Shattered Grid, the culmination of two years of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers comics, kicked off last week with a bang and the revelation that the book was killing off Tommy Oliver, the Green Ranger. After this devastating moment in issue 25, you would think that the writer of the comic, Kyle Higgins, might let up on the teenage heroes. Nope!
Issue 26 surprises in many ways. It primarily deals with the fallout of Tommy's death, both directly with his funeral, and indirectly with how it changes the dynamics of the team. The writing and art are extremely pointed and focused, getting to the root of how each character has been changed by this traumatic event. Overall, the team is more desperate than ever to stop their enemies, leading to interesting modifications in their behavior.
Higgins continues to prove himself as someone who really understands how the Power Rangers can be relevant in an era when pop culture has evolved so much since the Power Rangers broke out in the early '90s. This story, more than most, expertly weaves strong character development with action fans of the show are familiar with.
Throwing even more Rangers into the mix, with Jen Scotts featuring heavily as Time Force Pink, and the Samurai Rangers going toe to toe with Lord Drakkon and his army, merely allows Higgins even more room to flex his creative muscles.
Speaking of Drakkon, Higgins spends just as much time delving into how the villain is affected by Tommy's passing. Regardless of how sinister Drakkon is, he is still at his core Tommy Oliver. Murdering his alternate reality self impacts him in ways he could not have expected.
Compound this with some genuine human expressions, and it seems that Drakkon might be a less predictable foe than he at first appears. That possibility is cemented with the final few pages of the book, when the curtain on his master plan begins to be pulled back.
Alongside Higgins' superb writing are illustrations from Daniele Di Nicuolo and colors from Walter Baiamonte. These two halves of the art complement each other perfectly, with the line work and tints creating bold, striking imagery. It's a little sharper than the comic has been up to this point, which pairs well with the story being told.
There's a large scale battle midway through the comic between Drakkon, his Ranger Sentries, and the Samurai team. The devastating power of the invading force is on full display, and the unique techniques employed by the defense are given equal care.
The last aspect of the comic deals with delving into the machinations of the Morphing Grid; the crux of the entire summer long event. Whilst Higgins doesn't overtly explain the Grid in fine detail, he does offer some tidbits of information as well as dropping hints at further developments. As a long time fan of the franchise, the proposition of learning more about the Morphing Grid is exciting.
MMPR has been an excellent comic from the onset. However, Shattered Grid is showing how Power Rangers can not only exist in our modern era of pop culture, but in its own right can stand along with the very best on offer.