The Return Teases a Dark Future for Fans’ Favorite Rangers

While the BOOM! Studios line of Power Rangers comics has given the franchise a whole new timeline to explore, rarely have fans been treated to glimpses into the future of the original series from the small screen. That alone makes the upcoming Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Return from original Pink Ranger herself Amy Jo Johnson that much more exciting. However, the recently released preview makes it clear the title will be nothing like the Rangers’ latest on-screen reunion.

“Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Re-Imagine” (by Amy Jo Johnson, Matt Hotson, Francesco Mortarino, Joana Lafuente, and Ed Dukeshire, from the pages of BOOM! Studios’ Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 30th Anniversary Special) brings readers back to the eponymous team’s humble beginnings before following them and their enemies through the years. As fans have seen happen so many times before, the Rangers eventually find themselves at a crossroads, with Jason, Zack, and Trini bound for Switzerland. Whereas that would otherwise be the end of their tenure with the Mighty Morphin team, this time the heroes realize their teleporters make the distance entirely negligible. While that is more than enough to keep the team together, it’s also the moment history as fans know it changed forever, and not necessarily for the better.

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What Is The Return – And Where Are Its Power Rangers?

Tommy Oliver and Kimberly Ann Hart kissing in the alternate timeline of MMPR: The Return

The pre-established timeline of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series had new members fill in for those who gave up their Morphers. Instead, The Return showcases everything that could have been. Apart from keeping the classic lineup together despite the distance between their daily lives, this also led to the romance between Tommy Oliver and Kimberly Ann Hart flourishing rather than floundering. Without introducing Katherine Hillard or any other future members of the Mighty Morphin team, there was nothing stopping Tommy and Kimberly from getting married and continuing on in the good fight hand-in-hand.

Not only did Tommy and Kimberly stay together as a couple, each member of the team seems to have attained a fulfilling life of their own without giving up their duties as a Power Ranger. No matter how drastic of a shift this is from the series’ primary timeline, the trajectory feels more realistic. Rather than leaning into any of the tropes that make the Power Rangers franchise what it is, The Return has firmly cemented its foundation in following a single set of circumstances through to their most extreme conclusion. Unfortunately, that storytelling method has been employed nowhere more so than in the realm of horror, and that is exactly where The Return ends up taking its color-coded cast of heroes.

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What Fans Already Know About Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Return

The Yellow Ranger asking

As it turns out, it isn’t just the heroes who were devoid of any major shakeups in this timeline. Just as Tommy and Kimberly did on Earth, Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd made great headway from their home on the Moon in Bandora Palace. After being united as one in their own dark ceremony, Rita and Zedd launched an all out assault on the Command Center, killing both Zordon and Alpha in the process. For the more serious tone in The Return, this overtly violent, direct attack on the Rangers makes perfect sense. Sadly, so does the Rangers choosing to respond by going on the offensive, as do the grim consequences of those actions.

Considering how many epic battles and explosive adventures the Power Rangers have fought over the years, the fact there’s rarely any real destruction left in their wake has become one of the more absurd tropes of the franchise. It’s also the exact trope The Return leaves behind, instead opting to dig into the likely cost of such confrontations. In a devastating turn, the cost of the Rangers taking the fight to Bandora Palace is a massive chunk of the Moon itself, and subsequently the lives they used lead. Kimberly might be the only member of the team hiding in plain sight, but that might just be a sign that she is the last one who can afford to take the risk of stepping out into the world.

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Why Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Return Is the Perfect Story for Older Fans

An on the run Kimberly Ann Hart checking in for a flight under the name Amma Phillips in MMPR: The Return

Plenty of homages and even other entries into the Power Rangers franchise have asked what the series would look like if it were made for adults. But none have done so with such an earnest affinity for the source material as The Return is poised to. Though it doesn’t appear to be shying away from death, destruction, and darker subject matter, The Return isn’t wrapped up in an overly grim outlook or gritty facade. The Return doesn’t appear to talk down to its audience, either. Instead of pushing in one direction or another to set its tone, The Return simply let its core cast of characters grow up uninterrupted by anything more than the villains they already knew.

Beyond bringing a new version of the classic team into focus in this manner, The Return also seems to make a point of not treating its villains or ancillary characters with any less regard than the source material. If anything, it’s giving them more respect than they have ever received before. Even in the mainline BOOM! Studios Power Rangers titles, Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa have only recently been elevated above what longtime fans would expect of them, and that isn’t exactly a compliment. No matter how much stronger these villains’ comic book counterparts have been, they were never capable of stripping the Rangers of their hope so completely as they have in The Return. At that rate, The Return is slated to be a distillation of all the best that the Power Rangers have to offer, and that is precisely what fans who grew up with the franchise have been hoping to see for decades.

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