Sunday, March 11, 2018

Il Giornalino (1995) #16

Originally published by: San Paolo
Publication date: April 19, 1995

Story: Federica Montanari
Art: Giuseppe Montanari and Claudio Piccoli

"Train Assault"


Davos, Switzerland.  The Turtles are enjoying a ski trip when they're suddenly attacked by several armed goons in masks.  The goons chase them over a cliff and leave, assuming the Turtles are done for.  Luckily, the Turtles land in a safety trampoline at the bottom of the cliff.  The Turtles aren't surprised that they're being attacked, as they recently took a job for the Swiss government protecting a shipment of UNICEF cargo.  They decide to cut their ski trip short and get back to guarding the cargo, now that they know evildoers are after it.

Elsewhere, the goons return to their cabin base and are revealed to be Foot Soldiers working for Krang.  Krang wants the UNICEF cargo, as it is actually state-of-the-art lab equipment.  Though intended for medical science, Krang has deduced that he can use it to make chemical weapons.  And with the Turtles gone, nothing can stop him from stealing it.

On a back road, the Turtles are driving their Jeep to the train station when they're run into a tree by the Foot Soldiers in their own Jeep (who don't know it was the Turtles they sent into a crash).  Recognizing that it's the Foot Clan they're dealing with, the Turtles give chase.  To stop them in time, the Turtles "borrow" a Swiss army helicopter.

They spot the Foot Soldiers attaching explosives to the train rails and repel down from the helicopter to stop them.  They beat up the Foot Soldiers and remove the explosives just in time to let the UNICEF train pass by unscathed.  As a reward, the Swiss government gives them a week-long ski holiday in Davos.

Turtle Tips:

*The last TMNT story published in Il Giornalino (that I know of) was in Il Giornalino (1995) #8.  The next TMNT story published in Il Giornalino (that I know of) is in Il Giornalino (1995) #19.

*In January 2018, TMNT fan Nortock Diab coordinated a translated edition of this story after coming into possession of the original black and white pages.  Released unofficially as Tales of the TMNT Special by ND Publishing, it featured a new cover by Benjamin Carret, frontispiece and epilogue by Nortock Diab, and an English translation with script revisions by Diab and Sera Leggett.

*You can find the PDF of the translated edition from ND Publishing here.


So a very big thanks goes out to Nortock Diab and his team for translating this comic and making it available for fans!  And another big thanks to Adam Winters, who shared a number of other Il Giornalino TMNT comics with me.

An index of the Italian Il Giornalino TMNT comics is something I've wanted to put together for a while, even though it would be incomplete (info on these comics is surprisingly scarce).  But there just aren't enough hours in the day.  I still have to finish my reviews for the Fleetway UK TMNT comics and I haven't even gotten started on the index for the Dengeki Japanese TMNT manga.  I should get paid for this shit.

But one of the reasons I would LIKE to get this info out there, even if I can't read Italian, is because the art in Il Giornalino's TMNT comics tended to be very, very good.  I often can't make heads or tails of the stories, but they sure are nice to look at.

It's cool to have this story translated, at least, to give a better idea of what these comics were legitimately like.  As you can see, they're inspired by the Fred Wolf TMNT cartoon but don't ascribe to its continuity.  Or any OTHER continuity.  The Turtles are more like celebrity heroes or special agents who can be hired by governments to perform security tasks.  That's a new one.

Though when I got to the part of the story where the Turtles were risking their lives to see a UNICEF delivery through, all I could think about was this:

Some of the other anomalies in this story are worth taking a look at.  You've got human Foot Soldiers, for instance, and they all report to Krang who is operating independently of the Shredder.  One of the weirder plot holes is that the Turtles don't recognize the Foot Soldiers when they're on the hill (despite the Foot logo on their jackets), but they recognize them immediately when they're in the Jeep, even though they never changed clothes.  Also, the color version of this story made Krang green, apparently:

The art by Montanari and Piccoli is very crisp and expressive; it's nice to see it in black and white so you can better appreciate the line work.  The colors in Il Giornalino were never so bad they inhibited the art, but I think green Krang up there might give you an idea at how much quality control went into that aspect of the comic.

