It’s convention season again and I’m returning from Flame Con. It’s a con created by GEEKS OUT for queer fans of all shapes, sizes, genders, and orientations. I missed the first one because I was sick, but I’ve attended the last three. Today, National Power Rangers Day, I’m visiting a different area of 90s Nostalgia: the Power Rangers.
Go Go Power Rangers!
Any 90s child would remember the Power Rangers; five teenagers with attitude recruited to fight the forces of evil.
I’ve been a Rangers fan since I was a kid, back when the original show was on TV. I guess you’d call me a fair weather fan; I’ve lost track of the show several times over the years. There are plenty of seasons I’ve never watched, yet they remain dear to me.
I devoted Flame Con to collecting some PR sketches because I don’t normally focus on them. I ran it by Wing and offered to make this special post showcasing what I acquired. I’ll also be talking a little about who the Rangers are and how they came to be.
[Wing: I know very little about the Power Rangers except that I saw maybe one episode of one of the shows in the 90s and promptly had an intricate dream about them and that the 2017 movie combined a heartfelt chosen family high school story with a ridiculous sci-fi adventure story that included giant dinosaur robots, and I love the hell out of it.]
It All Started With Five Teenagers
They’ve got a power and a force that you’ve never seen before!
Officially, Power Rangers is the American adaption of the long running Japanese franchise, Super Sentai. Power Rangers might have been around for over 25 years, but Sentai’s been going since the 1970s.
Zyuranger! Zyuranger! The legendary warriors!
The first series was “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers,” an adaption of “Zyuranger.” It told the story of five, later six, teenagers, Jason, Trini, Billy, Zach, and Kimberly. The extraterrestrial sage Zordon recruited these five teenagers with attitude for one mission: to save the world from the evil witch Rita Repulsa, after she’d escaped from her dumpster prison on the moon.
“AAAHHHH!!! AFTER TEN THOUSAND YEARS I’M FREE! IT’S TIME TO CONQUER EARTH!”
Rita would send a monster to Earth, the Rangers would fight it. Then she’d enchant the monster to make it grow gigantic. This forced the Rangers to summon their Zords (mechanical devices often taking the form of large animals, capable of combining to make one large Megazord).
Whenever the Rangers beat her, which was always, Rita would scream about her headaches.
Most Popular Ranger EVER
Her most fiendish plot involved the creation of her own personal Ranger. She kidnapped new kid Tommy Oliver and brainwashed him into becoming the Green Ranger. This lasted for six episodes before the Rangers broke Rita’s spell and freed Tommy from her control.
Tommy officially joined the team as their sixth Ranger, before losing the Green Ranger powers and becoming the White Ranger. As a side note Tommy, portrayed by Jason David Frank, is THE most popular Power Ranger ever. The man’s been a Ranger FIVE TIMES.
Dairanger, a.k.a. Mighty Morphin’ Never Rangers (Except the guy in the midde)
Even though “Zyuranger” ran the length of one season (as does nearly every Sentai show), “Mighty Morphin'” lasted much longer. It gained two more seasons and a feature length film independent of the show’s continuity. The show still incorporated footage from the following Sentai seasons, “Dairanger” and “Kakuranger.”
ALL HAIL LORD ZEDD!
The second season introduced the first original villain to the equation, the evil Lord Zedd. He took control of Rita’s operation and banished her back to her dumpster prison for failing to defeat the Rangers. Zedd fought the Rangers for the second season when Rita made a comeback in the third. Now the two shared the Big Bad status as husband and wife.
No one will ever take them down!
The first four shows were all part of the same storyline, dubbed “The Zordon Era.” This included MMPR, “Power Rangers Zeo,” “Power Rangers Turbo,” and “Power Rangers in Space.”
Following the end of MMPR the franchise applied the formula of having new forms of Rangers every season. From “Zeo” the Rangers required a power up replacing their old equipment to face new foes. The Zeo Rangers became the Turbo Rangers before passing their powers on to several new teens. They later became the Space Rangers.
