Saturday, January 30, 2010

TMNT (Vol. 3) #7



Originally published: February, 1997

Writer: Gary Carlson
Penciler: Frank Fosco
Inker: Andrew Pepoy
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Erik Larsen
Chief executive: Garrett Chin
Brainless clod: Josh Eichorn
Cover pencils: Frank Fosco
Cover inks: Erik Larsen
Cover colors: Reuben Rude & I.H.O.C.

Summary:

On the roof of April and Casey’s apartment, Mike looks sullenly at the street below. Don finishes his investigation and determines that Shadow was never on the roof, assuring Mikey that she wasn’t playing up there. Raph comes back and says there’s no sign of Shadow in a five block radius. He begins to chide Mike for his poor babysitting skills, but Mike isn’t in the mood. Suddenly, Leo appears and says he’s found something.

Leo leads them to the box of Charlie, a hobo, who has been killed with a sai. They determine that Shadow was kidnapped and Charlie, unfortunately, was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The sai indicates ninja-involvement, but they decide it can’t be the Kunoichi seeking vengeance, as Lord Komodo packed up and went to Taiwan after his castle blew up. That just leaves the Foot Clan. Raph refuses to accept the verdict, as ever since their truce, he’s become friends with several members of the Foot and has even gone on missions with them. Raph rushes to a secret Foot base to get some answers. Arriving at the base (an old abandoned warehouse), he is greeted by several Foot Soldiers. Rather than fight, he politely requests an audience with their council.



Back at April and Casey’s place, April is still outside talking to the police. The Turtles decide to go in through the back, only to find an enraged Casey hurling all of Mike’s property out the door. Casey attacks Leo (mistaking him for Mike), blaming him for the disappearance of his daughter. Don pulls him back and Casey breaks down crying. He begins to throw them all out, but then April arrives and tells them not to go. She attempts to calm Casey down, but Casey is too distraught. He accuses April of being jealous of Shadow, as she was Gabrielle’s daughter and not her own, then storms out. April, crying, tells the Turtles that Casey had too much to drink at the party and didn’t mean any of the things he said.

At the warehouse, Raph is discussing matters with the Foot council. He asks if the Foot were involved with Shadow’s kidnapping and the head member of the council admits that they were (albeit unaware that Shadow was the daughter of a friend of theirs). Raph says that this is a breach of their truce and threatens to go straight to Karai. The council head says that there has been conflict between the New York and Japanese branches of the Foot Clan and that Karai has not been seen in weeks, presumed dead. The Foot council does make Raph an offer, though: if he kills a selected target for them, they will tell him where Shadow is.



Back at the apartment, the Turtles are trying to cheer April up. She regrets that she hasn’t been the “den mother” of the gang ever since she ran away to Los Angeles. She begins to wonder whether Casey even loves her anymore, or at least as much as he loved Gabrielle.

The Foot Soldiers lead Raph to the penthouse home of mobster Antoine ‘Big Tony’ Puzoreli and inform him that the man inside is his target. The Foot will only be acting as observers and Raph must perform the assassination on his own. Raph swings in through the living room window by rope and sneaks over to Puzoreli’s bedroom, narrowly avoiding being spotted by some blonde chick. He sneaks right up to Puzoreli and contemplates how much good he’ll be doing by killing such a tremendous scumbag. Honor eventually overcomes him and he backs down, vowing to find Shadow another way. About to leave, the lights come on and Raph spots the blonde chick… with Shadow?



Suddenly, several guards kick the door in and open fire. Raph escapes through the window and begins climbing the rope. One of the Foot Soldiers tells him that he’s failed his mission and must now pay the penalty. The Foot Soldier then cuts the rope and sends Raph falling down the side of the skyscraper.


Turtle Tips:

*This issue is continued from TMNT (Vol. 3) #6. The story continues in TMNT (Vol. 3) #8.

*The Turtles fought the Kunoichi and destroyed Dragonlord Komodo’s castle in TMNT (Vol. 3) #5.

*The Turtles pact with the Foot Clan happened in TMNT (Vol. 1) #61. Raph was first shown to have contacts within the Foot in TMNT (Vol. 3) #2.

*Chronologically, Karai last appeared in Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2) #43. The nature of her dishonor and missing status will be revealed in TMNT (Vol. 3) #25.

*Casey was first shown struggling with a drinking problem in TMNT (Vol. 1) #49.

*April ran away to Los Angeles in TMNT (Vol. 1) #50.


Review:

And so we segue into Volume 3’s next arc, the all-too-brief kidnapping of Shadow. This was an arc I really enjoyed, as it centered on the more human side of the Turtles (them actually having *gasp* emotional bonds with those that they love!) and dealt with a lot of inner turmoil, particularly between Casey and April. Though seeing Casey relapse back into his alcoholism was a bit disappointing, since the whole point of his arc during “City at War” was to see him recover from his downward spiral, I imagine that the kidnapping of your child would be good enough incentive for a relapse. April trying to cope with the fact that she abandoned the Turtles during “City at War” and doesn’t feel as closely connected to Shadow as Casey does was a nice touch, though marred by some more awkward info-dumping.

What this arc really initiated, though, was perhaps my favorite ongoing plot line of the Image series: Raph and the Foot Clan. While the initial Dragonlord Komodo arc felt like a trite superhero vs. super villain story, this arc really digs into the whole ninja aspect of the series which I adore above all else. Raph making friends among the Foot Clan during their truce felt like a pretty natural thing for him to do and his interactions with them will only proceed to get better. And I gotta say it again: I really love seeing Raph with that hockey mask on.

If there’s any element that sort of bugged me, it’s that once again the New York and Japanese branches of the Foot Clan are going through a power struggle. It sort of makes the primary plot line of “City at War” feel a bit wasted, as everything they worked so hard to resolve was undone off-panel. Granted, it’s been two volumes since Karai reunited the branches, so that’s plenty of time for things to fall apart again (especially if Karai is missing).

Anyhow, this second arc of Volume 3 almost feels like a completely different comic from the first one and all the better for it. Carlson’s really getting comfortable with the characters, showing their deeper emotional connections with the people around them, rather than having them run around like shallow cartoon characters.

Grade: B+ (as in, “But who are these ‘friends’ in the Foot Clan that Raph supposedly hangs with? They certainly weren’t there when he went for a visit in this issue”.)


Monday, January 25, 2010

TMNT (Vol. 3) #6



Originally published: January, 1997

Writer: Gary Carlson
Penciler: Frank Fosco
Inker: Andrew Pepoy
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Erik Larsen
Chief Executive: Garrett Chin
Is so fat he rocks himself to sleep trying to get up in the morning: Josh Eichorn
Cover pencils: Frank Fosco
Cover inks: Erik Larsen
Cover colors: Reuben Rude & I.H.O.C.

Summary:

Down in the sewers, the Turtles are just about done cleaning up their old lair. Mike retrieves the baby turtles Splinter gave them, though Raph informs him that one was accidentally crushed by Donny’s giant cyborg foot. The Turtles begin to wonder if they’ll ever find Splinter and if he’ll ever be returned to normal, but they have more pressing urgencies: namely, Donny’s mental health.



Stepping into Don’s room, they find their brother with his arm-cannon aimed at his head. They urge him not to commit suicide, but Don says it’s all a big misunderstanding. He pulls the trigger and nothing happens. He explains that he’s still tinkering with his new cyborg body and was trying to ensure that his arm-cannon could never be used against himself, as it had been used against the cyborg armor’s previous user. The Turtles decide to challenge Donny to a sparring match to help him gain better control of his new body. Don is reluctant, as he doesn’t want to hurt any of them, but they insist. Don uses the shape-shifting armor to transform his limbs into various tools, including a bo staff, and takes his brothers out with little effort.



Meanwhile, Casey Jones is heading down to the lair with some groceries. He’s a bit depressed, as the responsibilities of parenthood have neutered his old vigilante ways. He hears the Turtles sparring and decides to join the party for old time’s sake. Donning his star-spangled hockey mask and grabbing a bat out of his golf bag, he “sneaks” into the lair. He mistakes Donny for one of the cyborgs that trashed the lair and decides to save his buddies. He begins wailing on Don, who refuses to fight back. Suddenly, the armor’s computer takes command and prepares to blow Casey’s head off with its arm-cannon. Casey and the Turtles slowly talk the computer down, giving Don enough time to reassert control. Casey apologizes, having forgotten that Mike told him Don was a cyborg now.

Casey asks Mike to babysit Shadow for him while he and April go to a party. Mike doesn’t mind, as he loves babysitting the little princess, and leaves for Casey and April’s apartment. Once there, April tells Mike that the publishers he sent his short fiction to have all rejected his submissions, save Poetry Digest, which has paid him $20 for two of his poems. Mike is thrilled, as this is his first piece of published work. Casey and April then leave for their party (Casey has apparently been promoted to Assistant Produce Manager at the grocery store where he works and they want to celebrate). Leaving, April feels a bit depressed, wondering if Shadow could ever love her like she was her real mother. Casey reminds her that Gabrielle will always be special to Shadow, but April is just as much her mother, now. They then consider the prospect of giving Shadow a baby brother to play with.



Back at the apartment, Mikey attempts to put Shadow to bed, but falls asleep in the middle of the bedtime story. Shadow goes back out to the living room to play more video games when she hears a sound at the door. Thinking it’s her mommy and daddy, she opens the door up to find a stranger. The stranger than whisks her away.


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (Vol. 3) #5. The story continues in TMNT (Vol. 3) #7.

*Splinter gave the baby turtles to the TMNT as a birthday gift in TMNT (Vol. 3) #1.

*Casey first acquired his “star-spangled hockey mask” in Bodycount #3. It was last seen in Bodycount #4.

*Mike was first shown to take an interest in writing in TMNT (Vol. 1) #17.

*Gabrielle died while giving birth to Shadow in TMNT (Vol. 1) #58.


Review:

For me, issue 6 was the real turning point for Image’s TMNT series. A light “breather” issue, it gives the book what it had been needing since the series began: a chance for the characters to really interact on a personal level. Carlson proves that once he's willing to slow down for a second, he actually has a very good handle on the primary cast members. The Turtles all show a concern for Donny’s well-being, but also being warriors, they’re equally concerned as to whether Donny can still fight or not. This, of course, doesn’t erase the frustrating fact that none of them seemed to give a shit when they thought Donny was dead, but it does take the edge off a bit.

One of my favorite moments, though, was Mikey’s interaction with the Jones family. I loved how Carlson picked up on a pretty forgotten thread, Mike’s interest in being an author, and ran with it to give the Turtle something to do on the side. Casey, as cool as he is, is really sort of a loser. Seeing him celebrate something as ridiculous as being “promoted” to Assistant Produce Manager is hilarious, as is his interaction with Mike; “Two successful business tycoons, that’s us, Mikey!”

There’s some awkward info-dumping going on in the issue, as Mike has to “remind” his brothers that Shadow is Casey’s daughter (like they’d forget that), and Casey and April have an awkward scene where they tell each other about Shadow’s true parentage, but it was more for the audience’s sake and is important back story for any newcomers. Shadow’s parentage will be at the crux of an upcoming story arc in the title, so the info-dumping was a necessary evil.

