BOOM! Studios' twenty-fifth anniversary celebration of the Power Rangers kicks off in March with the franchise's first comic book crossover event, "Shattered Grid". Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Go Go Power Rangers will be crossing over (and bringing in even more teams from the franchise's TV mythos) to explore all of spectrums of the Power Rangers universe - as well some new places that the television show has not touched upon.
With it all beginning in March 21's Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #25, Newsarama spoke with series writers Kyle Higgins and Ryan Parrott, as well as BOOM! editor Dafna Pleban, and Saban's Power Rangers executive producer Brian Casentini about this monumental event.
Newsarama: Kyle, how did this event come about? What sparked the idea?
Kyle Higgins: Well it really started with a conversation early on in the book’s creation, when we were launching Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. I was going through the publishing timeline and schedule for my first year - the big year long story that I had mapped out - and then what it could look like potentially beyond that, and Bryce Carlson (managing editor at BOOM!) and Dafna Pleban (our book’s editor) pointed out that year three would be the twenty-fifth anniversary of the franchise.
So we started hashing plans to basically do an event that would be a celebration of the franchise and introduce other teams of rangers that fans have been asking about. I took it as an opportunity to build this narrative that organically led to this place. This is a huge event that spans the twenty-five-year history of the Power Rangers franchise. So it’s very much in the vain of things like Crisis on Infinite Earths -where the event in issue 25, which launches March 21 I believe, break things in such a way that other teams of rangers from throughout the show’s history will become involved. They will become allies and they will become targets depending on the point of view of who you are talking about.
Nrama: Brian, how did BOOM! Studios approach you with the “Shattered Grid” event, and what were your initial thoughts on the pitch?
Brian Casentini: BOOM! Studios understands what makes Power Rangers great, so early development with our team at Saban Brands is always an exciting dialogue and our initial reaction to the concept of “Shattered Grid” was electric. Imagine a room with some of the biggest fans of Power Rangers, riffing off each other and sparking big ideas – that is Saban Brands and BOOM! Studios collaborating.
Nrama: Did you get to collaborate with Kyle and Ryan directly as they worked on the project?
Casentini: Yes, the team at Saban Brands and I work very closely with Kyle, Ryan and the team at BOOM! Studios. We’re lucky to collaborate with talent such as Kyle and Ryan who are fans of the franchise and because of that, they also bring great vision and ability to take the narrative in new, unexpected directions. The Saban Brands team is right there with them guiding the synergy and connectivity to the history of the brand while directly contributing to the development of new dimensions, characters and more. Like the Ranger teams, it takes a lot of teamwork to create these comics and we’re really happy with the results.
Nrama: Dafna, what has been your favorite experience working on this giant Power Rangers event?
Dafna Pleban: Oh man, where to start? The creative summit with Saban and seeing everything they have in store for the twenty-fifth anniversary? Having the entire Power Rangers universe to explore with our team? Seeing Kyle and Ryan create an emotional and epic story in real time? Seeing Daniele Di Nocoulo and Dan Mora bring the characters and world to life? Free cookies for jam sessions? Don't make me choose just one!
Nrama: How many old seasons did you have to binge for the project? Any seasons you hadn’t seen prior to working on “Shattered Grid”?
Higgins: I hadn’t seen any of them to be honest. The last year for me has been a deep dive into old episodes, into recap videos, into bio pages, into questions for Saban. My cohorts Mathew Groom and Michael Busuttil, who I do the Ranger Danger Podcast with, have filled me in on a lot of backstory as well, and we were fortunate because of the amount of runway we had building towards this event for the last two years that I was able to plan things out and take that time to immerse myself in the legacy of Power Rangers.
Ryan Parrott: I’m a little bit of a slacker, I still haven’t seen a bunch of series. I’m not going to lie. But because my series takes place within just the confines of the first series, I had a lot less homework than Kyle did basically.
Nrama: Power Rangers this past year introduced Hyper Force (a RPG video series), any plans on combining the comic book stories with that?
