More morphin, less mighty.
The Power Rangers may have only just morphed back into multiplexes, but that doesn’t mean their adventure ends once the credits roll. From BOOM! Studios, Power Rangers: Aftershock picks up right where the Lionsgate film leaves off, expanding existing plot points and introducing entirely new ones. Lead by the creative team of Ryan Parrott, Lucas Werneck and Robert Carey, this original graphic novel serves as a solid continuation of the newly introduced cinematic universe, though one beset by many of the same issues that plague the film. If you haven’t yet seen the film, it goes without saying – there be spoilers here.
The story begins with the citizens of Angel Grove still reeling from the aftermath of the Rangers’ battle with Rita Repulsa and her giant Goldar, or as one character puts it, “our own little version of Katrina.” Disaster relief is in full effect, the injured and displaced tally in high numbers, and those in charge are left looking for answers. That same what-now feel extends to the town’s newly revealed protectors. Though fresh off their first real victory, Parrott is quick to remind readers that this is very much a team still finding their footing, both as individuals and as a collective group. Much like the film, Parrott strikes to find a balance that pairs the uncertainty (and angst) of youth with the joys of being a superhero, though for much of the read the former vastly dominates the latter. It’s not that his book is overly dour—there are plenty of amusing situations and one-liners sprinkled throughout—but rather that the end results don’t translate in quite the same way.
Some of that comes down to the actual portrayal of the Rangers. Similarly to how the film at times struggled to give equal depth to its five leads, so too does Parrott’s script here. Jason is again a focal point, as is Kimberly, but where Billy was the emotional high mark of the film, its Zach who gets the developmental focus here. Some of it works. Zach’s newly burdened sense of responsibility doesn’t exactly gel with the devil-may-care attitude presented in the film, but it does serve to showcase how the team’s newfound abilities can be transformative in more ways than one. Conversely, Jason’s struggle with leadership was one of the film’s defining arcs, which makes the backslide presented here read a bit forced. He also gets the most groan-worthy bit of dialogue from either property, equating ones knowledge of extracurricular activities to physical attractiveness. As for Trini—the Yellow Ranger is again largely ignored, continuing the franchises seeming indifference with the character.
Beyond the Rangers, Parrott also uses this graphic novel to introduce two potential adversaries. One is a set of power-hungry twins granted phenomenal abilities by Goldar’s enchanted remains, the other a mysterious woman named Melanie Sheer who is more than she appears to be. At first glance the twins appear to have a possible connection to the Rangers beyond their monster-of-the-week setup, but said connection ultimately ends up being inconsequential. As for Sheer, her role is surprisingly large for a new addition, particularly so given that this is a seemingly one-and-done follow-up to the initial film. Granted, Parrott didn’t have a whole lot left beyond the Rangers to draw from, but beyond the visual opportunities they create, the new additions fail to make much of an impact.
Tasked with bringing those visuals to life is artist Werneck, and for the most part he acquits himself well enough to the source material. The hyper detail of the suits doesn’t fully translate to the page, nor does the crisp metallic sheen of the armor come through Joana Lafuente’s colors, but overall the art team delivers a solid representation of the new Rangers. That said, those same designs work to varying effect in print. Unlike the dino-personalized helmets of the original television serial, the new helmets are distinctly cold and lacking in personality, something the film gets around through the use of open visors. While Werneck does use that same tactic to an extent, the majority of the Ranger action takes place fully armored up, and as a result many of the interactions come off as stiff. The artist does get some solid actor likenesses out of his cast, however, with only Jason standing out as the lone odd spot. He also does what the movie cannot; his Zords are actually recognizable creatures versus the largely jumbled mass that made it to the screen. His action sequences aren’t the clearest—particularly when compared to similar set pieces we’ve seen in BOOM!’s flagship Ranger series—but again, they fit reasonably well to the source material from which they’re derived.
In the end, Power Rangers: Aftershock is a serviceable, if not entirely necessary, follow-up to the new movie. Parrott and Werneck don’t quite strike the perfect tone, but its close enough, and those truly enamored with the film will likely enjoy the added look this book presents. For those who walked out of the initial film wanting, however, this likely won’t do much to change your mind.