Fosco’s keeping up the good work. I love this cover, even if it’s a tad misleading in regards to content (like most of his covers). As a life-long “Friday the 13th” fan, I do get annoyed to no end when I see people associating hockey masks with chainsaws (Jason has never used a chainsaw. NEVER!), but it just looks so cool I can’t get too upset. Fosco draws an…interesting April, that’s for sure. She doesn’t really look like April; more like a supermodel or some Mafia guy’s floozy or something. I think it was the loss of the frizzy hair that threw me off.

Anyhow, this issue provided a break in the action the series desperately needed and shows that Carlson does have a good handle on the characters when he's willing to take the adrenaline down a notch.

Grade: B (as in, “But I don’t think I’ve ever liked Casey’s star-spangled hockey mask”.)


Friday, January 22, 2010

TMNT (Vol. 3) #5



Originally published: December, 1996

Writer: Gary Carlson
Penciler: Frank Fosco
Inker: Andrew Pepoy
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Erik Larsen
Chief Executive: Garrett Chin
Has a crush on Punky Brewster: Josh Eichorn
Cover pencils: Frank Fosco
Cover inks: Erik Larsen
Cover colors: Reuben Rude & I.H.O.C.

Summary:

Outside Lord Komodo’s castle, Leo, Raph and Mike are making short work of the guards (though Leo and Raph naturally argue over subduing vs. killing). Snooping around, they eventually spot Master Splinter…having tea with Dragonlord Komodo.



Inside, Komodo regrets that Splinter must be executed as he knows too much. Komodo plans on regaining his ancestral position as Emperor of Japan and his armies all over the globe stand ready for the take-over…which cannot take place until he cures his diseased Bushido spirit. Splinter then collapses thanks to some drugged tea and Komodo has him hauled off to the lab for further processing.

In the cornfield not far away, Don is trying to cope with his new cyborg body. Mako recovers from the laser blast he took and hightails it out of there, while Donny is besieged by the angry consciousness of the cyborg armor’s previous user. Don recalls that after he and the cyborg fell from the helicopter and splattered on the street, the cyborg armor crawled over to Don’s dying body and merged with it. Realizing that the consciousness talking to him is nothing more than an old memory file, Don deletes it and takes full control of the armor. He then trudges slowly toward Komodo’s castle for some revenge.

In the lab, Dr. Wu prepares a syringe of mutagen to inject into Splinter. Pimiko stops him, much to Lord Komodo’s annoyance, as she has some questions. Pimiko reveals that she is the daughter of none other than Oroku Saki: The Shredder. She claims that her mother fled from Saki before she was born and that Komodo gave them refuge. Pimiko wishes to know if it is true that the Hamato Yoshi “clan” are responsible for her father’s death. Splinter takes responsibility and Pimiko demands the right to face him in combat; a request Lord Komodo refuses.



As Dr. Wu prepares to inject Splinter with the mutagen, Leo, Raph and Mike burst in through the skylight and attack. Dr. Wu begins injecting Splinter, but Pimiko stabs him in the torso and tosses him away before he can finish (inadvertently causing him to inject the remainder of the mutagen into one of the Dragonlord’s pet Komodo dragons). As the Kunoichi, who are loyal only to the Dragonlord, attack, Pimiko offers to help the Turtles and Splinter escape, citing that she will no longer serve Komodo. Raph helps the woozy Splinter down into a secret tunnel and rejoins the fracas. Suddenly, the Komodo dragon mutates and attacks.

Things are looking bad until, out of the blue, Donnie arrives and blasts the mutated Komodo dragon away. The Turtles are thrilled to see that their brother is alive, but the reunion will have to wait; the Dragonlord has initiated the castle’s self-destruct. The Turtles flee into the tunnel, but Pimiko stays behind, saying that she must try to help the injured Kunoichi that the Dragonlord left behind.



The tunnel leads into a cave where the Turtles are besieged by a swarm of bats… and one really, really big bat. They realize that the bat is Splinter, transformed by the mutagen into a mindless beast, and give chase. He escapes into the night and the Turtles fly off in the Triceraton aircar just as the castle explodes. They decide to head back to the lair and hope Splinter returns there once he’s come to his senses. Donnie, though, is a little irked that his brothers have yet to ask what’s happened to him.


Turtle Tips:

*This issue follows TMNT (Vol. 3) #4. The story continues in TMNT (Vol. 3) #6.

*Don and the cyborg took their tumble out of the helicopter in TMNT (Vol. 3) #1.

*The mutated komodo dragon will return in TMNT (Vol. 3) #17.

*Pimiko will return in TMNT (Vol. 3) #18.


Review:

And the first story arc of Carlson’s Ninja Turtles series comes to a close. This arc introduced a lot of interesting ideas and characters, and really whet my appetite for more, but as my previous reviews have made clear, I took some exception to the execution.

This issue reunites the brothers for the first time since the series began and is, in fact, the first time we get to see all four Turtles fighting side by side (now that Donny’s back). It’s a rushed reunion and even Carlson seemed to be aware of that fact, as Donny makes light of it in the last panel of the comic. Still, it’s comforting to finally have them all back together, even if now we have to worry about Splinter being on the lam.

The Dragonlord is still going to take a while to really build himself up as a remarkable villain. Where things stand right now, he still feels like he stepped out of the Fred Wolf cartoon; a generic overlord character who wants the mutagen so he can take over Japan and then the world, mua ha ha ha. Pimiko, on the other hand, really stole the show with the bomb she dropped. Daughter of Oroku Saki, huh? She’s still a victim of the 90s “bad girl” trend, but at least now she’s finally interesting.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll just drive the point home here: the first arc of Image’s TMNT series was my least favorite. However, the book spikes upward in quality after this point, so it’s worth sticking to even if you didn’t like these first five issues. The story may be fairly bland and paint-by-numbers, but it’s the threads that it sets up for future arcs that matter.

Grade: C (as in, “Can’t help it. The floating cyborg head reminded me of the Great Gazoo from The Flintstones. Sorry”.)


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2) #66



Publication date: January 20, 2010

Script: Dan Berger
Art: Jim Lawson
Letters: Eric Talbot
Cover: Jim Lawson and Steve Lavigne
Frontispiece: Michael Dooney

“There’s No Place Like Home”

Summary:

Frontispiece: A bandaged-up Raph holds a small dog, remarking how much he hates seeing the poor pups abused by bad owners.

It’s New Years Eve. On the roof of Casey’s place, Don is trying to fix the satellite dish so Casey won’t miss the football games. Mike, however, is mourning the loss of his youth, realizing that he and his brothers are getting pretty damn old. Down on the street, Mikey observes a mother and her son putting up posters for their lost dog, Appa. Filled with righteous vigor, Mikey takes it upon himself to find Appa and save that family’s New Year. Don reluctantly goes along for the ride. As they search the alleys, though, they find reward posters for dozens of different dogs and the plot thickens.



Elsewhere, at “Joe’s Fish Market”, a pair of Madhattan Maulitia thugs are emptying a truckload of the night’s “haul”. It turns out they’re behind all the missing dogs: kidnapping them and returning them to their owners for the reward money. It seems their organization’s funds are drying up and they need money to wage their xenophobic war on aliens.

At Casey’s place, the big man is pissed that he’s missing his football game. Fed up, he, Raph and Leo head to the roof to tell Donny to get the lead out. Seeing that Donny and Mike are nowhere to be found, they decide to go hunt for them.

Mike and Donny, meanwhile, have successfully found Appa, but only a moment too late. One of the Maulitia thugs has found him first and dragged him over to the fish van. Don and Mike intervene, making short work of all the thugs, though Appa scurries off in the ruckus. Realizing there are bigger fish to fry, they climb into the fish van and take a trip to “Joe’s” to put a stop to this nonsense.



Meanwhile, Casey and the gang have also noticed the bizarre number of animal reward posters. It doesn’t take long for them to put two and two together and realize that Mike has gotten distracted by the all puppies.

Mike and Donny have successfully infiltrated “Joe’s”, but not so successfully ended the Maulitia’s operation. Taking tasers to the chest, the Turtles get locked up in cages. The Maulitia are freaked to see real aliens for themselves, validating their entire crusade, and intend to show Mike and Donny to the media.



Not far away, Casey and the rest are met by Appa, who beckons them to follow. They do and Appa leads them straight to “Joe’s”. As they bust in and start taking down the Maulitia, Mike escapes from his cage and frees all the other dogs so they can get some well-earned revenge. With the bad guys beaten, Mikey makes a discovery: there are TWO Appas! Actually, the real Appa had been caged up at “Joe’s” the whole time. The one they’d all been chasing was really his twin sister, Lassie.

The Turtles and Casey then decide to forget about the football game and do something truly meaningful with their New Years: they return every lost pooch to their rightful owner.


Turtle Tips:

*The Turtles previously encountered the Madhattan Maulitia in Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2) #57.

*Due to the Madhattan Maultia’s uncertainty in regards to the existence of aliens (and also that the public isn’t aware of them), and the fact that Mike acknowledges that he and his brothers are getting really old, this issue likely takes place just before TMNT (Vol. 4) #1.

*With that being the case, that would set this issue on December 31, 2001.

*I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that “Appa” is named after the flying bison from Nickelodeon’s “Avatar: The Last Airbender” cartoon, in reference to the recent Nickelodeon/Viacom buy-out.

*This issue also contained a bonus pin-up, “Donatello vs. the Loveland Frogmen”, by Fernando Leon Gonzalez & Ryan Brown.


Review:

So we’ve reached the home stretch for Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2). Only five issues to go and then it’s all over! Kicking off the “final five” is this, a comedy relief issue with a pretty saccharine ending. That might normally be a bad thing, but the goofy banter and self-awareness of the issue helped overcome what might sound like a pretty lame story in summary format.

In several ways, “There’s No Place Like Home” works really well as a lead-in to TMNT (Vol. 4). It addresses one of the major plot threads of that series: the Madhattan Maulitia and their xenophobic war on aliens. Issues like this and Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2) #57 go a long way in building them up so their appearance in TMNT (Vol. 4) #1 feels a little less random and out of the blue. Additionally, Mike’s acknowledgement that he and his brothers aren’t teenagers anymore segues nicely into the first issue of Volume 4, which had the most “we’re too old for this shit" dialogue of all the issues in that series.

If anything, I’d say it takes place only a few days/weeks before TMNT (Vol. 4) #1, given the seasonal setting. In that regard, comedy relief story or not, it makes for a pretty serviceable prologue to that series if you wish to look at it that way.

So far as the “comedy” goes, well, this isn’t a laugh out loud story by any means, but the humor is implemented well. Better than other comedy issues such as, say, Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2) #62. The fun is mostly in the dialogue, which almost seems like it was written after Lawson had drawn the book and captioned into place. It’s all a bit goofy, such as the convoluted names for the various Bowls that Casey wants to watch, or Leo of all Turtles randomly musing, “Mmmmm…Fritos.” With any luck, it’ll at least put a smile on your face.

While “There’s No Place Like Home” may not be what you’re wanting to see from the last five issues of Tales, I wouldn’t really look at it as a waste. Although I do wish they’d used these last few issues to tie-up the dangling plot threads from previous stories, the covers and plot summaries for these issues have been available for so long that I made peace with them a good while back.

Grade: C+ (as in, “Could Lawson have drawn cuter dogs, though? These mutts are all so ugly I can’t imagine anyone paying a reward to have them back”.)


