White Light Shines Again in Go Go Power Rangers #27

by Noah Sharma

As episodes of Power Rangers go, “White Light” is a particularly significant one. It wasn’t just the introduction of a new Sixth Ranger; it was the return of Tommy, the appearance of a new Zord and Zord combination, a glimpse at how Ranger powers functioned, and one of the best (only?) moments of suspense that the series offered as Zordon and Alpha 5 disappeared at a critical moment. Though the Green Ranger had a much bigger entrance and is beloved in his own way, it was as the White Ranger that Tommy took command of the Power Team and solidified his place as the central pillar of the franchise, remaining in his Dairanger duds for two full seasons and switching twice more before finally surrendering leadership a half after that.

Primary Cover by Eleonora Carlini

Structurally, “Necessary Evil” has made a big deal out of the two major changes to the team to take place in season two of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers–the arrival of the White Ranger and the replacement of the Red, Yellow, and Black Rangers–splitting the publishing line into the pre-changeover Go Go Power Rangers and the new team-era Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. With this issue we finally catch up to that first crucial moment, with events playing out over the course of “White Light”. It is, at times, an awkward balance, as the issue weaves in and out of a twenty-five year old episode despite the modernized ethos of the Boom! comics. If you want you can easily slot each of these scenes into the original episodes, though updates to the visuals and logic of the show might create a few headaches for any continuity sticklers out there.

Interior art by Francesco Mortarino and Raúl Angulo

Though the events of “Shattered Grid” present in-universe justification for the changes, the fidelity with which this issue represents “White Light” is impressive, perhaps excessive. It’s likely that the vast majority of this comic’s readership have seen “White Light” at some point or another, but it might have been over two decades ago for many. As such the scenes that recreate and extend segments of “White Light” feel a tad awkward. A more complete retelling would have felt stilted and unnecessary but the piecemeal treatment it receives feels incomplete, putting the issue in an odd space.

Thankfully, what is new is very interesting and all of it delivers on the promise of Power Rangers ‘not as it was but as you saw it’ that these comics have founded themselves upon. Seeing the Rangers struggle against a powerful enemy with more emotion than grunting in unison can provide is pretty cool and Tommy’s showdown with Lord Zedd feels suitably intense. It would have been nice to touch on whether Tommy still holds any guilt about being the original evil Power Ranger when Zedd starts claiming ownership of him, but even the more generic direction that their dialogue takes has a decent bite to it.

Interior art by Francesco Mortarino and Raúl Angulo

We know where the Omega Ranger story will wind up, more or less, and the characters’ actions don’t drastically depart from what you would expect, but it never becomes tedious because of the inherent drama of the situation and the emphasis Ryan Parrott and Sina Grace place on the characters as individuals. I mean, if you can’t stand watching inevitable but exhilarating resolutions I hate to say but Power Rangers might not be the franchise for you…

Still, scenes like Kimberly and Jason leaning on each other in the moments before that inevitable victory seems tangible proof that, while the explanation of “Necessary Evil” remains this series’ priority, Go Go still serves its initial function of taking a closer, less plot-driven look at the world and characters that fans have loved for close to thirty years.

Grace and Parrott also continue this series’ fascinating exploration of Zordon’s leadership. While the book is slow to reverse things entirely and succumb to the faux-edginess of ‘what if Zordon was evil’, it’s decidedly ambiguous whether Zordon is acting to ease Tommy’s performance anxiety or steamrolling over the boy’s concerns in the belief that he knows best. With scenes depicting the individual Rangers talking about these issues themselves, it becomes apparent how much Zordon is a force of nature to them, something that can be courted and planned around but never ignored.

Interior art by Francesco Mortarino and Raúl Angulo

I will say, however, that the seriousness with which Zordon treats Lord Zedd, used here to justify changing the dynamic of the team without even informing his Rangers, clashes with his stern assurance to the Omega Rangers that Zedd was under control in the sister title. One wonders if this difference of perspective represents time passed, who the sage is speaking to, or outright ego and whether Parrott, who works on both books, will expand on this element specifically.

