Trust And Connection – Ryan Parrott Talks Legacy, World Building, And The Future Of Power Rangers

by Noah Sharma

Boom! Studios has made the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers a major force in the comic store once again. The series quickly became a hit and spawned a spin-off, Go Go Power Rangers, written by Ryan Parrott. Especially as the main title took the team deeper into the multiverse spanning “Shattered Grid” event, Parrott’s Go Go proved a fantastic teen superhero book that consistently delivered strong characterization, clever plotting, and a fresh spirit that still seemed utterly in love with the original series. As Marguerite Bennett rounded out her “Beyond the Grid” arc, Parrott built Go Go to a crescendo, making it all the more surprising and delightful when Parrott was announced as the new writer on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and remained on Go Go with co-writer Sina Grace! With one creator working on both books the world of Power Rangers, given the cross-series subtitle “Necessary Evil”, became more connected than ever before.

Enjoying Go Go as well as his work at other companies, I made sure to snag a spot on Parrott’s signing line at San Diego Comic Con this year. There I found Parrott to be not only kind and thoughtful in his responses to fans but just as excited as his work suggested. His enthusiasm for the project was infectious and it confirmed my growing certainty that I ought to sit down with him for an interview. So, the very next chance I got, I arranged to meet with Parrott at New York Comic Con to talk about Rangers, Turtles, sages, villains, and what’s next for the world’s greatest team of teenagers with attitude.

Cover to Go Go Power Rangers: Forever Rangers by Dan Mora

 

Noah Sharma: So, right now you’re working on “Necessary Evil”.

Ryan Parrott: I am.

NS: I think the biggest thing about this whole arc, this whole phase of Power Rangers right now is the time jump, the time skip to season two. And in the main book Tommy is already the White Ranger… How do you feel that the book changes between the first season and the Tommy as White Ranger timeline? What does that change about the team’s dynamic?

RP: It’s funny ‘cause I didn’t realize it until we started working on it that the time jump was gonna shift the team as much as it did. But when we were starting, we were trying to figure out coming back from “Beyond the Grid”, they were like, “Okay, we wanna come back.” And we were like, “Well, we need to plant a flag, like we wanna make sure there’s a spot.” But we didn’t want it to go right after “Shattered Grid”, we wanted to try and do something a little different. And so we were looking at- y’know, obviously Kyle’s run started with the Green Ranger and how his arrival changed the team. Right?

And so I was like, “Wow, we have a perfect opportunity. We can do the exact same thing with the White Ranger and how his arrival changed the team.” And obviously so much more because of the new members. So that was something that was really crazy when we brought it in, all of a sudden it made me realize that there was like a line down the middle. You had the old guard, which was Kimberly and Billy and Tommy and then you had the new guard.

Interior art from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #43 by Danielle di Nicuolo

RP: And I was like, “Wow, so what is that like?” The first Rangers all came together as Rangers at the same time. They had no shoes to fill. Now you have these people who actually have shoes to fill, big ones—leaders and people with impact. I thought, “Wow, this could be a really interesting thing.” So that actually ended up telling me what the story was about, which was basically, “What’s it like to be part of a new group of friends when other people already have a shorthand that you don’t have?” And how does that responsibility feel?

And so that’s how it changed it. I didn’t even realize it until I was thinking more in regards to how it was Tommy’s arrival. And it was really more about the other group’s arrival. So that was the part- it just changed it up and it gave me a lot of interesting dynamics to play out with the characters and help me find the voices of the Stone Canyon Trio in a way that I didn’t know I needed to find.

NS: Obviously, originally that transition in the team was actually because of contract disputes and all sorts of behind the scenes stuff. But, y’know, when you were watching it when you were young-

RP: Yeah, [you had] no idea…

NS: It’s just, “Aw, man, they’re going!”

RP: It’s just awkward. *laughs*

NS: It kind of really changed Power Rangers because it very much put Tommy in a spotlight position and it…

RP: Yeah.

NS: How did you get the Stone Canyon trio to be individuals, especially with having these new characters who can’t fill the exact same kind of personality trope?

RP: That was the other thing that’s interesting. I spent twenty-one issues of Go Go writing that core five. I sort of realized, after that many issues, that I know what each character was like a pillar to the team. When you pull three of those out and then you write a scene, you start to realize, “oh wow, there’s energy that’s missing.” For instance, Zack always brought a nice comedic energy whenever I was writing a scene with a lot of exposition, I would always count on grabbing Zack and having him throw in a one-liner that would level it down or just make it accessible for the audience. I don’t have that anymore. Trini was such a strong, soulful character. She was the one I always felt like always knew what all the other Rangers are feeling and was always in tune to everybody else’s emotional base. I thought, “I don’t have that anymore.”