Monday, January 18, 2010

Fun With Guns



Publication date: November, 1987

Originally published in: Raphael (microseries) #1 (2nd printing)

Story an’ art: Kevin Eastman
Letters: Steve Lavigne
Colors: Blond (color edition only)

“Fun With Guns”

Summary:

August 15th. 10:48pm.

At an abandoned building in Queens, Casey is showing Raph a mural he just painted based on characters by Vaughn Bode’. Raph is impressed, though he always thought Richard Corben was Casey’s favorite artist. Suddenly, a car swings into the empty lot, being chased by another car. The pursuers gun down their prey and he slams right into Casey’s mural. The gunmen then get out of their car and prepare to finish off their victim. Casey and Raph won’t stand for it and begin hurling bricks at them. Realizing that there are witnesses, the gunmen shoot up the gas tank of their victim’s car and then hightail it out of there.


Raph and Casey drag the dying man from the flaming wreckage. He introduces himself as Buck Dooney: the Bug Man. He says they have to get to Vern’s place and retrieve a suit those thugs stole from him. Then he dies. Nothing better to do, Raph and Casey decide to find Vern’s place.

They head to Vern’s Pool Hall Royal in a seedy part of town. Inside, the leader of the thugs is explaining that with their newly acquired firepower and the Bug Man’s suit, they’ll be able to knock over any bank they want. Raph and Casey decide to “investigate” further and find some proof of their ill-deeds before they inform the police. They break into a store room and find a whole crap-load of automatic weapons as well as a duffle bag labeled “The Suit”. They grab the suit and some firearms and try to sneak back out, only to be surprised by a guard. The guard brains Raph with the end of a rifle, leaving Casey to escape.


The thugs tie Raph to a chair and threaten to kill him if he doesn’t tell them where Casey went with the suit. Suddenly, a giant armored behemoth bursts through the window, wielding an automatic weapon. The nametag on the suit reads “Bug Man” and Raph realizes that it’s Casey. The thugs all open fire with their machineguns and litter the floor with empty casings. As the dust settles, Casey is completely unscathed within the suit. Unfortunately, the outfit is too heavy and Casey topples over, through the upper floor of the building, taking the bound-up Raph with him. Then, the entire floor of the building collapses and all the thugs sink into the hole.


August 16th. 3:52am.


At Casey’s place, he and Raph are watching the news. The police apprehended the thugs shortly after the building collapsed, recovering the Bug Man’s “bullet absorbing suit”. Casey pokes fun at Raph for getting tied to a chair, while Raph wishes he’d left Casey in that suit he was stuck in.


Turtle Tips:

*In later material, such as the “Bodycount” miniseries (also written by Eastman), Casey shows a distinctly different opinion toward firearms, repeatedly saying how much he hates them. Perhaps this adventure had altered his opinion of guns in some way.

*The characters Casey paints on the wall are from Vaughn Bode’s underground comic strip, “Cheech Wizard”.

*This story was reprinted in the “Shell Shock” trade paperback. It was later colorized and reprinted in the "TMNT 25th: A Quarter Century Celebration" trade paperback.

*The nickname "Bugman" may be a reference to Mirage staffer Michael Dooney, who often went by that name at the Mirage offices (at least according to Peter Laird, he did).


Review:

“Fun With Guns” always struck me as being the “prototype” for Eastman’s “Bodycount” miniseries; a Raph and Casey solo story where they fight mobsters with lots and lots and lots and lots of guns. Between the two, I think I prefer “Fun With Guns”, as the concept barely had enough weight to support a fourteen-page back-up strip, much less a four-issue miniseries.

As an Eastman solo piece with no involvement from Laird, it boasts most of the typical things you see in Eastman-only Turtles stories: lots of guns, lots of blood and at least one set of boobs (Casey’s mural counts). Eastman is a self-professed Frank Miller-oholic and a lot of his solo-penned stories reflect that. They sport the 80s sensibilities of ultra-violence and grittiness for the sake of grittiness, and unless you’re really into that sort of thing, it can be just as annoying as Laird’s “aliens and giant monsters all the time” stories.

Unlike “Bodycount”, which took the joke way too far, “Fun With Guns” confines it to a fourteen-page back-up strip and it holds together pretty well. It’s a fairly harmless little gag story with some great art by Eastman. Not much else to say, really. If it offers anything more, though, I’d say it’s the reveal that Casey likes to paint (even if it’s just naked ladies on brick walls). Shows a softer side to the guy, though most future stories never really ran with this character trait.

So far as the idea of the Turtles or Casey using guns, well, I’ve never been very fond of it. Thankfully, in this story, they don’t actually use any of them, though they do show an interest in purloining a few for their own ends.

“Fun With Guns” is an enjoyable Casey/Raph solo story and I always get a kick out of those, and hey, its still a better read than “Bodycount”.

Grade: C (as in, “Casey’s wearing a U2 t-shirt? Are you kidding me?”)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Complete Carnage an' Radical



Publication date: November, 1988

Originally published in: TMNT (Vol. 1) #3 (2nd printing)

Story an’ pencils: Kevin Eastman
Inks: Jim Lawson
Lettering: Steve Lavigne

“Complete Carnage an’ Radical”

Summary:

On a rooftop in Manhattan, Raph and Casey are having a backflip contest. Raph, standing ontop of a chimney pipe, performs a perfect ninja flip…until the pipe breaks and he falls flat on his shell. Casey’s in stitches, but Raph fails to see the humor. At a loss for things to do, Casey recommends they head over to this abandoned old building on 6th Avenue he knows of so they can practice throwing Raph’s shuriken around. Raph’s all for it, so long as they don’t lose any of them, as he’ll have to come up with an explanation to Master Splinter if they do.


As they sneak into the rundown old dump, their presence awakens a hulking, spiky monster in a cape. The monster is distraught, believing it to be his arch-nemesis and regrets that he has yet to finish healing from their last encounter. Raph and Casey then meet the monster face to face, who introduces himself as none other than that villain of greatest renown: Complete Carnage. Raph and Casey have heard of Complete Carnage and immediately wet themselves.

As Carnage prepares to destroy them, his real arch-nemesis, the super heroine known as Radical picks him up on her “sensing sense”. She swoops down to the building, plows through a brick wall and tackles Carnage. The two foes trade several blows and some very uncreative banter before Radical drags Carnage out of the building and up into the sky. Fed up with him, Radical chucks the world’s lamest super villain straight to Arctic.


Down at the old building, the awe-struck Raph and Casey are still trying to get a handle on the face that they just saw a battle between a superhero and a super villain. They decide to slink off in case either of them might come back and Casey once again leads Raph to a “great place” for shuriken practice. Now on top of a building, Casey wins the target contest, but sends Raph’s shuriken flying three blocks away. Raph is not amused.


Turtle Tips:

*The Turtles will meet Complete Carnage and Radical again in Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 1) #5.

*This story was later republished in the “Shell Shock” trade paperback and then again in the "TMNT 25th: A Quarter Century Celebration" trade paperback.


Review:

And low, we have the introduction of two of the TMNT’s most random supporting characters ever: Complete Carnage and Radical. I never really knew what to think of them. They just sort of existed in the book, popping up whenever Eastman and Laird needed to get their “superhero” fix out of their system and then promptly disappeared back into crazyland where they came from.

Their introduction here is very similar to the introduction of Silver Sentry in the 4Kids cartoon episode “The Unconvincing Turtle Titan”. Superheroes and villains are just supposed to be a given as existing in the universe of the Ninja Turtles and you aren’t really supposed to give it much of a second thought. “Complete Carnage an’ Radical” does a decent job of getting that fact across, as Raph and Casey simply blunder into a running battle between two super-foes and don’t even rate participation. Heck, Radical doesn’t even seem to notice them.

As for the two super characters, well, they’re kind of intentionally lame in this story. Carnage has yet to manifest his ability to absorb manmade materials and Radical's still a silly caricature of goofy superhero stereotypes (she gets over this later on in the series and grows up, thankfully). They’re just these two ridiculous super-dorks, going about their business while Raph and Casey try and go about theirs.

And speaking of Raph and Casey, these back-up stories featuring the two of them paling around are some of my favorites (albeit there aren’t a whole lot of them). You can tell that there was a lot of “bonding” between the two buddy characters between Raphael (microseries) #1 and TMNT (Vol. 1) #10, but you never got to see it in the main TMNT series. These back-ups give you a nice glimpse at the two kindred spirits fairly early in their friendship and fills in a neat little gap in character development.

Overall, at only six pages, “Complete Carnage an’ Radical” isn’t much of a story, but it’s fun for what it is. Being one of the few short back-up strips to actually be referenced in issues of the main series, it’s also somewhat important for continuity purposes, if you’re one of those folks that gets driven up the wall by those little editor’s notes*.

Grade: B (as in, “But how old is Casey, anyway? I don’t know many twenty-one year-olds that like to hang out with fifteen year-olds”.)

*Bite me.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

TMNT (Vol. 3) #4



Publication date: October, 1996

Writer: Gary Carlson
Penciler: Frank Fosco
Inker: Andrew Pepoy
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Erik Larsen
Chief Executive: Garrett Chin
Is too "good for something"; you can always use him as a bad example: Josh Eichorn
Cover pencils: Frank Fosco
Cover inks: Erik Larsen
Colors: Reuben Rude & I.H.O.C.

Summary:

In an alley in Manhatten, Leo can’t understand how Donny could be nothing more than a busted shell and a skeleton when just a few minutes ago, he saw a vision of him merely paralyzed and bleeding. Raph and Mikey assure Leo that Donny’s dead and to just move on, already (real sensitive, guys). Leo realizes, though, that the skeleton in the shell can’t possibly be Donny’s since it has ten fingers and ten toes. Rather than ponder Don’s whereabouts any further, the Turtles decide to go save Splinter and get revenge, instead. Mike grabs Don’s empty shell and the Turtles pile into the Triceraton aircar.



They eventually arrive at the castle of Lord Komodo that Raph’s contacts in the Foot Clan and Mikey’s web-surfing had informed them about. Leo wants to wait until dark to infiltrate the place, while Raph wants to take a more direct approach. Mikey interjects and tells them they won’t be doing anything until they’ve buried Donny’s shell.

Inside the castle, Splinter is attempting to prevent Mako the shark-man from eating the unconscious Dragonlord Komodo. Mako may be bigger, but Splinter’s ninja skills give him the edge, as he breaks Mako’s nose. Suddenly, several komodo dragons arrive to even up the odds. As Mako plays around with them, Lord Komodo wakes up and prepares to fight. Unfortunately, his diseased Bushido Spirit chooses the most inopportune time to have an attack and Lord Komodo is transformed into a humongous but mindless komodo dragon. Witnessing the transformation, Mako realizes that it would’ve happened in his stomach if Splinter had let him eat Lord Komodo and is, ever so slightly, grateful.

As Mako makes his escape, Splinter declines the invitation to join him, as he wishes to stay and look after his host. Suddenly, Pimiko, the kunoichi and one of the Dragonlord’s scientists arrive on the scene. The scientist gives Komodo a vaccine to help him recover and sends several of his komodo dragons to go fetch the fleeing Mako. Pimiko quickly orders Splinter’s execution, as she believes he now knows too much.



In the woods not far away, the Turtles have buried Don and are paying their last respects. Raph and Leo cut the eulogy short to go get some revenge, while Mike stays behind to sob.