Higgins: I’m definitely aware of Hyper Force. I think there is a campaign on Twitter to get me to play Pumpkin Rapper, and by campaign on Twitter I mean I am lobbying to play the Pumpkin Rapper.
It definitely looks really cool. Any sort of addition to the franchise is cool in my book. Especially something like this that plays with these characters in a very different medium. I will say because of the nature of what happens in #25. It is definitely on the table for the Hyper Force rangers to appear in some way.
Parrott: I just watched a Camelot episode, and I never seen it before – the concept of what the show is. It’s this weird combination of gaming, theater, and improv. It’s fascinating. But I think, I may be wrong, but I think Jen Scott just showed up in an episode if I’m not mistaken.
Higgins: She kicked it off I believe.
Parrott: That makes sense, that’s cool. It’s fascinating. Look there seems to be so much room for anything on that show. It’s a whole new medium.
Nrama: What was it like working together on the project, and combining your different voices from Go Go Power Rangers and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to make one cohesive story?
Higgins: Luckily, Ryan and I have written together before. We both have a small/core group of writers we share stuff with, whether it’s comic books, film, or TV. Just bouncing ideas off each other or helping each other break things. So we’ve known each for 10 years now. We actually went to college together at different times. I brought Ryan in for some issues of Batman: Gates of Gotham, one of my big works at DC. So we’ve collaborated with each other in different forms over the years. So this has been an absolute blast.
We actually co-wrote the Free Comic Book Day issue together. We outlined it together, and then split up scenes. Then each went off and wrote and put it back together, and then did a pass together. It was a blast! I think our editors weren’t sure how it was going to go initially when we started the issue and then they were very happy by the time we turned in a draft at how smooth it was and how easily Ryan and I were able to play off each other’s styles.
Parrott: Yeah it was actually kind of weird because I remember the day Kyle got Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, when he was first coming up with the pitch for it, and as he was writing the series he would occasionally tell me things here and there. So I have been keeping of abreast of the whole story from the very inception and then all of sudden I was like, “Hey so I’m going to be writing this other book called Go Go Power Rangers.”
Then all of sudden we were like "Oh my God, we actually get to do this for real." So it was just like this weird moment where it just happened to line up together, and we were like this can work. I remember when you were telling me about “Shattered Grid”. I was like that sounds really cool, and then I was like, wait a minute, now I get to work with that now. It’s very fun, and collaborative.
Nrama: The process seems very similar to television writing.
Higgins: But for way less money.
Nrama: Ryan on Go Go Power Rangers and Kyle on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers have very different voices for their titles. Go Go Power Rangers focusing more on the Rangers daily lives, and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers focusing more on the franchise’s mythology. What was it like bringing both these voices together for “Shattered Grid”?
Pleban: So much fun! Both Kyle and Ryan have an incredibly handle on the interiority of these characters, and being able to tell both sides of this time - the early, formative years in Go Go Power Rangers, and the more established continuity in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers will really emphasize the scope of “Shattered Grid." Everything is affected, and everyone! Being able to show the impact of those events on these two distinct versions of the team is going to be really, really cool!
Nrama: Since Go Go Power Rangers and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers takes place during different times in the Rangers’ careers are we going to see two different versions of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers?
Parrott: Yes, they will be taking place in two different time periods. Mighty Morphin takes place in the modern day, and mine takes place a little bit before that. Yes, they will be split up. Because of the nature of “Shattered Grid” because it’s taking place in different realities and dimensions. It just provided the ability to play with time and space in different ways where it doesn’t feel like too much of a stretch.
Higgins: We are able to play with causality in a really interesting way. That was something in just the structure of the event that really excited both Ryan and myself about how we were laying the story out and how certain threads were going to weave into Go Go in the past, and potentially update things in the future.
Nrama: Were there any rangers you were really excited to introduce?
