Power Rangers: Soul Of The Dragon Review

Power Rangers: Soul Of The Dragon Review

Kyle Higgins ended his run on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers with an epic conclusion to the Shattered Grid event. While his run on MMPR ended it does not mean Higgins is done with the Power Rangers franchise. Recently Higgins and BOOM! Studios, with special consultation from Jason David Frank, released Power Rangers: Soul of the Dragon. This original trade paperback tells the story of the later years of Tommy Oliver’s life after being a Power Ranger and settling down with a family. This is something many fans have speculated about for a long time. Now that we will get the story of Tommy’s later years will it live up to expectations? Let’s find out with Power Rangers: Soul of the Dragon.

Writer: Kyle Higgins

Artist: Giuseppe Cafaro

Colorist: Marcelo Costa

Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: At Bridgeport Township High School, after his department was cut, Tommy Oliver attends a going away party with his wife Katherine Hillard-Oliver.

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The following day while driving Katherine to the airport for her work trip to Triforia (the home of the Gold Zeo Ranger) Tommy wonders if they did good work as Power Rangers. Katherine reminds Tommy how they saved the world countless times and helped the world advance at an incredible rate so he should enjoy some well deserved rest.

After Katherine leaves Tommy suddenly feels pain in his back.

While being checked out by some doctors about his cybernetic back implants we learn that sometime in the past Tommy was involved in a solo fight with a big monster. During the fight Tommy’s Master Morpher (a morpher that allows Tommy to morph into his MMPR Green & White, Red Zeo, Red Turbo and Black Dino Ranger forms) is damaged and he gets a severe back injury.

Sometime later Tommy contacts his son, JJ. As they catch up JJ apologizes for not attending his dad’s party because of his SPD (the interplanetary police force)  work keeping him busy. JJ’s ride to a concert arrives and he says he has to go.

After hanging up the phone Tommy stares at his morpher and an old picture of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers team.

Elsewhere JJ runs into a gang who quickly try to capture him. Though JJ is able to put up a fight a mysterious person catches him off guard with an explosion.

A few days later Anara (JJ’s SPD colleague) finds and tells Tommy that JJ has disappeared. She then reveals JJ recently quit the SPD and asks Tommy to reach out to a number of someone she thinks knows about JJ’s disappearance.

After talking to Katherine about this Tommy goes up to the SPD satellite headquarters above Earth to talk to Sky Tate (former SPD Blue Ranger and current SPD Commander). Sky reveals that he and the other SPD officers knew something was off with JJ so they decided to give him space, which is when he suddenly went off the grid the previous day. Sky assures Tommy that SPD is on JJ’s disappearance case.

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Tommy calls Katherine and says he is going to look for their son. Katherine backs Tommy up on what he wants to do.

While talking to Anara Tommy learns that JJ was working on a case where someone named “The Witch” kept popping up. She leads Tommy to a gangster bar. Tommy decides to go inside alone.

In the bar Tommy notices a suspicious group and brides the bartender to get their attention. When the group approaches Tommy they instantly attack him. Tommy morphs into his Black Dino Ranger form and is easily able to fight the group off. When the group runs off Tommy leaves from the back with Anara.

Anara is stunned that Tommy morphed. Tommy’s powers suddenly become unstable and he de-morphs. Anara takes a look at the Master Morpher and discovers that the coin inside it is being destroyed each time Tommy morphs due to the damage to the morpher. Tommy says he is already aware of this but will do anything to save his son. Anara tells Tommy that he will need her to save JJ as he can’t rely on just his Ranger powers.

Tommy and Anara then watch a gang running a demonstration of their new product. They are shocked to see JJ there. JJ uses the gang’s special crystal to morph into a version of the MMPR Green Ranger.

Tommy and Anara are suddenly caught by one of the gang members. Tommy morphs into his Red Turbo Ranger form and confronts JJ. During the fight JJ is able to blast Tommy in the face with a blast that destroys his helmet and knocks him unconscious.

A little later Anara is able to wake Tommy up just as the buildings in the area collapse on top of them.

