At long last, Shattered Grid, the mega-event poised to shake the Power Rangers to their core, is upon us. BOOM! Studios and Saban Brands have kicked off the event with the monumental Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #25 and boy, is it a doozy. I had a chance to speak with Kyle Higgins (MMPR writer), Ryan Parrott (Go Go Power Rangers writer), Dafna Pleban (Editor, BOOM! Studios), and Brian Casentini (Executive Producer, Power Rangers franchise at Saban Brands) about the event.
We delve into some of the story details, so here is your spoiler warning. If you haven’t read Go Go Power Rangers #8 or MMPR #25 yet, these are some major story elements spoiled below. The former serves as a prelude to Shattered Grid while the latter is the first major chapter. You can also check out a sneak peek at Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #26 below.
James Ferguson: As fan anticipation for Shattered Grid has been steadily building since New York Comic Con, how does it feel to have the opening chapter out in the world?
Kyle Higgins: We’ve been planning this for a long time. Brian, I think I pitched it to you a little more than a year ago when we came into the office and we walked through what we were thinking for this event. Basically, I pride myself on making Brian’s life hard in the best possible way.
Brian Casentini: No, no, no. Not at all. [Laughs]
KH: I feel incredibly fortunate to have my brother over here, Ryan, who I’ve known forever, writing Go Go Power Rangers and being able to work on this with me. That definitely eased some of the anxiety and pressure on my end. It’s a really cool opportunity to build something that is very collaborative along with Dafna. It’s been a lot of work. I’m not gonna lie. It’s been a massive amount of work, not only from the outlining and writing side of things, but the deep dive into the lore to make sure that we are not just bringing characters together for the sake of seeing them illustrated. We’re bringing them together for emotionally resonant and thematic reasons. We just really want to do the story justice.
Something I like to say is “the promise is the premise.” If the premise is Lord Drakkon targeting these Rangers, and every Ranger ever is at risk, it’s going to take more than the core Mighty Morphin team to stop him, and we need to see that. We’re going to explore that in an interesting way that all comes back to the core of these characters that we as fans know and love. In that regard, it’s really cool that we’re finally at the point where people are going to see the labors of the last year, if not longer. Dafna, I think you, me, and Bryce [Carlson] have been talking about this for longer than that. That’s the thing people don’t really see. We went to talk to Brian a year ago, but Dafna, we were developing this, what? Five months before that?
Dafna Pleban: Two ECCC’s ago.
KH: Yeah, so like two years.
DP: You’ll see a lot in MMPR #25 of this road that Kyle has been laying out very diligently for at least a year in the comics.
KH: We had these plans in motion since the time we decided that the alternate timeline was going to be Lord Drakkon. There are a lot of threads that have been slowly woven together in some subtle ways and in some more overt ways that build this hopefully really kick-ass sweater that is Shattered Grid.
BC: Kyle just happened to make this align with the 25th anniversary of the franchise.
KH: Funny how that works out, right? [Laughs]
JF: So he got you this really cool sweater as a gift?
KH: Man, you spoiled it.
JF: To prepare for this, have you been binge watching every available Power Rangers show on Netflix for the past year?
KH: Yeah, I have actually been watching a lot of Power Rangers and recap videos and reading a lot of summaries and character bios. Two friends of mine, Matthew Groom and Michael Busuttil, who I do the Ranger Danger podcast with, are very versed in the lore, so I run things by them. Saban has obviously been a fantastic resource as well. It’s been about finding the things that I respond to and I think will have the most story meat on their bones. That’s the stuff Ryan and I look to attack and frame in hopefully new and interesting ways. Everyone that’s in the book is in it for a reason. One of the most fun things for me is finding the pairings that you might not expect right away, but these characters might have things in common that, again, you may not expect, but that’s our job as writers to frame them in an interesting way. What do scenes between Zordon and Doggie Kruger look like?
