While the colorful costumes might inspire nostalgia, the reboot Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comic from BOOM! Studios written by Kyle Higgins (DC’s Nightwing) is anything but dependent on the TV show. Case in point, its newest issue #9, out today, just made a dramatic change to one of the show’s most popular characters, the White Ranger. Spoilers ahead!
Unlike the TV show, Higgins’s Power Rangers is set in the modern day of 2016 and takes place shortly after Tommy, the formerly evil Green Ranger, has joined the other five Rangers in defending Earth from Rita Repulsa.
In the current storyline, Rita’s first move after Tommy’s betrayal has been a partnership with Black Dragon, a robotic warmonger who has struck major cities, including San Francisco and Paris. In last month’s issue #8, the other Rangers lost access to the Morphing Grid — a techno-mystical source that energizes the Power Rangers — so they “piggyback” off Tommy’s access, turning all of them into a “Green Ranger.”
In issue #9, insight into the Black Dragon’s origins are revealed by Goldar, Rita’s loyal henchman who is serving time in exile for failing to kill the Green Ranger. Trapped with Billy, who ended up there in the previous issue, Goldar reveals that Black Dragon came to Rita as a “voice” from “beyond.”
“She made a deal with him to come here,” Goldar says. “Though, I am not sure this is his true form.” Goldar is right; after some investigating when he returns, Billy and Tommy find out that the physical Black Dragon they’ve fought for the past several issues has been only an empty vessel.
So, who is the real Black Dragon? Enter: An evil White Ranger.
This thermonuclear bomb from Higgins and BOOM! is a major departure from the TV show. As fans remember, the White Ranger debuted in Season 2 as a force for good, created by Zordon and Alpha 5 as an upgrade for Tommy, whose limited Green Ranger powers had finally run out.
In the new comic, not only is the White Ranger evil and clearly not Tommy, but he also takes cues from Lord Zedd, the main baddie after Rita Repulsa. Described by Goldar as an “outsider,” the White Ranger sits on a throne similar to Lord Zedd’s, sends Billy and Tommy to his “world,” and his helmet has horns similar to Zedd’s skull. In Season 2 of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Lord Zedd returns from the beyond to replace Rita Repulsa and finish her botched job of taking over Earth.
There is also some crucial, more detailed changes to the White Ranger costume as well. Instead of the original belt (shamelessly leftover from Gosei Sentai Dairanger), this White Ranger has a Power Morpher and has a modified emblem on his chest.
In a separate interview, Kyle Higgins hinted this White Ranger might be Tommy of an alternate Earth — think DC’s multiverse — which is supported at the end of the issue when the real Tommy and Billy wake up in a ravaged Earth conquered by Rita and her evil Green Ranger.
“I’ve always loved alternate worlds, timelines, and characters,” Higgins said. “If done well, they play to that ‘dark mirror’ quality … Were going to have some of that here. This Ranger is definitely influenced by some ‘What If…’ questions, among many other things, including the real world.”
Issue #12 of Power Rangers, which is expected to release in early 2017, is already teasing Tommy’s possession of the White Ranger powers. But what happens between now and issue #12 is guaranteed to be nothing what anyone remembers from their childhoods.
Photos via BOOM! Studios, Netflix, Saban Brands