All is not well for the city of Angel Grove, California’s resident champions, the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. None of the teens regret taking on the power and defending their home from the machinations of malignant space sorceress Rita Repulsa, but keeping a balance between their duties and their lives isn’t easy. And to make matters worse, one of them is missing. Tommy Oliver, the Green Ranger (and one-time mind-controlled servant of Rita), is in the wind. The Rangers don’t know where he is or why he’s gone.
Meanwhile, New York City’s shadowy terrapin guardians, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, are facing challenges of their own. The sinister Foot Clan has suddenly acquired the services of an unexpectedly skilled ninja – someone who’s able to match the Turtles’ Raphael blow for blow. And, unbeknownst to the Turtles, the Foot’s master Shredder has hatched a cunning scheme to augment his mastery of the ninja arts with a certain set of superpowers.
Heroes will clash and bond. Villains will scheme and strike. A giant robotic turtle will battle to save Central Park from perennial TMNT goons Bebop and Rocksteady after they’ve been grown to giant size by Rita’s space magic. The pros and cons of putting jellybeans on pizza will be fiercely debated.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a very, very fun comic. Writer Ryan Parrott bounces the Rangers, the Turtles, and their respective villains off of each other quite well. In particular, he leans into the heroes’ shared youth. Unlike the Rangers’ meeting with the Justice League or the Turtles’ adventures with Batman, the Rangers and the Turtles team up pits two teams of the same age group together.
Seeing the kids bond during both action sequences and downtime is delightful. Parrott builds splendid camaraderie between the two groups of heroes by using their shared passion for justice and their empathy for the stranger parts of each other’s lives as a foundation. He then contrasts the heroes’ warmth with the contempt that defines Rita and Shredder’s uneasy alliance. Where the Rangers and the Turtles quickly have each other’s backs, the nefarious sorceress and the wicked ninja master blatantly relish the prospect of killing each other.
Simone Di Meo (We Only Find Them When They’re Dead)’s illustrations are as critical to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles‘ success as Parrott’s words. While their specific styles differ, both Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles built their action on martial arts. Di Meo uses that to his advantage. Consider the Rangers and the Turtles’ introduction scenes, as they’re presented in this black and white edition:
While the scenes mirror each other when it comes to the poses of the heroes and the relative scale of their battles, Di Meo skillfully breaks down the differences between the Rangers and the Turtles. The Rangers are flat-out superhuman, battling Rita’s Putty soldiers across the whole of Angel Grove. Their fights shake the city. The Ninja Turtles, while being, y’know, teenage mutant ninja turtles, are operating on a subtler scale. They duel with the Foot Clan on the rooftops of New York.
Make no mistake, it’s a fight between warriors who are operating at the peak of human strength and skill – but in terms of public visibility and raw power, it’s not close to the scale on which the Rangers operate.
To get specific, take a look at the jumps. The Rangers own the sky in their introduction, soaring above the Putty Patrollers. The Turtles are leaping into action in their intro, but their leaps are more grounded (sorry). It’s a neat bit of visual storytelling on Di Meo’s part. He introduces both teams in a way that simultaneously highlights their similarities and differences. His storytelling remains strong throughout the book, especially during the action scenes.
And that’s where this Black and White Edition comes into play. By removing Walter Baiamonte (Seven Secrets) and Igor Monti (Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers)’s colors, this edition of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles calls specific attention to Di Meo’s work while simultaneously paying homage to the Ninja Turtles’ comic book origins.
Presented in monochrome, Di Meo’s linework is particularly striking. Check out the body language on this page:
Raphael’s sulk remains in his shoulders even as he retreats into his usual surliness. Donatello’s thoughtfulness mixes with snark and comes out in a slight smirk and his pondering posture. In black and white, Di Meo’s expression work gets to sing.
As a vessel for celebrating Di Meo’s craft and the process of comics-making, the black and white edition is a smashing success. As a standalone comic though, I’d opt for the original edition if I wanted to get a Power Rangers or Ninja Turtles fan into comics. Aside from the fact that Baiamonte and Monti’s color work is quite good, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was not intended to be a black and white comic. There are places (mainly the parts of the comic set in dark spaces and a few battle scenes) where the clarity and definition color brings are sorely missed.
For folks who loved Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the first time around and want to dig into its layers and folks who’re interested in delving into the processes of comics craft, the black and white edition is an easy recommendation. For everyone else, I’d recommend starting with the original edition.
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