Over 28 years ago, the first episode of the American adaptation of Super Sentai aired on television under the title Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. With that, the Power Rangers franchise began and quickly soared to new heights while ushering in a new, vibrant universe full of colorful possibilities and diverse characters. Among these characters is the enigmatic Phantom Ranger, whose identity and origin remain a mystery even after 24 years since his first appearance. Recently, BOOM! Studio's Power Rangers Unlimited: Edge of Darkness marked the first full appearance of the massively popular Ranger. Power Rangers Universe #1 looks to answer several questions around Phantom Ranger's identity.
Spearheaded by writer Nicole Andelfinger and artist Simone Ragazzoni, Power Rangers Universe #1 takes place in the Frontier Lab on Planet 0117 of A47 Galaxy. The Morphinaut and his assistant Chendil attempt to open a dimensional portal to the Morphin Grid. But when the Morphinaut meets a sinister being on the other side, he closes the portal on himself to stop the spread of evil. 584 years later, the planet is going through an emergency evacuation for reasons unknown. The Squadron Rangers are out on a quest for the truth.
Power Rangers Universe #1 stretches beyond time and space to uncover hidden secrets of the Morphin Grid and its users -- both past and present ones. Writer Nicole Andelfinger is well versed in expanding the horizons of already established media through comic books. Andelfinger previously collaborated with BOOM! Studios on their Adventure Time and Stephen Universe series. The issue is a bit heavy on exposition. It starts abruptly with Andelfinger keeping the plotlines vague to prevent spoiling the story's climax. But in doing so, the narrative feels disconnected and at times rushed. However, the tale is multi-layered and has enough comedy, drama, and suspense to make it a fun read.
Artist Simone Ragazzoni lends manga-style graphics to the book, giving the story an electrifying feel. Ragazzoni previously lent his skills to several Power Rangers storylines such as Power Rangers: Drakkon New Dawn and Power Rangers Unlimited: Heir to Darkness. This has helped him ease into Power Rangers Universe with stylized pencil work and arresting facial expressions. His artwork flows ornately with the book's adventures. Colorist Mattia Iacono uses a bright array of colors to light up the panels. Although the outlines of the characters blend with the background in certain situations where a particular color saturates the pages, the comic's lighting and diverse shades make the world lively.
Power Rangers Universe #1 gets off to a promising start with a gripping cliffhanger that throws the story's soon-to-be heroes on a challenging journey. BOOM! Studios' expansion of the Power Rangers has added a wealth of history to the franchise. This new series looks to follow the same path, answering questions that Power Rangers fans have been asking for decades. However, its debut story is disjointed. Power Rangers Universe #1 continues the battle against evil in a new setting as past and present collide.
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