A few minutes later, the Turtles enter the cornfield outside Komodo’s castle. Suddenly, Mako comes bursting through the crops, being chased by a trio of single-minded komodo dragons. Mako hops into the Triceraton aircar and attempts to make his getaway, only to have Raph dump him to the ground with the car’s remote a half-mile away and re-park their vehicle.



Elsewhere, Don recalls his last few moments of consciousness in the alley. Right before he blacked out, the hulking form of the cyborg that fell out of the helicopter with him appeared looming over his paralyzed body. Don wakes up to find himself still paralyzed and, apparently, being carried off by the cyborg through a cornfield. They happen across the injured Mako and, despite Don’s warnings to run, Mako doesn’t budge and gets blasted by the cyborg. Don looks down at his arm and sees that it’s been transformed into a giant laser gun. Finally, it dawns on him: He is the cyborg.


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (Vol. 3) #3 and is continued in TMNT (Vol. 3) #5.

*Mike and Raph deduced the Dragonlord’s identity and location in TMNT (Vol. 3) #2.

*According to Carlson in the letters page for this issue, after Mako was jumped and beaten to a pulp by the Freak Force in Savage Dragon #24, Komodo’s cyborgs took advantage of the opportunity and captured the injured shark-man. Carlson wins a Marvel No-Prize.


Review:

During my first read through of Volume 3, this was the issue that ticked me off the most. As good a storyteller as Carlson is, he really dropped the ball with Don’s “death”. Aside from a single panel of Mike sobbing, none of the Turtles seem to really have much of an emotional investment in their brother’s death. I could almost accept Raph’s “tough guy” act to an extent, but his dialogue is just too over-the-top. “Don is history. If he’s not cooking in a pot of road-kill stew, he’s headed for a lab table in hanger 13.” Raph’s a jerk, but he’d never say anything that callous seconds after discovering one of his brothers just died. Mike is the only one who seems to give a damn and while that goes a long way, it isn’t enough. In this issue, the Turtles believe one of their brothers has died and even have an impromptu funeral for him. There should be a lot more emotion than what we got.

The rest of the issue is handed over to a gratuitous battle with Mako the shark-man from Savage Dragon. Fosco draws a good Mako, particularly in regards to giving him the lifeless “doll’s eyes” of an actual shark, rather than overly expressive cartoon eyes. It makes him more frightening and imposing than he really deserves to be. Mako must have been Larsen’s favorite “loan-out” villain or something as I was first introduced to the character when he randomly popped up in The Maxx #6. He’s not much of a villain, just an extreeeeeeeeeeme! gorefest thug that happened to pop up in a bunch of Image titles during the 90s because he was so third tier that you could do anything to him and it wouldn’t disrupt the narrative of the Savage Dragon comic.

As for Don becoming a cyborg, well, of the various “mutilations” that occurred throughout the Image series, I think I disliked this one the most. Raph getting his face melted off was pretty cool, Leo losing a hand was sort of swordsmanship-neutering but not a major drawback, but Don becoming a cyborg? I dunno, it just felt like a bad action figure promotion or something.

If there’s any good news, it’s that I typically regard this issue as the worst of the entire Image run, so its mostly uphill from here. Though he definitely dropped the ball on what should have been a much more somber and reflective issue, instead opting for some extreme 90s blood and guts action with Mako the shark-man, the true depth of Carlson’s storylines will begin to blossom after this point. And hey, if the lowest point of your twenty-three issue series is #4, then meh, that’s not so bad.

Grade: F (as in, “Fosco draws a real tiny Splinter, doesn’t he?”)


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

TMNT (Vol. 3) #3



Publication date: September, 1996

Writer: Gary Carlson
Penciler: Frank Fosco
Inker: Andrew Pepoy
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Erik Larsen
Chief Executive: Garrett Chin
Momma's boy: Josh Eichorn
Cover pencils: Frank Fosco
Cover inks and colors: Erik Larsen, Reuben Rude & I.H.O.C.

Summary:

At the mausoleum lair, Raph and Mike are desperately trying to fend off Pimiko’s kunoichi forces with no help from the catatonic Leo, who is still surfing the Astral Plane. In an alley twenty blocks away, Leo attempts to continue his conversation with Don, whose fall from the helicopter has completely shattered his shell and left the Turtle paralyzed. Leo realizes that if Don is to be saved, he’ll have to return to his body and get help. Flying off into the Astral Plane, though, he gets lost due to his novice skills. Luckily, Splinter’s astral form appears and guides him back to his body before returning to his own.



Splinter is still in Lord Komodo’s laboratory, being examined by scientists who determine that he’s a true anthropomorph. They report their findings to Komodo who is pleased and orders them to deliver Splinter to his chamber once he regains consciousness.

Meanwhile, in the alley, Don wakes up to find a small rat sniffing around him. Paralyzed from the neck down, he scares the critter off by yelling, only to realize that it could actually be chewing on his toes right now and he wouldn’t even know it.



Over at Lord Komodo’s palace, Splinter enters his bath chamber and is impressed by the many komodo dragons prowling around the joint. Komodo introduces himself as Warlord Go-Komodo, heir to the imperial Dragon Bushido, whose ancestors once ruled Japan (a position he seeks to reclaim). Splinter is honored to be in his presence, as he’d heard the Komodo lineage had been exterminated during World War I. Lord Komodo asks Splinter to prove his ninja skills by facing two of his elite samurai guard. Splinter effortlessly knocks them out. Lord Komodo apologizes for his disrespectful behavior and invites Splinter to tea. Splinter then relays the story of how he and the Turtles came to be (Hamato Yoshi, the Shredder, the ooze; you know the drill). Komodo asks if Splinter knows where the TCRI canister of ooze might be, but alas, Splitner knows not. Komodo then asks if there’s anything that would make Splinter more comfortable, and there is: a nice hot bath with two geisha.

At the mausoleum lair, Raph tells Mikey to watch Leo’s back while he goes after Pimiko. Raph plows his way through to the leading lady, only to have her skill rival his own. But before Round Two can commence, Raph is forced to concede defeat, as Mikey has been felled by a half-dozen arrows to the shell and the unconscious Leo is being dragged off by the kunoichi. Precisely in the nick of time, however, Leo snaps out of it and fights off the kunoichi. The ninja girls escape into their helicopter and disappear into the sky, though Raph has a plan to follow them. Raph runs off and returns with a Triceraton aircar that Zog had begun construction on some while back (and Don had completed in his spare time). The three Turtles fly into the sky, but Leo orders them to forget about Pimiko and go collect Don.



At Komodo’s laboratory, the Dragonlord is giving Splinter a tour. He shows him the cadavers of a number of anthropomorphs who failed to meet his standard. He explains that he wants to unlock the secret of the anthropomorphs so as to awaken the dragon spirit within himself. As the tour continues into the holding area, they discover that the carnivorous shark-man, Mako, has escaped from his cell. Mako knocks Komodo out and then informs Splinter of his intentions to eat their "host".

In Manhattan, the Turtles finally reach the alley where Don is supposed to be. They find a pool of bloody metal, assuming it to be the remains of the cyborg that took the fall with him, but no Don. Eventually, they happen upon a skeleton inside a busted turtle shell and ponder what could have happened to their poor brother.


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (Vol. 3) #2. The story will continue in TMNT (Vol. 3) #4.

*The origin of Splinter and the Turtles was first presented in TMNT (Vol. 1) #1.

*The Turtles befriended Zog in TMNT (Vol. 1) #19, though Zog met his end in TMNT (Vol. 1) #20.

*Among the dead mutants and other oddities held in stasis tubes in Lord Komodo’s lab, are ones that bear resemblance to Batman, the Rhino (the one accused of being a man in a cybernetic suit) and Cerebus the Aardvark, whom the Turtles met in TMNT (Vol. 1) #8 and again in Miami Mice #4.


Review:

After something of a rough start, the opening arc for Volume 3 as well as the overall plot elements are starting to come together. It’s nice to finally know just what’s up with Lord Komodo and why he’s so obsessed with furries, even if his backstory was relayed in a handful of vague sentences. It’s enough to satisfy my curiosities for now, anyway. Komodo’s a villain that takes a while to really build up into something other than a paper-thin overlord stereotype. He’s gettin’ there, though!

I harped on this back in my review for TMNT (Vol. 3) #1, but I do take issue with Carlson’s overuse of humor. I don’t mind it most of the time; the Turtles not taking everything absolutely seriously. But there are moments when they should be a Hell of a lot more somber than they are, and finding the corpse of their brother in an alley is one of them. Splinter, too, shows little concern for the son that got shot in the gut by a laser and thrown out of a helicopter right in front of him, instead opting to take a bath with a bunch of geisha (albeit, a pretty funny scene). In many ways, Volume 3 is a relic of the 90s, prioritizing “badass” elements over emotional resonance, no matter how it seems to conflict with characterization. The Turtles’ almost comedic reactions to Donny’s apparent death being one of the most offensive elements of this run. It doesn’t ruin the whole storyline, which I absolutely enjoy, but it does taint the volume a bit.

Still, there’s always Fosco. I love the way he draws Raph with Casey’s old mask on, to the point where it kind of bummed me out when Raph ditched it for the Shredder armor later on. Though speaking of which, if I have one complaint about Fosco’s art, it’s that he completely fabricated the Shredder’s appearance in the origin flashback; his helmet looking more like scuba gear than the classic get-up we know so well. That’s really my only qualm, though, and it’s just a single panel, at that.

At the moment, we’re still sort of slogging through the “rough” issues of the series, as Carlson is still trying to hit his stride with some mixed results in characterization along the way. These first few issues can be a little…irritating, but they’re worth it for the many entertaining plot threads they set up.

Grade: C- (as in, “Can someone tell me where they hid that Triceraton aircar in a cemetery where no one could see it?”)


Friday, January 8, 2010

Grimjack #26



Originally published by: First Comics

Publication date: September, 1986

Story and art: Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird
Letterer: Steve Lavigne
Colorist: Linda Lessmann
Editor: Rick Oliver

“D’Ants Fever”

Summary:

On the planet D’Hoonib, the Turtles and Professor Honeycutt (the Fugitoid) are desperately searching for a bar so they can hopefully join a starship crew and escape the Federats who want their heads. They find “a bar” (see Turtle Tips for details) that looks to be no bigger than a closet. When they press the entrance button, however, they step inside a massive tesseract (the Fugitoid explains that the bar exists in a pandimensional nexus, allowing entrances to it to appear in multiple places, regardless of space constraints).


The Turtles soon cross paths with a busty dame who agrees to introduce them to a Captain she knows. The Captain offers them a place on his freighter ship, but before the deal can be struck, a giant alien brute tells Raphael that he’s in his seat. Always the hothead, Raph picks a fight with the monster, not realizing that he’s the First Mate of the Captain’s ship and Raph actually is sitting in his seat. Before the two can fight, the dame slips Raph a Qwik-Gro pill, allowing him to spring up to the First Mate’s imposing height. Not to be outdone, the First Mate grabs the bag of pills from the dame, spilling them all over the floor, and takes one. The dame tosses Raph another one and the pair eventually grow to a size that the bar can barely contain.


Sensing trouble, an alien patron runs to get the “guy in charge” (see Turtle Tips for details) who tells Raph and the First Mate that fighting is prohibited in the bar. If they have issues, then there’s only one way to settle it: A drinking contest. Raph and the First Mate return to their proper heights, drink themselves senseless and happily sing songs together.

