Creating the Ultimate Power Rangers/Ninja Turtles Crossover
The Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have crossed over before but this time it’s going to be even bigger. The original team-up between the two titans of kids TV rocked the world in the 90’s but it was with the Power Rangers in Space team and the turtles of the Next Mutation live-action series. Still fun to be sure but it wasn’t the exact way a Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles crossover had played out in many kids minds.
Since the Power Rangers exploded onto the scene several years after the Turtles ruled the world, fans had often wondered what would happen if the original Mighty Morphin Rangers crossed over with the classic four Turtles. Well, now Boom Studios is making it happen. Out now in comic book form, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 is a fans dream come true. The Turtles and the Power Rangers fighting against each other (and they aren’t under a spell!) Tommy working with the Foot Clan? It’s a ton of fun and it’s being written by the current architect of Power Rangers comics, Ryan Parrott.
We had to talk with Ryan about where the idea for this crossover came from, his way of writing the Turtles, and if this book fits in the continuity of either the Power Rangers or Turtles comic series.
DEN OF GEEK: What are the restrictions that come with writing two teams from two different companies (Boom and IDW) and then also two different companies who are licensing them as well (Hasbro and Nickeldeon)?
RYAN PARROTT: Not as much as you'd think. I've been actually very amazed at how open and excited they were about everything that we pitched them. They are just as excited about this as you were, which is one of the fun things. It’s obviously happened before in the TV show. They were just sort of like, "let's do what we can do," and they were open to everything. I couldn't be more complimentary about the process.
Was it you that came up with the pitch originally? Was it Boom? Was it IDW? Who was the first one to really talk about doing this?
When I felt my time with Power Rangers was sort of coming to an end, I was calling my editor to try and pitch. I was like, "What can I do? What's not being done right now?" I was like, "Oh, a Power Rangers/Ninja Turtles crossover?" And so, I called, and before I even actually mentioned it to her (editor Dafna Pleban), she was like, "Hey, I'm sorry there's nothing for you right now. We're too busy with the crossover." And I was like, "What crossover?" And she's like, "Oh, we're doing a Power Ranger/Ninja Turtles crossover." I was like, "That's what I was calling to pitch you!"
It was that weird moment of ... Everybody already knew. So I was jazzed. It was already in process, but they hadn't chosen a writer yet and they were still in the early stages. So I just started begging profusely to be able to do it. Thank God they let me do it, because I would've lost my mind if I hadn't been a part of it.
What was in your initial ideas for what this team up would be?
Well, my approach is ... it sounds silly, but it was more thinking of it like, "Okay, when I was 10 years old and I was playing with my action figures, what are all the things I wanted to see? What were the ideas that I had?" Because I had every action figure for both these franchises. I put my parents in the poor house.
(Some of it) came from the visuals. It started off with, "Wouldn't this be cool if…” And then it was through that process, that I started realizing that it makes sense. There are so many crazy similarities between these two franchises. If I described it, I'd say it's a group of color-coded teenagers fighting minions and trying to stop an evil despot from taking over the world while being led by a wise and noble sage.
I thought, "Wow, there's something... If that's how they're the same, how are they different?" That was the nice thing about having the crossover with (Power Rangers in) Space (having) already happened. Oh, they're already in the same universe. So maybe the Turtles know who the Power Rangers are, but the Power Rangers don't know what the Turtles are, because one of them is fighting out in the open and the other one is fighting and saving the world from shadows.
At that moment I realized, "Oh, that's the story that I want to do.” I want to see how these two people who are both doing the same things, but who have completely different lives because of who they are and what they're doing. Then the story evolved from there.
We’ve already seen from the Rangers and Turtles end up in a fight. With all team up books, do they always have to fight? Why can't they just be friends?
Well, I think it's sort of like if you've ever gone on a date with someone or you've ever met a person at a party, and you're like, "I don’t like that person." And then you get to know them better later on through a different situation, it's always like, "Oh wow, they're actually way cooler."
