I've been reading comics and watching cartoons for as long as I can remember. So yeah, I know a thing or two or three.
Put in that old VHS tape of Day of the Dumpster, and you've pretty much got what this first story arc of Go Go Power Rangers is about. It picks up right after the Ranger's first battle with Goldar, and focuses on the lives of each of these amazing heroes, rather than focusing on the giant monsters and robots. In addition to meeting this newer, more contemporary team of Rangers, we also meet fan favorites Bulk & Skull, Rita Repulsa, Zordon, and Alpha 5. As if that's not exciting enough, we are introduced to Kimberly's boyfriend, and it's not quite who fans would expect.
Matt Cook is a star athlete, a handsome hunk, and a friend to each of the Rangers before the series even starts. It's made clear that he is a genuine, caring and (at times) awkward high school guy. Through the interractions of the five Rangers (Jason, Zack, Billy, Trini and Kimberly) and the other characters, we learn a lot about the characters that gives us a more fleshed out look at who they are.
Rita, in this canon, is a hell of a lot more intimidating. Her power in battle is shown first hand as she sends Jason blasting through a wall, and her minions have just as much clout in their own rights. As with the television series, Rita turns to Finster to get to work on a new monster, but this one will be special. A shapeshifter that can assume the form of any human, even one of the Rangers friends. A true Putty Infiltrator.
We get to see a more realistic side of Angel Grove, with Angel Day, a day of coming together to repair the buildings and property damaged during Rita's initial assault on the city. Unlike in the original series, there is actual collateral damage. When a building is stepped on by a giant monster, it stays stepped on. This means that the Rangers need to be more conscious of their actions than their television counterparts. On the day of the big clean up, Rita, being the witch she is, decides to rain Putties down to fight the Rangers. Then all hell breaks loose.
Jason has managed to get in trouble for fighting with Bulk, as he does, and is separated from his friends when the chaos ensues. With the Putties, because that wasn't bad enough, Rita sends down an armadillo-like monster called Flog. Matt ends up getting knocked through a building (literally), and Kimberly is forced to leave him with a beautiful stranger that just happens to be the Putty Infiltrator. The four Rangers, sans Jason, team up against Flog, and do the best they can to hold him off, but to no avail. When Zack comes up with the plan to hit the electrical station, Jason is free to sneak away in the darkness to join his teammates in battle, untimately bringing Flog down.
Applause all around, the Rangers saved the day! Sort of. While Kimberly keeps a watchful eye on Matt in the hospital, the reader is treated to one final image of Rita watching Kimberly and Zack comfort the Infiltrator disguised as their friend, as the real Matt hangs unconscious from a wall of Putty goop.
Unlike his television counterpart, this Jason is a bit uneasy about himself as a leader. It's revealed that he used to be a bully, and uses martial arts to better himself as a person, to make sure that it doesn't happen again. He is also shown to be a bit hot-headed when it comes to his leadership, running headfirst into unknown territory without first giving his team the details about his plan. This backfires, and not only puts their first mission to the moon in jeopardy, but it also pits Zack at odds with him.
There is no question that Zack is a friend to everyone. His introduction is almost exhaustingly reminding the reader of that. But, he is also a very outspoken individual. He would make sure that nobody forgot his birthday, were that the case. In this first arc, Zack is shown to be a headstrong leader, and even goes so far as to question Zordon's decision to make Jason the Red Ranger. Despite this, he understands that Zordon has his reasons for everything, and follows Jason into battle.
Billy is, in my very humble opinion, adorable as hell. While he does spout off those long words that confuse everyone, he does it with so much happiness that it's hard not to fall in love with this underused little guy. While he is by no means the strongest fighter, he makes up for it with an intellect that even gets the attention of Promethea (think NASA with less government). While he definitely struggles with his own self-confidence, he never stops fighting for his friends.
Like Billy, Trini was a heavily underused character in the original series, and Go Go Power Rangers does a morphenomenal job of correcting that. Not only is this Trini a fierce fighter, she also has a quick tongue, and isn't afraid to stand up for herself. Except when talking to Jason about how she feels about him. In that case, she just morphs and they beat the crap out of each other for a few hours. Like the other Rangers, she is given a much better backstory that just being a bland two-dimensional Yellow Ranger, which she desparately needs. Also, she named her Sabertooth Tiger Zord "Kitty-saurus" which is just great.
Kimberly's defining trait in the original series was that she was a valley girl, which was a shame! While yes, the valley girl persona kind of fell off over time, it still goes to show that Saban unfortunately didn't know what to do with the character at the time. In the comics, Kimberly is a confident young woman that starts dating Matt and is juggling her two lives while dealing with her parents constant fighting. While she starts off the series accidentally getting Zack fired from his job at a fancy restaurant, she becomes a good friend to the Rangers, especially Trini.
What's There to Love?
Oh, God, what isn't there to love?! We get to see the Power Rangers not only in a modern setting with real world issues, but we are treated to a genuine threat in the form of Rita Repulsa. Instead of a band of bumbling idiots surrounding her, the denizens of Rita's Palace are actually capable of destruction. Each of the updated villain designs is absolutely gorgeous, giving us something familiar that also looks cleaner and more menacing than the show ever could give us.
Seeing the Rangers focus on REAL teenage issues, rather than the (let's face it) unrealistically do-gooder issues that they faced in the tv series is absolutely refreshing. They aren't trying to save the environment (necessarily), they aren't showboating about taking down bullies, they are just being teenagers. Kimberly has a boyfriend, and they have issues. Billy is dealing with the fact that one of his old friends has turned into to a huge asshole. We are given actual teenagers, not the perfect idea of teenagers we watched on Saturday mornings.
Of the entire cast of characters, my favorite upgrade we got is that of Bulk & Skull. Yes, they are still the good old bullies we knew as kids, but now, they aren't caricatures. Bulk bullies Billy, but he does so in small ways, like pelting him with water balloons or putting trash in his locker. He doesn't charge around like a dumb ox. And Skull, bless this sweet boy, feels so much remorse for the way he and Bulk treat Billy, but because of the way Billy neglected him after realizing how smart he was, Skull just sort of goes along with it. These two are not just defined by being bullies obsessed with the Rangers. They are just two jerks that are now dealing with the way the world has changed around them.
What Could Have Been Better?
To be honest, it is hard to find anything that I would want to see different. I am not just saying that because I am a die-hard fan of the series. This story is genuinely well written, and the artwork is just gorgeous. Of all of it, I would probably say I'd have liked to see a bit more of Matt and the Rita gang. The villains are one of the best parts of the issues.
Look, love the Power Rangers or hate them, this was a beautifully done story that could honestly be applied to any sort of genre. While it does stray pretty far from the source material, it is still close enough that it feels right (unlike some other adaptions).
All things considered, I give the first arc of Go Go Power Rangers a solid 9/10.
Thanks for reading! If you think there's anything I should review next, leave a comment below! Until next time, stay frosty!