“Power Rangers Lost Galaxy” is when the franchise began introducing new casts with each season since the stories were now officially self-contained. By the time I’m writing this, the most recent series is “Super Ninja Steel” and we’re on the heels of “Beast Morphers.”
Why is she turning into the Zord? NO ONE KNOWS.
[Wing: That is a nod to the covers of the Animorphs series by Team Grapplegate if I’ve ever seen one.]
I’ve been a Ranger fan since I was a little kid. My earliest memories are of renting the five MMPR videos from either Blockbuster or my dad’s store. My mom wouldn’t let me see the MMPR or the “Turbo” movies when they were in theaters, which still pisses me off. But I’m not the final authority on Power Rangers. I have gaps where I’ve lost interest in the franchise and there’s plenty I need to catch up on.
Crisis On Infinite-They’ve Already Made This Reference
This has been a big year for Power Rangers. The Boom Studios comic is currently doing its “Shattered Grid” storyline featuring almost every Ranger team (an impossible feat for the show, since several actors have passed away) and August 28th has been declared National Power Rangers Day.
I couldn’t commission a Ranger from every season because I didn’t have that much money and I’m unfamiliar with some of the shows. To that end, I stuck with going from MMPR to “Power Rangers Wid Force,” getting at least one Ranger per show, plus a few others.
Trini Kwan (Mighty Morphin’ Yellow Ranger I) by Janet Sung
I had to start this with one of the very first Rangers, and who better than my girl Trini. I made sure to email Janet to inquire about her sketch prices before I set this up.
Trini will always be my favorite Ranger above all my favorite Rangers and was the first one I ever cared about. She stood as the most balanced of the original five, athletic like Jason, smart like Billy, savvy as Zach, sweet and nimble as Kim. She’s the best person to have as an ally and friend because she’s able to keep up with everybody.
Unfortunately, no one realized how awkward it was to cast an Asian actress to play the Yellow Ranger, so midway into the second season Trini stepped down and passed her abilities onto Aisha Campbell. But Trini is still remembered as the original Yellow Ranger regardless of the unfortunate implications around the casting
My greatest regret is that I’ll never get to meet Thuy Trang because she died in a car accident in 2001.
Delphine (White Alien Ranger) and Tsuruhime (Ninja White) by Annie Mok
Annie did an amazing story, “This Witch’s Work,” in Vertigo’s “The Witching Hour” comic anthology. I’ve met her a couple of times at indie shows and have gotten a couple of sketches from her, so I decided to include her in this collection.
The Alien Rangers were introduced at the end of “Mighty Morphin'” as a team from the planet Aquitar. They were based off the “Kakuranger” Sentai series. These Rangers were asked to lend a hand when the Mighty Morphin’ team were turned into kids. Delphine, the White Ranger, was the first female leader in the franchise’s history.
I asked Annie to draw Delphine next to her Kakuranger counterpart Tsuruhime, who was also the leader of her team and is one of the most popular Sentai Rangers ever.
Tanya Sloan (Zeo Ranger II – Yellow) by Olivia Fields
I first saw Olivia’s artwork in the “Millennium Girls” Zine, an art zine dedicated to the gals of late 90s/turn of the century cartoons. She did a pin up of the Crust Cousins from “My Life As A Teenage Robot.”
Tanya replaced Aisha as the Yellow Ranger following the end of “Mighty Morphin'” when the Rangers were searching for the Zeo Crystals. I unfortunately am more familiar with Tanya as the Yellow Turbo Ranger than I am the Zeo Ranger, but I’ve always loved the Zeo costumes and I thought Tanya fit Olivia’s style.
Justin Stewart (Blue Turbo Ranger) by Jamie Kaye
My friend Andreas commissions Jamie a lot, but this was my first piece from her. I got the idea to get one of the Turbo Rangers based on the commission she did of Turbo from Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph.” I even got Jamie to include a shout out to the movie.