Well, hopefully one of these days I'll be able to put that Il Giornalino index together.  It's a little daunting since I don't know all the issues that had TMNT content in them, so there'd be gaps, and I can't read any Italian, so my summaries would be thin and vague.  I'm better off focusing on the Fleetway stuff, since it's in English, and the Dengeki stuff, since I speak Japanese.  And don't even get me started on the Spanish TMNT comics from Division.  I wouldn't know what to do with those even if I had any.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

TMNT (IDW) #79

Publication date: February 28, 2017

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, and Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Brahm Revel
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Publisher: Greg Goldstein

"Invasion of the Triceratons, Part 4"


In the streets of Manhattan, the EPF and the Triceratons are engaging in all-out war, with Bishop continuing to lead the charge (using the mind-controlled Slash as his puppet).  Mr. and Mrs. O'Neil have been picked up by one of Baxter Stockman's robot-controlled evacuation vehicles, but rather than being ushered out of the city like the rest of the citizens, they are being taken to TCRI.  Mrs. O'Neil makes sure to get plenty of footage of the battle as they drive through it.

At Foot Clan HQ, Raphael and his brothers object to being put under house arrest, as they are no longer members of the Foot Clan and Splinter has no jurisdiction over Clan Hamato.  Splinter reminds them that he is still their father and what he says goes, ordering the Foot Soldiers to keep a strict watch over his sons.  Once he leaves, the Turtles sense a conflict in Jennika and try to reason with her.  Michelangelo tells her what a psychiatrist friend of his gave him some advice about Splinter; that even though he's their father and her master, he is still a human being and capable of making mistakes.  Leonardo tells her that to be the best Chunin possible, she needs to recognize when her master is in error and make the choices that best suit him, whether he realizes it or not.  Jennika agrees to help them slip out of Foot Clan HQ and hopefully get to Commander Zom before Splinter has her assassinated.

At TCRI, Mr. O'Neil catches up with Baxter Stockman, who seems pleased that he's recovered from his paralysis.  The O'Neils chide Baxter for making his evacuation of the city a for-profit endeavor, but they aren't surprised by it.  Mr. O'Neil suggests that Baxter should be using his resources to get the Triceratons out of New York, not the residents, and that gives April an idea.

On the rooftops, the Turtles are caught in the crossfire between the EPF and the Triceratons.  They try to take down an EPF sniper, but that only draws attention to them.  Donatello gets a message from April, who relays a plan to him.  He and his brothers then fight their way through a unit of EPF soldiers.

At a church which is now the Triceraton base of operations, Commander Zom coordinates her soldiers and feels that soon she will triumph over the EPF.  And after taking Manhattan, the Triceratons will prosper and eventually reclaim all of Earth.  Splinter and his Foot Elite Guard arrive and tell Zom that she will not survive long enough to bring her plans to fruition.  Before they can attack, the Turtles show up and initiate a standoff.

Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (IDW) #78.  The story continues in TMNT (IDW) #80.

*Mikey's "psychiatrist friend" (Dr. Peter Venkman) helped him work out his parental issues in TMNT/Ghostbusters 2 #2.

*Mr. O'Neil's history at Stockgen and the cause of his paralyzing stroke were detailed in TMNT (IDW) #30.  Mrs. O'Neil used ooze to cure Mr. O'Neil's paralysis in TMNT (IDW) #32.

*This issue was originally published with 3 variant covers: Cover A by Damian Couceiro, Cover B by Kevin Eastman and Tomi Varga, and Retailer Incentive Cover by Dave Wachter.


It's good to see the Turtles finally start taking a major role in their book again.  "Invasion of the Triceratons" hasn't been a bad arc or anything, but the Turtles have been sitting in the backseat for most of it.  This book IS called "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" after all.