Tommy is able to protect them both by powering back up. When they get out of the wreckage Tommy’s back implants stop working and he is forced to reveal details of his injury to Anara. While Anara helps him Tommy talks about his past and how he wants to help JJ not go down the wrong path. Anara says JJ may have felt Tommy’s shadow to be too great but they must focus on figuring out what the crystal JJ used is.

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Tommy goes to the apartment of Finster. After catching up Tommy asks Finster about the green crystal. Finster is able to detect some magic behind the crystal and tracks its point of origin to Pasten’s Tower. Tommy mentions the person responsible is going by “The Witch,” maybe meaning Rita Repulsa is back. Finster gives Tommy a special weapon to battle the dark magic behind the crystal.

Near the tower Tommy morphs into his Red Zeo Ranger form and takes on the guards in the area while Anara tracks down JJ.

Anara is able to find JJ, who reveals to her that he is undercover. Tommy catches up to them and finds this out as well. JJ reveals he has been in deep cover to discover what is going on with the power crystals that have appeared.

As Tommy and JJ argue about the secrets “The Witch” suddenly appears. The Witch is revealed to be Scorpina. Tommy, Anara and JJ try to fight Scorpina but she easily overpowers them. Scorpina throws Tommy and Anara off a building and teleports away with JJ as her prisoner.

After recovering Tommy tells Anara he needs to go back to see if Finster knows anything else that could help them.

When they get back to the apartment they find Finster’s dead body. While looking around Tommy discovers a statue in the form of Finster. Finster’s final creation talks to Tommy about how Finster discovered the crystals come from Lokar. It goes on to reveal that Lokar requested the son of Tommy Oliver as a sacrifice from Scorpina in exchange for great power. The statue gives Tommy Finster’s final apology and says Tommy has always risen above the odds. It then crumbles into dust.

Tommy blames himself for how bad he made things turn out. Anara tells Tommy to focus on the now so they can save JJ. Tommy suddenly realizes something when looking at his phone.

Elsewhere Scorpina prepares to sacrifice JJ to Lokar. As she makes her preparations Scorpina reveals when she tried to steal one of Rita’s spell books Rita banished Scorpina to the Talos Dimension. She goes on to state that after Zordon’s Wave wiped out Lord Zedd, Rita and Lokar’s other allies she struck a deal with Lokar to return. Lokar returned Scorpina several decades into the future, gave her dark crystal with similar powers to the Power Rangers and tribute Tommy’s son to him.

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As Scorpina is about to begin the ritual Tommy, as the White Ranger, appears with Katherine, Blue Senturion and SPD Power Rangers as back-up. JJ reveals that he activated his tracker so the SPD could find him.

Tommy and his allies are able to able to Scorpina and her allies. As a last resort Scorpina uses the dark power crystals to take on a new form and grow in size. She immediately knocks Tommy away, causing his back injury to paralyze him again.

Noticing that Scorpina grabbed JJ, Tommy throws his Master Morpher to JJ. JJ is able to catch it and uses it to morph into the Mighty Morphin Green Power Ranger. With his new power JJ is able to help turn the tide of the fight for his allies.

Eventually Lokar appears and states that Scorpina has failed. Lokar then forces Scorpina and her allies to return to the Talos Dimension.

As Scorpina’s remaining allies are arrested Anara compliments JJ on being a natural with the Dragonzord power coin. Tommy, Katherine, JJ and Anara hug.

A few weeks later at the docks Tommy and Katherine tell JJ and Anara they’ve decided to leave and figure out what is next. Tommy states that he feels he is officially done being a Ranger and knows that the future is in good hands now. While Katherine and JJ promise to stay in touch Tommy thanks Anara for all the help she provided.

After Tommy and Katherine leave on their boat JJ and Anara get a message saying they are needed off planet. JJ morphs into the SPD Green Dragon Ranger. End of story.

