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!
Hogday Afternoon. Chase Into Space. The Fate of Lightspeed. These episodes can still cause goosebumps to pop up on even the chillest Power Rangers fan’s arms. This is partially due to their nature as finales that have been built up to all season long. It’s also true in part because the villains were able to do something that felt seemingly impossible: they destroyed the rangers’ base. While such an activity has become almost second nature in more modern seasons, it still sent a special jolt of electricity into fans’ bodies in those early years.
Even Changing of the Zords is one of the most iconic sagas in Power Rangers lore because it featured a desecration to the sanctity of our benevolent heroes. Lord Zedd – emperor of all that is evil – not only appeared in the hallowed grounds of the Command Center but he set up shop and dictated his own terms. Sure, the rangers eventually won the day as they always do but for a child of the ‘90s that event alone was unfathomable on Tuesday and a harsh reality on Wednesday.
The sixth issue of writer Kyle Higgins’ and artist Hendry Prasetya’s Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers features another such moment. The Command Center is in pieces following the end of the previous issue and the rangers must confront their newest villain: Black Dragon. Most of this issue features the struggle between Black Dragon and the rangers. In a successful attempt to establish the original character as a true heavy hitter, things don’t go so well for our chroma clad champions.
Some of the visuals in this issue are truly striking. From Black Dragon attempting to tear Tommy’s shield clean off of his body to Zack desperately saving the day despite his lingering issues with the Green Ranger, the fight’s futile nature is painted in no uncertain terms. The rangers retreat as Black Dragon, Rita, and a battalion of putties surround the ruins. Unfortunately, Billy is taken captive during the retreat. Hopefully, this turn of events will lead to additional focus for a character who has already displayed the belief that he’s one step behind the rest of his team.
Black Dragon is a fascinating mystery. His name alone is a powerful suggestion. Is it a tangible allegory for the conflict between Zack and Tommy? His knowledge of both the rangers’ civilian identities and the history that surrounds their powers seems extensive. Not only is he able to disrupt their powers in battle but through a combination of the green crystal and Billy’s morpher he completely shuts off the rangers’ powers. Curious enough, that doesn’t hold true for Tommy which leads more credence to the theory that Black Dragon’s very existence is tied to the Green Ranger.
This is the second time in this series’ short existence that the lion’s share of an issue has been dedicated to a battle. That’s not always an easy task to pull off while still making the story itself compelling. That was accomplished in spades here. The fight was as dynamic as it was desperate. Peppered in with shocking moments like Alpha 5’s decapitated, broken body, this issue managed to remain grounded while delivering moments that were truly unique to a 23-year-old franchise.
Last month, the series left the ranger team teetering on a precarious edge. This month, they were tossed off of that cliff. Rita is winning and unlike the television series where she consistently let victory slip through her hands thanks to overconfidence, this version of Rita is willing to go in for the kill. The balancing act between traditional Power Rangers tales and ratcheting up the threat factor for older fans is precarious but it is still being carried out masterfully by Higgins and Prasetya.
It feels almost like a broken record at this point but the minds at work for BOOM! Studios continue to get right what other publishers got wrong in the past. Characters are expounded upon instead of being treated with the general fluff of their television counterparts. The stories embrace the spirit of their origins while building on what was laid before. One half year in and the motivation of both the creators and the characters they create are propelling Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers to the top of any fan’s must read list.
Score: 5 out of 5
(Images Courtesy: Comic List)