Mighty Morphin Power Rangers' Tommy Oliver might be best known for his green ensemble, but in his franchise's crossover with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles he's playing against type - working with the Foot Clan.
It all begins today with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 - the first in a five-part series mixing worlds and finding out that these two sets of teens have more in common than you think.
Long-time Power Rangers writer Ryan Parrott and artist Simone Di Meo are back here for this, bringing the Power Rangers to the TMNT's home turn of New York City. For more, Newsarama talked with Parrott.
Newsarama: Ryan, what brings the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers together?
Ryan Parrott: My adolescence. [Laughs]
But no, seriously I always wanted to see them together. They have so many things in common. It just seemed like it'd be the absolute perfect crossover. It takes place sort of set in the TV world, not really following the canon of the current TV shows specifically but finds our heroes sort of in the same universe. We see them fighting and taking the world from two different places and then during the fight with the Foot Clan we discover that Tommy is amongst them. And because of that, we see the two teams actually fight together with the mystery as to why he's involved and what was going on and that sets the whole entire portion of the series in motion.
Nrama: Where in the Power Rangers timeline does this take place?
Parrott: It takes place probably somewhere in the middle of season one. That’s part of the story. So, to tell you exactly where it takes place sort of breaks a few things, but that’s the way I can answer it - yeah.
Nrama: Will this directly tie into your run of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Go Go Power Rangers?
Parrott: Not specifically. It's not that it's not canon because it easily could be, it's just not designed to be in a very specific spot. I wanted to make this crossover accessible to anybody. Whenever you do a crossover with two different fan bases, I can’t expect that everybody that reads Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reads Power Rangers as well. So, it made sense to me to try and create something that was sort of like a series neutral in the sense that if you ever watched Ninja Turtles or Power Rangers you can pick it up - there was enough information within it that wouldn't require to read a hundred issues of either book.
So that's one of the reasons why Jennika, the new female Ninja Turtle, they're not in it; because I didn't want people who haven't been reading the series - that’s why Matt isn’t in it, those kind of characters.
I don't want them to come in and all of the sudden, they pick this up because they liked it as a kid, and goes who are these people and what's going on? It’s designed to be accessible to the casual fan.
Nrama: You said you watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a kid. Did you read the comics as well?
Parrott: I read a little of the early stuff. I started watching the show when I was a kid and then I started reading the comic books and I was like, "Why are they all wearing red?" But I liked it. It was really fun.
The show and the comic books are completely different. I always enjoyed that contrast. It was the first time as a kid I understood how adaptation worked. I was like, "Oh, so they made this friendlier. Oh, great."
I’ve only read through the new series scattered here and there, but I like it. It's great. I think it's one of the best, I mean it's by far the most successful independent comic books out there, and I mean gosh we should all be so lucky.
Nrama: Why do you think these two franchises work so well together?
Parrott: Well, I think the first thing is the fact that both of them have the same number of syllables in their names.
Nrama: Well that’s the most important.
Parrott: Weirdly enough they both center on four of the same central problems. One of the fun things about crossing over was to deal with that. Basically, I can describe these series as a group of color coded teenagers fight evil henchmen and monster slash mutants working for someone who's trying to take over the world. I mean literally it's the same. And are helped over by a wise and noble sage.
I mean you can literally go one for one, Rita to Shredder and Zordon to Splinter and it’s just awesome how they all sort of line up, which made it really easy for the pairings when I was crossing over the two teams. But because they are both the center of the same conflict of how do you deal with normal life while trying to protect the world and the responsibility that comes with that when your just teenagers. I feel like that's why it was so much fun to sort of slam them together.
Nrama: Besides Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, do you have another dream crossover for the Power Rangers?
Parrott: Besides this one. Oh man – Saved By The Bell. I would do a Saved By The Bell crossover in a minute. I think that would be awesome. I don't know, I just think the idea of all the Saved By The Bell characters getting power coins would be amazing - Zack would not be the Red Ranger.