They have a lot in common, but not in the way you might initially think. While it’s been a deep dive, I also keep my ear to the ground a little bit to understand what fans respond to with this material. I was a big fan of the show as a kid, but I really fell off from there. When I started writing comics professionally and doing conventions, seeing people my age that still had a big passion for Power Rangers re-ignited it for me. It got me to go back and look at things to re-explore some of the franchise. Taking on the book really opened the gates on that. I have a little bit of an outsider’s perspective from a story standpoint which I think you do need in order to juggle something like this.
JF: It’s not too precious in that case. You recognize the importance of it but you can kill your darlings as needed…literally in some cases.
JF: Since Shattered Grid coordinates the past in Go Go Power Rangers and the present in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, what is that process like between you and Ryan?
Ryan Parrott: Kyle’s done the lion’s share of the work. Since Go Go takes place within the constraints of the first season of the show, we’re bringing a new Ranger into that. I haven’t had to juggle all of the characters that [Kyle] has. My part was about finding smaller, emotional stories that would affect the Go Go Rangers in a way that would strengthen the book before Shattered Grid started. When we brought the new Ranger in, we sort of reverse-engineered it. We looked for what the story would be that would respect the characters as opposed to how it would affect Shattered Grid. How can we keep the emotional core going instead of just a fun way to do it. I didn’t want to be part of Shattered Grid at first, as it’s sort of up-ending all the work that we’ve done prior to the event.
KH: I think we can talk about who the Ranger is now.
RP: Oh yeah! We can!
KH: We’ve been well-conditioned.
RP: I can say it now. It’s Kimberly from the Drakkon universe. Oh my God! That was so nice! [Laughs]
BC: Was that a relief, Ryan?
RP: You have no idea. I’ve been scared and had to think “Don’t say “she,” say “they.” So, when we first sat down and figured out that Go Go Power Rangers is going to be part of Shattered Grid, Kyle pointed out that we never did anything with Kimberly from the Drakkon universe. She’s still out there. She’s sort of a wild card. The minute he said that, I thought, that’s the only character that can come back in time.
For me, the series was always about preparing for your future, so what better way to personify that than to have five high school students see a version of their future step in front of them, and [see] how that affects their lives and relationships. That was such a fun concept to be able to do, to bring a dark version of that and bounce off all of our characters. It helped tie a lot of the threads together, specifically with Kimberly and Matthew, and even Tommy, in a weird way because he will know what’s on the horizon. Kimberly gets to see a dark version of herself who went through a really traumatic relationship. Getting to see that and not understanding what it means, or how it affects the relationship she’s in, is such a cool reflection.
KH: You see how she fits into the story from a logistics standpoint: the events of MMPR #25, the whole culmination of that final sequence with Drakkon and his chaos crystal, and the death of Tommy, Jen arriving. That whole confluence of events has broken things. As we’ll learn in the top of MMPR #26, there are rules as far as causality goes. It changed, so they can’t go farther back. That begs the question, how does Dark Kimberly / Ranger Slayer show up? The answer to that is a really cool tweak that Ryan and I came up with that not only brings her into the event and the Go Go era, but allows us to play with causality in a way that we haven’t really seen done in an event before.
The reason we’re able to do that is a testament to the relationship that Ryan and I have, along with editorial. You wouldn’t be able to tightly knit an event story like this if you didn’t have collaborators who were selfless as far as story beats and figuring stuff out. I’ve been a part of events in the past at DC where the writers are more precious about the plot points. That’s very common. Every writer wants certain plot points to occur in their book. We’ve built Shattered Grid so we can bring in other voices, both from Go Go and the Annual stories. The events that happen there are very significant to the main narrative I’m writing. I think it’s a much more cohesive, immersive experience that way. It wouldn’t be possible without a great collaborative relationship with Dafna and Ryan.
DP: We have the benefit of all sitting in a room together. We’ve had multiple summits with Saban. They’ve been really great at giving us time and throw ideas at the wall to see what sticks, and giving us the tools of the 25th anniversary event they’re doing to help tell our story. Also, Kyle and Ryan are so, I guess “down to clown” is the technical term. I can call them up and we can all sit in a room, have some pizza and work out these ideas together as a team. It’s been a really awesome creative experience.
Go Go Power Rangers #8 and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #25 are currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.