The Omega Rangers and Lord Drakkon story in the Unlimited Power Era has involved the cosmic part of the franchise that we didn’t see explored until Power Rangers In Space. One of the biggest developments in exploring the cosmic side of the Power Rangers franchise was the emergence of Karone when she first became Astronema. Now with the character debuting in the comic books BOOM! Studios is jumping on the chance to tell Karone’s origin story to show us how she became Astronema with Power Rangers Unlimited: Heir To Darkness one-shot. How will this one-shot expand on what we know about Karone as Astronema during Power Rangers In Space? Let’s find out with Power Rangers Unlimited: Heir To Darkness.
Writer: L.L. McKinney
Artist: Simone Ragazzoni
Colorists: Igor Monti and Sabrina Del Grosso
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: On an unknown planet Karone kills the Red, Blue, and Yellow Prism Rangers (also known as Choushinsei Flashman, the 1986 Super Sentai team that predate the Zyuranger/Mighty Morphin Power Rangers). The Green Prism Ranger tries to escape but is blasted from behind by Karone immediately.
The Pink Prism Ranger tries to attack from behind but Karone quickly takes her down. This lets the injured Green Prism Ranger escape without being notices. Karone demands to know where Zordon is. When she doesn’t get an answer Karone kills the Pink Prism Ranger.
Karone teleports back to her ship and is told by one of her robot attendants that Ecliptor left a message for her. Karone thinks how unacceptable it is that she let the Green Prism Ranger escape.
She then thinks back to her childhood training with other kids under Ecliptor’s tutelage. The young Karone struggles in sparring session against Ecliptor but is able to block one attack. Ecliptor breaks Karone’s staff to teach her a lesson to not drop her guard or die.
One of the kids, Dee (Divatox, the main villain of Power Rangers Turbo), laughs at Karone while Mal (who could possibly be Maligore, villain from the Power Rangers Turbo Movie) calls out her defenses. Ecliptor reminds the kids to always be mindful of their defenses and then calls Dee for training.
In the present Karone contacts Ecliptor. Ecliptor calls Karone out for getting easily distracted when taking her time in battle. He then says he awaits her return.
Later, on Crucius, capital of the planet Mortane, Ecliptor asks Karone how many Rangers she killed. Karone lies by saying five. Ecliptor then reminds Karone that the final fight has come down to her and Dee even though Karone has lost their last six matches. Karone tries to say that her fights with Dee have always been ties but Ecliptor says a tie is always seen as a loss to Dark Specter.
Back in the past, after winning their respective fights, a tournament comes down to Karone and Dee. They fight evenly until Dee is able to distract Karone by saying her opponent’s family is dead. This gives Dee the opening to defeat Karone.
In the audience Darkonda calls Ecliptor out over how poorly Karone performed. Ecliptor says he never lost a student to the furnace and does not plan for that to change.
In the locker Dee gloats about her win with Mal and another student. She mentions how Darkonda wants to talk to her about a special assignment. Overhearing all this Karone leaves the locker room.
Elsewhere Ecliptor speaks with Dark Specter. Dark Specter has heard about Ecliptor’s apprentice’s loss from Darkonda and says he will not accept constant disappointment as he is only looking for strong weapons. Ecliptor says he understands.
Afterwards both Ecliptor and Karone are showing saying “I won’t fail.”
Later, Karone continues to struggle in her training. Ecliptor says that Karone’s struggles come from how clouded her mind is and it is causing her to not be able to properly use her anger as fuel. Karone asks what the point is of all this training. Ecliptor says that her parents would want her to serve the Empire.
Karone yells out that she doesn’t care what her parents would’ve wanted. She breaks down saying how she’s heard all about how great her parents were and believes they and Ecliptor were ashamed of her. She goes on to talk about how she has been a failure and wonders if the stories about her parents are all lies. Ecliptor tells Karone to wait there for him and walks out.
As he is walking Ecliptor remembers trying to defend Karone’s mystical prowess but Dark Specter wants those under him to excel at all facets of combat. Ecliptor then gets Karone’s locket he had in storage.
We then flashback to when Darkonda handed a knocked out Karone to Ecliptor. Darkonda tells Ecliptor that Dark Spencter has ordered for Karone is to be Ecliptor’s apprentice and to destroy all her previous memories. Ecliptor says he’ll get it done.
Flashing forward back to Ecliptor giving Karone the locket that holds a picture of her and her brother (Andros). Ecliptor says it was Karone’s mother’s and reinforces how her parents were seen as such a threat that the Power Rangers targeted for elimination. Ecliptor once again tells Karone to use all the emotions she is feeling to become a weapon. As Karone gets ready to train harder Ecliptor says he has never been ashamed of her.
In the present Karone enters the arena while remembering that Ecliptor told her that if she ties with Dee again they will both be killed.
Karone and Dee get to their spots as Dark Specter announces that the winner will be awarded with the full training needed to attain the position of one of his most trusted generals. Karone and Dee then begin their fight.
Flashing back to the Darkonda mission they got Dee is shown to be not happy Karone is on the team. Dee tells Karone not to mess this up.
In the present, while Karone remembers how they did become a good team as kids she shows no mercy against Dee. Karone brutalizes Dee on her way to winning the fight. When Dee reaches out for help to get back up Karone nails her with a brutal punch to knock Dee out.
Dark Specter then announces Karone as the winner. Dark Specter then says now Karone will need to prove she has earned her title as one of his generals.
Karone then enters a mysterious dungeon with the entrance being closed after entering. Karone notices her mother’s locket. Suddenly spirit versions of Darkonda, Dee, and other students appear before her. Karone shows a lack of care and punches through all of them.
