On the eve of a Donald Trump’s inauguration, it feels timely that comics writer Kyle Higgins is exploring the abuse of power in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #11, the latest issue of his acclaimed comic based on the ‘90s TV show. As we all know, “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
“Power is what you make of it,” Higgins says about his year-long arc in an email to Inverse. In the series’s first year, Higgins focused on Tommy and his guilt for his sins as Rita Repulsa’s evil Green Ranger. In issue #9 (#10 was a flashback), Tommy and Billy, the Blue Ranger, were flung to an alternate reality where Rita defeated the Power Rangers and took control of Earth — all thanks to her Green Ranger.
BOOM! Studios’ Power Rangers quickly earned notoriety for its dramatic update to the campy Power Rangers, grounding the teen superheroes as complex individuals with differing moral compasses and even crippling self-doubt. The comic made more waves last November when it rebooted the classic, holy White Ranger — Tommy’s upgraded ego in the TV show — into an independent mastermind who controlled the Black Dragon. But there’s still someone underneath the White Ranger helmet, and he was unmasked in this week’s issue #11. Spoilers for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #11 follow.
As Tommy and Billy meet the evil “White Ranger,” he reveals himself as Lord Drakkon — and he’s Tommy Oliver, under a new name. In this reality, Tommy didn’t just help Rita win against the forces of good. He also got upgrades.
“I love a good cautionary tale, and Lord Drakkon is a great vehicle for that,” says Higgins, a fan of dystopian sci-fi like The Terminator and X-Men: Days of Future Past. These influences run deep in Power Rangers, which in its 25-year existence never explored a bleak reality where the villains won. In issue #11, with a cover that homages Planet of the Apes, Rita rules with an iron fist and with the might of her “Mastadon Sentries,” stormtrooper-like soldiers who have appropriated the Black Ranger’s arsenal upon a vulnerable populace.
“We’ve got other fun sentry designs coming up,” Higgins teases, who said he was creatively excited by the “visual idea of militarized Rangers.” “Now, it’s about finding fun ways to use them. I can’t just mutilate them like I do putties.”
But rather than dwelling on the darkness of this reality, Higgins finds fun in the “what could be” of the story in its “iconography inversions.” “Things like Lord Drakkon, the Mastodon Sentries, and the Finster Memorial Corrections Facility. That’s fun, because every one of those bits has a story behind it,” he says.
For instance, in the TV show, Tommy was under a spell that made him become evil. But Higgins says Lord Drakkon is not under any spell at all. “He’s firmly in control of himself,” he says. “This is a version of Tommy who’s made some really interesting decisions over the last ten years. Obviously, he’s been very successful and managed to reshape the world. But at what cost? That’s one of the questions we’ll explore with Drakkon going forward.”
Higgins also teased an expansion to Power Rangers lore: the appearance of the Thunderzords, the second machines that the Power Rangers pilot, which have been already reduced to rubble. Just how will the Thunderzords matter in the future of Power Rangers? It’s a secret Higgins is keeping close to the chest. “I don’t want to give anything away here, but I’ll hit you with one quick tease: combined eras.”
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #11 is available now.Photos via BOOM! Studios