Even with the success of Marvel’s Ms. Marvel, or Image’s Saga, Monstress, and The Walking Dead, it’s still difficult to sell a comic book that isn’t entirely about a straight white guy. But that hasn’t been the case for BOOM! Studios, the publisher with a rep for off-beat, diverse books like Lumberjanes, Strange Fruit, and Giant Days. At New York Comic Con 2015, the publisher touted its Push Comics Forward initiative to put a spotlight on diverse creators and their equally divergent creations.
Last summer, BOOM! acquired Saban’s Power Rangers, the ‘90s toy and TV phenomenon entering a resurgence thanks to trendy nostalgia. But while BOOM! added the morphin-ominal superheroes to its slate, it seemed unlikely the publisher’s ambitions could extend to its licensed title. And yet, its skyrocket success (Power Rangers #1 was the number two best-selling comic of March 2016, topping Superman and Star Wars) and its inherit diversity have led to BOOM! making the book’s first spin-off, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink, a standalone adventure starring one of this generation’s first feminist icons, the Pink Ranger, coming out of retirement to save her old friends from old foes.
“BOOM! approached me, asking me to pitch a Power Rangers mini-series and they were really open about what it could be,” said series co-author Kelly Thompson in an email to Inverse. With everyone involved “thinking Pink from the beginning,” BOOM! paired Thompson with Batgirl and Black Canary writer Brenden Fletcher (who pitched a similar idea) in a “dream team-up” title for Thompson.
“We’d been chatting about a bunch of different potential projects but kept circling back around to a mini-series about Kimberly Hart,” Fletcher told Inverse. “She and I both pitched very similar stories to editorial BECAUSE CLEARLY WE SHARE THE SAME BRAIN!” [Emphasis his.] “The rest is history!”
What influenced your portrayal of Kimberly Hart, the Pink Ranger? How will she be different or the same from the TV series or Kyle Higgins’s current series?
Thompson: From a practical point of view our story takes place after Kimberly has left the Power Rangers, which immediately sets her up as a little older than other takes we’ve seen of Kim. I think Brenden and I both felt that was just a really rich and unexplored time for Kim and an obvious place to start in examining the woman she was becoming post-Ranger, and there were really interesting opportunities there about how and why she might get brought back into the Power Rangers world.
Fletcher: Kelly and I both felt strongly that the show had only scratched the surface of story and character possibilities with Kim. I know that, watching the TV series, I had always felt her storyline had the potential to lead somewhere more epic and heroic. We’re taking the opportunity to do that here. Were giving Kimberly Hart the climactic solo story she’s always deserved.
Power Rangers is a wild mash-up of genres, from superheroes to sci-fi to fantasy. What kind of story are we in for in Pink? Will it tonally resemble anything you’ve done before (i.e. Batgirl) or are we in for something new?
Thompson: We’ve got some classic superhero and sci-fi elements, obviously —action tinged with comedy in traditional Power Rangers fashion, but I guess Id say the surprising X-factor is adding in some horror elements. The book is still pretty all-ages friendly, so we don’t go TOO far down the horror genre path, but it’s there and I think it both blends nicely with the classic Power Rangers elements and also gives Kimberly’s book a bit of an edge that maybe people won’t expect. I also think artist Daniele Di Nicuolo did an especially cool job with some of the horror design elements and suspense; its one of my favorite things about the book.
Fletcher: Daniele is KILLING IT on this series! As is our colorist, Sarah Stern. Daniele and Sarah are the real “Dynamic Duo” of comics, if you ask me! But to the question of style and tone, yeah, I think you can see a little bit of our past work in this series. There’s some Jem, some Batgirl and Black Canary, even a little bit of Heart In A Box, to be honest. It’s a good combination of our own personal styles with that old-school Power Rangers vibe.
How much research/re-watching of the show did you do to prepare? Were you a fan of the show or are you going in with fresh eyes?
Fletcher: My exposure to Power Rangers before taking on this series was primarily through my nephew, who is a huge fan. I missed it the first time around but have really put my time in over the last number of months.
Thompson: I watched (and re-watched) quite a bit of Power Rangers in order to refresh my memory and get the ideas flowing. Unlike Jem and The Holograms, which is just 65 episodes to watch before you can say you know all there is to know about Jem, Power Rangers is just MASSIVE in scope. I think you have to know a fair amount about what came before in order to do justice to something like Power Rangers and to bring out something “new” and resonant about it. Fortunately, Brenden and I had fantastic BOOM! editors in Dafna Pleban, Alex Galer, and Matthew Levine (some of whom [cough] Alex [cough] might be Power Rangers superfans) to help us along the way.
How steeped in lore will the series be, or will it also be very stand-alone? For example, will Kat, the second Pink Ranger, make an appearance or be foreshadowed?
Thompson: Since our story takes place in a pocket of the Power Rangers universe that was — until now — largely unexplored, it balances lore and new ideas pretty nicely. I hope we’ve struck a good balance, making Kim’s story both feel like a classic Ranger’s tale — lots of over-the-top monsters (Goldar!), Zords, sci-fi elements, and such — while also separating ourselves a bit from continuity so that it can be pretty new-reader friendly and a good jumping-on point for learning all about Kim.
Fletcher: Yeah, we’re really hoping this can be a comic anyone can enjoy, regardless of your Power Rangers knowledge. That said, we are going to great pains to line up events from the TV series with our story, keeping a close eye on continuity, along with our teams at BOOM! and Saban. New fans should be able to read it and have a fun ride but hardcore fans should prepare to see things they’ve only been dreaming about for years.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink #1 will be available at comics retailers June 1.
This interview was edited for brevity and clarity.