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Review: ‘Justice League/Power Rangers #1′

Justice League - Power Rangers 1 crop

Justice League/Power Rangers #1
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Stephen Byrne
DC Comics/BOOM! Studios; $3.99
Rated T for Teen

DC Comics and BOOM! Studios follow their collaboration on Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy with another cross-publisher crossover, this one featuring two long-lived franchises with comparatively little in common: The Justice League and Saban’s Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. Aside from both being superhero teams and sharing a penchant for brightly-colored spandex and a sizable overlap in a Venn diagram of their fans, the two sets of characters aren’t a natural fit at all…but then, that’s also what makes this project exciting. How will the creators bring them together? How will they get along? What will they do for the length of a miniseries? Will it be like an episode of the TV show guest-starring the Justice League, or like an issue of Justice League guest-starring the TV show’s characters, or a more traditional comic book crossover?

Justice League - Power Rangers 1Writer Tom Taylor seems to have gone with that last one, at least in terms of approach. The first issue opens in a certain-to-be-prevented near-future, wherein the Rangers’ home of Angel Grove has been turned into a crater and Superman hovers nearby, consoling Black Ranger Zack, who blames himself.

The rest of the issue is devoted to setting up how they got there, which includes the genre-standard crossover beginning, in which a case of mistaken identity leads to a fight scene (the next step of the traditional crossover is, of course, the teaming-up, which they will presumably get to later, as this is a six-issue series).

Rangers villain Lord Zedd sets a trap that allows him to find and attack their headquarters. Zack forces Zedd into the damaged teleporter, which sends them to Gotham City, in a parallel dimension/publishing line. There a woozy and wounded Zack mistakes the guy dressed up as a giant bat as one of Zedd’s monsters, so he and the other Rangers try to beat up Batman. Batman calls in back-up of his own, in the form of The Flash. The issue ends when a ship shaped like a giant pink pterodactyl swoops down and picks up Batman and his car.

Taylor quickly and efficiently defines the involved characters’ basic powers, which is likely as much characterization as most of the target audience will need or get. The Batman scenes are fun, particularly in that they provide the most immediate and strongest contrast with the generally sunny and bright Power Rangers.

Speaking of bright, it’s a shame that artist Byrne uses such a dark overall palette in this issue. Even the scenes set in and around Angel Grove look a lot darker than they should. Some of that is no doubt intentional, as in the apocalyptic future sequence, or within the Rangers’ shadow-filled base, but there’s no moment in which the milieu of the Rangers—characters literally defined by the bright colors they wear—looks all that bright and, well, colorful. Moving from their world to that of DC Comics in the 21st Century should be almost like a reverse Wizard of Oz, but Byrne’s two worlds look remarkably similar (and in sharp contrast to Karl Kerschl’s cover, wherein even Batman wears his old-school blue instead of black).

The designs and rendering, on the other hand, are pretty much perfect, and Byrne is quite able when it comes to the sometimes difficult challenge of drawing characters based on the likenesses of actors; his Rangers are faithful without looking stiff or slavish, and his Justice League characters are imbued with the same vitality as their co-stars.

With five more issues to go, librarians will likely want to trade-wait the series, but it appears to be on track to provide a nice introduction to the DC Universe for Power Rangers fans, and to BOOM!’s current Power Rangers comics for Justice League fans. Regarding the rating, it can pretty much be ignored; there’s nothing in the content of this issue that makes it more of a T for Teen comic than an E for Everyone comic.

To learn more, check out this preview at CBR.

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J. Caleb Mozzocco About J. Caleb Mozzocco

J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.

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