Saban's teen heroes are meeting DC's adult ones beginning in this week's Justice League/Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
The second project in a DC Comics and BOOM! Studios partnership after Gotham Academy/Lumberjanes, Justice League/Mighty Morphin Powers is written by Tom Taylor and drawn by Stephen Byrne. The book pairs the classic season one line-up of Power Rangers with an all-star League line-up comprised of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, the Flash, and Cyborg.
Newsarama talked to Taylor and Byrne to find out more about the comic as it debuts this week.
Newsarama: Tom, this is an unusual team-up. I have to imagine it would be pretty upbeat and action-packed, but knowing your writing, I have to assume there's some drama too. How would you describe it?
Tom Taylor: If you're familiar with my other works, there's The Deep, which is a children's TV show and all-ages comics, and then you've got Injustice.
And this is right, smack-bang in the middle of that.
Tonally, it is more innocent. I watched the first few seasons of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and really tried to get that into my head. And I tried to tear that apart a little bit, but not do anything too extreme.
So at no point in time are you going to see a fist come through a Power Ranger's chest or something. We're not going to 'injustify' the Power Rangers, basically.
But you still need pathos and you still need entertainment.
It's just pure entertainment. I think we just had so much fun on this book. We keep saying this word - fun - but it is. We just had a ridiculous amount of fun.
I've been looking at a lot of Stephen's work, and I wanted to cater toward what I think he's fantastic at. And he's an amazing storyteller. So I've really, more than anything, I've kind of taken away words. It's probably actually going to be a bit of a quick read, but we wanted big space for these huge characters to really come to life.
And if you need to fit a giant robot dinosaur on the page, then you don't need any words there. [Laughs.]
Nrama: That sounds like you got to draw some fun action, Stephen. How would you describe the comic visually?
Stephen Byrne: Yeah, it's action-packed. It's bright and colorful. I tried to use, like, a lot of bright and saturated colors for the Power Rangers, because they're the sort of beacons of light. And when they first go to the DC Universe, lots of mayhem and explosions and robot dinosaurs - it's hard not to approach things in a kind of fun, bombastic tone when these are the things you're drawing.
I feel like the writing just dictates having a lot of fun on the page.
Nrama: What did you guys think about the opportunity to bring these two characters together when you first heard about it?
Byrne: When I got the email, I thought someone was playing a joke on me because I was so excited by the prospect of it. I think someone had reached into my mind and found what my dream project would be, and then they were playing a prank on me by saying it existed.
But no, I checked, and it was indeed real. And I was very, very excited to work on it.
Taylor: Actually, it's just really elaborate. We've been pranking you this whole time. Any second now, we'll be, like, "Surprise!" [Laughs.]
Byrne: Yeah, an extended prank.
Yeah, no, I've been a fan of Power Rangers since I was a kid. I've obviously been a fan of DC Comics and those characters. If somebody had asked me to come up with what my most exciting dream project in the world could be, I wouldn't have enough imagination to come up with these goods. That's how excited I am to work on it.
Nrama: What about you, Tom?
Taylor: I think it was kind of the same thing for me. I got this email, and I think my response was, "Really? Is this a real thing? Hell, yeah!"
There's been some great crossovers recently that I was quite envious of - particularly James Tynion IV and Jon Sommariva, who are now doing Batman/Teenage Mutant Turtles. I'm like, "Aaah! I want that!"
So this came out and I was immediately like, "Yes! Yes! I want to do that!"
Nrama: Stephen, you mentioned that you were a fan?
Byrne: Yeah, I was a very big Power Rangers fan when I was a kid. I think I was about eight years old when it came out. I had the toys and I was glued to the screen at the time it was on. And actually, when I was that age, I was drawing my own Power Ranger comic - little scribbly, stick-man, pencil drawn things.
For me, it was my introduction into the world of superheroes and also kind of into the world of comics. I was drawing Power Ranger comics even before I really knew about the world of comics. So it felt very serendipitous when this project came up.
Nrama: What about you, Tom?
Taylor: Yeah, for me it was something that was on at 4 o'clock every afternoon. So it was something that you'd come home from school and sit down and watch, and just watch, you know, giant robot dinosaurs form up and tear rogue monsters apart, which is always fun.
Nrama: Stephen mentioned the similarities between Power Rangers and DC superheroes, as they both fight bad guys. But Tom, were there challenges to bringing these two concept together?
Taylor: Obviously, you've got to contrive a way for two universes to come together first, which we do in our first issue. But really, it was then about making sure that these two great teams - these heroes of two different earths - come together and stand up in each others' lives.
I mean, the Justice League are huge. Superman and Wonder Woman are just these enormous, larger-than-life gods. They cast a massive shadow.
The Power Rangers are, first and foremost, teenagers. They're just guys and girls who are at school.
And so you need to make sure that they can stand on their own. And really, they do. In the writing, it started to become clear how it works.
You saw it in every episode. You saw how the Power Rangers can grow, and it happens in our comic as well. But yes, they can start as normal teens, then they're morphed and they get their powers and they become truly kick-ass and can stand up to Batman.
And then suddenly, they get giant robot dinosaurs. And then it all joins together! And suddenly, that shadow that's cast by Superman has been totally dwarfed by a Megazord.
Byrne: On the art side, initially, I was thinking, how would these characters all fit together? But when you think about the Justice League, they exist on such a spectrum - you've got everything from Tom's more dark Injustice to, like, the animated Justice League cartoons where they're very bright and colorful characters.
I think this team is somewhere in the middle. And that syncs up well with the Power Rangers, so I feel like they fit well together tonally.
Nrama: Now Tom, can you describe which teams we'll see? Who are these two teams?
Taylor: It is the first season's Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. So it's Zack and Trini and Kimberly and Jason and Tommy and Billy. And then, on the Justice League side, you've got Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, John Stewart Green Lantern, Flash and Cyborg.
And it's interesting, once we had those six, for me to just see how they interact.
It became really clear to me how good it is to put someone like Cyborg and Billy together. Like, this really scientifically minded person with a guy who literally can calculate at the speed of the fastest computer on earth.
And there are some people like Batman and Zack. I mean, Zack, who's a bit of a jokester, despite the fact he's in a very extreme situation in this comic. And putting him side by side with Batman is just a really interesting dynamic. And we play a lot with this stuff.
Nrama: Stephen, how did you pull together the look of each team?
Byrne: I referenced the TV show, and then also, I was looking at what's going on in the other Power Ranger comics, just to see how they were being interpreted there.
And then I was looking a lot like Ed McGuinness' run on Batman/Superman, and that sort of brighter, more colorful version of those characters. They kind of naturally fit well together for me.
Continuity-wise, we're not tied to regular continuity, but I did look at the DC "Rebirth" costumes and I put most of the characters in those costumes.
Nrama: Is there anything else you want to tell fans about the project?
Taylor: It really is pure entertainment, and I think people will really dig it. Certainly, everyone who's read it and who's spoken to us so far really enjoyed it. And yeah, if you're not on with us by the last page in particular, just wait a little bit longer - issue #2 is where things get really fun. Like I said, pure entertainment.