Thursday, May 08, 2014

Let's talk about the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers at greater length than we've ever discussed them here before.

Not a special effect. Amy Jo Johnson just always sparkles like that.
I was 16 when Mighty Morphin Power Rangers debuted on Fox Kids, and was therefore pretty far out of its targeted demographic. I watched it anyway. While a great many elements of the show irritated me—including the repeated transformation sequences and recycled footage of the Zords emerging from their hiding places, Bulk and Skully's un-funny cartoon antics, every single thing about Alpha 5—I took a great deal of pleasure in it. I used to watch it with my little brother, and, truth be told, I kept watching by myself after I went off to college. I won't be able to tell you how long I watched it for. I was still watching it on the afterschool programming block in college my freshman year (which would have been 1995-1996), and I remember still being engaged for the the first film (which I actually kind of loved; and I was there for a few castmember changes. I remember when a blond actress playing Kat replaced Amy Jo Johnson's Kimberly as The Pink Ranger, and I'm pretty sure I saw the Blue and Yellow Rangers change as well. I might have still been watching around the time it became Power Rangers Zeo, but I didn't make it any farther than that.

I liked that it had a bit of kung fu (even if it was shoddy). I liked the way it reminded me of Voltron...only instead of robot lions, it had robot dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures. I liked the way it reminded me of Godzilla and similar kaiju movies. I liked the way it reminded me of the teen dramedy of Saved By The Bell (even if the characters were flatter and had no discernible personalities compared to the kids at Bayside High). I liked that every episode had all of that stuff in it.

More than anything, I liked Amy Jo Johnson, and therefore I'm fairly certain my interest in the franchise waning around the time she left the show and a new Pink Ranger was introduced was no coincidence.

Since the mid-to-late nineties, I've had pretty much no exposure at all to the franchise, aside from marveling that it's still around, with nearly every season or so introducing a new spin on the concept (I haven't watched any of the post-Morphin series, aside from a few episodes of Zeo, but I see the many DVDs at the library on a pretty much daily basis). My sister's husband's sister's little girls, my nieces' cousins, really like whatever version of the Power Rangers is on now; last Halloween, one dressed up as a Power Ranger, the other as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

Papercutz has been producing some Power Rangers comics, which, like most of Papercutz' comics, are actually closer to graphic novels than comic book-comics, as they have spines, are fairly thick and don't have any staples or advertisements in them. They just recently revived the original Mighty Morphin version of the Power Rangers for a new series. I reviewed the first issue, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #1: Rita Repulsa's Attitude Adjustment, for Good Comics For Kids today. No, I don't know why there's no apostrophe after the "n" in the word "Morphin"; I always thought it was an abbreviation for the verb "morphing," which is what the kids do when they turn into the Power Rangers.

Obviously, the comics' biggest weakness is that it does not feature Amy Jo Johnson, and while artist PH Marcondes draws pretty well, his Kimberly doesn't really capture Johnson's beauty like, at, all. Here's Marcondes' Kim, next to Skull:

Thankfully, AJJ does appear in this volume, but only once, in a one-page profile that each of the Power Rangers get at the beginning of the book:
That's not perfect, obviously. Perfect would have been a fumetti Pink Ranger comic with the real Amy Jo Johnson playing Kim throughout. But this is better than nothing.

As I mentioned in my review, the giant robot the Rangers face has a unique power that switches things for other things, rendering technology and other weapons that might be employed against him and his proctees useless.

This gives us some of the more striking imagery in the book, since the Rangers are so thoroughly defined by their colors (One aspect of the show that used to amuse me was the fact that each Ranger pretty much only wore the colors of their particular Ranger costume. So Blue Ranger Billy always wore blue street clothes in his day-to-day life, Yellow Ranger Trini always wore a lot of yellow, Kim was also in pinks, etc.

Here they are with their helmets switched:

Later, they take off their costumes, which I didn't know they could do, since I thought their street clothes "morphed" into their Rangers costumes. And their street clothes switch from character to character too, since, as Billy, the smart one (he wears glasses) explains, they were wearing their street clothes under their costumes. Given that their costumes are skintight spandex, I'm pretty sure that is completely impossible, or they would look really lumpy and weird all the time, and it would be super uncomfortable:
I want to make fun of Billy for wearing overalls so bad, but I can't throw stones, as I used to wear overalls back then too. Of course, mine were much cooler-looking; they were baggier, older, beater and sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes, I wore them with only of the straps connected.

So anyway, that's the new Power Rangers comic. It is almost exactly the same as a comics version of the show, so whether or not it is for you can be pretty easily determined by what your feelings about the show were. It is a pretty great value, like all of Papercutz' comics: It's a 64-page, ad-free, trade paperback that costs only $8, or the price of 40 pages worth of Marvel Entertainment comic book format comics.


You know what's bugged me about Power Rangers for like 20 years now? In the original show, one of the girls was The Pink Ranger (she couldn't have been the Green Ranger or the White Ranger or the Purple Ranger?), the only black character was The Black Ranger and the only Asian character was The Yellow Ranger. And none of them every said anything about it to The Wizard of Oz, whom I'm pretty sure was the guy they all worked for that gave them their color assignments. I would have expected one of those three to have piped up about the stereotyping, particularly since they were "teenagers with attitude."


That was not the only comic I reviewed this week, of course. Today at Robot 6, I have my column "A Month of Wednesdays," in which I review all the trade and graphic novels form the previous month that I didn't get a chance to review more fully anywhere else. In this installment, I cover Batman/Superman Vol. 1: Cross World, The Best of Archie Comics Starring Betty & Veronica, Jeffrey's Brown's Kids Are Weird, the weird-ass Marvel Knights: Spider-Man: Fight Night and Mimi Pond's excellent Over Easy.


While you're at Robot 6, check out Tom Bondurant's discussion of The New 52: Futures End. e too finds it derivative of a whole bunch of other comics and movies, even noting that there was a Star Trek movie—The Borg from Star Trek have been cited several times in discussions of the plot of the comic—in which the phrase "future's end" was spoken. Weird.

Another piece I really enjoyed this week was Andrew Wheeler's discussion of Marvel's Original Sin crossover event series. It's really a marvelous piece of writing; jam-packed with jokes, all of which adhere to a fun premise he never deviates from. I'm really looking forward to Wheeler's series about Marvel's series.


Unknown said...

Key and Peele took a pretty good run at that notion.

Aki Alaraatikka said...

Only Power rangers I`ve watched was Dino thunder (when I was a kid). Because Dinos and colorful villains. And the main bad guy is pretty cool.