A Vile Little Detour: Reviewing ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ #104
by Scott Redmond
She is the villain of the story, so it’s only right that Mistress Vile/Rita Repulsa take a bigger spotlight as ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’#104 flashes back to fill in all the gaps of how the space witch got a whole new bag of tricks. There is so much love and respect for the franchise clearly on these pages, as the world is deepened and so many elements of the past get a new coat of paint and life.
Every hero has their origin story, that inciting incident or string of incidents that led them down their heroic path. For over thirty years we’ve seen origins of all types for the bevy of Power Rangers that have risen to heed the call and protect the world from evil. Enough of that, it’s time to get down with an origin and return to power story with villainous intent.
Not just any villain though, no, we’re following the OG Power Ranger villain: Rita Repulsa, otherwise known as Mistress Vile.
I’ve noted numerous times in the reviews for this series so far, some reader’s eyes might glaze over instantly, that one of the major benefits of this form for continuing Power Rangers stories is the space that can be used to actually dig deep into character. Not only do we get a beautiful spread narrating the origins and rise of Mistress Vile/Rita, but we get to actually spend deeper time with a character like her father Master Vile. In his few appearances in the TV series, he was a seemingly dotting father but mostly a one-note sort of villain, but Melissa Flores goes much deeper here to showcase the true side of the character.
Turns out, that dotting father bit we saw in the TV series (which is technically later in the timeline from this series if one wants to think about such things) was part of a spell cast on him by Rita when she wrested away the power and connection to Dark Spector. Through this betrayal, which also showed Zordon’s former ally the murderous Alpha-1 that Rita was a better choice to follow than Vile, she gains new powers and becomes Mistress Vile in order to secure the Zeo Crystal for Dark Spector. Even her brother Rito Revolto gets an update here where the comic relief henchman of the show gets a very tragic backstory, making the ‘buffoon’ image of him carry so much more weight. There are so many elements from the variety of franchise entries that intermingle here, which has been the beauty of this comic adaptation since it first launched so many years ago.
Also, I must say, while I loved all the callbacks/reveals of how Rita gathered her most devout followers, the fact that she actually apparently found Squatt as a baby and raised him up (thus his loyalty to her) was a big aww sort of moment. Don’t care that they are evil and she was building an army and opposing the heroes, that’s just damn cute.
Regular series artist Simona Di Gianfelice and colorist Raúl Angulo provide beginning and end framing pages that are set during the present day of the story, leaving the bulk of this flashback issue to Kath Lobo and Fabi Marques.
There is a lightness to the artwork that Lobo brings to the pages, yet it’s also very deep and full of a lot of weight. I appreciate the framing style in play on most pages, providing great character and location focus with the use of black and white space as frames in most areas but also using a bigger full-page panel as the backdrop to pepper other panels over. Staggered panels that move down a larger panel to a big moment or reveal is some great comic book stuff right there.
As noted, there are quite a number of great panels that really hone in on faces or moments, with Lobo doing some top-notch emotional/facial work to give the characters such life. We get quite a few close glimpses of Vile’s sinister toothy grin and it’s terrifying to behold, with his overall appearance being powerful evil in essence and visual. Right off the bat though the double-page spread I mentioned with Rita’s origins in a spiral through the page is not only informative but just plain gorgeous and amazing to behold. So many moments rendered perfectly encapsulate the various states of Rita’s life that led her to the moment we are witnessing and therefore the moments that kicked off this new story arc.
This is a very colorful franchise (see what I did there…I know…) and Marques captures that pretty well here. There are tons of vibrant bright colors here because all of the participants in the story have outlandish colorful costumes, modifications, or appearances that would stand out from what we consider the norm. At the same time, the colors are not overly shiny and bright, there is shadows/darkness applied in ways to help enhance the depth but also tone the colors down in a way. Where the Power Rangers are bright shiny colorful the eviler aspects of this universe are a darker more subdued sort of colorful.
What Di Gianfelice and Angulo do in the few pages they have here continues the amazing energy, presence, and colorfulness that they put on display in the past few issues. Just the choices in panels to fill the small space they have to work with, capturing so much emotion and pain in them is powerful. A moderate level of brightness can be found with a lot of the same darker elements that I mentioned about Marques’ colors.
This is a heavily dialogue-filled issue, as there are a lot of deep exchanges and moments to detail between characters. Ed Dukeshire makes it all flow so smoothly through the issue, making sure it follows the various panels in a logical way that helps the eyes keep moving along without losing any dialogue or artistic detail along the way. Along the way, there is plenty for Dukeshire to play with visually since we have a bevy of alien or darker characters that sound different from one another that brings out a lot of big colorful misshapen speech bubbles, and caption boxes with flair. Most also note just how great he is all the time at making sure that the volume or tone of any statement is 100% clear on the page, leaving no room for mistakes in how any given words would be said/heard.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #104 is now available from BOOM! Studios.