This year is going to be a big one for the Justice League and the Power Rangers, as both franchises are headlining Hollywood movies with big name talent attached. But what if you wanted to see Ben Affleck’s Batman face off against Elizabeth Banks’ Rita Repulsa? Or Bryan Cranston’s Zordon mentoring Ezra Miller’s Flash? Well, we’re sorry, but that’s not going to happen.
However, thanks to DC Comics and BOOM! Studios, readers will get a comic book series featuring both super-powered teams as “Justice League/Power Rangers” #1 is unleashed this week. The six-issue limited series is written by Tom Taylor and illustrated by Stephen Byrne.
CBR connected with the creative team to discuss the first-ever team-up between DC Comics’ flagship title and Saban’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Taylor shared his passion for mashing too seemingly dissimilar universes while Byrne cautioned that the Justice League (and readers) should never underestimate the might (and morphability) of giant flying dinosaur robots.
CBR: I have to be honest — I thought “Star Trek/Green Lantern” was literally where no man has gone before. But “Justice League/Power Rangers”? I did no see that coming. [Laughs]
Tom Taylor: I love all of the crossovers. When I heard about “Star Trek/Green Lantern,” I thought it was a great idea. I was the same about “Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” I was incredibly jealous of James Tynion getting to write that. I was like, “Ah! That should have been me.” [Laughs] So as soon as DC contacted me about this one, I leapt at the chance. I think it’s a bit of a no-brainer – the greatest heroes from two different worlds and two different universes combining. And I have to say that once I heard that Stephen was on the book, I was incredibly happy about it.
Stephen Byrne: I was similarly envious of those other books and people getting to work on them, and seeing how much fun someone can have putting Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles together. So when I was asked about this, I was like, “Oh, my God! I could not have come up with a better project for myself than if I tried.” I have been a huge, long-time fan of the Power Rangers since I was a kid. It just seemed like a great idea and I am really happy to be a part of it.
The Justice League has faced off against incredible threats over the years like Starro, Darkseid and, Tom, when you-re writing them – against themselves. [Laughs] I realize that this is more of a team-up book than Justice League versus the Power Rangers but do “five teenagers with attitude” from Angel Grove, California really belong standing alongside the world’s greatest superheroes: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash and Cyborg?
Taylor: Well, the Power Rangers are the world’s greatest heroes, as well. But they’re the greatest heroes from another world. What they do on their world and how they protect their world and honestly, the powers that they have and the powers that they have that grow and grow and grow as they grow in size means that they can stand alongside the Justice League. Maybe they can’t go one-on-one against Superman but once they form the Megazord, I’m not putting my money on either one of them.
Stephen, what about drawing these characters? You have two very different types of heroes here. The Justice League features fully developed men and women, while the Power Rangers are a tad more lean and mean. Did you aim for a deliberate delineation?
Byrne: That’s true. There is definitely a difference in the physicality of the two teams. I would say that the Power Rangers are small — they are incredibly fit examples of humanity, while the Justice League are like gods. So yes, I do put a little more definition into the musculature of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman characters, but I think the Power Rangers certainly hold their own. And like Tom said, when you put them one-on-one, you know that Superman is going to win that fight but everyone always forgets about the giant dinosaur robots which helps to even the score a little bit. [Laughs]
Taylor: How can you forget about the giant dinosaur robots? That’s a fool’s game. [Laughs]
That’s right. In fact, The Flash even makes a joke about what they’re up against in the first issue when he informs Cyborg: “And… um… I’m not quite sure how to say this … Batman’s been taken by a flying pink dinosaur robot.” But he won’t be laughing for long, will he?
Taylor: Yeah, absolutely. They are totally foreign to each other so they are going to be surprised by each other. And if you’ve ever read anything that I’ve written, [you know] I like to poke fun at everything so the Justice League and the Power Rangers – they’re on the table too now for me. Yes, there is going to be a bit of mockery. Yes, there is going to be some things that seem a little bit absurd, but that uncertainty turns into a strength every time. You talk about giant flying dinosaur robots, and you know they are going to save the day at some point. That’s when they are no longer a joke. The Power Rangers are absolute superheroes.
When you’re writing or drawing a team book, there’s never enough space or ‘screen time’ for everybody. That’s double trouble when you have the Justice League and the Power Rangers. Is there one member of each side that gets a little more play than the others, or one at least that you’ve at least enjoyed working with a little bit more?
Taylor: We’re trying to give everybody their moment in the sun, which is hard when you are writing essentially 12 main characters, plus villains and peripheral characters, but our entry point into the series is Zack. I found when I was watching the show that he was always shunted a little bit to the side. Tommy always got big stories and so did Jason and Kimberly and I just thought Zack needed a bit more voice. And I know the actor [Walter Emanuel Jones] who played him so already knew how he talked, which also makes life easier for me. And having him be the first Power Ranger to meet Batman was fun too because he’s a bit more jokey so that seemed exactly right to me too.
Byrne: When I read the script for the first issue, I felt like there were so many individual character moments where a character has a bad ass action moment or a big introduction or gets a moment to shine and that continues throughout the series as more characters come into play. I feel like over the course of the story that everybody is going to get his or her piece of the action.
Taylor: That’s absolutely true. Characters like Cyborg and Billy get really nice moments later on, too. I am really conscious that I want everybody to get at least one piece of the story where the reader can really get to know the character.
You mentioned villains and peripheral characters. Can you give a tease of which other characters we might see? I am hoping for some more Alpha 5. [Laughs]
Taylor: You’ll be very happy to know that I have just written a fairly big Alpha 5 scene. I won’t spoil it too much, but Alpha 5’s role in this story is quite, quite, quite big.
I am thinking an “Alpha 5/Cyborg” spinoff series would really work?
Byrne: “So, you like binary?” [Laughs]
In 2017, we’re getting big screen versions of the Justice League and the Power Rangers. While I don’t foresee a big screen team-up happening anytime soon does this kind of comic book crossover event allow for fans – and creators like yourselves – to play out some sandbox fantasies that they are not going to see anywhere else?
Taylor: When you’re a creator and you’ve had a chance to tell stories with them and be in their heads for a little while, all of the media around them becomes a little bit more personal. You feel a little bit of an ownership, even though you know that you don’t have any ownership of these characters whatsoever. [Laughs] I have my own TV series and my own characters and it’s absurd to think that kids play as these characters all of the time and make up stories with them. And that’s all I’m doing and I just get paid for it. [Laughs]
Byrne: I’ve been very enthusiastic about the Power Rangers my whole life, especially when was very young. I used to draw my own Power Ranger comic books and I have certainly kept my eye on the various iterations over the years. And I am a big DC Comics fan too. The great thing about all of these characters is that they all have their own stories, their own back stories, their own powers and their own personalities so it’s always exciting to see new iterations of them. And putting the Justice League and the Power Rangers together in any medium opens a world of possibilities. And for me as a fan, yes, there is definitely a thrill when you can see two things that you couldn’t have imagined together facing each other and the consequences of that.
Tom, you mentioned your own TV series and your own characters and that’s “The Deep,” which is great show that my children watch here in Canada on Netflix about a family of supercool underwater explorers. With Aquaman being a member of the Justice League, my guess is that we would see a Justice League/Nektons crossover before the Power Rangers showed up on the Aronnax.
Taylor: You’re right. It would definitely be Aquaman. [Laughs] That’s a no-brainer. I can’t say whether or not it has happened, but it’s possible that they have already crossed over. I can’t tell you for sure.
“Justice League/Power Rangers” #1 arrives Wednesday, January 11.
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