Kimberly Hart was a character who never truly got her shot. To be honest, adding that last name might actually make her less identifiable. None of the original Power Rangers got all that much development, save perhaps Tommy and Billy. The rest tended to be blank slates onto which children could project their hopes and dreams and Kim, arguably came out the worst in that regard. She was often relegated to just being ‘the girl’ but that was too frequently an excuse to make her a supporting character in Tommy’s story to show how awesome ‘the girl’ could be.
From the first page, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: Pink is rebellious and confident. It throws us right into the meat of things, presenting Kimberly as an intelligent, talented, and experienced hero from the word go. The story immediately pops and crackles with a hungry energy, ‘twenty pages isn’t enough of this character and twenty pages from now you’ll know it.’
Kelly Thompson and Brenden Fletcher have locked onto a fascinating wrinkle in the Power Rangers brand. What does retirement look like for a Ranger? It’s something that the show has toyed with a few times in its twenty-three year history, but never quite like this. As in the zentai-clad memories of youth, the retired Ranger is treated with a certain solemnity and respect, but Pink really makes you feel it.
There’s no newbie Ranger to watch Kim in awe or fall down to show how she soars, but there’s no need as Kim calmly steps back into her heroic role in a story that feels like a modern action movie rewritten to suit the Power Rangers franchise.
The story reads briskly, despite a good amount of planning and exposition. There is a lot of time spent on Kim’s reactions to her situation, enough I’m sure to lose some readers. Full credit to Fletcher and Thompson though, this issue is paced beautifully. I ripped through all of it, eager to know what was going through the once and future Pink Ranger’s mind. It’s partially because this is a surprisingly tense read. The issue uses relatable silence to introduce you to Kimberly before throwing all of the rubber-suited evil into the mix and that strategy proves very effective.
Despite the wonders it does for her reputation, I will admit that there’s very little in this issue that requires it to be a Kimberly story. Kim is obviously much more mature than she was when Power Rangers debuted, than she is in Kyle Higgins’ Power Rangers, or even when her character was written out of the show. As a stripe of black on her suit and a civilian leather jacket imply, there’s far more certainty and bite to this character than Amy Jo Johnmson ever gave us. And while there are brief mentions of Kim’s relationship with Tommy and her gymnastics skill, at this stage, these easily could have been swapped out to give Post-World Peace Conferance Trini a Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: Yellow miniseries. I suppose you could even have done this with Rocky as Power Rangers Zeo: Blue with a few more tweaks. But despite this, Thompson and Fletcher employ a rather clever bit of the original series’ questionable continuity that allows Kim to re-don her morpher and utilize the cultural baggage we’ve put on Kim and the color pink to give the issue some of it’s electricity.
Pink #1 digs moderately deep into Power Ranger lore, but it doesn’t ask much of its reader in that regard. Though some obscure MacGuffins are thrown around, as long as readers know what the Power Rangers are and who Zordon is, they should be fine. It’s also a fairly all-ages title. It might be a little scary for the core Power Ranger demographic, but I expect that teen girls will appreciate this miniseries starring a badass heroine on a motorcycle as much as old fans from way back when.
Another reason for the issue’s success is Daniele di Nicuolo. Di Nicuolo seems perfect for this story and for these writers, bringing a sharp, specific look to his figures and punctuating them with simple backgrounds filled with shocking color, courtesy of Sarah Stern.
As with the writing, Kimberly looks like herself, but a very different version of herself. Di Nicuolo absolutely sells her as a motorcycle-riding, leather jacket-wearing, bow-fighting martial arts genius and she does so without abandoning the fact that Kim is young and is feminine. The character designs are clean, but very evocative when they need to be. Plus the “cute boy” Kim finds is actually pretty cute, bonus points.
I will say that di Nicuolo’s monsters aren’t up to the standard he sets around them. Besides the uncreative design of the “Black Lagoon rejects”, the villains don’t entirely feel like they fit within the same world as the human characters. They generally feel flatter and more distant than the humans and I can’t quite tell if it’s a color issue, a matter of line weight, or something else entirely.
Kim’s new costume looks great, at least as long as you can ignore how incongruous it is with the simpler canon outfits. Of course, that’s much easier when it’s this badass. Plus, even if you’re not feeling the Ranger suit or the monsters for some reason, you’ve got to give di Nicuolo credit for the choreography. This book does a tremendous job of conveying a lot about Kimberly’s fighting style in a small number of images. It’s not that there weren’t impressive fights on MMPR, but Rangers have rarely felt this intimidating or fun to watch in action. I especially love how di Nicuolo uses Kim’s bow to enhance her compositions.
As a mini-series tie-in to an ongoing series based on a twenty-three year old children’s action program designed to save money on special effects, this easily could have been a passion project or an afterthought, but it clearly isn’t. Everything about this book feels cohesive and like Boom! really believed in it. Seeing the results, I kind of get why.
- One thing that’s interesting about this series is the question of its canonicity. It was a bold move to set this series late in season 3 of MMPR. One might reasonably assume that this is part of Boom!’s new Mighty Morphin’ continuity, depicting Kimberly after she leaves the team. The presence of cell phones and Kim’s stepdad certainly seem in line with that assumption, but Kyle Higgins has stated that not all Rangers will follow the path that the show laid out for them, even so far as to imply that some Rangers will leave or join up at different times, if at all! Considering the number of references to Kimberly’s specific circumstances in the show and the trouble it could cause to nail down Kim’s development so early in the ongoing’s run, it’s possible that this miniseries is intended to walk its own road, separate from Higgins’ plans. To be honest, if Boom! did try that with this title, I’d be very impressed, but it goes against conventional wisdom in a pretty big way and giving fans an implicit elseworlds story set in a season many readers may not have watched just as the main book is picking up steam is certainly a risky way to test that.
Power Rangers: Pink #1 is an exhilarating reinvention of one of the series’ classic characters. There really was an electric feeling surrounding my first read of the issue. It feels almost like a middle-of-the-road title from a beautiful future where comics are universally good and female protagonists are written with power and respect. Of course, like many books that so thoroughly blow you away, it loses something on subsequent reads, flaws becoming a little more apparent, but there’s no denying that this is an impressive debut. If you’re a fan of Boom!’s Power Rangers or Fletcher’s Black Canary I strongly recommend giving this book a shot. It’s pretty freakin’ Morphinominal.