Pleban: Absolutely. But if I tell which ones, they'll be a spoiler. [Laughs]
Higgins: Two of my all-time favorites are the first two non-Mighty Morphin point of view rangers that we meet in “Shattered Grid” - Jen Scott and Lauren Shiba. Part of the fun with an event like this is finding different pairings. Rangers you may not necessarily expect to have a dynamic with each other from different eras, but who may in fact have more in common than you might initially think. That’s the thing that makes me really excited.
What does a bunch of conversations between Jason Scott and Lauren Shiba look like? Both Red Rangers from very different upbringings. What do Doggie Cruger and Zordon talk about? Both different types of mentors who have experienced, in some ways, similar things. That’s the stuff as a fan I get really excited about as well.
I’m trying to be a little coy, but we got a lot of different teams in here. Zeo, In Space, RPM, SPD, Ninja Steel – these are all teams that play prominent roles in the event. In addition to other teams that I’m not going to spoil here, and we got new characters. One of the things that is so much fun about what Ryan is doing in Go Go is the brand new character he is introducing, which he can speak more to.
Parrott: Creating a new character that was not in the TV show…
Higgins: A new ranger.
Parrott: I’m sorry a new ranger that will arise in the Go Go timeline. What I like about what we were able to do with that new ranger is that it allowed me to keep a lot of the storylines that I had been pushing forward, that I had been sort of focusing on, it helped progress them in the right direction. This takes a lot of the stories that I have been wanting to do on the right track. That was the reason that I wanted to be part of “Shattered Grid." It doesn’t disrupt anything that I was already doing.
Higgins: It’s furthering each rangers’ arc.
Parrott: It works really organically. That was my favorite thing because I was like man is this going to be hard. Because you know when you do these big events sometimes people are writing their series and they have to take a big side step to do the event and then be like, “Okay, when the event is over I will come back in.” We didn’t have to do that. It worked out so well that it actually made it better.
Nrama: Kyle, excluding the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers because I know those are your babies, which Power Rangers team is your favorite?
Higgins: I just said in another interview that SPD is my favorite but I think I’m going to pull an audible here and totally self-promote, and say the team Lord Drakkon is putting together is my new favorite iteration of Power Rangers. His army is growing, and it’s going to start including other ranger sentries - like Green Zeo sentry and a Blue Samurai sentry. What that means for those rangers that had those powers is something you have to read the event to find out. But there is a deeper motivation here for Drakkon beyond just conquering rangers and taking powers for his growing army. Once we get into what motivates this guy and who he is just beyond an alternate timeline version of Tommy Oliver. I think fans are going to be excited to learn more about him.
Nrama: Ryan, what about you?
Parrott: Kyle got me watching SPD, so I will just say SPD.
Nrama: Is Matthew, a character you created for Go Go Power Rangers, going to be involved in “Shattered Grid” since he has been such a big character in your run?
Parrott: Absolutely yes. Matthew will be a big part of “Shattered Grid." He has one of the biggest parts of the story. The new ranger that is arising will have a direct influence into his story - I will say that.
Nrama: Are Matthew and Tommy going to interact? If so things may get awkward for Kim.
Parrott: You will have to wait and see regarding Tommy because Tommy is not in my world. He is not there yet in my timeline. That would be complicated - not saying impossible - just very complicated. That’s the best tease I can give you on that one.
Nrama: In both your series Rita has been such a big character in your stories. Were you able to explore villains from the other Power Ranger seasons as well for “Shattered Grid”?
Higgins: I’m being careful with what I want to reveal here, but if you consider that Lord Drakkon is moving between eras of our timeline, and other universes – like Dino Charge, RPM – and he is targeting rangers then it’s a very easy jump to make that those rangers are still active because there are villainous threats. But there is definitely a side of the “Shattered Grid” story that looks at Drakkon’s effect on the worlds of these other Power Rangers teams.
Nrama: When creating Lord Drakkon was the events of “Shattered Grid” always part of the character’s journey. Did you expect to bring him back into the Power Rangers narrative?
