Retcons, Reboots And Resurrections #23: Morphing Into A Whole New Era
by Scott Redmond
They say the only three certain things in life are birth, death, and change. When it comes to comic books those things are also certain as they come in the form of retcons, reboots, and resurrections.
For our purposes retcons are elements that are retroactively added into a character’s history after the fact, reboots are either big full change revivals of a character/title or are extensive changes to their canon, and resurrections are characters making the return from death or character limbo.
Each week we’ll explore the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to Retcons, Reboots, and Resurrections.
Launching regional versions of something that was a hit in other countries is nothing new, especially when it comes to the United States’ track record. Oftentimes it can be a blink and a miss-type affair (the original remaining more popular than the imitations), but sometimes one can catch lightning in a bottle.
That was the case in 1993 when Haim Saban and Shuki Levy spearheaded the launch of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers which was an adaptation of the long-running Japanese series Super Sentai. The series blended footage from one of the Super Sentai seasons (the costumed fighting, Zords, monsters, etc) with their own footage of the young actors chosen for the show. It was such a success that the series is still running to this day, eventually following Super-Sentai in shifting cast and powers and locations with each subsequent season.
While the Power Rangers brand is still strong on TV and hasn’t changed all that much since the 90s in presentation, the franchise did find brand new more modernized life in another format: comic books.
What Was It?
There had been Power Rangers comics in the past, mostly side pieces that followed the show format heavily and were more one-off type adventure series.
In 2015 though, Boom Studios changed the whole formula up greatly. Announced at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con, this new Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comic starred the original six Rangers but in a far more modern setting. It’s initial offering, a 0 issue, set the series up in the aftermath of the iconic ‘Green With Evil‘ five-part event from the TV series which introduced the Green Ranger Tommy Oliver as a foe of the Power Rangers. Following the defeat of Tommy and breaking the spell over him from the evil Rita Repulsa, he became the sixth member of the Power Rangers team.
Within the show this change wasn’t dwelt on too much in the beginning, subsequent episodes dealt with some aftermath, because of the nature of the show and what it was meant to do. Here in this comic though, it began right in the aftermath and dealt not only with Tommy’s feelings about what had happened and was happening but with the feelings of the others as well as showing how the integration was somewhat rough at first.
The series officially launched in January 2016 from Kyle Higgins, Hendry Prasetya, Matt Herms, and Ed Dukenshire following the aforementioned storyline about Tommy’s first days in the team. Rather than stick to the monster of the week style, the series took on a serialized format and introduced the idea of alternate universes through a realm where Tommy didn’t turn to good but remained evil and eventually destroyed the Rangers and Rita and became known as Lord Drakkon.
It was followed by Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink in June 2016 from Brenden Fletcher, Kelly Thompson, Tini Howard, Daniele Di Nicuolo, Sarah Stern, and Dukenshire which chronicled what happened with the first pink ranger Kimberly after she left the team. Soon after in April 2017 came Saban’s Go Go Power Rangers from Ryan Parrott, Dan Mora, Raúl Angulo, and Dukenshire which followed the original five rangers in their earliest days.
Over time the Drakkon storyline led to the giant event Shattered Grid which saw the villain scoring universes to take more and more Power Ranger morphers to give himself more power. This introduced the idea that the subsequent teams of Rangers that were new seasons of the show (and were generally disconnected from one another after the first six seasons of the show) were from alternate realities or potential futures.
After running for 55 and 32 issues respectively (not counting annuals and one-shots) the main series and its prequel series came to an end in June 2020 paving the way for a new relaunch. Out of those books came the new series Mighty Morphin’ and Power Rangers, with the first focusing on the main Rangers team (with Tommy now the White Ranger along with the addition of Rocky, Aisha, and Adam as the red, yellow and black rangers) and the second focusing on original rangers Jason, Trini, and Zack who were now known as Omega Rangers having adventures elsewhere in the galaxy.
Was It Good?
This was a reboot that was very very good.
Being a fan of the original and what it spawned, it’s easy to say that this carried on but also surpassed the legacies of that time. Where the original show was seemingly stuck in amber in certain ways, through this comic the characters and world actually could grow. Despite picking a starting point from the show, the comic quickly deviated away from that point, meaning that the sky was the limit for where it could go.
It wasn’t beholden to matching up to future seasons of the TV show, choosing to showcase many of those seasons it likely will never get to in the aforementioned multiversal crossover and could take some of those elements and really stretch them out more than the show ever could.
The Omega Rangers are a big example of this. Originally the actors that played Jason, Trini, and Zack were removed from the show because they tried to get paid more for their hard work. The show used stock footage (while out of costume focusing on the other three rangers) to keep them there till the episode where they were called to a World Peace Conference. This was a dark mark upon the series in later years when the story came out.
While this moment was mostly followed in the Pink miniseries, the main series took a very different turn following the reshuffle of the universe after Shattered Grid. Here those three Rangers claimed to be leaving to go to the World Peace Conference, but it was actually a lie to cover that they were leaving to become Omega Rangers as a means to deal with the aftermath of the universe’s reset and including various individuals that were suddenly gifted with great power from the Morphin Grid.
Even the change to Aisha, Rocky, and Adam as Rangers and Tommy’s change to the leader with the White Ranger power get far more depth and exploration here. There was even the reveal of a prior 1960’s team of Power Rangers that Zordon called to serve, a team whose existence was kept secret because they were almost all wiped out on their first mission. Not to mention even the iconic villains got a lot more room to be fleshed out, giving many origin stories and even motivations rather than just being one-dimensional cackling foes.
While the show continues and hits some of the same themes it always has that resonate with the audience, keeping to the heroic and other messages, the comic has really breathed life into the franchise in new ways.
Next Week: A murder mystery reveals the ugly side of a publisher