If, a couple years ago, you’d asked me whether I’d care about a Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers comic, I would’ve said, “Unlikely.” My nostalgia trigger is easy to trip, but for some reason, Power Rangers didn’t trip it. I love the concept, the characters, the Zords. But watching the show again with my friend’s at-the-time five year old, it didn’t hold up. I figured Rangers was something that was still awesome, but was no longer for me.
Enter Kyle Higgins and co.’s Mighty Morphin’ comic from BOOM! Studios. For the last thirty some issues, that book’s creative team has been producing a Power Rangers story that I care about, and that echoes some of the best “kids properties” comics I’ve ever read.
Last week, the story that’s been ongoing since issue one came to a head, in the finale of the multiverse-spanning Shattered Grid saga. And reader, it choked me up a little bit.
Shattered Grid is, essentially, Power Rangers‘s version of Crisis on Infinite Earths. But it’s better, and far more accessible, than that tagline makes it sound. An evil Tommy Oliver (the original Green Ranger) from another universe has decided to steal the powers of every other set of Rangers, by using the Morphin’ Grid to jump through both time and space. The original Mighty Morphin’ team, joined by series upon series of guest stars from throughout the franchise’s twenty-five year history, makes one last effort to stop him.
Rangers from different eras find their way to present-day Angel Grove (in a brilliant move, Jen Scotts, the leader of Power Rangers: Time Force arrives first). Alliances are made, relationships are formed, and the whole thing becomes incredibly expansive in a way that would’ve been incredibly easy to sidestep in an event like this. Shattered Grid is a high-concept book (What if ALL the Power Rangers teamed up? Like, ALL of them?) that delivers on the concept without getting mired down in the easy, nostalgic beats it would’ve been easy to milk. At its heart, Shattered Grid is about expanding the Rangers’ universe, not re-hashing what’s already there.
And, it’s about Tommy Oliver.
Since issue one, the Mighty Morphin’ comic has explored Tommy’s struggle with self-worth. He was hand-chosen by Rita Repulsa to become the evil Green Ranger. What does that say about him? And what does it say about him that, in another universe, he’s become so far gone that he’s now intent on reshaping the entire universe to his whims? Is there any chance our universe’s Tommy could turn out the same? What’s to stop that?
In the story’s final fight, brilliantly illustrated by both Daniele Di Nicuolo (who, along with colorist Walter Baiamonte, has been knocking it out of the park on this book) and Diego Galindo, we get Higgins’s final word on Tommy’s struggle. And we see what makes the former evil Green Ranger the franchise’s most interesting and enduring character.
Higgins’s run concludes with this issue, and I sure as heck am going to miss his Rangers. But in keeping with the spirit of the series, Shattered Grid ends with not a look back, but a look forward. After all, there’s an entire multiverse that needs righting in the wake of Lord Drakkon’s assault on the Morphin’ Grid. And there’s a new team of Rangers ready to take on that challenge.
For now, though, I’m ready to fondly bid farewell to my Rangers. A group of characters I wasn’t entirely sure I’d ever connect with again, but who shined through when handled with the right sense of storytelling and respect. Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers made the Power Rangers, and their message, resonate with me again. Reading this comic felt like reuniting with old friends, people who have maybe grown up a little, but haven’t really changed.
Until next time, may the power protect you. Always.