Go Go Power Rangers #27 is split between the story of Jason, Trini, and Zack’s journey away from the team and Tommy’s return to it, with Jason’s fear that he’s losing his edge as a leader bridging them at crucial moments. Jason’s desperation is played really well throughout the whole issue. He never breaks–far from it, he actually is in greater danger of doubling down–but you can feel the stress that he’s under. The biggest problem with this plot is that it isn’t as specific as it could have been. We hear about how rough the reconnection to the “Shattered Grid” timeline is, but we haven’t seen the consequences in a few issues. Likewise, while we’ve seen Jason struggle when he’s unable to do enough for his teammates before, his trials here don’t feel distinct enough from general leadership fears to sell the significance of what he’s been called upon to do. Lively and effective as the flavor of the dialogue is, you can see a version of the story that seems to commit a bit more in the artwork.

Interior art by Francesco Mortarino and Raúl Angulo

Speaking of that artwork, Francesco Mortarino and Raúl Angulo do a really nice job here. This issue offers a little bit of everything Power Rangers should be and each element is strong. There’s some dramatic superhero scenes, weird and menacing villains, dynamic Zord battles, and sincere teen drama. This last facet is one of the most difficult for many artists, but Mortarino finds a nice balance between simplified design and emotional weight. Mortarino uses hair in a really nice, understated way and gets a lot out of the very simple eyes he gives the characters. These attributes give the interpersonal drama a real gravity that helps it feel just as essential as the wild tokusatsu moments. In fact, they two blend brilliantly, with shots of the Rangers, helmets off, combining the best of both worlds.

The same motion and dynamism that Mortarino imbues hair and clothing with comes through the movement of the Zords, despite the very different materials in play. The giant fight scenes admittedly lack a bit of grit–preferring gleaming, angular Zords and smooth, almost conceptual monsters–but the beauty of Mortarino’s renditions and the sheer excitement of seeing these fights in the same seismic way that you imagined them as a child more than overwhelms any such minor quibbles. One suspects that the appearance of the Mega Tigerzord will be valuable print for Mortarino if he so chooses.

Interior art by Francesco Mortarino and Raúl Angulo

One interesting bit of trivia is that both of the Zord cockpits are mirrored in this issue. In the Thunder Megazord’s case, this makes it easier to parse the dialogue, but it occurs for the Tigerzord as well. It feels to me like only the most humorless would be bothered by this strange bit of trivia, but I admit that it’s intrigued me on subsequent reads. I wonder what happened…

It cannot be ignored just how well thought out the art of this issue is. The blocking is thoughtful and restrained while the updates play to the imagination wonderfully. The original airing of White Light stuck in my head in a big way. That shot of Tommy undoing the snaps on his helmet made the whole world feel realer and we get something of the same feeling watching his Power Coin envelop him in that titular white light. The Zord hangars, the interpretation of stock footage, and even little things like Kimberly standing through Tommy’s introduction all make this a tremendous update for the budget starved 90s production.

Overall, Go Go doesn’t have the flash of some other comics, its sister series included, but its art is rock solid all throughout and that makes for a thoroughly enjoyable reading experience that only grows better the more attention you pay to it.

Interior art by Francesco Mortarino and Raúl Angulo

This issue marks a big milestone for the Power Rangers and it adds depth and specificity to both the original show and both modern comic series. The appeal of this modernized take on Power Rangers remains clear and the art really sells both the robot fighting excitement and interpersonal meaning that have made this reinvention of a Japanese TV series hit home for so many years. Despite this, it feels like this script never quite connects, being pulled in several directions that don’t fully intersect. Add to this dialogue that reads terrifically but often falls short of tantalizing character moments that the issue is reaching for and you have an issue that falls a little short of its potential, looking great but left in a support role rather than being a major draw in its own right.

Go Go Power Rangers #27 is currently available in comic shops from Boom! Studios.

 

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