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!
The art of executing a twist that is both believable and unexpected is quite difficult. That statement is even truer when said twist is occurring within the confines of a well-established franchise. In the Power Rangers universe, for every Mack is a robot there are a dozen Astronema is Andros’ sister. The twist in Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #9 lies firmly within the former category as it turns a nearly year long storyline on its ear and proves that the action is only just getting started.
Let’s start at the beginning as Hendry Prasetya’s art is allowed to shine in another issue chock full of well-paced action that never feels too cluttered. One of the most amazing aspects of Kyle Higgins’ writing is that he never lets an action scene have the by the numbers feel that plagued the television series. He opts for showing the zords’ individual power as opposed to making the Megazord transformation sequence a foregone conclusion.
Freshly off of siphoning Tommy’s Green Ranger powers in order for Jason, Kimberly, Trini, and Zack to tap back into the Morphin’ Grid, the rangers systematically regain control of their zords and confront Black Dragon in Paris. The mecha battle that follows is a stalling tactic by the rangers. Even with a demorphed Tommy controlling the Dragonzord, the lack of the Triceratops puts the team at a severe disadvantage.
This is where long term characterization pays off. While I was somewhat critical of the lack of time dedicated to Billy being stuck in the Dark Dimension with Goldar, the payoff in this issue was fairly satisfying. On the surface, Goldar is a loyal minion who sees situations in black and white. Billy has systematically chipped away at that mindset by asking logical questions one would expect from a man of science. After witnessing the battle between Black Dragon and the rangers, Billy manages to exploit Goldar’s jealousy towards anyone gaining favor with Rita over himself. The golden monkey’s exile is self-imposed and soon he purposefully frees the Blue Ranger in hopes that he will in turn remove the obstacle in front of Goldar’s right hand man status.
Moments like these are so critical to a story because that aren’t just given at will. They also serve to propel the story forward. Characters are allowed to actively demonstrate both strengths and weaknesses that affect the course of the narrative in meaningful fashion. Throughout the course of the series, almost all character moments aren’t asides tossed in for flair. They have substance that makes them that much more impactful.
Billy returns to the field of battle and along with Tommy, they enter Black Dragon having realized that he is much more similar to a zord than a monster. Black Dragon is taken apart from the inside and Trini makes the startling revelation that their enemy was at least in part cobbled together from the same technology as the Dragonzord. The notion that Black Dragon is at least in part connected to Tommy is not shocking. His name alone suggests a connection but this note serves as confirmation.
Billy and Tommy disappear in the aftermath of the battle only to awaken in a gray world with a pair of unsavory images. One is of towering statues of both Rita and the Green Ranger; clearly erected in the wake of a global victory over Earth. The other is of the man behind the Black Dragon machine. It’s a Power Ranger. He’s sitting on a crumbled throne and at first blush, he appears to be an amalgamation. His shield and the symbol across his chest are reminiscent of the Green Ranger but his suit and helmet are more in line with the White Ranger. The blood red visor and dramatic edges even bring about memories of the White Drago Ranger from Power Rangers Dino Thunder.
These visuals pose many questions to the reader. Is this a parallel dimension? Is this new ranger an alternate version of Tommy? Possibly Zack? Or is it someone from the Power Rangers universe that hasn’t yet made their comic book debut? Fans may quibble over the design of the costume but it certainly breathes new life into a story that – while superb – definitely felt like it was reaching its climax.
Overall, this issue is just as much about transition as it is resolution. The Black Dragon story is capped off only to be a precursor to a much darker tale. The world is saved revealed another world that wasn’t quite so lucky. The wonderful thing about this storyline is that BOOM! Studios hasn’t been handcuffed by Saban and in turn they haven’t handcuffed the creative team behind this series. Month after month, this team behind Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers is allowed to create their own world and characters while still paying homage to the franchise as a whole. It feels both foreign and familiar which may be a perfect analogy for what is about to happen in the next phase of this story.
Score: 5 out of 5
(Image Courtesy: Flickering Myth)