BOOM! Studios' Mighty Morphin Power Rangers writer Kyle Higgins has stressed since issue #1 that the series won't be hampered by the franchise's long continuity, and in this week's #9 he provided it with the introduction of a new character.
Spoilers ahead for Mighty Morphin Powe Rangers #9.
A new Ranger mixing the design of the Green Ranger with the color scheme of the White Ranger debuted this week, and even more than that - he's evil. The as-yet-unnamed Power Ranger (which BOOM! is referring to internally as "Mysterious Ranger") was revealed to be one of the puppet masters behind the events of the first eight issues, and according to the publisher he is a major facet of the series' long-term plan. This Mysterious Ranger is the first new Ranger in the Mighty Morphin continuity in 23 years.
The new character was developed by Higgins and series cover artist Jamal Campbell, working with BOOM! and the franchise's owners Saban Brands.
Newsarama talked to Higgins about this revelation, what it means to the story he and Hendra Prasetya are telling, and what it means to the series and the Morphin Grid.
Newsarama: Okay, so Kyle, wow! That Mysterious Ranger reveal. Is that who we think it is? Because it certainly looks like an evil version of the White Ranger, but with the dragon coin insignia on his shield. What is going on here?
Kyle Higgins: Well, at this point I don’t want to give very much away other than to say… yeah, it certainly does look like the White Ranger with the dragon coin insignia on his shield, doesn’t it? Actually, if you look closely, you’ll notice there are a few other elements of the Green Ranger’s design incorporated as well. These are all very deliberate choices on our part, and the whole thing plays into this Ranger’s backstory in a big way.
Nrama: So explain to us how the Morphin Grid works this time around because you're diving into unknown territory with the Grid and the Power.
Higgins: You mean because this new Ranger looks to be a combination of the Green and White?
Higgins: We’ve got a pretty cool, dark backstory for this guy and how he came to be. That said, when it comes to the nitty gritty of how the Morphin Grid and the Power work, I’m not sure we’ll accomplish very much by overly detailing it. It’s not paramount to the story. It’s like, introducing Midi-chlorians to explain the Force. Did anyone really want that? It’s an addition that really hurts Star Wars.
To me, the Morphin Grid and the Power is like the internet, and Rita and Zordon are two ISPs. They both access it, but in different ways.
Nrama: Taking a step back, it really seems that Tommy has come into his own here as of late, finally earning the team's trust and became something more than just a former bad guy. Talk to us about his evolution thus far.
Higgins: That’s been the plan for him throughout this first mega story. When we called this “Green Ranger Year One,” this is why. Tommy joining the team was always going to be my way into the world… and my way to look at the complexities of a team dynamic. After all, Power Rangers has always been about the power of friendship and teamwork. So, what happens when that team is up-ended? Tommy’s arc was to be one of outsider to teammate… selfish to selfless. That takes time though, and everything from the Black Dragon to voluntarily giving up his powers in order to repower the other Rangers was designed to bring Tommy to the point of being a better teammate and Ranger.
Nrama: How has your collaboration process with series artist Hendry Prasetya transformed since the first issue?
Higgins: Hendry’s been incredible. Every book I work on is a feeling-out process with the artist. My early scripts tend to be very detailed, as I work to figure out what the artist likes and how they best work. Then, as we get a couple issues under our belts, things loosen up. And that’s what’s happened here. Hendry impresses me again and again, and when you see what he’s doing with this new Ranger and this new world… I think it puts the book over the top.
Nrama: You're really going off the scale here with alternate universes and everything. When working with Saban, what's their initial reaction when you tell them your outline for things?
Higgins: Super supportive. At the end of the day, they just want us to tell good, exciting stories and are very encouraging when I tell them I want to go off the beaten path. When I first signed onto the book, it was with the understanding that we would be trying different things and I’d have leeway to really push the series and the characters in some different directions. What you’re seeing here in #9 is the culmination of a lot of planning and groundwork. And, really, it’s just the start. When readers see where we’re going in #11 and #12, I think it’ll be pretty clear - if it’s not already - that we’re not just doing a remix of the original show.
Nrama: What's also interesting is this fleshing out of Goldar. He was seen as a menace than used for comedic relief later on with Rita, but you and other Ranger writers have definitely made him seem like a fine warrior and somebody you'd actually want on your side. Who is Goldar to you?
Higgins: I think the short story in the annual was a pretty wonderful distillation of Goldar. To me he’s a prideful, duty-bound warrior. The comedic version has never really interested me.
Nrama: So at the end, we see that Tommy and Billy are in some sort of parallel universe that has been seemingly conquered by Rita and her Green Ranger. Will we see shades of “Green With Evil” in this arc with Tommy fighting himself? It's not like it would be the first time...
Higgins: Oh, I’m not giving anything away about that. [Laughs]
I mean, if Tommy and Billy want to get back home, it’s a pretty safe bet they’ll have to go through this new Ranger. But just what else this world has in store for them is going to be a big surprise. I can’t wait for the next few issues to hit the stands!