Editor’s Note: If you haven’t read the comic and like the element of surprise, STOP. Do not read any further! Spoilers are ahead!
Throughout the first four issues of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, writer Kyle Higgins has performed a master stroke in sowing the seeds for this one off flashback tale. While the main focus of the story has been Tommy dealing with the growing pains that come with joining a team of superheroes after being their most challenging supervillain, we’ve been getting tastes of the rangers’ individual reservations towards their new teammate. No one has been more vocal about their distrust than Zack. It turns out that the Black Ranger faults the Green Ranger because he was almost the one donning the emerald spandex.
This issue’s story takes place one month prior to Green with Evil. One of the more intriguing aspects of this series is that it slowly reminds the reader that the world is far bigger than Angel Grove, California. A simple task at first blush but for all of the television show’s positives, it consistently gave the impression that while the wicked witch wanted to conquer Earth, she only really cared about one city in particular. That fact was even poked fun at in Power Rangers Turbo when Bulk and Skull became Angel Grove monster tour guides. That’s also why it was so shocking when Power Rangers In Space expanded the definition of what it was to be an active villain in the Power Rangers universe. So it’s nice to open this issue and see that far away countries aren’t safe from monster attacks when Rita lashes out against a blustering Italian president.
When Jason saves the president and Zack in turn saves Jason, it’s the Red Ranger who makes all of the headlines. The intriguing thing is that Zack echoes a sentiment that so many fans have thought about over the years. Do the other members of a ranger team ever get jealous of the Red Ranger? Do they ever wish that they could stand in the middle and make painfully unfunny threats in the form of puns best served in Laffy Taffy wrappers?
What makes Zack’s story so impactful is that it all comes back to the selflessness necessary to be the unsung hero. Who takes control of the Megazord when Jason isn’t around? Zack. Who calls the shots when Jason is busy fighting Goldar? Zack. It’s a more complex issue than one might think. Jason is the leader. Billy is the brains. Trini and Kimberly embody girl power. But to an outside observer, who is Zack? He can’t even tell the world that he’s a fantastic role model for minorities due to a costume that covers every inch of his skin. When it comes to standing out from the crowd, the Black Ranger is at a distinct disadvantage.
When Rita tempts Zack with the Green Ranger powers and he refuses, his heroism must once again fade into the background at the suggestion of Zordon until the potential threat can be properly assessed. Zack was offered a bite of the serpent’s apple and not only did he pass it up but then he’s asked to embrace someone who gave into the temptation. It’s why he not only questions the morality of Tommy but the very core of his being. If he was able to fight it, then why couldn’t this new guy?
The issue ends with one of the more puzzling moments of the series. A voice foretells the future to Rita in the same way that her own voice haunts Tommy. It correctly predicts that the evil Green Ranger will turn on her. Could it be Lord Zedd? Master Vile? Tommy himself? Perhaps someone new?
Thony Silas steps in on art duties for this issue. Higgins and Silas previously worked together on DC Comics’ Batman Beyond series. Silas brings a looser, fluid style to the table that works quite well with the more action heavy scenes in the early part of the issue. He accentuates characters’ natural traits. His Goldar is large and imposing. His Rita is sufficiently spindly.
This comic was an incredibly satisfying culmination of a seed that had been planted and watered for the previous four issues. While his character had already been growing, this issue provided a landmark moment that made Zack the most likable, complex member of the team. One can only hope that similar moments are awaiting the rest of the rangers in future installments. By and large, this is the best issue of the series thus far. Not only did it deliver where it needed to but it also managed to start new threads for the future. Plus, this issue gave a whole new level of depth to the most classic, pulse-pounding season finale: “An Oyster Stew”.
Score: 5 out of 5
(Images Courtesy: Comic Book Resources)