A spirit of Ecliptor looms over Karone and calls her out for her blinding anger. Ecliptor orders Karone to respect him. Karone says that she is powerful because of her training and Dark Specter’s blessing so she does not owe Ecliptor anything.
Karone then sees an image of what she believes is her mother telling her to come home. Karone, with an evil smile, says she is already home.
Outside the dungeon Ecliptor and Darkonda are told by doctors that Dee suffer permanent damaged and they had to wipe mind. While they had to do that they reveal Dark Specter decided to spare Dee as he believes she can serve a purpose in the future.
Suddenly an announcement is made that “The Heir” has emerged. Karone exits the dungeon and declares herself to be Astronema.
Ecliptor tells Astronema her ship is waiting for her. Someone gives Ecliptor orders from Dark Specter. Astronema looks at them and Ecliptor asks what are her first orders as Dark Specter’s second-in-command. Astronema says to set course for the planet Onyx. End of issue.
The Good: Power Rangers Unlimited: Heir To Darkness absolutely nails what has made the BOOM! Studios comic books based around the Power Rangers such a joy. L.L. McKinney and Simone Ragazzoni show an understanding of what made fans fall in love with all of the characters and how to be modernized the Power Rangers franchise. And as one of the most popular villains Astronema was well built to have a whole comic book built around her, which Heir To Darkness shows.
Opening Power Rangers Unlimited: Heir To Darkness with Karone dominating the Prism Rangers was a fantastic way to make a statement. Like past Power Ranger creative team, McKinney and Ragazzoni tap into all facets of the Power Rangers franchise. That includes diving into how there is so much history with the Super Sentai that we haven’t seen explored because our introduction to it wasn’t until the Zyuranger that the franchise was adapted in the form of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. But with the Power Rangers comics we have the chance to have the other Super Sentai teams that predate the Zyuranger get their own adaptions, like the Choushinsei Flashman got in Heir To Darkness.
This also immediately puts over how much of a badass Karone was even before she became Astronema. Seeing her completely dominate a Power Rangers team makes you both terrified and invested into this portrayal of Karone. It was a showcase of how she is going to brutalize whoever is in her way from getting what she wants. At the same time, it establishes a key character trait Heir To Darkness runs with as Karone is still in her reckless stage because of how she is still young and on the path to becoming Astronema.
It works in well into how McKinney utilizes flashback scenes to tell the story of Karone being molded into a badass fighter by Ecliptor. We see in these flashbacks that Karone was actually the one that struggled the most during training compared to her contemporaries like the young Divatox. Which gets into the struggle Karone has with how she became Ecliptor’s apprentice clouded her mind and potential. Having this running character trait made the journey to becoming Astronema much more engaging.
Adding in Divatox to Karone’s story also helped to further the history we saw occasionally mentioned in Power Rangers In Space. Expanding on those references from the In Space season further showed how we are seeing this respect from what the Power Rangers show established. McKinney perfectly had Karone and Divatox play off each other as heated rivals. Divatox was a strong physical representation of how clouded Karone’s mind was until her Astronema transformation as she played mind games with her rival as only a bully can.
Establishing this rivalry between them added depth to the final fight in Power Rangers Unlimited: Heir To Darkness. You felt how it wasn’t just the honor of becoming one of Dark Specter’s top generals at stake. This was also about showing who was best after they tied in their last half-dozen fights. Which made how Karone absolutely showed no mercy in how she dominated the fight even more impressive. Adding the little detail that this fight is what likely led to Divatox had more comedic tendencies when she was the lead villain in Power Rangers Turbo was a cool way to add depth to a character in this era.
And as one of the strongest aspects of Power Rangers In Space, McKinney did a great job putting over the parental relationship Ecliptor had with Karone as her mentor. McKinney got into how Karone was the one apprentice that Ecliptor had that he viewed more as just someone he was training. He does honestly grow to see Karone as a daughter even as he gives her a lot of tough love.
Which made the moment that Ecliptor gave Karone her locket even more meaningful. We already know that the locket with the pictures of Andros and Karone was a meaningful item. McKinney adds to the meaning it has by showing how Ecliptor used it to get Karone closer to becoming Astronema by using it to fuel the lie of her parents working for Dark Specter who were killed by a Power Rangers team. There is a hate for the Power Rangers that Dark Specter and Ecliptor built in Karone during her training. Having this take place as a flashback helped to provide greater context into why Karone enjoyed torturing the Prism Rangers so much in the present.
The ending with Karone going through a ritual-like experience as her final trial was great way to have everything in Power Rangers Unlimited: Heir To Darkness come full-circles. Seeing how Karone did not care about going through visuals of Ecliptor, Darkonda, her mom, and others in her life drove home how she truly became Astronema. Karone was no more and we were just left with Astronema. It all made Astronema an even more dangerous foe as we will now see her take on the Omega Rangers in the Power Rangers ongoing series.
Simone Ragazzoni nailed the anime tone that has been established by all of the Power Ranger comics. Ragazzoni, along with colorists Igor Monti and Sabrina Del Grosso, are able to hit all the right notes with the dark moments we see. At the same time they keep things colorful and bright like you would expect from the Power Rangers franchise. Striking that balance made all the moments with Karone’s journey to become Astronema standout even more.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: L.L. McKinney and Simone Ragazzoni knock it out of the park with their work on Power Rangers Unlimited: Heir To Darkness. They made Karone’s journey to becoming Astronema absolutely riveting. This is definitely a must have for all Power Rangers’ fans.
To comment on this article and other Comic Book Revolution content visit our Facebook page, Twitter feed and Instagram. You can catch up with all of Kevin’s thoughts about comics, anime, TV shows, movies and more over on Twitter. You can also watch the fun and silly videos Kevin is making over on his TikTok.