TV show franchise. I picked up a couple of trade paperbacks last year and just re-read the first volume, which collects the prologue and first four issues of the ongoing series.
The volume is every fan’s wildest dream come true. It takes everything we know and love about the original Power Rangers team and just makes it all ten times better while keeping the story fresh and compelling.
The comic book series picks up right up after the Green With Evil storyline from the TV show, which first aired in October 1993 (four months before I was even born.) Tommy Oliver has just broken free from Rita Repulsa’s spell and officially joins the Power Rangers, and that’s all the plot that these brilliant comic book writers borrow. Everything else is brand new.
The comics update the universe from the early 90’s to modern day. The Rangers use smartphones, and Bulk and Skull host a video podcast to journal the Power Rangers, quite similar to Cassidy and Devin from Power Rangers Dino Thunder.
The Rangers themselves are also upgraded, from cheesy stock characters dumbed down for a kid’s TV show to well-developed, fleshed out characters with richer storylines. The comics are truly for fans from the 90’s seasons that have now grown up.
In Volume 1, Tommy is literally haunted by his former evil queen, who psychs him and shakes his self-worth to sow discord within the team. At the same time, Rita activates Scorpina (the terrifying femme fatale from the TV show) to retrieve a fake power crystal and Tommy’s power coin in order to reclaim the Dragonzord.
Meanwhile, few of the founding Rangers are skeptical about Tommy’s addition to the team, a realistic subplot absent from the TV show (they accepted him with a traditional group jump and all was well.)
Each of the Rangers have a healthy amount of screen time in this volume, although the green one still dominates most scenes– a perennial problem in all incarnations of the superhero team that include Tommy Oliver. Fortunately, Boom! Studios started a second comic series last year: Go Go Power Rangers, which precedes Tommy’s introduction.
There is plenty of action in this compilation, and it’s without a doubt the best part of the story. The Rangers morph in true TV show-style (“It’s morphin time! Mastodon!…”), and their suits look even better on print than on the television screen, simply because the art is phenomenal. I frequently find myself taking moments to admire specific panels in the comic because the color bursts so beautifully.
I have never been more excited for the Rangers to call upon their Zords. They look outrageously stunning, and the Rangers even control them individually during battle. Becaused of limited source footage, the TV show always showed the Rangers instantly combining their Dinozords into the Megazord, so the Zords were never individually explored except for occasional one-second cutscenes.
In this volume alone, we see three Dinozords basking in their own spotlight. The Triceratops’ sturdy chains are capable of seizing the formidable Dragonzord. Although just a hallucination, The Sabretooth Tiger is summoned to defend the Command Center; it has never looked more ferocious and makes the Tyrannosaurus look like a house lizard. And finally, as the only flier, the Pterodactyl detaches from the Megazord to rescue falling cars. It also has a sizeable amount of scenes firing at opponents like a true attack aircraft.
But even with such dazzling battle sequences, the volume still strikes a perfect balance of action and mature storytelling, something most viewers found lacking in the 2017 Lionsgate film.
If the TV show was this good, I would’ve been tuning in to its new seasons as an adult, but alas, there is something tremendously nostalgic about the classic, pioneer team that you simply can’t replace or recreate, even if you reboot their namesakes in a movie. This comic book is thus an outstanding reinvention of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and I couldn’t be more grateful to this first volume. If you’re a fan of the original TV show, you must read it.