Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 2018 Annual
Becca Barnes, Anthony Burch, Adam Cesare, Alwyn Dale, Caleb Goellner (Writers), Dylan Burnett, Simone Di Meo, Hyeonjin Kim, Patrick Mullholland, Marcus To (Artists)
April 25, 2018
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 2018 Annual has a lot going on. It’s so jam-packed with details and events that my brain still doesn’t know what to do with it all weeks later. It’s a heavy read filled with Easter eggs, callbacks, and all the Power Ranger muscle-flexing you could ever ask for.
Starting with the disclaimer that due to the Shattered Grid event all Ranger teams now exist simultaneously (which is canonically impossible but really awesome, honestly), this annual brings a few key teams together within its pages. So we have Zeo, SPD, RPM, Power Rangers in Space and one of the newest Ranger teams, Ninja Steel. It is a lot of Rangers. A veritable spandex jamboree, if you will.
Every team is a riot of color and different character quirks jammed within the comic. If I have one criticism, it’s that this is not a very accessible issue for those just jumping in. Each story in the annual lasts only a few pages, so every page feels almost bloated with information. One minute Lord Drakkon turns up; the next the leader of SPD (a talking blue dog alien called Anubis who is the Shadow Ranger) is talking about teamwork. It’s bizarre and really does need you to either concentrate really hard or re-read again and again to keep up.
The SPD section in particular feels jammed in. Unlike the other Ranger teams who have gotten to grow up a bit through various comics, the SPD section still feels like the children’s show it’s based on rather than the more grown-up approach the rest of the story is telling. The comics have really evolved the characters in all other parts of story but there is no sign of that here. Although there is a giant dog-zord, so it’s not a total loss!
The strongest stories focus on Zeo and RPM. However, the Zeo one is very spoiler-heavy so let’s discuss RPM. For those of you not aware, RPM is the black sheep of Power Rangers. It’s far darker than standard Ranger fare, taking place in a dystopic future where a major computer virus named Venjix had crippled the world. It has some of the most shocking scenes in the series; in particular the hard-hitting backstories and brilliant in-jokes make it stand out. The dystopian setting is actually believable and one of the show’s big themes is the redemption of Dr. K, who created the virus in the first place. So Dr. K meeting Lord Drakkon works perfectly—in fact that section is a reason you should buy this comic all on its own. It honestly is fantastic. The way the characters complement each other whilst showing completely different paths is a masterstroke.
It’s also interesting that they are including the Disney seasons, which are generally considered as lesser by fans except for Dino Thunder (which had Tommy Oliver) and RPM. Disney bought the rights for the Power Rangers when they bought Fox Family Worldwide in 2001. They made 7 different seasons, including RPM and SPD. They tended to move away from the standard six-ranger format and a few seasons didn’t even join the Zordon (original series) universe that the others occupy. This meant they were the real outsiders of the Rangerverse and it really showed Disney’s nonchalant approach to the franchise. Saban reacquired the Rangers in 2010 where they created Power Rangers Samurai that had direct nods back to the originals. It’s nice to see Saban bringing them all into the fold for this event. Hopefully it will give them some character development.
Trying to work out what’s coming up in the event from this annual is easy in some ways and difficult in others. We know a couple of upcoming plot points. Much like Thanos and his Infinity Stones, Drakkon is on a quest to get the sources of each Ranger’s power in order to be the strongest and to destroy the grid. His motives are slightly murky at the moment as we don’t quite know what destroying the grid is for and why he’d do that as it has to be assumed his powers run off it too. But we do know Drakkon is seeking power, working with Finster (Rita’s personal monster maker and Drakkon’s friend) and is off slaughtering various Tommy Olivers across time and space.
I can honestly say that without a decent amount of knowledge about the Rangerverse, you are going to be at a serious loss in this annual. It’s got a lot going on from all the series mentioned, and a cursory wiki search won’t cover all of it. That doesn’t mean it should be avoided, just that it’s another Saban title obviously geared towards the die-hard fans that comprise Ranger Nation.