Combo Rangers started out as a webcomic written by Brazilian author Fábio Yabu (who also created the Sea Princesses series), first published in 1998 (thus being one of the genre's pioneers in Brazil). Initially an Affectionate Parody of Super Sentai and Toku in general (though no pop culture outlet was safe), Combo Rangers steadily grew to become its own thing, while keeping true to its influence and comedy roots.
The story starts in Cidade City, where five nine-year-old kids are drafted by a retired hero, the Mighty Combo, to fight the good fight against the invading aliens of the Deskarga Empire, led by the terrible General Monte and his army of monsters. As the children fight on, their bonds of friendship and sense of justice grow stronger and stronger, allowing them to defeat enemy after enemy, ultimately saving the world from destruction.
Months later, however, a new threat to mankind resurfaces in the form of Dr. Delirium and his elusive Master, who wish to use the people's fear for sinister purposes. Uncle Combo (as he's affectionately called by the kids) is forced to bring the quintet, who had forgotten their adventures, back into action in the new phase of Combo Rangers, known as Combo Rangers Zero (1999-2000). New allies show up, enemies start presenting a bigger threat, and the heroes mature more and more from their new experiences.
By the third phase, Combo Rangers Revolution (2000-2001), the Rangers were living relatively peaceful lives as they entered their teenage years, when another threat looms from outer space, this time represented by Cardman, an evil wizard whose goal is to steal all the beauty on Earth. Eventually, however, the world is shaken by a series of natural disasters, spelling the Earth's impending Collapse... of which, unfortunately, readers never got to know the conclusion thanks to the season being Left Hanging with 14 episodes.
The Combo Rangers' adventures were a huge hit amongst Brazilian Internet users, back in its emerging era in the country during the turn of the 21st Century; so much, in fact, that while Revolution was rolling, they even got their own comic series, published by JBC, which lasted 12 issues between 2001 and 2002 (as well as a three-issue miniseries based on the Revolution series before that), each with their own self-contained story. A second series, published by Panini in 2003, was a bit more mature (both in art and in story) and lasted 10 issues. Since then, the series lay pretty much dormant as Yabu shifted his focus to Sea Princesses and other personal projects, until he announced, late in 2012, a fundraising campaign for three brand-new Combo Rangers albums. The R$ 40,000 (about US$ 17K) goal was met in just two weeks - which goes to show how fond are the memories of the Brazilian Net surfers who followed the Rangers more than ten years before. The first of these albums, We Are Heroes, was released in the 16th Rio de Janeiro Biennial Book Festival, in September 2013, with the other two coming out in the following years. The graphic novel trilogy and most of the print comics have been (re-)released digitally. The first graphic novel has been released in English through iTunes and Comixology.
More details on the albums, and the series in general, can be seen here (in Portuguese).
Combo Rangers provides examples of the following tropes:
- The Ace: Maya
- Achievements in Ignorance: Fox pretending to be intelligent (complete with Nerd Glasses) to save his teammates from a monster who drained their minds. He explains that he managed to pull it off by "saying a lot of stuff he didn't even know what meant".
- Action Girl: Lisa, Tati and Maya. Fabi started out as a Dark Action Girl, then took a bus until she came back in the later issues of the Panini series.
- All Love Is Unrequited: Ken for Tati.
- It was hinted that Maya felt something for Luke, but that only applied to her alternate future self (the Bad Future the original Luke came from). The present Maya acknowledges he's pretty, but respects his feelings for Lisa.
- All Myths Are True: Not only does Santa Claus exist, he's also a superhero!
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Episode 16 of the original series saw the original Combo Base invaded and destroyed.
- Anime Hair: Fox and Ken, as of Revolution. Also the Go Go Riders (the Rangers who protect the planet Toobaine).
- Art Evolution: There's a reason why the original arc is called "Little Ball" by fans. Lampshaded in the finale of Zero:Civilian: Who are you?Lisa: Uh... Yellow Combo Ranger.Civilian: But you guys didn't use to be this tall! (imagines the Yellow Ranger's first appearance)Lisa: Yeah, well, we really stretch at this age.
- Asian and Nerdy: Ken's original characterization. As time passed, the nerdy part was ditched, though he still has a sharp brain (possibly only behind Lisa and Maya).
- Author Avatar: In the story, Yabu is the alter-ego of the Scarlet Defender Spectroseven!
