When you put two uniquely entertaining properties like the Justice League and the Power Rangers together, the sheer fun of the idea allows for a certain level of leeway when it comes to execution. Unfortunately, that forgiving nature all but evaporates in Tom Taylor and Stephen Byrne’s follow-up installment, the book’s limited gains hampered by its disappointingly flat characters.
Given the nature of the read, the book’s familiar case of mistaken-identity-turned-inevitable-team-up is none too surprising. And to writer Taylor’s credit, he makes good use of the initial confusion, the various instances reading mostly true to character. It’s surprising then just how dull these initial interactions are, as despite the many physical clashes we’re treated to there’s never any real sense of drama or escalation. Much of that blasé feel comes from the characters themselves. While true in tone, there are no real sparks to this clash of cultures, or at least nothing that makes their union memorable. Superman and the Justice League treat the Rangers as more intriguing interlopers than true threats, whereas the dialogue for the Rangers, aside from Kimberly and maybe Billy, is more or less interchangeable from character to character. There are a few choice Batman bits involving how scary he is, but even that is offset somewhat by artist Byrne’s bright color palette.
That lack of fireworks carries over into the issue’s driving force, the meeting of Brainiac and Lord Zedd. On paper the two make for an intriguing union, but it doesn’t really translate here. Brainiac is at his core cold and detached, but for whatever reason his seeming deferment to Zedd feels more necessary to the plot than truly earned. In that sense Zedd is the clear highlight of the two, his cocksure swagger and diabolical diatribes delightfully over the top. While his initial plan—flood the planet with space octopi—reads a bit uninspired out of the gate, his very presence gives the mini a boost.
With the story struggling to get going, a lot falls on Byrne to keep investment up. He does so to some effect, but the structure of the read also presents its own artistic problems. For one, Byrne’s relatively clean and simple style at times leaves the overall pages looking sparse of detail. It’s something especially apparent in the scenes involving the Rangers Zords, the giant dinosaurs looking less like battling titans and more like large-scale models. There’s also the aforementioned color work. Byrne’s panels often work with one particular shade, and while at times it’s quite striking—see Green Lantern’s brilliant energy constructs—in others, it washes out any sense of depth or background detail. This is still a very pretty book, with inviting hues and a strong character aesthetic. It just doesn’t always translate to the tone immediately at hand.
Justice League/Mighty Morhin Power Rangers #2 has its moments, but overall issue #2 marks a step back. The premise is still fun, and makes some interesting strides, but so far there’s just not much there that makes this particular pairing as exciting as it should be. It’s heartening at least that Tom Taylor and Stephen Byrne seem to have some fun seeds in play—hopefully fan interest will survive to see them bloom.