So, like you said, the trio that came in, they weren’t the same people. I have to find ways to fill that energy but in a different way. That has been one of the fun things, realizing that Aisha started becoming a lot more the voice of the trio. She became more of the leader. That’s partly because I’ve actually spent a little time with Karan Ashley [at cons], doing signings and all that. I’ve seen her around, so Aisha took on some of the aspects of the actual actress.

Interior art from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #40 by Danielle di Nicuolo

RP: Rocky- I’ve met Steve a little bit and he’s really funny. I thought, “Okay, I’m gonna try to bring some of Rocky’s humor in there a little bit.” He played that later on in the season, so I brought it in earlier. And Adam, I thought, Adam has such a youthful exuberance and such an honest way of looking at things. He’s an amazing martial artist, by the way. He just was criminally underrated how good he was. I’ve been trying to use that and trying to keep that voice of innocence and so those aren’t necessarily exactly how they were played on the show, but I’m just trying to take variations and sort of, grow them out a little bit.

That came out of just needing to fill the team and go. It’s sort of that thing where if you’ve ever been around a group of friends, depending on who—and if it’s a group of people, like you and four other friends—depending on if you have one of those people leave and then now it’s just the three of you, the dynamic changes, right? And so that’s what I was trying to aim for, this idea that everybody’s dynamic changes based upon the people that are there. They might not be exactly how they were on the show, but I hope they stay true to the characters that they eventually became.

 

Interior art from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #42 by Danielle di Nicuolo

NS: Do you want to play with the idea of Rocky kind of seeing that Jason was a leader figure and stepping into those shoes and then at the same time having- Steve was joking on the panel, how he got demoted as soon as he steps into the role.

RP: I know, yeah.

NS: Is that something that you wanna look at with Rocky?

RP: I will say that one of the things that’s always interesting to me is the element of how the color affects who you are. It’s an interesting question. Are you that color because of who you are or the other way around. So what’s interesting is the Red Ranger is the leader on almost- not every team but a lot of the teams. It’s interesting that with Rocky he wasn’t.

I definitely want to play with that idea. The whole thing is funny; he’s still driving. He’s still the guy in the front seat.

NS: And like on some level, the Red Dragon Zord, like-

RP: Was by far the badass Zord.

Interior art from Go Go Power Rangers #23 by Francesco Mortarino and Raul Angulo

NS: It was the one that often- like it would have solo fights.

RP: Exactly. And I think that’s definitely something that I wanna touch on and deal with going forward. You hit that 100%. I think there’s something.  Those are the things that I think, because we know why.

NS: Right.

RP: When you know the reality of the show, you know why the things are the way they are but what’s really fun is sometimes that puts you into an interesting place to tell stories.

I feel like finding that and finding that element of why. Why was Rocky always singled out? Why was he allowed to have the zord that was the only individual? Why wasn’t he the leader? How did he feel like? There was a Go Go run that I did where Trini becomes the Red Ranger. She becomes a little bit more of the leader in that scene I was like, “Well, wouldn’t Rocky as well?” So, yes, there’s definitely things I wanna touch on if we go forward. It’s very astute.

NS: It’s one of those things that fans have. That’s like my five-year-old self saying “I feel like he’s not gettin’ a fair shake.”

RP: Yeah! You were reading what the show was giving you and you were going, “This doesn’t make sense,” and so you ask questions, yeah.

NS: So we’ve been seeing all sorts of other elements. “Shattered Grid” really did open up this world. I love seeing Darkonda and characters from way in the future on Breel and having Dayne come in in Mighty Morphin’– Are there elements of other series or kind of underutilized elements of the show that you’re excited to use or that you haven’t found a place yet to use but would love to see become part of the Mighty Morphin’ era?

RP: That’s the nice thing about the Omega Rangers. It’s really freed me up not only just in the canon of the show, but also, because they are in space. I wanna try and make the world a more connected universe in the way that the show didn’t intend to because they didn’t [know] what they were doing at the time. They didn’t know that there wasn’t a grand plan.

NS: They’re waiting on new footage from Japan…

RP: Exactly. So what we can do looking at the other seasons that take place in space. Dayne’s the first step in that. We’ve never seen any other Sirians. Why don’t we bring another Sirian in instead of creating a whole new creature? Let’s use that. That connects the universe to each other, the same way they do in Star Wars with Mandalorians and all that. I definitely wanted to do that more.

