Fans of Power Rangers are understandably already impatient for the inevitable sequel, which is still a couple of years away from release. Luckily, there are comics to help cope with the long wait.Published by BOOM! Studios, Saban's Power Rangers: Aftershock is an official follow up to the hit film, set in the movie's universe. Written by Ryan Parrott and drawn by Lucas Werneck and Robert Carey, Aftershock picks up where the movie left off and delves a bit deeper into how the people of Angel Grove are coping with the new reality of the Power Rangers among them, as well as how the Rangers continue to adjust to their newfound powers and responsibilities.
Set several weeks after the Rangers made their public debut by defeating Rita Repulsa and destroying the giant Goldar monster, Aftershock reveals that Angel Grove has become a federal disaster area. In their battle, Goldar and the Megazord laid waste to a large portion of Angel Grove. This incident has been labeled "The Encounter," and as a result nearly a thousand people were left homeless and are living in tents in Angel Grove Central Park. Angel Grove Police Chief Colton is overwhelmed by trying to manage emergency relief ("This used to be a fishing town") in the wake of giant robots and monsters now making their home in Angel Grove. The Rangers themselves continue to fight Putties, which are manifesting from the leftover residue of Goldar, and face a couple of new and unexpected threats.
Let's break down the events in Power Rangers: Aftershock.
DOES THE GREEN RANGER APPEAR?
The number one reason a fan of the movie would pick up Power Rangers: Aftershock is most likely to find out if Tommy Oliver appears. Unfortunately, there's no mention of the mysterious Tommy Oliver in the comic. While disappointing, it's not unexpected: either the plans for Tommy, the future Green Ranger, were not yet cemented at the time Aftershock was being produced (likely because of the uncertainty of Power Rangers becoming a hit at the box office), or Saban's plans for the Green Ranger are a closely guarded secret, which is understandable. However, not even a hint of Tommy Oliver is a letdown. Jason, Billy, and Kimberly's Saturday detention appointments aren't even mentioned, to avoid the Tommy Oliver issue altogether.
Rita Repulsa's fate remains the same as it was when Power Rangers concluded: she is still floating out in space, presumed dead or, at least, no longer a threat. Zordon, however, still blames himself for all the havoc Rita has caused. As Zordon worries about the mental and physical well-being of the Rangers, he tells Alpha-5, "A long time ago, I missed something fundamentally flawed inside a Ranger and paid the price for it. I will not make the same mistake twice."
BUILDING BETTER POWER RANGERS
In the weeks since "The Encounter," the Power Rangers have been busily performing "mop-up duty." Putties continue to infest Angel Grove, for reasons we'll describe below, and the Rangers have honing their abilities dealing with Putties while still balancing high school and their own personal issues and insecurities. The main focus of Aftershock are Jason and Zack, with Kimberly, Trini, and Billy providing support and some comic relief.
As the team leader, Jason is plagued by self-doubt. Even after their success in defeating Rita and destroying Goldar, Jason questions his fitness to lead. His issues are exacerbated by Trini, who acts insubordinate, but is really just prodding Jason by challenging his authority because that's how she was raised by her family. Jason constantly questions his own leadership skills and even raises the issue to Zordon, who tells him he's been relying more on luck than skill since beating Goldar and that he needs to work harder at being a leader. Jason ultimately confesses to the team that he's scared every time they fight as the Rangers that he'll make a mistake and someone will die because of it. When it's crunch time, however, Trini is the one who backs Jason fully and encourages him to take command as they form the Megazord once more.
The movie teased a possible romance between Jason and Kimberly, although a moment when they kissed was left on the editing room floor due to poor test screening reactions. Aftershock follows suit, with Jason and Kimberly again beginning to explore the attraction between them only to have Rangers duty curtail any romance.
Zack is also plagued with self-doubt, in a different way from Jason. Zack is the Ranger most full of bravado, but when trying to rescue a family in a van being attacked by Putties, Zack loses focus, bungles the rescue, and nearly gets the father killed. Luckily, Kimberly swoops in with the timely save. Zack beats himself up over his mistake, but Billy has his fellow Ranger's back with an encouraging pep talk.
Billy shines brightly in Aftershock, as he does in the movie. Not only does he have the funniest lines, his quick thinking saves the Rangers' lives on more than one occasion, and he comes out with the science-based battle plan to ultimately incapacitate the new enemies they face.
When the Rangers destroyed Goldar the giant monster, they didn't realize he could continue to be a menace to Angel Grove. The residue Goldar left behind - "Goldar dust" - seeped into the ground and began birthing stronger and more dangerous Putty monsters. The Rangers have spent weeks since "The Encounter" fighting and destroying Putties. Luckily, the power of the Goldar dust is beginning to weaken over time and the Putties are becoming less of a threat for the Rangers during Aftershock.
Goldar dust, however, also proves to be dangerous to human beings. The dust infects two teenage siblings, Jacob and Aubrey Hogan. Orphans who lost their father in the same mining accident where Billy's father lost his life, Jacob and Aubrey were homeless and resentful of Angel Grove. Goldar dust infects Jacob and transforms him into a half-Putty/half-human monster imbued with Goldar's memories of fighting the Power Rangers. Jacob and Aubrey then find a Putty buried in the ground that infects and transforms Aubrey into a Putty as well. Together, they use their combined powers to grow themselves into a new giant monster assembled from the parts of the sawmill they were using as a shelter.
As a giant Putty monster with Goldar's power, Jacob and Aubrey are strong enough to overcome the Rangers and their Zords, but the Rangers are able to destroy the Monster with the Megazord. Billy then comes up with a successful plan to use "electro-crystalization to phase shift the Goldar liquid into a solid state," essentially turning Aubrey and Jacob into statues.
WHAT IS THE APEX?
A new threat to the Power Rangers is introduced: the Apex, a government organization specializing in "dark web stuff," according to Billy. Led by Melanie Sheer, the Apex arrived in Angel Grove posing as an organization called Samaritan Relief to help out the displaced refugees of Angel Grove. Sheer and her people are actually in town to secretly collect information on the Power Rangers, Goldar and the Putties. Their plan is to give the government some measure of control and oversight over the Power Rangers and the new alien menaces threatening the planet. Aftershock concludes with Sheer introducing the Apex to the Power Rangers at gunpoint and announcing they'd be watching the Rangers' activities from now on. It's also revealed the Apex gained possession of Aubrey and Jacob Hogan.
It'll be interesting to see if the Apex and the added threat of the US Government interfering with the Power Rangers carries over into the sequel. The Apex adds an intriguing new dimension; a human menace for the Rangers to deal with along with whatever new alien threat arises, as well as the promised appearance of the Green Ranger.
Though devoid of any further developments regarding the Green Ranger and a bit of a derivative adventure, Power Rangers: Aftershock is an engaging continuation of the Power Rangers story. Aftershock hits the spot for fans looking for more of the action and characters as they were depicted in the movie. Artists Lucas Werneck and Robert Carey don't model the Rangers after the actors' likenesses (Zordon looks the closest to resembling Bryan Cranston), but Ryan Parrott ably captures the voices of the characters, especially Billy's smarts and wit. Overall, Aftershock is a solid follow up to the film to help tide over the wait for Power Rangers 2.