On August 28th, 1993, a show premiered that introduced to the world five teenagers with attitude. Little did anyone know that the proceeding twenty-three minutes would change the lives of a generation. Igniting a love and a passion that has never died. As a myself I have been given the task of reviewing the graphic novel Power Rangers: Soul of the Dragon (2019).
Written by Kyle Higgins with Pencils and Inks by Giuseppe Cafaro, Colors by Marcelo Costa, and Letters by Ed Dukeshire. This comic asks a simple question: What would the greatest ranger do when his son goes missing, and he only has one morph left?
As a lifelong Power Rangers fan it would be insincere not to admit that I am biased. That being said, I will do my best to give a comprehensive and fair review. Get it? Got it? Good. Then without further ado. IT’S MORPHIN TIME!!! (My apologies, I had to do that at least once.)
We can boil the premise of the story down to “Old Man Tommy”. To be fair though, it goes well beyond that simple concept. The story is a tale of age, legacy and its importance. But most of all, its a tale of love. One man’s love for his son and wife (who herself was once a ranger). The story itself is told competently if not a bit simplistically. There are a few cliches doges that I particularly enjoy. One that involved Kat and Tommy. I won’t go further but just know that when you read it, you will breathe a sigh of relief.
The story itself takes place in the not to distant future. Tommy Oliver, now older, and married with an adult son, has just retired from his teaching job. He is soon informed that his son is missing. Not being one to stand around he head to the SPD base situated above the earth. His son has been training to be a member of Space Patrol Delta. Long time fans would know them better as Power Rangers: SPD (2005). SPD is currently under the command of former Blue Ranger Sky Tate.
The through line of the book is that with each time he uses a Ranger power, it will disappear. Over the course of his career, Tommy has used five separate ranger powers: the Mighty Morphin' Power Ranger (MMPR) Green, MMPR White, Zeo V: Red, Turbo Red, and Dino Thunder Black. Eventually, all of these individual powers were collected into a single morpher that allowed him to switch freely between them. This Master Morpher, as it is often called, was damaged in a previous fight, resulting in a malfunction. Now, when he morphs the Ranger power that is called upon will be used up. Effectively giving him only five morphs left.
For the most part I feel the story worked. The limiting of morphs was a clever way to give the story structure. I feel as if they could have integrated more from the vast Power Rangers lore but that is my inner fan boy coming out so I won’t ding it for that. What I will criticize it for is the under utilization of the son. JJ Oliver felt more like a modern day damsel in distress than a proper fleshed out character. We are never told why did does what he does, just that he does it. Plus their relationship feels a bit to saccharine for my taste. It feels as if they are tying to have them be both close and estranged at the same time. Overall the story is perfectly serviceable but I find it lacking in several areas.
The art certainly does the job, though. The line work conveys a certain grizzleness that I find appropriate for the story. It meshes well with the darker undertones of the story. The action flows extremely well. For a story that relies heavily on hand to hand fights the art does a great job at clearly displaying the action at hand. There are a few well-placed splashes that are used at exactly the right moments. I do wish the art was a bit more detailed though. With a series such as Power Rangers you have suits with many intricate details and, unfortunately, the chosen art style drops many of these small details. It doesn't mean the art is bad, but I would be remiss if I did not mention that nitpick.
All in all Power Rangers: Soul of the Dragon is sure to please any longtime or hardcore Power Rangers fan. If you are not a fan, there is still much enjoyment to be had. The story explains itself well and one only needs a basic understanding of the PR universe in order to follow. If you don’t, you might find yourself lost a few times but not too badly. The story is also self contained which is great for people who enjoy one and done storytelling. Buy it.
I knew I’d enjoy the book, but it surprised me at how much I did. I hope that Boom Studios publishes more books like this.