Hot off the heels of the incredibly successful monthly Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers comic comes a selection of short stories meant to add a bit of backstory and flavor to Kyle Higgins’ ever-expanding universe. Each tale has its own unique flavor in both tone and artistic style. Let’s take a look at the six shorts that make up the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers 2016 Annual:
A Week in the Life…
Lead writer from the mainline book Kyle Higgins teams with artist Rod Reis (C.O.W.L.) to bring to readers a story about Jason that is meant to truly define the qualities that he possesses to make him worthy of the red spandex. This story comes at the perfect time. The main book has focused heavily on Tommy and Zack. Billy and Trini have had great character moments. Even Kimberly is getting some much deserved spotlight in the Pink mini-series. Ironically enough, the leader of the team has spent the most time in the background.
This story shines a light on the human portion of the word superhuman. Jason’s engine runs just a little bit faster and a little bit longer than the rest of his teammates but even he can stall on occasion. The quick scenes and scant dialogue drive home just how hard Jason runs on a weekly basis. Everything is done with extreme purpose. This is punctuated by Reis’ artwork which is the most photo-realistic seen in Boom’s Power Rangers line. Jason is Austin St. John. Make no mistake. As a character piece, this story succeeds and further cements Zordon’s reasoning behind choosing Jason for such a key position.
Bulk and Skull take center stage in Ross Thibodeaux’s (Ego Tripp) story of happenstance. The duo have long been beloved by fans for their progressive character evolution over the course of the series from simple bullies to truly good people who still make mistakes. This entry nails both the flow and dialogue of a typical Power Rangers episode so very right. As silly as the events are that unfold, (there’s a sliding silly scale in the world of monsters and rainbow-colored superheroes) they feel very real to what could happen and deliver that sort of Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown level of near satisfaction that was quite typical to the second season of MMPR.
Bulk and Skull are buffoons. Bulk and Skull are self-serving. Bulk and Skull are easily rattled. But Bulk and Skull will answer the call of duty even if every move is punctuated with histrionics. The tongue-in-cheek nature of the tale is accented by Eisner Award-winning artist Rob Guillory’s (Chew) twitchy, elastic style that couldn’t possibly be a better fit for the lovable pair.
A Spot of Trouble
Marguerite Bennett (A-Force) focuses her piece of the Annual pie on Trini with a manga style story illustrated by Huang Danlan (Venus) that tackles a recurring yet always intriguing concept in the world of Power Rangers. Are all monsters inherently evil? Can they be reasoned with? While the other stories in this book feel complete and able to tell the entirety of their story in the brief format, this is the one that stands out as only scratching the surface of a much larger issue. It’s a quaint tale that could benefit from larger canvas.
Only the Strong
The tentpole story for this collection was illustrated by acclaimed writer/author Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise, Echo) and is the first published work written by his son, Trey Moore. They dive into the origins of Goldar, Lord Zedd, and the intricacies of the factions that would go on to eventually comprise the United Alliance of Evil. The sketchy style of Moore’s pencils works nicely for the tale of a born warrior who feels the most at ease in the middle of battle. The new designs presented in this story work well with what is already known of the Power Rangers universe and they fit quite naturally.
Villains can be blank slates if handled poorly. The Moores counteract that adding depth to Goldar’s motivations and all of the steps that we take for granted which happened prior to Day of the Dumpster. So many times in the early days of the series we heard about the struggle between Zordon and Rita. Hopefully, this story is a small taste for further flashbacks that will help flesh out what took place long before teenagers with attitude was a thing.
It’s Putty Time
For all of the groundedness that exists in the other stories in this book, It’s Putty Time works as a fantastic counterbalance. James Kochalka (Johnny Boo) both pens and illustrates the answer to the question that has been plaguing mankind as far back as one can remember: do putties have feelings? This story can absolutely catch the reader off guard. For all of it’s childlike demeanor, it can still elicit sympathy in between each chuckle and myerp. Don’t be surprised if this is the one story you find yourself going back to read again.
What Makes a Ranger
The bookend of the comic dovetails nicely back into the themes tackled by A Week in the Life… but with a larger focus on the entire Power Rangers team as Jorge Corona (We Are Robin) looks at the rangers through Zordon’s eyes and, by extension, the eyes of the everyday citizens who are most affected by their heroics.
Morphing isn’t necessarily the hardest part of the ranger job. It is by no means easy but the Power Rangers are this nebulous entity that acts almost as a force of nature. Sometimes what truly resonates with people is seeing others (who conveniently wear color-coordinated clothing) helping their fellow man after the giant monster explodes. Corona’s story gives the ranger teens a sort of agency that is often ignored between their lives as rangers and high schoolers.
Overall, the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers 2016 Annual has a very complete feeling to it. BOOM! Studios seems to have facilitated a high level of collaboration between all of the artists and writers in order to ensure that a collection of stories was presented with purpose rather than as a random hodgepodge. Six very unique stories are told with six very unique voices and much like a Megazord, they come together as something greater than the sum of its parts.
Score: 5 out of 5
(Images Courtesy: Crave Online)