It makes the friendship or the relationship that much better when you have preconceived notions at the beginning And that's what's funny, don't we want to see who's the better fighter? Haven't we always had that thing of like, "Okay, so who would win in a fight, Leo or Jason? Who's funnier, Zack or Michelangelo?" And to me, that's half the fun, is I want to see that played out a little bit in real time before we all get to the fun kumbaya.
Does this story fall in any place in the timeline of the actual Power Rangers comic book? Or is it in its own nebulous team up world?
Well, doesn't fall in a particular slot in Mighty Morphin or Ninja Turtles, only because when you're doing a crossover, you can't rely on one fan base being as up to date on the other one as you'd like. But if you've been reading Mighty Morphin I can't expect that you also have been reading Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and vice versa.
If you're a hardcore Power Rangers fan but you're only a casual Ninja Turtles fan, or vice versa, I wanted you to be able to pick up the book and enjoy and not wonder who these new characters are, which is one of the reasons why Venus isn't in it. It's one of the reasons why Jennika’s not in it. It's one of the reasons why Matt isn't in it or Dayne isn't in it.
I don't want you to have to take this book and go, "I don't know who any of these characters are." So we tried to keep it as a love letter to the original two shows that I love. It's sort of a re-imagining of those two shows, if there had been a crossover episode between season one of Power Rangers and season one of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
You have the Ninja Turtles characterized in a different way from even, say, the 80’s show or any of the many iterations of them. Where did you draw your characterization of the Turtles? Was it from the recent comics or was it just your general memory of them?
We actually had a long conversation about that, because at one point we were like, "Are we going to do the Turtles from the comic book?" And I think the conversation was, "Let's do an updating, the same way that we updated the Power Ranger's in Go Go," where it was like, that was the character from the original series, but let's update them in a little bit more of a modern context. Let's update them with modern personalities a little bit. Let's do the same thing with them. Let's reimagine them the same way we would if we were doing that for the Ninja Turtles.
So in that way, it ended up becoming a little bit of my own version where I had to do a little bit of the show, a little bit of the movie, and then a little bit of the original Eastman/Laird comics which I wanted to make sure that I stayed true to that a little bit, too. It was a little bit of hodge podge with all of that. I will say, there were a lot of references to the TV show. There are direct lines and references to the movie because I am a huge fan of the first Ninja Turtle movie. I think it's fantastic and it still holds value. If you're like me and you grew up with that sort of thing, hopefully they stay true to the voices of all of those mediums put together.
In a way you're creating your own version of the Turtles, even though they're obviously an amalgamation of so much of what's come before. Is there anything that makes your Turtles stand out in comparison to any of the other versions?
They're just so incredibly well written. No, I didn't try and reimagine them in any way that I thought was extreme or subversive. I liked the characterization, I can hear their voices. Whenever I'm writing anything, I like to do an experiment where if you ask every character the same question, and if they answer it, they should all answer it different ways, because no one answers the same question. That's what I did with Ninja Turtles.
I just tried to make them as defined as possible, but there's nothing in there that I think that would make them like, "Oh, this is Ryan Parrott's Turtles." They're still the Turtles, hopefully the Turtles that you guys know and love. If you find that the voices are consistent with those characters, and even if you can't place exactly which medium they're in, then hopefully I did my job.
You talked about wanting to make this that anybody could come in to read it who's not a hardcore fan of either franchise. But was there ever any thought in your mind to say, "What if we just put Venus in there anyway, just because we can?"
I'm going to be honest, man, no. If you were to bring Venus into the story I wasn't entirely sure how timeline wise that worked. But it would've been a story about who Venus was. I feel like if you were going to do that story, you would have to almost do an origin story of that character, and then it becomes a story about Venus and not about the other turtles. So to me, leaving her out of it, I just thought made it so that I could play around with the Turtles that I grew up loving, as opposed to her sort of taking over the story.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 is out now from Boom Studios.
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Shamus Kelley is a pop culture/television writer and official Power Rangers expert. Follow him on Twitter! He also co-hosts a Robotech podcast, which covers the original series and the new comics. Give it a listen! Read more articles by him here!