You ever have one of those moments when you walk into a comic book store not really sure what you want and you end up walking out with something so unexpected you didn’t even know you wanted it until you found it? That experience happened to me less than a week ago when I discovered Boom! Studios and IDW’s new collaboration Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I had no idea this crossover was even happening, and I was beyond delighted when I saw the first issue staring back at me from the racks. My inner seven-year-old leapt for joy and I picked it up immediately. I knew I was in for a treat and I was not disappointed.
Perhaps some of my background with these franchises is in order. I was the perfect age when Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers hit TV screens in the mid-1990s. I was quickly engrossed in this world of color-coded, monster fighting, teenage superheroes with transforming robotic dinosaurs. I quickly started collecting the action figures and even proudly went as the Blue Ranger for Halloween. I distinctly remember going to see the movie adaptation of the show when it came out. I stayed current with the various TV incarnations of the Power Rangers up until Power Rangers Time Force (I think) but by then I was becoming a teenager and I eventually grew out of it. I haven’t tried to go back and watch Mighty Morphin’ as an adult. Something tells me it won’t hold up and I have no desire to ruin the nostalgic memories I have of the show.
My history with TMNT is less straightforward. The iconic 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon was still on TV when I was a kid, but I have only vague memories of seeing and enjoying a few episodes. I certainly knew who the Turtles, Splinter, and Shredder were, but I cannot say that I was a dedicated fan. I was too busy watching Power Rangers and Batman the Animated Series. Eventually as a teenager I did watch and enjoy the 2003 incarnation of the cartoon and my appreciation of the TMNT universe has only grown with time. Oddly, I can say that I am more a fan of the Turtles as an adult in my 30s then I ever was as a kid.
So, with all that out of the way, what did I think of Power Rangers/TMNT #1? In short, it was amazing and everything I could have hoped for in a crossover of this kind. TMNT has already had major crossovers with other big-name properties including Batman/TMNT (which is one of my favorite comics of recent years – definitely check it out!) and TMNT/Ghostbusters (which is currently on my shelf waiting to be read) and Power Rangers/TMNT continues the tradition of quality art and fan-pleasing storytelling from those other miniseries. Writer Ryan Parrott seems to have a good handle on the personalities and tones of both the Rangers and the Turtles and effortlessly moves the plot between them until they converge in an action-packed climax. The dialogue is snappy and easy to follow. It definitely has the Saturday morning cartoon vibe which I love. The art is, in a word, spectacular! Simone di Meo’s illustrations are dynamic and fluid, perfectly fitting such an action-oriented title. The colors by Walter Baiamonte and Igor Monti are crisp and vibrant, which is important for two such colorful hero teams.
***Skip to the last paragraph to avoid SPOILERS for issue #1***
The plot of the first issue is pretty standard for crossovers of this kind. I in no way mean this as a criticism. Both the Rangers and the Turtles are introduced very well, and if you’re at all familiar with these characters you’ll soon find yourself settling back into the recognizable dynamics of these two teams. For me, it was like becoming reacquainted with old friends.
The biggest surprise plot-wise was the revelation that Tommy Oliver, the Green Ranger, has left the team. It’s not really explained why, and I can only assume it has something to do with events in the Rangers’ ongoing series. It turns out that Tommy has travelled to New York City and joined the Shredder’s Foot Clan as a ninja. It’s not made explicitly clear whether the Turtles and the Rangers inhabit the same universe or different dimensions in the multiverse. This is made more head-scratching when the Turtles clearly recognize Tommy as a Power Ranger when he morphs. However, when the other Rangers track Tommy’s morph signature and arrive to assist him they have no idea what the Turtles are (they initially mistake them for monsters created by Rita Repulsa). As usual in these types of crossovers, the misunderstanding between the two teams leads to a climactic fight. The battle itself is entertaining, especially because of the witty (and at times fourth-wall-breaking) banter between the combatants. The issue ends with the Shredder looking on from a rooftop, proclaiming that the Green Ranger will be his to command.
From first page to last, Power Rangers/TMNT #1 is a delightful nostalgia trip and a joyful tribute to both the Rangers and the Turtles. I can’t wait to see where the plot goes from here and will be reviewing all of the remaining four issues of this miniseries, so stay tuned! If you are a fan of either or both of these franchises, I heartily recommend picking up this issue. I haven’t read anything of the ongoing main series of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers from Boom! Studios or IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles but I’ve heard nothing but good things about both. If their quality is anything like what I’ve encountered here, I can’t wait to start building a backlog of those comics to read so that I can continue to get my Saturday morning cartoon nostalgia fix.