Review: Justice League/Power Rangers #1

*There are spoilers below!*

The Justice League and the Power Rangers were two crime-fighting teams that took up a good bit of my TV time as a kid. So although I cackled while asking “What is happening?” as I read the announcement for the Justice League/Power Rangers comic, I knew I would be inclined to check it out.

Justice League/Power Rangers #1 is written by Tom Taylor, drawn and colored by Stephen Bryne, and lettered by Deron Bennett. The normal cover is by Karl Kerschl, though I bought the Batman and Pink Ranger variant by Dan Hipp.

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Justice League/Power Rangers #1

This variant cover is what caught my eye as I browsed in a comic book store. I saw the Pink Ranger, Kimberly, first and thought that the issue was a part of her personal comic series. But then I spotted Batman. Kimberly is on Batman’s back as they dive down into a group of putties (the generic evil henchmen of the Power Rangers world, for those not in the know). She might have one hand braced on his cape for balance, but she’s striking a combat pose as they head into the fray. The image isn’t one of Batman and his annoying-but-sexy-teen-girl-counterpart, but of two heroes heading to fight some (admittedly cute-looking) evil henchmen. Overall, I think the idea of serious Batman dealing with the teens and villains of the Power Rangers world is what sold me on buying issue #1, so good job variant cover! (Another detail I appreciate is the little stars used for shine on the Pink Ranger’s helmet, Batman’s cowl, and in an eye of one of the putties. I didn’t notice them until later, but the style is worth noting!)

Inside, the art is detailed and easy to follow. The Power Rangers look a bit like their original actors, though I appreciate that they’re not exact replicas. The Justice League members are not based on any particular incarnation I’m aware of, but wear costumes and gear that are easily recognizable for their characters. In the art and coloring, attention is especially paid to lighting and shadows. Most panels are actually set in rather dim or dramatic lighting, with a few exceptions. I think it works well.

I was surprised and impressed that the main plotline of this issue is actually somewhat believable for a crossover. When the Power Rangers Command Center is breached by the evil Lord Zedd, the Black Ranger, Zack, accidentally pulls Zedd, some putties and himself into the DC Universe while trying to use a broken teleporter. After dropping Zedd, Zack and the putties appear (in what I assume is Gotham City) in front of Batman, who tries to get some answers from Zack. Unfortunately, Zack was injured in an earlier explosion, so he decides Batman must be a monster too and starts a fight. Meanwhile, the other Power Rangers come looking for him, prompting Batman to require backup.

Little details are what matter here. First of all, the Power Rangers have been moved to modern times, as shown by a kid holding a cell phone at Angel Grove High School during an establishing panel. I’m really glad that the comic isn’t attempting a 90’s culture clash. And in an early scene, Zack mentions his parents are upset that he keeps disappearing, an issue that was excused for the most part in the TV show. I welcome the realism.

When Zack shows up in Gotham, Batman tries to talk to him, correctly analyzing Zack’s health with his detective skills. He doesn’t assume Zack is a villain, and why would he? In the DC Universe, weird newcomers have a decent chance of being innocent people with powers or aliens from foreign planets. But in Angel Grove, most new weirdos are people the Power Rangers end up fighting, so it makes sense that an injured Zack would assume Batman is an enemy rather than ally.

My only complaint is that the single issue suffers from disruptive advertisements. I know they’re necessary, but I find the amount and placement of the ads jarring to the story. (Though this is something I can avoid if I buy the digital copy or wait for the trade paperback, assuming one gets made.)

If you liked the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers show and enjoy DC Comics’ characters, I say check  this comic out. If you happen to only be a fan of one of those properties, this might not be the comic for you, though MMPR fans might appreciate the updated time period and added realism to the Power Rangers universe.(But you might be able to get that from Boom! Studios regular Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series.) And if you’re just a DC Comics fan, you should probably look elsewhere, as it’s implied that the focus  of the story will be on the overall effect of the Rangers and DC heroes’ actions in Angel Grove rather than the DC Universe.

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