Attitude In A Half Shell: Reviewing ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II’ #1
by Scott Redmond
‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II’ brings the two beloved 80s/90s franchises back together for an explosive new series that picks up where the last one left off while spinning off in its own direction. Any fan of these characters is in for a delightful gorgeous colorful fun experience that will make them want to pick up their colored bandana or jump around doing some impressive martial arts style kicks.
Like peanut butter and chocolate, the Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles are amazing on their own but even better together. Just reading the first few pages of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II #1 will prove that statement irrefutably true.
Picking up just a few months after the teenagers with attitude and heroes in a half-shell defeated the alliance of Rita Repulsa and Shredder, things are looking pretty calm for both sets of heroes until a new threat that hits too close to home emerges.
If one could not tell by the opening paragraph, I loved this issue. Power Rangers and TMNT were two of the six things that defined my childhood (the other four being X-Men, Spider-Man, Star Trek, and Star Wars) so having them together again is just a delight. While the live-action crossover in the ’90s left much to be desired (what a time that was), these crossover comics have given and given and given some more. It’s no shock that Ryan Parrott nails writing the Power Rangers, he did do it for quite a few years, but the Turtle and allies voices are spot on as well and the meshing of these two worlds just feels normal.
By that I mean the Turtles New York and Rangers Angel Grove existing in the same universe like they are Batman living in Gotham and Superman in Metropolis makes complete total sense. I think that is one of the huge things I like here is that there is plenty of room to do far more of these crossovers if the companies so desire, because it’s not some crossover where they have to shift universes or timelines as we’ve seen with other cross property crossovers. All it takes is just hopping onto some travel means and heading over to another city, just like we all do to visit others in another city.
Having the Turtles and Rangers just chilling, in their own perfectly in character ways, with their threats out of the way is a great way to structure this issue. We’re not even shown who or what the actual new giant threat is, and we don’t need to. The heroes hanging out and then working to stop Goldar and Rocksteady from getting Baxter Stockman is enough for a first issue. Except we do get a knife twist ending, as the threat is somewhat shown but only in the sense of who it has turned to as one of its Power Ranger powered avatars.
When one sees the name Dan Mora on the cover and credits, well they know that they are about to behold a gorgeous comic book. The level of care and detail that Mora puts into any page or cover is top level. There is a depth and weight and realistic feeling and detail all over the place yet at the same time there is a very fantastical energy. I mean look at the Turtles for example, just the level of details within their shells is something that surely took a bit of time but there it is. Not only the patterns but things like little nicks and marks that show off the blows they’ve taken in fights over the years.
We get that same level with the Ranger suits and every bit of costumes that these characters wear, but also in the facial emotional range as well. Everyone has such expressive faces that tell you so much about their feelings and what is happening around them, and there is a uniqueness to everyone that there should be. Oh and the action scenes, talk about smooth and energetic.
You’ll believe that Turtles and Teenagers with alien granted powers truly can exist and fight evil as they glide through the pages. Mora’s eye for paneling choices helps as it really breaks things up accurately and shifts the focus where it needs to be, including close-up shots of weapons or fists hitting something or just two characters kicking each other. It puts us in the middle of the action so we can see but also feel it in a way, making us basically a down in the trench viewer rather than someone watching from afar.
Digging into the power side of things doubly is Raúl Angulo who brings the colors to this series as well as the main Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series currently. There is a solid weight to the colors that Angulo brings to the page, allowing things like the costumes or some clothing of the characters provide the more vibrant colors next to the various settings that might have more muted or tone-down colors that make them feel accurate. One thing that really stood out to me though was the way that the colors shift and change so smoothly matching the quality of light that is showcased upon the pages.
By that I mean that depending on whether a scene is brighter or darker with light sources the colors change by either becoming lighter themselves a popping a bit more or they become a big heavier and have a darker feeling to them. A perfect example are two page that feature Tommy/Green Ranger and Raphael perching on a rooftop and walking through the sewers. ON the rooftop, there is a warmer tone to the variety of greens that the two characters embody, while in the sewers they were far cooler because the light sources are far less in one space than the other. Those changes are not wholesale across any panel because light sources do not work that way, and the way that Angulo depicts this matches the reality and creates such an interesting effect.
Another familiar name to those that read the MMPR series or just read many BOOM! Studios titles would be that of letterer Ed Dukeshire. Lettering that is good does the work of making all the dialogue fit into the pages in a way that is easy to follow without being overwhelming, but great lettering does even more. Dukeshire is one of those that falls into the great category, because it’s very clear in any lettering what emotions or tone should be felt/heard as well as a character’s personality just oozing out of the words. That includes small things like changing bubble color or styles for characters such as how Rat King’s bubble is way more jagged with a sort of gray tone to it which makes it stand apart from the others.
A story with these colorful heroes also means plenty of places for big colorful font that expands a bubble, with all their fighting exclamations, as well as a whole ton of big colorful in your face SFX that allow those sounds to echo off the page. Anyone that played with the toys of these characters as a kid or pretended they are those characters is probably nodding in agreement with these sounds because they’re exactly the ones they imagined during that play time. It’s not playing with the toys if you’re not making the sounds, and those sounds are powerful and make a reader feel quite giddy when gazing upon them. At least it did for me.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II #1 is now available from BOOM! Studios.