Last week we looked at the drawn adaptation of the Power Rangers movie. I teased that tonight we would look at the photo comic and compare the two. So this won’t be your typical review. It’s the same story but here I’m judging the presentation. Harshly.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie comic adaptation
You’d think there would be some difference in the publishing credits, but there isn’t.
Marvel (September, 1995)STARRING: Karan Ashley, Jonny Yong Bosh, Steve Cardenas, Jason David Frank, Amy Jo Johnson, David Yost, Jason Narvy, Paul Schrier, Paul Freeman, and some uncredited because they weren’t on the movie poster SCREENPLAY: Arne Olsen STORY: John Kamps & Arne Olsen ADAPTATION: Ralph Macchip PRODUCTION: Wayne Green, Steve Bunche LETTERERS: Caroline Wells, Matt Maley, & Kenny Lopez ASSISTANT EDITOR: Nancy Poletti EDITOR: Mariano Nicieza
It’s the same story, only this time done with screencaps of the movie. It was still in theaters at the time so I’m curious how they pulled that off. The difference between the two is mostly in the presentation, and I don’t mean photo versus drawing. I mean in story flow and the photo comic suffers the most for it.
There are a number of times when the characters are explaining stuff that happened off-panel, which only serves to give the narration boxes a break. A lot of the visual effects, like a set of stills showing the ooze in the egg chamber forming into Ivan, wasn’t used. We’re lucky to get a few shots of Tommy using a dropkick. None of the cool action scenes, which you’d want to see in a photo comic adapting a sci-fi martial arts show, appear in the comic.
There’s also a more condensing than the written comic. We see the Rangers already morphed before they even call for it. Fred (the boy who leads the kids of Angel Grove to save their mind-controlled parents from Ivan’s suicide command) is barely mentioned and if you didn’t see the movie (or other adaptation) you wouldn’t know who he is or why you should care. He never shows up outside of this movie. The final fight between the new Ninja Zords and the ectomorphicons practically doesn’t happen. I don’t know what limitations they have here but it really hurts the comic.
Finally there’s the space issues, which are connected to the other two. The pages feature really large panels, possibly to put in all the extra dialog. This is a comic, where “show, don’t tell” is a key expression. And yet there are large panels taking up story space, including two areas where they do the double-page, turn on its side layouts way too common in 90s comics that never fails to look lame.
In conclusion, while some shots are cool visually, they are the rare exception. You’d be better off just getting the movie on home video. If you absolutely have to add a movie adaptation to your comic library, stick with the drawn one. It’s a more interesting read.