Interior art from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #43 by Danielle di Nicuolo

RP: We saw a little of that on Breel. We saw some cameos. I definitely want to try and find underutilized connections to future seasons, maybe we’ll see some characters pop up here and there. I don’t wanna say exactly who, but we’ve definitely had conversations about that. There’s definitely the idea of trying to unite it all and tie it all together. Hopefully we’ll get to do that a lot more going forward.

NS: Next I just wanted to ask, like, how do you like to work and write? What’s your process like?

RP: *laughs* Yeah, this is not Ranger related, I don’t know how to answer this! I usually start with visuals, weirdly enough. With comics it’s different.

NS: Were you a film guy?

RP: Yeah, I’ve written TV for a little while. I was actually working on a TV show when I got my first comic book. I kind of backed into comic books. I actually went to college to be an illustrator.

NS: Oh, really?

RP: To be a comic artist. But then I was like I am never gonna be as good as J. Scott Campbell, so let’s not try. So I went into TV and film and stuff like that.

I grew up reading comic books. I think I was like twelve when Image started. I bought every Image book ever. Comic books were always my first love.

When I sit down I always try to think, “Okay, what are some things I wanna see? What are the visuals that I wanna build to?” Like moments. What I usually [do is] make a list of that. They don’t always all come in there, but I usually start to stumble upon like a pattern of things I want. I’m like, “Okay, I’m discovering there’s a thing here that feels repetitive.” so I start to work on character and I start processing out that way.

I outline pretty extensively before I ever write anything down. I feel like you have to know your ending before you know your beginnings because you can always feel when someone’s writing and they don’t know the ending because it’s somewhere right around the middle when there’s a huge exposition dump to try and get everything on the same page. I try to avoid those like the plague. It’s a trendy thing to say, but I really do want the characters to drive the story. If we’re not saying anything with characters then I’m missing something. My editor on the books, Dafna Pleban, she’s fantastic about calling me on that when I’m like, “You’re just writing towards how visual you wanna write. You’re not writing towards a character moment.”

It’s like trying to find that. It’s a balance of what are cool things you wanna see and how do those inform the characters? I usually write everything out longform first. And then I type it in and that’s easygoing and I send it to the artist. The best thing as a comic writer is those days when you get the first pages. All of a sudden you’re like, “Oh! It works!” or, “Oh my gosh, it does not.”

NS: You’ve had ability to work with a lot of artists on these books. How’s that been and how’s it been kinda playing to their strengths?

Interior art from Go Go Power Rangers #1 by Dan Mora

RP: It’s definitely like a dance a little bit. The first artist I worked with was Dan Mora. That’s a spoiled embarrassment of riches. To get him immediately because his design eye is second to none. Go to his Instagram account and look at all his stuff. The crazy thing about him is that he’ll design something and we’ll be like ‘Okay, we have no notes. We don’t have any.’ He’s just one in a million.

There’s a fun thing that he does that I learned. When I would give him the script pages, he wouldn’t draw them in the order they were [written]- usually a lot of artists draw one, two, three, four. He doesn’t do that. He draws the pages he wants to draw first. Quickly I started realizing, “Okay, these are the things that Dan likes.” And so I started trying to write my scripts to feature more of those things in them. Someone told me this a long time ago: “Nobody got in to comics to write two people sitting in a coffee shop.” I mean, maybe somebody did. Most people didn’t. They wanna draw people flying through the air, smashing, doing that stuff. So write towards that. Give artists an excuse. Give them the things they drew when they were a kid. I’m always trying to find that.

Dan was the first person. He taught me a lot about what it meant to write towards their strengths. Then I worked with Danielle [di Nicuolo] and Simone [di Meo]. Danielle I don’t have to worry about. His action, his camera angles are so amazing. What he chooses to show and not show is a gift. He’s so fast and so incredible and he brings such an energy to every page. He’d draw- it’d be the most energized thing in the whole world. They’d be literally amazing.

Simone just has such a weight to his characters. I really love what he’s been doing with the Turtles specifically. There’s a playfulness and a strength to them that I really love. I could go on about all my artists. I’ve worked with some really great ones.

Francesco [Mortarino]’s fantastic. He’s great. His character stuff is incredible. I’ve worked with other people. It’s just like everybody has a thing that they’re good at they wanna do and I think the key as a good writer is to find that.

