Things are moving faster in the world of Power Rangers recently. It was less than a month ago that I argued that Go Go Power Rangers still had a place in the post-“White Light” era of the franchise but since then we’ve not only received another issue of this series (starring an imprisoned Rita Repulsa of all things!) but discovered definitively that this series is coming to an end. It’s sad and all the more so because of how strong this series has been in a line of books that already transcended what an MMPR comic needs to be. With that awareness hanging over this issue, it’s bittersweet to say that this is a notably excellent installment of Go Go Power Rangers.
The White Ranger has arrived and Go Go Power Rangers wastes no time giving him to us. The first four pages of this issue give us a beautifully stripped down version of the Power Rangers formula, communicated almost entirely though natural dialogue that cleverly depicts Tommy existing out of phase with his team. The use of the season 2 blueprint is spot on and you can almost imagine a full episode playing out just outside of your field of vision. This, in turn, is used to emphasize the disconnect between Tommy and his team.
The White Ranger was kind of a phenomenon, but “Necessary Evil” has really emphasized how the white light was not just another ranger power, but a one man team. From his introduction as a (stock-footage mandated) last minute addition to a Zord battle to the overwhelming prominence that would soon follow, Tommy has always been played as something of a loner in the Mighty Morphin’ era and this story is showing us how that still makes sense in a world where we acknowledge leadership being more than calling the attack names.
It’s an exceedingly clever use of the familiarity of Power Rangers to both immerse readers in a faithful imagining of the world and also advance the current story. In its own right, the battle and character interaction are engaging and fun. Earl Grey Matter is a pitch perfect Zedd-era monster of the week and he strikes that careful balance of being humorous without losing all menace. One presumes we’re seeing at least some of Sina Grace‘s influence here, as his love of monster creation is well attested.
One other thing that’s interesting about this issue is that it’s not about Tommy. Look, we all love Tommy — he was pretty much the best thing to happen to me the whole year I was 3 — but it’s nice to give some of the other Rangers a chance to shine. Even more than that, GGPR #29 uses Tommy’s influence to create interesting tension for the other characters. Where an actual episode of the show might have spent another 10 minutes establishing Tommy’s anxieties about leadership before swiftly teaching him to believe in himself, this issue passes the mic to the other characters to build on that situation and then expand further out from there without losing touch with that discomfort. It’s especially smart because fans know that Tommy is going to remain in command of the Rangers for two more seasons before becoming not only an accomplished and revered Red Ranger team leader but a focal point for Rangers as a whole in years beyond. There’s value in seeing how he reacted to that role for the first time, but there isn’t really any doubt or tension as to whether he’ll succeed. How the other Rangers made that transition easier and harder though, that’s something worth seeing.
The obvious way that this expansion of focus is utilized is to have it drive home both Jason’s need to move on from the earthbound Rangers and Trini and Zach’s concern about what will happen to the team, even if Tommy can fill the leadership role. These character beats all feel sincere and serve to connect the trio we see in Boom!’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers with the versions we’ve been seeing in this series.
One of the coolest things that gets brought up are the team’s Zords. Tommy and Jason have often shared their place in the limelight up to this point, but Trini, Zach, and Billy are pretty much essential to every Thunderzord formation. So with two of them taking a weekend getaway to the far reaches of space, that pretty much guarantees that any super-sized monsters will have their run of Angel Grove. While hardly the first time a Ranger’s absence has been used to deprive the team of their Megazord, the sheer distance and length of the trip provides an interesting wrinkle and I hope that Grace and co-writer Ryan Parrott will do something with that in upcoming issues.
If there’s a real downside to the issue it’s that the pivot to the proto-Omega Rangers plot loses steam precisely because we have seen how it plays out already. It’s neat to see the “Peace Conference” trio react to space travel and meet Xi, but there’s nothing surprising here, so these scenes lack a little of the vitality seen elsewhere. The ending cliffhanger is well delivered, but it’s predictable with our extensive knowledge of the future and doesn’t seem to account for that.
But that’s not everything. There’s still plenty of interesting plot threads branching and combining within our solar system. Probably one of the most appreciated is a return to check in with Mr. Scott. Long absent, we see that Jason is still, or perhaps particularly, concerned about his father’s health after his diagnosis way back when. On the surface, the scene is merely a reminder of the responsibility that Rangers possess and a nice throwback to the more teen drama focused early issues of the series, but it really connects because of that quiet acknowledgement that Jason will be away, unable to protect the people he loves most. Honestly, it’s a scene that could work even if Jason was heading to a peace conference, but it sells the idea that even something as awesome as going to space to become an incredibly powerful cosmic superhero can be truly anxiety provoking in a way that even concern for your friends doesn’t quite muster.