The focus on the Turtles also sees us with a bit of reward on the "Splinter leading the Foot Clan" thing that's been going on for thirty issues.  I think we all knew that a point of contention, a SERIOUS point of contention, was going to come between the Turtles and Splinter; it was just a matter of counting the pages until it happened.  They've been estranged, sure, over things like Splinter even considering taking over the Foot (which drove Mikey away) to Splinter killing Darius Dun (which drove the rest of his sons off), but this is the first time they've had to butt heads.  It's a case where I HAVE appreciated the slow-burn build-up for this arc.  The pressure has been mounting, little by little, and they've been TRYING to stay out of each other's way as much as possible, but this was going to go down eventually.

I'm hoping the showdown next issue doesn't end in a copout.  I don't want Splinter to realize the error of his ways too soon, but rather to have this confrontation estrange them further and build additional tension over the next twenty issues or so.  Solutions should never be easy, and really, this is a new dynamic I've been enjoying and I don't want to see it go so soon.

The war with the Triceratons has been "big" but it's also been sort of happening in the margins while the more intimate storylines have been developing around it.  I don't feel shortchanged on it, not in the way I did with the almost completely unseen gang war back during "City Fall", as we've gotten to see enough warfare in the streets so far (especially in this issue).  That said, I can't make heads or tails of who is supposed to be "winning" this thing.  Bishop/Slash is trouncing Triceratons left and right and even the EPF snipers are taking them down with ease.  But then at the end of the issue, Zom is gloating that her forces will soon be victorious when all we've seen so far is them getting wrecked.

For whatever reason, Damien Courceiro had to check out on the art duties for "Invasion of the Triceratons", leaving Brahm Revel to finish up the arc.  Revel had previously done the Jennika-centric back-up story "What is Ninja?" from TMNT Universe #6 thru TMNT Universe #9.  Revel's style isn't a duplicate of Courceiro's by any means, but it isn't so offbeat as to derail the seamlessness of the storyline.  They blend well-enough and I'm sure Pattison's colors can be thanked for providing much of the visual unity.  Revel's aesthetic is perhaps a bit "sketchier" in appearance, particularly in the hands and feet, where it looks like he just tried to clean-up a thumbnail rather than complete the pencils.  There's a stylistic consistency about it, so there isn't any one instance that stuck out to me, but once you begin to notice how the hands and feet all seem to terminate in these weird jagged blocks whilst the rest of the bodies are nicely detailed, it might become bothersome.

What Revel does really well, though, are layouts.  "What is Ninja?" wasn't a favorite of mine in terms of the script, but the layouts for the art were its real high-point.  Revel brings that strength to his work on "Invasion" and even minor action sequences, such as the alley fight between the Turtles and the EPF (a throwaway skirmish), have a lot of panache and energy.  And there was excellent tension in the argument between Raph and Splinter; he draws a very menacing-looking Splinter that somehow manages to keep from crossing the line into appearing villainous.

"Invasion of the Triceratons", I suppose I can say even before it's conclusion, isn't going to go down as one of my favorite storylines in the series.  While I'm glad to get the Turtles back into the plot on a significant level, I really don't think that should ever have been an issue to begin with.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Black Hops: U.S.A.-G.I. (my new miniseries coming from Antarctic Press!)

I'm hittin' the comic racks on May 30th!  Black Hops: U.S.A.-G.I. is a two-issue miniseries coming from Mark Pellegrini (writer, me), Timothy Lim and Brian Denham (artists), and with covers by the legendary Dave Dorman!

"North Korea has a nuclear warhead aimed at Hawaii, and every last American commando unit sent in to disarm it has gone missing.  With the clock ticking, the fate of the Aloha State rests in the paws of U.S.A.-G.I.  This dauntless, highly trained special missions leporid must now cross the 38th parallel and take on the Nork forces, both man and animal, to save the world from a nuclear war!"

Here is the info in Previews and you can preorder it from your local comic shop.

