NYCC 2018: Power Rangers Go Beyond The Grid With Boom! Studios

by James Ferguson

After some technical difficulties that made the presentation look more than a little blue, Matt Mueller from ComicBook.com took to the stage to introduce the panelists including Publishing Manager at Hasbro Entertainment, Megan Ruggiero, Senior Editor at Boom! Studios, Dafna Pleban, Simone Di Meo, Daniele Di Nicuolo, Kyle Higgins, and Margueritte Bennett.

The discussion jumped right into Shattered Grid #1, the finale to the big event. Mueller asked the panel what it was like to get it out into the world. Higgins asked Di Nicuolo what his sleep schedule was like now. The artist said it was a tough, but sad experience. Higgins said that they did kill a lot of Power Rangers. He pointed out that this is the first time he and Di Nicuolo have met, but they talk every day, going through everything.

Pleban talked Higgins off of multiple ledges several times a day. When Shattered Grid ended, the hardest thing was that he and Di Nicuolo didn’t talk as much. They missed it. The artist said that they were a team, just like the Power Rangers and it suddenly stopped. Higgins thanked the audience because his run on Power Rangers represented an enjoyable three years of his life. When he started this, he liked Power Rangers and now that it’s over, he’s definitely a fan.

Bennett was asked about the new team, which was teased at the end of Shattered Grid. She’s had a number of fans speak to her about how much they loved the comic series to date and how much it met to them. Pleban asked her what her approach was in assembling the new team. She said growing up she was a big fan, but missed a lot of the past few years of the franchise. When she was given the opportunity to write the series, she looked for certain character archetypes that would interact well and the editorial team helped her choose the different Rangers.

The panelists were asked about what their favorite part of Shattered Grid was. Higgins said he wanted to build to a moment like Gandalf’s declaration in Lord of the Rings where the cavalry shows up, but not to just have Power Rangers come in. That came in MMPR #29 when all the Rangers came together. He described it with such passion. You can hear how much thought and care went into not only the series but in particular images like this.

Higgins added that being a part of the Shattered Grid: Live panel from Powermorphicon was really special as a number of actors got together to reprise their roles as Power Rangers. He described it as a magical experience.

Pleban joked that she really liked killing Tommy Oliver. Higgins said that when they read that live there were people crying in the audience.

Mueller asked if there was anything that changed within the story as Shattered Grid played out. Higgins said there were little things, but there were a lot of outlines and communication along the way. Some designs changed, but nothing major. The end was always in sight, which had Lord Drakkon winning.

If you missed out on Shattered Grid, there are a number of trade paperbacks and a deluxe hardcover coming out over the course of 2019. Some of Di Nicuolo’s concept art and sketches will be included in the collections.

After chatting about Shattered Grid, it was time to go into the new storyline with Beyond the Grid which kicked off in MMPR #31. Pleban spoke about selecting the creative team, saying she was always a fan of Bennett’s work. She was talking to Bennett for some time about what was going on in the Power Rangers comics and by the time Pleban offer the job, Bennett already had an idea of what she wanted to do.

Pleban had been following Di Meo’s artwork on his Instagram and a lot of his space designs. When the opportunity came up, she jumped at the chance to pull him in. They got the chance to design a new character since they were in a whole new area. This is where the new Solar Ranger came in.

Bennett spoke eloquently about the environment and the pressure of Beyond the Grid and how dark this place would be where even the Morphin Grid doesn’t reach. The Solar Ranger is someone that shouldn’t exist and she’s looking for some way to be whole in this cruel universe.

Mueller asked Ruggiero what about Power Rangers makes it so unique and able to reinvent itself over and over again. She said that she never thought she’d get the chance to work on the brand since she was at Hasbro, but then the company bought the franchise. She quickly got up to speed and dove right in.

The cover for MMPR #34 reveals something that was initially described as a new threat to the team, but Pleban corrected by saying that we can’t really describe it that way. There’s more to it than that. There’s a much bigger moment in that issue.

The origin of the Dark Ranger is revealed in MMPR #35 in January 2019. Bennett was eager to dig into this character. A new arc begins in MMPR #36 and the cover gives us the first look at who’s behind of the mask of the Solar Ranger. The panelists were a little coy about this because they didn’t want to spoil much.

This is not the only Power Rangers comic at Boom! The discussion turned to Go Go Power Rangers. Issue #14, due out in November, shows Trini and Jason in the wrong colors. This is a little humorous here given the technical difficulties that have made everyone look blue. Pleban joked that we might be seeing another storyline develop right on the stage with the color switches.

Higgins said that writer Ryan Parrott wanted to play with the stereotypes that have developed over time with the colors associated with each Ranger. For example, the Red Ranger is always the leader. Putting Trini in that position opens up a number of storytelling possibilities to explore the characters.

Pleban teased new villains on the way and said that some more new characters are also coming. They plan on delving into the history of the Green Ranger coin. One such character is Alpha-1. There’s an Alpha-5 so there must be a 1 through 4, right?

Also on the way is Power Rangers: Soul of the Dragon, the original graphic novel that follows a future Tommy Oliver. Higgins said that this came about due to actor Jason David Frank’s work as a brand ambassador for the franchise. Frank wanted to tell a story like this for some time to help explore the character further. It’s a look at the legacy of Tommy Oliver. The graphic novel is due out on 12/5.

Higgins announced that everyone in attendance will receive a 20 page preview of the graphic novel which was met with a huge applause. I half expected Frank to show up as he had surprised the panel last year.

The panel was opened up to Q&A. A fan asked about Andros and Grace, two Red Rangers that lost their teams. Bennett said that she really likes playing with that PTSD.

The final question provided one of the most poignant statements I heard during the entire convention.  A fan asked how the creators deal with the Power Rangers franchise as something that was originally intended for children, but is read by adults.  Higgins jumped in and said that grim and gritty does not mean sophisticated.  The two often get confused and they are definitely not the same thing.  There’s a way to tell great stories that involve these characters and highlight what makes them great without making them dark.

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