Though its popularity may have peaked in the Nineties, ‘Power Rangers’ never really went away. But while the show has been chugging along in various forms for the last twenty-five years, it was the original team that got an unexpected boost with the launch of Boom! Studios’ ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ comic series.
Under the pen of writer Kyle Higgins, the series re-imagined the titular teenagers with attitude in a more modern context and tailored their stories to a more mature audience than the TV show has traditionally targeted. A major focus of Higgins’ stories was the establishment of a mighty morphin’ multiverse, culminating in the introduction of Lord Drakkon, a villainous alternate version of Green Ranger Tommy Oliver.
With his run now concluded following the events of the epic ‘Shattered Grid’ storyline, we sat down with Higgins at Keystone Comic-Con to discuss his approach to the team, his history with ‘Power Rangers’, and more.
ScienceFiction.com (SF): Let’s start at the beginning. What’s your history with ‘Power Rangers’? Did you grow up watching the show?
Kyle Higgins (KH): Yeah. I was a fan when I was about eight years old, and I really responded to the material. There was nothing else like it at that time, live-action superhero-wise. This was an era when we had some pretty great animated shows, but the only live-action superhero stuff was reruns of the Bill Bixby ‘Incredible Hulk’ show from the seventies and the Toei ‘Spider-Man’ show, so to see something show up on Saturday morning like ‘Power Rangers’ was, you know, really special. So I watched it for about a year and a half and kind of aged out and fell off of it, but I always kept an eye on it from afar. And then years later, when I started writing professionally – when I was writing ‘Nightwing’ for DC – I started meeting people who were still real big fans of ‘Power Rangers’ and I started to realize it was still going and it still had a very rich fanbase. And so when the opportunity came up to pitch for the book, I really jumped at it.
SF: So it was a pitch process? How did the book come about?
KH: I don’t know how it came about with Boom!, but Boom! acquired the license from Saban, I heard they got the license, and I emailed people I knew over there and said I would really love to pitch for something like this. So I did, and my pitch ended up being the direction that they all wanted to go.
SF: And once you landed the book, you weren’t just telling ‘Power Rangers’ stories. You were re-imagining both the characters and the continuity. Beyond the show itself, was there anything in particular that informed your approach?
KH: Yeah. I wanted to make ‘Power Rangers’ the teenage team superhero book that I always thought it could be. A book that took all of the best tenants of superhero storytelling and monthly comics and applied it to these characters and this property that had never really had something like that before. You know, the show is very limited by pre-existing footage and budget constraints, and all of the very real world practicalities you have to take into consideration when you’re doing a live action show. In comics we don’t really have those constraints. So I wanted to just push the boundary, not only in terms of how I was doing action and handling the zords, but where I was setting scenes. Because I could have conversations inside zords. I could do all these things that are really hard to do in live action. So the way that I structured the book, again, comes from my background in writing comics and team books. So just a kind of combination of all those factors. That really informed how I jumped in. And then as I built the story, I wanted to do something that looked at alternate universes, at time travel. A multiverse in ‘Shattered Grid’. And these are all tools that have been around in superhero comic books for many, many years. But something like ‘Power Rangers’ has not really utilized them in this way before.
SF: As much as the Rangers themselves, the monsters are part and parcel of writing for this world. Can you tell us a bit about how you approached the new ones, and do you have any favorites?
KH: The process of the monsters depended on the issue. Early on I was doing much more kind of… innovative monsters, down to their names being all very thematically connected. And then when I did this arc with Finster creating a plethora of monsters all at once, that became a process of figuring out just the craziest juxtaposition of animals and real world things and just coming up with really fun names for them. So that was a bit of a different process. But I think my favorite of them all was Sheeple, who was a conspiracy-spewing sheep monster, who also sprayed liquid wool that could create little mini-sheeple that went around and… anyway, kind of in that vein.
SF: Any standouts from the show?
KH: Pumpkin Rapper is one of my favorites from the show!
SF: Looking back on your run, is there anything you’re especially proud of?
KH: Just being able to do the first ‘Power Rangers’ content that was designed for a slightly older audience and being able to bring a slightly more sophisticated approach to the material. I’m really proud that I was the first one to be able to come in and do that. To have that opportunity is really special.
SF: Were you surprised by the response to Lord Drakkon?
KH: Oh yeah! I mean, characters that pop, you never really control or anticipate that. Ones you think are gonna pop don’t, and the ones you don’t expect do. I think so much of the character really making that leap is about the design and the visual aesthetic as well. We didn’t really get into Drakkon’s motivations until very, very late in ‘Shattered Grid’. Really, the final issue had kind of a mega reveal about who this guy is and why he was doing this all in the first place. So for the character to become popular before that surprised me. And again, that comes down to his visual design and aesthetic, which is all down to Jamal Campbell. I think he had a really strong name, and Jason David Frank and I teamed up to do a big live-action trailer film for ‘Shattered Grid’ starring Jason as Lord Drakkon, and I think that really helped put him over the top as well.
SF: And with ‘Power Rangers’ now in the rearview, what’s next?
KH: I’m doing ‘The Winter Soldier’ at Marvel. I have some live-action work coming up and some things at Image that aren’t announced yet.
For more from Kyle Higgins, you can check out his Twitter. Meanwhile, Boom!’s ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ is continuing under the pen of Marguerite Bennett, with issue #31 hitting shops earlier this week.