Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #24
21 Feb 2018Other
Some things just don't translate well across mediums. The lack of quality movies (that's "quality", not quantity) based on video games is proof of that. Whenever a story is told, the nature of that story is often affected or dependent on the medium through which it's told. For a narrative as iconic and well-known as Power Rangers, it's somewhat hard to imagine its story playing out on anything other than a Saturday morning TV show with poor graphics, goofy costumes, and recycled footage from Japan.
Hard or not, Kyle Higgins and Boom Studios make clear that it isn't just possible for a story to maintain its appeal through a different medium -- it can do so in a way that improves the story on multiple levels. Under Higgins, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers grows in ways that just aren't possible with a Saturday morning TV show and not just because some of the themes may not sit well with network censors. In the medium of comics, the story of the Power Rangers has opportunities to grow in a myriad of ways that aren't just restricted to zords destroying giant monsters.
Higgins doesn't try to reinvent the overall themes of the Power Rangers, nor does he try to make them too mature for fans of the old TV show. The approach he takes to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers involves adding new layers and complexities that just can't fit into a half-hour TV show. In this story, Rita Repulsa isn't just some screeching witch who just keeps throwing monsters at the Power Rangers in hopes of destroying them. She's more devious and tactical, showing a refined level of villainy that requires more than just zords to defeat.
That makes stakes much higher and the tension much greater in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #24 because the complexities of the plot have long since exceeded the boundaries of a kids show. The conflicts here don't just involve monsters, putty attacks, and teen drama that's safe for anyone under the age of ten. They also involve new allies, new enemies, and alternate universe versions of beloved characters. Indeed, there's a lot of potential, as well as many complications, at work here.
As a prelude to the upcoming Shattered Grid event, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #24 establishes takes full advantage of a world not bound by the half-hour time constraints of a TV show or network censors who need every second of air time to cater to younger demographics. That's not to say the plot is so mature that it would confuse most kids and terrify their parents. It just brings some added complexity that requires more than just a grade school-level mentality to appreciate.
The world that Higgins creates for the Power Rangers is no kids show. It's not just about balancing life as superheroes and melodramatic teenagers. There are nuance challenges for the Power Rangers that cannot be resolved with a zord battle or a heartfelt talk at the end. It's a world in which the right course of action isn't restricted to whatever Zordon says. There are vast gray areas and having to navigate those areas tests the Rangers in ways no network censor would ever allow.
The primary test leading up to Shattered Grid involves just how much the Power Rangers can trust Grace, a character unique to the series with a role that's unique to the narrative Higgins crafts. She carries herself as someone with good intentions, but questionable methods. She's someone who could end up being a hero or a villain, depending on which methods she utilizes more.
Since the revelation several issues back that she was part of a previous Power Rangers team in 1969 that suffered too many losses for Zordon's comfort, she is very much a wild card. Her efforts to help the team are very much a divisive issue among the team, especially for Jason, whose added burden of being a leader adds more tension. It's easy to forget that, despite being the headstrong leader, he's still a teenager. Even with superpowers, there's only so much burden a teenager can endure.
That strain is part of what allows Grace to establish trust with the team. She also brings resources to the table, some of which are even more useful than zords. Being an adult and the head of a corporation that thrives because of her experience as a Power Ranger, she gives them plenty of incentives to trust them. Some of those incentives play out in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #24.
The Power Rangers find themselves in a situation where it's not just one monster or one life lesson they have to learn. It's multiple monsters on multiple fronts, not just at Angel Grove, that force the Rangers to stretch themselves farther than usual. It's not the first time Higgins has taken the team to new places with familiar battles, but beyond taking the narrative beyond the old TV show, it gives the impression that the scale of the conflicts in this world are bigger and bolder.
Even with that scale, the monster battles still play out like many classic Power Rangers battles. These monsters, despite the exotic locations, still have that distinct cartoonish charm that ensures the narrative never become too serious. They never take the form of something that feels out of place for a Power Rangers story. Even with all the complexities that Higgins uses, it still comes off as something that appeals to older fans who fondly remember begging their parents for the latest toys.
That's not to say that all those appeals fit together. The battles have an epic scale, but the way in which they're resolved come off as overly convenient. There are also moments when Grace sheds her complexity and just sets herself up to be someone the Rangers will regret trusting. She's still a compelling character, but there's a sense that she's destined to make things harder for the Power Rangers in the long run.
Even so, the action is familiar and quick-paced. It's also not random, either. It's very much a culmination of an ongoing side-plot with Finster, Rita's resident monster maker. That side-plot adds even more layers to the Power Rangers' enemies and that's critical because it gives weight to the revelation at the end, which effectively establishes the Shattered Grid as a conflict that won't just further raise the stakes. It may very well break the hearts of everyone on the team.
The impact of that revelation, as well as Grace's role in it, make Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #24 a new standard-bearer for a more refined Power Rangers story. It's reflects an evolving story and an evolving world that takes full advantage of the medium it uses, unbound by network censors and commercial breaks. However, it never goes past a point where it doesn't feel like Power Rangers. It never tries to give the franchise the Batman Begins treatment. It just mixes in a little nuance to go along with the giant robots and monsters. It's still absurdly fun, but in a way that kids and adults alike can appreciate.