NS: Then I wanted to quickly turn. You just finished a really cool book called Oberon over at Aftershock. I was just kind of curious what was it that attracted you to that figure? In that… it’s exceptionally different from Power Rangers just in the nature of authority. They’re both in some ways about a kid who gets thrust into this world of strange mentor figure but it’s a very different thing. So what was it that brought you to Oberon?

RP: I came up with the idea when I was in high school.

NS: Really!?

RP: Yeah, I used to do announcing for the football games. I would draw a lot because I’d be bored and so I drew a picture of this character Oberon. I just remember thinking that was such an interesting character, this king of the fairies, you don’t know anything about him. I read the play–the Shakespeare play–and I was like that’s such a cool character. I always wanted to do a story about an unreliable narrator. I loved the idea ’cause usually if you look at any- ANY of the fantasy lores, you look at like an Obi-Wan Kenobi or a Gandalf, they are always the ones leading the character through the world and being like, “This is what it is.” And you just trust that everything they’re saying is true.

What if it wasn’t? What if everything they were saying was a lie? I thought that would be a really fun thing where you could do in a comic book, where you could actually show that character telling the lie to the main character but telling the audience the truth. I thought that would be something really fun.

Interior art from Oberon #1 by Milo Slavkovic

RP: That’s the thing about doing creator-owned stuff that’s really fun. They let you sort of gamble and play in areas. I don’t think I could do that in a Power Ranger book. You could maybe figure out a way to do it, but it would it be true to any of the characters? Would I be forcing an idea on something that’s not right? With my own stuff I don’t actually have to force it. It was just really fun to be able to do something in that world. I’ve always liked that fantasy world. It’s fun. There are no rules so you can do anything.

NS: Which kind of comes back to Power Rangers a little bit. I think Power Rangers comes from Sentai and from its traditions of having wise mentors and having these excellent team formations and all this stuff that’s all very coordinated. Looking at Power Rangers in the modern day and with a little more leeway and the base that Kyle gave you with some of the stuff about, like, the previous team do you feel like there is a place to examine where that trust in leadership is deserved in Power Rangers or does that stray too far from [core]. Can you or should you always trust Zordon? Do you always listen to your your team leader?

RP: Oh yeah! That’s the thing that I’ve thought is interesting about Zordon. What he says is always a true approach. I always looked at him as more of a father figure and I think that usually happens when you’re in your teens—when you start to realize that your parents aren’t gods. They’re not always right. It’s that weird moment when you get to that point where you’re like ‘wait, I’m the same age that my parents were when they had me!? Did they have any idea what they were doing?’

NS: It’s literally next week for me. *fundamental terror*

Interior art from Go Go Power Rangers #10 by Dan Mora

RP: Yeah! Exactly! But it’s that moment when you start to realize, “Oh, man, everybody’s sort of faking it. Everybody’s sort of doing the best they can.” I like that idea of the kids at the early ages being, “Yes! Zordon’s the man. He’s the guy. He knows everything.” Then slowly over time going, “Maybe he doesn’t. Like maybe he’s not right all the time.” That was one of the things I liked about Forever Rangers. 

There’s also that moment- on the flipside–when your parents stop treating you like a child. That moment when they start to realize, “Oh, I can’t change their mind just because I tell them they should believe this. They have their own ideas and their own things.”

There’s also that moment when you do something and your parents are kind of impressed and amazed. They’re like, “Wow! You did it and I didn’t have to help you!” I feel like that was the moment that Zordon realized, at the end of Forever Rangers. “I can’t treat you like children anymore. I’ve given you these weird rules and restrictions to protect you, but, at some point, I’m gonna have to let you out of the nest.” I thought that was a really interesting thing. I like that they both sort of mesh together. That was a thing that I really enjoyed about their relationship. It’s not the kids realizing that Zordon’s wrong or Zordon’s realizing the kids are wrong, they both kind of come to an even ground.

NS: One thing that just kind of occurred to me looking at the Turtles crossover stuff. How is it writing for characters that, for a lot of the time, they don’t have expressions, they don’t have faces. The Rangers, y’know, it’s so much of that footage is just the big- *Sentai pose* but you can’t do that in comics.

RP: I know! It’s one of the things that’s been really great. Dan started doing it. I think Danielle started to do that thing where you can kinda see through their helmet. I think that’s just so you have some sort of that weight to it. That’s the thing that Danielle is amazing at. I’ve told him this on multiple occasions and I’ll say it again, one of the things that Danielle is so good at is that his characters have a weight to them. When you draw someone, a lot of artists draw them and they feel like they’re floating. With Danielle, his postures, his bod[ies], just the way people are standing tells you the emotion. That has been so- ’cause I could look at his layouts and I could tell you, “Oh, okay, that’s Jason, that’s this, that’s that” That’s super helpful. Not all artists can do that or not all artists do it as cleanly as he does. I feel like he’s used their bodies in the same way. He’s really trying to make the expression through their entire pose and not just the eyes.

