Power Rangers is one of those franchises that has stood the test of time, a feat that isn’t usual for a children’s show. The series debuted almost 30 years ago, with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, however, has spawned many different themes and teams since then. With the series and films alone there is a ton to take in, but one of the best and most refreshing parts of the Power Rangers franchise is the comic series by Boom Studios.
Boom Studios took over the printed universe of Power Rangers back in 2015, exploring a new take on the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers I grew up with. Since then, Boom Studios has dived even deeper into the world of Power Rangers, with limited series exploring the different corners of the Morphin Grid, as well as following Power Rangers from the past and future.
The newest release from Boom Studios, Power Rangers Universe, collects issues #1-6 in a stellar hardcover along with a ton of variant covers and character design sketches. Power Rangers Universe quickly became not only one of my favorite entries in the comic book series but might be one of the most important pieces of the franchise. So how does Power Rangers Universe continue world-building for this ever-expanding universe? By taking readers back to the beginning.
[Warning: Spoilers from Power Rangers Universe are below!]
A dying world before Power Rangers
Starting in the distant past on a planet without a name, designated Planet 0117 in the A47 galaxy, readers find themselves in a world that seems much more advanced than our own. In a lab, we find two individuals, one suited up in a costume familiar to fans of the original seasons, and another individual, Chendil, versed in all the science and technology among them.
Together these two people open a door to the Morphin Grid, to achieve ascension. What ascension is exactly is never explained, but it seems important throughout the six issues. Having achieved success in entering the Morphin Grid, the ranger-looking individual, called the Morphinaut, comes face to face with an evil entity. Terrified of what this villain could do, he destroys the gateway to Planet 0117, sealing himself off from the larger world.
Fast Forward 584 years and Planet 0117 isn’t doing well. Again, it’s rather vague early on what’s wrong with the planet that is requiring evacuation, but the goal has become to get as many people into the Morphin Grid as possible for ascension. However, there’s a group of teenagers with attitude, in true Power Rangers Fashion, that don’t seem as motivated to leave Planet 0117 quite yet.
Part of their motivation is to get the gateway used by the Morphinaut to access the Morphin Grid up and running again, so they can return to their planet and the secret lab whenever they want. However, in attempting to do so, the group stumble upon footage of attacks from across the planet. They could easily turn a blind eye and ascend with their families, but they can’t. People are in trouble, and their friend Xev is in trouble, so they have to do something, even if it means getting stranded on a doomed planet.
The return of The Morphinaut
From that moment, the mission to save others seems almost impossible. However, when The Master Arch is opened to allow the population of Planet 0117 to ascend, something extraordinary happens. The Morphinaut shoots out of it, charged with brilliant white energy straight from the Morphin Grid. The energy almost incapacitates The Morphinaut, but that energy is also the only thing stopping the dark force that is descending on the planet.
The villains are working for Dark Specter, the same force that The Morphinaut saw when we crossed over to the Morphin Grid almost 600 years previously. The goal becomes to open the arch in the lab, without letting Dark Specter reach the power for himself.
Power Rangers Universe plays two incredibly important roles in the larger story of the franchise. The first is that the series finally provides answers about the Phantom Ranger, a mysterious Ranger who appeared in Power Rangers Turbo and Power Rangers in Space. The Phantom Ranger and Morphinaut are one and the same, which is why his appearance early in the comics will be familiar to fans of the original series. This was a nice touch for life-long fans such as myself, learning about a character that has been around for over two decades but has remained a mystery.
This story also provides some information on the guardians of the Morphin Grid, powerful individuals who provide the Morphin Grid and watch over all the ranger teams across all time and space. These entities first appeared during the Shattered Grid storyline by Boom Studios, when they were summoned by Zordon to assist in stopping Lord Drakkon, an evil future version of Tommy Oliver, the Green Ranger. Since then, they have appeared quite a few times as otherworldly beings who are vastly knowledgeable and more powerful than can be comprehended. So to see how these individuals came to be felt important and remarkable to see unfold in Power Rangers Universe.
The good of Boom Studios’ Power Rangers Universe
Something I have loved about all the different Power Rangers collections and comics from Boom Studios has been their use of color. Power Rangers as a franchise has always been incredibly colorful, however, it is pale in comparison to the colorful world that Boom Studios has created. This story leaned heavily into the colors that are common with Power Rangers; red, blue, black, yellow, pink, and green. These colors bring to life the world of Planet 0117 in its final days.
Power Rangers Universe does something incredible with white, with brilliant instances of flashes that pierce through the darkness of Specter and its forces. Painting Morphinaut in that stark white glow of the Morphin energy and then using that energy as a weapon was a great move on part of the artists. It was an effect I haven’t seen much in comics before, but it worked so well for Power Rangers Universe.
The beginning of this limited series was difficult to follow, as you grow accustomed to the alien world and the different names. The story moves quickly, so learning names and remembering who is who was more challenging than some of the past Power Rangers comics by Boom Studios that I’ve read. It doesn’t help that when we’re introduced to this version of the Rangers team, all their costumes are almost identical to each other. Typically, rangers wear clothes that correspond to the color of their suits. However, in Power Rangers Universe, the team isn’t rangers yet, so the color designation may not be as necessary.
That isn’t to say that they don’t have some color indicators to them, however, they are softer and less obvious than a bright red shirt. Instead one has blue-ish hair while another has red like Ariel. This didn’t immediately jump out to me, though as I progressed I eventually picked up on it.
Power Rangers Universe could have also benefited from more issues, as the story moves at a breakneck speed from one to six. The story moves so quickly, that I felt like I didn’t have time to fully comprehend what was going on at times. I think with a few more issues and moments to breathe, the story would have been even better. That time could have cemented connections to the future Morphin emissaries, which would have enriched the story as well.
Overall impressions of Power Rangers Universe
I loved this comic series for its brilliant art and world-expanding story. While you can read the main comic stories and enjoy them, Power Rangers Universe enriches the story even more. It provides a ton of background information about the emissaries and Morphin Grid, which will continue to be important in both the comic world and the live-action series. As the Power Rangers Cinematic Universe continues to build, I see this and the other comics serving as the blueprint for what to expect. If you’re a Power Rangers fan, this limited series is definitely one to check out.