It was a little over 24 years ago when Tommy, the former evil Green Ranger, upgraded to become the holy White Ranger in the nostalgic television series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Now in 2019, the reboot comic book series from BOOM! Studios has reintroduced Tommy as the White Ranger in the same trajectory as the TV show. But some things have changed since the ‘90s
As new series writer Ryan Parrot and editor Dafna Pleban tell Inverse, the Power Rangers comic book is allowed room to be more “emotionally mature” about change and the evolution of friendships than the TV show.
“Just by the nature of what the show was and the audience it was being produced for, [the show] just didn’t have room to explore,” Pleban says. “We can explore what it means to lead. Responsibility is something we explore. For Tommy the White Ranger, in a contemporary setting, comics and the genre is really open to that emotional nuance that has grown with the audience.”
“The comics get to slow down the story a bit,” says Ryan Parrot. “We get to dig into the perks of the characters. This book gives us the opportunity to really examine that transition from Green to White Ranger, asking tough questions: Was it easy? What are new stuff he wasn’t expecting? Also coming out of ‘Shattered Grid,’ all those things will create a new, contemporary character.”
Pleban adds, “The genre is allowed to be more emotionally mature.” This doesn’t mean the Power Rangers will be grim and gritty, Pleban says. “Doesn’t mean it’s darker or gorier. It just means it’s got more humanity.”
To recap: In the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV show, Tommy (played by Jason David Frank) went from being the puppet of Rita Repulsa as her evil Green Ranger to fighting for good as the White Ranger. The comic from BOOM! Studios has roughly followed this story, albeit in a contemporary setting with modern teenagers. (In the series’ first issue, Billy the Blue Ranger mentions sharing homework via cloud storage.)
In the aftermath of the series’ two biggest storylines from 2018, “Shattered Grid” and “Beyond the Grid” that starred a mis-mash of different Power Rangers, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #40 (available now) returns attention to the Mighty Morphin team in a new arc, titled “Necessary Evil.”
But things are different: Not only are Jason, Zack, and Trini replaced by new kids Rocky, Adam, and Aisha as the new Red, Black, and Yellow Rangers (again, like the TV show), but Tommy is now the White Ranger.
How Tommy became the White Ranger remains to be seen. For now, it is simply the new status quo, and there is a lot of “getting used to” to make.
“We were looking for a way to come back, and it felt like a nice natural progression to do that with the White Ranger,” says Parrot. “It opened up a lot of great narrative questions. Tommy transitioning form outsider to leader and what it means to deal with powers and the day-to-day dynamics of the group.”
Pleban and Parrot say that Tommy’s growth into the leader of the Power Rangers, and the adjustment of Rocky, Adam, and Aisha becoming superheroes, is a reflection of how Tommy when he first arrived as the Green Ranger.
“Tommy had a really significant arc going into ‘Shattered Grid’ realizing he is part of something bigger,” says Pleban. “That he doesn’t have to tend to his damage alone, that he has friends looking out for him. With the White Ranger arc he’s gonna discover what it actually means to be responsible for others.”
In a world of spandex-clad superheroes, the title “Necessary Evil” suggests a lot of difficult decisions will follow both the Power Rangers and the villains they keep from taking over the world.
“That title is for every single character who is gonna find the limit of what they’re willing to sacrifice to accomplish a goal,” says Pleban. “The idea of responsibility and power — there’s a lot of things people can tell themselves are doing for the right reasons. We’re not looking to tell a cynical story. They’re heroes for a season. That limit and who fights to go over it is for them to decide who is the hero and who is not. Everyone is a hero in their mind.”
After two years of the Green Ranger, Parrot — who took over writing duties from Kyle Higgins and Marguerite Bennett with issue #40 — felt it was time to bring the White Ranger to light.
“I don’t want to create controversy, but the White Ranger is the coolest looking Ranger,” he says. “When we go to conventions, I see that cosplay more than anybody. It’s exciting to dig into that character in the books.”
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #40 is available now.