- Creator Cameo: He started as an unassuming grocery owner. It's possible that his role got upgraded after the speculations on him being the White Combo Ranger before he was revealed to be Luke.
- Back from the Dead: The entire core team following their Heroic Sacrifice at the end of the first season, thanks to Lisa wishing to the Supernova Crystal that every bad thing that happened to them and the city was undone. Luke was another ressurrected Ranger, but in a different scenario altogether.
- Bad Future: In the timeline where Luke came from, Lisa had died while shielding him from an attack by Deskarga troopers, so the Combo Rangers were defeated and General Monte could Take Over the World. He became an Action Survivor by joining an underground resistance group led by Maya, and was later sent back in time to Set Right What Once Went Wrong (which he managed by Taking the Bullet for Lisa before she could do the same for his present self).
- Blinding Bangs: Ken
- Book Dumb: Fox sticks out like a knife in the drawer, as he himself would say. Kiko's profile says he's this too; however, unlike Fox, Kiko has human-level intelligence.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Dr. Cooper, when he was Dr. Delirium. Also Luke during his Black Combo Ranger phase.
- By the Power of Grayskull!: "It's Combo Time!"
- Captain Ersatz: Some of the other heroes Combo allied with in his golden days are these. Green Ring and Spectroseven in particular stand out.
- Issue #9 of the JBC series features the Superchampion, who looks exactly like Silver Age Superman except with a C-shield rather than an S-shield. In fact, the whole issue is a tribute to the idealism of the Silver Age, with a handful of other ersatzes appearing.
- Celibate Hero: Kiko, who thinks that getting a girlfriend is too much of a hassle because they eventually get too clingy and needy.
- Cerebus Syndrome: The first season started as a Widget Series, taking a level of serious storytelling towards the final episodes, with the Crystal Warriors presenting a more genuine threat than everything General Monte has tried before, combined. The stories still kept a comic tone, but the storylines became more and more serious with time.
- City of Adventure: Cidade City. In grand Toku tradition, every planetary scale threat is represented by how much destruction can be wreaked upon the city. In fact, at the end of Zero, it gets so bad that the city's still being rebuilt by the time Revolution rolls around.
- Clark Kenting: Since they were repowered, the Rangers ditched the helmets for colored visors. And no one figures out who they are unless they're told or manage to see it (like Anti-Combo did). Even Ken, who looks exactly the same thanks to his Blinding Bangs.
- It gets ridiculous in a Revolution episode where Kiko leads the others in a speech against hate and intolerance. Partway through, they all remove their visors... And their families, who are watching them on TV as they are speaking, still can't put two and two together (they only think the Rangers look like their children).
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Tati can be like this at her worst. Especially concerning Maya, whom she thinks keeps putting the moves on Fox.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Par for the course when it comes to Sentai, but here it goes past that: every character has their own speech bubble color. And yep, the Rangers' bubbles are their respective colors.
- Comes Great Responsibility: And how.
- Comic-Book Time: Averted! The Rangers aged in real time (though we never saw their birthdays). They started out at 9 (1998), then in Zero they were 10-11 (1999-2000), and had turned 12 by the time Revolution stopped (2001). And, in one issue of the JBC series (2001-2002), Fox states he had recently turned 13.
- Darker and Edgier: The 2006 comics series published by Panini.
- Dark-Skinned Blond: Kiko had his hair dyed blonde in Zero.
- Determinator: Throw whatever you want at the Combo Rangers. They won't go down. Ever.
- Dumb Is Good: Fox could be the poster boy of the trope.
- The End of the World as We Know It: The "Collapse" arc in Revolution was supposed to be about this, but the season went unfinished, so we'll never know what happens afterwards (see also Left Hanging).
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Fabi truly cared for Dr. Delirium, to the point of silently crying every time the Master punished him. This is because he, too, did care enough for her to bring her out of the streets to live with him if only because she resembled his daughter, Maya.
- Everybody Laughs Ending: Episode 8 and series finale of Zero.
- Evil Twin: The Big Bad of Zero turns out to be an evil copy of Combo, created after the guilt he felt when the Rangers pulled off their Heroic Sacrifice at the end of the original series.
- Expy: Lisa started as one to Fuu Hououji until the climax of the Black Combo Ranger arc in Zero, where she became more and more her own character.