Meanwhile, continuing Parrott’s penchant for giving the villains their own struggles from MMPR, we see more of Lord Zedd’s schemes and Finster’s frustrations in being sidelined by the Emperor of Evil. This issue shines for its ability to pack character development for numerous characters into its pages and these are no exception. However, Zedd’s spotlight earns a special mention because, unlike much of the issue and in direct opposition to this series’ greatest weakness, his scenes introduce a major new plot point. Parrott and Grace are taking hold of one of Boom!’s biggest lingering plot threads and bringing it back, a prospect that has me deeply excited. It feels big, and, not only that, it makes sense for Zedd’s character. Kyle Higgins did a fantastic job of fleshing out Rita Repulsa and showing how her tantalizing whispers of non-responsibility made her a powerful, dangerous fascist as well as a fitting opposite for the Rangers’ community-centric ethos. While it still hasn’t come together as fully or elegantly, Parrott’s take on Lord Zedd as a malignant elitist not only bears out but opens frightening possibilities when combined with this seemingly forsaken concept.
Grace and Parrott also deserve particular credit for their dialogue. The characters really feel different from one another and they have a believable wit about them which makes it fun to spend time with them. This has been the case with this series for the majority of its issues, but it’s all the more apparent this time thanks to the enormous personality that the writers imbue Zedd’s minions and monsters with. The two monsters in particular stand out as accurate representations of the extreme accents and gimmicks Power Rangers monsters possessed and help provide contrast to the range of restraint used in penning the rest of the cast.
Even as we move into the home stretch, Francesco Mortarino is here to bring us all that Power Ranger goodness we’ve come to expect. With the end of this series on the horizon, we know more or less what we can expect from the art at this point. Unsurprisingly, it’s lively and malleable, with a particular affinity for the style and emotion of our teenage leads. I love how slick Jason and Zach look lounging in their jackets and how cool the body language of the otherwise similar suited Rangers look. Moments of comedy land, quiet tension reads clearly, and when Mortarino wants things to look awesome you can be sure that they will.
There are a couple of wonky panels, characters’ faces stretching too much and helmets and…uhhh whatever you’d call Alpha’s head appearing off model once or twice, but it’s very attractive and readable throughout. If there’s a problem with the energy of the issue, its comes only from the fact that some of the fantastic suit and monster elements lack a little of the spectacle you might expect from event-level comics art. Not everyone even cares for that look, but there is a simplicity to the lines and hues that doesn’t wow just by looking at the style. Luckily, Mortarino draws his pages and panels in such a way as to provide that spectacle. The movement and clarity of fight scenes is top notch, like a technically magnificent cinema brawl that reads clearly but reveals how impressive it is the more you look at it.
Some of the stylistic up and down could be attributed to Mortarino working with two different colorists: Raúl Angulo and Eleonora Bruni. Bruni is a new addition for this issue but, to her credit, it’s not apparent which colorist handled which pages. I will say that the latter half of the issue features complex and more dynamic colors that resemble Angulo’s previous efforts, but I wouldn’t say for certain who colored what. Regardless, the flatter, more primary color scheme used while the Rangers are on Earth is actually quite nice and fitting for the color coded champions, but it falls down here and there. Zordon, for instance, looks fantastic — bathing the Command Center in his pale glow — but Lord Zedd’s first appearance feels like we’re looking at an image of the galactic despot, not Zedd himself.
Still, while I dwell on what I can criticize to avoid leaving it at ‘it’s pretty’, even that Zedd sequence has some really nice art. The blocking is splendid and Zedd positively radiates authority and menace. The stance Mortarino gives him really communicates that ‘Darth Vader’ awe. And, while I find the colors in that scene washed out, I can happily praise the use and placement of the lighting and the way that the hologram plays against Zedd’s visor. I would call this one of the more inconsistent issues that Mortarino and his colorists have produced, but that should tell you just how effective the art team is in reliably communicating their vision.
Full of clever narrative tricks, returning plot threads, and sincere character work, Go Go Power Rangers #29 is a thoroughly satisfying beginning of the end for fans of the franchise and one of the most surprising and well constructed issues of “Necessary Evil”. Minor inconsistencies in the art and an overfamiliar conclusion hold it back, but there’s just no denying that both art and writing remind us why its so wonderful to have a slightly more character focused window into the Power Rangers universe.
Go Go Power Rangers #29 is currently available in comic shops from Boom! Studios.