That would be one. Let me think if there would be anything else – I’m just loving doing this one to be honest. I’m not sure if I told you this story, but I called my editor for Go Go when my run was slowing down and I was like, "Hey, I want to know if there's any chance to do a crossover with Ninja Turtles," and before I could open my mouth she was like, "Hey I don’t have any books for you right now because we are doing the crossover." And I was like "What crossover?" She said the one with Ninja Turtles. And I was like, "Oh my gosh, please let me do that." It was this weird moment of this crossover needs to happen.
Nrama: Do you have any plans for a sequel?
Parrott: There are definitely elements in there that leads towards a sequel. I’ll be honest with you on that one. I feel like this happens to everyone who is writing a crossover is that halfway through you realize you have another idea. And as I was going through it, we started finding the new idea in the middle of like, "Oh, what if we went this direction?" "What if the story ends and we go this direction?" So, we started layering it in there.
So, yes, there are definitely pieces for a sequel. If this takes off and does well, I would definitely love to come back and play with these characters more. That’s the fun thing about being a fan for such a long time. There is so much mythology that I would love to dig into with them, more characters that I would like to bring in. I won’t go through all of them but like there's a dozen other characters or action figures that I own that I was like, "We got to get those in there at some point." So yeah, I would love to do a sequel.
Nrama: Will we see the likes of April, Casey Jones, or other TMNT supporting characters in this volume?
Parrott: Without spoiling anything, I guess I can say it would be really cool if there were more supportive people in there. Yes, there are supporting characters on both sides. I won’t tell you exactly who all of them are because that will be a reveal and because of spoilers, but there are supporting characters from both sides that play integral parts of the story.
Nrama: What’s been your favorite interaction between the characters?
Parrott: That’s a good question. My favorite interaction actually, and I haven't told anybody, but I'll tell you because you're special. My favorite interaction is actually between Trini and Raphael. I did not expect that pairing to be as fun to write as it was. But I really enjoy them because to me both those characters are the soul of the team. Except that Raphael doesn’t want to admit he’s the heart of the turtles. It’s usually the one who is the most emotional, the most frustrated, but he feels the most. And Trini is so empathetic that she’s able to pick up on that in an interesting way.
So, their interactions were the ones that actually helped me line up the theme of the book in the most interesting way. I didn’t expect that pairing. Most people would think Tommy and Raphael because they are both the hot-headed ones. I think it was the contrary nature of the two characters that brought a really interesting element to the book.
Nrama: It’s interesting because in your Go Go run Trini had also found her hidden leadership skills when she became the Red Ranger.
Parrott: When you asked if there was anything in my run that are in this book, I think there are definitely some of the character elements that I've enjoyed. Like making Trini more of a leader in the group. The character element that I have found writing these characters is what bleeds into this book. If you like Go Go or Mighty Morphin, those characters’ styles are definitely bleeding through this.
Nrama: How is it different for the Rangers to go up against the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles villains? How is it different from their normal antagonists?
Parrott: Yeah, I think the one that is most direct is the fact that Shredder is a very 'can get his hands dirty' kind of guy. He’s a master martial artist. So, having them go up against somebody who is a good fit because usually they're dealing with mostly mutants and monsters. They occasionally fight Rita, but even when Rita fights it's more of a magical sort of abilities and power.
So, I think going up against someone who is not good, but better than all of them together is definitely a different spin. And there's also an element of the book that happens in the second issue that will make him even more powerful.
Nrama: Vice versa, how is it different for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to go up against the Rangers' villains?
Parrott: That's definitely a big part of the story. They’ve always gone up against the Foot Clan and Shredder. In my version, the Foot Clan are actual people as opposed to robots like the TV show. So, one of them being that they actually get to cut loose a bit - go up against Puddies. That they don’t have to be so cautious. Them going up against monsters and Rita machinations and her plan is a big part of the story.
Without giving away too much, one of the things that is really fun is trying to put the Rangers and the Turtles in each other's shoes at different points - having them see the world through the other people’s eyes. Definitely going up against each other’s villains is a part of that learning curve for both of them. So that they can learn a little bit about their own lives and trying to save the world.