Suddenly, M.C. Chet announces the bar’s first official dance contest. As everyone begins to rock out with their cock out, a tiny D’Ant sits on the floor with a wine cooler, pouting that he’s too small to dance with anyone. He finds one of the discarded Qwik-Gro pills and takes it, popping up to a dashing, lady-killing height. Unfortunately, Qwik-Gro pills have a negative effect when combined with wine coolers and the D’Ant transforms into a hairy, tentacled monster.


The dame asks Raph and the Turtles to stop the D’Ant before he can hurt himself or anyone else. The Turtles tackle the D’Ant monster, only to get flung around by its tentacles. Chet misconstrues the situation as a bitchin’ new dance number and announces the Turtles and the D’Ant as winners of the contest. As the D’Ant returns to normal, everyone cheers (except the "guy in charge"). The Turtles decide to sneak out and find a different bar before anyone realizes that they’re actually teenagers and have been drinking underage.


Turtle Tips:

*This story takes place during TMNT (Vol. 1) #5, specifically, between pages 13 and 14.

*This story was originally published in color. It was changed to black and white for its printing in “Shell Shock”. Additionally, for that printing, all references to “Munden’s Bar” were changed to “Rick’s Dive” for legal purposes, as Munden’s Bar is owned by the creators of Grimjack; sometimes to hilarious effect, as the words “Munden’s Bar” on Gordon’s/Rick’s apron are crossed out with what looks like a few swipes of a Sharpie, even leaving behind several incriminating letters.

*Additionally, the character of “Gordon” had his name changed to “Rick”. Er, except in one panel, where it wasn’t. He also goes from being merely the shift manager to the bar's owner between versions. Also, his line at the end, “Mr. Gaunt is gonna be irate…” is changed to just a simple “What a night!”

*For the “Shell Shock” reprint, the jokes on the sign outside of the bar were also changed completely. For the Grimjack printing, the sign reads: “Welcome to Munden’s Bar! The best bar in 1257, 1509, 9999+ dimensions! To enter, press button and exit through transdimensional lock (Note: non-oxygen breathers – bring your own atmosphere!).” For the “Shell Shock” printing, the sign reads: “Rick’s Dive. No Standards. No Morals. No Ethics. No Conscious. Enter at your own risk.” I’d like to think they meant “No Conscience”, but who can say?

*The index in “Shell Shock” mistakenly lists this story with the title of “Rick’s Dive”, though “D’Ants Fever” can still be seen at the bottom of the first story page.

*The story was also reprinted in 1991 in Munden's Bar Annual #2.

*CHET ALERT: The M.C. of the dance contest identifies himself by the name “Chet”. There’s also a crate behind the bar labeled “Chet’s Old Time Brew”. “Chet” was an in-joke slipped into several issues of TMNT by the Mirage staff simply because…they liked the name.


Review:

Well this was a weird one, wasn’t it? Most of these TMNT short comics exist between issues or way off in Crazy Land some place. Not very many actually work themselves in-between pages of actual issues. To “D’Ants Fever’s” credit, it actually pulls it off fairly well without disrupting the narrative of TMNT #5 (not too much, anyway).

The story itself is just a silly comedy relief bit meant to appeal to the fans of the Munden’s Bar tales in Grimjack. With that in mind, the “Shell Shock” version sort of loses something in the transition, dropping all references to Munden’s Bar and what I’m assuming are also characters from that series (“Gordon” and “Mr. Gaunt”). The alterations are pretty inconsistent, as they go out of their way to change signs and jokes completely in one panel, while in others they just make due with a scribble from a Sharpie. It doesn’t really matter which version you read, but I think I prefer the Grimjack one since the color is quite nice and there’s no ugly Sharpie smears. Like so:


The art, though, is probably the most alluring thing about this short. Eastman and Laird really let fly with their goofy sides as the various aliens are just all sorts of crazy. Every inch of space seems to be filled with weird creatures of all shapes and sizes, reminding me a bit of illustrations from Mad Magazine and Tales from the Crypt, if you know the ones I’m talking about. At any rate, the story is a rather nice hybrid of Eastman’s and Laird’s different interpretations of “sci-fi”. Laird’s “I love Star Wars” gags are all over the place, but accentuated by Eastman’s “Heavy Metal” influences.

On a visual level, “D’Ants Fever” is very unique among the stable of short TMNT comics and definitely one of their more impressive-looking efforts. The bar sequences in TMNT #5 definitely pale in comparison to this story, anyway.



Thursday, January 7, 2010

New York Ninja



Publication date: June, 1986

Originally published by: Palladium Books
Originally published in: TMNT Adventures!

Story and pencils: Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird
Inks: Ryan Brown
Letters: Steve Lavigne

“New York Ninja”

Summary:

In an alley in New York, a young Chinese boy named Chang Lao is running away from a gang of hoodlums, lead by a boy named Frankie. Apparently, Chang came to the United States from China with his family in order to escape religious persecution, only to face persecution of a different kind. Frankie catches Chang and demands he pay his “protection fee”, otherwise he’ll get a beating.


On the rooftops, Donatello is playing a game of hide-and-seek with Raph; loser does dishes for a week. He spots the altercation in the alley below and decides to intervene. He beats the punks with ease, but Frankie attempts to pull a switchblade on him. Don pummels Frankie and sends him into retreat. Don introduces himself to Chang, assuring him that he’s not a monster but a friend.

Suddenly, Chang’s father calls him inside their apartment. Don watches from the window as Chang tries to explain to his father that although the bullies threatened to hurt him, he still refused to defend himself. Chang’s father encourages Chang to stay the course, as their religion is one of absolute non-violence under any circumstance. As Don observes this insanity, Raph sneaks up behind him and tags him, gloating that he won the game. Don could care less, as he now has a bigger problem on his hands: keeping Chang alive.

The next day, Don keeps track of Chang as he goes to and from school. As he suspected, as soon as school’s over, Frankie and his gang attempt to shake Chang down. They chase Chang into an abandoned building, but Frankie plans to do more than just slap the kid around; taking out his switchblade and slicing him in the arm. Finding some flares in another room, Don attaches them to the ends of his bo staff and bursts into the building, claiming to be an otherworldly monster. He takes the punks out with ease, but wasn’t expecting Frankie to be packing a .45. Frankie lines up his shot, but before he can fire, Chang tackles him and beats him senseless. Don then scares Frankie and the punks away, swearing that if they ever trouble Chang again, he’ll come and get them.



Don turns back to Chang, only to find him crying and prostrating himself on the floor, apparently believing he has dishonored his father and his religion by engaging in an act of violence. With a Buddhist catchphrase, Don puts Chang’s beliefs into perspective, assuring him that his ideals would be fine in a perfect world, but this is New York City. Defend your fucking self.

Chang concedes to Don’s wisdom and we learn that the two eventually became great friends, with Don teaching Chang the art of ninjutsu and other martial arts.


Turtle Tips:

*This story was reprinted in “Shell Shock”.

*Parts of this story were adapted for the 4Kids TMNT cartoon series, in the episode “The Lesson”. There, Chang Lao was substituted with a young Casey Jones.


Review:

One more of those little back-up strips published in a Palladium Books supplement to their TMNT & Other Strangeness roleplaying game, this one being attached to “TMNT Adventures!” (which has nothing to do with Archie’s TMNT Adventures). “New York Ninja” is a bit on the duller side, as its contents don’t have any effects on the broader scope of the TMNT universe, as Chang Lao is never seen again. I think I would’ve liked to see the kid as a supporting character somewhere in the book just because you’d think Don having his own human buddy he’d been secretly teaching karate to on the side might show some story potential.

The 4Kids adaptation of the story, “The Lesson”, would’ve been fine if they hadn’t replaced Chang with Casey. It created a bit of a continuity glitch in regards to ages (even in the 4Kids series, Casey is supposed to be much older than the Turtles), much less the fact that none of the characters ever put two and two together and realized that they knew each other as kids.

Anyhow, the real point of this story is Don’s rather ham-fisted moral at the end: "Reverence is all well and good, but don’t be a pussy". I have to wonder just what religion the Lao family even was, as they never name it in the story. Whatever faith it was, I can’t imagine how it might have survived past the first decade of its conception. If the chief philosophy of your faith is “If someone is trying to kill you, go ahead and let them kill you, just so long as you never, ever try to defend yourself” then that’s pretty much a god damned death sentence if I ever heard one.

Anyhow, “New York Ninja” isn’t a bad story and it’s got a pretty practical lesson more kids should be taught (“fighting is okay if it keeps you from being gutted by thugs”), I just wish it’s events could’ve leaked into the primary TMNT comic, that’s all.

Grade: B- (as in, “But yeah, I fucking hate all those moronic kid’s shows that teach youngsters never to fight no matter what and that there’s always another way. Thank you, Ninja Turtles, for talking some sense into the youth of the 80s”.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

TMNT (Vol. 3) #2



Publication date: July, 1996

Writer: Gary Carlson
Penciler: Frank Fosco
Inkers: Chance Wolf & Andrew Pepoy
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Erik Larsen
Assistant to the Chief Executive: Garrett Chin
Numb from the neck up: Josh Eichorn
Cover: Erik Larsen (colors by Reuben Rude & I.H.O.C.)


Summary:

In the skies above Manhattan, Donatello and his cyborg “buddy” are still falling to their deaths. The cyborg, blaming Don for their predicament, attempts to blast the Turtle in the face. Instead, he accidentally blows his own brains out. With nowhere soft to land in sight, and his consciousness fading, Don turns his shell to the ground and prepares for impact.


In upstate New York, Pimiko and her cyborg lackey arrive at Dragonlord Komodo’s headquarters with Splinter’s heavily drugged body in tow. They lock Splinter up in a jail cell, all the while a vicious half-man/half-shark monster named Mako makes carnivorous comments toward them. The cyborg gets too close and Mako bites his arm off. Pimiko insults the cyborg's carelessness and, enraged, he decides to let her know how sick he is of taking her orders. Pimiko stabs him in the chest and tells Mako that beneath the crunchy robot exterior is plenty of fresh meat. Mako proceeds to pull the damaged cyborg into his cell and devour him.


Down in the sewers, Leo leads Mike and a bandaged-up Raph away from the sewer lair, fearing their location has been compromised by Pimiko and the Dragonlord. Leo takes them to a forgotten mausoleum in Westwood Cemetery, saying it would make for a good temporary lair. After some clowning around between Raph and Mike, Leo informs them that the first order of business is to find out who the "Dragonlord" is and get Splinter and Don back. Leo gives Raph one of Casey’s old hockey masks to hide his scarred face and asks him to meet up with his contacts in the Foot Clan to see if they know anything about Pimiko (other than the fact that she took her name from a sorceress in Feudal Japan who ruled with the aid of a thousand women and one man).



As Raph leaves, he fails to notice a kunoichi (female ninja) named Angel, watching him from behind a tree. Angel reports her findings to Pimiko, who is meeting with Dragonlord Komodo in one of his laboratories. The large and imposing Dragonlord orders the cyborg project to be suspended because, according to Pimiko, the cyborgs were all dunces. His scientists are currently operating on a hairy man with silly hair named “Weasel” who apparently boasts four claws on his hands and an advanced healing factor. They discover that Weasel, despite his name, is not an anthropomorph, but just some kind of mutant. Komodo deems him worthless and orders his body disposed of. Suddenly, Weasel wakes up, snikts his claws and swears vengeance, calling everyone “bubba” in the process. Pimiko cuts his head off.

