BOOM! Studios has released the very anticipated comic Power Rangers Unlimited: Heir to Darkness #1. Written by L.L. McKinney with art by Simone Ragazzoni, this comic is meant to show Power Rangers fans the unknown history of the popular villain Astronema from Power Rangers In Space. There will be spoilers coming up, so this is your warning. If you haven’t read it yet, you can grab a physical copy from your local comic shop or digital copies from outlets including comiXology (affiliate link). BOOM! Studios was kind enough to supply me with a digital copy for this review.
Astronema is one of the most popular Power Rangers villains ever and her true origin is revealed for the first time in a one-shot directly connected to the events of Mighty Morphin and Power Rangers! Before she became a Power Ranger, a young girl named Karone was kidnapped by bounty hunters and brainwashed into the assassin known as Astronema by two of the greatest threats in the galaxy – Dark Specter and Ecliptor. But what is Dark Spector’s true plan…and what does it mean for the new Mighty Morphin & Power Rangers teams? Acclaimed author L.L. McKinney (A Blade So Black) and artist Simone Ragazzoni (Power Rangers: Drakkon New Dawn) present a powerful new story that no Power Rangers fan can miss.
This was a fun comic to read. We get to dive in and see what happened to Karone that led to her becoming Astronema. In the series, all we know is that Darkonda kidnaps her from KO-35 and then she was brainwashed to think the Rangers killed her family and she serves Dark Specter. Now we can fill in some gaps.
We learn that Astronema was trained alongside some other children in the hopes of becoming Dark Specter’s second in command. Ecliptor did a fair amount of training for the children it seems, but each child was the apprentice for one of Dark Specter’s generals with Astronema (called Kay as a child) being the apprentice of Ecliptor and rival to Dee, the apprentice of Darkonda. That seems natural. It is weird seeing Ecliptor being a teacher. I know we see him in a mentor-esque role in the television series, but this is different.
It turns out that Kay struggled to be evil as a child. She seemed to have some emotions that kept her from being the cutthroat villain fans know. However, Ecliptor actually helps her grow by giving her the necklace with a picture of her and Andros. Kay was questioning if her family even existed and Ecliptor was able to use the locket to show that they did exist and then twist it to fit the narrative that the bad guys had come up with for her.
There are a lot of flashbacks to her days training as Kay goes to an arena to face off against Dee in the hopes of becoming the heir of darkness. It sounds like this isn’t the first time they’ve had this fight, but apparently it will be the last one way or another. In the instance of a draw, Dark Specter seems to have the desire to kill both contestants.
The fight happens and Kay ends up winning. She finally is able to tap into herself and finds the evil within to win. She leaves Dee for dead, but we later find out that Dark Specter wants Dee alive, so there’s a good chance we’ll see her again. In fact, in the last couple of pages we see Dee in, she has a mask and outfit that look a little reminiscent of another Power Rangers villain. She looks like she could easily live on to become Divatox from Power Rangers Turbo.
Kay then goes inside this area and undergoes some weird vision-esque deal and she has to overcome a bunch of doubt and some internal demons before emerging as the princess of evil renamed Astronema. She’s then given a mission to go to Onyx and well, we kind of see how things are going there. The story picks back up in Power Rangers #6.
This was a very fun side-story. I don’t know if it will end up being a necessary read for the overall story of Power Rangers, but it’s fun and definitely worth reading. You can also read Heir to Darkness if you have no interest in the other comics. You could read this just to learn about Astronema and call it good. I’d say that’s a pretty good story. I wonder if we’ll get another comic for any other villains like Divatox.