By Jonathan Edwards
I believe it was after I reviewed the 2nd, or maybe 3rd, issue of Justice League/Power Rangers that I started to wonder what BOOM!'s actual Power Rangers books were like. They couldn't possibly be as simplistic and shit as the crossover book is, I thought (granted, everything I've read from Bryan Hitch's current run on Justice League has been straight garbage). My curiosity would be piqued every time I saw a Power Rangers title pop up on the spreadsheet, but I was never motivated enough to actually check any of them out. Until I saw this annual, that is. I figured it'd be the perfect microcosmic jumping on point to determine the general quality of BOOM!'s actual Power Rangers material. And I'm happy to report, not only was I right about that, it's also pretty good too.
The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 2017 Annual is actually comprised of five short stories. The first is the most directly related to the main book, as it shares Kyle Higgins as writer and follows Tommy after being freed from Rita Repulsa's mind control. I'll be honest, this was probably my least favorite of the bunch (at the very least tied with another one for it). It's by no means bad, and I'm sure if you'd actually been following the book, it would have more impact. I wasn't, so it didn't. However, Higgins is a competent writer, and I had no trouble understanding what all was happening. Realistically, I think he did about all he could, given the fact that most people reading this are likely to actually be familiar with the rest of his work with the series. The other story I didn't care as much for is the third one, which has Zack join forces with a bunch of other Black Rangers to fight a threat from an alternate time/dimension. Again, it's not even actually bad. There's just a bit of telling over showing that makes the conclusion a little less satisfying. But, it's still a fun read, and really the only reason these two are the "weaker" stories is because the other three are so good.
My personal favorite from this annual is the second story, "Trini's Vacation." As you might guess from that title, we get to see the Yellow Ranger be a standalone badass, and it's awesome. The art is Dan Mora, who I'm pretty sure can do no wrong. But surprisingly enough, it was written by Tom Taylor. This actually blew my mind when I first saw him credited. Maybe he's just phoning it in for Justice League/Power Rangers, because here, he writes Trini with so much character and charm. Even when I realized how the fight was going to end, I honestly liked that it was setup in such a way that a reader could pick up on it. So, y'know what, Tom Taylor? If you are just doing JL/PR for the paycheck or whatever, that's cool with me. I'm still likely going to critique the shit out of issues #5 and #6, but it'll be with the newfound awareness that Taylor has the capacity for really good writing (if that make it any better). The fourth story stars the villain Finster, whom I only remember vaguely from watching the show as a kid. It's also the darkest and most disturbing of the stories by a significant margin. Seriously, this one doesn't fuck around for a second, and it all culminates in a relatively twisted ending given the source material. In stark contrast to that, the fifth and final story is a more upbeat tale, where a couple of Rita's minions take the day off and even get to play hero themselves. It easily rivals "Trini's Vacation" in terms of charm factor (come to think of it, both stories prominently feature Goldar too), and it's just an all around entertaining and pleasant note to go out on.
Each story features a different artist, and they all do a great job keeping the art up to a fairly consistent standard of quality. Although, there are a couple special mentions that need to go out. First and foremost is, again, Dan Mora, whose art is just so kickass every time I see it. I don't really intend to start reading Mighty Morphin Power Rangers after this. However, with Mora being the artist for the upcoming Saban's Go Go Power Rangers ongoing book, I'll probably at least be checking out an issue or two of that. Additionally, Frazer Irving's art for "Perfect" (the fucked-up Finster story) adds so much ambience and dark atmosphere that you forget it's a Power Rangers story for a while. It plays in the realm of German Expressionism at times, and the whole thing wouldn't be anywhere near as unsettling without it.
I'm glad I decided to check this annual out. Like I said, I don't think I'll be picking up the main book, but that was never my reason for reading this one. I wanted to see what BOOM! had to offer in terms of good Power Rangers books, and boy do they have their fair share of quality offerings. If you have any interest at all in the Power Rangers, or just kind of superhero stuff in general, I'd recommend checking this one out. Those who haven't been reading prior might not dig the first story as much. But then again, it could very well make someone want to go back and pick up Mighty Morphin Power Rangers from issue #1 (or I think maybe there was a zero issue before that?). Either way, the remaining stories stand well enough on their own to make it an overall worthwhile read.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 2017 Annual