I don’t think its unfair to call Power Rangers a tokusatsu show with the complexity and horror toned down. Tokusatsu is a campy genre that Power Rangers brought to the west with a little more 90s fashion and a little less eating children’s souls. Nevertheless I also don’t think that I’m alone in saying that the original “Green with Evil” miniseries is also one of the most important pieces of media I was exposed to as a child. For all its excess and toothless lessons about friendship, for many, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers was a first exposure to serialized storytelling, superhero power fantasy, and epic drama. With this zero issue of Boom! Studios’ new Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers series, Kyle Higgins, Hendry Prasetya, and a crew of others have attempted to reconnect us to those feelings.
It’s no surprise that this issue is set in the immediate aftermath of “Green with Evil”, showing Tommy’s first day as a Power Ranger. Kyle Higgins stays pretty true to the classic Power Rangers formula but there’s a sense of consequence that wasn’t present in the original. Tommy remains haunted – perhaps literally – by his actions as the Green Ranger, civilian casualties are very possible and add to the rangers’ responsibilities in battle, and the much loved rivalry between Jason and Tommy is presented less as an excuse to see two fan favorites clash than the natural result of a new addition to an established dynamic.
At a mere twelve pages, the main story is short and simple, wisely labeled #0 rather than issue #1. It’s a taste of what’s to come that leaves room for the backmatter that fills out this issue. Just the same, it does its job excellently.
Kyle Higgins has spoken frequently about his desire to, if not modernize, at least update the feel of the Power Rangers and it seems that he’s done an incredible job. It’s still Mighty Morphin’ , but there’s a sleekness and a crucial hint towards deeper storytelling and greater character development. The art plays a huge role in this, delivering the classic Zyuranger designs with an aesthetic worthy of Hollywood…except, you know…better than Hollywood.
The Power Rangers, teenagers all, text, forget tests, and bemoan Billy’s overuse of push notifications. Freed of the 90s’ need for positive role-models, the Rangers feel like real teenagers, still unusually good and selfless teenagers but real teenagers nonetheless.
Other tweaks follow this pattern, not changing the facts of the series so much as bringing it in line with the ‘show not tell’ philosophy of more mature writing. Things we assumed happened, off-screen or in our pre-pubescent head-canons, are finally shown to us. Kimberly and Tommy actually flirt! The Zords actually separate to take on particular threats! Angel Grove displays its monster preparedness strategies! It’s all very cool to see but still feels natural.
I will say that there isn’t a whole lot of personality on display here. As is unfortunately not unusual, Trini and Zack are particularly undefined while Billy doesn’t get much other than tech geek. Kim and Jason fare better, but this is clearly Tommy’s show for now. Many of the Rangers gain most of their identify from the changes to their outfits that Prasetya has made. Giving Billy and, especially, Trini a preppier style helps them stand out and the rest feel much more modern without their color coded 90s tank tops. I think there’s cause to believe that the thin characterization will be addressed once Higgins has access to a little more page space, but it does weigh this story down a bit
The limited space also leads to a clever but rather brief fight with a bull monster that in no way resembles a bull.
Still, despite the limitations of the format, Higgins’ cinematic sensibility gels with the material, preventing it from feeling too abridged. Indeed, he even manages to slow down here and there for moments like Rita ominously walking through her palace.
Prasetya proves an excellent artist for this series, able to capture the charm of the original designs while updating pieces. Whether that means the Rangers’ new outfits, a slimmed down Rita, or a surprisingly creepy Finster, it’s a big part of the issue’s energy.
Admittedly the likenesses are fairly loose and the morphed Rangers owe a little too much to American advertising in their physiques, but you can’t deny that the monsters and Zords look amazing. Likewise the storytelling, while perhaps wisely simple, is strong. Prasetya’s use of angles is particularly strong and even in the limited space allotted to his story he ensures that things are dynamic and easy to follow.
Following the main story there’s a two-page introduction to the Bulk and Skull back-up by Steve Orlando and Corin Howell. Orlando is certainly not the writer I would have thought of to handle these characters, but it really does work. Like Higgins, Orlando gives his characters a bit of an update and an upgrade to suit their starring role. Rather than the butt of their own jokes, Orlando paints Farkas Bulkmeier and Eugene Skullovitch as practical jokers to be feared. It’s a smart way to adapt them and one that explains their high opinions of themselves in the original series.
The back-up is exceedingly short but great fun. It’s very nice to have this element of the original series represented and Orlando creates a strong feel for the ‘mundane’ world of Angel Grove High.
Corin Howell’s elastic art work is a great fit for the characters. Though she only utilizes eight panels, her ‘acting’ is more than strong enough to capture the force of Bulk and Skull’s personalities. It also gives a simple and innocent feel to the short that helps the issue avoid a feeling of running from its roots. Plus Skull is wearing his trademark beret, so she gets big points for that.
Howell’s Transformers: Windblade collaborator, Mairghread Scott rounds out the issue with a reprint of the SDCC exclusive preview she produced with Daniel Bayliss. It’s a simple story that’s a little more beholden to the classic formula than its brethren. Nevertheless, there’s some solid Zord action and a remarkably complete representation of the original series, with a Red and Green Goldar fight, some putties to dispatch, and dialogue that feels ripped straight out of 1993. I especially love how quickly Scott captures the relationship between Tommy, Jason, and Goldar on the first page.
Bayliss’ art is delightfully intense, with exaggerated motion and designs. I will admit that the art doesn’t always stay on model. The Rangers’ helmets often look awkwardly stretched out but the lack of devotion to the details allows Goldar to look fantastic in practically every panel. In the end though, its hard to nitpick when the blocking and dramatic compositions give us a complex battle full of awesome images.
While the sheer number of stories makes this an issue better suited to its Zero issue status than a full debut, each one has something charming, different, and honest to say about the Power Rangers brand. With more space in future installments, the few significant flaws, such as tepid characterization and rushed fights, seem destined to give way to a series uniquely able to answer the range and passion that MMPR has inspired over the years.
Overall, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #0 is a fantastic tribute to the series that ignited a phenomenon, able to honor what came before while updating it for the modern day. It brings the drama and scale that captured countless childhood imaginations back for an unironic reminder of exactly why that was that will excite a fan of the series, regardless of age.