On the surface, pairing the Justice League and the Power Rangers seems kind of silly. It is, but it’s also one the biggest surprises in comic books this year. For the last five issues, writer Tom Taylor has made combining these seemingly incongruous DC and BOOM! Studios properties look like the most natural thing in the world. This issue is no different.
If this your first introduction to Justice League/Power Rangers (and it absolutely shouldn’t be), then the series declares exactly what kind of book it is with the opening page. In a series of three wide, flat panels, we see a giant-sized version of the Rangers’ neurotic robot sidekick, Alpha, fighting a sharp-toothed worm monster. Each punch is punctuated with one syllable of Alpha’s famous exclamation, “ay yi yi.” It’s utterly silly, but it’s also kind of cool. The same is true of the series as a whole. Indeed, every time things get too heavy, Taylor has one of the characters (usually one of the Rangers) make a clever quip to neutralize the tension. Like the moment when Braniac says he’s a “twelfth-level intelligence” and Blue Ranger, Billy, suggests he made up the term.
The Justice League can be so gloomy and self-serious, but the Power Rangers are enjoyable precisely because of how unserious they are. These are teenagers after all. They haven’t been hardened by watching their parents die or been brought back to life dozens of times. That said, this issue and the series’ overall plot does lean a bit heavily on the Rangers. The whole series kicks off with Zed and Braniac teaming up to steal the Rangers home off their version of Earth, so they have more stakes in the plot than the League. This issue is possibly the most Rangers-centric yet and the League members do little more than punch stuff in the background throughout.
Still, the character dynamics work surprisingly well. It’s thrilling to watch Billy and Cyborg nerd out together or watch Kimberly use Green Arrow’s bow. And the epilogue where the Rangers and the League visit the former’s favorite post-world-saving juice bar is one of the series’ best. It’s the most delicious type of fan fiction and while it could feel like fan service, Taylor manages to make it fun and surprising. Admittedly, he lucked into the perfect artist for the task.
Stephen Byrne is relatively new to comics, but he made his name remixing beloved characters in unexpected ways (for the full story, check out his episode of “Meet Your Maker” or Google “Batman + pin-up”) and his style is right at home here. His lines are clean and his colors are bright, tending to favor solid primaries rather than shades. It gives the book a glossy, animated look that is just as responsible for keeping things light and fun as the sense of humor.
Though the ending, of course, leaves the potential for more, this is currently supposed to be the last issue of Justice League/Power Rangers. And if the story does end here, it would make sense. This paring is probably a little niche. However, odd as this team-up is, the result is one of the best series of the year.