Back at the Mausoleum, Leo is attempting to contact Splinter via the astral plane, much to the amusement of Raph and Mike. Raph tells Leo that he’s not nearly skilled enough to manage such a feat, but Leo refuses to quit. Now with some peace and quiet, Leo continues on and is suddenly contacted by the spirit of Don. Don tells Leo of his fall from the chopper and shows him his dying body, splattered in an alley somewhere. Don is paralyzed from the neck down, losing blood and very close to death.



At the other end of the mausoleum, Mike finally hits pay dirt on the internet, learning about a large piece of property in upstate New York owned by a Komodo Inc. Raph says that his contacts in the Foot said Pimiko works for Komodo Inc., making that the best place to go look. The Turtles attempt to snap Leo out of his trance, only to suddenly find the mausoleum filled with kunoichi. Pimiko is at the front of the invading army, informing the Turtles that she has had them under constant surveillance and orders her kunoichi to attack. Despite all the commotion, Leo is still stuck in his trance…


(The following is exclusive to the 1997 trade paperback collection)


Meanwhile, back at Lord Komodo's place, Splinter sits tranquily in his prison cell, meditating. From the cell across from his, Mako angrily demands Splinter stop "praying" and try to slip through the bars so they can both escape. Splinter begins to explain that he's trying to contact his sons via the Astral Plane and needs to concentrate. Suddenly, both he and Mako fall asleep. Guards then remove Splinter from his cell and haul him off to Lord Komodo's laboratory, the tranquilizers having proved most effective...


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (Vol. 3) #1.  The story is continued in TMNT (Vol. 3) #3.

*Mako is a Savage Dragon villain who first appeared in The Savage Dragon (miniseries) #1.

*Raphael discovered the old church (adjacent to Westwood Mausoleum) and considered using it as a remote base in TMNT (Vol. 2) #3.

*An additional page of material was added to the end of this issue for the 1997 trade paperback collection of issues #1-6 published by Image comics. The page was added to help transition issues #2 and #3, and also to accomodate for uneven page space created by conflicting two-page spreads. It is page 42 in the trade paperback.


Review:

Image’s TMNT volume was a series that I had to warm up to. It had a very action-packed, exciting start, but was lacking in dynamic or even proper characterization. Despite that, it was a series that improved with each successive issue and I can say that this second installment is a far sight better than the first.

Issue 1 was sort of “the hook”; full of twists and turns and nothing but fight scene after fight scene after fight scene in order to draw the audience in. This issue slows down a bit to give us some solid interactions between the Turtles and a look at the "mysterious" (read: “shallow”) new villains that suddenly sprang into our faces. The bits with the Turtles hold up strongest, as Mike and Raph clown around inside the mausoleum and pick on Leo’s “Mr. Serious” routine. The only thing that sort of bugged me was that they seemed way too carefree considering what just happened to them only a couple hours before (they lost their home, two members of their family and Raph got half his face melted off). You’d think they’d be a little more, I dunno, serious about the situation.

The parts with Pimiko and the Dragonlord, on the other hand: not so good. The Dragonlord is your standard “ruthless corporate businessman by day/evil super villain by night” stereotype that John Byrne’s Lex Luthor helped to popularize throughout the 80s and into the 90s. We don’t learn anything about him other than the fact that he’s evil and is obsessed with locating the perfect furry. The entire “Weasel” gag was nauseating, too. Pointless to the plot and not even funny.

As for Pimiko and her kunoichi, well, they’re a bit of a relic of the 90s comic fads, aren’t they? Even by 1996, the whole “bad girl” thing was getting a bit old in comics, but far be it from Image to ever let go of that worn out trend. Pimiko-herself would prove to be a pretty decent character in the series if only her army of kunoichi didn’t dress like rejects from a kinky S&M Skinemax flick. The rhinestone-studded leather masks, corsets and meaningless bondage straps just look ridiculous.

But, once again, the volume’s saving grace comes in the form of Frank Fosco’s killer art. His new inkers, Chance Wolf and Andrew Pepoy, are definitely a better match than Larsen, doing an excellent job of creating the illusion of light and shadow within the mausoleum lair. If there’s one little detail Fosco implements that I love, it’s that when the Turtles aren’t running around in battle, but just chilling in their lair, they pull their bandanas down to around their necks, rather than constantly wear them around their eyes. Artists tend to draw the bandanas like they’re glued onto the Turtles’ faces, to the point where they sleep with the damn things on, so it’s always nice to see an artist put that little extra detail in there.

Grade: C- (as in, “C’mon, spiky shoulder pads? Really? Do those serve any function whatsoever?”)


Monday, January 4, 2010

The Mirage Comics continuity timeline



Foreword:

As you may well know, a very healthy portion of the Ninja Turtles stories published by Mirage Studios were not written in anything approaching a coherent chronological order. The primary TMNT volumes were, of course, but even then, you have to weed out the non-canon “guest” issues from the purely canon “in-house” issues before you can get a reliable reading order. Then there’s the matter of both volumes of Tales of the TMNT, each telling stories that take place at different points across the Turtles’ timeline, having to be slotted in-between issues of the primary TMNT volumes. And lest we forget, there’s also a metric ton of back-up strips printed as bonus material in trade paperbacks, as guest content in other indie books and as episodes in various anthology publications, including those from Mirage.

The Mirage Comics Ninja Turtles continuity is anything but linear. However, that doesn’t keep some of us from trying our damnedest to make sense of the whole thing. In April of 2007, after completing my collection of all Mirage Turtles publications under the sun (or at least, so I thought at the time), I decided to take it upon myself to spread all the pieces of the puzzle out before me and assemble them into a competent, chronological timeline. It proved a daunting task and far beyond the means of a single mortal. So I made this thread over at The Technodrome forums and soon dozens of helpful Turtles fans came to my aid, pointing out inconsistencies in my timeline, offering recommendations and alerting me to any hyper-obscure pieces of Turtles fiction I was unaware of.

Later, Mirage freelancer Tristan Jones took my timeline and asked if it could be used for the then-upcoming “Mirage Universe Sourcebook” publication. After much fuss and hard work, we hammered out an even more thorough chronology to be used in an actual Mirage guidebook. Then Laird sold the Turtles to Viacom and the “Mirage Universe Sourcebook” got cancelled. Bummer.

Regardless of that, the timeline still stands three years later. And after all this time, it continues to be improved upon by helpful fans at The Technodrome forums who are still finding minute inconsistencies in story placement. The Timeline below is subject to change as new material is written or as new inconsistencies are discovered, so don’t feel like you’re losing your mind if issues move from place to place while you were busy blinking. The goal is to make this as complete and accurate as possible, and perfection is not something that can be achieved overnight (no, it takes three years and two dozen nerds for that).

Enjoy!

KEY

White: Officially verified Mirage canon from in-house creators, freelancers and guest contributors.
Red: Guest stories published between TMNT (Vol. 1) #21 and #45 and other guest stories that are not officially verified or are considered "non-canon" despite no contradictions in content.
Green: The Image series.
: Indicates back-up strip, short comic or anthology installment.


The Mirage Comics continuity timeline

THE EARLY YEARS

Tales Vol. 2 #44 – The Amulet (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #50 – Threads (review)
Big Bang Comics #10  Galahad  (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #25 – My Hero! (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #38 – Triptyche (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #38 – Awww... rats! (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #44 – The Lessons (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #13 – Loops, Part 1 of 1 (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #14 – Loops, Part 2 of 2 (review)
Shell Shock – Bottoming Out (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #4 (2nd printing) – The Survival Game (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #2 – Seeds of Destruction (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #9 – The Passing (review)
Tales Vol.2 #1 – Not Forgotten (review)  
TMNT Adventures! – New York Ninja (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #6 (2nd printing) – It’s a Gas (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #35 – The Pantheon (review)
TMNT Book I – Night Life (review)
Shell Shock – Junk Man (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #52 – The Mission (review)
Tales Vol.2 #55 – A Day in the Life (review)
Hero Comics 2012 #1 - Ready Set Go! (review)
Creed/TMNT #1  Dream Stone (review)


LIVING WITH APRIL: YEAR ONE

TMNT Vol. 1 #1 – The Turtles’ Origin is Told (review)
Turtle Soup Vol. 2 #4 – Fifteen Years Later... (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #2 – TMNT Vs. the Mousers (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #3 – The Great Chase (review)
Raphael (microseries) #1 – Me, Myself and I (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #4 – Rescuing Master Splinter (review)
Fugitoid (microseries) #1 – The Fugitoid’s Origin (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #5 – Teaming Up with Fugitoid (review)
Grimjack #26 – D'Ants Fever (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #6 – The Triceraton Homeworld (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #7 – All is Revealed (review)
Grunts #1 – The Lesson (review)
TMNT Guide to the Universe – Terror by Transmat! (review)
Tortugas Ninja Vol. 2 – The Paradox of Chudnovsky (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #3 (2nd printing) – Complete Carnage an' Radical (review)
Raphael (microseries) #1 (2nd printing) – Fun With Guns (review)
Bodycount #1 – Bodycount, Part One (review)
Bodycount #2 – Bodycount, Part Two (review)
Bodycount #3 – Bodycount, Part Three (review)
Bodycount #4 – Bodycount, Part Four (review)
Turtle Soup Vol. 1 #1 – Apparition (review)
TMNT & Other Strangeness – Don't Judge a Book... (review)
Michaelangelo (microseries) #1 – The Christmas Aliens (review)


LIVING WITH APRIL: YEAR TWO

TMNT Vol. 1 #1 (5th printing) – Not One Word (review)
TMNT Book I – New Comic Day! (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #8 – Team Up with Cerebus (review)
Turtle Soup Vol. 1 #1 – Turtle Soup and Rabbit Stew (review)
Usagi Yojimbo (Vol. 1) #10 – The Crossing (review)
Shell Shock – The Treaty (review)
Usagi Yojimbo (Vol. 2) #1 – Shades of Green part 1 (review)
Usagi Yojimbo (Vol. 2) #2 – Shades of Green part 2 (review)
Usagi Yojimbo (Vol. 2) #3 – Shades of Green part 3 (review)
Turtle Soup Vol. 1 #1 – Turtle Dreams (review)
Donatello (microseries) #1 – Kirby and the Warp Crystal (review)
Gobbledygook (Vol. 2) #1 – Crazy Man (review)
Gobbledygook (Vol. 2) #1 – Technofear!!! (review)
Tales Vol. 1 #5 – Complete Carnage and Radical (review)
Anything Goes! #5 – The Road Trip (review)
Tales Vol. 1 #7 – The Return of Savanti Romero (review)
Tales Vol. 1 TPB 2007 – Spinal Tapped (review)
Shell Shock – Meanwhile... 1,000,000 B.C. (review)
Turtle Soup Vol. 2 #3 – Sweat, Sweat, Sweet Renet (review)
Turtle Soup Vol. 2 #2  Raphael: Snapper  (review)
Turtle Soup Vol. 1 #1 – The Howl (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #5 (2nd printing) – Ghouls Night Out (review)
Tales Vol. 1 #3 – All Hallow’s Thieves (review)
Leonardo (microseries) #1 – What Goes Around… Comes Around! (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #10 – Silent Partner (review)


