Like just about every other 8-year-old boy, Kyle Higgins was a fan of “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” when it debuted in the early 1990s.
Now a 32-year-old man, Higgins — a guest at this year’s Lexington Comic and Toy Convention — is the lead writer for BOOM! Studios’ “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” comic book series, a title about to kick off its third year of publication with its first major “event,” subtitled “Shattered Grid.”
The upcoming arc is centered around an evil alternate-reality version of a popular character, Tommy Oliver (whose actor, Jason David Frank, will also be at LexCon this weekend), and a plan that threatens the existence of every Power Ranger in the franchise’s 25-year history. It’s the kind of story that attracted Higgins to working on the book, and the kind of story that the television show would have a difficult, if not impossible time telling.
“I have approached the book from the standpoint of ‘Let’s use the monthly comics medium to our advantage,”’ Higgins said. “We can do things that the show is not able to do because of budget limitations, because of pre-exisiting footage limitations, because of format limitations. We don’t have any of those limitations.”
“Power Rangers,” which debuted in the U.S. in August 1993, blends footage from the Japanese series “Super Sentai” with new footage using American actors to create an original show for audiences outside Japan. The formula has worked for a long time — the franchise will spend this whole year celebrating its 25th anniversary — but ventures like Higgins’ comic and its recently-launched companion series, “Go Go Power Rangers,” help further engage long-time fans of the brand.
It was older fans that Higgins met at comic book conventions over the years who helped him rediscover his enthusiasm for “Power Rangers” about a half-decade ago. The Illinois native worked on various D.C. Comics properties — “Batman,” “Batman Beyond,” and “Nightwing” — before taking on “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.” He and Bryce Carlson, a friend who works for BOOM!, discussed what a series could potentially look like a few years before the company announced its acquisition of the Power Rangers license.
“So I emailed him and said, ‘Who did I have to kill to write a pitch or a backup story or something?,’” Higgins said with a laugh. “Then he said, ‘Actually we’re still looking for a main writer for the series and your name has come up. Do you want to pitch on it?’ And I said, ‘Sure!’”
Higgins wasn’t interested in pitching an origin story. BOOM! and Saban Brands, owner of the Power Rangers’ brand, loved his pitch.
“That’s why we started the series where we did, with the addition of Tommy to the team,” Higgins said. In the show, Tommy, the Green Power Ranger, is brainwashed and deployed by the show’s villains as the first evil Power Ranger.
“Power Rangers has always been about the strength of friendship and teamwork so I was interested in exploring those concepts of friendship and teamwork through the lens of a new member joining the group,” Higgins said. “In the show, when he joins the team, he’s like a full-fledged member the next episode. I was more interested in looking at the emotional and psychological ramifications of being brainwashed to be an agent of evil and getting these powers against your will, and then trying to redeem yourself for actions that you weren’t even necessarily responsible for. There’s a lot of really interesting stuff to mine there.”
Higgins’ time at D.C. helped prepare him for navigating decades of established canon for beloved properties; he was there during “The New 52” era, when the company was re-inventing some characters’ histories while leaving others intact.
He and other creators working on Power Rangers have a lot of freedom, but BOOM! Studios and Saban Brands engage during the creative process to assure that the books fit within the show’s established continuity and mesh with its core principles.
“We are in canon,” Higgins said. “I am not interested or concerned with writing stories that fill in the blanks between episodes. That’s not the reason that I was excited to write the book. … The way I kind of describe it is, ‘We’re not a reboot, we’re a remix.’ So we are telling stories that, if you squint, it all fits.”
The “Shattered Grid” event kicks off with the 25th issue, set for release on March 21. Below are variant covers available for the book.
If you go
Lexington Comic & Toy
When: 1-9 p.m. March 9, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. March 10, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. March 11
Where: Lexington Convention Center, 430 W. Vine St.
Tickets: $40 Friday only, $60 Saturday and Sunday, $45 Saturday only, $30 Sunday only. Photo ops and autographs often cost more. See website for more information.