Justin was the youngest of the Rangers, a replacement to Blue Zeo Ranger Rocky after he was injured and thus unable to join the rest of the team. To my understanding, the concept of the character, a super smart tagalong kid type, was not rather popular, even though there wasn’t much problem with the execution. [Wing: That sounds about right; stories often struggle with the tagalong kid type and a lot of audiences are loathe to embrace them.] Tommy managed to hold his own with the team but did not join them as they fled into space.
Andros (Red Space Ranger) by Alex Graudins
This was a tricky because the artist I initially had in mind wasn’t sketching at the show. But when I saw Alex’s comic “Aro Acing It” I decided to commission her. I also identify somewhere under the asexual section of the spectrum and it’s something I’m still trying to figure out, so the comic spoke to me.
Andros was the first Ranger to appear in “Space” after the Turbo Rangers lost their Zords and were driven off Earth by the villain Divatox. At the time, Andros had been waging war on the intergalactic villains Dark Specter and Astronema. He stands out as being the first Ranger related to a villain, as it turned out Astronema was his long lost sister Karone! But I won’t spoil what he does at the end of “Space,” even though it’s the one thing everyone talks about.
Kendrix Morgan (Lost Galaxy Pink Ranger I) by Dan Parent
Dan’s one of the regular artists for “Archie Comics” and he contributed a cover to the Power Rangers art book I bought a few weeks ago so I decided to get a sketch from him at Flame Con for the collection.
Kendrix has the distinction of being the first Ranger to ever be killed off on the show. She sacrificed herself to stop the Pink Psycho Ranger during the Lost Galaxy crossover with the Space Rangers. The writers killed her off only because her actress, Valerie Vernon, had been diagnosed with leukemia.
The show’s writers scripted Kendrix’s death in a way they could feasibly bring her back if Valerie was able to return. In fact, Valerie remained in the opening credits even after she left so she could keep getting paychecks for her medical treatment. Thankfully Valerie’s illness went into remission, which meant she could be brought back to the show in time for the season finale.
My original plan was to get Kendrix alongside Maya, the Yellow Ranger, but I didn’t have the time or money to get a two-character sketch from Dan.
Carter Grayson (Lightspeed Red Ranger) by Roan
Oh shit, it’s Carter Freaking Grayson!
I had talked with Roan on twitter about getting a sketch from him but hadn’t picked a character. I was having trouble deciding on which Lightspeed Ranger to acquire and decided to go with Carter from Roan.
Lightspeed Rescue was essentially the Power Rangers as rescue heroes, utilizing man-made Zords built in the vein of emergency vehicles like fire trucks and ambulances. Carter is considered one of the most popular Red Rangers because he’s so badass. Unfortunately, I haven’t watched most of “Lightspeed Rescue,” but I’ve read he tried to sacrifice himself to keep the Big Bad from destroying Earth.
Trip (Time Force Green) by Sam Melendez
I’ve met and commissioned Sam twice, the first time at last year’s Flame Con.
Trip is the Green Time Force Ranger from the 30th Century alongside most of the other Rangers. He’s an alien and has dealt with persecution because of his race. What I remember best about him is he was integral in the redemption of one of the “Time Force” villains, Nadira. This led to the redemption of the Big Bad, her father Ransik. So in a way, Trip was indirectly responsible for turning the show’s main bad guy good.
White Wild Force Tiger Ranger/GaoWhite by Amy Reeder
Amy has been a con regular since way back in 2010. I always try to commission her whenever we’re both at a show and I own 20 different pieces from her. You won’t believe how excited I was to learn she’s now doing sketches in color.
Wild Force was the show that got me back into Power Rangers in middle school. It’s also the only one I’ve ever purchased toys for.
Queen Machina/Empress Hysteria by Wendy Xu
I made this a prerogative after Wendy told me she wouldn’t be at NYCC this year. This may be the only sketch I get from her this year.
Machina is queen of the Machine Empire and the happily married wife of King Mondo from “Power Rangers Zeo.” The two attempted to take over Earth, claiming the Solar System was the last link in the chain of galaxies they ruled.