EXILE TO NORTHAMPTON

TMNT Vol. 1 #11 – True Stories (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #33 – Credo (review)
Turtle Soup Vol. 2 #4 – Thoughts on Paper  (review)
Tales Vol. 1 #1 – A Tale of the TMNT (review)
Challenges – Origin (review)
Challenges – Splinter (review)
Challenges – Michelangelo (review)
Challenges – Leonardo (review)
Challenges – Donatello (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #30 – The Mother of All Anger (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #12 – Survivalists (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #13 – The People’s Choice (review)
Mirage Mini Comics Collection story #11 – Casey Jones, Private Eye (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #14 – The Unmentionables (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #15 – Dome Doom (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #17 – Distractions (review)
Tales Vol. 1 #2 – Nobody’s Fool! (review)
Tales Vol. 1 TPB 1989 – "untitled Nobody story" (review)
Tales Vol. 1 #4 – I, Monster (review)


RETURN TO NEW YORK

TMNT Vol. 1 #19 – Return to New York, Book One (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #70 – Zog (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #20 – Return to New York, Book Two (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #21 – Return to New York, Book Three (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #3 – The Worms of Madness, Part One (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #4 – The Worms of Madness, Part Two (review)
Digital Webbing Presents #24 – Digital Webbing Presents
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #26 – The Value of Gold (review)
Casey Jones #1 – North by Downeast, Part One of Two (review)
Casey Jones #2 – North by Downeast: The Conclusion (review)
Tales Vol. 1 #6 – Leatherhead (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #37 – Casey in Point (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #25 – Kung Fu Theater (review)
TMNT Book III – 49th Street Stompers (review)
Challenges – Raphael (review)
Muscle & Faith (review)
Turtle Soup Vol. 2 #3 – The Ring of Death  (review)
Turtle Soup Vol. 2 #1 – The Name is Lucindra (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #44 – The Violent Underground (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #45 – Leatherhead, Too (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #8 – Virus (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #23 – Attack of the Replicants (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #34 – Splinter Cell (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #30 – Circle of Darkness (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #21 – A (Bull) Wrinkle in Time (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #7 – You Had to be There (review)
Turtle Soup Vol. 2 #3  Bearing the Burden  (review)
TMNT (Vol. 1) #33  Turtles Take Time (review)
The Savage Dragon #2 (review)
The Savage Dragon/TMNT #1 – Enter the Savage Dragon! (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #11 – The Quick and the Dead (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #50 – World’s Deadliest (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #63 – Monster Island (review)


RETURN TO NORTHAMPTON

TMNT Vol. 1 #24 – The River Part 1: Down to the River (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #25 – The River Part 2: River Hymn (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #26 – The River Part 3: Old Man River (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #28 – Sons of the Silent Age (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #27 – Dreams of Stone (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #29 – Men of Shadow (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #30 – Sky Highway (review)
Shell Shock – O-Deed (review)
Turtle Soup Vol. 2 #1 – The Purpose of Fear (review)
Turtle Soup Vol. 2 #3 – Crack in a Hard Heart (review)
Turtle Soup Vol. 2 #1 – Donatello: The Ring (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #37 – Twilight of the Ring (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #42 – Juliet’s Revenge (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #43 – Halls of Lost Legends (review)
Turtle Soup Vol. 2 #1 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Attack!!! Part 1 (review)
Turtle Soup Vol. 2 #2 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Attack!!! Part 2 (review)
Turtle Soup Vol. 2 #3 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Attack!!! Part 3 (review)
Turtle Soup Vol. 2 #4 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Attack!!! Part 4 (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #46 – Masks Part I (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #47 – Masks Part II (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #19 – A Ghost Story (review)


CITY AT WAR

Tales Vol. 2 #22 – Change of Power (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #48 – Shades of Gray, Part One of Two (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #49 – Shades of Gray, Part Two of Two (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #50 – City at War, Part 1 (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #51 – City at War, Part 2 (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #52 – City at War, Part 3 (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #53 – City at War, Part 4 (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #54 – City at War, Part 5 (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #55 – City at War, Part 6 (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #56 – City at War, Part 7 (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #46 – Temps (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #57 – City at War, Part 8 (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #58 – City at War, Part 9 (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #59 – City at War, Part 10 (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #60 – City at War, Part 11 (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #61 – City at War, Part 12 (review)
TMNT Vol. 1 #62 – City at War, Part 13 (review)


VOLUME 2

Tales Vol. 2 #20 – The Trophy (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #41 – Fathers and Daughters (review)
TMNT Vol. 2 #1 – Memories of the Future (review)
TMNT Vol. 2 #2 – Winds of Change (review)
TMNT Vol. 2 #3 – Evolution (review)
TMNT Vol. 2 #4 – Intruders (review)
TMNT Vol. 2 #5 – Death Race (review)
TMNT Vol. 2 #6 – Killer on the Loose (review)
TMNT Vol. 2 #7 – Confrontations (review)
TMNT Vol. 2 #8 – Face Off (review)
TMNT Vol. 2 #9 – Victory? (review)
Donatello #1 – The Brain Thief, Part 1 (review)
Donatello #2 – The Brain Thief, Part 2 (review)
Donatello #3 – The Brain Thief, Part 3 (review)
Donatello #4 – The Brain Thief, Part 4 (review)
TMNT Vol. 2 #10 – Descending into D.A.R.P.A. (review)
TMNT Vol. 2 #11 – The Rescue (review)
TMNT Vol. 2 #12 – The Escape (review)
TMNT Vol. 2 #13 – The Battle (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #49 – Mined Games (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #33 – The Bait (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #48 – The Decider! (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #43 – The Proposal (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #20 – The Cure (review)
TMNT/The Savage Dragon #1 (review)
The Savage Dragon #22 (review)


THE GANG WARS

Tales Vol. 2 #36 – To Serve and Protect (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #56 – Hun (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #59 – Expose (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #61 – Sometimes They Come Back (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #48 – One’s Shadow! (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #64 – The Burning Man (review)


IMAGE VOLUME 3

Shattered Image #2 (review)
The Savage Dragon/Destroyer Duck #1 (review)
Mars Attacks Image #1 (review)
TMNT (Vol. 3) #24  TMNT vs. Spawn (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #1 (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #2 (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #3 (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #4 (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #5 (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #6 (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #7 (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #8 (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #9 (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #10 (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #11 (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #12 (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #13 (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #14 (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #15 (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #16 (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #24  Conflict Resolution (review)
The Savage Dragon #41 (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #17 (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #18 (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #19 (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #20 (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #21 (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #24  Christmas Past (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #22 (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #23 (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #25  Practical Jokes (review)
TMNT 30th Anniversary Special – Rest in Pieces  (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #24 (review)
TMNT Vol. 3 #25 (review)


MIRAGE "VOLUME 3"

Tales Vol. 2 #9 – Community Service (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #57 – Gangs All Here (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #67 – Schooled (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #51 – Night of the Living Gingerbread (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #53 – Alien Invaders (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #65 – Cold, Cold Ice (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #68 – A Klunk Adventure (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #9 – The Path (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #3 – Green  (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #5 – Blind Faith (review)
Tales of Leonardo #1 – Blind Sight, Part 1 (review)
Tales of Leonardo #2 – Blind Sight, Part 2 (review)
Tales of Leonardo #3 – Blind Sight, Part 3 (review)
Tales of Leonardo #4 – Blind Sight, Part 4 (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #35 – Secret Spirit (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #10 – Kaddish (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #20 – The Rippling (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #24 – Rock of Ages (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #32 – The Eye of Aga-Moo-Tou (review)
Michaelangelo (microseries) #1 (2nd printing) – A Christmas Carol (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #53 – Ghosts of Christmas Past (review)


PRELUDE TO VOLUME 4

Tales Vol. 2 #69 – Dark Shadows (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #7 – Darkness Weaves (review)
Raphael #1 – Bad Moon Rising, Part 1: The Calling (review)
Raphael #2 – Bad Moon Rising, Part 2: The Taking (review)
Raphael #3 – Bad Moon Rising, Part 3: The Catch (review)
Raphael #4 – Bad Moon Rising, Part 4: The Win (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #6 – Scars (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #15 – Hell’s Blacktop (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #28 – Channeling  (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #42 – The Curious Case of Mr. Jones (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #66 – There's No Place Like Home (review)


VOLUME 4

TMNT Vol. 4 #1 (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #2 (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #3 (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #4 (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #5 (review)
Michelangelo #1 – The Third Kind, Part 1 (review)
Michelangelo #2 – The Third Kind, Part 2 (review)
Michelangelo #3 – The Third Kind, Part 3 (review)
Michelangelo #4 – The Third Kind, Part 4 (review)
Michelangelo #4 – Life on Earth  (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #16 – Sins of the Past (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #54 – Mere Appendix (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #62 – Adventures in Bunnysitting (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #18 – The Blue Hole (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #12 – Paris Nocturne (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #28 – Shanghaied (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #29 – Soul Survivor (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #45 – Rocks (review)
Go Green Machine TMNT Tribute (unpublished)  Slash!  (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #6 (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #47 – The Secret Origins of the Super Turtles!!! (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #7 (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #8 (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #9 (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #10 (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #11 (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #17 – Wrong Turn (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #52 – The Crystal at the Heart of the World (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #58 – All Tomorrow’s Yesterdays (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #39 – What Wolves Wear (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #12 (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #13 (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #14 (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #15 (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #16 (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #17 (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #18 (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #19 (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #20 (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #21 (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #22 (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #53  This Mortal Shell  (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #23 (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #60 – Nobody Does it Better (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #24 (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #25 (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #26 (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #27 (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #28 (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #27 – White Horses (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #29 (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #30 (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #31 (review)
TMNT Vol. 4 #32 (review)


THE ADVENTURES OF PROFESSOR OBLIGADO

Tales Vol. 2 #4 – The Grape  (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #6 – The Raisin' (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #8 – The Risen (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #10 – The Question (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #14 – First Mud (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #15 – Apocalypse Vow  (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #18 – Altered Fates  (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #25 – The Doors of Deception (review)


POST VOLUME 4

Tales Vol. 2 #68 – Heroes in a Half Cell (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #31 – Reflections (review)
TMNT 30th Anniversary Special - Night of the Ninja Girl  (review)


THE FUTURE

The Collected Gizmo – King for a Day (review)
Gizmo and the Fugitoid #1 (review)
Gizmo and the Fugitoid #2 (review)
Plastron CafĂ© #1 – Old Times (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #40 – Silent Night (review)
The Puma Blues #20 – Choices (review)
Tales Vol. 2 #41 – Swan Song (review)
Tales Vol. 1 TPB 2007 – Frontispieces and Epilogue (review)


Notations:

The Mirage chronology for the most part holds up fine, thanks to the episodic nature of much of the storytelling. However, there are continuity errors that cannot be rectified by even the cleverest of story placement. In such cases, those instances must simply be overlooked in absence of a better option. Additionally, many TMNT stories that could easily work with Mirage continuity, and indeed, have been published by Mirage, have been the work of outside “guest” creators, making their canonicity questionable due to Peter Laird’s opinions toward Mirage stories not written by in-house Mirage staffers. Additionally, some stories that were canon when they were written were later retconned out of continuity at Laird’s behest. These stories have been included for the sake of completion, but with proper notations indicating their canon-status. The following is a detailed account of these discrepancies and incongruities as well as rationalizations for various timeline placements.