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The Good: Power Rangers: Soul of the Dragon does a good job of being a concluding chapter to Tommy Oliver’s story. As the most iconic Power Ranger, Tommy Oliver’s later life has always been of great interest. Understanding that, Kyle Higgins is able to wrap up Tommy’s story in a way that combines his Mighty Morphin Power Rangers run with the continuity of the TV show.

First off, Power Rangers: Soul of the Dragon did a great job paying homage to all of the Power Ranger continuity. Things like the Master Morpher are a new element introduced in the recent Dimension In Danger crossover, gave Higgins the opportunity to see Tommy Oliver take on his various Power Ranger forms. Higgins did a great job showcasing the different abilities of each of his Ranger forms.

At the same time, Higgins was able to use the time period to his advantage as the SPD police force has been long since established at this point. In using the SPD concept Higgins was able to show how far Earth has come since the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers appeared. Seeing the world has now advance to the point of space travel and interacting with aliens are the norm  was great. It allowed Higgins to explore use this as a way to set up how while things have advance it does not mean everything is better as crime is still happening around the world.

For as much fanservice as Power Rangers: Soul of the Dragon does the major thing that this series explores is can Tommy actually ever retire. Much like Bruce Wayne and Batman, Tommy is someone that you can’t imagine not being a Power Ranger. But like Bruce, Tommy is human and he does age so the question is how long can he actually still be a Power Ranger.

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Higgins does a great job exploring this throughout Power Rangers: Soul of the Dragon. Where we find Tommy is at a time at his life where everything is pointing to him to final enjoy retirement. But with how often Tommy has returned to the life of a Power Ranger that was easier said than done for him.

Using how often Tommy has had to return to being a Power Ranger over the years was a smart way to show that it is a tough thing for him to give up. Tommy does feel like the weight of the world is on his shoulders. This weight made his interaction with his wife, Katherine, showed exactly how tough it is to give up on that life. Even with how much the Power Rangers helped change things there is always that itch to never stop.

That made Katherine be positioned in a much better way. As someone that fought alongside Tommy for years as a Power Ranger she understands where her husband is coming from. That understanding made her be able to be Tommy’s constant throughout Power Rangers: Soul of the Dragon. Everything she said came from an honest place as she never tried to sugar coat things for Tommy. Instead, she knew exactly what to say. Whether it was reassuring the good work they’ve done as Power Rangers to supporting Tommy’s efforts to save their son, Katherine was the supportive person Tommy needed. In doing so Higgins was able to get the reader behind this relationship even if you are a shipper of Tommy and Kimberly.

Adding to that struggle was Higgins revealing that Tommy suffered a career ending back injury years ago. The flashback to how Tommy suffered that injury during a fight with a giant alien was a good way to establish that his age was already catching up to him. But even with time and his body telling him to retire Tommy can’t give up. His sense of adventure and desire to save the world is to great.

Which brings us to what happened with his and Katherine’s son, JJ Oliver, a much bigger deal. With everyone telling him to finally enjoy the fruits of his labor, JJ’s kidnapping was Tommy’s chance to be a Power Ranger again. While much of Tommy’s drive was to save the life of his son the headstrong way he went about getting information that would lead him to JJ felt like a man who wanted to relive his glory days.

This provided Tommy and Anara, JJ’s SPD friend, to have a unique dynamic. As someone that lived with knowing the legend of Tommy Oliver she knew he what his status is in the world. At the same time she wasn’t a slave to that legend. Seeing how Anara continuously stood up to Tommy and called him out for his rash use of the damaged Master Morpher was a good way to develop her character. This allowed Anara not to be painted just as Tommy’s sidekick or JJ’s friend. She was her own character that was not going to stand aside.

JJ Oliver was also well developed as someone who was doing what he could to escape the large shadow of his father. It is something that makes JJ a relatable character because we all know how Tommy is a legendary Power Ranger. JJ doing things solo is understandable since he wants to have the same or more credibility than his father. Even if it meant going on dangerous missions that is something he wanted to take on.

