Story by: Kyle Higgins, Steve Orlando, Mairghread Scott
Art by: Hendry Prasetya, Corin Howell, Daniel Bayliss
Colors by: Matt Herms, Jeremy Lawson
Things come in waves. First they roll in slow, gradually building and building until they crash up against the shore of our cultural memory. By the time the film reboot is dropped on the world, Power Rangers is probably going to be riding a massive wave.
If you ask me, that wave is gonna start with this comic.
Something like Power Rangers depends so much on nostalgia and the strength of fandom to keep itself going and is sort of beholden to certain rules, king of which has always been “don’t change the DNA.” If it’s not recognizable to a fan who’s been in cryo-sleep since it’s debuted, it’s probably a misguided adaptation (extrapolate that out as you will) but I don’t think this comic has that issue at all.
Higgins and Prasetya are mainly dealing with two issues that the original Power Rangers series didn’t have: Showing that the Rangers have interior worlds, like all humans do, and subtlety updating the setting to our world of 20XX. The second one is easy, as it mainly just involves updating the clothes of the Rangers and giving people cellphones. The first is the real narrative challenge of this zero issue. The rangers were always pretty much just heroic and whatever other trait described them, whether that be nerd, acrobat, break dancer, etc. So our story revolves around the Green Ranger, Tommy, and the subtle control evil space witch Rita Repulsa is exerting over him in her quest to have him destroy the other Rangers.
The main story of this takes place shortly after Tommy breaks free from Rita’s control and joins the Rangers. It opens with the Rangers battered at Tommy’s feet, a terrible vision forced into his head by Rita. He has this vision as he rides shotgun with Jason, the Red Ranger, to school, as a spectral Rita whispers bile in his ear. And while Tommy struggles with his inner call to darkness, the other Rangers are going on about an AP History test they’ve all forgotten about (because of course the Power Rangers are AP students.)
It’s definitely much more sinister than anything I sat down to watch after school when I was seven, but there’s nothing about this comic that would stop me from handing it to a kid.
The rest of the main story is standard Power Rangers fare. A monster attacks the city, the Rangers go fight it…and Rita slowly exerts control over Tommy during the fight. His push-back almost causes the death of some civilians, who Kimberly deftly saves in her Pterodactyl Zord. When the Rangers return to the command center Jason and Tommy get into a minor fight about team leadership and following instructions, but Zordon shuts it down because he’s clearly able to understand that Rita is up to something. Obviously.
The story is paced well and there’s a particular triumph in the fact that Prasetya was able to make the world of Power Rangers look so much less ridiculous than I remember it being on TV, and that’s even with the semi-manga inspired nature of the art. It’s bright, sharp and even Rita looks like a real menace. Traffic cone bustier and all.
And there’s little touches like the Rangers texting in class or a hapless school administrator coming in to warn about an “incident” involving a monster attacking the city. It helps this feel like a subtle reboot of Power Rangers while also seamlessly fitting into the framework of the original series.
I can’t say I was particularly enthralled with the Bulk and Skull story by Steve Orlando and Corin Howell, but that’s less to do with the art or writing and more my decades long distaste for the characters. And I really enjoyed the short story by Mairghead Scott and Daniel Dayliss, if only because Bayliss’ art fits the setting and characters so damn well. His ultra lithe depiction of the Rangers conveys their martial arts fantastically.
I highly recommend picking up this zero issue and frankly, I’m really looking for the #1 in March.