Concept art for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Simone di Meo

RP: The turtles- and Simone is the same way. With Turtles he’s done a great job with using the masks to actually try and articulate the emotion, which I thought was really smart.

NS: And then I wanted to quickly, while we’re on the subject of Turtles, that’s a sandbox that only a few have played in. What were the- especially the surprising ones, the relationships that really worked for you that were exciting to get to play with?

RP: I’ll say this, there’s the obvious ones…that are fun, like Donatello and Billy. And Jason and Leonardo. They already have so much in common as characters that those are easy. But there’s one particular relationship in it that I can’t say ’cause I want people to get there. It was a really interesting one because both of these characters have a very soulful element of who they are on the team, but they are such opposites. Writing the scenes with them ended up becoming kind of the spine of the book for me, in regards to what I was trying to say thematically. I sound so verbose there. I don’t mean it to be.

I never imagined that these two characters would be the characters that I really enjoyed having be around one another. Both of them do line up in really interesting ways. I really thought that the whole emotional point ends up being this idea of them both saving the world in two completely different ways. What’s it like for them to experience it… from the other point of view? That’s the point of the book to me.

NS: There’s this famous anecdotal thing of- in season two of Power Rangers, they had to change a lot because apparently Lord Zedd scared kids too much. One thing I loved about, both you and Kyle’s runs in the season one days was how much Rita got to be a character and not played for comedy. Now we have a character that even in the show was kind of like that. Are we gonna see what that looks like and how do you find a particular take on his evil?

Interior art from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #45 by Danielle di Nicuolo

RP: Yeah, we had a lot of conversations about that ’cause when I knew we were bringing Zedd into the story I didn’t want him to just be a male version of Rita. He should have his own approach to people. Since we’d spent a lot of time fleshing Rita out, looking into who she is and why she cared about her minions and the way that she attacked the Rangers, we were like, “Okay, how do we make another variation?” Rita is a little bit motherly in the sense that like these are her people. They show her loyalty and that’s why she keeps them around. But Zedd doesn’t have that same sort of maternal instinct. He doesn’t have that. I don’t think he actually cares-

Interior art from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #40 by Danielle di Nicuolo

NS: They’re not even his minions.

RP: No, they’re not even his minions, he got stuck with them. Right? To him they’re employees. Those are the ones that help him get things done, so one of the things I really liked — and we did a little bit in Go Go—was if Zordon is the tough father, this guy is the mean father. Who’s going to show you the things that you do wrong and basically make you feel terrible for them. He’s like a drill sergeant. Right?

That’s the way we’re looking at him. He talks to Finster, he’s like “you know why I don’t use your monsters? ’Cause they don’t mean anything. They don’t have any impact. ’Til you can figure out how to have an impact, I’m not gonna use you. And you do nothing for me.” He’s trying to help them, but he’s just not very nice about it. And so he does.. Well, you’ll see a little bit more of that going forward, that Zedd is not stupid. You need these people to be good at what they do, but he doesn’t care about them. He’s a little more crass within the commentary he has on their abilities. That’s the thing, so there’s an aristocrat element to him that I thought was really fun to play with.

Interior art from Go Go Power Rangers #22 by Francesco Mortarino and Raul Angulo

NS: And, finally, you have a lot on your plate. You’re co-writing one book, you’re writing the other, and you’ve got Turtles. But, as we go forward, are you all Power Rangers all the time? Is there other stuff we’re gonna be seeing from you?

RP: Yeah, I have another book that’s coming out that’ll be announced next month. It was supposed to be announced this week, but we were gonna hold off a little bit. So we’ll know about later. Then I have, another creator-owned book that I’m doing. I’ve two more of those at some point. So…we haven’t announced that one either. So in a few months, you’ll know.

I’m staying on Power Rangers for a little bit longer. I have some more stories I wanna tell and some bigger things. I have some characters I created and I want to make sure that they get a little more time and I wanna really bring that universe together. If and when I do leave the book, I’d love to pass it off to somebody in a way that hopefully allows them to explore the world even farther than we have.

NS: That’s awesome, man. I’m really liking the books. Thank you so much.

“Necessary Evil” and all of the Power Rangers‘ adventures are available in comic shops from Boom! Studios.

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