Shattered Grids and Missing Connections: ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #31’

The destruction wrought by Shattered Grid begins, but without the powerful components that make the Power Rangers so mighty.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #31
Marguerite Bennett, Simone Di Meo, Jamal Campbell
26 Sep 2018

If something is broken, it can usually be fixed to some extent. When something is shattered, however, that implies the damage is permanent. There’s no amount of glue and duct tape that’ll ever make it whole again. After the conclusion of Shattered Grid in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, this distinction is painfully clear. There’s no going back for the Power Rangers. Their battle against Lord Drakkon, an evil version of Tommy Oliver, fundamentally changes the foundation of the Power Rangers.

No amount of zord battles or putty fighting can change what he did to the morphing grid, the source of the Rangers’ powers. The stakes are now much higher than defeating a run-of-the-mill monster. Shattered Grid shows what happens when the abilities granted to the Power Rangers are misused to the greatest possible extreme. As Drakkon demonstrated in a conflict that spans multiple timelines and alternate universes, those dangers go much farther than the pitfalls of power and responsibility that Spider-Man preaches every other day.

The burden for being a Power Ranger is heavy enough. Now, in the aftermath of Shattered Grid, there’s plenty of upheaval to contend with. Marguerite Bennett take the reigns in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #31, carrying the Rangers forward after a battle that was more traumatic than Rita Repulsa’s worst monsters. The consequences are not just brushed aside. Rangers from multiple eras and universes are lost, powerless, or both. Somehow, they have to come together and pick up the pieces.

That process is narrated largely through the perspective of Grace Sterling, who has become an influential character since her debut in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #17. She’s no Jason Scott, but she’s the one that the various displaced Rangers turn to. This, in and of itself, creates a tenuous situation. Since her introduction, there are times when Grace has been an ally and other times, an adversary. After the events of Shattered Grid, though, she can’t be an enemy to anyone. Everyone’s primary concern is survival. That limits the story in some ways, but expands it in others.

Grace takes on this role in a setting much less mundane than Angel Grove. The remnants of the vast collection of Power Rangers who battled Drakon are now gathered in Terra Venture, the space station in which the TV show, Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy (Fox Kids), takes place. It acts as a lifeboat, of sorts. The damage to the morphing grid casts them adrift, creating plenty of uncertainty as to whether they can find their way home. On top of that, the threat of monsters is always present with Power Rangers and there are certainly signs that they’ll have more than a few to deal with.

What this means for morphing grid, Zordon, Tommy Oliver, and the rest of the classic Ranger characters is unclear. Grace establishes that the grid is still there. It just isn’t functioning like it used to. Powers are flickering in and out like faulty light bulbs. Even against Rita’s worst monster, which is saying a lot since she once made one out of a purse, that’s pretty disconcerting.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #31 has all the makings of a survival story, one that unites familiar faces from various iterations of Power Rangers. However, many of those elements get lost in the shuffle as the post-Shattered Grid world becomes just another crisis. That’s somewhat understandable, given the circumstances. They’re navigating a universe in which the laws of physics took one too many gut punches from Drakkon. They have every reason to operate under a sense of urgency.

In doing so, there isn’t much time for Grace or the other Rangers to process the recent past or the immediate present. Considering how some of those Rangers include familiar faces like Andros, Tanya, and Kimberly, it seems like a critical oversight. In every era of Power Rangers, going back to the Mighty Morphin heyday of the early ’90s, a key aspect of the narrative involves giving characters personal moments in between battling monsters. It helps reaffirm that, in addition to being superheroes, they’re still teenagers with attitude.

There’s not much of that in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #31. Grace is the only character who gets to show any emotional depth and she isn’t even a teenager. Her history with the Rangers, having lost her team years ago, gives her the necessary motivation to save what remains of the Power Rangers. Beyond that, though, there isn’t much in terms of character arcs. There’s nothing about her that changes and the same goes for the rest of the Rangers. They all try to navigate the chaos, but none get an opportunity to show how it affects them.

Even without those moments, there is a bigger picture unfolding. Bennett takes time to establish that the Rangers are in a strange, exotic place. It helps that the artwork of Simone Di Meo and Alessandro Cappuccio give color and vibrancy to these new surroundings. It feels like a setting that could never be adequately displayed in an under-budget TV show, which helps reinforce how destructive the events of Shattered Grid were.

Overall, there’s a lot to explore. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #31 gets that process started, but it skips a few critical steps along the way. The lack of emotional stakes and interpersonal dynamics keep the story from feeling like a complete Power Rangers story. While it’s interesting to bring different characters from different worlds together, as plenty of Power Rangers specials have done over the years, they lack the personal bonds to give their struggle little weight.

There’s still plenty to work with, regarding taking the Power Rangers into uncharted territory and forging new connections between familiar characters who have never had a chance to interact. The entire mythos of Power Rangers is in an unfamiliar, but exciting state after Shattered Grid. Even if it’s impossible to put all the pieces of the grid back together, many of those pieces still have value, that are worth saving.

RATING 4 out of 10 / 10