Unfortunately, besides having a cool design Machina never did much aside from providing commentary on her husband’s schemes. Her Sentai counterpart had a more compelling storyline, but considering it ended with her committing suicide I can understand why it wasn’t adapted into “Zeo.”
This almost didn’t happen because I was having trouble finding suitable references. Thankfully Wendy managed perfectly with the design artwork I printed and the sketch turned out beautiful.
Divatox by Jorell Rivera
When I saw Jorell’s artwork on twitter, I knew he’d be perfect for Divatox. She was the Big Bad of “Power Rangers Turbo,” a space pirate captain. Her original plan was to unleash and marry the demon Maligore. [Wing: Well, based on this description and art, I love her already. SPACE. PIRATE. CAPTAIN.]
When the Rangers stopped the unholy union from happening, she tried to destroy them and take over Earth. Divatox was deliciously hammy and egotistical, but something of a joke villain. There was even an episode where she got amnesia and started working in a pizza parlor. Considering “Carranger,” “Turbo’s” Sentai counterpart, was a joke series, this shouldn’t be surprising.
However, Divatox surprised everyone during the finale. She destroyed the Command Center, captured the Zords, and forced most of the Rangers to flee into space.
Viva La Diva!
Kapri by Sina Grace
I first met Sina last year at the previous Flame Con. He’s the writer on Marvel’s “Iceman” series and has written “Burn The Orphanage” and “Penny Dora” for Image. He also wrote a story in the “Power Rangers 25th Anniversary Special” for Boom.
Kapri and her sister Marah were nieces (by marriage) of “Ninja Storm’s” Big Bad, Lothor. The two served as the standard comedic duo, the “Bulk and Skull” if you will. Although later episodes implied they weren’t as ditzy as they seemed…
I got this from Sina because Kapri has ice powers and thought it’d be a nice reference to his work with Iceman. I was expecting a quick sketch but I didn’t think he’d include color as well.
Bulk and Skull (Mighty Morphin’ Purple and Orange Rangers) by Holly Foltz
Holly is always fun to commission, and I got two separate pieces from her this year since I don’t know when we’ll see each other again.
Bulk and Skull are famous among PR supporting characters because their’s was the longest running character arc next to Tommy Oliver’s. The two started out in the very first season as the local assholes who liked to bully the main five cast.
Surprisingly the duo were popular with viewers and started receiving their own storylines. They were ardent fans of the Rangers, and in one episode they bravely stepped in and saved them when the Rangers had their memories stolen, even though Bulk and Skull lost their own memories of the encounter. They later went on to join the police academy, and the Rangers proudly attended their graduation.
The two were never Rangers in the show proper, but in the MMPR 2016 Annual they got the chance to shine. When Rita’s latest monster captured the team, Zordon turned Bulk and Skull into temporary Rangers using spare change-I MEAN, extremely rare power coins. Bulk got the “Baconadon” Zord and Skull got the “Featherdactyl.” Wing since you’re the dinosaur aficionado I have no idea if those names thrill you or make you scream.
Impressively, the two managed to beat Rita’s monster and free the Rangers ON PURPOSE, to the surprise of everyone except them. Unfortunately, they had their memories wiped again, but I love they used orange and purple for them.
Dream Rangers – Zeo Ranger VI Orange (Emily) by Soltian
Rangers fans like imagining characters who weren’t Rangers on the show to be, well, Rangers. Often they’ll utilize colors never featured in the cast, especially orange.
Emily was a supporting character in “Zeo.” I don’t know much about her, but someone on Tumblr proposed her as the Orange Zeo Ranger. They commented she was always wearing orange and only the Rangers consistently wear the same color every day. The commenter wondered if “Zeo” was trying to hint at something.
So I got Soltian, someone I’ve supported on Patreon for a while, to sketch Emily in her own Ranger uniform. Aside from the color, I specified the helmet should have a six-pointed star to emphasize she’s the sixth Ranger.
[Wing: My god, Power Rangers is complicated. I need someone to draw me some charts or something. But: awesome.]