One of the most popular and complicated villains in the Power Rangers franchise is finally getting her story told in the upcoming comic book one-shot Power Rangers Unlimited: Heir To Darkness.
Before she was the villain Astronema and before she became a Pink Ranger, she was a girl named Karone - and this is her story. Novelist L.L. McKinney and Sartistimone Ragazzoni will reveal the secret origin of the so-called Princess of Evil, and how she was kidnapped from her homeworld by Darkonda.
Going on sale March 31, Power Rangers Unlimited: Heir To Darkness is a one-shot but also ties into the events of the current Power Rangers ongoing comic book series.
Newsarama spoke with writer L.L. McKinney about Power Rangers Unlimited: Heir To Darkness, the concept of redemption stories, and what more she'd like to do with Astronema/Karone in the future.
Newsarama: Elle, how did you approach writing the origin story for one of the most memorable Power Rangers characters here with Power Rangers: Heir To Darkness?
L.L. McKinney: I took what made her memorable to fans both past and present, myself being a huge fan as well, and mixed it with elements that I felt made that season in particular so great.
There's a side to Karone we all know is there, you don't get to be second-in-command of the literal empire of evil for nothing, but with PR being first and foremost a kids show, it wasn't ever explored in depth. I'm too hype to be able to get to do that.
Nrama: Your one-shot will show what happened to Astronema after she was kidnapped from her home planet. How will her character's personality and skillset be affected prior to becoming the Princess of Evil?
McKinney: I think a lot of who Karone was as a person in the beginning definitely informed who she was as Astronema. Her cunning, her skills in combat, her magical abilities, her accomplishments as a strategist, her drive, and her loyalty, even if it's to the wrong people and cause.
She exhibits a number of traits we'd consider admirable if she wasn't, y'know, the Princess of Evil. All of that went into her choosing to be who she became, so I wanted to focus on her capability.
On top of that, I wanted to examine how her circumstances impacted the relationships she formed and how they developed and morphed over time. Karone is really fascinating and just awesome.
Nrama: Although this comic will be tied into the events related to the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers team, she has a connection to Power Rangers In Space team as well. Who else can we expect to see in the comic besides Astronema herself?
McKinney: Clearly Ecliptor will be there, and you know Dark Specter is gonna show up.
As for anything else… that would be a spoiler, so you'll have to wait and see!
Nrama: Astronema's villain and hero arcs in the TV series share similarities to the comic book exclusive character the Ranger Slayer, an evil alternate version of the Pink Ranger who later redeems herself. Why do you think these characters resonate so strongly with readers?
McKinney: Redemption arcs something of a sore spot for me, when it comes to storytelling. Mostly because, in my opinion, they're hardly ever done correctly. Or they're never given the chance to come full circle, to truly reach their completion.
But I absolutely understand the appeal of the arc. I understand its importance. I think people are drawn to the idea that good does, eventually, overcome evil. No matter what. How that story is told and whether or not the arc is a true redemption arc are things to be discussed, but the ideal behind even poor execution is one that resonates.
Nrama: One of the most fun things about the Power Rangers comic books is the team-ups between different Power Rangers teams and comic book universes. If you could have Astronema team up with any comic book villain, who would they be and why?
McKinney: Oooooooooh, that's a good one….
If I could have her team up with anyone, I think it might be Grail, from the DC universe. Mostly because she's on my mind, since she's who I pit Nubia against in my story for Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman, but Grail is also an heir to what some might consider DC's version of an empire of darkness. She too is a literal princess of evil. Watching the two of them cut a swath across the galaxy would be a helluva show.
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