Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #26
Kyle Higgins (writing), Daniele di Nicuolo (art), Walter Baiamonte (colors)
When watching the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers television show, one thing viewers could generally count on was that no matter how high the stakes got, the heroes would get out of their predicament alive. Good would triumph over evil. And even when their friends moved away or buildings got destroyed, the Power Ranger team would get on with their happy lives. This is not true for the Mighty Morphin Power Ranger comics and it is especially not true for the summer event Shattered Grid. Be sure to get fully caught up on the events leading up to this second issue of Shattered Grid by reading our recaps here and here.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #25, the first official issue of Shattered Grid, started the story with the death of three Time Force Rangers and ended with the death of Green Mighty Morphin Power Ranger, Tommy Oliver, at the hands of his alternate reality future self, Lord Drakkon. Issue 26 finds the MMPR team dealing with the aftermath of that death. Zordon, the Rangers—the entire Angel Grove community—mourn the loss of their friend.
But they don’t have long to grieve. Jen from Time Force, who has fallen unconscious after traveling back in time to the moment when the grid began to fracture—the moment of Tommy’s death—wakes up with much to explain to the Rangers. The fracture that set her time traveling adventure in motion had a figure in the center of it whose power signature matched Lord Drakkon’s. This fracture has separated the different eras of time in the Rangers’ world into pocket dimensions. Because of the nature of the split, the Rangers are unable to travel back in time along the broken timeline, but Billy is able to use Jen’s Time Force Technology with the Black Dragon technology to make it possible for the rangers to travel between dimensions.
Meanwhile, Lord Drakkon has also found a way to travel between dimensions. The Rangers use Billy’s discovery to follow Lord Drakkon’s power signature to a different world where we are introduced to another team of Power Rangers, the Samurai Rangers, whose headquarters, the Shiba House, has been attacked by Lord Drakkon and his minions. He has successfully taken the morphers from most of the Samurai team, except for the leader, Red Samurai Lauren Shiba, who manages to escape with the MMPR team and Jen.
Once again, one of the visual highlights of this issue is Walter Baiamonte’s use of color to set the mood and tone of the story. When the scene shifts from the cool blues and greys of the MMPR HQ Command Center to the warm reds and oranges of the Shiba House, we know that something exciting is about to happen as surely as if there was an orchestral accompaniment that suddenly shifted its tempo. The brightly colored ensuing battle is thrilling and exciting even as it is heartbreaking to see more Rangers defeated (even if their lives seem to be spared for the moment).
There’s also powerful visual storytelling in regards to the inner emotional state of the characters in this issue. Daniele Di Nicuolo’s characters have a tendency to maintain perpetual furrowed brows. The sorrow Jason feels as Zack embraces him at Tommy’s wake is palpable in his expression, the slump of his shoulder.
Another embrace that appears a few pages earlier is equally impactful: a hug between Lord Drakkon and Finster-5. Lord Drakkon returns to his home dimension immediately after killing Tommy and is greeted by Finster-5 who is clearly some sort of cybernetic hybrid of Alpha 5, the android helper of Zordon and the Power Rangers, and Finster, the craftsman/alien responsible for creating most of Rita Repulsa’s monsters. The dialogue and tenderness of their hug indicate that they have a close friendship. This is the first time that there has been any sign of Lord Drakkon having an interior, emotional life that is fueled by anything other than hate or powerlust in the MMPR comics.
The first hint of it, however, probably appeared in Go Go Power Rangers #8, when we got our first glimpse at this as-yet-unexplained Finster-5 and the Ranger Slayer, Kimberly. Ryan Parrott (the writer of Go Go Power Rangers) and Kyle Higgins have confirmed that the Ranger Slayer is Kimberly and not just a random Pink Ranger minion. (Though it’s interesting that while we see countless Black, Red, and Yellow Rangers amongst Drakkon’s forces, we’ve only seen three Pink Ranger soldiers and that was in one panel during the battle between Drakkon and the Coinless in Issue 14.) What we don’t yet know is how Kimberly came to serve Lord Drakkon. Was it love as is implied in Go Go Power Rangers? And if it was, does that mean Lord Drakkon loves her too?
Getting a deeper understanding of how the different individual Rangers deal with the adversity ahead of them has the potential to provide insight into exactly how Tommy became Lord Drakkon and how Kimberly became the Ranger Slayer. It will also let us know if there is hope for redemption for either of them. Because Shattered Grid is a story based on a split in the fabric of space and time, complete with time travel, interdimensional travel, and interdimensional time travel, it’s entirely possible that these dead characters will come back to life in the timelines of future issues of the comics or in implied alternate timelines that we won’t visit but will know the characters are safely nestled in. However, there’s not much hope that after what they’ve been through so far, any of the Rangers will be able to continue with their happy lives.