- Eyes Do Not Belong There: General Monte's lieutenant Carolho is a grey mass of eyes with arms and legs, who can throw his eyes at enemies. Every one of his evolutions (which started when he got into a teleporter with an ape monster and they got fused, The Fly-style) retained this trait. Also the Deskarga footsoldiers, the Four-Eyed Men.
- What? They should've been called "Three-Eyed Men"? The Four-Eyed Men do have four eyes! Just don't ask us where the fourth eye is...
- Five-Man Band: Par for the course.
- The Hero: Fox
- The Lancer: Kiko
- The Big Guy: Lisa, whose power is said to rival Fox's; she defeated the Yellow Crystal Warrior by herself in a fit of rage and was often more than a match to Deck
- The Smart Guy: Ken
- The Chick: Tati
- Sixth Ranger: Luke, who would go on to become The Chick when Sara took his place as the Sixth Ranger
- Flying Brick: The Combo Rangers became this after their repowering. Before that, they were just a regular tech-based Sentai only with augmented abilities when in uniform.
- For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: Issue #4 starts with the Combo Rangers at a cosplay contest. Fox has the brilliant idea of entering as Red Combo Ranger. Thankfully for him (and his teammates), when he gets a distress call just as he's on stage, everybody thinks it's All Part of the Show.
- Four-Fingered Hands
- Healing Hands: Luke. No one knows where he got this power from since, like the others, his new powers were bestowed by the wizard Syros.
- Heroic Sacrifice: The Combo Rangers pull one off at the end of the original series to stop the Crystal Warriors and their Humongous Mecha from destroying the world, by ramming it with a Combomobile rigged to blow up.
- Hour of Power: Midnight from issue #4 of the JBC series.
- Humongous Mecha: The Combotrons, which stopped appearing altogether halfway through Zero after the Combo Rangers lost their powers.
- I Was Quite a Looker: The original Rainbow Girl went on to become the kids' Geography teacher!
- Also, Midnight. Spending about 30 years locked in an airplane will do that to you.
- Idiot Hero: Fox. Dear God, Fox.
- Actually, there's a subversion here: Fox is a capable and competent team leader and hero. The problem is, that aside, he's about as intelligent as a brick.
- In the Name of the Moon: Varies every time, after the Mad Libs Catch Phrase below is said. The usual format is Fox (or 3-4 Rangers with one sentence at a time, finishing with whoever's on point - though it's usually Fox) saying something heroic along the lines of whatever plan the villain's carrying out, continuing with "How dare you [insert short line about what the bad guys are doing]? We are the Combo Rangers!", and finishing with Kiko going "And we're gonna [insert something about beating the villain up]!"
- Insufferable Genius: Maya won't let you forget that she's the prettiest, smartest, best fighter girl around. Even though she has no superpowers. Exhibit A:
- Luke: We met in my future. You're known there as a great heroine, you know?
Maya: Hehehe, the Mighty Combo told me. But seriously, such a pretty and smart girl like me just had to be a superheroine! One of these days I'll have my own website!
Luke: (falling over) I forgot I'm not supposed to praise her!
- Exhibit B:Maya: (to Fabi) I can't forgive you for harming those poor humans, even if you're almost as pretty as me, something I thought impossible!
Spectroseven: The very picture of modesty...
Uncle Combo: You ain't seen nothing yet...
- Kid Hero: They started their careers when they were 9.
- Arguably, the preceding Combo Rangers were also kids.
- Left Hanging: The Revolution arc stopped halfway into the season, with only 14 episodes, due both to the conflict with the printed publication and a major case of Schedule Slip. Due to this, many a fan was left wondering how this season would end, considering that the then-running comics are side stories.
- Word of God says there was supposed to be a continuation to the Collapse arc, which would revolve around Luke.
- Legacy Character: There were three generations of Combo Rangers before the ones we know.
- Lemony Narrator: Depending on the silliness of the story.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Well, not for Luke, but Dr. Delirium, The Dragon of the Zero season, is Maya's long-lost father, Dr. Paul Cooper.
- Mad Libs Catch Phrase: Often directed from the Combo Rangers to whatever villain is in the scene, though it may be the villain of the turn to them, or some other hero to the villain. Also, the first line must be said off-scene.A: Stop right there, [insert random insult here]!
B: Who said that?
- Make My Monster Grow: Possibly the most disgusting method available: have Pum fart at them and up they go.
