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I watched Mighty Morphing Power Rangers as a younger Mike. It holds a certain magic to me, sort of like nostalgia, but somehow with less emotional impact. It’s like seeing your 2nd grade teacher when you’re in your twenties. You smile and remember a few things you haven’t thought about in years, but you don’t really care too much about what they’ve done since you’ve been away.
Lionsgate is making a MMPR movie with the necessarily diverse cast and, bizarrely enough, Elizabeth Banks. In what I assume to be a coordinated effort, Boom Studios is also putting out a MMPR comic. It seems I hate having money because I bought it. Perhaps there’s still that younger Mike, deep inside, who wants more Power Rangers. So I put on my Red Ranger jammies, dug out my old Megazord, and gave it a read.
And it’s madness.
Don’t get excited. It’s not, like, so bad it’s good or exceedingly campy or anything. It’s not even that bad. I say it’s madness because the book is attempting to juggle real, emotional story beats with the inherent camp of the universe as well as modernizing it and making some kind of meta-commentary on how inherently goofy it is.
There’s a lot it’s trying to do, it’s a lot for any book, and I’m not sure if it’s able to pull it off. See, it’s not like a property like Power Rangers can’t have a serious and modern take. As I understand it, the genre that the Japanese portions pull from has its own serious entries, but the American parts didn’t do it any favors. It’s “five teenagers with attitude” hanging out at a juice bar and learning valuable lessons each week. Then there’s Bulk and Skull, the school… bullies? Burnouts?
You can’t stay faithful to that and have your modern, more serious take. You have to tweak the source material. They have little bits of that peaking through. Kimberly jokes about how she’s more of a coffee drinker than a juice drinker, there’s more of an emphasis on consequences in their actions (Tommy worrying about almost killing a ton of people in a Zord fight, a no-win training scenario where civilians are ripped apart by Puddies, etc.). Still, it’s mixed with Bulk and Skull shenanigans, trips to the juice bar, and color coded shirts. They don’t work out together.
Don’t get me wrong, you it shouldn’t ever go super serious like that video that came out last year. That thing was like a teenager’s idea of making things oh so gritty and dark. Drugs! Vague crime! Sex! Guns! The property is inherently campy. Giant robots come together to form a larger robot that fights monsters. The villain’s name is Rita Repulsa. You physically can’t do it.
A part of me was hoping for a kind of balance between a more mature take and the kind of grand camp of it all. Sort of like how the Deadpool movie poked fun at the superhero movie while also being a celebration of superhero movies. Ya already got some of the self awareness, just go whole hog. Wallow in it. Revel in it.
I mean, this is just one nostalgia trip, right? This is for people like me, people who grew up with the show and want to take a little nostalgic trip. This isn’t to capture new readers, its not exactly a fresh re-imagining or bold new vision. Half of this first issue is references. Don’t fight it. Accept it.
I don’t know if I’m going to keep going with this. I’m not sure what I wanted to get from it, but I’m not sure the comic knows either. There are things that want you to take Power Rangers seriously and things that want to bask in the sheer goof of it all. Maybe it just needs time to find its footing, I don’t know. What do you think? Is it a faithful homage or the Rangers for an older audience? Let me know in the comments below.