Higgins: Yes, they were always planned for his journey. If you look at his introduction in issue 9 his actions go all the way back to issue 0 when Rita was working with him - not knowing who he was - to bring over his Zord (The Black Dragon) to try and take out our Rangers. We then reveal him as the man pulling the strings in issue 9, and then from issues 11-14 we explored aspects of his world. Issue 16 was kind of the wrap up of our rangers in his world, but we didn’t really dive too far into who this guy is. Other than the short hand of he is a version of Tommy Oliver who never turned good.
So the plan has always been that every one of his actions, dating as far back as issue 0, were happening for a reason. It was part of a larger Drakkon narrative and motivation that is now culminating with “Shattered Grid”. So that’s a long winded way in saying that we are going to learn a lot more about him in this event, and I think fans will come to understand who he is much more beyond the idea that he is just an alternate timeline version of Tommy Oliver.
Nrama: Would you like to see Lord Drakkon in the television series or see Jason David Frank portray him in some capacity?
Higgins: I would love that! I think anytime you can create something and see it brought to life in live action is a thrill. I know Jason loves the character. It would be cool to one day see Jason don the Drakkon mantle in some sort of official way. Only if I’m writing it though.
Nrama: Will "Shattered Grid" impact the Super Ninja Steel planned anniversary special?
Casentini: What I can say is that we’re exploring elements of "Shattered Grid" across the franchise so you never know where and how we could potentially integrate it. However, as far as the anniversary episode goes, fans will just have to wait for it to air on Nickelodeon to see what is in store!
Nrama: Kyle, a few issues ago you introduced the first Power Rangers team from the 1960’s, and Grace has been interacting with the team ever since. Can you tease what Grace’s role will be in “Shattered Grid”?
Higgins: I can tease that she has a role and that it’s very natural to who we have established her and her company to be in the book up to this point, and ultimately some of Grace’s actions will play off of events that happened in 1969 further on in the story.
Nrama:What do you think is the most exciting aspect of this event?
Casentini: One of the most exciting parts of all our projects happens at the beginning. We always start with the end in mind and with our partners, we look to answer the question, “how do we bring something new and incredible to fans?” For “Shattered Grid”, the answer was to go big by publishing Power Rangers’ very first comic book crossover event while we celebrate the brand’s twenty-fifth anniversary.
Nrama:Will “Shattered Grid” be a part of the announced Top 25 for the 25th? Is there any merchandise being planned based on “Shattered Grid”?
Casentini:Good question. New products will be added to the “Top 25 for the 25th” list throughout the year but it is a surprise so fans will have to check out RangerNation.com on the 25th of each month to find out what will be featured.
Nrama: Since “Shattered Grid” is part of the twenty-fifth anniversary celebration for Power Rangers. What is your favorite Power Rangers memory?
Parrott: Favorite Power Rangers memory? This is not my favorite – I just think it’s funny. I had a nightmare once about the episode from the first season where they go to the circus and Pineapple the Clown is turning everyone into cardboard cut-outs. I had a dream after seeing that episode that my sister was a cardboard cut-out and the villain was tearing her limbs off. It traumatized me. It’s one of the scariest dreams I’ve ever had, and all because of a Power Rangers episode. That’s one of my earliest memories of Power Rangers.
Higgins: I think my favorite memory as a kid - I have two. It was discovering the show for the first time. It was the episode “Food Fight”. It was only the second or third episode of the show. At that time, I loved superheroes - I loved comic books, but there really wasn’t anything like there is today on the air as far as that genre of live action superhero storytelling.
So to see something as big as Power Rangers was really exciting, and then a few weeks later to see commercials for the introduction of an evil Power Ranger that was going to be a part of a five-day event was insane. Even then the idea of a dark mirror to our heroes was really compelling to me, even as an eight-year-old. That’s probably the one that sticks out to me - was seeing that first commercial for “Green with Evil," and knowing that – you can just feel it – it was going to change everything and it did.