- Malaproper: Fox is a master at these.
- Meganekko: Lisa
- Mood Whiplash: The JBC series was quite prone to this, swinging between light-hearted and funny in one issue, to action-packed (but not without the idiosyncratic humor) in another, to a heartwarming tear-jerking tale in another.
- That's far from the only example, though. The final episodes of the first and second seasons grew more and more serious in comparison to the lighter earlier episodes.
- Multicolored Hair: Tati has light ash-brown (okay, orange) hair with blond streaks.
- Mysterious Waif: Luke is a male version.
- '90s Anti-Hero: The ironically-named Pacificator.
- Non-Indicative Name: Combo Rangers Zero is not a prequel series.
- Older Than They Look: Chronologically speaking, Combo should be around his 50s/60s; however, his superhuman physiology prevents him from physically aging any further than in his heyday in The '60s.
- Parental Abandonment: Tati's parents died shortly after she was born, so she was raised by her Aunt April.
- Perpetual Poverty: Became a Running Gag since the loss of the original Combo Base, and even harder in the JBC series, wherein Uncle Combo was shown to be constantly broke and trying to make ends meet (he even boards at Spectroseven's home for a while).
- Planet of Hats: Yabusei, Yabu's homeworld, where everybody looks like him. Even the women.
- Power Incontinence: The entire reason why the Mighty Combo retired from superheroics: while he was a Superpower Lottery winner, these powers started to steadily cause harm to his body, to the point using them could kill him. This is why he decided to create the Combo Rangers, so he could still indirectly fight for justice.
- The Power of Love: This is how Lisa manages to bring Luke back to life after his second death (the one from the alternate future not counting).
- And Luke retributes the favor to a heavily wounded Lisa.
- Princely Young Man: Ken is a Prince Charming/Gentleman composite, but he's not too happy about it.
- The Psycho Rangers: The Crystal Warriors from the final episodes of the original series.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After the Crystal Warriors destroy General Monte's plans and empire and his wife ditches him, Pum instantly jumps ship and leaves him alone.
- Shout-Out: They were especially bad about this in the first series, with various characters from different media popping up in cameos (Sailor Venus as a TV reporter, for example), as well as a few other things, like the Combomobile's license plate being "Beverly Hills, 90210". Not to mention the fact that Super Macacaloiro is a Super Saiyan pastiche.
- Sickeningly Sweethearts: By default, this is how Tati's relationship with Fox works.
- Soul Jar: Before dying towards the end of the first season, Luke transferred his soul to a shard of the Supernova Crystal so that, one day, he could be revived in his present body. This, coupled with Lisa's feelings for him, is how he is able to come back to life after the backlash of his depowering in Zero.
- Status Quo Is God: Parodied in episode 13 of the original series. The original Geography teacher (who had been vampirized and killed a few episodes before) is replaced by her twin sister who, conveniently enough, also teaches Geography. Much to Fox's chagrin.
- Stock Sound Effects: In the form of Written Sound Effect, the webcomics frequently culled onomatopoeiae from regular comics (like the BA-DOOM every time something exploded in season 1).
- Strictly Formula: As far as a Super Sentai parody could go, until story arcs were introduced.
- "Super Sentai" Stance: Averted at first, but more experimented with as the art evolved beyond the stubby kid bodies. Lampshaded when they first meet the Go Go Riders:Fox: (laughing hard) These guys pose even more than us!
- Theme Naming: The original Combotrons are named after operating systems:
- Red's and Yellow's are Unix distributions (Redhat and Linux, respectively)
- Green's and Pink's are codenames for Windows versions (Chicago - for Windows 95 - and Memphis - for Windows 98 - , respectively)
- Blue's and White's are pretty straightforward (macOS and Windows, respectively)
- Toilet Humor: Plenty during the first season! But what would you expect from an alien invader who looks like a hulking piece of poo, with a helper who makes monsters grow by farting on them?
- Translation: "Yes": In episode 19 of Zero, Pum's lines are given captions. Even though he still uses Pokémon Speak, the captions are ridiculously long.
- Waxing Lyrical: Everyone through most of episode 4 of Revolution, due to it revolving around music. Its title is even "The Day the Music Died"!
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Fabi's is purple. Also, all the Go Go Riders (except for Pulse, the Pink Rider, whose hair is orange) have color-coded hair (though Flash's flip-flops between blue and orange like Pulse's).