If you're into cute animals killin' dudes, you might want to check it out!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Batman/TMNT II #4

Published by: DC Comics

Publication date: February 21, 2018

Plot: James Tynion IV
Dialogue: Ryan Ferrier
Art: Freddie Williams II
Colors: Jeremy Colwell
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Cover: Williams II and Colwell
Variant cover: Kevin Eastman and Tomi Varga
Assistant editor: Liz Erickson
Editor: Jim Chadwick

"A Knight in New York, Part 4"


In the lair, April and Casey are busy getting the interdimensional portal set up, though Casey can't get the Turtles on the communicator.  That's because at Stockgen, the Turtles, Batman and Robin are surrounded by Bane and his Venom-enhanced Foot Soldiers.  Bane offers them one last chance to submit to him, but Robin rejects it and attacks Bebop (ruining Batman's escape plan).  As a brawl erupts, Raphael confronts Bane but is quickly thrashed.  Before Bane can break Raph over his knee, Splinter interrupts him.  Grabbing Splinter, Bane pummels him and the violence causes Stockgen to collapse.  Baxter Stockman suggests they salvage the mutagen-laced Venom and leave, and Bane agrees, abandoning the Turtles and Batman to dig Splinter out of the rubble.

Later, in the lair, they get Splinter into a stable condition, but he's in a coma.  Donatello reveals that he stole some of the mutagen-Venom from Stockgen and suggests they use it to fight fire with fire.  Both Batman and Leonardo veto that idea immediately, as even regular Venom is too dangerous and addictive to even consider using.  Dejected, Donnie leaves the room to go pout.  Michelangelo suggests they order some pizzas, as it looks like they're in for a long night of strategy sessions.

Elsewhere, Karai's remaining Foot Soldiers return to her with news about Bane's expanding criminal empire.  She demands to know where Bane's new base of operations will be and one Foot Soldier reveals that he's taking over the Statue of Liberty to send a message to the city.  Indeed, Bane has his Foot Soldiers put a luchador mask over Lady Liberty's face as he declares his dominance over New York.

That night, in the lair, everyone but Batman and Leo have gone to sleep.  Looking over maps, Batman suggests they monitor the subway lines, as it's the likeliest means of travel for the Foot.  Once they've figured out their most common routes, they'll be able to mount an offensive.  As they solidify their strategy, Donnie sneaks out.  He decides that the only way he'll be able to help his brothers against Bane is to be stronger and so he injects himself with the mutagen-Venom.

Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from Batman/TMNT II #3.  The story continues in Batman/TMNT II #5.


Is it just me, or do all the characters seem kinda... dumb in this miniseries?  Batman says he has a plan to escape but it requires them not to engage the Foot in battle.  Yet Robin attacks Bebop anyway and ruins it.  Bane wastes time offering his deadliest foes the chance to submit to him which he has to know they'd never do.  Then he goes into a rage and destroys his own lab, forcing his Foot to retreat so they can save the mutagen-Venom.  Splinter gives a speech about how Bane relies on strength and he will defeat him by using his brain, but we've already established that Bane is highly intelligent and not a mindless bruiser.  And anyway, Splinter doesn't use his brain at all to attack him, he tries to defeat him in a straight fight and gets crippled into a coma for it.  Elsewhere, Karai's all like, "Where's Bane hiding?" and a random Foot Soldier is like, "Bitch, the Statue of Liberty is wearing a luchador mask, where do you think he's hiding?!"  And EVERYONE is telling Donnie not to use the mutagen-Venom because jeez, dude, you're supposed to be the smart one.  But he juices up with it anyway.

Why is everyone in this comic so stupid?

That's a real problem, because when the tension hinders on your protagonists being lunkheads who keep making the wrong choices, you lose your investment in the story very quickly.  And the story-itself is running drearily by-the-numbers so far; there hasn't been one narrative beat yet that wasn't completely telegraphed.

The dialogue, too, seems extremely overwrought, perhaps as a consequence of hiring a second writer to pen the dialogue exclusively.  When you only have one thing to focus on and you want to earn that paycheck, I guess you're gonna overdo it and give the characters nothing but ponderous soliloquies that would make Chris Clarement blush.

I'm rapidly losing my interest in this miniseries and, though I think I've said it before, really am just picking it up for the art.  That remains a consistent source of appeal and even sillier moments, like Lady Luchador, have an epic feel to them that overcomes the shortcomings in the script.  But the fact of the matter is, this is a pretty dumb comic.