I was at prime Power Rangers age back in 1993, when the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers started airing. That franchise has come a long way since then, through more than a dozen iterations of concepts and casts, but with a film reboot on the horizon, nostalgia for that first team of technicolor heroes is at an all-time high. The show – a weird kitbash of Japanese tokusatsu and the most saccharine American teenage drama – probably hasn’t aged all that well, considering its low production values and its supreme campiness. And if you’re like me – and since you’re on this site, I’d gamble that we’re not so different, you and I – shows like this, that so informed a chunk of our childhoods, hold this odd place in our minds. We know that it can’t be as good as we recall, but the memory of it is powerful enough to make us wonder if we shouldn’t pull up some episodes on Netflix – but, of course, doing so would risk forever destroying the paragon of Saturday morning entertainment that we knew and loved.
The great thing is, this new series (issues 0 through 4 of which are collected in this volume) strives to be that version of the Rangers – the one we think we remember. It’s an unabashed take, celebrating the best parts of the Power Rangers while realizing potential that the limited budget of children’s programming never let the show fulfill. Frankly, I was caught off-guard by just how good this comic is.
Though this is a reboot of sorts, it doesn’t start completely at square one. The Power Rangers – Jason, Billy, Zack, Trini, and Kimberly – have been at this for a little while. The story picks up after the original show’s first major plot: Rita Repulsa’s attempt to overcome the Power Rangers with her own Green Ranger. As most anyone who is likely to read this comic (or force it upon their kids) fondly remembers, Tommy is able to overcome Rita’s brainwashing and, ultimately, join the fight on the side of good. But Rita is far from defeated, and she intends to take advantage of the doubt the Rangers have in Tommy – and that he has in himself.
Yes, this comic is set in the modern day, more or less, but other than that, this is the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers you remember – not the after-school-special reality, but the dramatic struggle between a few young teenagers with attitudes and an evil witch that lives on the moon. Every piece is here, not re-imagined (like in Marvel’s Ultimate universe) but simply updated. Zordon, Alpha, and even perpetual screw-ups Bulk and Skull are the same as ever – trying to ride the Rangers’ coattails to internet stardom, no less. Kyle Higgins (Nightwing) gives the characters enough definition to drive the dramatic moments, and art from Hendry Prasetya (Power Girl) gives the action the sort of brightly-colored tension that we always hoped for. The freedom of the comic page allows the sort of great moments that every Power Rangers fankid would have salivated over, as the Rangers are able to use their Zords independently of each other to deal with major crises that would’ve just been too expensive for the original show. This is the best kind of reboot.
My best advice? Grab your copy, put on a color-coordinated outfit, crank that rockin’ guitar riff (that still absolutely holds up), and let this book remind you why you ran around the playground shouting, “Tyrannosaurus!” for a month when you were eight.