*PETER LAIRD'S QUOTE ON CANONICITY: So just to clear up the facts, here is Peter Laird's personal quote on what counts from the letters page of TMNT (Vol. 4) #9: "The current Mirage TMNT comic, which we refer to as volume 4, is a continuation of what I call 'Mirage continuity' -- which is basically the issues of the original comic series that Kevin Eastman and I worked on, along with about a dozen other issues, the TALES OF THE TURTLES series, the short-lived color TMNT series, and some various short stories that appeared in different publications".

*THE EARLY YEARS: These stories take place before TMNT (Vol. 1) #1, dealing with various points in the Turtles’ childhoods. They’ve been arranged by ages given in the issues or just by “eyeballing” the size and intelligence levels of the Turtles. So far as discrepancies are concerned, there are a few that should be noted to prevent confusion. Karai is much, much older than the Turtles in this continuity, thus her origin story takes place first. “Loops” brings together four Leonardos from four different points in the character’s timeline. However, since the primary perspective is from the youngest Leonardo, the story is slotted into this era. The back-up strips printed in “Shell Shock” and other books could conceivably take place just about anywhere in the Turtles’ timeline, but have been placed here for lack of a better idea. They’re all mostly goofy and fun stories and fit well with the more carefree days of this era.

*LIVING WITH APRIL YEAR ONE: This era covers their first year living in April’s apartment as well as their space adventure with the Triceratons and the Utroms. It ends with the Michelangelo (microseries) #1 issue, as it is established as taking place during a different Christmas from the one seen in TMNT (Vol. 1) #10 (which is established as being their second Christmas with April). Many of the Raph/Casey adventures that lack definitive evidence for timeline placement have been grouped here to illustrate their time spent bonding as friends. Stories like “The Lesson” and “Terror by Transmat!” also lack definitive evidence for placement and have been grouped here for the sake of theme. Some stories, such as “Fifteen Years Later” and “D’Ants Fever” take place between pages of actual issues and as such have been placed below the issue in which their events transpire.

*LIVING WITH APRIL YEAR TWO: This era covers their second year living in April’s apartment. Only the first and third Usagi Yojimbo crossovers offer timeline placement evidence, showing the Turtles living in April’s apartment. The other Usagi crossovers were grouped here for sake of theme. Various horror-themed back-up strips with no concrete evidence for placements were grouped around the Halloween issue, “All Hallow’s Thieves”, for sake of theme.

*EXILE TO NORTHAMPTION: This era covers their banishment from New York at the hands of the resurrected Shredder. Most of these stories were specifically written to take place in this era with others simply being placed here due to location and theme.  As TMNT #10 takes place on Christmas 1986 and TMNT #19 takes on Christmas 1988, the Exile spans a full two years in story-time. Issues #16 and #18 have been skipped as they were guest stories not written to work with the continuity of the series. The Tales (Vol. 1) stories that take place in this era have been placed primarily based on the seasonal settings.

*RETURN TO NEW YORK: This era covers the Turtles’ return to New York City following their exile and the subsequent defeat of the resurrected Shredder. This is where things start to get tricky. To keep the Turtles from constantly bouncing back and forth between Manhattan and Northampton, the stories taking place in those locales have been separated where applicable. Additionally, the story “Leatherhead” has been shuffled down the line to undo a rather infamous continuity error (at the end of that story, the Turtles give their sewer lair to Leatherhad, yet they are repeatedly shown living in their lair later with no Leatherhead in sight). Additionally, several short strips featuring the Turtles battling sloppy and pitiful groups of Foot Soldiers have been placed here, as established by “City at War”, the New York branch of the Foot became pathetic and disorganized following the death of the Shredder, despite their lame attempts to obtain vengeance on the Turtles.

*RETURN TO NORTHAMPTON: This era covers the Turtles’ return to Casey’s farm in Northampton and the adventures they encountered while staying there. Again, these stories were separated by location. As color-coded, a large number of these stories were written between TMNT (Vol. 1) #21 and #45, thus making their canon status questionable.

*CITY AT WAR: This era covers the massive “City at War” epic. It includes “Change of Power” and “Shades of Grey” as they were both written as prologues to the event. The Tales (Vol. 2) story, "Temps", takes place between TMNT #53 and #54, but features April back in New York before she fully decided to return following her father's funeral in #57. Due to the lack of snow on the ground and the Turtles' water tower base being intact (it was attacked in #56), the story cannot take place after #57. April was possibly just "visiting" New York at the time, if one must explain away the continuity glitch.

*VOLUME 2: This era covers the events of Mirage’s Volume 2 series as well as those written around them. At this point, stories are slotted into this era either by theme or solely by judgment of Shadow’s age. Following TMNT Vol. 1, her growth would play a major factor in determining how many years have passed between stories and thus where a story should be placed.

*THE GANG WARS: This era covers the events of the Gang Wars. Unfortunately, due to the Viacom buy-out and the cancellation of Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2), the Gang Wars arc never received a conclusion, leaving this era rather open ended.

*MIRAGE “VOLUME 3”: This era covers the stories retroactively written to fill the void between Mirage’s Volume 2 series and Mirage’s Volume 4 series. There was no actual Mirage Volume 3 (hence the quotations), as the official Volume 3 was published by Image and, as per Laird, that volume is no longer canon.

*IMAGE VOLUME 3: This era covers the events of Image’s TMNT series. When the Image series was originally written, it was the official continuation of the Mirage storyline, even covering several plot threads that Laird and Eastman had established in their previous volumes. The volume was canon until the publication of Mirage’s Volume 4 series. By that point, Laird had decided he did not approve of the direction Image’s Volume 3 had taken the series and chose to ignore it completely with his new volume, thus retconning it out of continuity. However, as it was canon once, it has been included here for posterity.

*PRELUDE TO VOLUME 4: This era covers the years taking place just before the beginning of Mirage Volume 4. As has been stated, the chronology of Mirage “Volume 3” is determined primarily by Shadow’s age. However, there is a wide gulf of years between those stories, as Shadow is written as either a little girl or a teenager/young adult. Her teenager/young adult stories must take place several years away from her “Volume 3” stories and almost directly before Volume 4. As such, they have been grouped with stories that pertain directly to the events of Volume 4 and have been dubbed a “prelude” to that series.

*VOLUME 4: This era covers the events of the Volume 4 series. Due to scheduling conflicts and, it seems, a lack of interest, issues of TMNT (Vol. 4) were first delayed and then put on an “indefinite hiatus” status by Peter Laird. The volume is currently incomplete with no indication that the hiatus will be lifted. Several Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2) stories were written to elaborate upon or continue plot threads within this volume due to the series itself being postponed indefinitely. Additionally, issue #5 of the series featured a six month gap in the narrative to allow for the Utroms and other aliens to establish their presence on Earth and integrate with the masses. Stories placed here feature a heavy alien-on-Earth presence or major cooperation between the TMNT and the Utroms. The short, "This Mortal Shell", was a guest story specifically noted in the opening editorial to be "non-canon". However, the actual content of the story contradicts nothing in the series.

*POST VOLUME 4: This is a precarious era to place stories since, as of this writing, Volume 4 has not been concluded.  However, these particular stories simply don't fit snugly anywhere during the Volume 4 storyline and aren't far enough in the future to qualify for being in that era, either.  We'll just have to wait and see on these stories.

*THE ADVENTURES OF PROFESSOR OBLIGADO: This “era” simply contains all the Professor Obligado back-up stories. They do not interact with the TMNT in any fashion and could conceivably take place during the six month gap or after the events of Volume 4 or sometime long afterward. Due to a lack of interest, the storyline was never completed by Stephen Murphy.

*THE FUTURE: This era covers stories specifically written to take place in the vague and possible “future” of the Mirage TMNT. Tales (Vol. 2) #69 establishes that all these future stories are merely "potential" outcomes and may not all even be related to each other in the same timeline. So with that in mind, determining chronology for these stories is difficult. Some can be placed due to how old the Turtles appear, where they’re living, references to the events in other stories or, in at least Donatello’s case, how depressed they are. The “Gizmo and the Fugitoid” miniseries has been placed here since the Gizmo series by Michael Dooney takes place in Earth’s future. Additionally, the miniseries ends with a glimpse of an Earth-like street corner populated by humans and aliens, fitting in with what we know about Volume 4 and the Mirage future. For reference’s sake, the stories “Loops”, “A Christmas Carol” and "Dark Shadows" also feature looks into this future of the TMNT, but the primary narrative of these stories is set in the past or present, hence why they are not included in this era.

*The Volume 1 “guest era”: Between TMNT (Vol. 1) #21 and #45, the book was handed over to a series of guest creators with little to no regard for continuity. Stories like “Spaced Out” and “Soul’s Winter” are too bizarre (each in their own way) to possibly be part of the Mirage timeline, while others are simply too contradictory or silly. Several stories, however, were written to function with the Mirage continuity of the day. However, Peter Laird has stated that with the exception of “Dreams of Stone” and “Sons of the Silent Age”, all stories published during this period are of dubious canonical status, if not outright non-canon. This is partly due to creator ownership rights, as Mirage does not own any of the characters created for these stories by the guest artists. Oddly, this non-canonocity decision also includes “The River” trilogy, which is directly referenced in “Sons of the Silent Age”, a canon story. For the sake of posterity, all stories written during this period which are non-contradictory to the Mirage canon have been included, but with proper notation of canon status.

*"Turtle Soup": The "Turtle Soup" series was an anthology title containing short TMNT related stories by both in-house creators at Mirage and guest contributors. Many of the guest contributions were too "out there" to qualify for inclusion in the Mirage timeline, while others were either harmless or prologues to stories written during the TMNT (Vol. 1) "guest era". All stories capable of existing within this timeline have been included and color-coded where applicable.

*”Bodycount”: The “Bodycount” storyline, written by Kevin Eastman, was originally intended to be published by Mirage as “Casey Jones & Raphael”. The first issue was released, but when publishing of the TMNT series was shifted to Image, the series was retitled “Bodycount” and finished release under that publisher. Although it was primarily published by Image and boasts at least one Image-exclusive element (Casey’s star-spangled hockey mask), the fact that it was penned by a franchise co-founder and initially intended for publication under Mirage lends it credence for primary Mirage canon status.

*The Savage Dragon crossovers: Likewise the same can be said of the Savage Dragon crossover. Both two-part crossover arcs were co-published between Mirage and Image and before the publication of TMNT comics became strictly the duty of Image. The events of the first crossover are referenced in TMNT (Vol. 2) #3, while Radical’s depowering in the second crossover is referenced in Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2) #41. This, as well as involvement from Mirage in-house staffer Michael Dooney, would appear to make these crossovers Mirage canon.

*The back-up strips: short TMNT comics have been published within anthology books, reprints of old material, trade paperback collections, other indie publications, role-playing game guidebooks and just about everywhere else under the sun. Some of them are important to the narrative of several storylines, while others are merely comedy relief filler. Most do not offer any evidence as to where they take place in the Turtles’ timeline due to their brief length. For the purposes of this timeline, those with evidence for placement have been slotted in where they belong. The remainder have been dropped in where they “feel” best, carry on a theme or simply can do no harm. Back-ups that were too silly or contradictory have not been included.