Justice League/Power Rangers TPB (Issues #1-6)
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Stephen Byrne
Letterer: Deron Bennett
Publisher(s): DC Comics & Boom! Studios
Review by Evan Maroun
If a time traveler had told my 9-year old self that the Justice League and the Power Rangers would someday meet in any form, my mind would’ve exploded out of sheer unadulterated excitement. This was the type of crossover only once thought of amongst friends on the playground. Now it’s 2017, and Batman has met the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on more than one occasion, and the big hitters of DC have also gotten acquainted with the Looney Toons.
In other words, while a lot of other things have gone to sh*t this year, at the very least, it’s a great time to be a nerd.
We open the story with a flash forward. Defeated emotionally, Zack, The Black Ranger, is talking to Superman. We soon understand why. Angel Grove is now a crater in the Earth. Back to the present. One of the Rangers villains, Lord Zedd, takes them by surprise. This is where the fun begins.
One thing I noticed even before starting Justice League/Power Rangers was that it wasn’t titled Justice League versus The Power Rangers. Which gave me a lot of initial hope. When we get these type of crossovers, across most media, the beats are usually pretty predictable. Both sides are going to meet, come in conflict with each other, and then realize they have to team up to defeat a bigger threat. Ta-da, we’re friends now! *high-five* EVERY. TIME. Justice League/Power Rangers is a perpetrator of this, however, it does this in a way that for the most part, feels unintrusive to the overall story. Rather than spend half the book (or more sometimes) fighting amongst themselves, Taylor gets most of those usual beats out of the way in the first issue, which feels refreshing.
In terms of story beats, the plot isn’t super original. To his credit, Tom Taylor is able to pull a lot of staples from the two universes and find ways to effectively play them into the story. The Rangers are the real stars here, and not just because a lot of the action is given to them, but because they feel like the heart of the book. One particularly memorable moment has the Rangers getting temporary suits for a reason I will not disclose– but suits that will be familiar to fans of the DCU. As you may imagine, scenario’s like these are apt for comedy, so when these two worlds collide, you get a lot of light-hearted moments throughout.
Unfortunately, the writing isn’t always hitting the highs it could be. Among all the action, sometimes the characters lose their unique voice. Characters like Trini (the Yellow Ranger) feel underutilized, while events surrounding Cyborg make sense from a story perspective, he feels more like a device than a useful or realized member of the team here. I would’ve liked to see more character-defining scenes throughout as it would’ve really pushed the book up a notch.
Without some bombastic art to match it’s writing, this miniseries would’ve fallen flat. Fortunately, Stephen Byrne comes through with the goods. Lively layouts capture crisp portrayals of both sides while maintaining a consistent and universal look for the heroes. Smart panel placements allow for clear action setpieces. Byrne also did the coloring on the book with a wonderful confetti palette fitting for the meeting of these two iconic teams. I was reading this book in the lobby of a hotel and a young boy stopped in his tracks to appreciate a flashy neon double splash page. If that’s any indication of its effectiveness, I think he more than does it justice.
If I had any gripes with the art, it would be that occasionally the shadows fall into murky territory, but that just seems like nitpicking.
Buy it! Tom Taylor and Stephen Byrne bring us a collision of color and spectacle that reminds you of the carefree days of running downstairs to catch your favorite Saturday morning cartoons. Justice League/Power Rangers doesn’t break any new ground as far as crossover stories go. However, it certainly provides enough fun through its clever character interactions and fast pacing to warrant checking out, especially if you’re a fan of these two beloved franchises.