Comics

Great Power, Many Eras, and Shattered Grids: Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers Annual #1

A big, world-building crossover event covers a lot of worlds, but doesn't do enough building.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Annual #1
Various

Boom Studios

25 Apr 2018

Other

When it comes to world-building, patience is important, but not as much as opportunity is. There are some stories that simply lack the scope, substance, and circumstances to build the kinds of worlds that lend themselves to the epic domains of trilogies, sagas, and cinematic universes. The Power Rangers do not fall in this category. With over 20 years of content, complete with a lengthy cast of characters and a diverse blend of colorful monsters, they have the resources. They've only lacked the opportunity.

Boom Studios is finally seizing that opportunity with Shattered Grid, a Power Rangers crossover story that is less about gimmicks and more about connecting the various Ranger worlds under a single, cohesive narrative. It's a massive undertaking, but one that hit the ground running in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers #25. Those events, and the circumstances surrounding Lord Drakkon, lay the foundation for a conflict that forges the kinds of connections that help build bigger worlds. Even with worlds that utilize giant robots fighting giant monsters, it's an unprecedented scale.

The threat that begins in Shattered Grid is already spilling over into those worlds and Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers Annual #1 offers glimpses into the escalating conflict. It promises to tap familiar names and faces from the Power Rangers mythos, spanning multiple eras and multiple iterations. They're not just unifying to confront a common enemy. It's a fight for survival on a scale that goes beyond any army of giant monsters.

That's a lot of ground to cover, even for a giant-sized annual. With a large cast of writers that include Kyle Higgins, the story attempts to take the world of the Power Rangers that is already so vast and use it to build around Shattered Grid. In terms of establishing a larger scope and higher stakes, it succeeds. Regardin actually furthering the story, though, the results are more mixed and not just because there's only so much ground a story can cover within a mythos that spans two decades.

The structure and purpose of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers Annual #1 is fairly simple. It has Lord Drakkon venturing into the various eras and time periods of the Power Rangers to collect the morphers he needs to access the Morphing Grid that all Rangers use to gain their powers. In the context of the events in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers #25, that's a necessary progression of the plot. Having established his ambitious agenda, Drakkon needs the resources to see it through. He just can't have someone make a monster or build a new zord to achieve what he wants.

It creates opportunities to explore Drakkon's ambition and ruthlessness in his quest to tap the Morphing Grid. However, much of the substance within his effort plays out like a clip show, of sorts. The narrative is broken up into multiple parts, each handled by a different artist. In each part, Drakkon enters a particular era of Power Rangers. That includes the Zeo era, the SPD era, Ninja Steel, and even Power Rangers in Space. It's basically a nostalgia trip with an agenda, but one that doesn't take the scenic route.

That's not to say the events within Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Annual #1 serve no purpose. It still contributes to the overall plot surrounding Shattered Grid. It just doesn't do much to raise the stakes beyond what they already are. It fills in a potential gap in narrative, but not much more. It's just a brief, but necessary journey through the various worlds and timelines of Power Rangers.

And that's not to say that every part of the journey is forgettable. There are a few instances where Drakkon's efforts have greater impact beyond just gathering the ingredients he needs to make his plan work. There are even moments where traces of the old Tommy Oliver within Drakkon show themselves. It hints that the extent of Drakkon's evil is not entirely on par with that of Rita Repulsa or Lord Zed. Those hints, though, don't do much to effect the outcomes.

Even so, Drakkon still has plenty of other moments that show just how twisted and evil he has become. Some of those moments are pretty intense. What he does to Alpha during his visit to Power Rangers in Space and the encounter he has with Dr. K in his visit to Power Rangers RPM involves more drama than simply stealing morphers. These moments help reinforce just how twisted this version of Tommy Oliver has become and why battling him is sure to test the Rangers in ways no monster ever has.

Despite these moments, there aren't enough of them to make Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Annual #1 as impactful as the rest of the events surrounding Shattered Grid. Other than giving Drakkon an opportunity to visit more Power Rangers timelines and gather more morphers, the story doesn't elevate itself to a point beyond simply putting the necessary pieces in place for other parts of the story to progress. The issue itself, though, doesn't do too much to move the story forward.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Annual #1 still offers something that other Power Rangers comics under Boom Studios have yet to offer. It acknowledges and integrates the many eras and timelines of Power Rangers into the overall continuity of the series. It doesn't throw it away or rewrite it in the mold of DC Comics' New 52. It makes an effort to capture the breadth of the Power Rangers' world and it succeeds, albeit to a limited extent.

In terms of world-building, it does plenty to reveal the size of the world that Shattered Grid encapsulates, but doesn't do much to build on it. There is still plenty to work with for this ambitious crossover event, both in terms of character drama and in terms of intense battles featuring giant robots. Lord Drakkon continues to prove that he's a unique menace. The fact he's able to achieve this without the aid of zords or monsters further proves that this is a threat that no era of Power Rangers has ever encountered before. It's a bold new world and one that's still worth building on.

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