The death of Tommy Oliver in Shattered Grid is something many fans are still trying to deal with, which makes his reappearance in Zeo that much more shocking.
The big question is then how is that possible? How can Tommy be dead in Mighty Morphin and still be leading the Zeo Rangers? Power Rangers writer Kyle Higgins answered that question in detail on the latest episode of the Ranger Danger Podcast, and it all comes down to the Grid itself.
"A preview for the Annual came out, and in that preview, the first couple of pages are for the story that I did with Marcus To that follow Power Rangers Zeo, and that story takes place just after the events of the Zeo season but before Turbo, and Tommy Oliver is very much alive," Higgins said. "How is that possible? Well, things have been broken. The Grid is trying to protect all of existence from causality and paradoxes."
Higgins explained the team's approach to time travel, breaking it down into two types.
"Like I was trying to figure out for quite awhile like...how do I make this work, and there are two different ways to go with something like this. You hear about time travel models in fiction, especially in movies like people ask you all the time is it the Back to the Future model? And what they mean by that is it causal, is it cause and effect. In doing X it affects Y. Or is it all a giant paradox where it's a little timeywimey as you would say in Doctor Who."
Making that even more complicated is the fact that Tommy is one of the most iconic Rangers, and a big part of that is the fact he's been around so long.
"The added kind of complication in a story like this, really a property, is that Tommy has been like 5 f****** Power Rangers," Higgins said. "He's been Green, he's been White. He's been Zeo Red and Turbo Red and Dino Thunder Black. So it's like the second you start looking at causal relationships...when you kill Tommy you go well, how does Zeo Red, how does Zeo happen?"
Before Higgins could tackle that issue though he had to win everyone over to include Zeo in the series at all.
"I had a call with Dafna and Ryan, it was about the Annual and stories and what teams we were going to look at in the Annual, and I kept telling them we need to see Zeo," Higgins said. "And they were saying don't do that. You're opening up a can of worms, like is Tommy there or not there, and you're going to have to explain how the past, how Zeo came to be. And you're going to have to explain it as being different from how we know it came to be. And I was saying no no no no no, that's not how we do it."
That didn't interest Higgins, so he had to come up with another way to approach it.
"I said you're absolutely right. That is a version, and that f****** makes my blood pressure rise through the roof," Higgins recalls. "Just like the approvals process for something like that, like 'alright alright alright, so hear me out. We've never seen Zeo before. We gotta establish how Zeo in the show came to be but now I'm saying it's Zeo through the lens of had Tommy never existed, right?' I don't want to deal with that, so the bug became a feature where I decided it's called Shattered Grid. We're going to break this timeline anyway so that I can use all these different Ranger teams, and then I said causality and paradoxes are not in play, and in doing so it meant...it played into the concept."
Fans can see how this Zeo story plays out in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 2018 Annual, which hits comic stores tomorrow, April 25.