This led to some great interactions between JJ, Tommy and Katherine. The tension between JJ and Tommy in particular was understandable given everything we know and learned. This created a much greater payoff to when Tommy finally passed down his morpher to his son. The moment that JJ became the Green Dragon Ranger felt like a major moment.

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At the same time, Higgins showed how JJ and Katherine’s relationship had a very different standing. Even though there wasn’t much interaction between the two there was enough to show how much they cared for each other.

Bringing in Scorpina as the big bad of Power Rangers: Soul of the Dragon was a fantastic choice. This perfectly used the fact that Scorpina disappeared from the show without explanation. Higgins did a great job explaining why Scorpina disappeared without a trace. This explanation provided a seamless way to bring her back that used previously established elements in the Power Rangers mythos.

Scorpina being the final villain also gave a full circle feeling to this story since she played a major role as antagonist towards Tommy in Higgins’ Mighty Morphin Power Rangers run. As soon as she appeared on screen you already knew what her motivations in targeting Tommy and JJ were. This was as much personal as it was a power grab for Scorpina.

That all led to a great battle that, as previously mentioned, gave Tommy the opportunity to finally pass down the torch to his son. While Tommy could’ve continued fighting his long time nemesis this wasn’t his fight to win. It was JJ’s time to be the big hero. And the fact it was Scorpina that they defeated made things much sweeter as it called back to the MMPR era.

Through all of that Higgins also did a good job giving moments to other characters like Finster. While it is questionable how Finster is still around after Zordon’s Wave Higgins used the strong interaction between Finster and Tommy to not have the reader focus on that major question. The interaction felt like another payoff that goes back to Tommy’s origin as a Power Ranger. It also gave depth to a character like Finster who was used as nothing more than a minion that Rita Repulsa yelled at.

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Giuseppe Cafaro did a great job providing Power Rangers: Soul of the Dragon consistent artwork throughout the story. His artwork was a good continuation of the style established in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comic. Cafaro had a very anime style that fits with the Power Rangers origin being from Super Sentai in Japan. He made all the action very dynamic that showed how powerful Tommy is as a Power Ranger. At the same time, he was able to bring out the emotion of the journey all of the characters went on as they struggled through many events.

The Bad: As great as the Power Rangers: Soul of the Dragons was there was a few things missing that kept it from being perfect. The one major hole in this story was the absence of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The only presence Jason, Zack, Kimberly, Billy or Trini had was in the picture that Tommy had of them all together. Even though it told the story of how much Tommy misses those days it was just a reminder there wasn’t a payoff in that part of Tommy’s story.

Given how important the original Power Rangers are it felt like there was a major missed opportunity. Even if this was supposed to be a self-contained story about Tommy’s family it would have made the story better if we learned that Tommy tried to reconnect with his old friends again. Higgins sort of teased the fact that there was some distance between them but never paid it off. Even if it was an after-credits type scene of Tommy grabbing a beer with Jason it would have made the story feel like it was coming full circle with Tommy’s retirement.

And as mentioned earlier, it was odd that Finster’s presence in the present went unexplained. Even the dialogue from Finster seemed to indicate he didn’t become a good person until after the Zordon Wave that destroyed all the villain of that time. And from everything we saw in the comics and in the show Finster was a villain so he should have always disappeared along with Goldar and the others. Not explaining that properly was a major plot hole that could annoy hardcore fans.

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On the art side of things, there were a few parts were  Cafaro’s artwork looked rushed. This was particularly noticeable when Tommy was fighting as the Red Zeo Ranger. The action felt flatter with not as much detail in the Zeo helmet as there was with Tommy’s other forms. There were also certain panels that lacked the detail in character faces that were more apparent in the majority of the issue.

Overall: Power Rangers: Soul of the Dragon is a great look at what life is like for Tommy Oliver in the future. Kyle Higgins very much told a story that was reminiscent of Old Man Logan within the established Power Rangers continuity using Tommy in the Wolverine role. It all played in well with the dynamic Higgins created for the Oliver family as Tommy learned that it it may finally be time to enjoy his life as a retired Power Ranger after all the good he did for the world.